Ark Hunter Chronicles
My life, for the past five months, has been entirely occupied with making this series of seven animated shorts for Trion Worlds/Syfy's new cross-media (TV show and MMO game) happening- DEFIANCE! The action all takes place on the planet Earth some time in the future following a catastrophic event, the human race has now been joined by several races from other worlds, peacefully co-existing... or not if there is treasure to be sought. This treasure is called 'Arktech' and falls from the aurora-borealis-like 'Arkbelt'  in an 'Arkfall'... those who seek it are called Ark Hunters... and we chose to follow the progress of three of these as they battle crazed hoardes of aliens, cyborgs and mercenary scum.
 
We decided to use a distinctly 'motion comic' style of animating the action for the series, to distance it from the polished live-action of the 'Join the Fight' cinematic trailer and the gameplay. Still images were painted using photographic references (the principle actors being photographed on set between takes in Texas filming `Join the Fight'- the rest invented using in-game footage, pre-release cut scenes and existing concept art) and then composited and animated in After Effects by ichi ltd's in-house team.  
 
Painting duties were taken by myself and my brother http://sainty-what.tumblr.com/  and each episode averaged about 20 full paintings plus various extra characters, insets, effects and extra pieces- over 150 digital paintings in total. 
Digital painting from Episode One showing two of our heroes (Begbie on the left and Drifter on the right) engaged in a fierce gunfight inside the confines of the Bolinas Smeltery... the eagle-eyed of you will have noticed the arkfall code stencilled on the crate they are using for cover... 
Exterior view of the Bolinas Smeltery from episode one, in order for these to be animated, my brother and I would create each scene without flattening our Photoshop layers, often painting much more than would finally get seen, so that the animators could make large camera swoops using faked parralax. Layers of dust, smoke, cloud, flames from the chimneys, gunfire, explosions and other moving elements would be overlaid by the animator after they got hold of our paintings. Compare the above still with its actual appearance in the motion-comic below. 
Ark Hunter Chronicles. Episode One : New Freedom
In this dramatic scene from Episode Two we see our heroes beating a hasty retreat from a massed PVP event that has killed all of those involved except Drifter, Begbie and the liability that is Curveball manning their gun turret.
 
The joy of using painted explosions means that when animated, none of the effects visually jar or look stuck-on. Usually we'd have to complete two paintings like these each per day to stay on schedule.
Ark Hunter Chronicles. Episode Two: Born to Hunt
After Curveball has destroyed their means of transportation (and himself in the process), Drifter and Begbie find themselves the focus of a lot of attention... Raiders, Arkhunters and Hellbugs are all bent on destroying them. All looks lost until..... 
...there appears on the horizon a shadowy figure astride an ATV. She is armed to the teeth and seems determined to protect our heroes. Could she have some greater purpose earmarked for them? 
Ark Hunter Chronicles. Episode Three: Rain of Death
A wide interior shot from Episode Four showing Begbie retching after being injected with the `EGO - a futuristic HUD/Superpower allowing the user to communicate directly with other Ark Hunters, unleash super-human EGO powers and identify friends and foes alike. The vomit/bile was added in After Effects!  
Here Begbie, as a result of the EGO injection, sees a flashback of himself stalking an alien lizard for food.... 
Ark Hunter Chronicles. Episode Four: All in your Head
Now tooled-up and ready for action, our heroes are sent back to the Bolinas Smeltery to finish the job they had started. Their new EGO powers allow them to ruthlessly and efficiently wipe out all opposition... not without some showing off. 
Ark Hunter Chronicles. Episode Five: Risk Versus Reward
Here we see the battle-scarred and unimpressed face of Torc Mok; alien (he's a Sensoth if you must know) mechanical genius who customises weapons- sounds like a good person to go visit if you get a chance.
In this flashback from Episode Six, our heroes have teamed up with a ragged posse of assorted Ark Hunters and are running riot all through Marin County.
Ark Hunter Chronicles. Episode Six: Vanishing Commodities.
Episode Seven ties up the loose ends from the first installment- we see the Stratocarrier New Freedom going down and the interior of the crew pods being engulfed in flames. Here is where the story of Defiance the MMO begins.
Ark Hunter Chronicles. Episode Seven: It's Never Over.
Timelapse of the final key-frame from the final episode- grabbed from my mac over the course of 2 days! 
 
Ark Hunter Chronicles
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Ark Hunter Chronicles

A seven part animated motion comic designed to show off the game mechanics and sprawling world of the new MMO game Defiance from Trion worlds/Syf Read More
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