Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Mac ‘n’ Cheese from Mac ‘N’ Cheese on Vimeo.

This wonderful, light and funny piece is made by Gijs van Kooten, Tom Hankins, Roy Nieterau and Guido Puijk. 4 students from the Utrecht School of Arts in the Netherlands.

Although heavily inspired on ‘Meet Buck’, ‘Salesmen Pete’ and the game ‘Team Fortress’ it definitely has it’s own qualities. Nicely animated, fast paced, good textures and made with an eye for details. Produced with Autodesk Maya, Eyeon Fusion, Pixologic ZBrush, Adobe Photoshop and TVPaint.

Gijs van Kooten about the process:

Mac ‘n’ Cheese is the graduation project of Gijs, Roy and Tom. We asked Guido to work with us; despite of him not graduating, we thought he was a good addition to our team. We got 5 months for the project. It was something none of us had done before, that’s why the research and development were a big part of the process. So while researching, we started working on the storyboard.

Tom began modeling the characters, while Gijs and Guido worked on the backgrounds and the props. Roy was our technical director from the start. He started working on a ‘auto rigger’ for the characters. A project he worked on earlier and provided us with all the body rigs. The facial rigs were made later on by Gijs. When the car models where done Roy worked on a script to make them easy to animate and implement in the scene. Meanwhile almost three-quarter of the models where done.

As of this point Tom focussed on testing the shading, rendering and compositing  of the characters, background and props. This gave a good idea of the compositing setup and to see where we could improve our process. Roy started with the animation while Gijs and Guido finished the models. After the models were done Roy, Gijs and Guido worked on the animation together. All finished animations went straight into rendering.

Despite of our struggle to find the right people for the audio and the fact that we started searching way to late, we are really happy with the results. Audio design changed until the very last moment.

Naming the animation was tricky. Our working title was Eastwood Junction (name of the village were the short begins), but our teachers convinced us that this was probably not a good idea. We experimented with many names and Mac ‘n’ Cheese sounded best.  It’s not based on the characters, but more on the idea of simplicity. Our film is also simple and easily digestible.

To get more insight in the production process there are some WIP images on ZBrush Central


Tom Hankins, Gijs van Kooten, Guido Puijk, Roy Nieterau

Music & Audio Design:
Giulio Sterbini, Wouter Messelink, Peter-Paul Timmermans