Nando Costa has been directing animated and live-action films for over 10 years, but none are quite like his most recent. In The New America, Costa animates his entire story using a new block of wood for each frame. Over 800 pieces of maple were laser engraved, largely featuring geometry patterns, trippy abstract forms, and foreboding takes on major American icons like George Washington and the White House. The wood's grain flows by as the short film goes on, and eerie, electronic ambience plays over it all, helping to create an unsettling, awe-inspiring look at the advanced landscapes the animation unveils.
Kickstarter backers picked up the maple engravings
While Costa says that the storyline is abstract, he explained the basis of it in a Kickstarter video: "It’s set in a fictitious place and time where a very advanced society goes through a phase of structural and financial collapse but eventually reemerges, and its values are rooted in a strong relationship with nature." His Kickstarter campaign finished nearly two years ago, bringing in just over $30,000 to create the film. Most backers received a single frame used in the film, and he's still selling the remaining ones today.
The New America premiered earlier this week on Vimeo, after taking nearly two years to create due to what Costa says were various issues and delays. He's been keeping busy during that time though, creating commercials and other shorts, including a stop-motion video for Google's debut of Chrome on Android. Costa doesn't say whether he plans to make another film this way ("It was a lot of hard work and stress," he writes) but he does write that if he were to try it again, he'd plan ahead more, perhaps cutting down on the production time.