Chaotic is an apt description for OddBod Creations’ first full-length series, Chaos Castle. And this new project feels timely in such a crazy year on a couple of levels.
Moniker aside, the 26 x 11-minute preschool show stars an adventure-seeking girl who is stuck having escapades within the confines of her own home. And it takes place in an ever-expanding castle, where new creations and rooms appear at random.
Creators Chris Roe and Andy Simmons were banking on a big presentation at Cartoon Forum to debut Chaos Castle, but stuck in the UK due to COVID-19, the project was pitched on the event’s virtual stage instead.
This isn’t a regular stop-motion or CG show. Chaos Castle is made using a blended style that circumnavigates the most expensive and time- consuming limitations of each style.
Everything—from set pieces to characters—is made out of plasticine, with flat backs and 3D textured fronts. Photographed from all angles, the images are loaded into software, which then uses a technique called photogrammetry to animate the series.
“You can get things from your imagination onto the screen really quickly,” says creative director Roe. “It also allows us to be more experimental with character design.” This process removes the CG step of having to rig, composite and create all of the characters and set pieces, which can be expensive. It also cuts down on the amount of time, money and space it takes to film a stop-motion series, which would often require hundreds of versions of characters that need to be positioned individually to achieve movement.
“You’ve got to be realistic, and doing stop motion takes a lot of time and a lot of money,” says Simmons, OddBod’s managing director. “Using our method, you get the look of stop motion, but we get the ease and the speed of doing a lot of it using CG.”
OddBod maintained some traditional claymation techniques, primarily to capture close-up expressions and character transformations.
Simmons says there’s no direct comparison for how much the show would have cost if it had been completely stop motion, though he adds the series likely wouldn’t have been made because it would have been price-prohibitive. Moving to a fully CG series also wouldn’t have been feasible, he says, adding that the aesthetic would have been lost.
OddBod Creations is looking for financing to finish the show and a CG partner to handle the animation. Even though it is looking for partners, the prodco plans on maintaining complete control over a few key portions of the process.
“We’ve got this cabinet in the studio that’s beautifully laid out with all of the different shades of plasticine, and we’re quite protective of it,” says Simmons about the roughly 220 pounds of plasticine the studio purchased online. “We don’t like people going into that cupboard.”