February 16, 2014 9:39 pm

Tags: 3D, Adobe, After Effects, Animation, C4D, Cinema 4D, Maxon, Pixologic, ZBrush

A Bowling Pin Works Some New Moves in Brazilian Artist Beto Prado’s New Short Film




Sometimes, to succeed in life, you simply have to take a stand. Brazilian 2D/3D artist Beto Prado ( tells such a story in his charming, animated short film, Lovestrike (, in which a heroic young bowling pin refuses to be knocked around anymore and employs some smooth moves to evade the ball. Relying primarily on Cinema 4D, ZBrush and After Effects, Prado, a senior designer/art director at the international ad agency Y&R in Sao Paulo, spent two years working on the film during his free time.


Beto Prado’s Lovestrike tells the story of a young bowling pin who figures out how to avoid being hit by the ball.


Though he had considered other ideas, Prado chose this story after overhearing his five-year-old nephew ask during a family trip to the bowling alley whether the pins got hurt when the ball hit them. With his bowling pin hero in mind, it took Prado just a few days to write the script. And then, to ensure he would not become one of countless artists who start an ambitious project only to lose energy and enthusiasm before its completion, he put together a solid production timeline to guide him.

“Creating a short movie can be endless and painful if you do not have a very organized and effective pipeline with which to create it,” says Prado. “You don’t want to get lost or have any mishaps occur along the way.” A skilled illustrator, Prado first conceptualized the story and characters by breaking the script down into six scenes, beginning with the young bowling pin’s family being bruised and battered by a bowling ball and ending with Five-Time World Bowling Champion Sir Lawrence’s challenge at the bowling alley.


Prado used a texture with diffused reflections for the bowling pins in this scene.


Next, he sketched over 300 studies of moments from the story to illustrate the action in the film. “It was easier for me to draw first because when I was drawing, I was imagining how the film should look and how the soundtrack should sound,” he recalls, adding that his sketches were used to create an animatic with a pre-soundtrack.


Doing sketches and creating an animatic allowed Prado to create a clear vision for his film while helping him securing funding, as well.



Using the animatic as his calling card, Prado showed the rough version of the film to a local businessman, who decided to invest in the project. The financial backing helped Prado hire the professional animators he needed to complete the short. “I was responsible for developing the concepts, modeling, rigging, shading, lighting and rendering, but not animating it,” he says, explaining that though he’s done some animation, he doesn’t consider it his specialty.

In all, Prado brought on three animators. Rodrigo Mendes and William Lopez from Brazil, and Stuart Hallock, who lives in California. Hallock was primarily responsible for animating the young bowling pin character and helping Prado supervise all of the other incoming animations.


The emotional scene in the bowling pin storage room was intentionally lit with a warm color palette.


Because the animators all worked in Maya and he prefers C4D, Prado exported the files out of Maya using the FBX file format ( for import into Cinema 4D before completing the film. To have more control of each layer, he opted to render each of the animated shots in a separate channel. “In post-production, the great challenge was to set a regular vintage ambiance for all the scenes and Cinema 4D did that to perfection.” ZBrush was used for some organic modeling, such as the leather for the tennis shoes and a few of the elements in the storage room.


Rigging the Sir Lawrence character was one of the most difficult aspects of this film, says Prado. C4D’s Hair and Fur were used to create his hair.


Since Lovestrike is essentially a silent film, the sounds you do hear at certain times play an important role. Prado did all of the sound design himself using Apple’s GarageBand. In order to compose the various sounds he needed, he downloaded some free Wav sounds from the Web, as well as free soundtracks from the Apple sound library. Five musical themes were chosen in all, one that conveyed the feel of each of the main scenes in the film.

Prado describes Lovestrike as “the great challenge of my life,” explaining that he worked alone for an entire year at the start of the project, even turning down work to stay on track with modeling, rigging and texturing. Ever since he learned 3D, he’s dreamed of making a short movie that would be funny to people of any age “like the cartoon Tom and Jerry, no words, just actions,” he says.

Currently, the film can be viewed on YouTube (, and Prado will soon be releasing an app that offers the movie as an animated book along with a puzzle.

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Article by Scott Strohmaier

Scott Strohmaier is a writer living in Los Angeles living with his wife and son.

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