This year I had the opportunity to create my very first 2D Animation Micro Short Film, Chef-O-Saurus. The micro short film is available both on my Portfolio and via YouTube. The story follows a Tyrannosaurus Rex, accomplishing his dream of being a chef. And I must admit I had a lot of fun creating this. I’ve always thought the T-Rex to be my favourite dinosaur, and the lovable T-Rex sure had a background in our culture. With Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, and those inflatable costumes that someone took to ninja warrior (no joke, here’s the link). So I thought: “why not?”.
First the story. I wanted the story to highlight the fact that his hands are too short. Doing skits where he’d do human tasks, which were deemed impossible for him, felt like it didn’t have a clear goal other than make fun on the T-Rex. So I took a different route. I researched the dinosaur. I found out their sense of smell was incredibly acute and sharp, which is how they found their food. Then it hit. He’d be a chef! Even if he can’t see what he is doing, he can smell and act on that. So that became my story.
I had to give him an obstacle. Something to push the story forward. Working at an office I felt was the ideal situation. By showing how tough reading a computer can be for a dinosaur, as well as other tasks ending in a comical manner I could push the story for the T-Rex to want to move on he dreams to accomplish. This became the premise.
Because my drawing skills suck, I asked for my wife’s help (who draws incredibly well), to design the characters and backgrounds for me. I gave her my storyboard, intricately describing each scene so she be more detailed in her drawings, which would ease my workload.
Given the time she had, with a heavy dose of being incredibly skilled, she drew them in three days. So I had plenty of time to get on with the rest of the animation. Because of my editing background, I knew After Effects would get the job done, so that is the platform I chose, along with other Adobe Creative Cloud tools to do the animations.
THE 2d ANIMATIon
To translate the paper drawings to the screen, I used Adobe Illustrator to trace the moving image (the dinosaur). Illustrator allows for smooth curves and line paths which can be modified should the drawer make mistakes or the line be slightly off. I drew each moving dinosaur, or the dinosaurs which would be at the forefront of the screen there.
Using Adobe Photoshop, I coloured in the dinosaurs. Adobe Photoshop also allowed me to create smooth backgrounds. Blending in geometry and textures to create depth from the dinosaur (which was a the forefront of the shot), it separated the two as if an homage to cell shading, a technique using a lot in traditional 2D Animation. I wanted the look to resemble Tom Moore’s ‘Song of the Sea’ or any of Studio Ghibli. Obviously the art is very different, but I wanted the mimic the style.
Once the backgrounds, layers, and dinosaurs were all set, I moved to Adobe After Effects. Using the Pin Tool, I placed pins on the dinosaurs body parts to allow flexibility and movement. It wasn’t perfect. But it capture the goofiness of it all. Then, with a little bit of help with the Scale and Position options, movement and the flow of the short went much smoother.
It was so much fun creating this. I learnt a great deal about time management, order of tasks to complete, pre-production and style of drawings. I feel I can more aptly create more stories like Chef-O-Saurus, based on other ideas more rapidly and with different style and feel. It taught me that with a little idea, and with some people working behind me, I can get results which are of a good standard, and for sure better.