It's been nearly two years since I started working on Battleborn. I remember being flown to Gearbox Studios in July 2013 to do a workshop and while I was there, I pitched the idea of hand drawing the effects for a new 3D game they had just started. The big hurdle was to figure out how to achieve that in real time, in an immersive 3D environment, and make sure that the hand drawn effects blended with the graphics in a seamless fashion.
Right off the bat, I saw an amazing challenge and an opportunity to stretch the limits of what I'd done in effects animation so far.
The first challenge was to figure out a pipeline that made sense. Our initial tests were promising and everyone got excited. A few months later, I found myself promoted to Effects Director and became obsessed with making sure that the game would feature the best effects work I could possibly do. From the new trailer, you can catch some quick glimpses of some of that work and it might give you and idea of what is yet to come.
At this point in time, I have done more effects animation work on Battleborn than any other single project in my career. Working in tandem with my assistant Seung Kim, and the rest of the FX crew in Texas, Jim, Nick, Gabe, Ash, and Mark, I can say that my first triple A title experience has been an exciting ride and continues to be so.
On a side note, it's pretty ironic that the project I've done the most hand drawn animation for happens to be a 3D game!
Battleborn will be playable at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) from June 16-18, 2015 in 2K’s booth – #1001 – in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. More details about the game can be found here.
I became a fan of Gerry Anderson's work with television series, UFO and Space 1999, which I discovered in my youth. I also recall the "Supermarionation" shows I'd seen on re-runs around the same period of time.
Those puppet shows featured cool sci-fi concepts, killer ship designs and beautiful miniature practical effects. However, the wooden acting, a direct result of the use of puppets, always made it hard for me to relate to the characters.
Lately, I've been really fascinated by British science fiction comics. My web perusing led me to the comic world of Gerry Anderson, which had spawned from those very same puppet shows I saw as a kid.
Intrigued by what I found on line, I decided to take a chance and order Gerry Anderson: The Comic Collection, featuring 288 pages of comic reprints from Gerry's Anderson's TV Century 21, a weekly comics anthology published in the UK in the 1960s-70s.
Wow, was I in for a surprise! I love these comics! I love the concepts, the atmosphere, the set designs, environments, the sci-fi plots, it's all so cool. Liberated from the restrictions of the original puppets, the drawn characters emerge full of life, in my opinion, making them a lot more relatable than their TV counterparts.
One of the main reasons these stories work so well is the painted artwork which is nothing short of spectacular. Artists such as Frank Bellamy, Ron Embleton and Eric Eden are true masters of their craft. My favorite artist of the lot, though, is Mike Noble. His characters have a great flow and his visual imagination coupled with great composition and fluid storytelling, are a joy to behold
I'm sure a lot of my impressions are tinted by nostalgia, as these were definitely from a more naive time. Interesting to note that there is no sign of internet in any of the stories, yet we are supposed to be in the late 21st century and having the ability to travel in space from planet to planet!
I finally got a new shipment of The Saga of Rex from Image Comics, so once again, I'm going to be able to provide people with signed copies. To get yours, order from our site. For those who like Rex, you might also give ZED: A Cosmic Tale a chance. Personally, I think it's just as good as Rex (although much edgier and maybe not entirely suitable for young kids).
Speaking of The Saga of Rex, I had a Skype call with the production team this week concerning the movie, and everyone seems to agree that we finally have a dynamite screenplay. Our producer, Peter Lories, had some good suggestions, so we're having our screenplay writer, Jesper Møller, integrate these right now. Everyone is really excited to start production next year!
I can finally take a breather after a massive animation sprint. Now, I'm going to relax and go read a bunch of British comics I recently ordered on line.
Since I can't show any images of the stuff I'm currently working on, I thought that maybe this would be a good time to showcase some of the stuff that inspires me.
Ron Turner's Space Ace.
I became aware of Turner's work through his covers for science fiction pulp novels from the 1950s. You can see some of his amazing cover work here, on Flickr. A couple of years ago, I encountered some of his comics for the first time through an archival collection published by Prion called, Rick Random - Space Detective. Turner's art and imagination, combined with fun intergalactic pulp science fiction stories, is just the right combination for me.
Ron Turner's Space Ace is published by John Lawrence in the UK. It reprints the strips that originally appeared in 1958/59 in UK's Lone Star magazines and annuals. The original strips were black and white, but for this edition, John has recruited artist, John Ridgway, to color the pages, with nice results.
These pages posted here from Ron Turner's Space Ace Vol. 4 remind me why I'm so glad someone is rescuing this stuff from obscurity before it vanishes from pop culture. The comics themselves are oversized and beautifully made with thick laminated cardstock covers and nice matte paper inside. A class act in terms of presentation. I hope John keeps putting these out. Ron Turner's Space Ace can be ordered by emailing John at firstname.lastname@example.org.