Flawless 3D short reveals dating disaster

A young man's brain is in two minds as to how to go about impressing a girl in brilliant student short Brain Divided. We find out how it was made.

If you've ever been on a date, you'll know it can be a nerve-wracking, sometimes terrifying, experience that can make you behave in ways you normally wouldn't. And this is showcased flawlessly in student short Brain Divided, by Ringling College of Art and Design students Josiah Haworth, Joon Soo Song and Joon Shik Song.

The film tells the tale of an ordinary guy who meets a not-so-ordinary girl, but his brain cells can't agree on how to go about winning her over. Cue a hilarious chain of events as he attempts to woo her, but will he get the girl? We talk to co-director Josiah Haworth about the film's production...

Q: What were the film's influences, both story-wise and stylistically?

We originally based the concept on the often used angel and demon dynamic seen in many cartoons, none funnier than Kronk from Disneys Emperors New Groove. However, we didn't want to do something that had been seen many times so we discussed expanding upon that concept.

Through many discussions we converted that concept into a fight within the brain. We also took a lot of inspiration from movies like The Mask, Inner Space, and The Nutty Professor. We wanted dynamic characters that were fun to animate and even funner to watch.

Kronk from Disney's Emperors New Groove inspired the team to develop an angel and demon dynamic for Brain Divided

Q: How long did the animation take to produce?

It took us nearly 18 months to go from original sketches, to storyboards and layout, to the completed film.

Brain Divided is nearly five minutes long and in order to finish the animation on every shot, we had to final nearly every one of our 90+ shots over the course of about five to six weeks.

Q: What 3D software did you use and why?

Ringling College provides us with a nice package of software to utilise. This included Maya 2013, Pixar's Renderman plug-in, TSM (The Set Up Machine) rigging software and a custom set of tools which help streamline the process.

From the beginning we worked on Cintiq digital tablets to work out the visual design of our film, from there we took it into Maya and began the modeling process over summer. After texturing animation and everything was completed we entered into the lighting phase which was all lit and rendered using the Pixar renderman plugin.

We worked on Cintiq digital tablets to work out the visual design of our film

From there we input our images into Nuke for compositing purposes. This is where the lighting and 3D visual began to look much more like the final version of the film. All through this process we were dropping shots into a large Adobe Premiere file so we could see our short take shape and edge closer and closer to a full film.

Brain Divided was created using a combination of Maya 2013, Pixar's Renderman plug-in and TSM rigging software

Q: What was the most impressive technical aspect of the project?

We didn’t really try to do anything technically impressive with our film, we just wanted an entertaining film that was fun to work on. There was no use of dynamics, fur, or any of the other extras that Maya offers.

Brain Divided is one of the longest student films to come out of Ringling

However, I think the aspect that we're most proud of is getting the film done! It's one of the longest student films to come out of Ringling and we managed to pull it off and somehow keep it entertaining enough for people not to close their browsers during the five-minute marathon!

Brain Divided will keep you entertained from start to finish

Q: Did you make any mistakes during production?

So many mistakes… but so many victories. Rendering issues abounded, and our layout pass was about 45 seconds longer than it should have been, plus we didn't edit it together till the night before our first big crit.

I think the biggest mistake we made was when we were rendering our turntables for a full faculty crit the next morning. It was nearly 3am and when our renders came back, Scarlet's back hair geometry was black, which means the farm didn't find the file assigning colour to that section. We were all so tired that when I was asked about it all I could stutter was "I... I... I... IT'S GONE!". That was a long night!

The team nearly had a long night when trying to render Scarlet's hair

Q: What are you working on now?

I've just accepted a full-time job at Magic Leap Studios as an animator. Joon Soo Song is currently working for Laika Entertainment and Joon Shik Song just accepted a position on Disney's talent development program.

All three of us are also working on personal projects to strengthen our portfolios, as well as just for fun. We all hope to work together again at some point in the future, be it at the same studio or on another short film. We've always wanted to complete our other thesis film idea that was approved… Robot Pirates. Maybe one day...

The student team behind Brain Divided hope to work together on another short film in the future

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