Animated Short Film: "Invasion"
"Invasion" is an animated short film about an alligator named Scoot and his best friend, a butterfly named Blue, who are driven from their Everglades home by a mysterious force. It poses environmental questions: who does land belong to? And how can humans live more harmoniously with nature? The short is now on the festival circuit and is set to be released online August 2019.
This film was produced as my senior thesis film at Northeastern University's Media Arts BFA program. I was responsible for concept and story, all 3D assets, and about half of the character animation.
Prop & Environment Modeling
Assets made with Maya, ZBrush, and Substance Painter
Character Creation: Scoot
I had a really fun time creating Scoot, the rambunctious main character of my short. I began by studying the anatomy of real baby alligators, taking note of features that could be exaggerated in my designs. Then, I tried different styles for the baby gator, experimenting with different proportions and the scale of certain features. I chose my favorite elements of these designs, and combined them into a more final sketch. Once this was done, I did some facial expression tests to make sure I could get this little guy to emote. I wanted Scoot to be stylized, but clearly rooted in real life.
To help myself prepare for the process of 3D modeling, I also created a sculpt of Scoot's head out of oven bake polymer clay and acrylic paint.
An animation test of Scoot's rig, built in Maya and textured using Substance Painter.
Additional Concept Art
The story has gone through several iterations. In an earlier version, Scoot had a gator family and had to run away from an angry man with a barbecue. In the final version, he has a butterfly friend named Blue and must face off against an army of spore creatures, led by a tall shadowy figure. Through all these iterations, concept art was an extremely crucial part of the creative process.
Research & Inspiration
During the spring of 2016, I applied for a Summer Scholars Independent Research Fellowship (SSIRF). The following summer, I conducted a research project involving pre-production for an animated short film. During the first portion of my project, I traveled to LA and San Francisco to learn about the pre-production process from artists at BUCK and Industrial Light & Magic. For the rest of the summer, I researched and visited the Florida Everglades, which became the setting of my short.
During my visits to the Everglades, I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the wildlife that live there, and I fell in love with the location. I learned that the biggest threat to the health of the Everglades is human intrusion and development, and during my visit to Everglades Holiday Park, an airboat hub and alligator rescue, I learned that over 7000 alligators are killed a year because they are deemed a "nuisance." After interacting with gators first hand, I was charmed by their personalities and decided that a gator should be the main character of my short.
Inspired by the Everglades and the environmental havoc we’ve wreaked on it, I drafted a narrative and character designs for a short starring Scoot: a young alligator. I completed another SSIRF in Summer 2018, where I finalized a new script and storyboards for the short.