Dimitri Patino - Visualization Artist on Sonic the Hedgehog 2
In October 2021, I was informed that I would be wrapping up the current production I was working on and was being moved to a new project for an upcoming film. My supervisor told me, "Ohh, I think you're going to enjoy this next one." I didn't know until shortly after, but the film he was referring to ended up being called Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Nothing but pure joy and excitement could describe how I felt when I was told I'd be working on this project. This project was such a blast to work on. I worked on it from October 2021 to December 2021. During that time, I got to work on two big sequences for the film, the snowboard chase sequence, and the "Uptown Funk" dance sequence. I also got to do a lot of previsualization for the marketing for this film. Which was a new and excellent learning experience.
I had an incredible supervisor named Isaac Hingley. Under his supervision and working alongside my other colleagues I experienced a lot of growth working on this film. Not to mention we all had a blast getting the opportunity to work on such fun sequences. At the time, this was only the second film I had worked on as a Visualization Artist in the industry. For the movie before this one, I had primarily only done postvis, so this was my first time actually doing previs for a film. I remember the first few days I was tasked with creating various cycles and poses for our library for the characters Sonic and Tails. I'll never forget when I first opened up these rigs and got to see the characters for the first time.
Sonic the Hedgehog has always been a part of my life. When I was allowed to tell my family that I was working on the film, my father sent me a photo of me wearing sonic pajamas, probably three years old. It was a full-circle moment, flash forward to just a few years ago, and I watched the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie in the theaters with one of my close friends. Never in a million years did I expect that I would be working on its sequel film soon thereafter. Let alone trying to recreate the Sonic Adventure pose with the new rig I was just given to play with.
I learned a lot of things from this film. I also had a lot of challenges that I had overcome in this film. Something incredibly unique about working on this project was when Technicolor was approached to visualize these sequences. The client asked a big question: "Can you just make this as cool as possible?"
So many of these sequences we worked on had multiple and different variations of how the sequence could turn out. We were trying to push things from every angle possible, with different timing and varying acting choices. We tried other concepts and were all spitballing ideas on how we could make the scenes we were working on even cooler! A lot of the stuff we worked on got tossed because we just ended up making something more incredible. I was honored that my shots not only made it into the film, but a couple actually made them into the trailer.
I remember when the trailer first dropped. We were still working late one night in December, and the Video Game Awards were happening. It was announced prior that the trailer would be shown off at this event. I was working back at my parent's place in Florida at the time because the holiday season was right upon us. I remember taking a break from the shot I was working on to run downstairs because they had just announced the trailer would be shown next. With all of my immediate family being there to support me, the trailer started to play. As the trailer began to play, I was in awe of how beautiful the shots looked rendered, and oh my god, all the characters had fur!! We had been working with rigs with no fur for months, and now we got to see exactly how they were supposed to look on screen. Then, one of my shots began to play in the trailer. It was the backflip that Sonic does when he jumps off the peak to start snowboarding down the mountain. It was surreal to see that!! The weird thing was, not only had I been working on that shot just a few weeks prior but that multiple artists submitted different versions. I was incredibly proud and happy that my work had been chosen to go into the film.
A learning opportunity that presented itself during production was high intense camera work. As somebody who went to school for animation, very rarely do you practice camera work in 3d software. This is because you need to prioritize animating character performance. If your character performance isn't good, then fancy camera work isn't making your animation any better. So most of the time, students lock down their cameras and focus on the animation performance. But in this movie, every shot had significant movement, speed, and heavy camera shake. Every shot used different camera lenses, different camera techniques, and different camera rigs. Not to mention Sonic is snowboarding down a mountain, and the camera has to traverse long distances at high speeds.
When the film launched in May, I saw it in theaters because it was the first time any of the projects I had worked on made it to the big screen! It was a very surreal moment for me. I was lucky enough to see it a few days early. I and I think every artist has a similar experience the first time; you get to see something you help contribute to getting put on display in such a public format. I'm incredibly proud to be a part of this film; I'm excited that it was the first one I saw on the big screen. This movie is very important, and it means a lot to a lot of people. While working on it, we spent a lot of time doing our due diligence to ensure we accurately displayed these characters to represent them correctly. Which clearly shows on the screen.
Shout out to Isaac, Ryan, Huan, Danny, Kai, Jeff, Simon, Patrick, and Todd! It was a privilege to work beside such talented artists in making this dream come true for me. Our hard work and dedication came full circle.
It was an honor and a production I'll never forget. Overall, the growth I experienced working on this film is indescribable. This film made me change the way I look at my art and how I approach animation. It gave me the skills and knowledge I will be taking and using for the rest of my career. But most of all this film instilled in me the confidence to say that I am not just an animator but also a filmmaker.
(Below is my showreel as a Visualization Artist for Sonic the Hedgehog 2)