Haunted time capsule

Paying homage to the past, an aged CGI animation revitalized through the lens of Blender.

In the beginnings...

In the year 2000, a group of ambitious students from Grafisch Lyceum Amsterdam’s Multimedia Design department embarked on an audacious project as part of their final year requirement. Dubbed “Haunted,” this project aimed to create a captivating introductory animation for a proposed role-playing game set in the eerie confines of an early 20th-century English manor. Inspired by a blend of classic films and the mysterious allure of role-playing games, the initiative sought to bridge technical prowess with storytelling, aiming to set a new benchmark for student-led projects within the institution.

The project was a testament to collaboration and specialized role assignment, ensuring minimal overlap and maximizing the unique skills each team member brought to the table. The primary tools and techniques involved included:

3D Modeling and Animation: Using Softimage for its superior animation capabilities and 3D Studio Max for modeling, the team worked on creating detailed models of characters and environments that echoed the ‘Jugendstil gone to Hell’ aesthetic decided upon.

Storyboarding and Cinematography: The process included developing a detailed storyboard that would guide the animation, ensuring the narrative was coherent and visually engaging. The cinematic approach was deliberate, with a focus on atmosphere, pacing, and a musical score that would complement the visual narrative effectively.

Technical Direction: Managed intricacies of scene composition, lighting, and rendering to ensure visual continuity and thematic consistency across the animation. Efforts were also made to troubleshoot and manage data effectively, a non-trivial task given the project’s scope.

“The Haunted” underwent numerous challenges, from conceptualization woes to technical hurdles. One unique aspect was the team’s dedication to the thematic visual style inspired by both Jugendstil art and classical horror elements, requiring extensive research and creative experimentation. Collaboration among team members, each with different specialization areas, was critical. The animation features complex character designs and atmospheric settings with intricate textures and lighting designed to convey the ominous mood and setting of the game.

Technical challenges were abundant, ranging from managing the project’s scale within the graphical limitations of the time to ensuring seamless integration between models created in 3D Studio Max and animated in Softimage. The project pushed the boundaries of the school’s technical capabilities, resulting in significant learning and adjustments in project management and execution.

Projected outcomes included not only the completion of the animation but also personal and professional growth for team members, insights into collaborative creative processes, and establishing benchmarks for future projects within the educational institution. The animation aimed to provide an immersive introduction to the game’s world, setting the stage for players to delve into the mysteries of the haunted manor.

Through “The Haunted,” the team hoped to achieve a blend of narrative depth, technical prowess, and artistic expression, showcasing the potential of student projects to reach professional production values. Despite the challenges and delays, the project stands as a testament to the team’s dedication and the collaborative spirit of creative innovation.

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