On March 6th, I received an email from producer, John Walker, asking me to get in touch concerning The Iron Giant. Highly intrigued, I immediately called him, and was delighted to learn that Warner Brothers was not only planning on a re-release, but that they also wanted Brad Bird to finish the film the way he initially intended.
John stated that Brad wanted me to animate the special effects for the "Dream Sequence", something I had eagerly looked forward to doing back in 1999, before the rug was suddenly pulled from underneath our feet due to budgetary restrictions. Before I could fully commit though, I contacted Gearbox and asked if it would be OK for me to take a few weeks off Battleborn in order to do this. They agreed wholeheartedly.
So on the date of my birthday, April 7th, I flew to Los Angeles to meet with Brad Bird, Ken Duncan, John Walker (Producer) and the rest of the production team to discuss the project.
Left to Right: Ken Duncan, Myself and Brad Bird
While I was there, a lot of video footage was shot so you might end up seeing my face on some extras for an upcoming DVD or Bluray release, although that hasn't been confirmed yet. After the meeting, I flew back home, completely elated by the potential of the endeavor, and upon arrival, I secluded myself in my studio for an effects marathon unlike any I've done before.
Ken Duncan's Studio handled the production while I handled the special effects at my home studio in Bellingham, WA (minus tones and shadows, which were done at Duncan's). I'm delighted I finally got to work with Ken, a very gifted animator I went to school with back in the day. We've talked about working together for years and it's ironic that it took The Iron Giant to make it happen.
As a side note, two weeks ago while I was visiting Europe, I went to the Mytholmroyd station, in West Yorkshire, to take a train. I was surprised to see several panels around the station, showcasing the original story of The Iron Giant. I then learned that Mytholmroyd happens to be the town where Ted Hughes, author of the original novel, was born. I thought that was so cool that I just had to take a picture!
The Iron Giant Signature Edition is being released in U.S. theaters by Fathom Events on September 30th and October 4th. It will feature a brand new 4K remastering of the film as well as two new scenes. For more information and tickets, go here.
I'm back from Europe after taking a two week hiatus from working on Battleborn. Our first destination was Ghent, Belgium, where I spent time at Grid Animation, meeting face to face with the people involved in setting up the infrastructure for the production of The Saga of Rex feature film. It was great to see such enthusiasm from the production team. The process of setting this up is a lengthy one and requires much patience. The team is dedicated to creating a solid foundation that will allow me to make the film I envision with the quality I'm aiming for.
From left to right, Jesper Moller (Screenwriter), Peter Lories (Producer), Mark Mertens (Producer), Lilian Klage(Producer) and myself.
While in Ghent, we took the opportunity to do a lot of walking around the city. A lovely place. We look forward to our temporary relocation (for an 18 months period) in the near future.
While in Ghent, I came across a comic store called, Epic Comics, and was delighted to see that they had several of my books in stock. I took the opportunity to sign the books they had and my lovely bride snapped this picture of Jesper, the store owner and I.
After Belgium, we made a quick train hop to Paris, then back on the plane again to Scotland where we spent time visiting family, before driving down to Holmfirth, England to visit yet more family. We went to London for the last 4 days of our trip, where we saw an amazing musical (Matilda). We finally got back to Seattle on Sunday night, just in time for me to attend PAX on Monday where I hung out at the Battleborn booth talking to enthused gamers and game developers. Then, back to Bellingham on Monday night. A hectic two weeks to say the least. Now, back to work on Battleborn...
Got back from Texas last night after spending a week at Gearbox with the VFX team. I always enjoy my time working on site, connecting one on one with my team mates. We do communicate everyday through chat boxes, Messenger, and sometimes Skype, but being there in the flesh creates a different dynamic that can be pretty exciting. We took advantage of the occasion to snap a picture of our VFX/Tech crew.
While I was on site, Battleborn was being featured at Germany's Gamescon 2015 in a major way. A new trailer was posted announcing the release date: February 9th, 2016.
That means that we now have less than five months to make sure the 2D effects animation really shine. So much still to do! This will definitely be the first triple A title with such an enormous amount of 2D effects animation. Let's hope people like the experiment. It definitely gives the game a unique look.