From the moment we knew the theme was NATURE, we agreed we wanted to do something that was comedic and witty in its insight into natural ongoings. In early discussions, we narrowed it down to three distinct ideas:
- Mushroom Kingdom
- Bat-man and Robin
- Insect showdown
Of these, we agreed a desert setting would be a unique and exciting direction to go on, so we opted for the insect showdown.
We thought the armature could be:
Be careful where you step.
(i.e. related to the human outlook and disregard of nature)
Alongside this, we shared mutual interest in the visual style of Rango, which led us to hone in on the genre of Western. The potential for comedic relief was strong as we knew we could find interesting and unique ways to play with a genre that has been extremely well-established by classics such as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars. Being insects, we knew we’d be going macro to further emphasise the theme of nature, and this led to discussions about potential lenses/cinematography decisions, colour palettes and textures. From early on, Josh and I discussed that we’d want to explore various widescreen aspect ratios, including 16:9 and 2.35:1 and the potential for distinction and juxtaposition in context to them. Below is our initial ideas board (NB I was online this week so joined via Discord), which contains a wide variety of starting points:
I sketched out some ideas of the scene layout. We wanted it to be wide and expansive to emphasise the small scale of the characters we were working with. At this stage, we thought a beach would be an interesting way to lay it out – however upon learning about the animation workflow we decided water could be a deterrent especially when we’re working with a team. If we had wanted to use simulators, it would have both dramatically increased file size and render times which in this project we felt was not wise or efficient.
Being a group of five, we curated a small cast of characters; one for each member of the group. We thought of what would make sense from a storytelling perspective and assigned the following:
- Wayne the Worm – Josh
- The Sidekick – Adam (me)
- Sluggy – Kharis
- Sleggy – Joe
- ‘Blue – Liam
See my design workflow on creating The Sidekick here.
The concept of our cast was to have two onlookers (who provide a lot of comedic relief being an old couple sunbathing on their holiday) the heroic cowboy (a la Clint Eastwood in TGTBaTU) alongside the antagonist and his sheepish sidekick who arrive to terrorise the settlement.
My first task in the group was to write a draft screenplay for our film. Josh had written a narrator’s intro so I incorporated this into a script to try and build the atmosphere we were going for. This also set us up to create a storyboard.