A 3D animated film about the hazardous mountain ascent of a swarm of lantern Koi fish
‘Lampion‘ is my second year film project, made in collaboration with my coursemate Maciek Repeta.
The film tells the story of a swarm of lantern koi carp‘s difficult journey to reach the peak of a mountain. On their way to the top the swarm encounters a fierce storm which snuffs out their candles, effectively extinguishing their life force. Luckily one baby lantern has survived and is able to reignite the swarms fire. With renewed vigour the croup is able to propel its way through the clouds and finally reaches its intended destination.
This was my first 3D project. With little time, teamsize and experience a balance had to be maintained between aesthetics/story vs. feasibilty.
As I was figuring out a story I was most concered with not making horrible looking CGI. Darkness I though would be more forgiving to the models, which is why the scene is set at night. A swarm allowed us to put all our effort into only modelling, texturing and rigging on character. Rather than attention being on any individual fish the swarm was basically the main character. This fact and the fact that they are inanimate objects meant we could get away without facial rigging.
Even with these advantages however, we were at the mercy of our uni computers and temperamental software which amounted to an uphill battle, similar to the one we were bringing to life. Thankfully, as did the fish, we also perservered - our saving lantern koi was tech support staff member, and resident Maya wiz, Dan Hobson.
The storyboard documents the story more than the cinematography since Maciek and I decided on the camera angles by creating proxy objects in Maya.
THE FINAL LOOK
The colour change of the fish from orange to blue instead of red, which is their actual colour when unlit, has symbolic significance. The koi fish lanterns are inspired by the lanterns in Chinese culture. The colour red represents prosperity, happiness and good fortune. In contrast, blue represents sickness or decreasing energy and displaying that colour signals an illness in the household. A fitting colour change, as the fishes flames extinguish.