Hello everyone, I would like to present ‘The Labyrinth of Language’ a short animated film created by:
- Adam McAllister
- Darren Porter
- Alan Martin
- Gerard Dunleavy
I took the time to write answers to the most common questions I have received about the ‘Labyrinth of Language’ I hope to post some more in depth articles in the future on how the short was created, if you have any questions just post them here and I will answer them as quick as I can.
What is the film about about?
The story revolves around a small boy visiting a foreign land who inadvertently finds himself trapped inside a labyrinth. The boy must learn the local language and communicate with a surly grounds keeper to escape his predicament.
How long did it take?
From start to finished the project took just under 6 months to complete.
Did the team work together at one location or remotely?
For the first two\three months of pre-production the team worked remotely, we came together twice a week to share ideas and discuss the direction of the project. Once we embarked on the production phase of the animation we moved into the brand new computer animation lab at the University of Ulster - Belfast.
What software did you use?
Autodesk Maya was the main animation package used to create ‘The Labyrinth of Language’.
We enhanced Maya’s tool set with additional plugins and scripts for various specialised tasks, for example we based our character rigs on the MGear system created by Jeremie Passerin. This rigging solution is still in a Beta testing phase which meant we had to spent a great deal of time fixing bugs and optimizing the rigs to work the way we needed them too.
For the character’s hair we used the Shave & Haircut tools created by Joe Alter, these tools allowed us to grow and groom the hair into the exact shapes we needed. Once we were finished we converted the hair paths into geometry and built specialised rigs for them, these controls allowed the animators to animate the hair quickly and easily.
Pixologic Zbrush was used to create the majority of models and textures. Zspheres were used to block out the proportions and forms of a character, these zspheres were then converted into a mesh and sculpted to a very high level of detail.
The high polygon models were then brought into Maya and retopologised (Resurfaced) resulting in low polygon models that are more practical to animate.
Xnormal was used to generate Ambient Occulusion and Normal maps that transfered the high level detail on the low poly models, any further textures or adjustments were made using Adobe Photoshop.
We used the default Mental Ray renderer to render ‘The Labyrinth of Language’ on 16 workstations. We decided to render the frames as 16bit-Multichannel EXR’s which allowed us to break a shot up into many layers, with each layer having multiple passes such as Ambient Occulsion, Colour, Depth etc.
The rendered frames were composited and Graded using NukeX by The Foundry, the final 2D elements, title credits and master grade were added using Adobe Aftereffects.
Below is a recap of the software that we used:
Shave & Haircut
The Foundry - NukeX
Where can I see the film?
We are currently seeking to showcase our film at a number of festivals around the world and we hope to make it publicly available online very soon! meanwhile I hope you enjoy the artwork on this blog.