Cinzia Angelini, story artist, writer and director, entered 3D animated short ‘Mila’, started over 10 years ago as a group collaborative project by a team of artists dispersed all over the world.
Cinzia Angelini, story artist, writer and director, has entered her 3D animated short ‘Mila’, started over 10 years ago as a group collaborative project completed by a team of artists dispersed all over the world.
Cinzia began her career as an animator and then decided to transition into a story artist. She created a few ideas and pitched them to colleagues and friends. Among those, this one about war – about a girl and a woman that saves her – that became ‘Mila’, stood out.
She started her project at a time when undertaking a 3D animated production independently was a daring move. “I really wanted the audience to be immersed into something that could immediately come close to what you feel under an attack of bombers dropping bombs over your head. I went 3D regardless of the challenge it represented, but it has worked out,” she said.
By 2011, she understood she needed wider support and met supporters ready to take on the role of producer and help source funding. Andy Gahan, who became Executive producer, helped launch a forum to start storing files and production notes. Through word of mouth, they attracted more attention and followers. The press was also interested in this way of making a film remotely because at the time, producing a 16 minute CG short with multiple locations in this way was ambitious.
People volunteered their time and worked on it from all over the world. “We’d allow them to use their work before the film came out, because especially students, or professionals that only have a couple of years of experience in production, need work to show prospective employers and can’t wait out the years till after the completion date,” she said.
“We gave them credit for their work and offered mentoring. People would want to work on Mila because they knew they were going to learn something, have a chance to network, and even get jobs. By the end, we became a network of more than 350 artists from 35 countries working on this one film.”
The perfect moment came when Cinesite, where Cinia had connections from previous work experience, could insert Mila into production in between projects. They especially needed Maya version consistency across the board – an issue with Mila was that they couldn’t work fast enough to keep up with software development, which Cinesite helped rectify. “It was a huge undertaking. We had to quickly update material to get it working with the current versions of Maya,” Cinzia said.
“Cinesite helped finish up some of the animation, although one of the sequences had already been fully rendered by Pixel Cartoon. Creature FX had to redo the hair system that we had in place because it wasn't working with their pipeline. Cinesite analysed the risk and all the work that they had in front of them, but they were passionate about the project and wanted to help and to be a part of it, treating us like they would have any client.”
Cinzia and the other producers needed to adapt and multitask at all times. Because they worked across many time zones, they could speed up work through the night. She said, “But you can't assign deadlines when everyone is volunteering – you just hope for the best and multiply your expected deadline by 10, which is what happened. It's a project that would probably have taken a year and a half to do – but it took 11 years.
“Over the years, our remote workflow improved. For example, even switching to Slack from a forum was a great step forward and eventually, we used Shotgun. Before that, it was just a lot of emails – so many that I don't want to count them.”