November 16, 2017 - TAIKO Studios presents the official teaser for One Small Step!
NEW ANIMATION STUDIO FOUNDED BY FORMER DISNEY ARTISTS ANNOUNCES FIRST PROJECT ‘ONE SMALL STEP’
October 30, 2017 - TAIKO Studios unveils its first project, One Small Step. The original short film follows the story of Luna, a Chinese American girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut. Student Academy Award-winner Shaofu Zhang and veteran Disney animators Bobby Pontillas and Andrew Chesworth bring vision and verve to a touching story of hope through striking art direction and crisp storytelling.
“One Small Step is our love letter to everyone who chased that impossible dream and the family that supported them through it,” co-director Andrew Chesworth explains. Chesworth’s experience animating for Disney spans nine productions over six years. Prior to Disney, he directed over 30 commercials and short films for studio Make, LLC.
Co-director Bobby Pontillas’ own background and journey becoming an artist helped inspire Luna’s character. “Luna’s story was something we could all relate to,” says Pontillas. “All dreams begin with a single step.”
Pontillas, whose credits include character designer and animator at Disney Animation Studios, had a bold vision for the look of One Small Step. “I wanted to combine the best parts of digital illustration and modern 3D animation toward a fresh new direction.”
“Early on, we fell in love with the sharp visual style of Bobby’s artwork. The bold directness of his design was always the target we aimed for,” remarks Zhang.
Complementing the art direction, Joy Johnson joined TAIKO as CG Supervisor to establish a state-of-the-art animation system to meet the demands of the unique look. In 2014, Joy Johnson was the recipient of the VES Outstanding Animated Character award for her work on Frozen’s Elsa. In addition, she rigged Zootopia’s lead character Nick the Fox.
For the new studio, TAIKO’s Pipeline Supervisor Andrew Jennings built a nimble international network bridging workflow across time zones and borders. As Technical Animation Supervisor for Disney’s Inner Workings, Jennings brings a wealth of technical and aesthetic expertise.
Music was integral to the narrative early on in production, and created in tandem with the story. Veteran music composer Steve Horner tapped into his own relationship with his daughter as inspiration for the soundtrack. “One Small Step has been a dream project for me. Andrew [Chesworth] and the team brought me in early and allowed me to start creating the score using their initial character sketches, storyboards and animatics. This dynamic process in concert with my strong connection to the story and characters has allowed me to go deep into the work which has been hugely satisfying.”
TAIKO Studios was founded in 2017 by CEO Shaofu Zhang in both Los Angeles and Wuhan, China. As a truly international company, the studio endeavors to bridge eastern and western cultures together to create memorable stories with universal appeal.
Heading the animation team in Wuhan, China, Animation Supervisor Erik Lee has grown a talented young team of artists whose dreams of creating amazing work mirror Luna’s hopes of reaching the stars.
“We’re proud to be a global company that offers a universal spirit of optimism and inclusion that speaks to all people,” Zhang says.
Keep an eye out for One Small Step in the 2018 film festival circuit.