LONDON, ENGLAND, August 20, 2014 /Kory Martin Juul is a one-man movie making machine.
For the past four years, the Hollywood visual effects artist – whose screen credits include "Avatar" and films in the "Lord of the Rings," "Star Wars" and "Matrix" series – has almost single-handedly animated a Pixar-style feature film called "White Tiger Legend." An Indiegogo online fundraising campaign has been launched to see this project through its final stages of animation, rendering, and scoring the soundtrack.
"If we can presell 50,000 DVDs, BluRays, Ebooks or soundtracks in the next 45 days," Juul said, "we can finish this and get it into Cannes and eventually theaters."
A film like this would ordinarily cost about $80 million, but Juul is planning to bring it in with a production budget of about 1% of that total by using new technology and doing many jobs himself. "If people want to see original groundbreaking stories, crowdfunding is where it’s headed," Juul said. "With Indiegogo, millions of people around the globe can be a part of which films get made. It’s exciting."
He continued: "$80 million – that’s how much a movie of ‘White Tiger Legend’s’ scale would cost a studio. It’s too much risk, and that’s the reason they keep making sequels, franchises, and reboots. I had to figure out another way."
The resulting solo mission took him up thousands of steps in Wudang, China and got him altitude sick in Tibet. He even left his body in the Amazon jungle. Footage from these exotic locations has been deftly woven into an hour-and-forty-minute action/adventure film.
In talking about his inspiration, Juul said: "On ‘Avatar,’ we were working alongside a very elaborate pre-visualization. It was the sets, characters, performances, even the lighting direction. It was unfinished, but you could watch it. James Cameron constantly referenced it whenever an artist had a question – because he had thought it through already, and he could show them. Seeing that was the key for me. I felt like I was up against a wall, trying to explain how ‘White Tiger Legend,’ even though it was martial arts, wasn’t like every other Kung Fu movie out there. Here was a tool I could use to show them, show them how we were unique. So that’s what I did. I ‘pre-vized’ a whole movie."
Juul turned to a technology from Phasespace Motion Capture to capture his body movements. "They have suits that light up, and each light flickers at its own frequency," he said. "This drastically reduces the number of people required to fix fast and complex acrobatic motions. It also allowed me to run the system on my own."
The suit allowed Juul to perform over 30 different characters for over 2200 shots. The capturing process took him 20 weeks, and a further 16 months to assemble the first edit.
As a trained Bok Fu Black belt, Juul was also able to choreograph nine fights for the film – fighting against himself.
"I could go full speed, without fear of hitting anyone else, or pulling any punches," he said. "Normally with fight scenes you’re confined to certain camera angles – to keep the appearance of contact – but with motion capture, you can reposition the motions to create contact after the fact, and put the camera wherever you want – it’s total freedom."
Thirty voice-over actors were then assembled from the theater, video games, and independent film to breathe life into the characters.
"The actors’ performances make it real," Juul said. "We held rehearsals and they delved into the worlds of their characters. I then moved my body in sync with their decisions, and performed the resulting fight scenes. I’m their digital stunt double essentially."
With the pre-visualization completed, the unknowns have been addressed.
"The pre-viz absolutely reduces the risk," Juul said. "There’s no more question if it’s going to be good. Anyone can watch it and be swept away. It’s rudimentary, but it’s captivating. That’s what you want at this stage. Now we make it look better, but it doesn’t work the other way around. There are lots of films out there that look great, but may not be that engaging."
To make sure the scope of his vision came across, Juul began capturing the film sets. Google maps and Panoramio were used to scour China for physical locations to match every scene in the film. Juul then traveled 2500 miles for 30 days through four provinces, despite not speaking a word of Mandarin.
"It was the trip of a lifetime," he said. "I slept on overnight trains and would get up and hike a mountain or go hang off the edge of a waterfall. Being solo was definitely an advantage, as I needed to move quickly through places that would be difficult, or places that might draw a lot of attention with a large crew. I ended up shooting all 54 locations."
Will a large enough crowd be reached in time?
"That’s the question. The pre-visualization is already bringing test audiences to tears, so I’m bringing it on my end. I also know the sequel will cost $100 million."
Get your DVD, BluRay, eBook, or Exclusive 5.1 Soundtrack by supporting the Indiegogo online fundraising campaign: http://igg.me/at/whitetiger
Watch One Man Animate a Feature – China to Tibet and New Zealand + 3 min of animated footage :
Phasespace Motion Capture Systems : http://www.phasespace.com