In our last blog post, Freek and I discussed the starting point for the animation process and how it influenced the character designs. Here the New Eden characters got one step closer to their final look but not without a few doubts from yours truly along the way.
Brett: For me these designs where the closest we had gotten to nailing the character line-up but the furthest away from what I was expecting.
Freek: Seriously? I didn’t know that. For me I knew I was going to have black lines in the design. I felt it was stronger and in some way more ‘comedy’. The silhouette shapes and soft tone of the previous designs seemed a bit too timid somehow.
Brett: I remember after the last design pass and animation tests that you wanted to make the character shapes as simple as possible.
Freek: Yep. Those tests pretty much pointed out the limitations of 2D puppeteering. Like I said before, we had to figure out an animation style that could be produced fast. New Eden at this point was a zero budget production so anything that took too long was avoided or carefully done in a less time-consuming manner. After all, it’s a character-driven comedy - that’s the focus.
Brett: To be honest, I was a bit thrown by the body shape re-designs and the uniforms. The limbs reminded me of those cardboard dolls you’d play with as a kid, where you’d put paper fasteners in the joints.
Freek: That is exactly what puppeteering is Brett, thanks for paying attention.
Brett: Alright alright, I know I walked into that one. Working with Freek has been a big learning curve for me as I was new to animation at the time. We’re both pretty comfortable with being direct with one another, so there is plenty of back and forth. In this instant though I was holding back from being too overly critical and was trying to give Freek some creative space but inside I wasn’t quite sure what New Eden was going to end up looking like. That said, Hamilton and Keith were pretty much there. Ivana was still a work in process.
Freek: I was busy trying to get Murray right so Ivana wasn’t really on my mind. She was just a woman at this stage; she didn’t have any particular characteristics yet.
Brett: I have to say Murray was pretty close. The hair and the head shape were good but those buckteeth? I wasn’t sold on them.
Freek: Yes, the teeth. I was reading a Dutch comic book at the time where they portrayed Chinese with those teeth. I liked the idea and wanted to see if that would work but it made him too dorky.
Brett: My self-inflicted anxiety wasn’t helped when I saw this animation test for the first time. Murray’s crab walk, Hamilton spinning eyeballs … I wasn’t sure what direction we were heading in.Vimeo returned an error
Freek: I didn’t know you were really that worried. I can understand though, since it looked quite different. To be honest I didn’t put much thought into it and was just playing around.
Brett: Prior to seeing this, you had hammered into my head that for us to pull off New Eden the animation had to be simple simple simple. So I got worried that this was an example of just how simple it had to be. I understand now though that this was just another test in a long line of tests.
Freek: I have to say I can understand your concerns. For me it’s easy to make something that may not look that great and think “that’s going to be okay. Just change this and that and it will be fine.” But for someone else that doesn’t have Jean Grey’s ability to see what you’re thinking it just looks like crap.
Brett: Yup, I won’t be joining the X-Men anytime soon.
Freek: I forget that sometimes. I can be excited about a crappy sketch because I learned how to fix things in the next drawing. I see the potential. For other people it’s just crap.
Brett: Haha, in my defence I never said it was crap. I was pretty heavily invested by this stage but I still wasn’t entirely sure if we could even make New Eden. I guess I was constantly waiting to see something that would give me the confidence that we were on the right track.
Freek: Brett was very demanding but I’m used to that from my freelance work. Clients are always demanding and with good right. I don’t have Jean Grey’s ability either but I did know that in the end we would get there. I wasn’t worried.
Only one more days until the launch of the New Eden Pilot.