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Catch of the Night

Role

Creative director, visual development artist, storyboard + artist, 2D illustrator, animator, compositor,  texture artist, sound designer

Team

1 Narrative Director, Writer

2 3D Animators, Modelers, Riggers

1 Developer

1 Motion Capture Director, Writer

1 Producer / Project Manager

Client

Trickfilm

Duration

Ongoing (12-week timeline)

Catch of the Night is an interactive short film in collaboration with Trickfilm, a streaming service, focused purely on animation, which empowers creators to broadcast their work and to sell merchandise directly to their audiences.

Tools

Unreal Engine, Substance Painter, Procreate, Toon Boom Harmony, Adobe Audition, After Effects, FL Studio, Clip Studio Paint, Clip Studio Modeler

Overview

I worked with Studio Fabrica to create an interactive, real-time rendered, animated short in Unreal Engine 5. The piece revolves around a cat and a chef’s battle over the final fish of the night. It is cute, fun, and vibrant with a mock-violent twist.

Catch of the Night was born out of our collective goals with Trickfilm to:

  • Produce an animated, interactive short built-in Unreal and uploaded to the TrickFilm platform

  • Include elements of interactivity in the piece such as narrative branching or mini-games

  • Document the team's process for future TrickFilm creators

  • Advertise the piece, the team, and TrickFilm throughout the production process

  • Design customizable content such as skins, accessories, and/or environments for sale on the Trickfilm platform

  • Provide all metadata associated with the project to TrickFilm

  • Create customization or load-out screen in Unreal for users that precedes the film

Plot summary

A budding Chef works overtime to feed a high-profile, late-night patron at their restaurant but a furry unwanted guest proves relentless. Desperate to feed its family, a feral cat is intent on stealing the final fish of the night, ordered by the restaurant’s prestigious guest.

Will the cat feed its hungry family? Or will the Chef satisfy their illustrious guest?

Only a battle of paw and spatula can decide.

Storyboards

Storyboard (V1)

In the first iteration of the storyboard, my vision was a fully executed 3D animated short in Unreal Engine. However, due to time constraints (this is a 3-month project), the team agreed on doing a 2D-animated bit for the biggest fight sequence. (That's where I will come in!) This would allow room for some anime-style VFX as well which would not have been easily executed in Unreal given the timeline. This brings us to V2 of the storyboard.

Storyboard (V2)

To further simplify the 3D animation, the cat would turn into a Sonic-esque ball during quick movements. To make the changes in execution make sense, I added a side window to the front of house where the 2D fight sequence will happen. (This will all make sense in the animatic, I promise.)

Process + Animatic

Visual Development

The Cat

The selected default cat design was the Calico cat, as the team collectively agreed that it would look more striking. As for the cat's movements, we decided to have him be able to move on two legs and behave in a human-like manner for the sake of exaggeration during action sequences where he would be fighting the chef, as shown in the animatic.

The Chef

Initially, I had a sushi chef in mind for the chef's design, and experimented with various types of Japanese restaurant uniforms, from high-end omakase, to modern outfits. However, due to constraints, I ended up going with a simpler design that was efficient for the 3D artists to take on in a short amount of time. The chef was eventually revised to one who works in a Cantonese kitchen, with a typical Chinese chef's look and feel following the general consensus - the plainer the outfit, the better the food.

The Kitchen