(Emeryville, California--May 1, 2013) Athena Studios, an Emeryville, CA-based company that provides full production services for film, TV, advertising, and multimedia clients and projects (and is also the production arm of AthenaOnline), has produced an original, stop-motion, animated short film. The announcement was made today by Jon V. Peters, CEO/Founder, Athena Studios.
Entitled “Peanut Butter,” the stop-motion project began when Mr. Peters wished to present his in-house production team with a creative challenge. He chose stop motion animation because of his background as a professional model-maker, and in anticipation of a future project that Athena Studios is considering taking on.
“I have always loved stop-motion films,” Mr. Peters said. “While playful and fun, like CG animations, these films offer a certain grounding -- a basis in reality that I enjoy. This piece was a proof of concept for us, as we are presently considering a much larger stop-motion project, and are beefing up our plans to attract new commercial work. We really just needed a good story to move forward.”
The Athena Studios team worked on “Peanut Butter” in association with Dr. Rick Kirschner, the author or co-author of eight books, who’d come to the studio to film a story based on one of his lectures—one designed to inform business people how to take accountability for their own actions. The resulting three-minute stop motion piece has since been linked to AthenaOnline as one of its educational videos (which the company regularly creates for corporations,) and will also be used by Dr. Kirschner within some of his future live presentations.
To view the full, 5-minute lesson by Dr. Rick Kirschner that includes the animation, please see:
Unexpected assistance on the “Peanut Butter” project came through a friend of Mr. Peters who put him in contact with Jon Berg, famed stop motion animator and visual effects expert whose past credits include “Star Wars,” “Ghostbusters,” “Gremlins,” and other iconic films. Mr. Berg visited Athena Studios and agreed to participate, acting as a mentor for the small team of in-house animators and designers. He provided input on facial design, set construction, and character movement.
“Jon Berg really helped get this project moving,” said Mr. Peters. “He gave all of us great advice on many aspects of the short, providing guidance and real insight based on his years in the stop-motion field. Perhaps the most important lesson he taught us, however, was not to focus so much on the rigging, sets, or puppet construction, but, instead, to just start the animation process, to keep moving forward and stay motivated.”
With Mr. Berg’s expertise, things progressed quickly. The Athena filmmakers decided to use face replacement to get a full range of emotions necessary for the characters. Given the short duration of film, the team tossed out the ball-and-socket armatures that had initially been built, and went to wire armatures for the bodies, adding removable limbs in case of breakage. “I remember pulling an arm from the molds, and the thumb broke the first time one of the animators moved it,” Mr. Peters chuckled. “From that point on, we tried to keep several sets of arms on stand-by for each character.”
Jeanette Vera, Athena Studios’ Visual Effects Artist, whose past VFX credits have included “CaptainAmerica” and “The Avengers,” helped sculpt, cast, and animate the puppets featured in “Peanut Butter.” Athena’s lead editor Jorge Martinez helped animate the film, and operated the Dragonframe image capture software.
ABOUT ATHENA STUDIOS:
Athena Studios was launched in Summer 2012 as a full service production facility designed to help companies seeking to produce their own videos or shoot a feature film. Athena has a fully lit green screen stage available for daily or long-term rental, and can help outfit its clients with lighting and camera equipment through its alliances with local area vendors DTC Grip and Chater Camera.
Athena Studios is conveniently located off Highway 80 in Emeryville, CA., in the heart of Northern California's “New Hollywood” -- near Pixar, Tippett Studios and Ex'pression College for Digital Arts. For more information, please see: http://www.athenastudios.com/