The Box is a brilliant new animated short which tells the story of Steve Aftakis, a CG character, whose acquisition of a mysterious box unravels a series of bizarre situations
This ingenious video was made by a trio of students from the University of Kent. Stefanos Dimitriou and Marios Zenios were studying for an MSc in Digital Visual Effects, and Yiannis Philiastides for an MSc in Computer Animation. All three were in their last year of study and The Box was the result of their final 3-month project. Here, Stefanos tells us about it.
Watch The Box
3D World: Where did you get the inspiration for The Box? Stefanos Dimitriou: We wanted to come up with a funny story featuring one CG character in a real environment.
3D World: How did you get started? Stefanos: When we had agreed on the plot, Yiannis drew up the storyboard and the character designs. We also decided to do the filming in Canterbury city centre.
3D World: How did you animate your main character? Stefanos: The character (Steve Aftakis) was modelled and textured in Mudbox.
There were over 100 blendshapes for the character’s expressions and clothes. We used a low poly model for animation, and achieved the given detail with Bump and Displacement Maps which were extracted from Mudbox.
Steve was then sent to Maya for further refinement and rigging with The Setup Machine 2 (TSM2) plug-in. Marios created the facial hair with paint effects and the hair with the Maya hair system. He also created the simulations in Maya.
3D World: What kit did you use to take the footage? Stefanos: The footage was shot in Canterbury city centre with a Canon 7D. Then the character was animated according to this footage.
3D World: How did you render the footage? Stefanos: Firstly we used Adobe Photoshop to clean up the shots. Then we rendered Steve in Maya with Mental Ray using mia_material_x and misss_fastskinshader for the skin. Then the renders were sent to Foundry’s Nuke X for compositing, which was done by myself. We then had to do a bit of further editing in Adobe Premiere.
Finally we worked on the finishing touches: Marios did the simulations in the introduction, and Yiannis used Photoshop and After Effects to create the closing 2D titles.