Olan Rogers on chasing the storm behind Godspeed


Olan Rogers on chasing the storm behind Godspeed

Godspeed, created by the intrepid team at Lightfold led by Olan Rogers, is a thrilling upcoming production that follows a scientist chasing the perfect storm. The deeply personal project represents, in Olan’s own words, a rebirth of his creative spirit. From the showrunner who bought us Final Space, Godspeed is presented as a more serious, emotional and intense experience. That intensity can truly be felt in this gripping trailer, released on the project’s Kickstarter campaign. Having surpassed the project’s original funding goal by more than five times, Godspeed is another example of the appetite for independent adult animation.

Toon Boom Animation had the opportunity to go on an away mission to speak with Olan about the project, and discuss how Harmony helped him and his team bring Godspeed from vision into reality. Olan spoke generously about what makes Godspeed so important to him, and shares just how unpredictable the animation industry can be, even for a showrunner. The conversation explores technical insights from his and the team’s work, from the robust character rigging to Olan’s approach to the medium.

Godspeed premieres Friday, December 15 on Lightfold’s YouTube channel at 11:00 AM Eastern.

Please give our readers an introduction to Godspeed…

Olan: Godspeed was a rebirth of everything for me. I know that sounds intense or even cheesy, but after losing my show Final Space, I needed something to spark my creative spirit again. 

So I devoted half a decade of my life to Final Space. I lived and breathed that show, and then to lose it and have it erased from existence is something I still don’t know how to process. I knew if I could make another animated project one day, I would use all these emotions I felt to craft a story.

For me, at least, losing Final Space was the biggest inspiration. That fear of it being forgotten was such a scary thought that I wanted to channel it into Godspeed.

Care to introduce yourself as well as some key members of the team?

Olan: Ben Bjelajac is our supervising director, comper, art director, and executive producer. I love creating with this guy. He’s one of the most talented artists I’ve ever met in my life.

Rosa Tran is our executive producer and the glue to the entire production, I simply have to bring her on any project I work on. She’s a powerhouse in the animation industry and just a fantastic person.

Forrest Kane, executive producer, came on to the project and allowed us to expand our animation minutes from 6 minutes to 24 minutes. Great guy, and just having someone believe in you and be willing to throw down on an idea is an insane blessing.

Jez De Wolff, our marketing guru, was actually the marketing person on Final Space season one, and we just hit it off. She’s one of the few marketing execs who actually listened and cared.

Production still from Godspeed provided by Olan Rogers.

As a producer and writer, what drew you to a story about a storm?

Olan: I think it was around the time the whole world was falling apart, but it’s a little more than a storm. Also it’s just incredibly cool. It’s an awesome visual to see in animation. 

Without giving too much away, can you introduce Godspeed’s core characters?

Olan:I want to keep as much secret as possible. I’ll introduce one, Bowie, a depressed karaoke bot who misses throwing parties. 

How would you describe the visual style of Godspeed?

Olan: I’m such a Samurai Jack fan and I think that’s the closest visual comparison, however we really pushed the visual element with our comping. It feels very cinematic.

Production still from Godspeed provided by Olan Rogers.

What tools within Harmony proved useful when creating the visual style of Godspeed?

Olan:This is a question better suited for our supervising director [Ben Bjelajac], but this entire project was only possible with Harmony. We had to work within a very tight budget and make something amazing. Harmony was the only program that checked both boxes for us. 

Ben:The very simple answer is Harmony’s robust rigging tools. There was no way we could pull off the nuanced character acting — the heaviness of a tired walk, nursing an injury, feeling pain, displaying emotions like sorrow, regret, loss — without the character toolkit our animators created and shared among the team. 

Every time one of us found something we liked in the acting of our character, we added it to the rig. This constantly expanding character rig saved us both the time and energy it takes to pull off an independent production of this scale.

Olan: For me I try to make the largest playground for artists to play in. I simply let artists do art. If I can provide the tools to do this, that’s my job; creating an environment that allows the artist to put a part of themselves into what they are doing.

Do you have any advice for creators seeking to fund and launch a project on Kickstarter?

Olan: Campaigns are hard but what I will say is that it’s all about connecting your story with the viewers on a personal level, getting them excited or making them feel something. And answer these questions: What is your call to action? Why is donating to me important? Why now?

Production still from Godspeed provided by Olan Rogers.

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