The “deep paintings” of Warhammer 40,000K Dawn of War III

The “deep paintings” of Warhammer 40,000K Dawn of War III

Dawn of War III returns once again to the battle-scarred frontlines of Warhammer 40,000, bringing the conflict of Space Marines, Eldar and Ork to the lost planet of Acheron. Read on to learn how Axis Animation and director Abed Abonamous took inspiration from classical paintings to build the game’s brooding expository cut scenes, revealing a world where beauty and violence sit side by side…

Axis Animation first stepped into the ominous nightmare world of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III in early 2016. Relic Entertainment – the creator of the lauded real-time strategy series – called on the studio and director Abed Abonamous to create an announcement trailer that would challenge the expectations of the Warhammer franchise, revealing a darker take on the universe and its characters.

The result was a haunting journey through visuals inspired by the forbidding work of painters like Zdzisław Beksiński and H.R. Giger – mysterious stone structures tower behind plumes of dust; behemoths clash across corpse-strewn battlefields; and lonesome soldiers face their ultimate end with a wry smile.

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Axis and Abonamous were once again invited into the netherworld of Dawn of War III to further expand this atmosphere throughout the title’s in-game cinematics, imbuing them with the same tone and atmosphere as the trailer.

The team worked to create 14 minutes of compelling 2.5D “motion-painting” cut scenes, each exhibiting the scope and fury of Dawn of War III’s violent clashes with the same oppressive atmosphere that pervades the initial trailer.

Read on to find out how Axis approach each of these doom-laden tableaus, taking inspiration from the classical masters…

Deep paintings

As a team of Warhammer fanatics, Axis Animation stood as the studio of choice for Relic Entertainment, who knew the team would show due reverence for the beloved tabletop franchise.

Axis collaborated closely with Relic to ensure the cut scenes hit the right tonal notes from pre-production onwards, with Abonamous once again diving into the universe headfirst.

“Relic had a clear idea of the storyline; they gave us detailed scripts that covered all of the cut scenes’ narrative beats,” explains Abonamous. “They also gave presentations revealing how the scripts tied into the game’s narrative context, revealing what would happen between one cut scene and another. That was a kind of ‘narrative glue’, which we used to think of the cut scenes as part of a larger tapestry.”

Abonamous and Axis needed to make this “tapestry” feel as rich as possible, both narratively and artistically. As such the team chose to implement the cut scenes as a series of “deep paintings”. Each frame revealed an atmospheric diorama or character and environment, shrouded in the sinister atmosphere that permeates Dawn of War III.

“We broke down the scripts provided by Relic into storyboard sketches, and iteratively finessed them while discussing each with the developers,” Abonamous explains. “Relic’s scripts and briefings rarely mandated any specific compositions for each cut scene. We had a lot of flexibility in approach for the deep paintings we wanted to create, and could decide on compositions that allowed the camera to tell a story.”

Indeed, the similarity between storyboard sketches and final output can be witnessed in lead storyboard artist Paul Coulthard’s comparison reel, detailing the initial sketches alongside Dawn of War III’s final results.

A two-way street

Using Relic’s directions for the cut scenes’ narrative elements, Axis worked collaboratively with the studio to define the look, feel and approach of each short composition.

“We approached this very much in the vein of classical painters, who guide the viewer’s eye through use of composition and lighting,” explains Abonamous.

“Relic provided high-level designs for locations and characters, as we had to make sure that the cut scenes corresponded visually to the players’ in-game experiences. This wasn’t a one-way street, however, as the cut-scenes required higher resolution assets, which meant that sometimes we would design details on characters or locations, and then send them back to Relic for signoff.”

Once the rich, tactile designs were ready, each conveying the painterly style the Warhammer 40K franchise is known for, Axis worked to give the images subtle motions and a delicate seasoning of effects, then meticulously planned the camera movements through each diorama.

“Using the animated storyboards we had prepared as reference, we translated the nuance of the camera movements to the final images,” says Abonamous. “Relic gave us high-level feedback, giving us an idea of the important narrative beats. But otherwise we had a lot of creative freedom to explore visual and compositional options on our end.”

Fans first and foremost

Axis’ animated paintings were ultimately delivered as eight separate sequences, comprising 14-minutes of beautifully brutal narrative. Concept to delivery took six months, with Axis engaging in much technical and creative thinking along the way.

