The Evolution of an Idea
I started working on the robot that is the main character in this film, when I first started teaching myself 3D animation in 1998. I then devolped it further as part of my first 3D animation job, making it into a showpiece for a technology company .
A few years later, while I was working on an animation contract for NASA, I was inspired by animations for their Mars Rover missions. I thought it would be fun and original to make my own robot into something like NASA's Mars Rover probe, but let my imagination run wild as to what the robot would do once it lands on the planet.
Tools of the Trade
In 2007 I started full time work on my film, supporting myself using funds I had saved from my freelance animation work. I knew the film could take me years to finish, so I switched to using Lightwave 3D® by NewTek as my main 3D animation software. Lightwave was the most affordable software for me at the time, that could do everything I needed to make the film. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be the most stable and user friendly 3D animation package I had ever used.
I re-modeled my robot to accommodate for some major new features it would need to accomplish its mission, then spent over a year on the animatic stage. This was the stage were I created the entire film using only very low resolution models and quick preview renders. I made the film many times over in this rough animatic form, trying to work out exactly how the action should unfold, and finding the best edit and camera points for this action.
The animatic gave me my shot list that I then spent about another two and a half years working up into the final shots. I used Pixologic's Zbrush® to help model and texture some of the details along with some third party plugins for Lightwave. Adobe After Effects® was used extensively for colour correction and compositing effects in the final stages of production.
Sound and Music
Justin Doyle, Michelle Child, and Dave Whitehead (who's previous work includes sound design for the films District 9, King Kong, etc), took on the Sound Design. It was an incredible experience to to have such amazing talent work on my film, and discover how much their sound design contributes to film. It completely enhanced everything and brought the film to life.
Rhian Sheehan worked on the Music. Shortly after seeing the unfinished film, Rhian had composed musical sketches that were bringing real power and emotion to the film. As part of a final composition Rhian recorded members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. His final score added so much depth and really made the ending of the film work.
To finish with, Weta Digital transfered the film to 35mm film and we did the final sound mix at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.
Thanks to this dream team that worked on the sound and music, plus re-recording mixer Gilbert Lake, the final Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix is awesome. The people and facilities at Park Road Post were a privilege to work with, I could not have finished the film on a higher note.