Now that I’ve joined the crew of Paramount’s Tiger’s Apprentice, I thought I’d post an update of where things currently stand with The Saga of Rex feature film for whoever is interested.
On September 12, once my 6-week contract to design signature effects on Netflix’s Magic: The Gathering was completed, I returned to work on The Saga of Rex, and did another hardcore sprint until the end of November.
In early November, I’d been contacted by Paramount Pictures, inquiring if I’d be interested in joining their core crew to help develop the effects for their upcoming animated feature, The Tiger’s Apprentice. After chatting with Director Carlos Baena and production designer Robh Ruppel, I decided that this would be a good fit for me. I joined the project officially on December 2, 2019.
After 2+ years working on The Saga of Rex full time, I believe this is a healthy pause, mentally and financially. A good opportunity to hone my craft further while working with a talented director and a good crew. It will allow me to come back to Rex with a fresh perspective and a renewed sense of purpose. Although, I might try to keep moving on Rex on weekends, the film will mostly be on hold for the duration of my contract on The Tiger’s Apprentice motion picture.
For the past 2 years, I’ve been devoting 100% of my working hours, storyboarding, art directing and animating, The Saga of RexFeature Film. Soon, I’ll be taking a little break from Rex, to design and animate magical effects for the upcoming Netflix series,Magic: The Gathering. I haven’t shown any footage from Rex since the original Kickstarter, and today, I thought it would be a good time to release a short teaser showing people what I’ve been working on.
Since starting full time on The Saga of Rex on September 4th, 2017, I have created an articulated animatic of the 68-minute film which contains rough layouts, rough poses, rough animation breakdown, rough FX and camera moves, all synchronized to the score. I’ve managed to complete over 10 minutes of finished color footage (including reworking and upgrading 3 minutes from the Kickstarter).
Aside from the adapted screenplay, by my friend, Jesper Moller, and some help on the in-betweens by my pal, Seung Kim, the film has been and remains up to this point, a solo effort. Last year, we didn’t renew the option with Grid Animation (the Belgian company which held the movie rights for the past 5 years), so everything reverted back to me. Now, all options are open. Let’s see where the future takes it.
We just sold our very last copy of the second printing of Insanely Twisted Rabbits. We don't intend to reprint the book but copies can still be acquired through Amazon Marketplace. Thanks to everyone who supported my book endeavors.
Wow, it’s been a while since my last update, but believe me, it's been for good reasons. I just finished the marathon of a lifetime!
For the past 14 months, I have been working like a mad man and I’m happy to announce that The Saga of Rex now exist as a feature film. Yes, it’s rough, mostly black and white, and needs a lot of polishing, but it’s perfectly watchable, has a full soundtrack and best of all, it’s now all set up for production. In fact, I’m so happy with this version of the film that I hope it makes it as an extra on the DVD (and Blu-ray) as, The Saga of Rex Animatic Director’s Cut.
I wish I could show a snippet from it, but for the time being, I need to keep everything under wraps. Hopefully, a trailer will be forthcoming in the not so distant future.
I’m going to do a few more tweaks until the end of November, but by in large I’m done for this year and ready to enjoy some time off before resuming production in January. Stay tuned...
First, let me say right off the bat that being under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), I am not allowed to discuss any of the specific of the movie. What I will discuss, however, is the progress made and what I’ve been up to with the production.
When I finished working on the My Little Pony Movie, at the end of July 2017, I informed Grid Animation (the current holder of the Saga of Rex option) that I was starting on the movie full time on September 4th. After Skyping back and forth with Grid’s CEO, we started working out a schedule. We decided that I would hire 4 storyboard artists to work with me for 5 months, while I create the temp score for the film and turn all the storyboards into a fully timed and articulated animatic of the film.
By the beginning of September, I had reviewed over a hundred applicants and selected what I considered to be the top four storyboard artists of the group.
Unfortunately, the negotiations quickly started falling apart in terms of our budget. I was informed that we would not be able to stay on budget with the crew I selected and the time planned for the storyboard/animatic. After a lot of back and forth, I proposed to Grid that we should elongate the schedule to allow me to storyboard and create the entire movie’s animatic by myself. They agreed and I sadly had to inform my four candidates of the new direction I was now taking.
Up until the end of 2018, The Saga of Rex Movie will be a solo act. This has always been my wish but in the context of a financed production, I didn’t think it could be an option. I’m glad I was able to reach a deal with Grid Animation. This way of creating the film will ensure the true authorship of the project.
The Animatic is the stage where I’m figuring out the essence of the movie: layout, timing, animation poses, FX block-ins, etc. I intend to have a solid blueprint of the film by the end of the year. After that, if everything goes to plan, I’ll be moving to Europe for 18 months for the full production.
Since September, I’ve designed the characters in the film that are not in the graphic novel. I've constructed an epic score for the film using licensed music, which I’d selected from hundreds of pieces I’d been listening to specifically for that purpose for the past five years. The full score is truly gorgeous and one of the best movie temp track I’ve ever heard. It was built using nearly 50 pieces of music, cobbled together in a seamless manner, just like I did for the music of the short film. The rights for the score have been cleared by Grid so it could technically be the actual score if we ever decided to go that route.
Once the score was completed in November, I took the screenplay and turned it into my first iteration of the animatic. This means that I created a full-length video of the movie with paragraphs of the screenplay on the screen, perfectly timed to the music.
By the end of November/ beginning of December, I started storyboarding the film using Storyboard Pro. Although, I liked what I could accomplish with the software, I thought I could get even better results by setting things up in Toon Boom Harmony, where I was able to create more elaborate camera moves, rough layouts and animation poses. My animatic is completely choregraphed on the music and demonstrates a precise guide for each scene. For me, this is where 80% of the directing happens. As of now, I have created a quarter of the film in this rough form, and I’m on target to have the entire film done that way by the end of the year.
Although it made me sad at first not being able to hire the initial storyboard crew I selected, in a way, it has been a blessing in disguise. The film is evolving completely in tune with my vision. It looks and feels the way I want it to. I’m not sure I’d have been able to extract such a specific vision from a storyboard crew. This is not your typical animated film, it’s an auteur film. And I believe that with true auteur projects, the more the auteur does, the better.