When you find yourself running scared and running out of energy, there's only a few options left to outrun your opponent through the southern desert. Stopping at nothing, watch these two guys wear each other out and rip through boundaries hitherto unbroken. Enjoy the ride!.
“Mac 'n' Cheese is an animated short directed and created by four students at the Utrecht School of Arts in the Netherlands. This roughly two minute animation took about five months to make, and about a bajillion peanut butter sandwiches”
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MM: My name is Marcin, and I'm the Editor in Chief for MadArtist Publishing and www.Sketchozine.com. Today I'd like to welcome Tom, Gijs, Guido, Roy...These awesome animators are featured in our upcming Vol.8 Interactive Art Book "Animation Stories" with their awesome...awesome short animated film. "MAC 'N' CHEESE". Welcome and thanks for taking the time to do this!. Since this is a group interview I’ll let you all decide who answers which question, just one at a time please:)
MM: First I want to congratulate you on a truly awesome job you and the audio team (Giulio, Wouter and Peter) did on the film, I know when we found your film you just posted it 4 days prior on your vimeo channel and it had a few hundred views and we were blown away by the raw energy and the “cool” factor of it. In 10 days you reached 500 000 views and I’m sure the accolades and awards will start pouring in soon enough. Tell me, did you expect this much attention when you first came up with the idea and while you were making of the film did you ever say “this will be epic”?
TOM: Thanks! We were blown away by the media coverage actually! We hoped our film would turn into a small internet hit, but did not expect this! We were pretty excited working on this project actually, the aim was for it to turn out ‘Epic’ or at least have some epic shots in there. After seeing it over and over and over again, knowing all its mistakes and thinking about what we should have done differently, it’s not so much fun to watch anymore. Haha! We are proud of what we accomplished though and we’re glad everybody liked it so much.
ROY: The same was for me. I couldn’t really look at it proudly or be happy with the end result because I just had seen it way too many times. This made me even more surprised when we noticed how fast everyone was spreading it on the internet. It’s bizarre to see how fast these things can go. Nevertheless we’re really happy to see that everyone likes it and we’re hoping it can get us some nice contacts in the business.
MM: How and why did you come up with this concept for Mac N Cheese, and why’d you call the characters “Mac ‘n’ Cheese”?
TOM: The concept was formed out of an idea we had a long time ago. We were looking forward to creating an interesting, well edited action sequence with some absurd actions and lame jokes. At first Gijs would let his imagination run free and he came up with the first storyboard. We extended and moved along from this point on. Cutting out scenes or bringing in new ones was a daily event, we kind of had a “kill your darlings” massacre every once in a while, but eventually we were able to set up an actual working edit, containing all our original intentions.
Our characters actually aren't called Mac 'n' Cheese, we call them skinny and biggy. Mac 'n' Cheese is just the title, a very difficult one to come up with actually. Eastwood Junction was our working title; this is the village where our short starts. We experimented with many names over the months and eventually ended up with Mac ‘n’ Cheese. We chose it for its simplicity. Our film is also simple, easily digestible. We were hoping people would remember it easily and they did!
MM: The film took you all only 5 months to make, were you all previously trained in animation and the software you used to make the film, how did you ever pull this off in such a short time?
TOM: Some people would actually say it took us a long time, but that’s just folks who’ve had no experience in this field. I believe we did alright, time wise. We trained ourselves in Maya and all the other programs used, we have been using them for quite some time now. Our skills are pretty much self-taught, following tutorials and old-fasioned trail and error.
ROY: We’ve been studying 3D animation at school in the past four years and have come to developing towards high quality production standards throughout the latest year with this team. We had discussions on the pipeline and workflow to make sure everything would stay clean, organized and work up to the end in the production.
MM: How was the group chemistry during the making of? Did you know each other before you made the film?
TOM: Gijs, Roy and me have known each other for four years now, we were in the same class. This was Guidos 3rd year project, he's a friend of ours and he was able to help us out.
ROY: Like Tom said we knew each other from school and most of us had been together in other projects before. We knew each other’s skills and flaws so we always knew in production whom we should address about any problems of questions that would come up. This was very efficient.
MM: Now personally I have never heard of Utrecht School of Arts until I saw your film. Can you tell me why you all chose to attend that school for your animation studies? What was the deciding factor for each of you?
TOM: Frankly, to go to this school is about the only choice you have in Holland! I think there is another school, but they do not let you focus on 3D animation of VFX entirely. The Utrecht school of arts merely serves as a platform for a crowd with the same interests. We learned the most from the people we talked to and shared with every day. Classmates and some teachers will help you the most. But still a big of what we know comes from the artists who share their ideas, experiences and knowledge in books or on the internet.
