November 11, 2015

Whaddup Fish!

Written, Directed, and Animated by: Tomek PILARSKI -
3D Bathyscaphe Animation: MEGGOT -
Digital Ink & Paint: Tomek PILARSKI & Anna CHRZANOWSKA -
Music: Mateusz GUDEL aka BRAT JORDAH -
Sound Design: Tiago CARDOSO & Dinis HENRIQUES -
Consultants: Jacek ADAMCZAK & Paweł PREWENCKI - University of Arts in Poznań

WHADDUP FISH! is a short animation about Scientist who is looking for extraordinary species deep under the ocean surface. When he stumbles upon Dumbo octopus he immediately decides to follow this cute little creature, which leads him to an unexpected underwater event and into DEEP trouble.

Flooby Nooby had a chance to chat with Tomek about the film.

How did you first come up with the concept for this short?

This is rather a long story, but I think that I need to clarify the process we had to take. At University of Arts in Poznań (where I’m studying) every student works on his/her own animation by themselves until completion, but me and my colleague wanted to try collaborating on something together, so we got permission from our professor do to so. It was back in the 2014 academic year so it’s one year since then and the idea had evolved from my old unfinished animation about a castaway to the concept I had now for this film. We liked the idea of setting the story in the ocean, but we wanted to make it more visually appealing and intense. So we decided to put it underwater and add mermaids and the a big party. The beginning of developing this shirt film was slow-going, but I was always filled with enthusiasm and hope as I pressed forward. Our main goal was quality... and because of that we missed our first semester deadline, and 'Whaddup Fish!' became a two-semester project, of course it was accompanied by the usual problems and disappointment throughout production. It was a fantastic learning experience!

After some pitfalls and with the awareness of how much work was needed to achieve the final result, I worked on 'Whaddup Fish!' day and night at every spare moment I could squeeze in. After a short while my partner on the production began to give up his responsibilities and Had to finish the film on my own, I struggled a bit to make my professor understand that my partner abandoning the production would cause delays for my film. I had put sooo much effort into this project, and I cared about it so much that I decided to finish what I started. 'Whaddup Fish' was completely revised and re-done by myself, and with an ungoldy amount of work done, it finally got completed.

How long and detailed was your storyboarding stage?

Storyboarding was quite difficult because I wanted to fit it my whole story in less than 1 minute. First part (before the party) was easier, but when it came to the epic party, I did lots of work to show keep the main idea clear and avoid having the audience getting lost in all that dancing.

Did you have any specific inspirations that you drew from for the color design?

'Whaddup Fish!' is my first animation in color, and I was apprehensive about that. I’m rather systematic and compulsive person, so first I dive into lots color theories, and researched underwater photography. Then I analyzed lots of animation which were set underwater. I think that I started with 'Finding Nemo' but as time went by, I realized that I have pretty solid knowledge and it’s time for me to leave all the references behind and start to create my own color script. I wanted the color palettes to support the story, and I’m pretty happy with the end result. Especially because it’s the first time I did a color script. I can tell you now that producing color script is a life saver for your film!

There's plenty of FX animation, 2D traditional, plus lots of glows, blurs, and lighting effects made with (After Effects?), where or how did you learn to use these techniques?

Thank you for noticing this! I always take care of every little thing in my animations. Somehow from the beginning of my studying at Univeristy of Arts in Poznań I was fastinated with traditional animation but at the same time I experimented a lot with After Effects and how it can bring more depth to flat animation. Now, after a few animations done solely in After Effects, I was comfortable with this software, and I use it to add dimension to my own personal traditional animations. Basically, I look at some great animation and nature, then I just try to find the way to translate from what I observe, and learned from it to later apply it to my own work.

You are a student at University of Arts in Poznań, how in-depth is the course? Did you enjoy learning the process and principles of animation?

First of all we must take a 3 year BFA and then 2 years of MFA. And I’m at the last year of the MFA course so this is my graduation year. About the course; we briefly review the animation principles and a bit of theory, then we go straight to animating. Professors insist to make “your own personal animation" without basic knowledge and it ends up unreadable for viewers and unpleasant to watch. But on the other hand if you know what you want (like me) it’s a good time to learn on you own without worrying about finding a job. This lack of fundamentals motivates me, because at the end of my education I will become alumni of a 5 years animation program and the industry demands certain skills from its employees, so I push myself harder to work on my own to reach that level of quality that employers are looking for. So overall, I consider myself as self-taught.

How long did it take you to make the film from concept to completion?

If we are only talking about the second version; it took about 5 months.

Any future plans for another independent short film?

Now I need to make my graduation short and for that I received a Scholarship from Animation Educators Forum/ASIFA-Hollywood. I have an idea, but I don’t want to talk about it just yet. I'm assembling a team of talented people, and I hope to make it a great short, so wish me luck!

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