Wisdom of the Animal Council: The Making of “The Last Extinction”
Click on the movie above to watch the ‘enhanced illustration’ from Chapter 8. This is young Pah’s view of the Animal Council meeting in the remote ruins of Machu Picchu.
“There were animals, hundreds of animals.”
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Pah told Christina. “Creatures from all over the world. Never have I seen anything so beautiful.” She stopped for a moment, seeing in her mind’s eye the scene. “The animals were gathered there,” she continued, “high in the Andes Mountains in a temple built by the first civilization in the Southern continent. Among the ruins of the temple, all the animals of the forest and sea stood and listened as the Council debated. There were some that were incensed at man, that he had come to disregard the natural order of things, bending the Laws of Nature to accommodate his aggressive ways.”
Pah is an elder from the Omaguan tribe and the very last of her kind. She reveals to Christina (the story’s main character) secrets of the Animal Council, secrets that were not meant for humans. And she ends up paying for her indiscretion.
It made sense to place the Omaguan tribe and the Wheel of Omagua in close proximity to the Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu struck me as the perfect locale for a sacred gathering of species. There amidst the ruins of one of man’s most enigmatic civilizations, the elders of the animal world and Omaguans came together to discuss the challenges of Man’s indiscriminate abuse of Nature. The Omaguans (remember, a fictional tribe I made up) lived and hunted in one of the most remote areas of the Amazon rainforest — Madre de Dios, translated ‘Mother of God.’ In my mind, this was the perfect spot to introduce humans that held a unique connection to the natural world. In what could be perceived as the heart of Nature, a people thrived amongst other species of the forest. They had maintained the bond that I believe all humans once cherished — a deep connection to Nature. Perhaps even the ability to communicate directly with the other animals.
For the creative team, led by Steve Buccellato and Scott Walker, the scene at Machu Picchu presented a challenge: how to depict thousands of animal species gathering on the terraces of the ruins? And more importantly, how to depict the elders — Lycan, Gamba, the Raven, the Hyena, the Leatherback Turtle, the Lion, and the Crocodile — in a way that felt real and not hokey. Although I believe there was a time in our distant evolutionary history when we were much more adept at communicating with other species, modern humans aren’t likely to quickly accept that the Animal Council could talk, let alone express sophisticated thoughts and emotion. So we spent a lot of time considering how to present the interactions of the Council.
Steve did such a fantastic job of converting the scenes I gave to him into storyboards.
With the storyboards in place, we could then engage the immense talents of the international team of artists that were brought in for the ‘enhanced edition’ of “The Last Extinction.” The art team needed to be aware of the end game for each of these scenes, providing us with multi-layered digital paintings of each scene so that the animators could ‘move’ through these layers, creating the illusion of depth and camera movement through the ‘shot.’
With these details in mind, the art team moved forward with their depiction of this interesting scene atop the Andes. Here is the final artwork for the scene which was then animated to create the Chapter video you watched at the top of this post.
And a look at what this ‘enhanced illustration’ looks like inside the iPad edition of “The Last Extinction.”
Experience The Last Extinction yourself…visit www.lastextinction.com and download the enhanced ebook experience.