Jumbla teams up with Axis for Grey Goo video game

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Grey Goo Cinematics from Jumbla on Vimeo.

Jumbla recently teamed up with award-winning international animation studio Axis (Call of Duty, Halo, Need for Speed) to help deliver some exciting cinematics for Petroglyph’s latest computer game, Grey Goo.

Creative Director Callan Woolcock discusses how it came together.


Primarily Axis sent a storyboard of the Grey Goo cinematics that required motion graphics and in order to win the job we had to design one of the frames. The original brief was essentially just the storyboard of the scenes that required motion graphics, it was up to us to come up with the visual look of it. There was also additional scenes that were not fully choreographed yet, so we had a bit of creative license on those shots too.

Concept storyboard:

Grey Goo concept storyboard

Axis knew that they wanted the Plexus (web) look for the Goo scenes, however the final result is much more sophisticated and technically challenging than what was originally presented in the brief.

Plexus mood board:

Grey Goo Plexus mood board


Axis provided a lot of reference material, which included some high end Plexus work done in After Effects. From the Plexus references, the storyboard and a lot creative license we designed two style frames, of two different scenes – one from the inside of the Goo, the other of the Earth in space. 

Style frame – Earth in space:

Grey Goo style shot 7 Earth


Style frame – inside Goo:

Grey Goo style shot 5

We like to add as much detail as possible in our style frames. Finding inspiration from other high-end work we’ve seen, and taking bits and pieces and putting it together in a way it hasn’t been put together previously. It also comes down to playing around inside After Effects with the right plug-ins to try and push them in a way that they haven’t been before. I wanted to create something that a standard motion designer would not instantly know how it was produced, what plug-ins or what software was used to create it.


The entire cinematic scenes we produced were made entirely in After Effects. The main plug-ins used were Plexus, Element 3D and Trapcode MIR as well as Trapcode Form and Particular.

As After Effects is layer based, creating a world that is entirely 3D that we need to move through, sometimes in one continuous shot, can be challenging. We spent countless hours of going back and forth trying to get the scene to a point where everyone one was happy. In the end I basically went through and paused the frame every second and tried to match it to the original concept. 

For the shots of the Goo where a full-body Singleton (robot character) is visible, we were supplied the files from Axis, who animated the character, and we imported them into After Effects using the plug-in Element 3D. 

Many bugs were found during the production process of this project across both Plexus and Element 3D plugins, as both of these were pushed to their limits.

Style frame – Singleton hand:

Grey Goo style shot 6


The entire project was challenging! There was nothing really easy about it – every scene required a lot of work and a lot of attention to detail to get it perfect.

The fun part for me was the design/concept phase. Although you know you’re trying to create a scene that’s workable for animation, you always want to push it a little further. When you’re in the concept phase you know if it looks good or not straight up, so there’s a lot less back and forth trying to get things right. 

The other part that I enjoyed most was choreographing the section where the Shroud attaches to the Goo probe. We were unclear on what exactly the Shroud should look like in the early phases of design and were given a bit of freedom by the Axis guys to cut together the scene as best as we saw fit, which was a really fun part of the project.

One of the biggest challenges, but one that can also be strangely enjoyable, was the late nights. The deadline was extremely tight as things need to be turned around in around 2 months and although we’re definitely not strangers to this, it did get difficult after a while.

In the end it was a fun job to work on because for me personally, it’s exactly the type of stuff I got into this industry for in the first place – to tell awesome stories through the use of highly detailed motion graphics and animation in a way that’s unique and visually exciting!

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