files/pictures/picture-35.jpgPress Release from Axis Animation
Axis delivers Perfect content for ENSLAVED: Odyssey to the West Axis have worked closely with client Ninja Theory to create over 12 minutes of stylish and charming animation for the premium downloadable content (DLC) addition to the critically acclaimed game ENSLAVED: Odyssey to the West published by NAMCO BANDAI Games.
The new premium DLC content, called “Pigsy’s Perfect 10,” is a new side story and gameplay experience featuring the rotund charmer Pigsy, who appears alongside Monkey and Trip in the original game.
‘When Ninja Theory approached us about being involved with “Pigsy’s Perfect 10” we were delighted,’ said Axis Executive Producer Richard Scott. ‘I had been watching the development of ENSLAVED and thought the game looked like it was going to be really great, so an opportunity to be involved was perfect.’
The Axis crew was presented with an interesting challenge. The project required a range of cutscene movies to drive the story along and the art direction needed to have its own unique feel but also compliment the style of the game.
The first steps for Axis involved a period of look development with a close eye on creating a style that was as rich and beautiful as the original game but that could be produced without the need to create a large amount of the sets and props.
The result was designed by Axis Art Director Gareth Hector and involved a strong graphic style for the backgrounds that would involve them all being painted in 2d. The characters were then to be taken straight from Ninja Theory’s game development pipeline into the Axis pipeline and rendered with a more stylised look to match the backgrounds.
‘The style that Gareth created was a big favourite with everyone when they first saw it, especially the guys at Ninja Theory. We knew it looked great and as a bonus it was fairly fast to produce, it was just what we needed,’ said Scott.
Gareth Hector then took up the challenge of storyboarding the project as quickly as possible. As Hector had defined the original style he was able to combine storyboarding and art direction into the one process, painting all of the boards in full colour, simultaneously defining the colour palette and lighting style for each scene.
At the same time Animation Director Andy Miller and Lead Artist John Barclay launched into working in 3d, blocking out key scenes and defining how the rendering style could be applied across shots quickly and efficiently.
‘One of the advantages of our production process was that we could very quickly move to seeing images that looked like the final film,’ said Senior Producer Debbie Ross. ‘With little or no assets to build we got very quickly into the core of the process. Almost jumping to what would be the middle stage of a more traditional production.’
The animation team worked in parallel with the 2d artists who were preparing the backgrounds, matching their animation to the roughed out paintings. Pigsy’s performance needed to have plenty of humour and it was a great chance for the team to show off their key frame animation skills.
Continuing the hybrid 2d/3d approach a lot of the depth and atmosphere was added to the final shots during the compositing process. Integration of the 3d and 2d was done in Digital Fusion and its 3d compositing capabilities were used extensively to create depth and save time avoiding more complex rendering.
‘Everything just fit together brilliantly on this project,’ said Scott. ‘The team really worked hard to deliver a creative solution that delivered for everyone but that never compromised on quality or production values. We are delighted to have been a part of rounding out Pigsy’s world!’
Speaking of the project, Ninja Theory Head of Production Mat Hart said ‘Our studio is well known for developing games that feature world class visuals and storytelling, and “Pigsy’s Perfect 10” is no different. Axis Animation’s creativity and understanding of the game has enabled us to create a product that feels very unique, but at the same time fits perfectly within our existing game world.
Developed by Ninja Theory Ltd., ENSLAVED is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure featuring influences and contributions from top music and film industry talent. ENSLAVED combines beautifully rendered graphics and captivating music with seamless animation and engrossing gameplay to deliver a premier entertainment experience. Players must have the retail game in order to access the “Pigsy’s Perfect 10” DLC content. For more information about ENSLAVED, please visit www.enslaved-thegame.com