Your upcoming film Origin: A Call to Minds - in a few words,
what is it about?
Origin: A Call to Minds is a followup to my 2009 film Archon Defender
which follows the character Lorem,
a Shard Adept intent
on transferring her consciousness into a Resonator
called the Automa
The film deals with the repercussions of this decision, and how it's
generally a bad idea.
How would you describe Origin: A
Call to Minds' animation, and what animation techniques do you use?
The animation style is a non-photorealistic 3D rendering technique which
I've developed over the last couple of film projects
starting with Archon Defender, and then further refined in my 2010 short film
Tales from the Afternow: Little Rocks. I've combined
the 'cartoon shading' technique that I used in Archon Defender
with a technique
described by Issac Botkin in his 2009 Siggraph paper Painting with Polygons
which imparts a more stylized painted or artistic look
to the usual 3D rendering technique.
The intention was to create a look that was more like a concept art
painting rather than the crisp digital plastic look of a
Pixar film, something approaching the hand painted style you see in
Anime. In Origin, I applied all this to a 3D stereoscopic process,
which is trivial to implement in 3D software.
Call to Minds is of course a prequel to your earlier Archon Defender. To what extent are the two films intertwined, and will
somebody who has never seen Archon Defender
be able to understand Origin: A
Call to Minds? And why did you think Archon Defender
Origin is set in the world of Archon Defender; in terms of
being a prequel, in the actual storyline of this world it's set in the
distant past from the events in Archon Defender. The events in Origin are more of a
mythological basis for the world in Archon Defender, much in the same respect that
the ancient Greek and Roman era influence and underlie our modern culture.
You won't need to watch Archon Defender
to follow what's going on in Origin, but
there are interconnections between the films that should become more
apparent once you watch both films.
What were your sources of inspiration when
writing Origin: A
Call to Minds?
Well, Origin and Archon Defender
are both part of a much larger concept, the inspiration for the
entire world comes from a wide range of places:
Cosmological theory, quantum mechanics, theories of alternate worlds and
dimensions, all the weird stuff I hear on Coast to Coast AM which
I always have on in the background at night when I do most of my work.
Western and Eastern religions and philosophies, all the sci-fi and
fantasy books and cinema that I've ever read or watched... I've always
said that if you're going to plagiarize, then if you rip off as many
as you possibly can then it will seem that you've come up with something
With Origin: A
Call to Minds being a science fiction movie - is this a genre at all
dear to you, and your approach to science fiction?
always been a big fan of sci-fi, starting with the original Star Wars and
Battlestar Galactica as a kid; growing up in the
days of Space Shuttle launches and the Voyager probe missions, Blade
Runner, Alien, 2001. Now in 2012, we're living in a world
where a lot of the things described in sci-fi is real, so in that respect
sci-fi isn't as much "fiction" but more of a "list of stuff
words on your producer (and voicecast-member) Morgan Muscat [Morgan
Muscat interview - click here], and how did
he come on board?
I initially cast Morgan as a voice actor
during pre-production for Origin, he approached me offering his services
producer in the summer of 2010. One of the things I've learnt (the hard
way) as a filmmaker over the years is
to recognize and include the expertise of other creative people for things
I might not be the biggest expert at.
Voice acting is one of these areas, as is the expertise which Morgan
brings to this project as Producer.
The 64-question of course, when and
where will Origin: A
Call to Minds be released?
looking to get Origin on the festival circuit by the end of the year
(2012), after that I'm looking at some form of
internet distribution, but at the moment I still need to get a film with a
finished soundtrack to actually put out ;)
go back to Archon Defender
for a minute: What is it about, and
what were your inspirations for that one?
follows the path of a young woman, Colette, as she seeks her way through
adversity to redemption, as the world she once knew is torn apart by war
In terms of inspirations: all the stuff I mentioned up above ...
films of yours you'd like to talk about, any future projects?
never work on more than one major project at a time ;) Obviously I have a
few ideas what I want to do for the next production,
but I won't start working on that until Origin is good and finished.
got you into filmmaking in the first place and animation in particular,
and how does one learn to be an animator?
