• Creating history, the Turkish human flyer
    is revived in a final year Supinfocom Arles production.

    CGSociety :: Production Focus
    27 January 2011, by Paul Hellard

    The idea came from a historical event, which has been recorded as the first flight of a human being. Before the Wright Brothers, before the French balloonists. History tells us that Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi jumped from the Galata Tower in Istanbul and flew for three miles over the Bosphorus Strait in 1632.

    “We wanted to tell the story from a different point of view by rewriting this tale of heroism in a funny and dynamic way,” explains Tolga Ari, the TD and Team Leader of the Supinfocom Arles animation class, having been working hard on their end of year project.

    “This is why we chose to create a chain reaction which pushed Hezarfen to make his first flight,“ says Ari. ”We wanted to keep a historical part of the story while using our imaginations to give the story a whole new dimension to breathing new life into the narrative.” The final year Supinfocom Arles crew completely expanded their focus from Hezarfen alone and created several other main characters for this entertaining short film, their final year creation. Aside from Hezarfen, there are four other important characters; the man on the cart, the chicken, the shepherd, and the women in the hamam. All of these characters make a contribution to the storyline, bringing completely different angles to the story as it stumbles along.

    The concept of the characters were simple in a way. For the design, they researched animated movies produced by Disney/Pixar, also Creature Box amongst others like those out of Gobelins and many other 2D illustrations.

    “Our goal was to have a uniform style, with hard edges,” explains Romain Blanchet, Art Director. “We spent considerable time creating and attributing roles to the main characters. When we finally agreed on them, we began developing their outlines and their shapes to be able to tell them apart, and finally get an interesting line up.” Since their graphic style is mainly defined by the style of the characters, the Hezarfen crew had many long discussions about them and found that the chicken was the easiest to agree on.

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    The first design was of the shepherd. Of course, the most difficult was Hezarfen. “Even if we didn’t see him too much in the movie we imagined him in a lot of different ways,” adds Blanchet. “Hezarfen is a legend, which is why he was more heroic at the beginning. However, we decided that a heroic appearance wouldn’t fit with our movies tone. By creating him in a more human light we thought that the audience wouldn’t believe that he could fly at the beginning and that way could be surprised at the end.”

    Hard yards
    As in many productions, the started by preparing some model sheets as a guide to modeling the characters. The style of the characters are particularly sharp so they had to interpret the design in order to define all the edges on the model. “We painted all the textures by hand to be able to obtain what we desired on the render,” says Remy Hurlin, Lead Animator. “We can feel a 2D aspect because of the colors we placed using this method.”

    For all the drawing and texturing part, the small crew used Adobe Photoshop. For all the modeling, they used 3ds Max with the V-Ray renderer. Finally for compositing and editing we used Fusion, After Effects and Premiere respectively. "The one and only workstation was a Fujitsu Celsius with Windows Vista 64," says Lead FX Artist Chung-Yu.

    “We made Hezarfen as our final project, during our last year at Supinfocom Arles, the celebrated French CG school. We were a team of four but we had a good organisation because each member had his own speciality. While we lost a lot of time during the pre-production, another student of Supinfocom helped us for two months on the animation. His name is Ma Chao and you can discover his Graduation movie this coming July. Watch out for it.

    The biggest challenge was the layout. This was because at the beginning, they decided they couldn’t feel the inertia of the chain reaction style of story. The young crew wanted to create a rhythm with funny actions which became more and more dynamic throughout the film. They consequently got stuck on different stages of this chain reaction.

    And if you think these guys are working closely together you’d be wrong too. They are almost all working in different countries. Romain Blanchet worked in a creative studio as a 3d Generalist and will work soon at Mac Guff Ligne in France as CG Compositing Artist. Chung-Yu is in Taiwan working on a personal short film called ‘Onion Cosmos’. Remy Hurlin works now at Ubisoft in Paris as an animator for cinematic and Tolga Ari is working at Double Negative in London on a new feature film project.

    “Lighting and compositing went very well because we knew exactly what we wanted, adopting a great pipeline in order to avoid wasting more time,” explains Tolga Ari. “There were times in pre-production though when we encountered some problems because we could not decide on exactly what we wanted. That part made up most of our wasted time on the project. After several months, it was hard to keep a positive attitude but we managed to overcome that. Thanks so much to Phillipe Balmossiëre and Christophe Devaux for that, they never stopped motivating us!”

    Related links:
    Supifocom Arles
    Tolga Ari, Technical Director
    Romain Blanchet
    Remy Hurlin
    Chung-Yu Huang

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