Mar 25, 2015

Otaking's 'TIE Fighter' Is The Star Wars Anime Tie-in We Deserve

The Force is strong with this year. While sci-fi afficiandos and movie-goers patiently wait on further news and publicity concerning the seventh Star Wars film slated for release this December, Paul "Otaking" Johnson's fan-made short TIE Fighter only proves that the franchise's future continues to resonate long after the films.

The short follows a troupe of rebel X-Wings embroiled in a deseperate fight against a fleet of Star Destroyers and their host of TIE Fighters. Accompanied by Zakir Rahman's inspired heavy metal soundtrack riffing off of the musical troupes of early 90's anime, TIE Fighter is an impressive fan-short that takes as much inspiration from Lucas' iconic space-opera as it does from the works of anime titans such as Yoshiyuki Tomino (Mobile Suit Gundam) and Leiji Matsumoto (Space Battleship Yamato). And to top it off, not only is it painstakingly well-animated, it's canonically accurate as well! Now that's what I call dedication

Mar 24, 2015

The Art of Bloodborne

It's finally here. The Gothic-horror hack n' slashing action-RPG Bloodborne is finally here. The spiritual successor to Hidetaka Miyazaki's previous franchise, the Souls series (Demons Souls and Dark Souls),  Bloodborne thrusts you into the role of a demon hunter ensnared within the towering monoliths and choked alleyways of ancient city besieged by a mysterious disease that transforms the weak of will and mind into monstrous abominations.

One of the most highly-anticipated titles to come out on the PS4 this year, the pre-release reviews for the game have joined together in almost unanimous choir of praise for the relentlessness and depth of its combat and the gorgeous creepiness of its art-style, owed entirely to the part of From Software's in-house roster of talented concept artists.

From Software is a very mysterious company, trying to find a list of credits of concept art and direction contributors to their latest gaming opus has been about as perilous as contending with the fell-beasts of Yharnam. We were able to track down the names of four artists attached to Bloodborne's macabre aesthetic; Lead Environment Artist Hikaru Wada, Senior Environment artist Marcos Domenech, Character Artist Max Puliero, and Senior Technical Character Artist Eduardo Mosena.

We'll try to hunt down more names to properly give these guys the due credit that they deserve, but in the mean-time check out our selection of concept images released throughout the game's development below the break. Enjoy!

The Wanderer

The range of diversity and creativity of the graduation films coming out of The Animation Work these past months has been nothing short of inspiring. The final short of this year's series, The Wanderer, ends on a high note. Taking us through the lifespan of plant-like alien being the short poses the question, what would you do if you only had one day to live?

Created by a team of third year Character Animation and CGI students, The Wanderer is a strange, ephemeral and beautiful short and a perfect way to tie off this year's collection of graduation films. Congratulations Class of 2015!

Mar 17, 2015

'Leviathan' Teaser Shows Space Whalers Taming A Demon Of The Skies

The spec-trailer for Ruairi Robinson's sci-fi feature Leviathan has fast been making the rounds across the blogo-sphere since it was first posted on Vimeo late yesterday afternoon. And for good reason, it looks spectacular! Within four painfully short minutes Robinson has already sold me on the idea of space whalers on hover-boats hunting flying behemoths in order to embryos for starship fuel, and that in no small part owed to the funding and support of the Irish Film Board.

It feels trite to try and describe this as "Moby Dick in space" off the impression of one trailer alone, and especially a teaser at that. If anything, the titular beast looks like a cross between the Sarlac from Star Wars and Sin from Final Fantasy X. Still, I'm looking forward to some nihilistic brooding accompanied by death-defying monster hunting action when the final film is released.

Originally one of the many rotating cast of directors attached to steer the live-action Akira adaptation to completion, Robinson left the project, presumably owed to creative differences and funding between Warner Bros.', Appian Way and himself. If curiosity has been peaked and you're looking to learn more about this mysterious director, check out his 2013 film Last Days on Mars and his award-winning sci-fi horror short Blinky. We'll be following Robinson for more news about Leviathan here on out.

Mar 11, 2015

Tonko House Announce Storybook Sequels To 'The Dam Keeper'

We've been following the production of Dice Tsutumi and Robert Kondo's short-film The Dam Keeper for quite some time now. Having finally had the chance to see it amid the remarkable hub-bub over its Academy Awards nomination(!), I can say confidently without a doubt that the film was entirely worth the wait.

But if you're worried that the achingly short, if gorgeous, short-film was the only product of its three-plus development time, worry no more! There's still more of The Dam Keeper to come in the form of two illustrated storybooks published by First Second Books slated for release next year!

The Dam Keeper deserves all the praised it's garnered and then-some. A poignantly beautiful testament to the patience and artistry of hand-drawn animation. Tsutumi and Kondo have assembled an all-star team of talented illustrators and animators and I can't wait to see what they share with us in the years to come!

