DMA lecturer helps comic book series leap from the page

“Cerebus the Aardvark” might not ring many bells for those who aren’t comic book fans, but the series by David Sims started the alternative comic book movement, according to Steve Parente, a lecturer in Hawaii Community College’s Digital Media Arts program.

Now Parente is helping the Los Angeles-based independent studio What Comics turn that two-dimensional series — which ran from 1977 to 2004 — into a three-dimensional animated feature film.

What Comics producer and president Oliver Simonsen and a crew of about 200 independent contractors — including animators, artists, 3D modelers, riggers, lighting and surfacing technicians, voice talent and more — have been working on the film for six years and hope to finish the film by the end of 2012, said Parente.

Simonson contacted Parente earlier this year and asked if he would like to animate for the film.

“They send me a rough storyboard for each shot and provide rigged characters and audio files,” Parente said. “I set up the virtual cameras with input from the director, create video acting reference and animate the shot.”

All this is done using the Maya software program that Parente is teaching to his students.

Parente then sends the finished file to the producer, and if the shots are included in the film, surfacing, lighting and cloth effects are applied and the shot is rendered for the movie.

“It’s been a great opportunity to work long-distance on a feature film while living in Hawaii, and I hope to work on more projects like this and possibly create some of my own productions,” Parente said.

Below and at the top of this post are samples of Parente’s work for “Cerebus the Aardvark.”

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