Production Blog

OCTOBER 25, 2010

Korean Travel Blog Part 5

Okay, this is the LAST of the Korean travel blogs. I promise.

Our next blog will return to the presentations of the film’s early development period, feature some stunning early production design from Studio Climb and showcase the steady progression from the initial design and development in 1998 to the current style of our movie.

Now, back to Seoul—

Day 11, May 13th
Today we had a long series of meetings with the head of background painting, Director Hyoung-Cheol Kim. Director Kim has been working with Director Sang and Sun Min Image Pictures for more than 20 years of production. I first met him in the mid-90s when we were working on the “Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys” TV series. I was completely impressed with his uncompromising attention to detail and the high degree of finish that he and his large painting team applied to every background in the series.

Director Kim with Spencer, Director Sang and Sun Min interpreter Shinjae.

In most L.A./Seoul joint productions, the L.A. team would provide a number of key BG’s, usually painted on a smaller field size then the final production paintings. The Koreans would then take these small, highly detailed keys and use them as a guide for their work on the actual production background paintings. Often the Koreans interpretations of the original painting keys were not as finished or detailed as what would be sent to them.

This was understandable as they are asked to do over 400 background paintings per 22-minute episode and they can’t afford to linger too long on each individual painting. But Director Kim and his team would generally deliver paintings with more quality and detail then what we originally sent them from L.A. Obviously, this is a guy you would want to work with.

And we have. Director Kim’s been a mainstay on all of the Sun Min’s work with us—“Roswell Conspiracies” and “Evolution”, as well as many other projects and shorts.

In the middle of this workload, he even found time to work on the “Heavy Metal 2000” movie. You can tell, as one of the best features of that movie were its stunning backgrounds. I’ll always remember touring his studio/office in the late 90’s and watching Kim’s team of more then a dozen skilled painters, working away on that movie’s large backgrounds.

The days of actual brush and paint are gone, replaced by Photoshop paintings and computer rendering techniques but the quality is still there.

Reviewing “War of the World: Goliath” backgrounds with Director Kim.

Here’re some scenes featuring Director Kim and his team’s work—

Of course after another long day of working it’s “dinner time”. ‘Always a treat with the outstanding Korean cuisine of Seoul.

Production Manager Mr. Jeon, mixing it up. ‘Clearly a man of many talents.

Leon and Spencer, leading the group in the traditional Chinese “Yam Seng toast. When you “Yam Seng”, everyone yells “Yam” in a boisterous tone, then really yells out and holds on the “Seng” for at least a minute, ideally more. This was probably a first for the Korean team, but you can see that they’re fast learners.

Day 10, May 12—Last Day
Today is a “short day” as I fly out that evening and you need to leave the city in the mid-afternoon to make the two-hour plus drive to Incheon International Airport in peak traffic.

Mostly it’s a time to make a final set of goodbyes to the team and answer a few last minute questions and more importantly spend some face time with Mr. Lee Seung-Gyu. Director Lee was the character designer for “War of the Worlds: Goliath” and was tasked with designing ALL of the movie’s many, many characters and uniforms. It was a massive task, but Lee was more than capable of performing it.

A full-throated talent, Director Lee can do it “all”. A terrific designer of both characters and mechanics and backgrounds, he is also a first rate storyboard artist, layout artist and animator with a distinctive, highly masculine style. You can see some of his unique work on his website—

You can also check out the animated “Dante’s Inferno” anthology where he designed, storyboarded, and directed the “Anger and the City of Dis” and the “Heresy” sequences with his team at Studio Seed and JM Animation (along with some mighty help from our mutual friend, Park Min).

Left to right—Director Yang, yours truly, and Director Lee.

He did this outstanding cover for Young Yoon’s and my “24 Hour Man” Heavy Metal comic which ran on the magazine’s back cover last year.

You can also check out a clip from his Renaitre animated short at Director Lee did everything thing on this amazing piece single-handedly, but be warned, it’s hyper violent. Lots of sword cutting.

Renaitre design.

Renaitre scene. Nice rendering on the blood streams, Director Lee.

Here’re some samples of the work he did for us on “War of the Worlds: Goliath”—

Lee’s model and color design for Jennifer and Eric.

Lee’s tonal rough for the Irish underground fighters.

Lee’s powerful rough for some New Mexican militia troops.

Lee’s rough for an Austrian Officer.

A Lee layout.

Here’s a picture of Lee and some of his studio crew at Team Seed. Note the alternative “War of the Worlds: Goliath” poster on the wall on the right.

Lunch with Director Lee and the crew.

Time for me to leave. Leon and Director Sang take a moment to discuss some last minute production issues.

Walking me to the car.

Loading me in.

Director Sang is driving me to the airport. Good-bye!


Bye! (Thank God he’s finally gone!)

The flight back was quite enjoyable. I found myself seated next to another American traveler of about the same age as myself. We started talking and discovered that we both were in Seoul on animation-related business. My seatmate’s name was George Goodchild and he was in Seoul for a week, supervising/checking on the production of a show for Nickelodeon.

What a small world, eh? Out of the jet’s 400-plus passenger list, I end up sitting next to another animation supervisor! Though George and I had never met, we had heard of each other and had a lot of mutual friends and co-workers in common.

George is a good conversationalist and it made the long trip back a lot more enjoyable. It was a distinct pleasure to be able to talk shop with a fellow veteran of the “animation wars”. Nice meeting you George and I look forward to getting out to your spread up by the lake some day.

13 hours of life at 32,000 feet and I’m home.

My beautiful wife, Lisa, waiting on the beach in Venice, L.A., just a few blocks from our home. Actually, the airplane’s flight path takes it directly overhead on its way to LAX so I could have been passing overhead at that very moment.

NEXT WEEK—Back to the past with the continuation of our early design and development process on the movie.

Production Blog