What is it?
Cloud Catchers is a 7-minute animated short film that takes place after the Earth's oceans have disappeared. The story is about one courageous pilot who fights against vicious sky pirates for control of the last remaining source of water: the clouds.
From a visual standpoint, we want to steer away from the air pirates often found in steampunk and go more "Mad Max" in the sky. Think old, beat-up planes that have been cobbled together from spare parts found in airplane graveyards. The whole film should feel hyper-real and rusty.
Tonally, Cloud Catchers is packed with fun action, but the ending is emotional and powerful in a way that even feature-length films rarely achieve. The film also contains no dialogue, which means that the visuals and the soundtrack need to be top notch in order to properly tell this story.
So... our sights are set high and it's going to be an amazing ride. We want you to come along and share the adventure with us!
Aren't animated films really expensive? How are you going to pull this off?
Just kidding. Yes, animated films are usually very expensive. A typical hollywood CG film averages between $500,000 - $2 million... per minute of film. At that rate, our 7-minute short would cost at least 3.5 million. What makes us think we can do it for 1/100th of the price? Well, because we already have! In 2009 we completed a short film called Pigeon: Impossible. The 6-minute film only cost about $10,000, but has been seen in hundreds of festivals, 43 countries, and viewed more than 8 million times online.
If you'd like to know more about how Pigeon: Impossible was made, there's over an hour of video examples and tutorials, plus we've started a similar video series for Cloud Catchers, showing all of the tips and tricks that allow us to create a big-budget hollywood film with the resources of an independent production:
How long will it take?
Ah, now that's the big question. we know we can finish the film within our budget. However, Pigeon: Impossible took nearly 5 years to complete because it was a side project for everyone involved. But, our crew has a lot more experience, and they're so excited about this project that they've agreed to take time away from their normal jobs to dedicate themselves completely to Cloud Catchers. All contributions will go towards a whirlwind 6-week production schedule, with all of our artists working together in the same location. Will 6 weeks be enough to finish? Hopefully, but even if we only get 80% finished during that time, we should easily be able to do the remaining work after hours like we did with Pigeon: Impossible. And of course, all pledges over $50 get you behind the scenes access with our video podcasts so you can see how it all works.
Who else is involved?
We've just filled the last position of our A-list team. Can't wait to work with everyone!
Tad Catalano: 3D Ninja - Tad has done it all... modeling, textures, lighting. He's also a hair/cloth specialist, having done stints at Blur and Nickelodeon, as well as all of the hair and cloth on Pigeon: Impossible.
Michael Cawood: Previs/Layout/Animation - Mike has worked in animation for over a decade on such high-profile films as "Happy Feet" and "Narnia: Prince Caspian." However, he's best known for his short film "Devils, Angels & Dating" which he wrote, directed, and did a large portion of the CG.
Tray Duncan: 3D Samurai - Another swiss-army knife of 3D goodness, Tray has worked as a producer, post supervisor, and also did previs animation for "I Am Legend" and "Zathura."
Henning Koczy: Animator - We've got a thing for multitalented individuals... Henning is not only a brilliant animator, he's also a director and a game designer. You've almost certainly seen his work on various commercials, especially the Coca Cola Happiness Factory spots.
Christina Martell: Co-producer/Festival Coordinator - After 13 years of working in the non-profit sector, Lucas has finally managed to pull her over to the dark side of filmmaking. Fortunately, indie filmmaking basically works like a non-profit, so with all of her skills in development, she's right at home!
Kat Nowlin: Animator - A recent graduate from Animation Mentor, we snatched her up before anyone else could! She's also one of the rare people to know both sides of the filmmaking coin, having worked as a producer on several projects, including the student academy award winning "Roadside Assistance."
George Renner: Effects/Compositing - A one man VFX powerhouse, George has cut his teeth on too many commercials and short films to count. His primary task will be making pretty clouds, which actually requires a lot of complex things like "pyroclastic voxel operators," and "multiple advection schemes to minimize numerical dissipation." Hooray for geeks!!!
Chris Reyman: Composer - Chris holds a DMA in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Illinois, and has performed with groups all over the world. Most importantly, he composed all of the music for Pigeon: Impossible, so pay close attention to the 74 live musicians playing his score!
Ryan Saper: Modeler - Currently a masters student in Animation and Visual Effects at the Academy of Art University in San Franciso, Ryan has been cranking out some stellar looking models. We can't wait to show you his handiwork!