MM: What’s was the best and worst thing about Utrecht?
GUIDO: The faculty Art, Media & Technology where we were located is actually in Hilversum, somewhere between Utrecht and Amsterdam. The advantage of this is that it's located in a very central point, so it was easy for us to meet there. A good thing about that school is that there are people from all sorts of disciplines studying there, so you could bounce some ideas off someone who would look at it in a different way than a 3D artist would. The downside of being in Holland altogether is that animation here is usually very modest and focused on story. We wanted to make something over the top with a story that was mainly there to tie together the cool shots we wanted to make. That meant that we sort of had to break the ground for that here at school and sometimes the teachers didn't really know what to do with the short we were making. In the end it all worked out though!
MM: During the conceptual process, were there other ideas you threw around regarding the story that didn‘t make it in the final version?
GUIDO:There were several ideas that didn't make the cut. At one point the chase would lead them into a zone like Area 51 and the chase would continue on a jet fighter. We realized that would mean we'd have to make a lot of additional scenery, a jet and animation and we decided we could do without that scene and the film would still work. In the end, we tried to make the shots we really needed to tell the story as awesome as possible, picking quality over quantity.
ROY:We also believed that the part of the jet fighter would introduce more awesomeness but not that much speed within the character’s themselves, that’s also one other reason why we chose not to create it in the end. Of course combined with the fact that it would’ve been a lot more work.
MM: So...did anyone take the lead role? How did you all push on with the decisions during the project?
GUIDO: In a creative group process it's usually a good thing to pick someone who is ultimately responsible for one aspect. Tom was our art director, Gijs was head of story and Roy was our lead animator and technical director. That meant that they would have the last say when we came up with something new. For instance if we had animated a new shot, we'd show it to Roy, and he'd comment on it so we could make the whole as coherent as possible.
MM: Did you have a lot of all nighters or become delirious during production?
TOM: Tom took care of the rendering, which meant that he'd walk into the workplace a little later, but he'd work at night. We didn't have a renderfarm or anything, so we had to render everything on the computers we also worked on. This had to happen when we were not using them of course, so Tom would have to do that in the wee hours of the night, using remote access software to start renders and check for any errors.
MM: Any good stories you care to share that occured during the making?
GUS: Well, my fondest memory from the production was probably when we took all the empty peanut butter jars we had accumulated throughout the project, stacked them on top of eachother, starting at the floor. At the end of those 5 months we had actually removed ceiling boards to continue our massive tower, we had a small competition who had the guts to knock it down. I won. Unfortunately I had to clean up the remaining mess as well.
ROY: There’re still some stains in the carpet if I remember correctly.
MM: Do you strive to be famous animators or directors? What’s your main motivation behind all the hard work you each do on a daily basis?
GUS: I don't think we want to be famous as animators or directors, but I do think we strive for a big amount of viewers with the work we do. We wanna share our love for the medium and make people laugh, if just for a second. We're not in it for the fame, but it's really nice to have a large audience
ROY: For me it’s to feel creative and intuitive. I love to experiment with new ideas and techniques, which is also why I love being the animation supervisor and technical director. Also having the dream of creating feature length animations brings a lot of motivation to learn more and more every day. We always want to do the best we can.
MM: In your opinion what’s the best and worst thing about being an animator?
GIJS: The best thing is that the options are limitless. Well, almost limitless. If you put your mind to it, you can pretty much make anything you'd like. The worst thing about it is the lack of understanding from everyone else. People often do know making an animation takes a long time, but even in this project people are amazed to find that it took 5 months to complete a 2-and-a-half minute short. And that's with 4 people working full-time.
M: What’s the most vital element of a film & an image?
GIJS: Eh, ahummm, the, I think, ehm, the, errrr..... the amount of awesome contained within a single frame?
ROY: This was also one of the main aims of Mac ‘n’ Cheese. We wanted every frame to be as awesome as we could think of. I guess we just like the ‘awesome’.
MM: Seems like an awesome choice of events! Let’s take you all back to your childhood days...did you always dream of animating or did any of you have any other aspirations..like being an astronaut or a contestant on a reality show..:)
GIJS: Well, my first dream job was to be a construction worker, because I figured you'd get to build big buildings and that'd be awesome. Then I learned that it's actually the architects that make the plans for a building, so then I wanted to be an architect. Then at the age of 13 I discovered 3D modeling, and I already had a background with watching cartoons and playing video games all day, and with 3D, you can design whateeeeever you like. So from then on my mind was set.
