An Animated Fanfilm Project.
Based on the story by Ray Bradbury.
Last revised: February 16, 2008.
I, Rocket is the culmination of a number of ideas & concepts I have been contemplating for over a decade.
I have long been a fan of the 1950s EC comics and always wanted to do films based on them.
Previously 2 movies based on Tales From the Crypt and Vault of Horror appeared in the 70's and later there was the Tales From the Crypt cable TV series and The Mad Show but the Science Fiction ("Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science-Fantasy and Incredible Science Fiction) & War comics have been neglected.
There was a movie/TV series called Weird Science but the only EC thing about that was the title and Amicus planned a Tales of the Incredible movie but the commercial failure of Vault of Horror stymied that.
My first attempt in this area was a video adaptation of the Wally Wood story My World in the mid 90s. At this stage I was only able to show panels in sequence with a voiceover and felt it was too visually uninteresting, but some years later completed a number of video comics. These used stories from the early Mads, Blakes 7 monthly comics, horror comic stories and most notably the hilarious RMC series of TV parody comics done by Richard Freeland. However, these were still little more than comic book panels shot with a video camera and I needed the digital age to give me the chance to do the things I wanted.
Other factors drawing me to animated production were the numerous problems & delays I had encountered on my own & colleagues live action productions. One project I had been doing props for, Broken Allegiance 2 , collapsed suddenly when the lead actress was offered an overseas modelling job. Its producer Nick Hallam attempted to revive the project as an computer animated film and considerable pre production work and soundtrack recording was done, but it was not possible to get a suitable animation team together and it was cancelled.
I gave a lot of thought to the reasons why BA2 didn't go ahead and it occurred to me that while fully CGI animated movies require a team of experienced digital animators, complex programmes & lots of computer power, it should be possible to produce a limited animation production.
I was a fan of 60s & 70s series Space Angel, The Herculoids, Marvel Super Heroes and Star Trek: Animated as well as various Anime shows and believed that it was now possible for one man with an ordinary computer to produce something which used to require a whole studio.
To make up for the limited animation scope the project would need a good story & good artwork, which naturally took me back to the EC comics, in particular the Ray Bradbury adaptations they did. Many of his stories had already been adapted for TV & movies but I, Rocket presented itself as a suitable candidate as it was a simple, strong story with two main characters and lots of narration plus it looked feasible to animate. There were not enough original comic book panels to carry the story, but as the EC SF artwork had a generally similar style I was able to use panels from several other stories, as well as the wonderful SF paintings of Chesley Bonestell.
I scanned in the panels & used the JASC Paint Shop Pro7 & associated JASC Animation Shop to adapt and animate them. The former is designed for adjusting still digital pictures and the latter for simple GIF animations to enhance websites and the like, but with a bit of experience, skill & lots of hard work still pictures can be made to move & talk, spaceships take off, fly, fire, explode and crash and a comic book can thus be brought to life.
Various types of image transitions are possible and I was even able to manage some 24 frame per second full animation, though this was kept this to a minimum as it took an hour to produce a second of screen time.
Due to the limitations of my old computer I had the high definition animation in snippets of new one 100 frames or less, though my can manage Burner allows 4 times that. The editing programme supplied with my Nero fades and other effects to be applied & sound to be dubbed.
I rather immodestly call the resultant process Devlimation because while there are other programmes & techniques which give limited animation using computer programmes, to the best of my knowledge no one has been producing work quite like mine using the same methods.
Allied to this is the Automatic Rotoscope process, where live action film is converted to a stylised animated form. I found early on that the JASC animation process renders large files in a lower definition form. Initially I regarded this as a pesky limitation but if done deliberately it produces a rotoscope effect, similar to those in Ralph Bakshi movies like "Wizards" and "Lord of the Rings".
Dynascope is another innovation for this production, while most films are produced in a 4:3 Full Frame picture ratio or some form of widescreen process, for I, Rocket the screen aspect ratio changes to suit the action. In the 50s there was a Dynamic Frame process & I intended to use variable aspect ratios in my unmade Man & Cyberman project but the nature of a comic book adaptation makes a constantly changing screen size a necessity.
It has been over a year since I started production, though 6 months of solid work is a more accurate estimate of the time it has taken. It has been quite a learning curve, with several problems, pitfalls and discoveries along the way, I think I could do the same thing in half the time now. I am very pleased with the results and hope to undertake more animated films in the future, Legends of the Batman is the next project planned & I have several other EC stories I would like to adapt.
I intend to stick with fanfilms for the time being, though if I had access to original art it would be possible to do independent films in this manner, I can only think what might have been accomplished had I been able to work with the late cartoonist Ian Gunn. Devlimation would also be useful for film titles & I am experimenting with using these techniques for live action productions.
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unauthorised reproduction or alteration forbidden by law
All characters and events are entirely fictional, so there.
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