Monday, August 12, 2013

The Last Extinction Process, Part One: Getting Started

This post will be the first in a series where I finally get to show off some of the beautiful work that my art team and I created for The Last Extinction.
storyboards by Yours Truly

To summarize briefly: last year I was hired by writer/producer Michael Hanrahan to develop and create content for his enhanced eBook, The Last Extinction. TLE is an adventure novel with environmental themes, about an ancient artifact that predicts a time when nature itself will rise up against humanity. Michael's plan was to set his story apart from other prose novels by including exciting visuals and animated vignettes to enhance the reading experience. That's where I became involved...

After the initial meetings and getting-to-know-you stuff, I was hired as Art Director for the project, tasked with building a team of digital 2D and 3D artists, and developing the artwork for animation (later, my role would grow, and my title changed to Creative Director).

There were many stages, but basically, I started by working with Michael and his lead animator to choose the most visually or emotionally interesting scenes from the book. I then storyboarded them, planning out how the animations would work. Meanwhile, I built up a team of about ten digital painters from around the world, who mainly work as concept artists for film and video games.

Originally, Michael was not sure if he wanted to use art or stock photographs and video to create the visuals.  I happen to be a big fan of concept art (I like to collect the behind-the-scenes "Art Of..." Books that are published as movie tie-ins) and ultimately convinced everyone that the painterly look of concept art would be a unique, and ultimately cost-effective way to go for the project.
Just a small sampling from my shelves...I seriously love these books!

After assembling our team, my next task was to divvy the scenes out among them, playing to the strengths of each individual artist (one might excel at painting people or animals, while others were chosen for their ability to paint beautiful environments).
work in-progress by Robin Olausson (my notes)

art by John VanFleet
work in-progress by John VanFleet

rough environment sketches by Kalen Chock
work in-progress by Kalen Chock

Here's a peek at some work behind one shot...

art by Kalen Chock
Painting by Andrey Pervukhin

Early on, we decided to first focus our energy on a few specific sequences, to be used in the promotional trailer below.

The Last Extinction from Hanrahan Media on Vimeo.

Each scene had its own challenges, but Michael's dedication to his project allowed me to find and hire amazing talents who were more than up to them. This made TLE a very exciting project to work on. We were off and running on a project that would keep me very busy for much of last year, and with which I'm still involved as the publication date draws near.

Tomorrow, I will post the first a few in-depth peeks at how the art was created, step by step. Check back for an exclusive look at the creative process behind The Last Extinction!

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