Friday, September 25, 2009

Agent Omicron

I was working with two co-workers Nico Sanghrajka, Kory Heinzen and my bro on the secret agent team animation challenge over at cgtalk.

Kory Heinzen

Goro Fujita
Character Design
Lighting & Rendering

Nico Sanghrajka
Pipeline Development
Rigging TD
Additional Modeling

Ryosuke Fujita
Original Soundtrack

I had a great time to work in such a strong team!
This is the result:

Agent Omicron

Aging International Superstar Steve Camembert stars in the 80's classic Japanese spy show "Agent Omicron"
While not popular outside Japan at the time, the show has gained cult status in the United States and Germany.
The Fans or "Cronys", as they call themselves are drawn to its campy fun and exploration of almost precient Sci-fi concepts. The ethics of cloning, genetic manipulation, nanotechnology and robot/human hybrid rights were common themes featured on the show.
An other star of the show was Japanese American actress Aiko Givewell. She played Omicrons Techy sidekick and had quite a following among the younger male audience. in the second last season her character in the series greatest twists, turned sides and became the main antagonist.
After the cancellation of Agent Omicron Ms. Givewell stared in a very short lived spinoff.
The last stand out cast member was Thud Thompson. He was a Worlds Strongest Man Champion from Sweden. He dreamed of being the Swedish Arnold Schwarzenegger. Agent Omicron was his only acting job.

One other contributing factor of the alure of the show was the mystery surrounding the death of its star. Steve Camembert killed while filming a spectacular stunt for the series final episode.
An early edit of the show was said to have put together but it was never aired. For the "Cronys" finding this episode is the holy grail.
In early 2008 it was rumored that Michael Bay was in talks to tale Agent Omicron to the big screen. He was quoted saying that he wasn't interested in making another stupid Japanese movie for kids. So for now Agent Omicron and his crew of super spies will only live on in decaying VHS tapes and Youtube...

The Making Of....

When The challenge first started we were all full of enthusiasm.
Our idea was to create an intro sequence for a fake TV series that we called "Agent Omicron".
In that sequence we would show a bunch of scenes out of the Agent Omicron Episodes. You can see in our color keys, what kind of shots we had in mind. Soon we realized that modeling and rendering whole environments with effects like rain would be too much work since we all have a full time job and could only work in the evenings and weekends. So we decided to use simple shapes and motion graphics for most of the backgrounds instead. While Kory was starting working on the animatic in After Effects I was doing test animations with Nico's rig. As soon as we had the first 15 seconds of the animatic, I sent it to my brother with a bunch of notes about what kind of music we had in mind.
When I finished animating a run cycle and the jumping action sequence of the spy, Kory's After Effects file got corrupt and he lost a huge chunk of his work.

We were doomed....the whole enthusiasm was gone and it was hard for us to keep going. For the longest time the only one that was working on the project was my brother in Japan. He finished his part fairly quickly and we got the final soundtrack a couple of weeks ago. Nico was not available for 6 weeks and the hope of being able to finish was almost gone.
A week before the deadline I talked to Kory if he is still planning to finish it and he said "YES". So we took advantage of the labor day weekend and started working hardcore. At that time our third character "Thud Thompson" wasn't even modeled yet. That's how hopeless the situation was. 70% of what you are going to see was done within 3 fairly long days. We basically skipped the animatic stage and went straight to final. I animated, lit, and rendered 48 seconds that weekend while Nico was updating the rigs on the fly, fixing skinning problems, modeling and rigging the car etc. Kory was modeling "Thud" and working with the rendered footage I provided. The intro sequence was done by thursday and luckily the deadline got extended so we had enough time to work on the 30sec Trailer and the making of. My brother arranged his soundtrack and created a jazzy version for the making of part. We had tons of fun creating this project and we are also very pleased with the result!
Hope you like it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

24th Worldwide SketchCrawl

Last Saturday was the 24th SketchCrawl. We started at Portsmouth Square in China Town and walked towards the Washington Square Park to the Italian Festival. It was a beautiful day.