“The biggest challenge we faced was how to add a sense of depth to these paintings,” Abonamous recalls. “Our tech gurus came up with an approach that allowed us to use a ‘thick’ atmosphere of smoke, fog, and haze inside 2.5D compositions.

“We also had a lot of content to render, which always poses a challenge on projects of this scope,” he adds. “We streamlined the pipeline to a point where we saved time by rendering assets just once for an entire shot, regardless of the moving camera. That saved huge amounts of time and enabled us to focus on getting each sequence feeling right creatively and rhythmically.”

Beyond the technical innovations, the final animated sequences represent a deep pool of artistic talent: the sweeping panoramas glide past in amber and copper chiaroscuro, fetid Orks and bulwarked Space Marines held in moments of frozen bloodshed. It’s static poetry – taking the viewer through fragments of captured time.

“The Axis team on Dawn of War III are fans first and foremost, so they really put their all into this,” concludes Abonamous. “We’re the guys who played on tabletop for years, and now we get to find new and exciting ways to cast light on the characters and concepts we know so well. The excitement we feel for Warhammer 40K is evident in every frame.”

 

 

 

Proofs of Concept from Exit 73 Studios

Cool little bit of animation from my friends over at Exit 73 Studios

The First one is called #BLUD:
It follows the adventures of Becky Belmont, who has to balance the perils of middle school by day and fighting the undead at night.  All of which serves as an allegory for what it’s like growing up as kid in this modern world.

The last one is called Duke and Darryl:
Darryl and his imaginary friend duke find ways to make mountains out of molehills in this Cartoony adventure!

CHARACTER DESIGNER (TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES REBOOT)

CHARACTER DESIGNER (TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES REBOOT)

Job Locations
US-CA-Burbank

Apply HERE

Overview and Responsibilities

SUMMARY:

  • Nickelodeon Animation Studio is beginning production on a 2D REBOOT of the classic franchise Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! We are looking for Character Designers who can create original concepts, take direction well from the creative lead, and execute clean-up as well as turnarounds.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Receive & understand Character Design assignment from Art Director/Design Supervisor.
  • Ask appropriate questions to understand & complete the task.
  • Review Storyboard to ensure continuity of character designs.
  • Complete all character designs.
  • Make any changes or revisions and re-submit to Art Director/Design Supervisor for approval.
  • Communicate with Design Supervisor & Production Manager regarding status of work and any problems that arise.
  • Ensure quality & style of show is achieved.
  • Complete work on schedule.

Basic Qualifications

BASIC QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Must demonstrate proficiency in style of show
  • Strong character design and construction/mechanical skills
  • Knowledge of or willingness to learn applicable design software and hardware.
  • Strong time-management skills
  • Work well under pressure
  • Ability to multitask a plus

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE:

  • Relevant drawing experience necessary
  • BA in Fine Arts or equivalent work experience highly desired

Apply HERE

Black Tie Only | Marvel’s Rocket & Groot | Disney XD

Episode 3!

The Rocket and Groot shorts are animated by Passion Pictures, who were nominated for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards this year for their work on “Pear Cider and Cigarettes.” They recently won an Annie award and are also behind the Gorillaz music videos. The shorts are based on a design by comic artist Skottie Young, whose numerous credits include New Warriors and the Rocket Raccoon comic book.

All 12 shorts will be available on the Disney XD app beginning Monday, March 27. The first four will also be released on Disney XD YouTube on Monday, March 27. A compilation of all 12 shorts will premiere Monday, April 10 (7:00 am, ET/PT) on Disney XD.

BBH London Team On Frances’ Music Video To Combat Domestic Violence Via Refuge Charity

 

Get your tissues out for this one… A beautifully animated piece about domestic violence and a charity that helps those affected.

On any given day, Refuge supports nearly 5,000 women and children across the UK with its specialist services. Visit the website to learn more about the organization’s services, how to identify abuse, or find out how to support Refuge’s work.

 

Frances’ “Grow” / “Melanie’s Story” was directed by Ralph Karam (Le Cube), who also served as art director; with Sergio Slepczuk as animation director, Pablo Kondratas as stop-motion animation director; character design by Franco Vecchi, Martin Vinograd and Matheus Muniz; background design by Vecchi, Juan Barabani, Martin Lara and Vanina Saez. Executive produced by Dan O’Rourke, Gustavo Karam and Juan Manuel Freire; produced by Francesca Di Muro, Mechi Serrano and Fernanda Soma. Sarah Finnigan-Walsh was creative consultant producer for BBH.

Shootonline has an article about the making of this video…