ANIMATION: Short film <i>Fox and the Whale</I> debuts online
Issue: October 1, 2017

ANIMATION: Short film Fox and the Whale debuts online

Fox and the Whale is a new animated short directed by Robin Joseph. The short debuted in its entirety online as a Vimeo Staff Pick and has already qualified for Academy consideration.

Fox and the Whale follows the story of a curious fox, who goes in search of an elusive whale on a journey of longing and discovery. The independent, self-financed short film was completed in June of 2016 and was produced over a course of 16 months. For the most part, the crew was small, consisting mainly of Robin Joseph and his partner Kim Leow.

“The inspiration behind Fox and the Whale was the pursuit of curiosity,” says Joseph. “Not so much a primal curiosity behind food, shelter or even play. The grey areas and often abstract pursuits…the drive of wanting to know what lies beyond the abyss. There is something largely conceptual about that drive. It’s a strange compulsion, innately human. There is no promise of reward or assurances of success, yet you take that away, and there is something of inherent value you loose as a species. A lot of it came from being a big fan of exploration and science, especially space exploration. The ambitions at the fringes of it often seem one step beyond reach. The fact that we still try, instills a sense of awe and wonder. At the other end is an idea of failure, or at least what is perceived as failure. The fortitude to move forward and keep searching in spite of it. It’s a fragile state of mind at times, but to me it holds such optimism.”

Joseph continues, “I started playing with the concept with different versions of the story and visuals as far back as 2009. The film was originally conceived as a 2D animated short. Being around my partner Kim, who is a CG animator, gave a window into CG. I really opened up to the short perhaps being a hybrid of 2D & CG. I redesigned the main character for CG and Kim modeled it in Maya. By late 2014 there was enough money saved up to try and attempt making the short. This time around, I decided to take dedicated time off from the industry to make the short film. Production on the short film began in earnest in January, 2015. The first three-and-a-half months was storyboarding and cutting the reel, then another month was spent locking the color script and design so that all the characters could be built in CG. Kim still had a day job in animation production, so I had to be very careful on how best to utilize her time on it. I knew how fast she was as an animator. I also knew I could really push the amount of footage if the performance was based in physicality rather than dialogue. The film, characters were all designed and storyboarded to be non verbal.”

The short was also a technical attempt at trying to accomplish something on an independent scale, but have the ambition to maintain a very high visual quality. All the character animation, modeling and rigs were done by Kim Leow in Maya. Everything else from design, storyboarding, background paintings, 2D animation, visual effects, compositing, editing, foley recording and sound design were done by Joseph. He used the Adobe package of Photoshop, Aftereffects, Premiere and Audition. 

The film’s sound design was completed with the support and advice from Tim Nielsen, who generously loaned the field recordings from which majority of the soundscape for the picture was designed. Credits include director/producer Robin Joseph; character animation, models & rigs by Kim Leow; character rigging for the fox by Louis Vottero; music by John Poon; and design, storyboards, backgrounds, 2D animation, effects, compositing, editing, and sound design by Robin Joseph.