MEET THE TEAM
ANIMATOR & SOUND DESIGNER
TAN EN DIAN
CO-DIRECTOR, PRODUCER & LEAD ANIMATOR
CO-DIRECTOR & WRITER
LIM HOK LYE
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
THE MAKING OF THE FILM
Pete & Dave to the Rescue is a labour of love among seven student filmmakers who have put in more than 4,000 man-hours in four months to create a short film that hits the checkmarks of an epic film for their capstone project.
Produced during the COVID-19 pandemic and mostly self-funded, this film can only be described as a monumental undertaking and a giant leap of faith.
Making a stop-motion animation is unprecedented in our school, especially because animation itself is not a discipline covered in our diploma. Apart from two teammates who dabbled in stop-motion animation, none of us had any experience or familiarity in the medium.
Moreover, we only had 17 weeks from conceptualisation to delivery of our assignment. Considering how time-consuming stop-motion animation is, we were already behind schedule before we even began.
Before that idea came into fruition, we had been developing a script for a live-action narrative film before the semester started. However, when the Delta wave hit, we determined that producing a film marred by the new COVID-19 filming restrictions was not worth its investment.
After all, we thought—if a capstone project is going to be our calling card when we graduate, then it ought to be the culminating point to showcase our abilities and creative potential.
Embarking on this medium of storytelling opens new dimensions of film craft which would have otherwise been difficult because of budgetary constraints of independent filmmaking.
One of our front-running ideas was a buddy comedy with space adventure elements that spoofs Star Wars. Armed with sophomoric humour, movie clichés and pop culture references, we quickly took to this concept, which would later become the bedrock for our film.
Time was our greatest limiting factor and we could not afford to fully plan all the scenes out before entering production.
Consequently, we developed a streamlined workflow wherein pre-production, production and post-production could be executed simultaneously with minimal downtime to all parties. This meant that while one scene was being animated, the next was being designed and planned, and the previous was being assembled in the edit.
Nevertheless, production was fraught with technical problems which often required multiple rounds of trial-and-error to address. We had to adapt, improvise and on occasion, cheat.
The hurdles we faced throughout our journey gave us new insights into the technicalities required to create more complex sequences. By the time production wrapped, we had improved so much that our animation quality by the end was worlds apart from that at the start.
Early on, we knew exterior shots were going to be a challenge. We had neither the resources to construct practical landscapes nor the experience to model digital ones.
To minimise reliance on chroma keying and green screen compositing, we fell back on in-camera techniques observed in old cinema and co-opted the use of rear projection, wherever possible. This not only drastically reduced time spent in post-production, but also allowed for realistic light spill onto the set and characters.
In many regards, post-production was tedious, cumbersome and at times, foreign for us—from creating immersive soundscapes to picking up 3D modelling skills to employing traditional rotoscoping techniques.
The sheer scale and scope of our project was unlike any we had done before and pushed the team and our computer processors to our limits. It was a true test of our tenacity.