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An Interview with Chungkang College of Cultural Industries, the Creative Masterminds Behind "CURATOR"

2024-01-19
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"CURATOR" is an awe-inspiring animation film that has captured the hearts and imaginations of numerous viewers. Created by Team C :GC, a group of talented students at Chungkang College of Cultural Industries. Founded in Icheon, South Korea, Chungkang stands tall as a respected institution dedicated to nurturing budding talents across a range of content departments. Fox Renderfarm as the industry's top cloud rendering service provider and render farm, was honored to sponsor project "CURATOR" and interview the director Park ju-hee. Thank you for using our cloud rendering service! Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the artistic minds of Chungkang's animation department in this interview, uncovering the secrets that have propelled their creative endeavors to new heights.

CURATOR © Team C :GC

Fox Renderfarm: Hi Team C:GC! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Please introduce yourself and your school Chungkang to our readers.

Team C :GC:

Hello, everyone! I'm Park ju-hee, the director of "CURATOR". It's a pleasure meeting you! 

I am a senior student at Chungkang graduating this year. Chungkang College of Cultural Industries, located in South Korea, is a school that cultivates creative talents with various content departments such as animation, games, comics, and performance arts. The animation department where I study has always been a popular place for students, gathering young people who love all genres of animation, including 3D, 2D, and stop-motion animation🔥

Fox Renderfarm: Could you provide us with an overview of the animation program offered at your school?

Team C :GC:

CURATOR Graduation Exhibition in Seoul_

"CURATOR" Graduation Exhibition in Seoul © Chungkang

Our school pays a lot of attention to the fundamental courses for making animated films. That's why we have established sculpture, body painting, 3D fundamentals, directing, and storytelling courses in our freshman year. At the end of our sophomore year, we apply what we have learned in the second semester of our second year to plan and create semester assignments. Through making animation with our own hands, we learn to work together in a teamwork pipeline, and at the end of each semester we share our learning through assignments, screenings, and graduation exhibitions. By the final year in school, students utilize the skills honed over the past two years and the knowledge gained through various team activities for in-depth courses and a year-long graduation design project.

Chungkang University In-house Graduation Screening [CKAS 2024]

Chungkang University In-house Graduation Screening [CKAS 2024] © Chungkang

The process of creating a piece of work with classmates in three short years has not been easy, and there have been many moments of unease, but those emotional days of seeing the final piece at the screening are still fresh in my mind.

Fox Renderfarm: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your work "CURATOR"? How did you come up with this idea?

Team C :GC:

Early Conceptual Art

Early Conceptual Art | Conceptual Art © Park ju-hee

I loved nature since I was a kid and I aspired to the wide open sky. I also love teen manga where the main character grows up against all odds, so one of the things on my wish list is to make an animation of a teenager growing up. So when I put my favorite things together, I started to think, "I want to draw a boy running on a grass field under a big blue sky!" and then I started fleshing it out one by one :)

Fox Renderfarm: What do you hope the viewers will take away from watching this video, and what message or feeling do you want to leave them with?

Team C :GC:

CURATOR 쿠라토

"In a tribe, living with huge birds, a boy called 'CURATOR' meets a girl who changes his fate."

CURATOR_poster

CURATOR © Chungkang

Yunta, the main character, is a child who never thinks for himself. He is forced to accept his destiny and has no time to think about who he is. When Yunta meets Halla, who is living her own life, he thinks for the first time about what he likes. With a dream in his heart, Yunta gathers courage and decides to live his own life in the future.

CURATOR_poster2

CURATOR © Chungkang

What I want to convey is that although knowing what you like and dreaming about your future is a common thing, the power it contains is very strong. I hope that those who see Yunta grow can feel this courage as well!

Fox Renderfarm: Were there any specific films, books, artworks, or real-life events that inspired the story and the characters?

Team C :GC:

I think a lot of it comes from personal experience and my own growth. First of all, "CURATOR" contains what I wanted to say to myself as a child. I created this to tell people to not worry about what other people think, instead, have the courage to face their true selves.

And I really liked the movie Avatar, and I think I got a lot of inspiration from it!