MM: I know some parents aren’t too thrilled about the “arts”, did you have support from friends & family growing up while you nurtured your skills?
ROY: I remember showing a near final version of Mac ‘n’ Cheese to my parents whom were happy when I told them that this was getting me through school, nevertheless the didn’t like the film itself. They aren’t really into that intense and fast movement in film. Still they were proud of me. ;)
MM: There are some questions I ask each person I interview, so each of you can answer these individually...First what are your greatest fears?
GIJS: I am terrified of men in skinny jeans.
ROY: I am terrified of Gijs without any jeans.
MM: Name three websites that you each visit the most...
GIJS: explodingdog.com, zbrushcentral.com & 4chan.org
ROY: Google.com is all you need.
MM: If you could have one skill or talent, what would that be?
GIJS: Storyboarding. Uggggggggh.
ROY: An additional skill I would love to master: animation. We’ve created Mac ‘n’ Cheese, nevertheless I feel there’s still so much to learn.
MM: Can you recommend any short films our readers should see?
ROY: Mac 'n' Cheese has been really inspired by Meet Buck which has an similarly amazing brother Salesman Pete. But the best recommendation I can give is to stay on top of recently released videos on a weekly basis so you're always seeing the latest and coolest videos. Vimeo's a great place for that!
GIJS: The Music Scene by Blockhead, and Pouvez-Vous Danser? by Merg.
MM: What is the ultimate dream job or company to work for?
ROY:That's the job I'll start enthusiasticly doing within a month. The creation of our very own studio Colorbleed is a great start that’s already begun. Next we hope to produce more intense animated shorts. Oh wait? Dream job? Well, hopefully we'll be able to start producing some amazing and intense feature films.
GIJS:Haha, yeah, I guess what Roy said. But if that doesn't work out I wanna work at Blizzard, Blur or Valve.
MM: What would you each do with a billion dollars?
GIJS: Fund the mass production of robot dinosaurs as an alternative mode for transportation. I really feel this is the only justifiable cause for such a large amount of money.
ROY: Expand the business plans.
MM: With a millions views approaching, is there a sequel in the works?
GIJS: Ha, no sequel just yet.
ROY: Well. We love working together and have some ideas in our minds. We just need some financing to support us.
MM: Fair enough, I’m sure someone out there will take note of your AWESOME film, but in the meantime, what are your job expectations?
GIJS: Well, we're being approached from a lot of directions right now, we're still figuring out where things are heading. Ideally we would work on another short, with the same team, and manage to get paid enough to buy some food every now and then. This is something we're really trying our best for to manage.
ROY: Mark my words: Colorbleed. We hope that’s one animation studio’s name people will start knowing in the future.
MM: You heard it here first folks...ColorBleed will be the next big name in Animation and intense moving visuals. And on that note that’s our interview, It was awesome chatting with you all, and thanks for being the opener to our Animation Stories Sketchozine Book. I’m positive Mac ‘n’ Cheese will be one of those big animated films on the web that will create a cult following and hopefully gain you enough exposure to get ColorBleed off the ground.
If you haven‘t already seen Mac ‘n’ Cheese, find it on Skethoholic at www.bit.ly/nycAtR, on ColorBleed.nl, Youtube, Vimeo, or scan the QR Code in this interview and watch the film right on your phone. Help these great animators entertain us. On Behalf of everyone at Sketchozine, Sketchoholic and MadArtist Publishing thank you again for chatting with me.
MM: If anyone wants to learn more about the film visit macncheese.nl. For any press or work related questions you can contact email@example.com. Scan the QR code or the poster with your smartphone or smart device to watch the film on from the page.
Please browse through our other Articles and Interviews, if you have any questions you'd like us to ask any of the artists, animators, photographers that we will be interviewing, look out for our announcements on our www.twitter.com/sketchoholic or our facebook.com/Sketchoholic page. If you ask your question in our interview we will credit your username and name in our book!. So send in your questions and make them good!.
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Film Title: MAC ‘N’ CHEESE Animation Credits: Tom Hankins, Gijs van Kooten, Guido Puijk, Roy Nieterau. Music & Audio Design: Giulio Sterbini, Wouter Messelink, Peter-Paul Timmermans. Tools Used: Autodesk Maya, Eyeon Fusion, Pixologic Zbrush, Adobe Photoshop, TVPaint. Watch film at www.bit.ly/nycAtR. Find More information on the Team and their bios in the Artist Index of this book. For any press or work related questions you can contact us firstname.lastname@example.org, macncheese.nl, Facebook.com/?MacNCheeseShort.