...is a 3D animated short following the adventures of Blue a cat-like creature in search of hidden riches. Along his way Blue discovers a bird-like creature named Peanut who he reluctantly brings along in hopes that she will be the key to unlocking the treasure. Through the use of such programs as Maya ZBrush Photoshop Houdini Nuke and After Effects the Treasure Nest thesis group presents a beautifully hand-painted world in which Blue’s resolve is tested throughout his journey... eventually leading him to a prize of which he never expected.
Treasure Nest was created by JAM productions, including Mike Bourbeau, Allison Botkin, and Joy Tien. The creation process was challenging and our goal was very ambitious for our limited amount of time. Our goal was to create an exotic world with a painterly style. Since the three of us like fantasy and adventure, we decided to make a short that revolved around two opposing characters that are thrown together on a treasure hunt. We were inspired by a Tom and Jerry-esque feel, with an Indiana Jones sort of adventure. Story development was the toughest part during our production. Initially, we all had subjective preferences and extremely creative differences, so it was important for us to seamlessly merge our styles in to a cohesive package. Furthermore, working with a team, brings about varying opinions on almost every topic, and everyone has a plethora of ideas, including our families, friends, and colleagues. While we wanted to get a variety of criticism from people we trusted, everyone has differing opinions, so it was our job to weed out what we wanted and what we didn’t want, while keeping the story interesting.
The entire production lasted for a little over a year. We started storyboarding around June 2013 and that phase lasted until January. For our style development, we experimented on how to integrate 2D paintings with 3D characters. We wanted to bring a painterly touch to the style of the film, while avoiding the generic look of typical computer animation. So, mimicking the render of a brush painted look (such as Van Gogh and some Impressionist artists) was our artistic goal. There were a lot of exploration and unknown areas, such as rigging characters, dynamic, special effects and animation which were technically challenging. Houdini, Maya, After Effect, Nuke and Photoshop were our primary software for making this film. In a nutshell, making Treasure Nest was like going on a journey; there were a lot of unexpected issues and surprises, however we all gained valuable experiences from it, both artistically and technically. The impact of this film enriched us in a profound way that we will never forget.
Above is the color key for lighting. I have always loved to observe light in the different scenarios, this sheet was a good practice for me to learn how to translate different mood with different colors. Below is the concept art for various environment design. I painted them with pastels on watercolor paper. Pretty fun!
To me, the most important shot of the film is the cave scene. I spent a lot of time researching and R&D the process of recreating the cave. Took me a while to get it right. Thanks to my teammates' assistance, ideas from professors and classmates at school, I was able to finish this first shot on time and set up the style and the look of our film.
This closeup shot was the first one I lit and composited, which gave us a victory moment of how alive we made the characters look like. ( I know this looks now as professional as modern standards, however, this is our student film so we were pretty thrilled about this shot)
Below are some old concept arts for the characters. It's pretty interesting how the final decision were totally different from the original ideas. Me and Michael we all have our different takes on these two characters. He modeled and texture and Cat and I did the same for the bird. We are glad that these two creatures look like they belong to the same world at the end.
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