Avatar © 20th Century Studios

Avatar © 20th Century Studios

Fox Renderfarm: How did your team approach the character design? Can you walk us through your creative process and the steps you take to bring a character to life?

Team C :GC:

concept_image2

Early Stage Yunta and Halla | Concept Art © Jeong Da-in

Initially, the story is set up with Yunta and Halla being childhood friends destined to compete for the position of the tribal chief. Unlike Halla, who is trusted by the tribe, Yunta is ignored by the tribe. We ended up revising the plot and after changing the main character Yunta to a living god, I felt that the two felt less like childhood friends. So we created something in common: shackles and crutches, and we also created a situation where the two are outside the tribe, even though they have very different positions. I thought that if I could meet these two, these two characters would naturally lead the story plot.

concept_image3

Yunta and Halla | Concept Art © Jeong Da-in

In the design, we made a big difference in the direction of the fundamental shapes according to the character's personality growth: the angular Yunta and the mellow and lively Halla. The unique tribal clothes were also designed separately. Such as the difference between Yunta's unique clothing and Halla's slightly worn clothes.

Fox Renderfarm: How did you use colors, materials, and lighting setup to achieve the atmosphere in your work?

Team C :GC:

Since the story is set in a primitive tribe with its own culture, we tried to convey the dangerous and mysterious atmosphere of the tribe by keeping the saturation of primary colors in each scene.

Screenshots

Screenshots of "CURATOR" Scenes © Chungkang

The first scenes are shown in blue to create a dim and mysterious atmosphere, when Yunta and Halla become friends, they are shown in warm yellow. In the ritual scene, a dangerous red and cold indigo is used overall. The final departure scene is shown mainly in pink, creating a bright and hopeful atmosphere. Because of the limited length, I think a clear delineation of primary colors based on the mood of the scene helps convey the story.

Fox Renderfarm: Could you please tell us about your pipeline for this work? And how long did it take you?

Team C :GC:

Baby Pamula

Baby Pamula | Concept Art © Jeong Da-in

Creating an animation involves going through three production stages: pre-production (storyboard, concept art), main production (modeling, texturing, binding, animation, lighting, special effects), and post-production (compositing, sound, editing). Among them, I'll briefly introduce the model mapping part of the main production process.

It's not shown in the artwork, but it's a cute baby Pamula. The Pamula is a huge bird with a body made up of scales. When they are babies, they have black scales, and when they molt and become adults, they turn into bright colors (blue, green, purple, etc.). After drawing and completing the concept along with the setup, we moved on to the next model.

Baby Pamula Model

Baby Pamula Model | Modeling © Yang Seung-hyun

In modeling, we focus on creating 3D shapes and even surfaces. Face management in modeling is a factor that determines the rendering time. This is designed to be very important as it is directly related to the likelihood of completing the job. Once the modeling is complete, texturing is performed to color the gray polygon. Here we give it material representation, color, and life details.

Mapped Baby Pamela

Mapped Baby Pamela | Mapping © Yang Seung-hyun

The super cute baby Pamula is born!

During this process, the modeler, concept artist, and director looked at the work together and compared it to an adult Pamula, discussed the points they wanted to show, and exchanged feedback and improvements. If the color is not harmonious when it is put into the scene in the later stage, it will be improved in different ways in the early stage. Except for the textured parts that were modeled, everything else went through a similar workflow.

Each team has a slightly different process for each production, and because our team was dealing with a raw tribe of creatives, it was difficult for us to visualize the vibe of the production at first. To make this happen, the lighting/compositing portion of post-production worked together from low-poly modeling to set the tone from the beginning. We then uploaded the project to the team community and worked together to familiarize ourselves with the vibe of the piece. Because of this, the realism of the piece grew over time and we were able to capture the unique atmosphere of the Gavia tribe!

Fox Renderfarm: Are there any challenges that you encountered during the process of creation? If so, how did you overcome them?

Team C :GC:

 The longest and heaviest scene

The longest and heaviest scene - Maya © Chungkang

One of the problems the team has been facing frequently is the lack of time. With the entire production cycle limited to 11 months, even if a great idea was presented after completing the first round of production, there was no additional time to implement it. Due to the nature of 3D work, the schedule must always be adjusted with the rendering time in mind, making our schedule even tighter. So, to reduce the render time, I was supported by Fox Renderfarm, which gave me an extra month of free time! This is a feat indeed.

