Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Intergalactic Kung Fu Zombies - Ep1a Animation!



It is the 23rd Century...

Earth has long since been abandoned after the inevitable zombie apocalypse, and is now not much more than a backwater post apocalyptic wasteland. However, Dead Earth is still inhabited by the unfortunate masses of peoples trying to survive after the wealthy and powerful were evacuated during the Zombie Uprising. Day by day, they attempt to make a normal life amidst the crumbled remains of what were once great cities and nations - whilst fighting off the thriving undead that roam it's surface.

Humanity has spread across the stars, and the cross cultural frontiers & explorations have begun anew, as more and more interstellar civilizations are encountered. History does indeed have a way of repeating itself, does it not? Because of this, the Interstellar Embassy was created. It's existence enables a more or less amenable co-existence between the various races and species - keeping enough order to discourage an eruption into complete chaos and war.

Enter the Intergalactic Kung Fu Zombies.

They have no memory of who they once were in their mortal lives.
They are not like other zombies, such as those from Dead Earth.

They are in fact, much more than that...

They awoke aboard their BattleCruiser - the Coffin - 1, with but a brief greeting by the G.H.O.S.T - a mysterious Artificial Intelligence whose only purpose seems to be the vigilance of the cosmos, though it's location is completely unknown. It keeps their old identities a secret, and they are not even sure if the digital persona even really knows what their days amongst the living entailed. Regardless of the situation, the G.H.O.S.T. always pays them handsomely for their efforts, which enables them to upkeep the Coffin-1 BattleCruiser and expand their arsenal. A question remains however, since their zombification is likely sourced by the same mutagen or virus that spawned the Zombie Uprising back on Dead Earth long ago...

Sheena: She is a weapons expert, and also the leader & strategist of the group.
Adventurous, no nonsense, efficient and thorough, Sheena brings a level headed perspective to the team. Once given a mission, she won't waste any time, only targets. Incredibly driven, stubborn and determined to see every mission through without losing any of her crew, she will often go the extra mile to take on the biggest threats head on - to ensure that everyone makes it through.
She may be a deceased beauty, but don't let her looks deceive you... or else!

Tork: A cybernetically enhanced and sustained powerhouse. Tork is skilled with machinery, combat, strategy and various war tactics and intelligence. Though he rarely shows a willingness to take lead of the group, he will at times commandeer the trio - as his ways with war have proven to be full of an ageless yet quiet wisdom. He has often pulled the group through some tough situations.
His grim countenance reveals very little, especially when coupled with his sheer brute force. It is believed his cybernetic & mechanical anatomy is a result of severe physical trauma perhaps experienced during his death... prior to his revival as he is known today.

Gash: He is the infiltration and demolitions expert, and his combat preferences lie in small arms and his trusty blade. Yet another enigmatic reanimated mercenary, Gash seems to always be scowling, as his not knowing who he was prior to his 'awakening' aboard the Coffin-1 has made him a bit bitter and angry. For the most part, he is mistrustful of the G.H.O.S.T. but sees that the missions the IKFZ are given by it are always for a greater benefit, not to mention the hefty sums of Kredits that come with the job.

Together they are a trio of hardened undead mercenary warriors.

They are...


Ep1a - Dr. Oculus & the Thermo Hadronic Canon

SPECIAL THANKS TO ANDREW @ www.songstowearpantsto.com for the IKFZ theme song!

This cartoon was an ENORMOUS amount of work to put together, done mainly by one person, with another lending a hand for rigging characters and taking on this insurmountable task! Had to learn After Effects 'from scratch', and only had about 3 months to do this in.

If you're interested about the process, commentary, the experience of making this thing, or the background of this project, you can read about it here -

Thanks for checking it out! I hope you enjoyed it and it made you feel like watching those old cartoons again!

Animation Project - IKFZ

They Came from Within the Coffin - Behind the Scenes of the Intergalactic Kung Fu Zombies

The Concept:

Create a spoof/ homage of 80's & 70's cartoons and TV shows. Add a dash of 'grindhouse' flavour.
Especially stuff like 'Spiderman & Friends', Batman (Adam West), Thundercats,Knight Rider, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, the A-Team, even stuff like Mission Impossible, and Charlie's Angels (with a twist, of course ;) ).

