The Water is Always Bluer

Posted on Thu 13 December 2012 in Projects

"The Water is Always Bluer" is an animated short film about a rubber duck bored with his life in the bathtub. When he gets his chance to escape, he realizes maybe his life wasn't so bad after all. "The Water is Always Bluer" was an official selection of the Greenville International Film Festival 2013, the Charleston International Film Festival 2013 and the Blue Plum Animation Festival 2013. I was responsible for creating the character rig for the iconic rubber duck character. I also worked on modeling, surfacing and lighting for this show.

Our story follows a lovable rubber duck through an unexpected journey . We first join our hero in his bathtub, waiting for yet another bath. In utter boredom he looks down, looking for his reflection in the water. Instead, he finds a portal to another world. He dives in and resurfaces in a swimming pool. He's so excited he doesn't see a beach ball headed straight for his head! He continues flipping forward into increasingly dangerous situation, until he lands in the bottom of a dried-up well. I won't give all the story away, but he does make it home in the end.

The rubber duck rig uses an FK body setup to control the character's silhouette. To match the expressiveness in the concept art, we decided to use free-floating transform controllers for the eyebrows. The duck's beak and facial expressions were applied via blendshapes to give us absolute control over the final look of the mesh.

I also developed the texture and lighting for the sequence where the duck is at the bottom of the well. These shots form the emotional low point of the film, so we wanted to use darker, less optimistic tones. When the well starts to fill with rain water, we started to increase the overall brightness of the shots to underscore the ducks returning hope.

The film was well received at regional animated short film festivals and we co-opened the 2013 Greenville International Film Festival with Fire on the Water. Karen Stritzinger, Kacey Coley, Zhaoxin Ye and Yujie Shu were awesome to work with.

Rubber ducky in a swimming pool in
The Water is Always Bluer in the other tub for the squeekable rubber duck in this animated short.