Saturday, 30 June 2012

Raphus Cucullatus

The movie happens to have as it's real hero a bird that is so close to my heart that mere coincidence should not be able to explain the fact that Dodo movie meets Dodo nut by sheer serendipity. But, as I am not superstitious, randomness can be the only explanation... Here is a picture of my home-made umbrella and the window in our front door.

Ginormous files

As I was beginning to set up backgrounds for the "London calling" sequence, the files quickly exceeded the 2 gigabyte limit of Photoshop documents and I had to begin saving them as PSB files (Photo Shop Big?). As you may be able to ascertain from the images below, with the right hand framing of a scene being at least 2000 pixels wide, the entire map would be more than 20000 pixels by 9000 pixels to satisfy the requirements of a cinema resolution (2k) artwork. I therefore decided to strategically split the sequence up into overlapping segments that could be handled during compositing. Those elements could than be mapped onto a 3D surface and make up the path followed by the camera. As most transitions were cuts, rather than camera moves, the transitions could be hidden and the whole sequence looked like one continuous move on a giant map. I hope the sequence of images below illustrate the setup of the background and the arrangement of the individual scenes. No paper was harmed in the making of these artworks, it's all digital.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


In an earlier version of the titles, the pirates visited Egypt. This bit never made it into the final sequence, but here are some designs...

More map furniture...

Some li'l beasties that were later to add to the general peril on the seas...

Kraken from Felix Sputnik on Vimeo.

Monkfish from Felix Sputnik on Vimeo.

Seasnake from Felix Sputnik on Vimeo.

Map Furniture

There are things on old maps that add to their "mapp-ness", like labels and sea monsters...

Flash animation

There were a lot of moving ships in two of the three sequences I animated, so I decided to fake mild 3-dimensionality by using Flash. I also like the ability to duplicate and re-time masses of objects and render them out almost (but not quite) resolution independent. Files over 4000 pixels wide tend to have one of the colour channels (yellow) wrap itself around and come out all offset in the render. Here is a loop of a ship, rocking forward and backwards, with the sails being scewed to suggest perspective...

Flash animation bouncing ship from Felix Sputnik on Vimeo.


Early versions of the storyboard included more flatulence than the finished item. They were omitted despite knowlege of the fact that nothing beats a bodily function joke in the movies... All wind related actions served the purpose of propelling the pirate ship swiftly and uncontrollably from some A to some B in the scene.

Different lines

I was trying to find a line that would work close up without losing detail and in a long shot without becoming so thin they would be invisible... Here are some different approaches...

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Maps and Islands

Setup of a few maps and the pirates on and island that's about to sink.

The Crew

These are some early doodles of the pirate crew... For budget reasons, a classical approach to this sequence, animating on paper and scanning the scenes, was out of the question. I therefore decided to do all artwork on my cintiq and then treat it to look like it was badly aged by sun and wind on old parchment paper.

Test Ship

Quick test making the ship move...

Loupe-ship from Felix Sputnik on Vimeo.

The Pirate ship

In the movie, the pirate Captains proud vessel is actually nailed together from 2 halves of non compatible ships of roughly the same size. My first task was to draw the ship simply enough to make it work as a scratchy engraving on an old map...

First Test

After the first meeting in Bristol, I decided to mock up a few animations to suggest which direction the whole thing could go in. Here is a quick tests I presented to the directors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt. Never leave home without your peg-leg strap done up...

Pegleg Fail from Felix Sputnik on Vimeo.

The looting begins...

Last May, Aardman got in contact with me, asking if I would be interested to design and animate several 2D sequences for their new movie. I contemplated the offer for a second and went over to meet them. I'll be posting some pitch work that got me the job. Once the film is out on DVD in September, I'll blog some of the final sequences too, so, have patience. Here, is a little setup I cobbled together in Photoshop, using props from "The Corpse Bride". There is also a 3D version, in case you are in posession of some anaglyph glasses.