Phillips Makes a Big Splash With Waterlollies

This week, after much anticipation (and a few delays) the 6th installment of Adam Phillips’ Brackenwood series, titled Waterlollies, launched at biteycastle.com. According to Phillips, this is the oldest of the Brackenwood stories, but only this past year did he finally begin production.

Perhaps its something he learned while working at Disney, but Phillips continually raises his own bar for animation success. Waterlollies is no exception – you’ll see Phillips’ signature water effects taken to the next level, with brilliant splashes, drops and reflections. As for action – Phillips animated Bitey on another romp through Brackenwood at what seems to be light speed. It’s truly breathtaking stuff.

What you’ll see in Waterlollies is an exceptional creative flourish, but you may also spot a bit of suffering. Nearly all of the visual elements in this 8-minute short were drawn by Phillips, and as you’ll see there’s thousands of drawings in there. The sum of his work amounted to about 12-weeks, but it was stretched out over a year or so. That span included many nights that turned into mornings. According to Phillips’ blog, his 80-hour work weeks resulted in “headaches, stomach pain, sudden dizzy spells, backache and minor waves of nausea, not to mention bones and joints that simply hurt when I get out of the chair. My body clock is so out of whack from working all night and sleeping until midday, 7 days a week.” I’d bet these animation marathons aren’t self flagellation, but more the drive to create something great; the drive to make a mark.Phillips’ adoring fans at newgrounds.com seem to think he has, already vaulting Waterlollies to the #1 spot on the all-time chart. Adam is hard at work in an effort to turn this adoration and attention into a full-time affair. His merchandise store is due to launch soon, and the push to get a feature film financed is under way. Let’s hope the next time we’re drooling over the lush Brackenwood landscapes, its from the sticky-floor theater seats.

Okay, back to Waterlollies – the overall story here is about payback. I don’t think I’m spoiling much by saying this, but our lead character Bitey isn’t the friendliest, and as they say “what comes around, goes around.” Phillips chides his own story telling skills, promising “greater depth” in future chapters, but I think Waterlollies is an enjoyable tale filled with enough visual splendor to overcome any lack of story complexity. As you can read from my 3-part interview with Phillips back in 2005, I’m an immense fan of his work, and his drive and skill are an inspiration to myself and thousands of animators and artists around the world.

Also, as the film loads, you’ll be treated to dynamically growing fauna, which was created by Anthony Eden’s game company Snepo. Eden and his crew also chipped in on some of the swam effects you’ll see in the short. As the short begins, fans of the series will recognize a handful of returning characters, but Phillips nods to the newbies with some flashbacks sequences. If you want a quick explanation about waterlollies, click on the yin/yang symbol during the loading sequence.

I’d like to share one funny bit that Adam shared before the short was officially release: he wrote in an email that “there’s always a certain point near the end of a project where I start getting nervous about a hard-drive crash, or house fire, or losing my hands in a freak toothbrushing accident.” I’m sure anyone who has approached the finish line on a long project can relate.

Before you click away for a viewing, make sure your computer is up to the task. In general, you’ll need a ‘fast’ computer, or you’ll end up missing some of the experience (several frames per second won’t appear for you). You’ll need Flash Player 9 and Phillips reports that a Safari browser is ideal.

Now off with you – go watch Waterlollies. And for the brave of heart, click here to watch it at much higher screen resolution.

8 Comments

  1. Stephen Studios November 6, 2007

    Wow! Definitely the best installment! What is Adam’s day job?

    He’s an amazing artist/animator/storyteller!

  2. The Daily Crumb November 7, 2007

    wooow i didn’t know hed released a bigger version :D

  3. TempleDog November 7, 2007

    Absolutely gorgeous from beginning to end. Even more than his jaw-dropping water animation, my fave thing that Adam does is conveying info nonverbally. The gatherer in the river tossing a Waterlolly on the shore to show Bitey just what he’s in for is a masterstroke…a whole assload of exposition covered in one elegant bit of business. Nice.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Adam’s feature project looks like…Brackenwood is definitely someplace I want to go back to, but personally, I prefer the short form. Either way…More, please!

  4. Just staggeringly awesome.

    This is how a Bone animation should look.

  5. Great great work Adam!

  6. Adam Phillips continues to be one of the best animators on the internet today. Even though we were all blown away by his first hit “Prowlies at the River”, he didn’t slow down, finding new and exciting ways to tell his stories.

    Beyond his obvious skill with the stylus, I’m increasingly impressed at how he creates and overcomes new challenges for himself. Sunlight, water, depth of field effects — check them all off the list and find out what’s next.

    Adam has recently joined the Toon Boom community as well, and there’s another great interview with him at toonboom.com. I look forward to witnessing his evolution with this new software.

  7. Anonymous November 15, 2007

    It is good that someone writes articles which really matters something. Thank you for this article, it’s full of knowledge which is hard to find in tons of rubbish in our famous world wide web.

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  8. t-shirts January 24, 2008

    Sheez, these animations are really well done. Phillips has done an amazing job here, simply amazing.
    Pity about the flash-plugin I’m using on my Mozilla. I need to get that fixed, gave me a few issues here and there. Not enough for me not to see the smooth anims and the absolutely wonderful way everything was put together.
    As for the storyline, it’s a little too weird for me. I suppose, given the characters and the general project itself, it’s the kind of storyline to expect. Did have a very strange atmosphere to it, though.

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