Piratas en el Callao [Pirates in Callao]

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If you thought that 3D movies were only made in the US, Europe or Asia, think again. A few months ago Peru released Piratas en el Callao [Pirates in Callao] — adapted from a children's book of the same name — Piratas is considered to be the first Latin-American 3D movie. In a realm dominated by CG movies made by big studios, a Latin-American movie is really something special, and possibly the start of a 3D film industry in Peru.

The plot is very simple: Alberto went on a school trip to a place called El Real Felipe. He then gets lost and accidentally opens a time portal that transports him a few centuries to the past. Once there he finds himself in the middle of a struggle between pirates and Hispanians. Being a history fanatic, he is fascinated being there, acting as a witness to history; he also wants to take part in the fight, and to help who he believes to be "the good ones."

The problem is, that if he succeeds or fails, the future will be affected by his actions. The overall story is entertaining, which is a good thing, because they made the movie with a goal different than showing off the CG stuff. When it comes to the visuals I can't compare it to anything except perhaps Jimmy Neutron. The characters and environments have this recognizable "cartoon look." I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but from my personal perspective, Jimmy Neutron isn't nearly as good as Final Fantasy or Shrek.



As I said before, the plotline was good, but we are talking about movies so we need visuals to support the story, and I think this is where Piratas fails. The characters themselves are nicely done and they look cool, however once you see them moving and talking everything changes. The animation is just not as good as you would expect, and you can easily notice that the animators' skills were not as refined at the beginning of the film, but rather they were progressing as the movie went on. This applies not only to the animation, but also some visuals and environments. If digital cinematography teaches you something, it is that you have to "lock the code" for the movie, so it all meets the same standard of quality.

It's a mistake to compare Piratas en el Callao to The Incredibles or Shrek, at least from a technological point of view. The Incredibles and Shrek take advantage of the latest animation and rendering algorithms, such as procedural muscle deformations, SubSurface Scattering, or Global Illumination — while, Piratas was created [for the most part] with off-the-shelf software [3ds Max].



Just because the technology is out there doesn't mean that anybody with a PC, running Maya, is able to use it. Or, that every studio around the globe has a copy of that wonderful software that they were showing off at this year's SIGGRAPH. On the other hand I do agree that the final product could have been more refined.

Even with all its flaws, Piratas en el Callao, is a remarkable 3D movie effort. There are a lot of people that will tell you not to watch it because the visuals are not as advanced as those of The Incredibles; however the animators from Peru dared to do what others haven't — a worldwide release of a movie. The movie hit Chinese theaters and Latin-American movie theaters a few months ago, and I don't see Europe or North America far away (or at least I hope so).

There are even rumors that Alpamayo Entertainment (the studio that made the movie) is already working on a movie about a dragon that lives in a lake at the top of a volcano — Dragones en el Titicaca [Dragons in Titicaca] — speculated release date: fall of 2006. However, I haven't found additional information about it yet, and I wasn't lucky enough to get in touch with the director in time to publish this article.



I get mixed feelings when I watch this movie. The story is entertaining and the visuals are nice. Nevertheless, the movie itself is not enough to meet today's standards. If they had taken a little more time, the final product would have been far better, and if you are looking for top of the line character animation and visual effects, Piratas en el Callao is not for you.

The difficult question is, “Would I recommend this movie?” Of course I would recommend it!. As I stated before, it is a remarkable effort and you will have a fun time watching it.

Judge for yourself, and take a sneak peek at the trailer of Piratas en el Callao on their official web site.

Keep Animating
Sergio


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copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the artist.


Animation Alley
is a regular featured column
with Renderosity Staff Writer
Sergio Rosa [nemirc].

October 10, 2005

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Member Opinions:
By: Guruman on 10/11/05
I think it's another step to show that exist many people interested in 3d art in every part of the world, and with a little patience we can do everithing similiar to a pro.
Best regards and continue to do amazing thigs.

By: Locobox on 10/11/05
Like the article stated! as an effort to do an animated CG movie in latin America is great, even with all its flaws, the initiative of the production team (Alpamayo group) is what counts, they dare to do something unthinkable for most Latin American animation studios, where this technique is yet under develop, the fact that the budget of the film was less than a million dollars says a lot to me too! (and is admirable how cheap animation here in Latin America is!) compared to Big budget movies.

I watched the movie and is OK for a first attemp to do something serious with a low budget.


FACT: this movie wasnt the first CG film done in Latin America! in fact the credit for that was for a brazilian movie (80 minutes or so) called Cassiopeia 1995 and yes it was by months the first CG movie ever (toystory USA 1995)...I really dont know why toystory has the credit for that...I imagine that is because of the propaganda around big budget films as the article on the link below said.

http://www.mci.org.br/historia/cassiopeia/cassiopeia.html

(*)The link is in portuguese and contains a few pics of the movie it has a brief story of the project technical specs and other related topics.

Marc

By: nemirc on 10/12/05
I had heard about that movie before. Interesting link, thanks a lot. I don't know if Cassiopea had such a big exposure as Piratas but if it didn't no wonder they consider it to be the first.


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