Here are sketches on the inside of Nereus and Meri’s house, the older couple that take in Kelp, our main character. The inspiration comes from old fisherman houses of northern Europe, such as houses from the Faroe Islands and even Brittany, France. The clutter, trinkets and one-room layout conveys the austerity and the simplicity of their hard lives.
Copyright © 2014 · All Rights Reserved · One Eyed Robot
Here is an article a I wrote a short while back about the future of indie animation and how it relates to our endeavor with The Tale Of The Seas:
As the recent turmoils in the animation and film industry in the past few months indicate, there seems to be a need for a new formula in producing feature length animated films. Although questions were raised as what would be a better alternate to the multi-million dollars win-all or lose-all animated films, the steam on the subject seems to have died down a bit as the masses focus back on critiquing how good or bad the latest Dreamworks or Pixar releases performed.
The popularity of animated features at the box office has put a lot of pressure on the big studios to churn out huge budget, massive blockbusters every year, year after year. It seems that, unlike live action films and the film industry in general, the animation industry has only one formula to go after, and that is to only make big budget, number 1 box office films or nothing. That is a high feat to achieve consistently and perhaps the bar and budgets are set too high. Trying to only churn out massive blockbuster hits and if not go bust is a very risky business approach that gambles with people’s livelihood. When making a film that is not a number 1 but still is in the top 3, and still having to layoff of 100′s of animators and close studios shows there is something very wrong in how this industry is led.
The key to success in animation is diversity both creatively and budget-wise. There is a huge indie film market in the US and worldwide with various genres and niches (and budgets!) in live action. Why not expand that to animation? Animation is not a unique genre that needs 10′s of millions to be successful. We see the same formulas in CG animation regurgitated year after year (Ice Age, Madagascar, Shrek, etc,…), same gags, same comedy, same demographic, etc,… Hollywood execs do not take risks, they just try to repeat success by rehashing the same old. One must look elsewhere for change. Small studios and the animators behind them will lead the way. With our current technologies, beautiful and visually compelling stories can be told through animation without breaking the bank, and by not setting the bar SO HIGH, even a small film well produced can be successful both creatively and financially, rippling through the industry and bringing about a new wind of positive change!
For my part I have kept the focus on finding a better practical way to approach indie animation feature film production, especially since we are in the development process of our own animated feature. The most obvious solution is the story-driven micro budget animation film production route. Technology advances in both hardware and software, easy access to training online and the multiple media avenues offered by both the internet and mobile devices have made the need for alternate entertainment even bigger, access to an audience easier and animation production cheaper. Add to that the cloud-based production format where small teams of animators can work together from across the globe via uploading/downloading and exchanging files in a virtual pipeline almost instantly, and all the tools are at hand’s reach to produce an indie micro budget animated feature film! The mainstream animation industry would have you think its impossible, but eliminate the numerous middle men and pseudo-executives and you are left with a small creative core capable of producing a feature length animated film with a lower than expected budget.
Granted it will not be perfect, but perfection should not be the aim in this type of production, let’s leave it to Hollywood and their multi-million dollar budgets to making things “look perfect”, they have done so for years at the detriment of great stories. Flaws is what makes us all beautiful and this can apply to the way animation looks as well, making it more accessible and endearing. If the story is one well told and worth telling then the audience will forgive small visual shortcomings.
What would be considered micro budget? When exploring co-production options for our film we were quoted anything from 1 Million to 8 Million dollars and that was still considered very low in Hollywood standards. Heck, from my past experience, 1 Million dollars for a 2D animated feature is considered a low budget even in India! If you stripped down a small team to that core of artists I’m confident you can achieve the goal of producing a good micro budget animated feature film for under 300k, or under 50k, or maybe even way LESS depending on story and visual style.
How? If your original production is cash strapped, as all micro budget films are, you would want to still pay the artists enough to be interested in working on your project. Another option I am considering is to offer a percentage on the sales of the film to the artists, as an incentive for them to be part of the project and effectively OWN the film with us. Money better spent on the creators than the many executives involved if you ask me!
Also being a director and animator for over 10 years, I enjoy contributing more hands-on in the animation work. By producing an animated film on a small scale you not only keep creative control but also the rights of your film, reaping the rewards when it is finally distributed. Still, there are only a handful of creators who are in the trenches, pursuing the small budget production route, and it has to do a lot more with self-confidence than with logistics. Every time I have doubted myself in the past I realized it was because I was scared of the daunting tasks that laid ahead and rationalized by finding excuses as to why it was not doable. However, once I achieved the smalls goals along the way, it was clear the hurdles were imaginary and solidified by fear of failure as well as the Industry’s status quo.
There is definitely opportunities for exploring new avenues and One Eyed Robot will be on the forefront of the micro budget animated film production as it is, in essence, the ultimate form of artistic animated visual expression, embracing it’s shortcomings and turning them into advantages. A sincere story worth telling and an appropriate visual style is all that is truly needed for a successful animated film, regardless of how big OR small the budget is, and we hope to prove that first hand in the near future with our own upcoming project!
Follow our The Tale Of The Seas Facebook page for daily updates on our progress and behind the scenes!
Here are some early sketches of some of the villager’s populating our Tale Of The Sea world. We’ll be sharing more behind the scenes work and concepts in the news section as well as updates on the progress we make production-wise.
Copyright © 2014 · All Rights Reserved · One Eyed Robot
We’re finally live!
It was a long, well worth journey to this point with still a longer and exciting one ahead! The past couple of years have been spent developing the story, writing the script and the visual development of THE TALE OF THE SEAS, all leading to the production of our proof-of-concept, the trailer for our film! Feel free to check it out here!