Planet 51 is a retro-styled animated feature movie and game produced in Spain for international release, created by Ilion Animation Studios and Pyro Studios using a pipeline including Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya
Planet 51 is a galactic-sized animated alien adventure comedy revolving around American astronaut Captain Charles “Chuck” Baker, who lands on Planet 51 thinking he’s the first person to set foot there. To his surprise, he finds that the inhabitants are little green people who are happily living in a white picket fence world reminiscent of a cheerfully innocent 1950s America, and whose only fear is that it will be overrun by alien invaders.
With the help of his robot companion Rover and his new friend Lem, Chuck must navigate his way through the dazzling, but bewildering, landscape of Planet 51 in order to escape becoming a permanent part of the Planet 51 Alien Invaders Space Museum. The film is directed by Jorge Blanco, written by Joe Stillman, and produced by Guy Collins and Ignacio Perez Dolcet.
A unique level of openness existed between the film and game studios, as they are owned by the same holding company. The film team at Ilion Animation Studios used 3ds Max and Maya at the beginning of production for pre-visualisation and later for the final layout on Planet 51: The Movie. It was also used to help model over 500 unique characters and over 100 different locations on the planet, as well as to help create visual effects for the film.
For the Planet 51 game, Pyro Studios had access to the entire film script and all assets of the movie from the beginning of the game’s production, which began approximately four years into the development of the film.
“We looked at all the elements of the Planet 51 world and one thing that stood out was the special characteristics of the vehicles,” explained Luis Fernando Fernandez, head of development at Pyro Studios. “The alien cars behaved very differently than earthly cars; they could float, jump and travel at super speeds. We thought the unique cars would be a perfect focus for the game play, and developed an open-world driving game.”
A large majority of the models created by Ilion Animation Studios for the movie were digitally transferred to the team at Pyro Studios for reuse in the video game. The models were first resized and then reanimated in 3ds Max for the game.
“We wanted to make something really big, with a large open environment and a lot of variety in the game play,” explained Fernandez. “Having access to the film script and 85 percent of the digital assets was fantastic. It allowed us to develop a rich game that complements the movie and enhances the Planet 51 experience. Gamers can freely explore key locations from the film, but aren’t tied to the movie’s plot points.”
To date, Planet 51 is the biggest budget animated film produced in Europe.
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