Max Steel: Team Turbo and Fusion Tek
I’m going to take you back to early 2015, when I was faced with an opportunity to work with a then, world-class CG company called ARC Productions.
(This post is not about what happen to ARC and its demise, but rather my experiences transitioning into CG)
I had a couple of friends that had worked there for many years and the company was known to pump out some solid, feature level animation. I was faced with a pretty huge decision, do I continue with Style5.tv, or do I take a small hiatus from my independent 2D work and dive into the CG world, the world my CG friends called the “dark side”? They would joke, “Join us in the Dark Side!” I’d smile, shake my head and say “Never!” Maybe I was being naive, maybe I was scared of the unknown. But I gave it a couple of days then decided to do it. I dove into the CG world because I knew I had to expand my directing experiences, and because it scared me.
The project was sold to me as an crazy, action series with tons of fights, monsters, aliens and hoards of zombies. And it would also be my 2nd experience working with Mattel. (first one being the He-Man beta-program) I was excited. It was season 4 of the Max Steel series, and it was a huge test.
The project was a challenging one, but not the way I expected. My 2D friends now ask me how I adapted to it, if I found it difficult and how my skills translated? The first thing I’d say is that story-telling is story-telling, and we are just doing it in a slightly different pipeline. CG productions still start with a script, designs, boards, and animatics and only then do we notice a difference in the process. We now have to model, rig and surface our characters, then the character animation process is more digital puppetry, rather than the 2D hand drawn, frame-per-frame battle. What I found pretty incredible was the amount of camera choices. From truck-ins to huge sweeping crane shots, the camera direction choices seemed infinite. Very freeing compared to what can be done in 2D. I got why so many new CG filmmakers would get overzealous and overly-consumed by their camera direction, it is because it’s literally at their finger tips. In fact, everything is at their fingertips, from complex textures, real-world reflections, crazy FX, atmospheric lights and smoke, dust, sweat etc. For once, everything was absolutely possible… for a price. The price is time. The price is money. When the series boasts epic, alien battles and hundreds of zombies, the biggest challenge was balancing the complexity of everything with the time we had. Mattel wanted everything, and I absolutely wanted to give them everything. That was the challenge, the never-ending balancing act, the Time, Money and Quality triangle.
When we finished season 4, I was convinced that we had produced the best season of Max Steel ever made. I’m still really proud of it. It was a theatrical release in South America and played in various parts of Europe. I’m still waiting for a North American release. Yes, I’m holding my breath. *ahem #Netflix
Technical breakdown of Max going Turbo.