Having completed work on both the official animated movie and video game, Jake Collinge talks Ratchet & Clank telling us about his main duties being on set designs with some secondary work on spaceship and prop design for the animated movie.Ratchet & Clank pits two unlikely heroes, with the help of The Galactic Rangers against the evil villain chairman Drek, who wants to destroy every planet in the Solana Galaxy! With a voice cast that included Paul Giamatti, Rosario Dawson and Sylvester Stallone, the movie was held back so that the game could be completed and released alongside it.
Did any of your designs carry over from the movie to the video game?
From what I've seen a whole lot did (much to my surprise). The movie was held back so it could be merged within the video game in the context of direct cut scenes, and full tie-ins and extensions of areas and story sequences that overlap into fresh gameplay. Mr. Microns ship was a big development task and I quickly noticed it in the fighter gameplay of the game.
Did you have new concepts that you created from scratch or did you update old designs from the game?
There were definitely a lot of little updates! There is no point turning away from something that has an iconic history, so instead it is more of an updating in details and added functions (such as adjusted weapons, surface graphics, or script specific objectives).
However, many areas in the movie were very unexplored due to limited graphical capabilities (the first Ratchet and Clank was about 13 years ago!) or simply that it was hardly seen in the original. This allowed for a large expansion of the overall idea (such as massive war factory, or Planet Quartu) where we are actually inside or on the surface.
Additionally, there were a handful of brand new space ships I helped tackle from the ground up, such as the mentioned Mr. Microns Spaceship and the Rangers Spaceship. Plenty of updates were worked on for both the exterior and interior of the Phoenix, as well as an updated Lombax ship (unfortunately cut from the film in the end).
Any new inspirations for the particular designs you worked on?
Most inspiration for the project are simply place on the legacy of games and existing art since there is a long game history in this license. Where there isn't direct inspiration, such as brand new environments, we look to analyze what makes the world as a whole visually tick, and pair that with the requirements of new content. In this case, it was often over the top, clear functionality with a wacky flare and specific world technologies. With that said, a whole lot of the film took place in new locations which is I'm sure desired by fans within a re-telling of the origin.
How long you typically work on these types of projects, from start to finish?
Start to finish in the design department can vary, like most jobs, though an average for a production role is probably a year if you aren't on a monster budget at a studio such as Pixar where development cycles are much longer. If you are involved in pre-production (proof of concept, exploration and other creative tasks before the full team is assembled) then this can also be much longer.
What do you take away from projects like this?
Going in I had a great fondness of how the games felt and have always admired the imaginative, dynamic artwork of the original concept artists who are now a company called Creature Box. Being able to study and work from their energetic designs was a steep learning curve and challenge. As an artist, having studies another design sense and style will of course add to my style diversity.
The teamwork of a studio is hard to ignore, especially the heavy use of 3D in prototyping large environments and spaceships, to help in new workflows has been invaluable in subsequent projects.
I don't come away from a project with a sense of pride that I was able to work on it. After the project wraps, I'm more focused on how I was able to do my part of the larger picture, holding a fondness for collaboration, and hopefully a feeling that I professionally performed as best as I could. Creative productions are rarely straight forward. I believe it is more healthy to have some pride involving overcoming production challenges than it is to see your name in the credits.
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