Launching only relatively recently in 2014, animation startup Brazen has now released a teaser of its Tempest project, intended to be pitched around as a feature.
The Dallas, Texas studio was formed by former Disney, Blue Sky, Reel FX, and Green Grass Studios veterans and is self-funded via commercial work. Tempest is part of a wider development of IP around the idea of a wayward ship captain.
Cartoon Brew asked Brazen CEO and director of Tempest, Bryan Engram, about the ideas behind the piece and future plans for a feature.
Originally, Tempest was going to be a “simple animation test, more of a technical and animation exercise than anything else,” Engram said. But as Brazen worked on the test, the studio wanted to go further with a wider story “about a man who has lost everything in his life because of his prideful ambitions and must return himself to the way things ought to be.”
Ultimately, the director noted to Cartoon Brew that the final product showcases what Brazen can do in storytelling, design, 2d animation, 3d animation, effects simulations, lighting, and compositing.
Those different techniques are on show in Tempest, for example, when the captain’s log and journal comes ‘alive’ like a 2d flipbook. Engram says Brazen has been specifically recruiting animators who are able to work in both 2d and 3d, and that the studio has a desire to produce both kinds of animation.
Brazen shared this exclusive video with us about finding the right animation style for the project.
“We made this choice [to use 2d animation],” said Engram, “so that we might be able to momentarily transport the audience into the captain’s past, giving us a glimpse at the pain and loss he has experienced thus far. We also wanted to use this moment to signify that his nemesis has indeed arrived. This book of his many illustrations plays a role in the feature film, as well.”
The effects were further challenges to pull off in Tempest. Brazen had hired some effects artists who had worked at Industrial Light & Magic on Pacific Rim, but initially they were experienced only in realistic water simulations.
“When I explained how far I wanted to push the stylistic look and feel of the water, the first response was, ‘Bryan, we are not sure how to achieve this.’ However, once we started thinking about effects as something that can be driven by animators first, and then allow the effects team to come in behind them, the method started coming together.”
Now that the animation is out there – it was worked on at the studio for about two years in between client service projects, with the majority of production done in the last nine months – Brazen is in the process of “lining up several studios we might pitch to or partner with on this film,” according to Engram.
“We are obviously continuing to develop Tempest now and moving forward,” added the director. “Our goal as a studio is to not necessarily become a large production house, as others aspire to be, but rather to be a small storytelling and development studio. We wish to generate our own meaningful content that we might be able work with and partner with others on. Certainly, it will take a true partner that believes in us and the types of stories we wish to tell.”
You can find out more about Brazen’s Tempest at the studio’s website.
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