Monday, 8 March 2010

Interview with Christina Beard (creator of Marauder's Mistake)

Christina Beard works in the video game sector, mainly as an Art Director, but came to my notice also for a terrific short animated movie she'd made called Marauder's Mistake.  If you haven't seen it yet, check it out at the link below:

Marauder's Mistake - Short Animated Movie

Anyway, I loved the animated short and her style reminded me very much of a certain Hiyao Miyazaki (you may just have heard of him), so I decided to interview her - and indeed it does turn out that Miyazaki was one of the main influences on her animation.

You can find Chrstina's blog at

So, without further ado, here is Christina's interview...

1/ What first inspired you to make Marauder's Mistake?

The first inspiration was when I first listened to the music used in the piece (Danse Macabre). A friend of mine handed me an mp3 CD during my freshman year in college and the visual just came as I listened to it the first time, like a brilliant flash.

It's funny because the finished project is definitely nowhere near as detailed and crazy as I first time I envisioned it, but 3D animation is hard. Lots of work for just little old me, so i stuck with drawing everything instead for the characters.

2/ Have any particular directors / artists influenced your style?

Yes! My biggest influence is definitely Hayao Miyazaki. His stories and characters have touched me deeply as a visual artist and writer. Princess Mononoke was the movie that actually made me want to be an animator in the first place.

Second to Miyazaki would be Osama Tezuka's various manga. I also take a lot of influence from books. Neil Gaiman's writing and work is something I love, as well as Neal Stephenson and Emma Bull, and a host of non-fiction.

3/ How many people were there altogether in the team that made Marauder's Mistake?
The team consisted of, first, my good friends Holly Thorstad and Carl Fristad, they helped me a ton in the middle of production doing colouring and some 3D texturing, lighting and asset creation within Maya.

My friend Michael Ross did most of the modelling on the two large airships and the majority of the environments. He also was kind of the tech guy for the really stubborn cloth dynamics that existed on the sails, which broke a number of times throughout production.

I created all the animation, both 2D and 3D, with help from Holly to in-between two hand drawn scenes.

And during the process of production I had a bunch of really wonderful people help me with colouring frames in intermittent times throughout the two years it took to finish.

My friend Rebecca was by far the hardest working, and I thank her endlessly for her assistance, this thing probably wouldn't have gotten done for another six months if she hadn't worked her butt of colouring for it.


4/ How much work went into Marauder's Mistake during the 2 years it took to make?

I'd say well over two thousand hours of work. Probably more likely two thousand five hundred.

5/ Where did you get the idea for the storyline?
The characters in it exist in a science fiction book I'm writing, and I thought they might be kind of neat to tell a small part of their struggle as outlaws. They just popped up right away when I first listened to Danse Macabre.

6/ How difficult was it to match every action in the animation so precisely with the music?
It was a lot of work... I had to first chop down the music itself and splice it together to create a cut that was somewhat reasonable at five minutes. Then had to match the action of the storyboards into that with an animatic. I tweaked this for about a week getting the timing down and the music blended seamlessly.

I then had to put together what we animators call a 'dope sheet', which is basically a catalogue of the action going on in each and every second of the animation. I remember listening to snippets of the song over and over and over again as I tried to peg the exact frame I needed something to land on, otherwise the timing was off and I would have to go stretch or cute or redo something in the animatic.

Then keying out all the sequences. I was pretty much crunching numbers throughout all of production as I animated everything, double and triple checking my calculations.

7/ Any plans for a sequel?
I am most happy to say... most definitely not! Although if you're interested in the characters, they may appear in a graphic novel highlighting the full world and story about a decade from now.


8/ What is the best advice you could give anyone who wants to make their own movie (long or short, animated or live action)?
For your first piece, do something small, don't do an epic story. Also, work with a team and be open to other people’s opinions and critiques of your ideas and work, and let them influence you.

I think the thing I regret most about creating Marauder's Mistake is that I didn't have a big collaborative team to work with, and so the majority of the sweat and tears were only from me, which at times was really hard to swallow when I was in the middle of scrambling to finish it in time for a festival in Minnesota. Other people help your work not look so looming and crushing, and they're a support group to be with you when you go a little crazy from having to stare at a screen for ten hours a day.

It takes a lot of tenacity and a little bit of obsessive compulsive disorder I think to be a filmmaker or animator. It's a medium that is not for the impatience!

Thanks Christina for the interview, and if you change your mind about the sequel, just give me a shout... :-D

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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