Rocketmen vs Robots
I started back
around 2001 making short music videos to a bunch of techno tracks I was
making at the time, that led into
the Rocketmen vs Robots series of shorts, all the while I was kicking
around the ideas which became Archon Defender
The way I learned animation was just by doing it. In terms of specific
techniques, that just flows from the requirements of
whatever shots you have envisioned. Before Archon Defender, I had never done 3D
characters with 'mesh skins' using 'bones' objects to drive the animation.
All the characters in Rocketmen were simple geometric shapes and animated
simply. For Archon Defender, I was forced to learn how
to model, rig and animate full characters in order to achieve the result
that I wanted. So the only way to actually learn how
to animate is to make animations. You're always going to be improving your
skills no matter how long you've been at it.
I'm sure in a couple years Origin will look as bad as some parts of Archon Defender
do to me now, but then again I've got some pretty
crazy ideas for the next film which are going to kick things up a few more
How would you
describe your approach to animation?
It's actually a lot
easier than most people realize, especially now that computers are cheap
and powerful enough to
do all the heavy lifting, and all the software tools you need are
available as freeware open source.
The hardest part is writing your script, if you have a weak idea to begin
with then your whole project will fail
or you may only have an idea capable of carrying a short film, not a
feature. If you want to make a feature, you
start with your script. One page of double spaced courier 12 pt equals 1
minute of film (unless you've got a lot of "put action scene
here" in your script.)
Now you need to storyboard your script, this is also a good time to start
sketching out concepts for the set, character and art design, you don't
need to be the best artist in the world, some of my storyboards are just
crude stick figures, especially if I have to draw the same thing twice.
Now record your voice actors. I learned this the hard way with Archon Defender. You
can easily find great talent who want to work on your project and will
happily work for free or beer if you ask nicely enough. Or do the voices
yourself if you want to spend the next two years or so listening to your
own voice a lot.
Then build all the sets, characters, and props that you need by going
through your script and storyboards to see what actually needs to be
Sync up the storyboards to the voice actor recordings to create an
"animatic" which is basically the finished film in terms of
pacing and shot composition except you still need to model, animate,
render and compose all the shots.
Model, animate, render and compose all the shots.
Add music and any sound effects that don't "drive" the
presto! you have a finished film! :D
In terms of production, I've been working on Origin since May 1 2010.
Production took just over a year, Jan 1 2011 to Feb 2012. Now I'm working
on sound effects, and David O'Hearn is working on the music score, which
means the film should be completely finished in another month or so. The
target is to have it finished by May 1 2012 which will be 2 years of pre -
main and -post production. This is working alone aside from the voice
actors. This is a similar timeline that the big studios take, and they
have hundreds of people working on the big budget films. So by this logic,
studios like Pixar and Dreamworks should be releasing hundreds of films
per year ;P
filmmakers who inspire you?
I'm a big fan of Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the
Cat) - there's a good video of him on YouTube at ComicCon where
he encourages individual animators to use technology to realize their film
ideas. That's one video I have on 'regular rotation'. Darren Aronofski is
another favourite director of mine, as well as J.J. Abrahms who crafts the
craziest action shots I've seen in modern films. Hayao Miyazaki is the
shizz when it comes to Anime.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
It's probably easier for me to give my top 10 for this one...
(these might seem like an odd assortment...)
In no particular order:
and of course, films you really deplore?
I recently didn't
watch Human Centipede 2, Thor, or Melancholia,
(although I did come up with a screenplay for a sequel called Watermeloncholia where
a giant watermelon destroys the earth.)
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
I've been too
busy with production to do a proper site for Origin yet; The main website
for Archon Defender
I also have a production blog with more info about Origin
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
should mention the books of Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art
and Do The Work. These two books are invaluable to any artist
who wants to bring their creative visions to reality.
for the interview!
No problem, thank you!