Surf's Up was one of the most beautiful animated film ever made and one of the most challenging but satisfying production I ever been involved with. The team collaboration with artists of such caliber was a rewarding experience. I strongly suggest to watch it if you hadn't seen the movie yet. I'm pleased to share here some of the fond memories I had in this film. Enjoy.
Image above is the design concept that started it all! The squid on the stick on the left was a signature I placed on many of my earliest designs that carried over to the big screen.
The waterfalls after the glow worm cave sequence.
Above is a perfect example of team collaboration that so evident in the film. Characters are done by Sylvain DeBoissy. Foreground elements are painted by Paul Lasaine. The rest are done by me.
Glow worm cave.
Originally, Geek's house and the board shack are in the same location. Here's an early concept. Notice the squid on a stick? :)
These two above are initial iconic designs that were approved.
Board Shack shape studies. I knew early on that the tree is bent. Its just a matter of how much. Then Marcelo Vignali came to me one morning with a fantastic photo of a palm that bends to the water then peeks up. That's the inspiration for the last image above that we all agreed on to be the final shape.
The Board Shack final design. A collaborative piece with my good friend Marcelo.
Story change pushed Geek's house inland.
My "Poly-pocket" view of Geek's house interior.
Geek's house entrance. Again there's the squid on a stick!
The lava tube entrance. This layout ended up on the screen.
More lava tube concepts.
Geek's house on the beach. Sunny Apinchapong has a painted version and can be viewed on his website.
I based Pengu Island north shore, where Geek lives, from the beaches of Palawan, Philippines and Phuket, Thailand.
Then the south shore, where the Competition Beach is located, was based from the Seychelles Beach in South Africa and Hawaii.
The Competition Beach final design. Another collaborative piece with Marcelo Vignali.
Original story calls for a penguin rodeo (with dolphins).
These Big Z memorial early designs carried over to the screen. I admire such decisive moves by directors that when they see early designs they like and its working, why change it.
On an early version of the film, promoter Reggie throws a party the night before the competition. Above is the main banquet table. What a hoot to think like a penguin and what would I love to eat if I'm one! :) ... and lotsa squids on sticks!
The "sexy" trophies. These are actual names of our female co-workers :)
Early concepts for the Whaleway station in Shiverpool.
For finale, I did this just for kicks! A some sort of "Where's Waldo"-type piece depicting Pengu Island carnival which was included in the early version of the story.
Can you find the directors and producer checking in on me during our drive-by?
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Photos are ©Armand Serrano. Artworks are ©Sony Pictures Animation