Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, March 4, 2011

The (Easter Egg) Hunt

On Monday, I shared my computer animation The Hunt, the culmination of hundreds of hours of anti-social behavior work during my senior year of college. (If you haven't seen it yet, go and watch it now. I'll wait.)

Many of you were quite impressed, and I don't blame you: I'm still impressed every time I see it. But I suspect many of you were so wrapped up in the plight of that poor sheet of paper that you missed out on some of the subtler aspects of the animation. By which I mean: the Easter eggs.

Yep, I inserted a bunch of little hidden touches throughout The Hunt. Some of these are noticeable if you look for them, but unfortunately others are obscured by the mediocre picture quality of the recording. Anyway, below is the list of Easter eggs, and I'll even throw in a few extra details that only I would know. Think of it as your own personal commentary track.1
  • I designed the font which appears on the first two sheets of paper that come out of the printer. It has only ever been used in this animation and this image.
  • The kid in that photo on the wall is me at age four. I was cute back then.
  • The gray book by the coffee mug is the user manual for Maya, the animation software I used to create the piece.
  • I had to kick one of the thumbtacks off set for drinking too much.
  • At the 1:11 mark, as the thumbtacks move past the alarm clock, the time changes from 8:42 to 8:43am. This is exactly one minute after the paper first emerges from the printer, and is significant because at the time I believed I was also born at 8:42am.2
  • During the overhead view amidst the high-speed chase scene (from 1:18-1:20), the sheet music showing at the top of the screen is for the very bars of music being played.
  • The A|W on the box, although it doesn't mimic the company's logo, is for Alias|Wavefront, the original makers of Maya.
  • The envelope is addressed to Current Resident at 30 Paper Trail, Pushpin, OR.
  • Not that it matters, but the segment revealing the paper clip catapults is my favorite in the entire animation.
  • The books on the shelf include The Anatomy of A Thumbtack, The Philosophy of Confusion, David Copperfield (by What the Dickens), The Art of Forehead Mastication,3 Catch-22, and 101 Ways to Make Paper Airplanes. When the thumbtack knocks down the latter two, it is directly above the words "Catch" and "Paper."4
  • The soda is "The Original SodaCola," a product of Deja Vudu Enterprises. "DejaVudu" was my AOL username back when people still had AOL usernames.
  • The image on the computer screen is from a prototype for a game called Ooze, which I mocked up for some guys in the Games department of Sonalysts Studios.5
  • There are nine more thumbtacks in the "The End" screen than chase the paper during the preceding animation.
In addition, I cut the credits down from five screens to one. Among what now lies on the digital cutting room floor:
  • Images of the thumbtacks ogling the contents of The Anatomy of a Thumbtack and shooting x-acto knives at an apple using the paper clip catapults.
  • Friends credited as Origami Crane, Thumbtacks #3 & 18, Mr. Pushpin, and stunt performers.
  • Introducing Sheet of Paper as himself.
  • Friends credited with roles such as boom mike operator, stapler trainer, lasagna chef, provider of Mr. Wilson's wardrobe, and of course: Key Grip.
Thank you for reading aloud this personal commentary track. In the Special Edition DVD and BluRay coming out later this year, this commentary will be narrated by Morgan Freeman, as stipulated by the Morgan Freeman Narration Act of 2005. Pre-order yours today!

1 And when I say personal, I mean one you have to narrate it yourself.
2 I remembered wrong. It was actually 8:41.
3 It was an inside joke at the time. I have no idea why.
4 Not that it matters, but that little tidbit is my favorite Easter egg in the entire animation.
5 The department specializes in naval-based games and military simulations. Needless to say, Ooze never made it past the prototype stage.


  1. I so need to pick up Stardust. Have you read Neverwhere?

  2. I be the thumbtack you had to kick out was a green one. Leave it to a green thumbtack to go all Charlie Sheen on you.

    I remember Imming with DejaVudu.

  3. I did notice a few of those clever little bits (had a feeling you would pepper it with subliminal messages), but now I have to go back and watch it again! And I really wish you hadn't cut those scenes from the credits :(

  4. What was the deal with forehead mastication? I'm fairly certain I had no idea what we were talking about then, and I have even less of an idea now.

    Also, so much fun to see that video again.

  5. Matthew, I have read it. After reading Good Omens I knew I had to read more of both authors, and Neverwhere is where I started. You can't go wrong with Gaiman.

    Todd, I'm not going to give away the tack's identity... because it recently sent a threat written in tiger's blood. And hell, I barely remember IM-ing at all. Feels like a lifetime ago.

    Bridget, the reason I cut down the credits (other than to shorten the piece for ADHD folk) was that among the funny bits were plenty of uneven and outdated attempts at jokes. In hindsight, perhaps I should have created replacement credits, but since I knew I'd be writing this post I didn't think the effort was necessary. Oh well.

    KM: Yeah, all I remember is that it was one of Nesser's. (That may be explanation enough.) And it's just as much fun to be able to share it again, too.