Today in the Creative Spotlight, we take a look at ‘The Customized Play’, which is an upcoming animated feature film from South Korean director Brian Jin. Utilizing a combination of 2D and 3D animation techniques and a wonderfully rich color palette. A very promising feature filled with hope, nostalgia, loss, and solace. We sit down with Brian and get his take on all things creative. Read below for the full Q&A…
I suppose we can start at the beginning. How did you first become interested in film making and animation?
Brian: I majored in electronics 16 years ago at the university, which I had no interest in at that time. It was pretty obvious that I have dropped out and decided to do what I really wanted to do. I was a big fan of Miyazaki Hayao and his works. I wanted to do something like that, however I thought it was too late to begin animation career and instead, I got interested in Computer Graphics and started to dig into it. I taught myself with the instruction books and finally got hired two years later by the CG based animation company, Frame Entertainment in Korea, which was my first professional job. Probably it was around 1998.
How are you able to be proficient in the different layers of production such as editing, sound, animation, and coming up with the story? Was there a large learning curve becoming satisfied with all aspects?
Brian: There were not enough staff to work on a project when I was at my first official company. One person had to do more than a part they fit in, I had to do modelling, texturing, animation and compositing for a project even if I was a character animator. Only way to make it possible was studying and pushing myself, so I spent all the night studying all the layers of production by myself ,as you said, after work. And I liked to imagine and write, which is my favorite even now through the whole process. I never learned, just tried to make the story I could like and enjoy.
Which area do you feel is your strongest aspect and your weakest?
Brian: Many people tell me they like all the environments of my animation, I guess, they are my strongest one. but I want to make something more amazing to me and people. I keep pushing myself to get it better. My weakest? One of them is absolutely character animation even if I started my career as an animator. funny. I guess I had to be qualified for all the tasks, which made my skill of animating poor. Another my weakest is storytelling, I am just not sure I am good at it. I want to believe I am developing.
When looking at your films and videos I see a style reminiscent of Tekkonkinkreet. Are there any anime out there that have influenced or inspired you?
Brian: Sure, I was huge inspired by Tekkon Kinkreet when I was making two shorts, Tom N Jerry and Entering the Mind through the Mouth. As I remember, I was looking for something to make me moved and it was not hard to find because I have watched Tekkon Kinkrit that time. Suddenly I got full of passion for animation and loved the artistic styles of Tekkon. However I should say I have been inspired by Miyazaki Hayao and his works through my whole life. He has made me want to do what I do now.
Does your heritage, ethnicity or current residency location affect your art? If so, how?
Brian: In my current project, The Customized Play, I am trying to put the look of many country. I lived in San Francisco for 7 years and got back in Seoul, Korea and I traveled many countries. I love all of them and diversity of them, just want to put them together in one film and want to see how they look. The story starts from Seoul, travel countries and ends in Seoul. Of course, Seoul is my favorite.
What are some of your tools of the trade? Do you have any particular allegiance to any particular software?
Brian: My tool is 3D studio max even though people tend to use Maya for making film more than max. I have been used to it for 16 years, it is just handy for me. But I don’t think I care my staff want to use other software. I only care what final output looks.
Your latest project is “The Customized Play” which has been getting lots of attention lately. Could you tell us a bit about it and the creative process behind the production?
Brian: Sure. It is about 90 min long animation. We are still working on it, probably will have a final version late next year. still long, long journey we have to go on. There’s nothing much to tell for now with many reason. I can not tell the specific details of technics, but we try to make 2d looking artwork using 3d, which is very attractive because making process time much shorter. Here’s the short synopsis.
[callout]Chun Jaeyoung and Chun Yusun visit the unusual drama company, which produces the customized play for each client. They ask the boss of troupe to make the play for their father, Chun Jongsik having a 70th birthday. The boss creates the customized play having interviews with their father and his acquaintances. In the play, Chun Jongsik experiences fiction and truth from the past so that he realizes what he has done and what he has been feeling sincerely,and eventually faces the trauma that has harassed himself.[/callout]
We are putting lots of energy into all the environments which are painted with coral painter and photo shop. Many beautiful sceneries of Seoul city will have people’s attention, I hope they will.
I’ve noticed some productions take over a year to finalize. Did you find any surprises during production, sections which were particularly difficult to pull off?
Brian: One of the hardest thing is the health, I guess. It takes forever to finish an animation. I do nothing but making animation during the production whether it is short or not. I got to have terrible body condition and got sick when reaching the end of production. But I felt great I could see the work would be done soon. And often I realize my skill and my sense of art grow during years of production, which makes me not want to see the work I have done in the beginning.
Do you have any other projects upcoming or currently underway?
Brian: Just ‘The Customized Play’ This is only thing I am doing and thinking these days. It would be same for a couple of years, I guess.
Lastly, any advice for any creative out there?
Brian: Hmm. It’s not easy. Not easy to advise, keep passion, and push oneself. I can only say just keep doing it. You would fail, be sick, lose passion, and be desperate, and etc. But, you would feel a sense of accomplishment as well sometimes. I did not have anything I was good at 16 years ago, but I guess I have something now. It is just slow, but it doesn’t mean we never get it.
To stay up to date on all of Brian’s animated adventures, follow his cookie crumb trail below: