Today we sat down with Ross Green and Jordan Coles, current Animation students at Escape Studios, and directors of the short film Box Bots. Box Bots was created as part of their third year VFX project on the BA (Hons) The Art of Computer Animation undergraduate degree. Find out more about their experiences below!

Ross’ Experience

Box Bots all started six months ago; I came to Jordan Coles to think about two toy boxers who have an intense boxing fight. With that, Jordan and I started working on this story through the summer. We did everything before we pitched it the class, we arranged the fight choreography, Stevie Stedman to work on the storyboard, and we got Ryan Wood to help us create the character designs. We used lots of different resources and friends to help us with this project.

It then came to pitch day, Jordan and I felt prepared however Box Bots didn't get picked and got outvoted from the other idea pitched. It was a shocking blow to the stomach to us. We didn't give up; our group was split on what idea to go with, we had one more chance to pitch our film. We had re-written and changed a bit of the story; we adapted to the group and re-pitched. That pitch went better than expected, and the team picked our idea!

With the idea picked and the team feeling confident about the concept, we start producing on Box Bots. During the production process, there were highs and lows. It was essential to keep morale high during this process which is what we tried to do. With the amount of technical element in the film, it was bound to go wrong. However, we always had a solution to fix these issues, and with the help of Viktor Ptáček, we were able to create beautiful renders. Then Oliver Blowers and his team comped the film to give it that final cinematic look.

Jordan’s Experience

I think one of the reasons the idea got outvoted was due to its ambitious nature. In our pitch, we said the film would have two bipedal character rigs with facial animations; the boxers would need to fight with different boxing styles, VFX simulations and a seamless composite.

One of the challenges on film day was working with a skeletal crew. Box Bots was made during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government had just implemented a new rule restricting gatherings to only six people however this did not stop us from doing what we needed to do on set and get the footage we need.

One challenge we faced after the film day was in the opening shot. We had our actor interacting with a CG object in his hand. An actor interacting with a CG object had never done this before in an Escape Studios VFX film. Onset, we made the child hold a green ping pong ball and had ten different takes on him putting it down just so we were sure it would work. We were saying that the whole shot was a massive gamble since day 1. With the combined efforts from all the departments, we were able to pull off that final shot.

The Box Bot Team

We have to give our producer a special shout out on this, Priya Shah, who kept us on track throughout the whole process, as well as Jack Devereux for creating a fantastic edit, and Michael Bonardi for creating an insane soundtrack.

Below is a list of incredible artists that made Box Bots possible; these guys helped bring our vision to life!

  • Producer: Priya Shah
  • Editor: Jack Devereux
  • Director of Photography: Clement Gharini
  • Animation Lead: Eilin Dahiana Berrio Peña
  • Animators: Ross Green, Priya Shah, Jordan Coles, Jack Devereux
  • 2D Lead: Oliver B
  • 2D Artists: Alisha Huxtable, Sean Matthews, Ewilson Alva, Jalal Ahmed
  • 3D Lead: Ethen Dent
  • 3D Artists: Aron Alavazo, Viktor Ptáček, Jordan Coles
  • Storyboards: Stevie Stedman
  • Character Designs: Ryan Wood
  • Sound Track: Michael Bonardi

Box Bots is out now, so stop reading this and go and check it out!

By Ross Green (3rd year Animation student) and Jordan Coles (3rd year Animation student)