How 'Night of the Cooters' Pushes Hybrid Animation—An Inside Look

Credit: Trioscope Studios
How far can technology take us in this industry? 

At this week's SDCC, we had the pleasure of speaking with Trioscope Studios CEO and co-founder L.C. Crowley about his exciting new project. Night of the Cooters is a short film starring and directed by Vincent D'Onofrio. It's produced by George R.R. Martin and combines live-action and animation seamlessly to create what the studio calls a "moving graphic-novel experience."

The short is based on the Howard Waldrop 1987 sci-fi novel. Martin announced the project on his blog in August, after the shoot wrapped. According to Martin, the story is "inspired by H.G. Wells" and "is all about the time the Martians invaded Pachuco, Texas." He also teased that the film would have a unique visual style, "shot with a combination of live-action and state-of-the-art animation."

Based on what we saw at SDCC, we can say this team is doing something that hasn't really been accomplished in the film world. The technology is separate from what most studios and bigger-budget films use, and that can only lead to more discovery as it develops. 

Crowley was able to give us some great insight into Trioscope's process and what the future of this technology could lead to.

And stay tuned for more details about Night of the Cooters!

No Film School: What do you think is really the benefit of combining animation with a live-action style?

L.C. Crowley: So for us, when you tell the audience, "Hey, you're going to see this world through a stylized lens," you're doing a bunch of interesting things psychologically, we think. And that is everything that you get when you watch animation, right? If you sort of make that as unencumbered as possible, the emotional core of a human performance, then you kind of get this weird sensation of watching a movie, but it's in this stylized environment. 

NFS: What was it like working with George R. R. Martin and Vincent D'Onofrio? What was that collaboration process kind of like for you?

Crowley: Hugely collaborative. They were working on this for quite a while before we got involved. And I think, I've not worked with anybody that's as collaborative as somebody like Vincent. He had a super, super clean vision for what he wanted this thing to be. He was working with Greg, Jonkajtys, who's our chief creative officer, to kind of figure out, "All right. How do I do that in Trioscope?" That was sort of the basic question that was constantly asked. To the point where basically he and Greg were side by side, have been throughout the whole process. And we're in post now.

NFS: Where do you see the future of this style going? Do you think there's a limit, or is it just going to get even more visceral?

Crowley: We believe that the big opportunity here for unlocking all of the untold stories is really about, first about normalizing it. And that's about making it ubiquitous. So we want all kinds of great high quality, amazing stories to be told in Trioscope. That'll go even outside of our own studio's capability.

If we can only make 20, let's say 35 hours a year, what we're doing is figuring out how that we can put these tools in other studios' hands so that they can go make Trioscope content.     

Check out more coverage from Comic-Con Special Edition, presented by Blackmagic.

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