(The Dam Keeper is available for purchase through iTunes and Amazon)

The Dilla Dimension

You'll be hard-pressed to find a producer more ubiquitously applauded and dissected than that of the late J Dilla. A formidable beat-maker whose production has been the bedrock of some of hip-hop's most venerated albums and artists, the man affectionately known by his fans and loved ones as Jay Dee passed away in 2006 on the eve of Donuts', his most successful album, release.

The shadow of his influence still hangs heavy and low over the face of contemporary music even nine years since his passing, which is why CGI-studio Cartelle Interactive has created this interactive browser film to commemorate Dilla's last record by transforming it into a kaleidoscopic tunnel-trip through a outer-spacial odyssey of confectionery oddities.

The Dilla Dimension is an interactive, short film that tells the story of two sugarcoated souls and their psychedelic journey through outer space. Each step of their voyage is crafted to a selection of tracks from J Dilla’s classic album, Donuts.
An alternate universe, blanketed with hypercolor sugar and fluorescent glaze, gives birth to an unlikely cluster of donut holes. Suddenly, they are split apart and scattered across a sea of hypnotic, interstellar chaos. But the impossible takes shape when a love is sparked, leading to a desperate search across the universe for one another.

'The Great Promise' Is The Story After Happily Ever After

I recently stumbled across the trailer for Eusong Lee's The Great Promise and was taken aback by the level of polish and potential behind this beautiful student project. A Cal-Arts trained animator hailing from South Korea, Lee's work up until now has been made up of collaborative short-animations that clock-in around an average of one minute.

"...from that day forward she lived happily ever after. Except for the dying at the end. And the heartbreak in between."
The Great Promise looks to be his first long-form narrative short film, however it appears that production on the film has been postponed, hopefully only temporarily.  I'm excited to witness the story of this once-distressed damsel and less-than-idyllic adventures that followed her rescue. If not, at least we have this gorgeous trailer to ponder over what might've been, or what's still to come!


Fibers is yet another impressive graduation film from the Denmark's illustrious Animation Workshop school and the first of this year's impressive crop to feature a combination of live-action along with CGI. Whereas previous films have consisted of narrative stories told from beginning to end, Fibers is an interpretive dance video told through both a macro- and microscopic scale of events. Jens Brøndum choreography set to Thomas Ahlmark and Kristoffer Jorgensen's pulsating electronic score is a sight to behold.

Mar 10, 2015

Worth Checking Out - Angelarium: Book of Emanations

You might remember our interview with Peter Mohrbacher and Eli Minaya a few months back regarding their collaborative, Patreon-funded project Angelarium. Initially consisting of a series of illustrations depicting the eleven aspects of the Abrahamic Tree of Life, Angelarium is poised to encompass a wide-assorted shared story universe of graphic novels, music, t-shirts and even vinyl collectibles!

The first step to all of that is where Angelarium: Book of Emanations comes in. The first of a collection of art books compiling the project's various angelic and daemonic incarnations  into a compendium of ethereal arcane-goodness, Mohrbacher has turned to Kickstarter to help produce the first volume in this ambitious series. Pledge incentives include hard-cover editions of the book, signed canvas prints, sketchbooks and more!

One of the many tiers for the 'Book of Emanations' project.
Angelarium has been one of my favorite art projects to follow and cover in my time writing for Awesome-Robo. The depth of research, self-discovery and forethought that Mohrbacher has sunk into this series is powerfully evident throughout all his illustrations in this series. The campaign is also working in tandem with trading card publisher Albino Dragon to create a tarot series centered around the Angelarium's inhabitants. Find out more information on the book's page and check out the latest examples of the Angelarium project below the break!

'We Happy Few' is One Part Pleasantville, One Part They Live

Compulsion Games has released one of the most intriguing (and terrifying) trailers of PAX East with the announcement of their next major game, We Happy Few. Little is known about the title aside from it taking place in an alternate-history 1960's Dystopia filled with crazed perma-smiling psychopaths, weapon crafting and open-world exploration.

But from the looks of the trailer, the game definitely looks like one part Pleasantville, one part They Live, with a generous amount of Invasion of The Body-snatchers just to round it out. We Happy Few has definitely left a favorable first-impression that could last them until its projected release sometime late next year(?).

And maybe a smidge of The Stepford Wives because, hey why not?
The theme of deceptive geniality of early 1960's Americana is one of the most alluring and well-traveled settings of modern gaming, with titles such as Bioshock, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and the Fallout series blazing the trail.  We Happy Few appears to be another installment in this recurring aesthetic, a world of tie-dyed bell-bottoms and nightmarish cults of majority pulled straight out of a Shirley Jackson novel. The game is still early in development, but we here at Awesome-Robo HQ are anticipating it all the same!

Tomorrowland's First Trailer Is Chock-Full of Retro-Futuristic Splendor

Disney has released the first full trailer for Tomorrowland, Brad Bird's live action sci-fi-fantasy adventure film starring George Clooney (Ocean's Eleven) and Britt Robertson (The Host). Co-written by Damon Lindelof, Tomorrowland is Bird's second live-action film coming off the strength of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and such feature-length animated films as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.

