Mark Chavez, a Singapore based artist, animator, writer, director and assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University has hit the bull’s eye with a Vengeance!!! His CGI animated action film Vengance+Vengance has recently won the Best Animation Film Award at the Marbella International Film Festival 2012 along the Costa del Sol in Puerto Banús. The film also premiered in Las Vegas at the Vegas Cine Fest where it received an Honorable Mention and received a third place award from the Urban Mediamakers International Film Festival 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia both in the U.S.A.
Vengance+Vengance an 18 minute film, is authored in a game engine, the Unreal Development Kit (UDK). It is part of a research project titled ‘Cinematics and Narratives: creating real-time visual toolsets (NRF2008IDM-IDM003)’. The film stars the vocal talents of Amelia Jaishree, Bob Feldman and Mark Chavez. It was made at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media through research funding provided by Interactive Digital Media R&D Project Office, Singapore. JC (Jing Cherng) Wong held the duty of visual development lead for the film while Music & Sound Design is done by Philip Tan (Chin Wen).
It is a contemporary adaptation of “The Hunter” by Richard Stark (AKA Donald E. Westlake). The story logline goes as follows: “In a world where scientific achievement has merged the boundaries between man and weapon, one woman stands apart. The Resnick Corporation through advanced genomic research stands poised to control weapon development with an advanced soldier prototype. The only problem, the prototype has gone wrong.”
Mark Chavez is an assistant professor at NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media, Singapore. With 25 years of professional animation industry experience, he has worked as an animator on many different projects such as performance based laser animation for rock concerts and special venues, direction and execution as a lead artist for Alien Trilogy, a PlayStation 2 game (the first PS2 game to use motion capture), has done CGI motion graphics, storyboard, design and execution for television commercials and Japanese game shows at Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), feature animation and effects at DreamWorks and live action visual effects for Rhythm and Hues Studios, Los Angeles.
Speaking to AnimationXpress’ IshpreetChandock about the award, Mark said, “Although the project received an award for research, it is a nice honor to receive film awards on the final outcome of the project. We started working on it in 2008, doing studies on the impact of image on the viewer looking at the grotesque and contrasting it with cartoonish cute styles. Finally once these studies had been made we geared our work towards an interactive piece that would dial the viewer through these styles based on predetermined rules, and then finally we took the results and applied it to a director driven animation production outcome. Some of the crew duties included writing academic papers. It was a long journey considering what was required of us. With all the hard work complete, it is nice to get the follow-up appreciation with awards on the final outcome… the animated movie.”
“The movie is part of a larger research project. The idea was to create a movie that had extreme emotional highs and lows in such a way as we can manipulate the imagery in a real-time. In addition to the use of classic cinematic archetypes familiar to Southeast Asia and cinema our goal was to tell a compelling story. We chose to lean the content toward an action sci-fi genre with a vengeance theme and to do a contemporary adaptation of “The Hunter” by Richard Stark changing the main character from a male to a female and changing the nature of the original characters toughness to intelligence.”
The film is authored in a game engine, the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) unlike the usual CGI offline rendering method, adding on the same he said, “Within the context of the work it was the ability to use the interactive quality of a simulation environment to affect design in real time that was pivotal in our decision to use the UDK. Incidentally the imagery was output or captured in the game engine which did speed up final production considerably. In the end this decision resulted in a particular look and feel to the final work.”
“Looking at the effect of visual style on the viewer, the movie is conceived in three different styles: extreme, standard and cute. Initially these designs were morphed in real-time in an interactive playback testing system. We varied the characterization between the three design targets. Our standard style targets naturalistic proportions and colors, our cute style targets cartoonlike rounded shapes and colorful though soft tones and our extreme style attempts a more film-noir look, sharpened features with exaggerated proportions, more texture detail and an overall contrasting tonal treatment. Typically the cute design style is used when she is in vulnerable situations. We use this style to draw empathy from the audience making the character more child-like and vulnerable in appearance.”
“The work shown in festivals is created in a director driven system. The movie is created interactively by blending through these three design styles in an interactive director driven authoring system. What is presented is the final outcome of the work where the design of the characters changes in volume and color tone to manipulate the viewer’s experience.”
“With the help of JC Wong an experienced comic book and storyboard artist; Boon Yi Fei my lead rigger; software leads Hakhyun (Harry) Kim, Aung Sithu Kyaw and Thet Naing Swe, the project took it’s present form. It was staffed with an inexperienced crew of former students who had recently completed studies in animation at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. I had been their instructor while they were studying in their undergraduate cgi and storyboard classes and then as a director on this project. This research project was done after the completion of their school studies and for many was their first experience in the job market. Although Singapore has a burgeoning film industry none of these former students had seen what the fruit of their efforts could bring. Now that the film has won a few awards and has promise to go further, I hope that we will come to better understand what we made.”he concluded.