Peter Chung Breathes Life into FireBreather
Peter Chung is best known for his cult classic series Aeon Flux, but his credits range from the adult direct-to-DVD titles Animatrix and The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury to animator and designer on the classic kids' series The Rugrats. Born in Korea, he studied animation at CalArts and has worked in the U.S. animation industry since 1981.
Now he moves into CG with an adaptation of the Image Comics title FireBreather. The story follows high schooler Duncan Rosenblatt who must come to terms with the fact that his mother is your typical soccer mom, but his dad is 300-foot firebreathing dragon, who wants him to take his thrown as King of Monsters.
The film is set to premiere on Cartoon Network on Nov. 24, 2010.
Rick DeMott: What drew you to FireBreather?
Peter Chung: It was a change to do a feature length CG film, which I hadn't done before. It was a chance to work with Cartoon Network. It's kind of unusual for a film like this to be made as a movie in the American market. It has many of the elements that I'm interested in. It's an action adventure, but with a more serious dramatic slant.
RD: What were some of the considerations you made for this project versus the projects you've done in the past?
PC: There are many ways of answering that. This is for a slightly younger audience than I have done in the past. I also wanted this to be more about the emotions of the characters and less about the conceptual or political or philosophical themes. But that was something that I wanted to do anyway. I wanted to do something more acceptable to a wider range. That was the thing I most had to adapt to.
For the rest of it, the way it works is when you start on a project you really have no idea how it's going to get done. No matter how many times you've done it. When you look back on it, you think, "How on Earth did that get done?" So I knew from past experiences that somehow we're going to get the right people together and it's all going to get done. A lot of it has to do with going along with the process. You have to be very careful in selecting the right people to work with you. But once you have the right people, the production goes pretty smoothly and in this case it did.
PC: There were a lot of technical things I had to learn to adjust to. But honestly it was a lot easier than doing it in 2D even though I have more experience working in 2D. It freed me up a lot. Some of the limitations I feel exist in 2D were not an issue in CG. For instance, putting textures on the characters. Working out lighting. Special effects. A lot of those things are built into the tools in CG whereas in 2D you have to create them by hand.
RD: Where was the animation done?
PC: The animation was done at a studio called SAMG Animation in Korea.
RD: Had you worked with them before?
PC: Briefly on a commercial that combined 2D and CG. I've known them a long time. We've been wanting to work together. This project came along and it happened to be a project we could work on together.