Con­duct­ing a char­ac­ter

CG gen­er­al­ist Kendra Phillips on why sound was key in the mak­ing of a short an­i­ma­tion

ImagineFX - - Imaginenation Artist Q&A -

Kendra worked on the short film Silent, for Dolby Lab­o­ra­to­ries. “I was in­volved in ev­ery step of the project, from the client meet­ings and ini­tial pitch­ing phase at the very begin­ning, to and char­ac­ter de­signs, sto­ry­board­ing, de­sign­ing the main char­ac­ter and even­tu­ally mod­el­ling and rig­ging her to an ex­tent.

Here, it’s ev­ery­thing from as­set de­sign to matte paint­ings.” Now, at Moon­bot, he’s al­ready col­lab­o­rated on a video game, sev­eral short films in­clud­ing Chipo­tle’s The Scare­crow, and books such as The Fan­tas­tic Fly­ing Books of Mr. Mor­ris Less­more and the up­com­ing A Bean, A Stalk and A Boy Named Jack, writ­ten by Wil­liam Joyce, Moon­bot’s other creative part­ner.

Work­ing with Wil­liam [Bill] is far more or­ganic. On Beanstalk, Kenny says that, “The script ex­isted but it wasn’t set in stone and the ar­range­ment of the book was still up in the air. There were even in­stances where Bill hadn’t de­cided what was go­ing to be writ­ten on the page, but had given us a pitch of what was go­ing to hap­pen in the story. We just started do­ing sketches, Bill liked a few and wrote to match. That was awe­some. That doesn’t usu­ally hap­pen.”

Christina El­lis was hired by Moon­bot af­ter her 2010 grad­u­a­tion from Rin­gling Col­lege of Art and De­sign. “I was lucky be­cause my port­fo­lio wasn’t that im­pres­sive, but it was in­ter­est­ing enough to get an in­ter­view. They opened my sketch­book and saw how

I al­most al­ways get to do pre­lim­i­nary pal­ettes and gen­eral light­ing

many ideas I had, and how my mind runs at a mile a minute.”

At Moon­bot, Christina “floats like a fire­fighter on dif­fer­ent projects, but I al­most al­ways get to do pre­lim­i­nary pal­ettes and gen­eral light­ing.” She left her mark on nearly ev­ery phase of Wil­liam Joyce’s book, The Num­berlys.

“Bill will get ideas, put a draw­ing on your desk and say, ‘play with this’. Some­times I get to play for a day, some­times longer. It’s the process of nur­tur­ing.” Be­cause he knows his artists well, their skill sets and styles, Bill is usu­ally pleased with the re­sults.

“For two weeks I did vis­ual ex­plo­ration. We started a di­a­logue on how many pages the book had, what com­po­si­tions would be

where and what the story would be like. He’d give me more spe­cific draw­ings and the book kept get­ting pol­ished.”


Col­lab­o­ra­tion and fos­ter­ing re­la­tion­ships is one of Christina’s pas­sions, and she’s happy when the man­tle of lead is passed to a co­worker. “With Num­berlys, I got to be the main il­lus­tra­tor, but Kenny helped me with the il­lus­tra­tions when he had free time. When Beanstalk came around it was his turn to do the art and I was able to help him with com­po­si­tions or char­ac­ter de­signs when he needed it. I like re­la­tion­ships that change with the time and needs of the project.”

Now Moon­bot may be turn­ing the page to its next ad­ven­ture. The stu­dio’s ac­quired the rights to two books: The Ex­tincts and Olivia Kid­ney. Joe is tack­ling the char­ac­ter de­signs and con­cept art for what Moon­bot hopes will be its first fea­ture film. “I’m rest­less if I don’t get my hands in ev­ery­thing,” he says.

Joe Bluhm de­signed colour keys for The Scare­crow, which is one of his favourite tasks at Moon­bot.

Or­ches­tral set­ting “The orig­i­nal pitch was an older male com­poser with wild hair, con­duct­ing an off-screen orches­tra to show off the sound sys­tem. Af­ter it­er­at­ing on that idea for a while, every­one felt we should try dif­fer­ent ap­proaches.”

“There’s al­ways a mo­ment you see in your mind that be­comes the heart of a project.” Bran­don Olden­burg, on his in­spi­ra­tion for The Scare­crow.

Hair to­day... “We loved that the com­poser’s hair could be so ex­pres­sive – al­most be­com­ing a char­ac­ter in it­self – so we tried other op­tions.”

Kendra Phillips pre­pares for the direc­tor’s af­ter­noon rounds, re­fin­ing 3D mod­els for the short film, Silent.

While de­vel­op­ing The Num­berlys, Christina El­lis and Bill Joyce brain­stormed all el­e­ments of the book.

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