The Challenge:

After doing quite a bit of research, we decided to just go with what I already have so the first major challenge was learning Adobe After Effects from scratch. Other than that, managing, directing, keeping track of what was where and what needed doing was overwhelming, especially when trying to keep up with the INSANE deadline we just casually came up with (wtf were we thinking?!?!) and executing this whole brain addled project, storyboarding, writing, scoring, animating, etc etc, and try to complete the whole project within 3 months.

The Madness Begins:

At the beginning, I started with concepts and sketches for the characters, as well as brainstorming their iconic vehicle, supporting cast, general synopsis, and their mysterious back stories (which are yet to be revealed). Then Coming up with the character concepts, vehicles, personalities, but more importantly - mixing up all the ingredients that made all those shows so memorable, inspirational and nostalgic for me, but keeping it all wrapped up within an original package. The main thing I kept asking myself throughout this whole process was "Would I watch this? Would I be crazy about a show like this?".

A Traumatic Experience:

This thing went from being a 3 minute short, to 5 minutes, to 7 minutes, to the end result of just over 9 minutes in length. With just two people working on it, that really adds up, and we quickly realized what an insane undertaking we'd just committed to. I created the majority of all the artwork, storyboarding, character pieces, 3d modelling, texturing, creating & arranging the 'sets' in AE's 3d setup, and on and on and on. Mia rigged the majority of the characters, did loads of animating as I burned away to a crisp carcass on creating all the image and art assets.
I couldn't really tell you how many hours went into the making of this thing... but a 16 hour day from morning to dawn was not an uncommon thing on the weekends at all! (My chair is now flat and cushionless... OUCH!)

The Theme:

We decided to hire good ol' Andrew @ www.songstowearpantsto.com - and it has been a really good thing. The theme he came up with for the IKFZ really helped to keep the vision rolling along in our heads as we worked through this cartoon. We gave him a pretty basic overview of what we wanted, as well as what we didn't want it to be too obviously close to. And boy did he deliver!

It's catchy, it's funny, and it really does remind me of those days I'd spend sitting on top of the washing machine, entranced by the array of characters that inspired my imagination and kept me company on afternoon and Saturday morningsalike, armed with a hefty bowl of cereal and some cookies, of course!

Cause I love to Score:

I like making music, and I especially love movie scores and video game music... So this naturally was another opportunity for me to get to do some of that! I play bass, guitar, keyboards, and anything else I can get my claws on, just the way I do my artwork. Mix it all up and get what's crawling around in my head out there! I also have been working on music for a looooong time - again, fueled by my love of video games, movies and cartoons. In fact, those are the types of things I first learned to play (I only play by ear, I cannot for the life of me read music... wish I could though, might help me improve!)

The Whole Undead Enchilada: (delicious!)

It really was an insane and perhaps overly ambitious leap to tackle this thing. But the fact that it allowed me to do all the type of work I enjoy doing - proffessionally, artistically, passionately, creatively - really helped to fuel my being able to get up and crack away on this project, even on those nights that my body complained or that I would have rather been shooting some newbs on the Xbox, or cracking some criminal skull in Batman Arkham Asylum (which is an OMG WOW game, I can't wait to go play it again... haven't touched it in WEEKS!). We both really pushed ourselves to the extreme with this project, and I really want to thank everybody who supported us, cheered us on, and put up with our cave dwelling ways for the last few weeks.

Music, art, film, animation, comics, directing, telling stories, and breathing life into characters & worlds, universes, is what I ultimately enjoy & love doing, on every level I possibly can. And if the opportunity arose for me to somehow, some way, allow the characters and ideas to run off and take on a life of their own, sustain themselves and me creating them, enabling them, I could do this sort of thing full time... I would totally go for it.
All in all - IKFZ is but a taste of all the things I love doing... and it's both an honor and a great pleasure to be able to share this with you all. Give it a shot and a viewing, and if you like it, or know someone else who, like me, grew up with this stuff - kindly pass it along!


Was it worth it? You'll have to let me know... Would I do it again? I think that's unavoidable at this point. Doing this type of stuff is incredibly addicting, and being able to utilize all my skills and push myself into doing many things I would normally not be doing - well, let's just say it's really tough, keeps me on my toes, helps keep me sharp, right?

And you know that old saying... whatever doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger. (a little stubborness goes a long way, too) ;)

Thanks for listening, thanks for watching, and I hope you enjoy yourself and this makes you feel like watching some of those cartoons again.

Sal aka TDC