Sci-fi Director looks to Realtime Character Creation for CG animated feature film

Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull – Writer, Producer, Sci-fi Director

Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull

Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull started his career in video games, and then Visual Effects for Film and TV, before transitioning to directing and producing with his breakout sci-fi indie feature film – THE BEYOND, which was released by Gravitas Ventures, and premiered at #2 on the iTunes charts before trending on Netflix and fully recouping its budget quickly and becoming a profitable feature film.  

His second feature film 2036: ORIGIN UNKNOWN, which starred Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Another Life) earned a limited theatrical release in the US before landing on Netflix.  

He was later hired to direct the pilot for Disney’s action comedy mini series – FAST LAYNE, and was also credited as creative consultant on the entire series and directed three additional episodes when he wowed Disney channel executives with his vision for the 8 part series.  HaZ is repped in Hollywood by The Gotham Group,  and is the co-founder of production company (http://hazfilm.com/)

Haz Dulull is currently developing genre TV, feature and animation projects utilizing virtual production and Unreal Engine, his understanding of utilizing ground breaking technology with storytelling has recently lead him to go into production as the director on the CG animated feature film adaptation of the acclaimed video game Mutant Year Zero, where he used Reallusion’s Character Creator 3 and iClone to create his realistic film character in just 1 week.

” The benefits of real-time visuals like Reallusion and Unreal Engine, is that they allow me to be as hands on as possible with every aspect of animation filmmaking such as setting up the camera moves, to choreographing the action all physically hands on, directly inside the scenes. “

Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull – Writer, Producer, Sci-fi Director

Q: Greetings Haz, and welcome to the Reallusion Feature Stories. Can you give us a little background about yourself? 

I stemmed from a career in video games to visual effects before being known for my breakout sci-fi indie feature film – THE BEYOND, which premiered at #2 on the iTunes charts before trending on Netflix.  My second feature film 2036: ORIGIN UNKNOWN, which starred Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Another Life) earned a limited theatrical release in the US before landing on Netflix. 

 I was later hired to direct the pilot for Disney’s action comedy mini-series – FAST LAYNE and was also credited as creative consultant on the entire series and directed three additional episodes for the 8-part series which you can watch now on Disney+.

Q: We are excited about your upcoming CG animated film Mutant Year Zero. Can you share more about this project, how it came about, and its early production? 

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a full-length CG animated feature film based on the acclaimed video game from Funcom. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future, where civilization is rebuilding itself via The Ark. We follow a group of mis-fits, anthropomorphic mutants on a mission to locate the engineer of the Ark who has mysteriously gone missing, and they believe he holds the key to a mystical place of salvation known as Eden.  But the deeper they venture, the more they discover that things are not what they seem outside the Ark, and soon they begin to question their existence as mutants.

I landed the project after I was offered to pitch in this project by the producers who own the IP at Pathfinder Media in LA.  After me and my team  created a small test scene using the game’s assets in Unreal Engine, which showed my vision to be a fun, action packed adventure with characters that are not only funny but have so much heart to them.

Once I got the gig, me and my small team set out to create a bunch of test sequences as early footage as part of soft pre-production to get the project going with the support of the producers at Pathfinder media. Here is a link for the first look sizzle featuring the early footage from the production which was part of the official announcement made in the press recently.

Q: During the last phase of MYZ’s production you needed to create a human character for the film, which you completed in record time. Please tell us about this direction, the tools you used, and how much time you saved by doing so? 

On the last stretch of our production schedule, I  threw a curveball, with the decision of adding a human element to the sizzle, by introducing the female human mutant known as – Selma.

For the creation of Selma, we turned to Reallusion software – Character Creator 3 and iClone to build the character, rig it,  and animate it  before integrating it directly into the Unreal Engine scenes.  The big challenge was that it needed to be done within a short timeframe of  just one week, cutting it very close to the release date of the sizzle.

Our Technical artist on the project is Ronen Eytan who was tasked in doing this.  For a couple of days I would feedback as much direction and notes for him to implement in realtime within iClone’s animation system plus also the iClone Unreal Live Link plugin for facial motion capture too. Once I was happy with the results in iClone, Ronen would send It directly into Unreal Engine, where I would then take the character and its animation to place into the scenes as I desire.

” The most impressive thing about the Character Creator workflow is that its extremely fast to prototype your character concepts with high quality results utilizing the digital human skin and eyes shader along with dynamic hair and clothes.”

Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull – Writer, Producer, Sci-fi Director

Q:  As a director that is constantly pushing boundaries, what is the benefit of using real-time tools and how do you see them shaping the future of the industry? 

The benefits of realtime looks like Reallusion and Unreal Engine is that they allow me to be as hands on as possible with every aspect of animation filmmaking such as setting up the camera moves, to choreographing the action all physically hands on directly inside the scenes. This not only speeds up the production process massively it also removes a huge amount of back and forth required with feedback between myself (the director) and the animation team, because I set it up ( scene, camera, action, etc..) exactly as I want it, and then pass the scenes to the team to work from and take it to final.

This is possible because real time tools like Unreal Engine and Reallusion are super easy and quick to pick up and learn with amazing support online with the developers and users.

This is a game-changer for the indie filmmaking industry and I’m excited not just for myself but also to see new animation stories being told by other filmmakers who can now overcome barriers such as being told that they need huge budgets and resource, which were once the only way to produce animated films, but can now be made by smaller teams utilizing these amazing tools to realize our imagination.

Q: Recently you have been part of showcases with Razer’s Made with Blade, RAZERCON 2020, with upcoming events like The Future of Film Summit, Promax ANZ, and NVIDIA’s GTC that will be covering your journey into real-time animation filmmaking. Any future projects our community can look forward to? 

Sure thing, I have a few more to do this year and more details will be announced via my social media channels.

https://www.razer.com/razercon/program-schedule

RAZER’S Made with Blade: https://www.razer.com/campaigns/made-with-blade/battlesuit

Website:  http://hazfilm.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hazdazzle/?hl=en

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/HaZ_Dulull

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/hazfilm

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