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WATCH: Robin Joseph’s “Fox and the Whale”

// Featured, Independent Animation, News


Having premiered at the LA Shorts Fest in September of last year, Robin Joseph‘s award-winning debut short film Fox and the Whale has debuted this week as a Vimeo Staff Pick. Made largely with a two-person crew, the film took roughly sixteen months to make, finishing production in June 2016.

Joseph moved from the coastal town of Kerala, India to Canada in his teens to pursue animation. Since 2005 he has worked in production design and as a concept artist for projects including The Secret Life of Pets, Penguins of Madagascar, Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Despicable Me. His independently-funded and produced first short film Fox and the Whale saw him take on the main areas of production, spanning design, storyboarding, background paintings, 2D animation and VFX using a combination of Photoshop and After Effects.

Joseph’s partner Kim Leow, who was responsible for character animation, modeling and rigs, has worked in the animation industry for over ten years. Originally hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, she is presently based in Canada working as a feature film character animator.

Fox and the Whale (Dir. Robin Joseph)

The inspiration behind Fox and the Whale was the pursuit of curiosity. Not so much a primal curiosity behind food, shelter or even play. The grey areas and often abstract pursuits…the drive of wanting to know what lies beyond the abyss. There is something largely conceptual about that drive. It’s a strange compulsion, innately human. There is no promise of reward or assurances of success, yet you take that away, and there is something of inherent value you loose as a species. A lot of it came from being a big fan of exploration and science, especially space exploration. The ambitions at the fringes of it often seem one step beyond reach. The fact that we still try, instills a sense of awe and wonder. At the other end is an idea of failure, or at least what is perceived as failure. The fortitude to move forward and keep searching in spite of it. It’s a fragile state of mind at times, but to me it holds such optimism.

I started playing with the concept with different versions of the story and visuals as far back as 2009. The film was originally conceived as a 2D animated short. Being around my partner Kim, who is a CG animator, gave a window into CG. I really opened up to the short perhaps being a hybrid of 2D & CG. I redesigned the main character for CG and Kim modeled it in Maya. By late 2014 there was enough money saved up to try and attempt making the short. This time around, I decided to take dedicated time off from the industry to make the short film. Production on the short film began in earnest in January, 2015. The first 3½ months was storyboarding and cutting the reel, then another month was spent locking the color script and design so that all the characters could be built in CG. Kim still had a day job in animation production, so I had to be very careful on how best to utilize her time on it. I knew how fast she was as an animator. I also knew I could really push the amount of footage if the performance was based in physicality rather than dialogue. The film, characters were all designed and storyboarded to be non verbal.

-Robin Joseph (director, Fox and the Whale)

Fox and the Whale (Dir. Robin Joseph)

With additional rigging by Louis Vottero and music by John Poon, Joseph also used Premiere and Audition to take on post-production duties including sound design with the assistance of Tim Nielsen, who contributed field recordings to make up the film’s atmospheric soundscape.

See more of Robin Joseph’s work at patchoforange.com

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