This was a landmark project in my personal development at Ad-Dispatch as technical director of animation, which on a team of little more than four animators is really a glorified title for “rigger” though on such a small team we all often have to do a little more.
The project was a Boy v. Beast app that was to be a companion to a series of books by the same name published by Lemonfizz Media. The reader was to apply their understanding from the stories to unlock games and features within the augmented reality (AR) app, and so we developed games based on the adventures in the book. The game cinematic, below, was from one of those adventures and was created in late 2012 by San Mathew (Director of Animation), Dane Aleksander (Technical Director of Animation), John Dyer (Animator), Jon Eisner (Compositor) and Eric LeClerc (Audio Engineer).
The story is of a young boy, Kai, who must use various technological weapons to defeat beasts that attack his world. It was for this young hero character that I first introduced script-assisted rigging to our animation pipeline. The small learning curve on this project meant that the time it took to rig each animated character for each app after this was reduced by a little less than half, and each rig was a more refined and stable result for the character animator.
Also for the cinematic we wanted to art-direct a shatter effect, which sent me back to the script editor and this time it was to experiement with the Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) plugin for Maya 2012. The shattering rocks meant we needed a dust simulation to give the effect the right feel and to give the scene a sense of atmosphere. A playblast, below, shows a render pass of the smoke effect that spun off Kai’s drill-car as it bursts through the shattered volcano wall in the intro shot of the cinematic. The particulate dust was among the visual effects that helped to silhouette the character animation in the dimly lit cave scene.