“The Shark in the Park” is an animated short, exploring natural
phenomena in a most fantastical way. Focusing on the unexpected
magic of the inner workings of Mother Nature, Polynoid dives in deep to
showcase how extraordinary the seemingly mundane can be. With
enough patience and luck in timing, nature can reveal itself in a
surprisingly beautiful and insightful manner. “The Shark in the Park” is
set to be the first in a series of edutainment films slated to discover the
unseen magic of the world in which we live.
Project: The Shark in the Park / Animated Short
Length : 3:03
The Shark in the Park visualizes the growth and development process of a special strawberry species
called “Parco Pistris” which was discovered by Korean scientifical research group KSPRI in 2016.
KSPRI commissioned animation-director-collective Polynoid to take their research and create a
visualisation that would feature all of the actually pretty stunning facts about the plant and still be
entertaining in order to bring the piece not only to a biologically focused but wider and younger
Client - KSPRI (Korean Strange Plant Research Institute)
Director – Polynoid
Production Company & Animation Studio – Woodblock
Producer – Selina Schmitt
Artists – Fabian Pross, Tom Weber, Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, Csaba Letay, Sarah Eim, Michael
Heberlein, Mars Dolschon, Markus Eschrich, Ivan Vasiljevic, Marco Kowalik, Roman Hinkel, Paul
Schicketanz, Thorsten Löffler, Moritz Gläsle, Roman Kälin, Pascal Flörks, Felix Deimann, Tim Jockel
Sounddesign – Dolphin Smiles
Music – Hot Sugar "There's A Man Waiting At The Bottom Of The Stairs"
1. What was the project brief? (what were the instructions from the client?)
KSPRI approached us asking for a visualization of a really groundbreaking discovery of a new strawberry
species they found in Korean parks. They were not able to actually shoot its emergence, so they only had
some photos and their documentation. Since parts of the growing-process are quite complex, they wanted
a visualisation. After doing some international research who could be a possible partner for this kind of
project, they found out about our former work and affinity for nature and strange creatures. So they got in
touch to see if we’d be interested. They definitely wanted to stick to the facts they had discovered but were
open to turning this into a more filmic experience. A perfect match for both sides!
2. What were the main creative challenges of the project?
The biggest challenge was to not come up with any additional elements to the pretty rough reference we
got from the client and stick to the facts but try to make the film as interesting and visually appealing as
possible. Also, the biological process we had to visualize was quite complex, so we were struggling with
finding a way to make things understandable and entertaining.
3. What were the main technical challenges of the project?
Obviously there were a lot of chemical / biological interactions in the brief and the way the fruit is built up
and grows is pretty complex. There were lots of details we had to take into consideration and we tried to
rebuild as much of those as we could. So lots of simulation and heavy geometry were the bigger technical
challenges we had to face while we, on the other hand, were having lots of fun with the animation and
enjoying the very unique challenge.
4. When was the work completed?
We finished the film in March 2017.
5. What was the production schedule and budget?
The initial brief suggested a production period of 3 months and we were offered a pretty tough budget. After
we created a quite simple first concept of the visualisation that left out some of the details and definitely felt
more like a biological explanation-video, the client was pretty disappointed because they always had
something in mind that quality-wise could stand in a line with the short films we produced in the past like
“458nm” or “Loom”. When we reiterated that we’d need more time & budget for something similar, sadly
and luckily at the same time, the project was cancelled because they thought it wouldn’t make sense for
them if we couldn’t animate the complete biological process in a cinematic style. Two weeks later, we got
an email from the institute telling us they found a way to finance the film - they found someone with a deep
love for the institute and their work...and a quite solid financial situation. This person was really interested in
the project and our work, so we ended up with a way better, realistic budget and we worked on the film for
about 9 months. Until today, we still don’t know where the money exactly came from but we hope the donor
is happy with the result!
6. What hardware and software were used?
At the studio we’re working on standard HP workstations, 12 cores, 32gigs of RAM. On the software side,
we used Softimage, Arnold, ZBrush and Houdini for FX, comp work was done in Nuke.
7. Are there any other details or productions stories you would like to share?
When we started production, we were using a track from New York based producer “Hot Sugar”. After we
worked with the track "There's A Man Waiting At The Bottom Of The Stairs" as a reference for the film
for a while and listened to it in our internal meetings, everyone started to hum the melody of the song at the
studio. So when we were at a point where we had to start producing a song we could actually use as the
musical track, everyone was already so in love with the Hot Sugar track, we just took our chances and got
in touch with music label “Ninja Tune”, which owned the rights to the song at the time. After we presented
the animatic to Ninja Tune and Hot Sugar, they seemed to like it, so they gave us the permission to use the
song for the film for more of a symbolic amount of money. We were super excited being able to actually use
the track we’ve been building the film on. And, the most funny thing about it is, in the beginning of the
project, the guys from KSPRI didn’t want to have any music but a narrator on it, which we thought would
weaken all the work we put into making it more cinematic. So in the beginning, the track was more of a joke
to us, we just wanted to put something onto the piece that stood in contrary to the theoretical and first dry
facts of a biological emergence-process. We accidentally sent a review without muting the track and the
client was immediately highly in love with it. In the end, they even timed their visit to us in Berlin in the way
so that they could see a Hot Sugar show. Finally, we think the track fits perfectly to the wonderful weirdness
of the film.
8. What is the story behind the title?
Since the client discovered that this special berry mainly grows in parks and its teeth are built like shark
teeth, they picked the latin equivalent as a name for the plant: Parco Pistris - which basically means Park