Tommorowland follows an unlikely pair of companions bound by a shared destiny. One, a teenage girl bursting with rebellious scientific curiosity, the other a jaded former boy-genius inventor, as they embark on a mission to unearth the mysteries of a fantastic world hidden somewhere between the intersecting folds of space, time and our collective imagination.

Syd Mead's concept-art, "A place where the best and brightest in the world came together to change it"
I've been eagerly awaiting Bird's next film since it was first speculated to be the next installment in the Star Wars franchise. I'm absolutely in love with the retro-futuristic aesthetic of the film shown so far, and the few snippets of Michael Giacchino's orchestral score in the trailer are already giving me goose-bumps. Lindelof's involvement leaves me feeling a bit lukewarm, at least initially. However, I think that a hypothetical-future world brimming with colorful discoveries and intrigue falls squarely within his wheelhouse. Tomorrowland comes out in theaters May 22nd.

Mar 6, 2015

Five Knights Releases The Final Two Installments in the Kin Fables Trilogy

The first installment in Seb and Ben McKinnon's beautifully atmospheric multi-media project Kin Fables was an immensely satisfying and tantalizing glimpse into an alien world of myth back when we covered it two years ago. In the time since then, Five Knights Productions (Ben's talented company of filmmakers) has been hard at work and the fruit of those labors is finally here in the form of the highly-anticipated release of the two-part finale to the Kin Fables trilogy.

Salvage opens with a shot of a starkly bright yellow bi-plane soaring across a vast ocean before plunging into a wall of storm clouds. The lone aviator pilot of the plane manages to survive a terrific crash along the shores of what we can presume to be the same mythic world of the previous film. What he discovers there may both save and invariably change his life forever.

Requiem presents a compelling new dimension into the true nature of the world of Kin and its inhabitants. The film opens with a close-up shot of the unconscious boy who was abducted (saved?) at the conclusion of the first film. An abrupt change in focus shifts our attention to who we can presume to be the very same boy, now a grown man, waking up to a world seemingly indistinguishable from our own. What is the nature between these two, seemingly disparate realities? Nothing is as it seems.

Though this chapter of the Kin Fables story has reached its conclusion, the series' companion graphic novel is still in the works. and I'm all but certain that the McKinnon Brothers have more rapturously-moving installments up their sleeves. If not, I sincerely hope this will not be the last collaboration of Clann's sensational music with the Brother's incredible cinematography. Check out the project's website for more insights into the world and world behind the films, and be sure to follow Five Knights on facebook and twitter for more awesome shorts!

Mar 4, 2015

Brainstorm's Diablo Event Unleashes A Host of Horrors and Heroes

Lennart Verhoeff
The bad-ass artistic minds behind the Brainstorm collective knock it out of the park yet again with their month-long redesign challenge, this time reinterpreting the iconic imagery, classes and titular adversary of Blizzard Entertainment's classic dungeon-crawling series Diablo. Many of the results this past week impressively (if predictably) skew across the spectrum of sci-fi action, though a majority of the pieces submitted retain the distinctive gothic-horror flavor of the original.

Brainstorm mainstay Chen Nambiarooran (previously featured for his impressive 'Darth Vader' series) returns with some downright devilish-looking creature and class designs, joined by the likes of Luis Lashido, Tomaislav Jagnijc, and Lennart Verhoeff's impressively menacing profile portraits. It's all there and more, right after the break!


We wrote on Ty Coyle's impressive graduation film Baxter when it was posted months ago, but we had to retract our post when the short mysteriously vanished from the web. Turns out, The film was nominated for the Student Academy Award and had to be withdrawn in order to comply with the contest's requirements. Now that the film's festival run is over, we're happy to repost it!

Baxter is a anal retentive raccoon who manages to make his way into Granny's Sweet Shop. But will his obsession for immaculate detail unwittingly set off his own downfall? Many thanks to Ty and the rest of the crew from the Savannah College of Art and Design for sending this back our way. Great job guys, can't wait to see more of your work in the future!

The Great Harlot and the Beast

The Great Harlot and the Beast is yet another terrific animated film from The Animation Workshop's graduating class of 2015. The short follows a naive marionette prince and his co-stars as they attempt to entertain their audience of children throughout the day. But what happens when night falls on the puppet theatre, and the weight of a new audience's expectations become too much for the prince to bear?  Can the prince and his princess manage to make it through their last performance without losing their dignity?

Wonderfully animated and thematically heart-wrenching; The Great Harlot and the Beast was a captivating short from start to finish. The short is a unflinching satire of popular entertainment and how the darker appetites of audience gratification can become ever more insatiable and cruel as the entertainers permit.

Laika's Coraline was an obvious design inspiration for the film's asymmetrical hand-made aesthetic; with an emphasis on sharp angles, grungy set colors, blocky silhouettes and disconcertingly cheerful expressions juxtaposed against base and darkly comedic indignities. Check out the film's official production blog for more awesome behind-the-scenes clips and making-of concept art!