In case you missed it, take a look at The Divisor here, and check out what Nick had to say about its creation, as well as a few insightful videos on how it was made:
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into CG?
I first came across computer graphics while I was studying at university. It was my friend and group mate who introduced it to me. In those days, I didn’t have my own PC, but when I saw 3D modeling opportunities I immediately bought one to study animation and 3D modeling software.
And at what point in time did you start developing your idea for Divisor? We'd love to know what inspired the abstract concept.
A couple of years ago I drew the first sketches of the character’s design and environment. During that time, the first prototypes of virtual reality helmets started to appear. It brought me to old cyber punk science fiction movies of 80-90s which I used to watch, and their imagery has always of special interest to me. I liked the huge helmets one had to put on to enter virtual reality etc. The central focus of those movies is often the risk of global control (Big brother is watching you!) through new technologies and all stuff around that. Besides films, I experienced a huge influence of the Allegory of cave by Plato. The character’s design and environment elements were inspired by one of my favorite computer game MDK (1997 Shiny Entertainment)
Your design style is incredibly unique. How did this aesthetic come about? What kinds of experiences did you have learning and developing it?
In the beginning, I tried different styles, made experiments, watched the trends and studied the works of other artists – all these blended up in my own style, but I should say I am still seeking my own way. Right now I can definitely say that red color will be present in the next projects. But the style may transfer.
Speaking of the red tones, your colors are incredibly gripping. What led you to this palette of prominent blue tones and red accents?
I had a lot of variants of palette when I started to work, step by step I was putting aside those colors that didn’t suit my mood so I ended up at this palette. Besides this tone well matches with the red color.
What software(s) did you use on the short, and what drew you to using them? We're curious to know if you stick to the same trusted tools for each project, or if you vary it up depending on the look you're going for.
Mainly I use 3ds max, Nuke some Adobe tools. I always try to use checked tools, which I can use confidently. If that is not enough I study new software. And for sure I try to follow the latest trends in CG to implement knowledge in my projects
What are some of the techniques that you used to create a look that ultimately feels like a hybrid of both 2D and 3D?
The project contains a lot of camera mapping – that saved time on rendering sequence. For all other needs I used simple composition.
What sort of pipeline did you use when creating Divisor? We'd love a general overview of the project's process from design stages to completed product, as well as how long the process took to create as a whole.
Conceptart-Modelling-Rigging-Texturing-Animatik-Edit-Animation-Rendering-Compositing-Final Edit-Color Correction
Because I did everything by myself, I had to think since the first storyboard how to optimize at maximum so that influenced from the very beginning on the character’s image in the final part. While making first sketches, I was thinking how would I model that. The first challenge came when I started to animate the character. It was the first time I was doing such amount of animation – I had very little experience in character animation before the project. So I had to study on-line lessons of animation in process. To make the work easier, I tried to use motion capture with Xbox360 Kinekt but that helped only for the first animatic. So I had to improve everything manually by correcting keys of animation. Animation took the major part of the project time. Rendering and composition went easier: I set few rendering presets using different episodes and later used them if necessary. I installed few layers of fog for atmosphere so I needn’t to build the background thoroughly. When I ended up with all film plans I had just to edit everything and set the final effects with color cutting. The one-reel took all my free time from commercial projects. Sometimes I put it aside for a week or two – that is why the creation process delayed a bit. Eventually I had to cut few episodes to finish the whole work and that of course influenced the whole storyline. But if we exclude all delays it took a bit more than a year.
Do you have a favorite part of the process? Alternatively, what's an area you're not as enthusiastic about, or feel you have some room to improve?
I like all stages of the project: something takes more time, something less, something better, something not – but try to pimp all my skills equally so there is a lot of space for further improvement.
What is something you learned about your own workflow or technique in Divisor's creation that you will carry with you on your next project?
I have got an amazing experience working by myself from the first sketch to final edit. I have lived trough all steps of creation. I think I will have a small team for my next project and my experience will help me to understand better and cooperate with the team on all stages of production.
What's next for you? We'd love to know of any projects that you're currently working on.
I have started to prepare for my next project. It’s based on the Shoot'em up games and its subtype "Bullet hell" (in Japan"Danmaku") This genre is out of fashion nowadays but it has brought my great interest and given a number of ideas for a new one-reel.
What advice can you offer those in our audience who would like to develop their own IPs ? We know this is not an easy feat, so any tips you can throw out about how to begin, things to be aware of, etc. would be awesome to hear.
The most important thing about starting your own IP is not to drop out and finish till the end!
We'd like to thank Nick for taking the time to provide us with an inside look into how he created his short film, The Divisor! We hope this inspired you to create.