"Pirate Wars" - Artist Statement

Being a technical writer part-time, it's important to stick by the maxim "write what you know". This animation hinged on the themes of Star Wars mixed with the traditional image of pirates. Enter: Pirate Wars. I tried to duplicate the opening Star Wars scrolling sequence because it was something I was familiar with, while the technical aspects of actually making it work…I wasn't. So, at this point, the maxim gets thrown out the window, and a new maxim comes into play (paraphrased, of course): "If you don't know how to do it, sit down and learn it."

So, I "invented" a way to make the scroll work, which was a little tricky to work with in 2D. The scrolling sequence would be easy to construct in a 3D environment, but the timing needed to be exact in 2D for it to "look right" in terms of movement and perspective.

So, I had the cockpit from a previous assignment, which was fairly detailed, thanks to some reference images I looked at for re-creating a standard-looking X-Wing cockpit. I took advantage of masking, and used them for some of the lights, the targeting display, and the power bars.

As for the cannon with the teddy bears…that was actually the first idea that spawned the whole animation. I was doodling on a scrap of paper trying to think of what could be funny to see in a serious sci-fi styled universe. So, teddy bears came out of that. The cannon eventually emerged as a device to give a reason to have the teddy bears in the animation. I also thought it would be cool if I "cartoonized" the movement of the cannon firing the teddy bears, which actually came out pretty well. One thing I'd probably do different here is add more detail to the entire cannon scene. I didn't think I'd use it for more than a brief few seconds, so I didn't think I needed to spend much time on detailing it. Unfortunately, the lack of detail compared to the rest of the animation made it suffer a bit for the overall consistency of the look and feel.

Some of the detail in this animation probably really "made" the animation as a whole. I'm, of course, speaking of the side view of the X-Wing. I believe in "recycling" past works when prudent in the interest of time and to avoid having to reinvent the wheel. The wireframe of the image was a CAD drawing I did in 1998 as a final project in my CAD drawing class. So, since I had been copying back and forth between illustrator to bring drawings into flash, I though I'd try opening up AutoCAD and seeing if I could do the same thing. Long story short, I could. So, I cleaned up the drawing, reworked a couple areas, colored it, and used it in the animation. I think it turned out reasonably well, but because I moved it slowly up and down on the screen, some of the lines appeared to "jump". Oh well, I'll have to remember that for next time.

Switching gears a little bit, I'd like note that I'm very aware of physics and the way things interact with each other, and I always try to bring this into anything I make that requires the use of physics. So, we have the bears being fired out of the cannon, the impact of the bears on the X-Wing, and the flyby effect where the stars slow down and the X-Wing speeds up. I try to take any kind of movement and interaction into account to make it look as true to life as I can.

This animation also included sound effects and music, which I carefully chose and spliced. The music I spent the most time on was the opening Star Wars music, which flowed into the Imperial March theme. That took a bit of effort to get them to flow into each other seamlessly, and I think the effect turned out well. For someone who wasn't intimately familiar with the music, not noticing the seam is good news. It means I did a good job there. As for the sound effects, I tweaked a few of them, and carefully added them where necessary (most of them were from the sound effects archive that I've built up over several years).

And that, wraps up this behind the scenes look at the Pirate Wars animation.  Enjoy!

~ Adam Deutschmann, December 2006