The Dawn of the...Stuff

Zombies, killer plants go viral

Some attend conferences or take classes to hone their skills, but Norwegian director, Alf Lovvold, puts a different spin on professional development. Dawn of the Planet of the Zombies and the Giant Killer Plants on Some Serious Acid (or Dawn of the...Stuff for short), is a fictitious film trailer that packs visuals the way its title packs words. Posted on his birthday as a "fun thing to do," his personal project is turning viral. Now, with close to 800,000 combined views, Lovvold has just one word on his mind: "feature."


 

What drew you to animation?


I’ve always been into drawing and arts but this peaked my nerdy kid interests because I could combine both arts and technical stuff. When I was 16, I got an internship at a local ad firm and I got experience as a designer and in web design and animation, too. Norway is a small country, so it’s good to have a broad range of expertise.


And visual effects?


The Hollywood movies I watched when I was young inspired me, like Jurassic Park, Armageddon and Independence Day. I’m mostly self taught though I did study for two years at a local school that offered 3D classes. Actually, I met some of my best friends there, and now, 13 years later, we run the same company, Gimpville, that we started together straight after we finished our studies.

What kind of work do you do at Gimpville?

We do lots of commercials and we work on features, too, like, Max Manus, Kon-Tiki, Børning and The Wave.


"It was really meant as a test bed [but now] I’m developing two scripts to go with it... It’s been quite a bizarre couple of months..."



What were your goals with this trailer?


It was really meant as a test bed for learning new techniques and brushing up on old ones. I never planned to commercialize it, it was more of a personal, late-night project. Now with all the interest it’s received from the industry and through social media, I’m developing two scripts to go with it: one feature and one short. Both have roots in the same visual framework. I’m hoping that one can materialize. It’s been quite a bizarre couple of months with a very steep learning curve.
 


What’s been going on exactly?


Well, I’m now represented by WME in LA and I’ll be traveling there later this month to meet up with a bunch of people in the movie industry and also some like-minded VFX nerds. The thought of all of it is scary but it’s fun. Like Shia [Labeouf] says, “DO IT.” So, I’m doing it (laughs).

 

"I tried to be smart about it because in theory, I could model everything myself but why take several weeks to model a car when they already exist online?"



Still from Dawn of the Planet of the Zombies and the Giant Killer Plants on Some Serious Acid (Dawn of the...Stuff)



How long did you work on this?


On and off for about 7 months. When I started, I was trying to teach myself new techniques, mainly seeing how well a GPU based workflow would work, and then it became about how far I could push it in terms of the visuals.
 


Every shot has so much going on. How much of this is made with your own assets versus purchased ones?


Maybe about 50/50. I tried to be smart about it because in theory, I could model everything myself but why take several weeks to model a car when they already exist online? I wanted to create something fairly quick while I still had plenty of energy and ambition so I bought a good bunch of stock models, optimized them in terms of polycount / complexity / shaders, dirtied them down, and turned most into proxies to be able to work with a good framerate within Maya.
 


What proved to be most challenging about this project?


To actually complete it – and to not jump from a bridge (laughs). I really wanted to keep a high degree of richness in all 44 shots, and that demanded a lot of me in terms of juggling everything along with my day job and family.
 


So what productivity tricks do you have to stay sane?

  1. Think big but set small goals and try to keep things as simple as possible.
  2. Break up your project into chunks so it's easier to complete and keep focus.
  3. Always pre-plan scenes, either in writing, 2D animatics or 3D previz.
  4. Lock in all timing and angles before moving on to details.
  5. Keep a playlist of your favorite music to get you in the zone.
  6. Keep it fun.


"About 800,000 people have viewed this and I figured I’d be lucky if I got 30,000 to view it...The community and all the encouragement has been amazing."



What’s been pleasantly surprising now that it’s out there in the world?


The response. The people who've liked it and shared it and offered their feedback. About 800,000 people have viewed this and I figured I’d be lucky if I got 30,000 to view it, you know? The community and all the encouragement has been amazing.


That's ironic considering that it's a sort of social media satire.


Yeah weird, isn’t it? (Laughs) There’s just no planning this stuff.


Where do you see yourself going from here?


I'm looking to do more direction in the future, shorts and features. Guys like Neil Blomkamp, Gareth Edwards and Wes Ball inspire me in in the way that they came into the director role from a visual effects background.

 

"I can’t really say that I’m a [B-movie] fan, though I think that sometimes the premise is just so utterly bad it becomes good."



You mentioned that blockbusters inspired you when you were young
– were you also a fan of B-movies?


I can’t really say that I’m a fan, though I think that sometimes the premise is just so utterly bad it becomes good. My favorite B-movie right now is Kung Fury by David Sandberg. I’m a huge fan, and I love all of the intended puns on 80’s movies and tech.
 


Why do we all love zombies so much?


(Laughs) It’s a trend that comes and goes, but I think it’s appealing because it deals with nature hitting the “self destruct” or “reset” button and wiping away mankind for a fresh start. We get to see the struggle and horror, and cheer for our favorite characters that we hope will make it. That said, I’m not aiming towards doing a zombie movie. In fact, there’s no zombies in my script at all. I’m more into monsters.


So, length aside, having no zombies means that the title will definitely have to change.


I've already done some modifications to it (laughs).




"Dawn of The Planet of the Zombies and the Giant Killer Plants on Some Serious Acid" was made possible with vivid imagination, strong coffee, plenty of midnight oil, and of course, Maya. Visit Gimpville to check out more of Alf's work and find lots of fun "Dawn of the... Stuff" extras here on Vimeo.

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| 2 years ago
love this guy, very inspiring artist...