Previz, concepts and cgi sets for Spirit Warriors
Previsualization (also known as pre-rendering, preview or wireframe windows) is a function to visualise complex scenes in a movie before filming. Previz is applied to techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal drawn sketches or in digital technology in the planning and conceptualization of movie scenery make up.
For those of you guys who have been following my blog so far, I've just talked about my TV series getting greenlit, the next step for us was pre pre production which is a stage that I find tremendously interesting and by extension, some of you might too.
Following the press release, teams were quickly assembled, predominately in the art and cgi department. We also had a team of writers on board (more of that in the next blog entry when I talk writer's room!).
First thing you should know before this gets bloody confusing, "Bo and the Spirit Quest" turned into "Bo and the Spirit World" which finally became "Spirit Warriors", so you'll be seeing things titled with quite possibly all of these names throughout the blog. Personally, I preferred the first two titles as it feels more evocative to me, but I understand the change - it's all about the branding!
The series takes place throughout a mythical Chinese Spirit World made up of four smaller worlds that represent: wood, earth, ice and fire. Below are a few of the concepts created to cover these zones and some of the magic elements of the Spirit World.
Below is a small showcase of some of the amazing previz work created by our SW team led by visual effects supervisor, Christian Jelen (Dredd, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) under the company, Retro Juice. This might have been a children's show but it was epic in scale and ambition!
Here's a short clip of one of our first tests showcasing the "chi power" that Bo, the lead character possesses.
Dragon mentor, Shen reworked concept
Matte painting of the graveyard in Episode 5 "The Snake Spirit"
Li's palace and a trillion Nian warriors (or as I fondly called them, my ninja storm troopers)
These next few images are the finished cgi sets taken from the actual episodes. Though our budget was considered high, it was still a balancing act to juggle all the many vfx shots we needed for the show. One of the ways we got around the high costs of using a vfx house is by hiring freelancers who didn't have high overheads (ie. Soho rents) and have them work from home or in our studio. This turned out great for the production as we could see the vfx as they were being created and if there were any issues, they could be dealt with immediately.
The Monkey Palace in Episode 3 "The Monkey King"
Exterior of the Monkey Palace
Ice World Introduction
Ice World City
Outskirts of Ice World
Apocalypse comes! Final episode, "Blood of a Warrior"
And finally, some storyboards and animatics for the first fight in the series. This so y'all can see just a little of the work that goes into a fantasy series and possibly, one of the reasons why they're so difficult to get off the ground, particularly in this country where budgets are tight.
This entry is essential my shout out to our fantastic vfx artists and the art department lead by production designer Catrin Meredydd, who worked tirelessly to bring to life the Spirit World that had previously only existed in my head.
Hope you guys found this interesting.
Next time (for real this time), I'l talk about the writer's room and the production process. And don't forget those never-seen-before behind the scenes pics!