Pen15’s nostalgic 2000s look came from eBay finds and spot-on AIM visuals

The description of Pen15 of the early 2000s is frighteningly, uncomfortably accurate, and even that is not enough. The great Hulu comedy, produced by Lonely Island members Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, is designed at a level that viewers describe as "giving them" PTSD flashbacks "to high school. creators Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine play their 13-year-olds in a group of real high school students, but they blend in perfectly.They are incredibly awkward, with braces, bowl cuts and ponytails with two strands of hair that frame The face.

The production designers, Grace Alie and Ali Rubinfeld, were responsible for making each scene of Pen15 feel as if it were set in the Y2K era, and the accessory devices they demonstrate. "That was really one of the biggest challenges, finding all that technology," says Rubinfeld.Dismas, boomboxes and large family computers are among some family relics. is that they look on the screen. Alie and Rubinfeld found them in thrift stores and vintage electronics stores like Homeboy Electronics Recycling in Los Angeles. But the show also features some novel items on eBay, such as the Kawasaki Jet Ski phone that Maya uses to call her mother from a party. "We have two of those, because Ali and I saw it, we loved it and we bought it," says Alie. The background photos are full of more eBay findings, such as the Tamagotchi key fobs, which can be seen hanging from backpacks in the school hallway, and a Polaroid i-Zone (now discontinued, because they uselessly produced tiny 2-inch photos ) hidden in a locker. 19659003] Hulu

The designers felt it was important that the technology shown on the screen accurately reflect the period. "We started by researching which computers came out that year, or three or four years before," says Alie. Before production started, Alie found an iMac G3 on the street and kept it until she realized that the program should go with PC. "We had to choose a computer to use, because they did not have the budget to make two different animation styles for the AIM episode," says Alie. However, if the budget was not a problem, Alie guesses that Anna would have had the Mac. "She is the only child." Maya's family, there are two of them, and Maya's father is a traveling musician and his mother is a lover. from home, so I feel they would have been more frugal with their money. "

"AIM" is the most outstanding episode of the season. It opens with a dial tone from AOL, after the first incursion of Anna and Maya into the chat rooms, and ends with Maya in the fishing and falling in love with her boyfriend AIM FlyMiamiBro22. (Which one of us did not pretend to be 26 / f / California when in reality we were just preadolescent preadolescents?) You had to write a separate graphics script for the shots that showed the AIM chat windows, with screen animations supervised by the visual effects supervisor Patrick Longstreth.

The storyboard contained detailed instructions on everything from the screen names to the AIM friends icons. For example, the "Hot People of Franklin County" chat room contains some gems such as "PhuckMaStick330" and "Buttchug69," and the FlyMiamiBro22 friend icon is an AIM avatar on a bench press. Other AIM icons include an image of a spork subtitled "Wanna spork?" And an AIM avatar that juggles, with the words "Play With My Balls" below. "We recreated them very closely so we would not get in trouble for stealing them, but they were inspired by the real icons we found," says Longstreth.


Badass Buddy

Maintaining a constant user interface was a challenge. As Google searches for reference images, several versions of AIM will appear. So the visual effects department had to turn to the Internet Archive to remember what the websites looked like at the time, including Ask Jeeves about the scene where Anna asks Jeeves, "Am I racist?"

"In some cases, we had to" manually rebuild some of the graphics piece by piece, but probably half of it was built with existing screenshots, "Longstreth says." Just for fun, I introduced a Netscape Navigator browser into one of computers, because that's what my dad used, and I thought it was really fun. "The level of detail in each shot is amazing: even the desk background in Anna's dad's computer, an image of dogs playing poker , was intentionally pixilated to seem low resolution.

Erskine and Konkle also ensured that the chat dialog was true to how children communicated online, to customizable fonts and colors. "They were very particular about the spelling, and spelling mistakes in particular, "says Longstreth." They were like: "Capitalize this letter, and then do not capitalize this letter." And I thought: is this, capitalize all the other letters? "I do not understand what this means."

pen15s nostalgic 2000s look came from ebay finds and spot on aim visuals

Take a look at that transparent phone.

The 10 episodes of Pen15 initial season are available on Hulu. [19659014]

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