On set of Ocean Maker
article by Ostin Pascal
The OceanMaker, written, directed and produced by Lucas Martel, a 9 minute animated short film set in a future Earth when all the oceans have disappeared. The story is about the central character-Katrina, a brave fighter pilot who fights against fierce sky pirates to be in control of the only source of water remains: the clouds. This is a film without any dialogue and the music has a unique role to visualize the essence of the story into the viewers mind.
the director, writer and producer
There were 8 members involved in making of this short film. Martell embarked on the indie short by assembling a team of artists to work on Caye Caulker, an island of 1300 residents off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean. Here the crew produced around half the film, then worked remotely to finish the rest.
And there are some of them:
Head of Story Michael Cawood
is an animation for over a decade and worked on highly acclaimed films like "Happy Feet" and "Narnia: Prince Caspian." But he is best known for his short film “Devils, Angels & dating.”
3D Ninja Tad Catalano
actually did it all- modeling, textures, lighting. He is also a hair/cloth specialist.
Animator Henning Koczy
is not only a brilliant animator; he's also a director and a game designer. Coca Cola Happiness Spots is one of his best known commercial.
As this film is without dialogue, music plays a vital role to visualize the story and composer Chris Reyman did his part well enough. There are some stellar looking models in this film and all credits for this goes to Ryan Saper: Modeler- still a post graduate student of Animation and Visual Effects at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Christina Martell virtually jumped out of her chair when she heard that Lucas Martell was crazy enough to book the location on a small island. The eight were on Caye Caulker in Belize for a month and a half. Lucas Martell wanted a dedicated team of professionals working full-time on the project, not like most independent animator working here and there and he wanted all of them in one location. On the other hand he was on budget. And then he started to think, what if the place is so cool that makes people to come willingly and spent a month and a half. He was on a short budget which made him unable to pay the professional rates to his crew members. Fortunately, bringing the team to a tropical island turned into an amazing life experience for every member. Hal of the film finished in Belize, and that is really fast for something like this animation project.
Head of Story Michael Cawood
Much time needed during making an animation film as the independent animators are working here and there all over the world. To collect and combine all the pieces into a film just takes longer.
But in case of The OceanMaker, because everybody was sitting on a room together, it’s only to take people to go considerably faster. The collaboration was amazing. Everybody was free of restriction to discuss any issue.
“It is really our film,” said Lucas Martell, “because we are going to make instant changes based on recommendation.”
Lucas Martell was looking for couple of specific things. He was looking for something felt like it had a bigger story to it, something felt like not stand alone actually but could be made into something much better. It is such a visually driven story, there is no dialogue, only one character, and the visual effect is so fantastic, it’s slowly come into life. The ending of The OceanMaker is emotional though it is filled with lots of action.
DI Colorist Brandon Thomas and Sound Designer Kirby Meador work closely to add the finishing touch for The OceanMaker. Brandon Thomas worked diligently to make sure the consistency in animation is there. It is a complex job and Thomas did it really well to make the planes realistic. Kirby gave individual voice to the each plane in the film. This was Kirby’s first and probably that’s where he found sounds more interesting. It was a difficult task of breaking a single sound to multiple sounds to give each plane their own voice based on the characteristics. Brandon and Kirby worked together visualize the scenes to give it more natural or organic kind of feel so it did not feel completely computer generated.
The film is without dialogue and the music is the true narrator of every scene. Lucas Martell was a music major (saxophone) in college, so music is something he lean very heavily on as a storyteller. Even in the first draft of the script he envisioned the last half of the movie being nothing but music… not even sound effects. Because it was so exposed, they knew that they had to knock it out of the park. The composer Chris Reyman is a former roommate of Lucas who has scored all of his projects, and they agreed that doing the score digitally would really limit the range of what he could write.
Fortunately they have got a lot of very good musician friends, so between themselves and their music supervisor Shelly Eager they were able to pull some favors to make it happen with real musicians. When Chris Reyman heard about the project it seemed like to him a synopsis. Then he saw the script and from that point he realized that he had to create something epic. He was happy to achieve such a big sound production on such a low budget. The very first thing they recorded was the beginning of Katrina’s sacrifice. When they have started playing, it was just, everyone involved in the production knew that it was going to be a great work.