Newbury Park, Calif. -- Maxon Computer, a developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation, and rendering solutions, announced that Junior Extra Terrestrial (JET), a four-minute animated and live-action short created primarily with Maxon Cinema 4D, has been accepted at eight film festivals and honored with two awards.
Created single-handedly by Dr.-Ing.V.Sassmannshausen, a world-renowned computer animator and 3D authority better known as “Dr. Sassi,” JET received an Award of Merit in the Film category from the November 2009 Accolade Film, Television, New Media and Video Awards, and has been selected to receive a Gold Kahuna Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the 2010 Honolulu International Film Festival this coming April.
JET has also been accepted from among thousands of competing entries into festivals including the Sedona International Film Festival, the International Family Film Festival in Hollywood, CA, and the San Francisco Bay Area International Children's Film Festival. The Sedona screenings will include Q&A sessions on February 24th and 27th in which Dr. Sassi will discuss the digital filmmaking techniques he used to realize his vision for JET.
“I’m thrilled that JET has been so well-received, especially given that some festivals select from thousands of submissions,” says Dr. Sassi. “One of the best moments you can have as a filmmaker is to sit in on a festival screening and feel your work touch an audience, which JET does. You can only achieve that if you are able to breathe life into your characters, and that can only happen if your tools don’t get in the way of your creative flow. With Cinema 4D, I had the creative options, the ease of use, and the rock-solid stability that I needed to stay focused on the content of the story.”
JET centers on a curious alien whose day-long visit to Earth involves finding trust and building new friendships in an unfamiliar place. The film integrates 3D elements with live-action footage shot on location in Nevada and Los Angeles using a variety of camera movement techniques including dolly, jib arm, tripod, hand-held, and helicopter. The live footage was shot straight to hard-drive with a broadcast-quality digital camcorder capturing uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 at a resolution of 1920x1080, and composited at a final resolution of 1920x818 (2.35:1). The result is a seamless blend of 3D imagery with live footage, delivering visual quality that holds up even in big-screen, 35mm exhibition.
Except for composition of the film’s score, Dr. Sassi, who holds a PhD in computer animation, handled all aspects of taking JET from his original idea to a festival-worthy finished product. “Film normally involves much teamwork,” he says, “but JET is an example of what an independent filmmaker can do on his own. It proves that with the right tools, anything is possible. And without a doubt Cinema 4D was the right tool, allowing me to take advantage of the same powerful capabilities that have been used in feature films such as in 2012, District 9, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”
Describing Cinema 4D as his “studio in a box,” Dr. Sassi says that a filmmaker “needs a production pipeline that supports your imagination and lets you work without effort. Cinema 4D is well-integrated with so many other professional applications that it was easy to create a complete feature-film pipeline using a 3D animation application as the central production tool.” Dr. Sassi adds that this integrated workflow is “not only for filmmakers who like to do animation, but is also a way to expand the tool-kit of the traditional film-maker who uses digital cameras.”
Maxon has also announced that the Cinema 4D techniques used to create JET will be documented in a new series of nearly 200 tutorials that Dr. Sassi is creating for Cineversity, Maxon USA’s online education and training resource. Dr. Sassi, who has long been a leading contributor of tips and tutorials to the site, will use JET as an entertaining yet informative vehicle to demonstrate for digital filmmakers how to navigate the challenges of creating a short involving 3D animation. The JET-based tutorials will be available as part of a reorganization of the Cineversity site planned for launch later this year.
“There was a big variety of techniques used to get the movie done, and that will be directly reflected in the training material,” Dr. Sassi said. The tutorials will cover topics such as creating environments, animating and compositing, storyboarding, screenwriting, lighting, texturing, sound, modeling, rigging, and animation, and will include as well as an entire sub-series specifically devoted to Cinema 4D’s cinematography features.
The 27-part Cinematography series is based on examples from individual scenes or animations (unrelated to JET) to provide the fundamentals of classical cinematography as it relates to 3D filmmaking. “It is important for digital filmmakers to gain an understanding about cinematography – the art of making motion pictures – and basic cinematic principles including the rules of camera use and lighting, so they can fully elevate their 3D animated projects,” he adds.
The Integration 101 series will offer 54-parts centered on the theme of combining practical footage with Cinema 4D renderings. From the Idea to the Festivals is an approximate 50-part series that will provide a step-by-step breakdown of the process of taking a project from an idea through to entering it in festivals, while the Making of/Commentary series is an in-depth 40-part overview taking scene examples from JET that illustrate the filmmaking production pipeline using Cinema 4D as the central application. Other series will focus on the areas of 3D modeling, camera mapping in conjunction with digital matte painting, and more.
Dr. Sassi sees the Cineversity tutorials as inspiration for other filmmakers to try a similar approach to realizing their ideas. “I’d like for other artists to be able to see what can be done with Cinema 4D,” he says, “and more importantly to get the idea that, ‘Wow, I can do that as well!’”