Iron Giant - The "Lake
Tidal Wave" Sequence
One - Part Two - Part
spent the first two months of my 1 year stint on The
Iron Giant designing the look of the hand drawn effects
animation (Iron Giant's propulsion
effects, explosions, tank blasts, water etc). My designs
were then given to the animators as stylistic guides. The
very first sequence I was asked to design on the film was
the "Lake Tidal Wave". I was given very rough
storyboard and had to somehow figure out how the water
would look and animate.
I completed my work as FX designer, I began producing animation
for the show. The first sequence I was handed to animate
happened to be the first one I also designed: "The
Lake Tidal Wave". I was never very keen on animating
water and looked at the task as a bit of a burden. Nevertheless,
I saw it as a challenge and began working hard.
Wave" sequence consisted of 7 scenes. The first one
(first 3 panels below) is where the giant hits the water.
I created three levels of animation for this scene: the
ripples, the splash and a highlight. For some mysterious
reason, the highlight level which created a glitter on
top of the "doughnut ripple" (as you can see
in the following scene), was omited in final compositing.
I asked for a retake but to no avail.
second scene was an extreme long shot of the splash. It
was very tricky. I'd been taught how to animate splashes
following the Disney formula (bowl - sheet - lace), but
because of the scale and the nature of the splash, I couldn't
rely on any such formula. I had no reference that I could
think of, except for trying to channel Brad's [the director]
vision. Fortunately, Brad always had a very clear idea
of what he wanted and he was excellent at communicating.
the big splash, I animated 4 different levels including:
water drips, splash, highlight and shadow. As with the
previous scene, one of my animation levels was omited in
final compositing. This time it was the shadow level, which
helped give shape to the "doughnut ripple". When
I saw the scene in dailies, I bitched about it and asked
that the scene be recalled so that the shadow level could
be added back. Because of time and budget constraint, my
request once again was denied.