‘Space Patrol’ – 7 minute animated short film

A coalition space patrol endeavours to turn away aliens seeking refuge on the earth, regarding them not as cosmic refugees, but as illegal immigrants. Due to bureaucratic bungling, the coalition’s efforts are not as effective as they had hoped for.

This is a 7-minute 3D animated short film I made as a student in 2002 as part of a Bachelor of Arts in Animation & Interactive Media at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University.

The idea behind the film is based on the Australian government’s efforts at the time to turn away ‘boat people’, and features parody names of key government ministers at the time. The visual style borrows the clunky look of the Thunderbirds TV series, where the strings holding the marionettes were clearly visible.

Originally, the idea for the animation was to include 3D strings on the characters, but this was abandoned in the interest of having the production finished on time. Also for that reason, facial animation and lip-synching was abandoned in favour of all the characters having their mouths covered by masks or full-face helmets.

The hooded character ‘Prime Darth Sinister’ is the only live action part of the production; it’s a video composited over the animation of my then 10 year old son wearing a bed sheet!

Modelled and animated in Lightwave 3D and edited in Adobe Premiere on a bunch of old PC’s and Macs. It took the early 2000s vintage computers 41 days, 24 hours per day to render the animation frames… this was in addition to the months of planning, modelling and editing!

The overall project took a whole semester and was finished 2 weeks early before the hand-in deadline. No doubt with 2020s computing power, the render time could have been slashed to a fraction of the 41 days it took back in 2002!

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