A spirtual tale set in the mexican civil war...

Client: The Houston Symphony Orchestra

Inspired by Dia de los Muertos - the Day of the Dead - this 36 minute abstract animation featured as part of a multimedia concert experience commissioned by the Houston Symphony.  

Renowned Mexican composer Juan Trigos scored an evocative orchestral work which was performed alongside the fantastical animated film. The story, written by Oscar nominated producer Ben Young Mason, follows the tragic and dreamlike tale of two young lovers, set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, culminating in the celebration of the Day of the Dead. 

As Art Director, Graham Carter worked closely with Director Simon Armstrong, adding his illustrative flair to the world and the spiritual characters that percolate the film. Simon designed the central characters in a way that celebrated the festivals Mayan routes - to find out more click the links to the design and development blogs below.

'La Triste Historia was a complex project – Simon and the team did an outstanding job delivering an animation which exceeded our expectations'

Duncan Copp
Executive Producer



Story & Concept:

Ben Young Mason

Project Producer:

Duncan Copp


Simon Armstrong

Art Direction:

Graham Carter

Lead Compositor:

Jun Iwakawa


  • Design
  • Storyboarding
  • Animation
  • Editing

A wonderful tale...

'Such a wonderful tale of life and death, war and love, magic and faith.  
The multi-media experience ... embodied the true spirit of El Dia de Los Muertos,
not for profit, but for honor and respect, which is something this world certainly needs.' 

Marco Torres
Houston Pres

The Mayan influence

The humans in this story were created with a chiselled, stony aesthetic that was influenced by the idols of the Mayan and Aztec cultures who founded the festival.  Stark, simple Aztec patterns adorn the figures to create more detail.  These details have yet more impact when the characters switch to their death passes, as they shine over the skeletons revealed within at moments of death.

'We wanted to create something that people could paint their own emotions into.'

Simon Armstrong