Hand-painted or 3D? This charming animation combines both techniques

Director Jan Bubenicek infuses 3D pixels with the feel of classic animation in this tale of a dragon.

We're suckers for great 3D movies here at Creative Bloq. So 3D short Charge the Dragon, by director Jan Bubenicek and Prague-based postproduction house RUR, is right up our street.

The charming film tells the tale of a silly and pompous knight, who, on his travels, hears the dragon roar in the distance. The urge to hunt it down is too much but his quest to slay the creature has anything but a fairytale ending.

The simple things

The director’s vision was to find the CG equivalent of a simple, hand painted animation. Bubenicek explains: "If you draw a figure on white paper with a horizontal line behind it, it's quite obvious to everybody that the line symbolises the horizon and the figure must be standing on the ground in some kind of environment.

Charge the dragon is about finding the edge, finding the minimum of that 'more' that you have to show with CGI

"But with CGI you have to be much more concrete. A single line is not enough, you have to reveal more. Charge the dragon is about finding the edge, finding the minimum of that 'more' that you have to show. So we built a stylised world with minimalistic instruments, showing just the basis but still creating something attractive to the eye."

The director’s vision was to find the CG equivalent of a simple, hand painted animation

Anything but perfect

The Charge the Dragon team took the same minimalistic approach to the film's lead. "The character of the knight was similar, with the shape of the figure being remniscent of a simple drawing without any unnecessary details," says Bubenicek. "We concentrated on the non-perfection that you don't usually find in CGI. For example, the whole asymmetric figure is leaning to the right side slightly (like most drawings of right handed people), one of his legs is a bit thicker than the other and one eye is bigger than the other."

"We concentrated on the non-perfection that you don't usually find in CGI," says Bubenicek

Charge the Dragon was created using a combination of tools from Softimage, Motionbuilder, ZBrush, Mental Ray and Nuke. "Each movie uses different animation techniques, including CGI, a combination of animation and actor, muppets, and is of different genre - from gag comedy to sentimental tragedy," says Bubenicek.

An ongoing project, and in a similar fashion to the first, Charge the Dragon is the first of three films by Bubenicek and RAR, with each of the stories to come featuring courageous but foolish heroes who, due to their own tragic mistakes, do not survive to tell the tales. Planned to be completed in autumn 2015, we can't wait to see what movie the team releases next.

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