Friday Animation Fun: The Cursors Curse
Find out how 3D animation The Cursors Curse was created using Maya, Nuke and After Effects as director Richard Gillies takes us behind the scenes. Watch the short here too
The Cursors Curse is a short film about about a boy called Danny who is brought to life by a cursor in a white, stark room. Excited about being alive, Danny examines the room, finds a door and decides to go through it. However, the troublesome curse makes it difficult for Danny but after a bit of a struggle he manages to get out. But is what he sees on the outside room really what he wants?
The film was created by director Richard Gillies during his studies at the Vancouver Film School last year. The story started out as a much larger production, Gillies explains, “The version I started with was much more grandiose then the modest version that was eventually made. I have to thank the instructors at Vancouver Film School because they made me realize what was out of my reach as a student, and helped me make something that is good, and that I’m still proud of.”
Gillies was particularly influenced by his character design instructor Mike West. “Danny’s design was done at the same time as the story was made,” says Gillies. “Mike really helped me make the design very appealing.”
A big influencing factor on the overall look of the film was the work of the legendary Chuck Jones. “I have all ways been a huge fan of the Chuck Jones shorts,” he explains. “So when it came to making my own short I thought who better than him to look at for inspiration. I liked the idea of the animator messing with the character in the short. This plays back to some great ideas like Gertie the Dinosaur, Koko the Clown, and Duck Amuck.”
The film was almost entirely created by Gillies, although he did enlist the help of two of his classmates, Abel Vargas and Sirak Ghebremusse, to work on the lighting, rendering, composition and crowd rig for the group of cursors.
Vargas also helped Gillies to solve one of the film’s biggest technical challenges. “The rendering pipeline was the most difficult part,” Gillies explains. “In the end Abel and I figured out a system so that when I made an animation fix and I needed to re-render the shot for the film it was set up so that it would auto update into the final edit.
“Having Abel work with me on this was a lifesaver in the end. Trying to quickly turn around a newly animated shot to check if it was good for the film took a fare amount of time. We made it so that once each segment finished its process, it would auto update into the next part. So once the render was done, it would auto update into the compositing, and so on.”
This technique was also useful for one of the most difficult shots that Gillies developed. “Bringing Danny to life was interesting,” he says. “Because it was such a long shot to animate, it became extremely difficult to make changes to the animation. [We had] to move millions of keys just the right amount, and then add in more animation to make it seem like it was meant to be there in the first place.”
With the film now completed, Gillies feels like he has his life back. “Cursors Curse took up 99 per cent of my life for the six months it took to make, but I feel in the end it was well worth it,” he reminisces. “I had a great experience, learning sharing, not sleeping, working with others around me to get feedback and then also give. I really like my short, I know the animation is okay, but it was my first 3D short so I am proud.”
Gillies is already working on a new short film so we look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
You can keep an eye out for further work from Richard Gillies on his website
Like this film? Check out the other selection of shorts on our animation page
on Friday, February 10th, 2012 at 3:30 pm under Shorts, Showcase.
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Tags: 3D animated short, 3D animation, Animated short, Richard Gillies, student 3D animation, student film, The Cursors Curse