There’s nothing more inspiring than a collective of creative people coming together to make something special. Back in the summer of 2009, Martin Lubich decided to start production on a short animated film named Ara’s Tale.
This CG animated story follows the journey of Ara, a mysterious young woman, as she travels deep into a gigantic network of caves in search of the last remaining living dragon. The tale is supported by a beautiful original orchestral score by Philippe Rey that really brings to life the visual spectacle.
The initial idea of the project was to create a one and half minute short mainly for educational purposes. The project was entirely non-commercial with each team member dedicating his or her own free time to make the short a reality. As time went on, the idea grew in scale resulting in a final film that’s over eight minutes long.
This project represented a unique opportunity for Martin to explore new tools and methods of working. Martin explains: “The production of Ara's Tale was more or less an accident, it was not planned in the beginning. For some time I had this image in mind of a young brightly lit girl standing on the brink of an abyss, from where a huge dark dragon emerges. It worked as an image, but to portray my inner feeling of the scene I started to develop a background story to support my idea. Developing the story evoked a multitude of new images and visions and thus the first inner draft of the movie was born. It underwent countless modifications afterwards, but the basic theme always stayed.”
Interestingly Martin doesn’t work in the creative industry so the outputs of this project are a real testament to his talent. “My background is, from a professional standpoint, purely technical,” he explains. “I have been working as a software developer since 1987, currently in network security, but from early on in my childhood I was very fond of drawing, photography and film.”
His involvement in the computer industry alongside a passive interest in film sparked his decision to focus in on computer generated imagery. Martin invested a lot of time watching ‘making of’ documentaries on projects such as the Lord of The Ring’s trilogy. “Watching them really triggered something deep in me and I started to invest a lot of time in soaking up everything there was to learn about filmmaking in general, with a real focus on CG animation.”
MARI, The Foundry’s 3D painting and texturing package, ended up playing a huge role in the creation of the film. When Martin began looking at creative tools, the buzz around MARI and its use at Weta Digital put the software firmly on his radar. He put some time aside to read through the specs, watched the demo video and was ultimately extremely impressed with its capabilities and what it could bring to Ara’s Tale.
He explains: “The workflow shown there was exactly what I needed. I could just import the mesh and start painting on it like it was a canvas, plus take advantage of all the additional tools on top.”