Animation : Prelude to Axanar by Preston Poulter

Preston Poulter

Prelude to Axanar

I don't see how it was possible to produce the special effects seen in this video for the $100.000 Kickstarter budget. Can someone tell me? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W1_8IV8uhA

Preston Poulter

All I know is that the guy was passionate about Star Trek, wanted to make a motion picture about the Battle of Axanar from Star Trek: The Original Series, got the actors to agree based on convention attendance and put together $100K on Kick Starter. I don't understand how he was able to produce this level of special effects and CGI on $100K. If I did know that, I feel like my own WW II script might be doable on a modest budget.

Preston Poulter

Hmm. Well, for my screenplay, which involves a lot of WW II Aerial combat scenes, how much would it cost to CGI them? The planes are all typical WW II planes which have numerous pictures and models available, as well as a few real world planes in existence to photograph.

Preston Poulter

I can do that, but, again, my base question is how could the kind of animation we see in Prelude to Axanar be done for $100k. Because for what I see in terms of quote, a comparable quote would be 10x that or more.

Preston Poulter

Paramount has a long standing policy that anyone can set anything in the Star Trek universe without their involvement provided it is not for profit. Just yesterday I was watching a fan made sequel episode to TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJf2ovQtI6w

Julian Tewkesbury

I think what Peter says is right. The effects work would have been done by some very enthusiastic people who were prepared to work for the love of it, or the subject. The effects are very good, but they're not to-notch for these days, which makes me think there wasn't the budget for the kit you need to render out the really super-real stuff (it takes a long time to render really realistic stuff). Also, there's not much in the way of animation, really. It's a lot of ships flying about rather slowly, and the odd explosion. Overall, it's avery nice piece of work, though. I would be pleased with it. Preston, I think your best bet is to find some artists who love doing the work and have their own kit, but haven't broken into the big time yet. They might be prepared to help you to for substantially less than a studio would charge.

Preston Poulter

What is a kit?

Julian Tewkesbury

Sorry, my shorthand for "equipment" - mostly computers and software. My guess would be that most aspiring VFX artists would have their own machines and software, otherwise they wouldn't be able to generate anything for demo reels etc. There are some very gifted people out there, and I've come across some stunning stuff done. Some of it has been on Blender, which is open source (free to use). Try doing a YouTube search for "Blender" and see what comes up. Equally, look for demo reels on YouTube and Vimeo. You never know who you might find. There are probably some appropriate people on Stage32 as well. Not sure how you'd search them out... If you're looking at doing air battles, then you might want to look out for someone who has a good eye for physics-based movement. Making aircraft fly convincingly can be surprisingly difficult. The biggest bottleneck in the VFX pipeline is actually getting the final pictures made. It's known as rendering (sorry if this is basic stuff), and it's very compute-intensive. Pixar used to say that it took 6 hours to render a single from a of "Toy Story" or "Ratatouille" (presumably on a single computer, of which they would have had many). Things have moved on a lot since those days, but so has the quality. Most studios will have hundreds, if not thousands of computers all working together to get the images done in an acceptable timeframe. As you're looking at flying aircraft, you need to bear in mind that you may want to use some volumetric effects to give the scenes some depth (a little bit of thickness to the air so that things in the distance look further away and not just smaller). Unless you're going to cheat that, you'll need to be quite careful because volumetric stuff is expensive to render. That nice sequence of the Klingon battle cruiser crashing into the city was probably the most expensive to render. Don't know if any of this helps.

Preston Poulter

Thanks Julian,, that's quite helpful. A number of people have falllen in love with my script and want to make it, but then the question becomes how much would it cost and the VFX is the big question mark. I'll take a look for Blender.

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