I've met Orlando Jones on the set of Peter Hyams’ “Enemies Closer”. He was playing one of the lead roles in the movie, while I was VFX supervising the show. It was a long night shoot and we were discussing everything from films, actors and news to the movie business in general. This is how we found out that we both share a strong passion for comics and graphic novels. He was enthusiastic about his latest “pet” project - a short web series that just wrapped shooting in LA a few weeks before coming to Bulgaria for “Enemies Closer”. Orlando really wanted his movie to feel like it was based on an existing graphic novel (although that was not the case) and was looking for interesting ways to convey this feeling.
On the next day I invited him to our studio, where he met with the team and showed us a rough version of the trailer he and the director (Avi Youabian) were putting together for this year’s Comic Con. Despite the “no budget” frame, the material clearly showed great potential because of the experienced crew, the talented director and the funny script (written by Orlando as well). The trailer was hilarious and Orlando and Avi were already working on some of the graphic elements, to help bring this piece to the aesthetics of a graphic novel adaptation.
The real challenge, though, was the execution of all those elements. Because of the limited funds, there was no option to hire extra illustrators, graphic designers or VFX artists. I knew exactly what that trailer needed in order to bring it to an entirely different level and I knew that we have all the resources to do it. We started working on a demo to present to Orlando.
A CONSISTENT APPROACH
The key word here was “consistency”, I knew that every element should be unified with the rest, even the font of the letters. That is why we designed and created a unique font to match the style of the movie. Our designer Petya did a great job creating the font and designing every graphic panel for the movie, she created two versions of the movie poster. The first one - very graphic and contrasting, the second one - a vintage version (like Orlando Jones requested), with a subtle mark of a gun on the front cover...
All of the comic panels were drawn by our very talented concept artist Angel, who produced over 60 high detailed comic illustrations plus all the elements for the 2d animation in a record time.
Besides all that work we also had to create more than 20 VFX shots (just for the trailer), like blood spurts, muzzle flashes, CG bullets etc.
For the animation of the graphic panels (the illustrations) we wanted to add more dimension to the half tone treated drawings. This is why all elements were separated, mapped and moved in 3D space to give this “extended parallax“ feeling to the shots. All that added extra dynamics to the shots and fitted perfectly in the fast montage Avi created.
In less than 3 weeks everything was ready, the trailer looked great. The fans responded extremely positive and Machinima signed on this project and aired the series on their YouTube channel.