For Bureau of Magic president Mark Warshaw, his studio’s ‘Five Nations: The Age of Atlantis’ graphic novel, animated TV series and Web3 project brings to life the legendary sunken city he’s been dreaming about since age 7.
“I've been dreaming about this project most of my life,” said Mark Warshaw, co-founder and President of Bureau of Magic, a leading animation and live-action entertainment company. To be precise, he has been dreaming of putting his own spin on the legendary story of the sunken city of Atlantis (with a dino-infused twist) since he was seven years old.
With credits such as Lost in Oz, East Los High, Smallville, and Heroes, Warshaw is currently collaborating with a small but mighty team on a graphic novel set in the “ancient future” entitled “Five Nations: The Age of Atlantis.”
The book centers on the parallels found between the myths of Atlantis and the world we live in today. For instance, some accounts of Atlantis tell of a time when warring factions misused powerful laser-based technology for material gains that led to cataclysmic environmental disasters. Sound familiar?
The “Five Nations” team is creating a menagerie of believable, recognizable, and awe-inspiring dinosaurs while working asynchronously across the globe.
Notes Warshaw, “We’re collaborating remotely between myself (based in California), our editor (based in Paris), and the illustrator and colorist (both based out of Naples, Italy).”
About “Five Nations: The Age of Atlantis”
Five heroes from five nations must set aside deep-rooted cultural differences to stop the dinosaurs threatening humanity’s existence.
The “Five Nations” saga begins when a young hero creates a weapon to protect his people from the polar dinosaurs invading his nation. When his invention falls into the wrong hands, it thrusts all five nations into a human-dinosaur world war, and ultimately leads to the great flood that sinks Atlantis - burying its stories, secrets, and mysteries… until now.
“Five Nations: The Age” of Atlantis is the story about humanity surviving the last age of climate change and the heroes who helped us do it. It celebrates life’s resilience in the face of its ultimate challenge.
"We’ve been developing this story for over 25 years," Warshaw shares. "But we chose to do it now because it really feels like the right time to retell the tale of Atlantis. When you boil it down, it is about an ancient modern civilization who harnessed the most powerful force in nature, misused it for material gain, and ultimately got swallowed up by the seas because of it. Plus, drawing stories with dinosaurs, flying machines, and laser guns is a lot of fun."
There are five volumes planned for the graphic novel series. The IP is also being developed into an animated TV series and a Web3 entertainment franchise.
A Peek at the Production Process
Warshaw and his team kicked off the project by outlining a remote creative review process, which allowed the team to create a virtual mind map to quickly get a lay of the land and share ideas.
Key elements of the graphic novel (such as the environments, characters, props, dinosaurs, and more dinosaurs) have been organized with a concise view of revision history, setting up a framework of building blocks to hone in on the perfect feel and tone for the project.
The digital skeleton of this massive project serves as a compass for all story and character design. Once the foundation was set, the team was ready to expand from the starting point and brainstorm plot points, storylines, and character arcs.
Creating a Visually Collaborative Process
The “Five Nations” team created their central hub within Bluescape, the visual collaboration platform trusted by the biggest studios in the industry.
“We found Bluescape to be an exceptional solution that made it feel like we were all collaborating in the same space," says Warshaw. "We invented an approval pipeline in Bluescape to lock down our previsualization and establish the look and feel of the environments, characters, props, vehicles, and dinosaurs. We utilize Bluescape to track each step of the production process.”
The “Five Nations” team also enlisted the help of Bluescape’s newest visual search feature, Popsync, to find the right look and feel for their larger-than-life cast.
Popsync takes advantage of Bluescape's visual collaboration capabilities, allowing content creators to search for the right picture and share a wide variety of content for collaboration. Once the results are presented in Bluescape, individuals and teams can collectively move, annotate, and present the visuals for anything from brainstorming to creative reviews.
"We got really excited about Popsync as soon as we heard about it," said Mark. “It’s so common within creative meetings to call up visual references. This tool lets us do that in our workspace and pull our selected references right into our mood boards."
Something Big is Coming Soon
“Five Nations: The Age of Atlantis” is just ramping up and will be hitting shelves soon. In the meantime, you can catch Warshaw’s animated series Lost in Oz on Amazon Prime.
Want to check out Popsync for yourself? Try for free here.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.