Star Wars Escape by Sebastian Kuder
"Star Wars Escape" is a short fan film created by second year undergraduate animation student Sebastian Kuder. It's a sophisticated piece of work, almost 5 minutes long and involving a high level of skill in both animation and visual effects. We asked him to talk a little about the project, and how he managed to complete it with little time and less budget.
I was looking for an idea for a project as I wanted to do some animation during the summer holidays. One day a friend of mine from Escape Studios said that he was modelling a spaceship and - coincidentally - I was modelling one too. We came up with an idea to make the two spaceships race each other through an asteroid field. From that concept we developed the idea of this story - Star Wars Escape.
Probably the main challenge was that I didn’t want to spend weeks rendering the film in Maya. So I decided to import everything into Epic’s Unreal Game Engine and render everything there, saving a huge amount of time, as Unreal is designed to render in real-time. On the debit side, Unreal has many limitations - especially with regard to rigs, as well as lighting and reflections. Because of that I had to spend about two or three weeks rigging the characters and the ships, and then dealing with all the issues that came up as a result.
I’m not an experienced animator, and there were many challenging shots to deal with in this project - but that’s part of what made it fun to tackle. One of the challenges was that on a project like this, you will feel very ambitious about it at the beginning, but after a while this enthusiasm tends to fade away, and you need a lot of determination to keep going and finish it.
I used Autodesk Maya for rigging and animating, Unreal Engine for lighting and rendering, Adobe Premiere Pro for editing and Adobe Audition for sound editing/mixing. You could quite easily do all the sound work in Premiere Pro but I recommend learning Audition - it will make your life easier. I also used the AdvancedSkeleton plugin for rigging characters.
Story, story, story
Next time around I plan on making an original piece of animation, rather than a fan film, and my main focus will be on the story. I think many animation studios are looking for artists who can come up with original ideas - not one that is set in an existing universe. Of course, there is nothing wrong with creating a fan-film, but I do regret that I didn’t focus more on the story. I have started now to read more about how to create good stories and learn more about story-telling.
Editing, cinematography and sound is also very important. No matter how good your animation is, the audience won't enjoy your film if these aspects of it are weak.
The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt, now recruiting for September 2018, follow this link. To apply, visit the offical page here. To apply for our animation short course, follow this link.