Bolstered by the success of it's first Oscar-winning CGI short, THE CHUBBCHUBBS!, Sony Pictures Imageworks is releasing another computer animated short, EARLY BLOOMER, on May 9, 2003. Kevin Johnson created and directed the coming-of-age tale about a tadpole as he tries to fit in with his mischievous pond pals. The short began as an in-house training exercise at SPI under the guidance of exec director of training and artist development, Sande Scoredos, for its animators and effects artists to work on the latest methods and new tools to explore visual storytelling. Scoredos was also associate producer on EARLY BLOOMER. Specifically, the BLOOMER crew worked with Imageworks' proprietary facial animation system and RenderMan 11, and developed new scripting tools and standards. Johnson and his crew strove for a traditional sensibility, but the stylized painterly look and ethereal underwater environment were realized using refraction, caustics, particle and wake effects and ambient occlusion.
Johnson joined SPI two years ago and was head storyboard artist for THE CHUBBCHUBBS! that was directed by Eric Armstrong. Johnson, a storyboard artist for Sony Pictures Animation, previously held staff positions at Warner Bros., Disney and Don Bluth Studios. EARLY BLOOMER has been selected amongst hundreds of submissions for the upcoming Electronic Theater at SIGGRAPH 2003, according to SPI president Tom Sarnoff.
The experiment in animated shorts has proved fruitful for SPI. The studio released THE CHUBBCHUBBS! in front of MEN IN BLACK II and STUART LITTLE 2 and placed the short on the MEN IN BLACK II DVD. THE CHUBBCHUBBS! will be available as a standalone DVD in stores on April 11, 2003. EARLY BLOOMER will most likely be playing in front of the studio's May 9 release of DADDY DAY CARE, starring Eddie Murphy.