This project has been a labor of love and passion starting in 2006 when I first witnessed "Children of the Secret State". That documentary really opened my eyes to the tremendous challenges facing ordinary people in North Korea. So many things have happened in my life since then but I’ve always held this issue close to my heart. Early on, I wanted to find a way to help and to raise awareness. It became obvious that I should use my most natural talent which was art and the telling of stories with it.
Up to this point, I hadn’t done any animation. My only experience was in drawing comics. I was set on a new journey of artistic discovery going from 2D to 3D and finally back to a combination of the two. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the easiest way to tackle this mountain of work. First, I thought that 3D rendered as 2D cel shading was the way to go. I figured that I can build everything in Lightwave 3D and simply render the objects in different positions and poses when needed and still get the same “hand-drawn” effect. While this did work, I could not control the placement of lines like I wanted and grew dissatisfied with the results. So, back to the drawing board so to speak and I began looking into 2D apps like Anime Studio and Toon Boom Studio. Finally I settled on Toon Boom Animate Pro and have not looked back.
Recently, I joined teams with a good friend of mine Ian Pearson to help refine/redo the script and generally help out with many of the other aspects of the project. What a great addition he has become. Over the course of the past several months, his interest and concern for North Korea has grown. We’ve taken the original concept/idea/intent of the story and switch it all around with hopes that it’ll be more gripping and a better story overall.
Finally, I’m closer to making some decisions on the background designs. There will be a lot of back drop images to paint as this story will start in North Korea and then go through China, Laos, possibly Thailand and then South Korea. While exploring the architecture and design of these Asian countries will be fun and interesting, it also presents a large challenge. So far, I’m using Google Sketchup and then pulling the layers into Photoshop for final painting (images to follow soon!). We are a very small team with an even smaller budget. We’ll need to streamline our processes as much as humanly possible. We wish to support and respect the honor of the people North Korea in all that we do. It is of utmost importance to us that they are understood from a humanitarian point of view. Everything we do will enlist this spirit!
Thank you for supporting this project and the North Korean people!