Production Blog

NOVEMBER 04, 2010

Way back in March in Blog 5 I shared with you a brief account of the origins of our movie concept back in 1998.

Well, 10 blogs later, I’d like to pick back up on the story of “War of the Worlds: Goliath’s” development and over the next four Blogs I’ll share with you the full details on how we developed and honed the look of the current movie.

When our film funding came through in late 2007, we began a serious redevelopment and expansion of the initial development done at Epoch Ink Animation a decade earlier.

As you know, funding a movie, any movie, is not an easy venture. Especially, independent features like ours. Especially an edgy teen/adult “R” rated animated feature like “War of the Worlds: Goliath”. Kevin Eastman and I spent 7 years looking for such funding, going down many, many promising trails that ultimately proved to be dead ends.

However, in 2006, I was fortunate enough to meet Leon Tan (from Elemental Ventures based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia) at a film festival in Tokyo where I was looking for funding and within a year, Leon and his partner in Elemental, Mike Bloemendal had raised the monies to make “War of the Worlds: Goliath”!

Together we formed a newco, Tripod Entertainment to make this movie and build a new entertainment group. As our initial funding for this movie came from Malaysian government groups like the “Multi-Media Development Corporation” or “MDeC” (thank you MDeC!) a key requirement for us was to make as much of this movie as possible using Malaysia-based talent.

Fortunately, there’s some amazing talent in Kuala Lumpur (KL), including the brilliant team at Studio Climb. This group of talented artists are as good as any designers that I’ve worked with in my time in the Animation trenches and truthfully, I could never have picked a better design team for “War of the Worlds: Goliath’s” unique retro/future look. It’s like they were born to do steampunk. They brought a full feature film quality to all of their designs and concepts.

In addition, there are a lot of amazing animation artists and designers in KL, not least of whom is character designer Sandra Khoo, who came on early to do her “take” on our international band of brothers. But more about her and the other character designers in a few weeks.

With the funds in, work started in earnest in November of 2007.

Initially all work was done through the Internet via e-mail and Skype. As most everyone in KL speaks English it was surprisingly easy to communicate and hit the ground, running. Studio Climb’s Spencer Ooi and Wei Siong began turning out a ton of initial concept art.

As you can see from the designs below they were originally riffing off the initial design work that had been done in the first development at Epoch Ink back in 1998 (see Blog 5). This work was strong and interesting in the way it “expanded upon” the original vision of character and mecha designs. They added a lot more detail and tried some really innovative approaches to the more advanced mechanics.

If you look at the designs below, you can see Studio Climb’s attempt to take Harry Warner’s original work and move it into a more detailed design.

Studio Climb’s version of the Japanese Tripod.
A British Tripod.
The Imperial German Tripod.
This design began to get closer to the new level of realism we were looking for in our film.

Bingo! When I saw this baby, I knew that we had a direction we could lock into. When you look at our final models for the Spartan Class tripod, you’ll see that it has remained essentially true to this early design.

An early version of the Martian Tripod. Again, much of this design remains in our final 1914 model “bad boy”.

Here are some initial Studio Climb designs for the main ARES base in lower Manhattan. They’re all pretty great, even the more whimsical ones. I really like the one below and the zeppelin background below it. They look like background studies from a Miyazaki movie!

I felt that the monumental and foreboding shape of this fortress was getting closer.

Then they sent me this puppy, and it was love at first sight! It looked as though some massive deco fortress had heaved itself up and onto lower Manhattan. Look at the size of those mega-cannons!

Ultimately a small variation of this behemoth became the final ARES Base.

The studies below of the ARES Base interior were amazing and exactly the mix of Victorian metal and iron beams with the monumental ornamentation and shapes of early deco.

A visual treat as we look back at the amazing Concept paintings produced by Studio Climb for “War of the Worlds: Goliath”. Here’s one just to tease you a bit!

Production Blog