Set amidst the euphoric madness of a summer music festival, Robot & Scarecrow is a uniquely modern fairytale about love. When a robot pop princess flees her keeper she runs straight into the arms of a lonely scarecrow desperate for adventure. They spend an incredible night together, caught in a heady vortex of music and magic.
The short film, directed by visionary South London director Kibwe Tavares, and with executive producer Michael Fassbender, comprised over a 140 visual effects shots, of which Chocolate Tribe delivered 127. All shots contained either the fully the CGI robot, scarecrow or both. The project was a first for South Africa, due the scale of the VFX production. The project took 8 months to complete from initial concepts to final composites. Due to the large number of highly complex shots requiring a lot of VFX work, we opted for a top down approach, to allow the director to get a feel for the overall film as soon as possible. Shots were matchmoved and animated in quick succession to form a full edit as soon as possible. The shots were then revised multiple times as it progressed through the different stages of the production.
Since the whole film was captured at a festival (Secret Garden Party in the UK), Chocolate Tribe often didn’t have any clean plates to work with, and had to therefore repaint and reconstruct large parts of the plates for most of the shots. The matchmoving of the 2 lead characters took several months to complete. Body movements and facial expressions were carefully matched to the actor’s performances, as it was Kibwe’s intention to use the live action performance as a guide for the CGI characters. The stage performance, used motion captured data recorded at the London based, Imaginarium Studios (part owned by Andy Serkis). Certain shots in the film were completely CGI. So not just the characters, but the background as well were generated in post, and blended seamlessly with the other shots.
Chocolate Tribe, after doing various tests on other rendering solutions, choose to work extensively with Redshift for Maya on Robot & Scarecrow. From a production management point of view. Our in-house pipeline tools enabled artists to focus on the project, and kept all departments working seamlessly. Our high speed fibre internet worked it’s magic and supplied our client the data in the UK within minutes. This project yet again, showed that, no matter where the client is located, with the right approach, productions will flow very smoothly.
Robot & Scarecrow has been made with the support of Vero – the social network that is nurturing the next generation of artists, filmmakers and musicians and providing them with new possibilities for people to connect with their work online.
We congratulate DMC film, Kibwe Tavares and Nexus Studio on a successful project completion and entry to the Sundance film festival and London Film Festival in London.
The full short film is now available here.