During the third round of the New Eden character designs Freek and I started talking in more detail about how the hell we, or should I say he, was going to animate this thing.
Brett: Suzy/Ivana got a makeover but was still too “pretty”. Not that she needed to be ugly but she’s an anti-social grifter who’s only interested in looking after herself so she couldn’t look like life would just come easily to her.
Freek: She was hard to tackle as well because she had to look Ukrainian, which was hard to do in the clear line style we were going for.
Brett: Freek was still struggling with Murray’s look as well and I wasn’t much help to be honest. I could tell him what I didn’t like but had very little other direction for him.
Freek: Ugh, yes. You weren’t much help. “I know what I want, I just don’t know how to explain it.” Yep, I was on my own trying to figure out how to make him work.
Brett: It got to the point where he just had to try out a whole bunch of looks.
Freek: I really don’t like these looks since some of them aren’t meant seriously. I was just trying stuff out in the hope of getting new ideas.
Brett: Keith got closer to the way he looks now. See the comments in our last post for a very highbrow discussion about who was originally responsible for making Keith so *ahem* well endowed.
Freek: For the record, it was Brett not me.
Brett: This was also around the time that we started discussing what animation technique Freek was going to use for New Eden. My only agenda was that it had to be quick and look good but still able to deliver the funny.
Freek: Yes that was something that was a pretty heavy influence on the designs we had so far. With animation you can either go all out and animate everything or see how far you can get with as little animation as possible. A lot of the decisions you make have an effect on the humour as well. Beavis and Butt-head for example might not be as funny if it was beautifully animated. The animation technique we ended up using doesn’t let you get away with anything so I had to keep that in mind with my designs to make sure that they still looked good, were flexible and you know worked!
Brett: Here’s a couple of clips from some test footage that Freek did early on where he was testing out animation techniques. This was his first run at using the DUIK plug-in tool with After Effects, which is his animation tool of choice.Vimeo returned an error
Freek: There was a lot of stuff we learnt from these tests that I decided we couldn’t do because they were time-consuming or didn’t suit the New Eden style. For example the characters can’t turn their heads properly. It’s just one single frame. First they look to the left and then in the next frame they look to the right. This is because there is no hand drawn animation done here for in-betweens. We could do that but then the budget for the show would be different and you would have to do it everywhere consistently.
Freek: Same thing goes for the hands. They don’t move their fingers. Rather every hand gesture is just a fixed drawing that is swapped during the animation process from one gesture to the next.
Brett: Finding the right look for the characters and wrestling with the animation style was a bit of a long teething process. I remember we spent about four months end-to-end just on character designs and animation testing.
Freek: Yeah actually when you look at it, it was the pre-production that took the longest. In the end the animation for the pilot only took about two and a half months or so.
Brett: Spread over about a year mind you.
Freek: I’m working on the New Eden short films now, they’re about one and a half minutes each. Those take about two weeks to make. It’s going pretty quickly now but that’s all because we did so much research in the beginning to find out what worked and what didn’t.
Only four more days until the launch of the New Eden Pilot.
Brett Snelgrove & Freek van Haagen
New Eden Creators