DarWest
production
 

Synopsis
Nik Wayland’s memory is taken by a creature who threatens to destroy the colonial city he inhabits.  With the help of a wife he doesn't remember and a mysterious exotic dancer,  Nik must track the creature to retrieve his past and prevent an invasion of the most dangerous creatures the universe has ever known.

City of DarWest

A view of DarWest

 

About the Production
This feature-length animated action-adventure is the product of several talented students at Purdue and Indiana University. Already 15 months in the making, the project features hand-drawn characters and computer-generated 3D backgrounds, a 22-person voice cast, an original orchestral score, and the work of a dozen illustrators & designers.

When completed, DarWest will first premiere in Bloomington and Lafayette, Indiana.  It will simultaneously be entered in numerous competitions and film  festivals.

How is it Being Done?
DarWest started as screenplay which underwent no less than seven major revisions.  Before the script was finalized, the production designer and conceptual designer worked several months to determine the look of the movie.  This involved the designing of a dozen vehicles and 33 interior and exterior sets. 

The sets and vehicles are being constructed in virtual space by computer artists at Purdue University.  The characters are being designed and illustrated by artists at Indiana University.

Linaat

Linaat - A character in DarWest

Before a scene can be fully realized, it must first be storyboarded.  Many of DarWest's scenes are being storyboarded using 3D software, while others are being sketched on paper.   During this process, the director or storyboard artist chooses camera angles and the placement of characters within the scene.  A sketch must be drawn for every shot in the movie, including new sketches for times when the camera moves and the composition changes.

Low Resolution Storyboard

Low Resolution Computer Storyboard

The above image is a low-resolution computer storyboard with dummies in place of the characters, which will be added later.  The dummies aid the illustrators by informing them of the characters' locations and poses within the scene.

The image below is a more fully-rendered image from the movie.  The characters were illustrated and scanned into a computer.  They were then composited into the virtual set and programmed to react to the color and intensity of the lighting within the set. 

Completed Scene

Hand drawn characters composited onto computer generated background.

DarWest is an animated motion picture in that relatively few shots in the movie are static (with no motion what-so-ever).  All computer-generated elements move fluidly, including the virtual cameras.  The two-dimensional characters, however, will not be fully animated.  Since total animation takes several years for even the most capable of institutions to create, it was decided that DarWest must rely on movie trickery to convey character action.  To tell the story and keep the audience visually entertained, the characters dissolve between extreme poses.  Other actions are conveyed through clever storyboarding or sound effects. 

Illustration of Nik

A concept drawing of Nik

To cut down the amount of illustrating, libraries of various body parts (like the head above) are being created for each of the main characters.  The parts can be rearranged and modified in numerous ways to create new images.  These "stock parts" are in line form only, as coloring and shading of a character changes from shot to shot.  All character coloring and shading is being done digitally.

Scenes are being created one at a time.  As a virtual set is completed, scenes that occur on that set are storyboarded.  The storyboards are then printed out for the illustrators' reference.  Any characters that can't be created using the library of character parts are drawn to fit the shot.  All the various elements are then composited and rendered -- ready for the addition of dialogue, sound effects and music.

DarWest's dialogue has already been recorded with a group of 22 talented actors and actresses.  Music will be written and recorded as the production nears completion.  The sound and picture editing will be done digitally, and the soundtrack will be presented in surround sound. 

 

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2000 Dan Dixon, Scott Schirmer, & the DarWest Team.