Derik Everett, an animation student at Dakota State University, recently finished his Undergraduate Research Project. Derik created a 3D animated comic about VoltRage, a young robot who craves more excitement in his life. VoltRage decides to take a chance and heads out on an adventure with his buddy Rocket. Their adventure is a culmination of everything that Derik learned while enrolled at DSU. In an interview with The Trojan Times, Derik shares what it was like to work on such an adventurous project.
Q. Why did you choose to do the project that you did?
A. I’ve created a lot of different projects at DSU, but they were all short and I only had a couple weeks to work on them. I saw the opportunity to do something huge with my undergrad project. I had a whole semester to work on it and I knew if I tried hard I could complete my full vision. I wanted to raise the bar for the animation field at DSU and to create an epic project that would inspire future students to try their best. I have a student license for the animation software I have been using while at DSU. I figured once I graduated I might never have another chance to use all my 3D characters. I decided I wanted to use them for a movie and VoltRage’s Adventure is what I ended up creating.
Q: What were some of the things that inspired you?
A: When I was a kid, I used to watch a show called Beast Wars where transforming robots went out on adventures together. I ended up collecting a lot of the transformable action figures from the show. The idea of transforming robots has always been awesome for me. It is the reason I decided to make some of my own robots. VoltRage’s Adventure was inspired by my own desire for greatness in life. I don’t enjoy working at jobs that don’t bring any deeper meaning to my life. I feel like people waste their lives being stuck at jobs they don’t enjoy and they don’t go on the adventures they really want to in life. I don’t want to live like that. I wanted to capture those feelings within my main character in order to express myself more fully.
Q: How long did the project take you and what did you learn?
A: I quickly realized how huge this project was and how inexperienced I still was at 3D animation and creating an entire story. I spent basically all my free time working on this project. I definitely spent over 500 hours on this project. Animation takes an immense amount of focus to complete. Putting all the different elements together requires a high level of organizational skills. On top of that, good timing in an animation isn’t easy to achieve. I became much more comfortable creating animations toward the end of my project. It was very challenging to create every movement just right and it is far too easy to create animations that happen too fast. Infinite patience is required when work needs to be fixed or re-done. I learned that a good animations require dedication, perseverance, lots of skill, and lots of time.
Q: What was your favorite part of the project?
A: I love the fact that VoltRage’s Adventure is a fully realized story. I created the narrative from scratch and it takes 11 minutes to watch the whole thing.
Q: What do you have planned for the future?
A: My next step is an internship at Threshold Entertainment in Santa Monica, CA. This spring, I will be gaining real industry experience helping to create ideas for special effects used in cinematic movies. I am going to be learning how the animation process happens on a more professional level. I am extremely excited for the opportunity!