By Scott Essman
Up-and-coming animator Peter Chung is fast making a name for himself as one of animation’s most promising directors. Creator of MTV’s cult Aeon Flux series (1995) and director of finely crafted shorts such as “Matriculated” from 2003’s DVD premiere of The Animatrix, Chung, originally from South Korea, crafts a hybrid of both classical animation and Japanese anime . He likes to mix up 2D with 3D elements, which lifts his work to the level of some of the best animation out there. His latest project, the DVD release Riddick: Dark Fury, is a 30-minute prequel to this summer’s Vin Diesel starrer The Chronicles of Riddick. Here Chung reflects on his art, craft and the future of animation.
Below the LinePP: What was the first step when you got the gig to do Dark Fury?
Peter Chung: Producers at Universal Home Entertainment told me there was a movie just starting production called The Chronicles of Riddick, which is a sequel to a 2000 movie called Pitch Black. They wanted to do an animated episode which covered the story that takes place between the two movies, which would actually become a prequel to the new movie. It was bridging the gap in the story. I was given a script that had already been worked out by the people working on the feature, based on a story by David Twohy and a script by Brett Matthews. The story lent itself to doing something really cool with the animation.
BTLPP: As well as traditional animation techniques, you also used 3D elements as well. How were the two integrated?
Chung: The way the animated medium is evolving, it’s taken for granted that you’ll be using computer-generated elements, particularly with a subject like Dark Fury, which is a classic story that takes place on a spaceship with alien creatures. I believe that 3D is particularly good at architecture and mechanical things and maybe less effective at some natural environments, like a forest. Dark Fury involved working with a separate 3D team. We gave them not only the background, but also the alien creatures.
BTLPP: Will 3D eventually become the standard?
Chung: That’s going to depend on the subject matter of the project. For example, in The Animatrix there were segments that were completely 3D, and there were some that were 100 percent 2D, and still others that were both. I think the question of whether you use 2D or 3D is going be a matter of who the director is and what the subject matter is. I think what we’re going to see is a wider range of both 2D and 3D.
BTLPP: What worked out the best for you on Dark Fury?
Chung: I think it reflects a lot of effort by a lot of talented people. I was able to accomplish some of the strengths of classical animation with some of the cinematic approaches that the Japanese directors use. And I hope that it’s a blending of good elements from each.