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Featured Studio - Big Chief Entertainment

Bob Vernon

Founded by veteran producer Bob Vernon - Big Chief Entertainment, LLC is a fully integrated production company specializing in music, video, film, animated films and special live event production. Their history in entertainment production ranges from Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and Hank Williams, Jr. to The ACE AWARD-winning "FATS DOMINO & FRIENDS" which was the most watched TV special in Cinemax history.


Professional Movie Making with iClone

Q: What is the purpose of the first movie trailer? How do you plan to publish and distribute this animated movie?

The first movie trailer for Quest for Megalodon was created to give an overview of the story, show the size of these giant sharks and to, hopefully, draw attention to our productions with both private investors and with crowd funding. When finished all of our films will be placed in digital distribution via iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, Xfinity, etc. They also will be offered on DVD should the consumer decide to purchase one. We are certainly open to any traditional form of theatrical distribution on a global basis should the opportunity arise.

Quest for Megalodon Trailer HD

Q: Being yourself a film producer, why did you consider using iClone for a movie production? What are the benefits of using iClone compared to other tools?

I found iClone when I first purchased Crazy Talk. It took another year or so to grasp iClone. When I realized that iClone could do real-time 3D animation, we put together a slate of 10 animated films, all aimed at a mature adult market. The benefits of iClone are that it is very cost effective and it is a user-friendly application, which puts it light years ahead of the competition, in my honest opinion.

As a producer of entertainment for over 50 years, we did a cost analysis for several films using conventional film production methods. Utilizing "Hollywood-type" methods, the typical cost ranged from $6 Million per film and up. We then looked at animated films and the cost analysis ranged from a low end of $10 Million to a high end in excess of $50 Million. We then examined doing the animation using an animated film company in Singapore which quoted us a full length feature film price of $900,000, a drastic decrease from Hollywood prices. At that point, we looked at iClone and in costing out a full blown iClone film with celebrity voiceovers and a team of 7 animators; the price averaged approximately $500,000. Without celebrity voiceovers and with fewer animators, we were able to get the total production costs down to between $100,000 and $150,000.

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Q: These animated movies where made by a group of talented iClone users -Tell us a little about your team, and how you collaborate with each other when using iClone?

We trimmed the animation team down by reviewing the work of dozens of talented iClone animators. We chose Stefano De Carli as the Director of Animation for one reason....Stefano is much more than an animator, he is a professional filmmaker with a proven track record and a true delight to work with. Stefano has mastered lighting techniques, textures, and making custom avatars like no other. In our opinion, he's the best there is. And we've seen them all.

When working, we utilize Skype and a private FTP to share the iProject assets, characters, work files, motions and sounds. Assembly, editing and final rendering of all scenes takes place in our private facility.

The Making of Quest for Megalodon

Q: Your iClone movies have reached a new level in visual quality - How did you achieve this? What kind of tools and resources did the team use?

Stefano De Carli is the design genius behind the look of Quest for Megalodon. His filmmaking approach to animation is unequaled and his design of the assets used is remarkable....textures, motions, lighting, camera placement, all.......his unique trademark of his creative ability.

Stefano De Carli's experience:

I start searching for good HDR skies on the net, or I take pictures of real skies at different times of the day. I always use high resolution images, usually around 6,000 by 3,000 pixels, and apply them to a stock iClone sky. I also find the new universal sky perfect for this purpose. Then I switch to the atmosphere settings, looking for the right balance with the parameters. Once done, I take the same sky image, reduce its size to 300 pixels and this new image will be the reflection map for all the props in the scene, that way we'll have the right reflections matching the sky image. After some tweaking and the right amount of reflections, iClone starts delivering amazingly realistic lighting results.

Bump Maps are generally underrated but crucial to achieving good final results. I design my own bump maps for every prop and character in the scene. This is a long and tedious process but essential to a pro-looking image, be it a render or a movie file. A faster way is to copy the original diffuse map to the bump map folder, apply the new bump map to the prop, launch your graphic editor, change the image to black and white and finally use it as the matching bump map. The same process applies to clothes, faces and body parts, practically everything in the project.

I like to customize my characters' faces, which is what makes iClone my favorite software for movies since this feature gives me the chance to create work for TV productions and music videos. All the characters I creating for Quest for Megalodon are stock Reallusion characters, modified in iClone5 with specific body proportions needed for the actors. I also made an extensive use of the new Vit3d characters and faces line which are, in my opinion, a major step in character design for iClone. The only non-RL stuff I'm using are some DAZ and Poser hair, converted with 3DXchange as accessories for iClone. I'd really like to see new and better hair designed for iClone now that we have really cool avatars and most of all, all those new body and facial motions that are easy to customize with the new motion puppet system. I also like the new Chuck and Gwynn CloneCloth. I'm still using some old iClone G2, G3 and G1 avatars including the low-poly Citizen Series which are great for crowded scenes that require many avatars without freezing your projects.

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