Tyler Russo’s Goodbye is a suspenseful animated drama filled with cinematic sophistication, depth and sincerity, exhibiting both narrative and visual exploration. With a powerful script, incredible cinematic language, and a thoroughly impressive aesthetic, Goodbye is a chilling piece of cinema that hits you over and over again with its starkness. To be quite honest I’ve been on the edge of my seat each time I watch it and am always thoroughly impressed with it. Its linear narrative nuances become increasingly impactful, so much so that I must refrain from divulging too much of the narrative without the fear of ruining the viewer’s experience.
Contrary to what many think, this film is not a stop-motion piece. In fact, it is almost an entirely digital production. “All of the film’s assets were sculpted in ZBrush, which is a 3d modeling program. ZBrush essentially gives you a virtual block of clay, which you can deform and mold and reshape just as you would while actually sculpting,” says Russo. From ZBrush, he imported the sculpted models into Cinema 4D where he created the bulk of animation and rendering. Additionally Russo used After Effects for compositing, color grading, and other post.
This film is a great departure from Russo’s previous work which tends to take a more humorous approach. Russo tells us “Most of my films are based in absurdist humor, which I love and will inevitably return back to, but I feel like it’s a genre that I’ve spent a lot of time in and it’s pretty hard for me to create something that doesn’t reference these sensibilities. “
One of the reason’s Goodbye is so successful is because of Russo’s fearlessness and willingness to give in and commit sincerely to a story he wanted to tell. This is something I myself have been struggling with in my own cinematic practice and I think many of us can relate to this sentiment. Russo tells us “one of the main challenges was trying to create something impactful without falling back on comedy or irony as a safety net. It’s something I do a lot, and I feel like it’s become a little bit of a crutch in my life.” His cinematic sincerity and willingness to challenge the medium is truly inspirational.
There is a certain lacking of criticality in the landscape of animation. We often see many animators limiting themselves (whether it be intentionally or unintentionally) to learning about filmmaking by studying animated classics, often forgetting that the tools and narratives of all avenues of cinema can play a part within the animated community. As an independent animator myself it’s difficult not to jump on this tirade and rant about Goodbye’s impact on the current state of animation. Russo’s work is a great demonstration that animation, as a cinematic medium, can effectively communicate an impactful tale. Independent animation is thriving, with new creators and new audiences craving new voices and stories, and Tyler Russo is one of many of independent animators whose voices and cinematic explorations do much to evolve and progress the medium as a whole. As his final work from the CalArts Experimental Animation program, Goodbye is a great farewell to have left with.