AEAF Awards Attract Feature Films, Game Cinematics & TV Series

Category: AEAF News
Published on Monday, 12 May 2014 Written by Sean

Entries to the AEAF Awards are gaining momentum with feature film entries
from MPC, game cinematics from Platige Image and Plastic Wax and several
animated and live action short films.


AEAF Awards Attract Feature Films, Game Cinematics & TV Series

Entries to AEAF 2013 are gaining momentum with feature film entries from MPC including ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘47 Ronin’ and ‘Man of Steel’, game cinematics from Platige Image and Plastic Wax and several animated and live action short films. You can view entries at the AEAF 2014 website

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The cinematic trailer for ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ has been entered by Platige Image in Warsaw into the Games Cinematics category. This installment in the Witcher series is broader in scope to reach a large audience. The team says they chose a simple, intimate scene to reveal the nature of the protagonist in a world overcome by the chaos of war, in what turned out to be one of their most challenging projects so far.

Without big, sweeping special effects, no imperfections in the models or animation could be hidden. Every detail was immediately visible and had to be polished to contribute to the overall effect. 3D modelling was done in several packages - Maya, 3ds Max and XSI plus Zbrush – and textured in Mari. Animation started with motion capture and used Motion Builder and Blade 2 software. Visual effects were created in Houdini, RealFlow, FumeFx, Thinking Particles, Frost, Krakatoa and several other applications and plug-ins. The renderer was Arnold, and compositing was done in Nuke.


Screen Scene in Dublin, the TV Series category winner at AEAF in 2013, have entered another series, ‘Moonfleet’ that aired on Sky1. In the coastal town of Moonfleet in eighteenth century Dorset, orphan, John Trenchard, dreams of the infamous Blackbeard's treasure and of the wealth and happiness it will bring him. But his search draws him into the company of local smugglers and forces him to go into hiding with a price on his head. The creative process on this feature spanned modern day clean-ups to full 3D modelling of ships, particle effects of stormy seas and very detailed, animated digital matte paintings. The ship asset was modelled in high detail to cover camera moves from wide to close-up and was fully rigged for cloth sails, rope rigging and water interaction. High resolution textures were painted to match both the practical build and the concept ship design.

Screen Scene also had to develop a system for the ship to interact with the CG sea, kicking up wake, plumes of spray and splashes while manoeuvring over the simulated waves. Fume systems were developed to interact with the ship and the wave it collided with. A fog system was created to help defuse the environment to best match the practical shoot. The ship was then lit and rendered for night, with the addition of a matte painted sky dome. All CG passes were available in Nuke to blend together to the desired look. A CG rain system and droplets on the screen were also added. The team was pleased to be given the chance to work on such a challenging project.

The Gallant Captain

‘The Gallant Captain’, entered in the Short Film category, is an animation from the Lampshade Collective in Melbourne, based on an illustrated children’s book by Graeme Base called ‘The Legend of the Golden Snail’ about a little boy called Will who sails into unknown waters with his loyal cat, a ship in a bottle and a vivid imagination to live up to the memory of his father, a sailor lost at sea. It has been produced as a full 3D animation in Maya, composited in Fusion and rendered in mentalray. It was completed to HD resolution at 25fps.

Members of the team have applied multiple skills to this project, completing it to a tight budget. Daryl Munton worked as a designer, CG supervisor, lighting designer and producer. “This project was created on an earlier version of Maya we still had from a previous project, ‘Nullarbor’, rendered in mentalray and composited in both Fusion and AfterEffects. The hair for the cat was created using Shave and a Haircut. All the matte paintings, and textures where painted by Graeme Base, the author and illustrator, in Photoshop Elements, which helped us keep the look of the film to the style established in the book.

”The whole project was rendered at HD 1080p resolution, with no motion blur and rendered on 2's to give it a slightly stop motion feel. It seemed to fit the look of the illustrations better that way. My plan was to incorporate as much of Graemes artwork into every frame as possible, and we decided that having Graeme paint all of the background matte paintings and textures for the characters and props was the best way to do that.

“We created a full digital but fairly simple 3D environment, lit it with sun direction and shadows, and rendered simple, very high-res 8k frames for Graeme as a guide. He painted over these frames and gave the fully painted frames back to us to put our animated characters and shadows and reflections back over the top.”

Graeme said, “In the same way that book-based stories don't necessarily translate perfectly to the medium of film, the design work here called for subtle adjustment to ensure we could make things move and give the characters the right level of emotion.”

Daryl found that his main challenge was getting moving 3D characters to feel painted into Graeme’s backgrounds, as well as creating some of the moving environments in the imagination sequence and making them feel as though Graeme had painted them. “We did this by getting Graeme to paint large panoramas of skies and water to cover the frame as the camera moved and mapping these paintings on cycloramas that wrapped around the view of the camera. Having Graeme paint some static foreground elements also helped.”

The team also talked about maintaining the vision from the original book. Quite a few compromises were made, mainly for budget reasons. When certain ideas were starting to take too much time, they considered first the impact of those things on the story. For example, maintaining the wide open spaces without leaving the viewer looking at an 'empty' frame too often was a particular challenge they sometimes had to compromise on.

Daryl said, “Graeme designs his compositions more and more cinematically these days, so he naturally framed our film in a similar way. It was common to have shots in ‘The Gallant Captain’ with wide vistas and the character very small in frame which gave the viewer a great understanding of the environment and situation they were in. Pushing in for close-ups to understand the details of what action was going on was also very similar to his books.”

Graeme said, “Plenty of changes had to be made to meet budget and time constraints but the vision survived more than intact. Compared with other projects where I've found myself battling to preserve the most fundamental aspects of my original idea - plot, theme, characters, setting - this project developed much more easily. Every time I compose a picture for one of my books I see it moving in my head - I've wanted to make film for a very long time and in a lot of ways the books, as satisfying as they are in their own right, are stepping stones towards this goal.”