With the feel of an underwater Western, Deep is set in a not-too-distant future when what’s left of humanity has moved undersea to stay alive. The story revolves around the crew of the nuclear submarine Norwood as they race to uncover the secrets behind the Wayfarers, a mysterious splinter group with the potential to wipe out humanity altogether.
The Deep team has been working in collaboration with Valve, one of the world’s most successful video game developers whose hit titles include the Half Life and Portal franchises. Valve has provided the Deep team with new tools and technologies based on the developer’s Source game engine. The tools enable flexible cinematography and editing, a simplified character animation process and economical lighting, sound and visual effects. Render time is cut to nearly nil, enabling rapid revisions to animation, which brings dramatic savings in time and money over traditional production.
Originally conceived as a graphic novel by Mitchell, Deep will initially be produced as feature film; however, producing in a game engine means that the characters and environments in Deep can easily translate to a game format. The team has already begun work on a playable level to be distributed via Steam, Valve’s online game distribution network, and plans to create additional content for digital distribution and provide opportunities for user-created content in the “DEEP” universe.
“Since the success of 9, I’ve been approached with several science fiction-fantasy projects but so many lack substance beneath the slick special effects,” said Acker. “Deep offers real sci-fi credentials but the story is rooted in the complex motivations of the characters making tough choices between right and wrong. I’m excited to be part of a team that is redefining what storytelling in general, and animation in particular, can be.”
“The collaboration with Valve has been a wonderful experience for all of us,” said Little. “The opportunity to produce it in this groundbreaking way gives us great creative freedom and allows us to leverage new distribution channels and platforms.”