INTERVIEW WITH DIRETOR ARISTOMENIS TSIRBAS
How did you come up with the idea of Exoids?
For some time I wanted to expand on what was a pretty brief car chase in an earlier film of mine called “Ray Tracey in Full Tilt”. So when the opportunity to direct my next film came up, I decided to make it an action piece centered around a more expanded car chase. At the same time I was playing with the science fiction trope of insects being the only survivors after a nuclear war. So I kind of mashed the two together to come up with Exoids.
Going forward I developed a symmetry where there would be two types of insects, one organic and one robotic. Good verses evil. The organic insects would mutate to self awareness by all the radiation in the atmosphere while the robots gain sentience through artificial evolution. As I continued to work on the protagonist race, I realized that insects would be difficult to make sympathetic, so I changed them to more organic slugs with robotic extensions that anthropomorphized them.
Both the robots and slugs have distinct looks and technology. Can you talk about that?
Sure, the Exoids are hive-minded and territorial, so I worked with our design team to come with insect-like architecture that would retrofit over existing 'future ruins'. We have these slick and parasitic looking alien structures built over decaying Los Angeles skyscrapers. The Exoids themselves each embody three things: an insect, a vehicle, and a sentient robot. So the HeliWarp is a living robot that’s a fusion of helicopter and wasp.
For the slugs, they’re nomads and not ‘well funded’ like the Exoids, and with no arms and legs they’re defenseless against the Exoids. So they build crude robotic extensions: arms, legs, eyes etc to extend their physical abilities. That’s why Gus has all those robot parts.
What’s Gus Nitrous’ story?
Gus is the ‘alpha slug’ of a tribe of hot-rod riding mollusks. They’re on the run from Exoids while dealing with the constant breaking down of their robot parts. In this story he’s on his way to a junk yard in search of scrap parts but takes a wrong turn into Exoids territory.
How long did this film take to make Exoids?
Production time was around 6 months plus another couple of months for developing and posting the show.
How big was your crew?
We had about 40 mostly part time-crew over the full production cycle. Most were interns from the Gnomon School of Visual Effects that applied and got accepted based on the strength of their portfolio.
Beyond direction what else did you do on Exoids?
I wrote and edited it, plus animated every shot as an animatic which included final camera and lighting, as well as VFX supervised and line produced the show with Ashley Woodworth.
What software did you use?
Our main 3D program was Maya with modeling also done in ZBrush and modo. Nuke and After Effects were used for compositing and editing was done with a combination of Final Cut Pro and Premiere. We used both Macs and PC’s running OS X Loin and Windows 7 respectively.
What’s next for you and Gnomon Studios?
I’m starting a new series of films at Gnomon Studios that’ll begin to be released in a couple of months while writing my next feature. So keeping busy to say the least. Updates can be found at GnomonStudios.com and MeniThings.com.