Composition Job-Nuke

Composition Job-Nuke © Chungkang

As a result, I was able to focus on each part and had time to challenge myself until the end. Thanks to all of you, I was able to complete a wonderful piece of work without any regrets.

Fox Renderfarm: Are there any moments you enjoyed during the creation process? And what was the most memorable?

Team C :GC:

Yunta brought to life

Yunta brought to life © Chungkang

Floor murals and figures created by team members

Floor murals and figures created by team members © Chungkang

I enjoyed every moment, especially when Yunta's rigging was done and when it was possible to move his face and body, it felt like a new life was born! I remember it fondly because at that moment I felt like I was really making animation.

There is an animation studio on campus called CCRC. It is a place where teams can come in and work. There, I often worked all night with my team members, and I remember having fun while sharing ideas, eating together, and sometimes even dancing. It was hard work and exhausting, but now I look back on it as a precious memory that I may never experience again.

Fox Renderfarm: Technically and management-wise, how did you optimize efficiency in the production process as a team?

Team C :GC:

Animation Feedback Site

Animation Feedback Site © Chungkang

Lighting Feedback Site

Lighting Feedback Site © Chungkang

Voice Actor Recording Site

Voice Actor Recording Site © Chungkang

Our team consists of 18 members. There used to be a wide variety of work to be done daily, but to have a smooth exchange of ideas, we held weekly department meetings and bi-weekly meetings for all to create time to share our work process. We also created a community to upload work and share feedback in real-time.

I remember that we all participated enthusiastically in every meeting, whenever we lost our way, we gathered together to think. Because of this, we were able to move forward in the general direction of our work. The animation meetings in particular were very long, averaging 6 to 10 hours a week, but everyone persevered and created such amazing animations!

Fox Renderfarm: Have you tried or heard about Fox Renderfarm’s services before? If so, how do you feel about Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services? 

Team C :GC:

Fox Renderfarm User Interface

Fox Renderfarm User Interface

Fox Renderfarm is a rendering service that we decided to use from the planning stage to complete our work. Our team is made up of students, so we don't have enough computers for rendering other than our personal work computers. Therefore, by using the Fox, we can achieve excellent time efficiency by keeping our personal computers up to speed and at the same time securing working hours.

This was a large-scale job, and for detailed composition, we wanted to adjust the render times by splitting each clip into many render layers. However, we were concerned that the large number of cuts would be difficult to manage. But thanks to the ability to divide render areas in Fox Renderfarm, it was very convenient to render in multiple areas of multiple layers simultaneously!

When rendering, many unexpected errors often occur. Situations such as clothes suddenly disappearing, and textures not being visible can cause quite a headache. In Fox Renderfarm, we were able to prevent many of these errors by using the first frame/middle frame/end frame test rendering feature to check the results using the preview window before fully rendering. Especially when re-rendering (for Maya), having to open the file, find the frame and render is such a pain, so it's nice to be able to easily render it in Fox Renderfarm using the re-render button. It's also very important to set the file paths correctly when working. Half of the errors happen with wrong paths. When using the Fox Renderfarm client platform, the work progresses quite easily thanks to the feature that automatically recognizes the path without having to upload the file.

Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any ongoing projects or future plans at the moment? Would you collaborate again as a team?

Team C :GC:

These days, whenever I'm sitting around the house with nothing to do, I always feel like I should be working at this time and I can't believe that I'm taking a break! Making animations is sometimes difficult because it takes up so much of my time, but I really enjoy the process. So after this project, I decided to take some time off! But I find myself always coming up with new ideas without even realizing it, and I'm in the middle of planning a new project right now. I don't know what's going to happen this time, but I'm excited to be running again!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and I hope everyone who reads this can soar like Yunta and Halla!

P.S. C :GC team worked hard! Thank you for your efforts, I love you and I hope you all can soar no matter where you are!

Team C :GC’s Social Media:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/curator_ckas2024/

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