Welcome to the fourth annual Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival. Every Monday morning for the next eight weeks we’ll be debuting one of these remarkable student animated shorts selected from among hundreds of submissions.
We begin the festival today with our Grand Prize winner, Brain Divided, a film directed by Josiah Haworth, Joon Shik Song and Joon Soo Song at Ringling College of Art and Design. The film, which will receive a cash prize of $1,000(US), was selected for the top award by this year’s guest judge Evan Spiridellis of JibJab. Cartoon Brew would also like to thank JibJab for their sponsorship of this festival. Their strong support for student filmmakers makes this event possible.
Brain Divided succeeds on every level as an animated short. The filmmmakers’ command of both animation and technology is flawless. But the value of their film lies in how they apply their technical skills toward making an entertaining and funny film. They take advantage of every opportunity for visual humor and delight us with sharply timed gags. The personalities in the film are especially well defined: the two human characters strike just the right balance of comedy and believability, while the two sides of the brain have a satisfying evolution as characters within the span of the film.
Continue reading for comments from the filmmakers:
The dating game is one of the most nerve wracking experiences that anyone can go through. So we thought that this would be a great story to pursue. The original concept started off as two guys attempting to impress a beautiful Disney Princess-esque girl, but it lacked character, fun, and a more dynamic relationship between the two main characters. One day while surfing the web and brainstorming we were inspired after seeing an animation clip of the classic angel vs. devil on the shoulder complex. we instantly thought of Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove. Watching the interactions of his shoulder angel and devil was always hilarious and we wanted to try and recreate that comedy in our own film. However, we knew that the this concept has been done a lot in the past so we wanted to put our own spin on it. This led us to come up with the idea that the “Angel” and “Demon” were actually the “Left” and “Right” side of the brain fighting for control. We thought it would be great to literally go inside the head and see the physical battle that ensues within the mind and its effect on our main character. This gave us everything we wanted, a fun and simple story, with a broad range of character animation that we could play with.
All animation and lighting was done in Autodesk Maya 2013 using the Renderman plugin using linear workflow. All four of our characters were rigged using The Setup Machine (TSM) with some modifications, thanks to Jeremy Cantor, that allowed us to get a bit more versatility. Post processing, compositing, and effects were done in NukeX and edited together using Adobe Premiere. Adobe Photoshop allowed us to tweak individual frames as well as test lighting ideas. All of the software and powerful HP workstations that we used were provided by Ringling, as was use of the school’s powerful render farm.
One of the biggest challenges was writing and creating good comedy while making the story flow and work seamlessly. Because our piece was strongly dialogue driven, we needed to write a script that was witty, charming and real. It was very difficult because we had no prior experience in screenplay at all. It was a lot of trial and error while simultaneously coming up with fun slapstick comedy, and juggling the variety of characters that we had. It really pushed our storytelling abilities and writing capabilities to another level. Also, our film was one of the longest to come out of Ringling and keeping it all organized and on time was a huge undertaking. We had approximately 90+ shots to animate and light, split up between the three of us. But to make the films visuals work better we had to learn how to use Nuke, and before the final semester of school we had never used it. Juggling thirty shots each while learning new software gave us our fair share of sleepless nights.
The most important things we learned from our film was how to streamline story and to trust in your team. Often times shots ran too long or were too complicated and we found that they read much better when they were simplified. This may mean taking out an unnecessary pose or changing the acting entirely. But making these changes helped create a well paced film that had all the entertainment and character we wanted. Even though we had never worked on a team at Ringling before, we entered this film with the confidence we could get it done and hopefully make it funny. Although creating the film was extremely difficult and stressful, through trust, constant communication, and with the help of a 24 hour Denny’s we learned how vital teamwork is to completing a film.
We drew a huge inspiration from actors such as Jim Carrey from The Mask and Eddie Murphy from Doctor Dolittle as well as animated characters like Pepe Le Pew and Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove. All of them had elements that we loved to watch and wished to emulate in our film. A lot of inspiration also came from the students around us and the incredible work they were doing on their films. It was a real driving force that motivated us to make our film the best it could be. Our faculty was equally inspiring and provided us with an enormous amount of feedback and great advice.
WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS
Josiah Haworth: My goal is to be doing character animation for a major studio or an up and coming studio. Of course Disney, ReelFX, and Bluesky are high on that list! Just give me a mouse, Maya, and a project and I’m good to go!
Joon Soo Song: I want to be animating. I’d love to work at Disney, Dreamworks, Pixar, Blue Sky, Blizzard, Blur, Laika, ReelFX, Insomniac, and the list goes on. As long as I’m animating I’ll be happy.
Joon Shik Song: I want to be at Disney working my way towards directing or animation supervisor. If I’m lucky I’ll be hanging out with Mickey Mouse talking about our next feature film. It’ll be just like the good old days at Ringling, late nights and coffee breaks :)
Joon Soo Song: Animation Reel
Joon Shik Song: Animation Reel
Brain Divided Facebook Page
The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.