ROCKFISH, the second computer-animated short from Blur Studio
, currently on the short-list for Oscar consideration, was screened publicly for the first time, Nov. 21, 2003 for a confab of journalists and animators at the Charles Aidikoff Screening Room in Beverly Hills, California. Far more ambitious than last year's award-winning AUNT LUISA
, the 9-minute ROCKFISH is a widescreen sci-fi adventure about a blue-collar worker (Kirk) and his faithful alien buddy (Argent, a cross between a dog and a monkey). Set on a barren planet in a distant corner of the galaxy, Kirk rounds up creatures that "swim" through rocks below the planet's surface and menace the local miners. Kirk and Argent wind up confronting the mother of all underground predators- a prehistoric-looking fish -- in a battle of survival.
"We think there's a niche between FINDING NEMO
and FINAL FANTASY
, and I personally like over-the-top, [heroic] adventures," explained writer-director Tim Miller, who is also co-founder and creative director of Blur. "It's nothing deep and we didn't try and do photoreal characters. It's too hard and I'm not interested in photoreal."
ROCKFISH was the product of an internal contest, though Miller originally conceived it. It took four months to make and was supervised by a staff of eight (with 40 other staffers contributing). ROCKFISH offers realistic surfaces, lighting, effects and stylized characters. The look of the alien desert planet, credited to art director/visual effects supervisor Jeremy Cook, is a cross between PITCH BLACK and ROAD WARRIOR. The film utilized 3ds max for animation, Photoshop for textures, Digital Fusion for compositing, Brazil for rendering, Premiere for editorial and Vicon for motion capture.
Speaking of which, Blur experimented with a new motion capture technique in which the filter keys were kept down (every 10th, fifth or third) and Kirk was keyframed on top of that. Plus Blur did a digital intermediate pass on rock, sky and light for detailed shadows and ambiance.
ROCKFISH credits include:
Director & Writer: Tim Miller
Story: Tim Miller, Jeremy Cook, Paul Taylor, Chuck Wojtkiewicz
Visual Effects Supervisor & Art Director: Jeremy Cook
Animation Supervisors: Jeff Weisend, Tim Miller
Producer: Sherry Wallace
Storyboards & Concept Art: Chuck Wojtkiewicz, Sean McNally
Layout Animator: David Nibbelin
Animators: David Nibbelin, Luc Degardin, Jean Dominique Fievet, Makoto Koyama, Davy Sabbe, August Wartenberg, Remi McGill, Jeff Wilson, Jeff Weisend, Wim Bien, Onur Yeldan, George Schermer, Jeff Fowler, Jason Taylor, Derron Ross, Cemre Ozkurt.
Modelers: Heikki Anttila, Irfan Celik, Jeremy Cook, Jerome Denjean, Kevin Margo
Finishing & Lighting: Jerome Denjean, Heikki Anttila, Kevin Margo, Jeremy Cook, David Stinnett, Dave Wilson, Sebastoen Chort
Visual Effects: Daniel Perez Ferreira, Seung Jae Lee, Kirby Miller, Sung-Wook Su
Rigging & Cloth Simulation: Paul Hormis
Animation Technical Director: Jon Jordan
Motion Capture Supervisors: John Bunt, Jeff Weisend
Title Design: Jennifer Miller, Wonhee Lee
Motion Capture Actor: James Silverman
Production Coordinator: Debbie Yu
Production Assistant: Amanda Powell
Programming & Systems Administration: Duane Powell, Dave Humpherys, Daemeon Nicolaou, Matt Newell, Barry Robison
Music: Rob Cairns
Sound Design and Recording: Gary Zacuto, Richard Gray, Pete Kneser, Shoreline Studios
Digital Film Recording: Title House Digital
Film Processing: Fotokem
The 76th Academy Award nominations will be announced at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Jan. 27, 2004. The Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Feb. 29.
Venice, California-based Blur Studio, the 3D animation, vfx and design house, was founded in 1995. For more info, call (310) 581-8848.