At Blue Zoo we've grown to have a bit of a reputation for our Christmas short films, where everyone in our studio is welcomed to participate collaboratively.
But this year we've been so busy our short almost didn't happen. As the weeks ticked over towards Christmas, more and more people kept saying they can't wait to see what we make this year - and the last thing we want to do is disappoint people at Christmas time! So with only a matter of weeks to go, directors Simone & Joe took on the challenge and decided to go for it...
As "More Stuff" was a parody of the animated musical genre, we thought it would be fun to evolve this into parodying movies, re-using assets to be efficient as possible. So we decided to create a trailer for an all out action movie about what happens following on from where "More Stuff" finished; when Santa returns to find his elves run amok!
Importantly, a trailer montage fitted into the creative limitations we had; it would allow as many people as possible to participate in a short space of time, each creating disparate shots, whilst minimising potential continuity and narrative issues.
Joe Kinch kicked off the process by designing an angry Santa...
This was then modelled in ZBrush by Pietro Lincini and textured by Gherardo Zurla using MARI, with his beard created using Maya XGen.
Simone & Joe Kinch went straight to animatic to work out the shot layout and to check the pacing and comedy timing...
As we only had a few weeks to make the animation, nearly all of the environments were digital matte paintings, created by Izzy Burton.
In order to get the short animated in time, we limited the complexity of the shots, restricting most of the action to single movements or loops.
We then rendered the animation using Redshift GPU engine. This allowed us to achieve very high-quality render results, with translucent subsurface skin shading and advanced hair systems, in a fraction of the time of traditional CPU renderers.
Another big problem that reared its head, was that our render farm was working at maximum capacity on our current slate of productions. So with the computational power-hungry demands of this short, we had to very quickly implement cloud rendering into our pipeline. This enabled us to extend our render farm seamlessly at very short notice, using YellowDog's cloud rendering services.
Our lighting team lead by Charlie lit and composited over 40 shots in just over two weeks!
Here's a little teaser of how the project came together...
We hope you enjoy watching the final animation as much as we enjoyed making it!