With 3D animation having become such a major commercial entity in recent years, numerous college courses have sprung up on the subject. It is now extremely common for young university students to see the opportunity for a long career in 3D animation, and there are now a wide variety of formal routes into this employment.
However, the notion of a professional 3D animation completely produced by students is a rare one. But Ice Nine Studios, a student developed production studio, has started work on their first project, a 3D animation called Allice.
This animation has been very much influenced by the popular Disney film Wall-E, and is set in an apocalyptic ice age where no force is capable of unfreezing the planet Earth. The central character of the piece, a robot, Allice, has been sent to do the impossible - thaw the ice.
Where Wall-E examined the themes of loneliness and isolation, this film also delves into similar territory. At one point during the animation, the central protagonist comes into contact with a ‘child-like’ robot named Delta and forms a friendship. At this stage the character is then thrown into something of an existential crisis, as she recognises that she needs some form of companionship in her existence.
Ice Nine Studios is entirely comprised of a team of students, with each student occupying a different role on the team, making the project a collaboration involving each of their different talents and skills. The idea was originally conceived as a way for students to work together to create art and gain work experience, but it has escalated well beyond this into a commercial-standard project.
Nonetheless, the film is still being used for academic reasons. The movie was originally created in order for students to be assessed as part of Professor Madison Murphy’s class, Media Arts: Advanced Projects at the Christian institution Houghton College. According to staff who have been involved with the project, the production has been based on true collaboration, with everyone contributing equally to the film.
Considering the quality of work that the students have been able to produce, there is already a hope that further projects can be undertaken by Ice Nine Studios in the future. With all the press that Allice has been getting and the great response from everybody in general, employees at Houston College are assessing the project to see if there is any hope of further animations in the future.
What the project has demonstrated is that the immersive nature of modern animations can now be produced by relatively inexperienced people with modern software such as Natural Front Intuitive Pro.