As a SCAD senior, we were required to make our very own student short animated film. I didn't see it as a requirement though, but rather an opportunity. Upon graduating, many artists and students go to work on bigger projects that they did not create from the ground up. Here was an opportunity to put my imagination and skills to the test to create something people could enjoy. Since it's completion, the film has been selected for screening at various film festivals both at home and internationally.
While working on the film, I learned a lot about directing and producing, as well as effects work, and found I can think on my feet and learn new things pretty quickly. I'm very lucky to have been able to work with so many talented artists, and hope the people who watch this short will enjoy all the hard work we put in to it. You can see more about our filmmaking process further down the page. (Festivals include: the Indie Best Films Festival, Eclipse Film Festival CA, Nature Track Film Festival CA, Film One Fest in NJ, Uni-Fest in GA, Mt. Buller Short Film Festival in Australia, the Popup Anthology Screening in NJ, and the First Annual Palm Springs International Animation Festival. Ursa Major won best student-film at both Film One Fest and Nature Track Film Festival, and placed as a finalist in the Indie Best Films Festival and Eclipse International Film Festival.)
Click above to download and view the short's press kit. Below are some production stills from the short, and beneath those you can find more about the filmmaking process.
Ursa Major - A Work in Progress
Above is the first poster I made to gain interest for my animated short Ursa Major. Creating a film is an incredibly exciting and educational process, as well as an extremely collaborative one. Through the process of making this film, I have had the pleasure of making new friends and working with exceptionally talented artists who share a passion for bringing magic to the screen. Below are some original sketches and concepts I had done when developing the concept for my film.
Below is the initial storyboard animatic I had made for the film. This process was great because it gave me the opportunity to look and see what story aspects worked and which didn't. As you will see, the final animatic looks very different, but the heart of the story remains the same.
Below are environment concept paintings done by Alina Latypova. After seeing the film's poster she expressed an interest in helping out and was generous with her time and skills, and I couldn't be more happy with the results.
This is an updated version of the Ursa Major animatic. My talented friend and colleague Diana Carter worked hard with the team to create an improved animatic with better camera angles and shot clarity.
Early Production Stages
Below are some still images of the early models being used in the film. It was important to us that we keep to the style and feel of the concept art, and modeler Connor Beasley did a great job. Additionally, character artist Natalia Perez did a wonderful job on the main character. While others were modeling, I worked on painting backgrounds, putting the crew together, and creating a production schedule. In the end we created two environment "sets" and didn't end up using the background painting, but I've included one example of a painting that was meant to go in the far background in the gallery below .
The scenes where the boy looks at his reflection were actually cut from the film. They had made it all the way to animation and rendering, but in compositing and editing I thought they weren't crucial to the story, and were a bit confusing. At times the boy seemed more fearful of his monstrous reflection than he did of the bear and the negative impact on the environment. I really wanted it to hit home that these were the crucial story points, so in order to make those stronger the reflection sequence was cut. In the end I think it was the right decision for the film, and after talking it over with some of the crew we agreed it really did help the story. The message was clearer, and any test audiences we showed the film to responded better to the second cut.