MONKEY THIEF TRAILER
"Monkey Thief" is a captivating short student animation film that was entirely produced at SCAD. The creative genius behind this project is Zachary Ates, a highly talented character animator who serves as its creator and director. I have the privilege of assuming the roles of Visual Effects Supervisor and Lead Lighter and Compositor for this film.
The story revolves around a young boy named Myles, whose cherished sock monkey named Henry is his closest companion. Myles confronts the challenges of being bullied by a misunderstood individual named Delores. However, he ultimately discovers ways to triumph over these obstacles, leading to personal growth and meaningful connections.
This film is the result of a collaborative effort involving more than 25 artists, encompassing a wide range of disciplines such as animators, graphic designers, and foley artists. This diverse team of artists is working together to bring forth something truly extraordinary.
We are immensely proud to have received official selection at numerous prestigious film festivals worldwide, and we are honored to have been crowned winners at the Short Film Factory and Short to the Point Film Festivals.
I am featured in a interview with Short Close-Up Magazine about my experience with working on this film. My interview can be found here.
FILM FESTIVALS 2020 RECOGNITIONS
Maya | Arnold | Nuke
About the Project:
This remarkable project has been in production since the Fall of 2019, with the dedicated efforts of 3D modelers, riggers, and texture artists responsible for creating all the captivating characters and assets. Subsequently, they entrusted me with the task of crafting a movie poster for this film. Collaborating closely with the film's talented graphic designer, Hannah Wells, we brought the vision to life and produced a stunning finished piece. Additionally, I had the pleasure of working alongside another talented artist on our team, Lauren Presetenbach, to create a captivating second poster, to the right. You can explore the concept art and final renders of these captivating posters.
I took charge of the lighting, rendering, and compositing aspects of the project. To enhance the visual aesthetics, I devised a custom light rig using an HDR image that perfectly captured the sunset ambiance depicted in the given lighting references. This light rig was also utilized by the look development and texture artists involved in the project. In order to maintain focus on the central character, Henry the sock monkey, I utilized Z-depth techniques in Nuke to ensure that attention was appropriately directed and not dispersed throughout the environment.
One of the most significant challenges I encountered during this particular project was capturing the desired mood that effectively conveyed the overall essence of the film and evoked a sense of nostalgia, all within a limited span of 300 frames. To achieve this, I employed atmospheric volume techniques to replicate the hazy atmosphere of a late afternoon and the dusty ambiance inside a school bus. Utilizing spotlights and area lights, I carefully crafted the lighting setup to add depth to the scene without compromising its three-dimensional quality.
In the compositing stage, I skillfully integrated twinkling light rays and floating dust particles within the bus. This approach proved to be highly efficient, especially when it came to handling special effects, ultimately saving a significant amount of time.
Maya | Arnold | Nuke
After completing the movie posters, I was then challenged to take the movie poster and put it into motion.
Below is the final trailer video that I lit, rendered, and composited.
Putting the poster into "motion" was quite challenging because I couldn't just "pull it off" by using Photoshop. Keeping the same mood of the poster but in 300 frames was something I feel was successful about this project.
MONKEY THIEF 2020 - THE FILM
Maya | Arnold | Nuke
In my role as the Lighting Supervisor and Compositing Lead, I assumed responsibility for lighting 33 shots, rendering 48 shots, and compositing 48 shots for the final film. To establish the desired atmosphere for the environments, I meticulously crafted a custom light rig by utilizing an HDRI and a directional light that closely resembled the sunset depicted in the provided lighting references. This light rig was seamlessly incorporated by the lighters, who were able to import it into their respective shots and fine-tune the attributes to achieve the desired visual aesthetics. The rig also proved instrumental for the look development and texture artists, as it facilitated their work in creating consistent and cohesive visuals throughout the project.
The most daunting obstacles I encountered were the profound consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The severe limitations imposed on our resources posed a significant challenge, as we grappled with issues such as unreliable internet connections, the arduous task of transferring thousands of files from each team member, and the inability to collaborate in person. We had to adapt to working remotely, navigate time differences, and contend with an incredibly tight schedule to ensure the film's completion.
In the face of these hardships and constraints, we persevered by offering mutual support and displaying remarkable patience. Despite the myriad struggles we faced, I am immensely proud to declare that we managed to finish the film on time, fulfilling all the required deliverables for production.