Super independent animation studio: interview with Percolate Galactic (Sundance Animator Spotlight 2022)

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The Sundance Film Festival is currently spinning hard not in the mountains of Park City but in its 2nd year of a virtual-only edition. Like last year, we are interviewing as many animators as possible and today we have a special treat for our roto-readers. Not only are we talking to the creator of the animated short Rendang of Death but show up at a fantastic animation studio, Percolate Galactic.

Tell us about Percolate Galactic.

I’m Ryan Jackson, and I wrote the story and screenplay for Rendang of Death. I co-founded Percolate Galactic in 2012 alongside my wife, Samantha Jackson, in Jakarta, Indonesia. We moved to Indonesia in 2009 to wait out the financial crisis, and many crises later, we are staying here! Percolate started out as a hodgepodge of poster designs, #branding and #content nonsense, and weird gifs we created to stay sane while creating said #conent. In 2017, we were able to do what we always wanted to do, which was to try to make a real animated short. This short film was called Terrorvision 3000, and it set the stage for us to enter increasingly weird realms of animation.

We currently have 37 people working together as a gloriously odd family (in the Vin Diesel sense of the term).

What do you think is special about 2D animation?

We do (digitally) traditional hand-drawn animation, under the direction of our Animation Director (the immortal Michaela ‘Mika’ Levi) and our Lead Animator (the infamous Andri ‘Yujin Sick’ Abdi , who both directed production on Rendang of Death. What makes hand-drawn 2D so special, I think, is the intimacy and physicality of the craft. An animator is responsible for bringing something to life from scratch – a blank screen becomes a living thing, with all that that entails. The facilitator gives them the physics and mechanics of movement, but also the body language and expressions that create emotion. When making a movie, a group of people come together and create a breathing world, based on rules that they all collectively agree on. It’s the most incredible blend of the creative and the physical.

Tell us about Rendang of Death?

In mid-2019, we had a gap in our production schedule and we started thinking about something to do while waiting for the next commercial project to start. I’ve been obsessed with the work of animator Christy Karacas for most of my adult life, and doubly so with her pre-adult swim shorts. Bar fight. During one of the pitch meetings, I came up with the idea of ​​what Bar Fight might look like as an Indonesian animation – then I started playing fighting moves to describe the points of the game. ‘plot. People seemed okay with the idea, but they were probably pleasing me to stop doing wrestling poses.

Once the concept was in place, it was decided that the film would be set in a restaurant style that is popular in Indonesia – the local nasi Padang. When eating nasi Padang, the plates are simply brought to your table and you take what you want – kind of like dimsum, but not like dimsum at all. Most importantly: when the restaurant food runs out for the day, it runs out, so you get what you get. The most popular dish (and certainly, really so good!) is a curried beef dish called rendang, which can often go fast.

What if two brothers suddenly realize that there are two and only one piece of rendang remains? Well, probably not what happens in the movie, but still.

How did you come up with the idea and did a particular artist work on it or was it a group effort?

Our initial art direction was created by Andri Abdi, who ended up doing the scene-by-scene direction of the film – but once the floodgates were opened, I think it’s entirely possible that every person from Percolate Galactic was involved. in the making of this film. Mika organized the production, our virtuoso animator Sop drew some of the most intense fight scenes inspired by anime, many of our animators like Weellsen and Hanjip and Brenda looked at the boards and literally thought ‘what if we did that, but then we changed it and took it too far. The music was composed by our host Dinda and one of our asset designers, Jati. The entire voice cast is made up of members of Percolate Galactic, including the accounting team. We had never done sound effects before, so our film crew sat down and created sound effects for the entire film. If the film succeeded, it is because 35 people all left a piece of joyful madness in it.

What advice would you give to budding young animators?

The animation is what you want it to be, and no one can tell you that you’re wrong. Do stuff. Do to do, do things that make you happy. If you can, find other people who like to do things similar to what you like. You are living through a minor societal apocalypse and who knows how many more you have, the only thing you can do is try to put better things in the world.

Unsolicited to shout: If you’re attending Sundance, watch MAKASSAR IS A CITY FOR FOOTBALLERS by the brilliant Indonesian filmmaker Khozy Rizal! Indonesia has one of the most vibrant and freshest animation AND film scenes on the planet, and we are so grateful that Sundance gives us the chance to be seen by so many people!

We’d like to thank the folks at Percolate Galactic Studio for answering our questions and for all the good work they do. Be sure to check out their website and follow them on instagram.


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