Ten Ques­tions For Jake Row­ell Di­rec­tor, theBlu: Whale En­counter, Gnomes & Goblins

Animation Magazine - - Final Shot -

Those who have been watch­ing the VR scene closely are prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar with the work of Jake Row­ell, who has been mak­ing a big splash with in­die projects such as theBlu and the more re­cent Gnomes & Goblins. We caught up with Jake to find out what he has in store for fans of his in­no­va­tive projects. Please tell us a lit­tle about your back­ground and how you got into VR. I’ve been in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try for over 20 years work­ing for var­i­ous stu­dios (SquareEnix, DreamWorks, Sony and Ac­tivi­sion) cre­at­ing il­lus­tra­tions, vfx and an­i­ma­tion art. Four years ago, Andy Jones (an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor on Avatar and Jungle Book) rec­om­mended that I visit a stu­dio in Venice, Calif. called Wevr to look at an early pro­to­type of the HTC Vive. A week later, I pitched my vi­sion for Whale En­counter and what I felt theBlu could be in VR. That day, I signed on as the di­rec­tor and have been mak­ing VR prod­ucts ever since. In 2015, Andy brought Jon Favreau to visit Wevr and ex­pe­ri­ence theBlu. A few weeks later, he pitched us the ori­gins of Gnomes & Goblins, and I signed on to be his cre­ative di­rec­tor. What are you work­ing on right now? In ad­di­tion to be­ing the cre­ative di­rec­tor on the Gnomes & Goblins fran­chise, I am di­rect­ing another in­stall­ment of theBlu while we con­tinue to push the R&D ef­forts around the fran­chise. I am also the Head of In­ter­ac­tive for Wevr. I’m ex­cited about an up­com­ing part­ner­ship I have with Wevr to cre­ate one of my orig­i­nal IPs, which is some­thing we’ve been work­ing to­wards for the past year, and thrilled about its po­ten­tial. What did you love about work­ing on Early on, Jon, Andy and I had to try and breathe life into a new idea. It is one of the hard­est thing to do: start with a blank sheet of pa­per and cre­ate a new IP from the ground up. I feel good about what we came up with, and some of the DNA that I’ve added to it along the way. It re­ally is a fun col­lab­o­ra­tive ex­pe­ri­ence with Jon and the team. What was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind How long did it take to pro­duce? My vi­sion of theBlu was to cap­ture the scale and won­der of the ocean and its in­hab­i­tants while cre­at­ing a room-scale VR ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one to en­joy. The goal was to cre­ate a pow­er­ful ex­am­ple of what VR can be and in­spire peo­ple to work in the space. The first episode ( Whale En­counter) took us about three months to cre­ate. The next two episodes ( Reef Mi­gra­tion and Lu­mi­nous Abyss) took about four months each. How did your ex­pe­ri­ence with animated movies and VFX-driven projects help you with your VR projects? My time in fea­ture an­i­ma­tion taught me a lot about cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful worlds from the ground up (pre-pro­duc­tion). Shape lan­guage, color pal­ette and con­sis­tency of the char­ac­ters and the worlds mat­ter a great deal. The video game in­dus­try had a strong em­pha­sis on in­ter­ac­tiv­ity and player agency. Like an­i­ma­tion, the con­sis­tency of the char­ac­ters and world

When it comes to an­i­ma­tion ed­u­ca­tion, “this year’s model” has more bells and whis­tles than ever be­fore. Dur­ing the past few decades, we’ve seen higher ed­u­ca­tion classes ex­pand from 2D hand-drawn an­i­ma­tion to 3D CG and com­puter games, and most re­cently to aug­mented re­al­ity and vir­tual re­al­ity.

“The chal­lenge for schools is to make sure that tra­di­tional skills don’t get lost amid the em­pha­sis on learn­ing soft­ware,” says Tom Sito at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s School of Cine­matic Arts. As the Chair and Pro­fes­sor of An­i­ma­tion in the John C. Hench Di­vi­sion of An­i­ma­tion & Dig­i­tal Arts, Sito has watched higher ed­u­ca­tion evo­lu­tion take un-

topia The New (Vir­tual) Re­al­ity While clas­sic 2D and stop-mo­tion tech­niques are thriv­ing in the dig­i­tal age, an­i­ma­tion col­leges also are gear­ing up for the emerg­ing im­pacts of aug­mented re­al­ity and vir­tual re­al­ity. In Bach­e­lor’s pro­grams at CalArts and USC’s

CalArts School of Film & Video filmvideo.calarts.edu New York School of Vis­ual Arts sva.edu Rin­gling Col­lege of Art & De­sign rin­gling.edu Sa­van­nah Col­lege of Arts and De­sign scad.edu USC’s John C. Hench Di­vi­sion of An­i­ma­tion & Dig­i­tal Arts cin­ema.usc.edu/an­i­ma­tion

TheBlu: Whale En­count er ter En­coun Whale : theBlu

Gnomes & Goblins

Gnomes & Goblins

An an­i­ma­tion class at Sa­van­nah Col­lege of Art and De­sign.

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