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The Transformers facebook page has posted their Tuesday Transformers Prime cast and crew Q&A session. This week we hear from Character Designer Augusto Barranco.
Anja Pejakovic asks: How on earth did you come up with these many designs and were you assisted in this task in any way? Where did you get some of the ideas for the designs: Starscream with high heels, Soundwave having those thin but wide arms?
AUGUSTO BARRANCO:On this show we are lucky to have a team of five very talented character and prop designers. In the process of creating the character package we all pieced in portions of the design, which range from character rough design, clean 3/4 angle design, orthographic plan views, mouth charts, weapon designs, weapon effect design, transformation breakdowns, color flats, color renders and texture reference. Then comes the vehicle with the same process. When it comes to specifics on character designs, the initial concepts are inspired by the personas and specifics created by the writers along with the history of Transformers lore. It's very important to visualize a diverse line-up of characters, so that the characters have a very unique silhouette and feel very different from every other character. The biggest part of character design is to capture the character’s personality in the design. The viewer should have a quick understanding of what kind of character you're looking at on first glance.
Emilie Beaulieu asks: When it come to character design, do you work from the robot form or the alternate mode first?
AUGUSTO BARRANCO:First idea comes from the script. The script will state the kind of vehicle we'll be dealing with along with the kind of character that needs to be designed. From there we'll jump into rough sketches trying to capture the character's personality in bot mode. Since the characters are in bot mode most of the time, this is the most important in terms of aesthetics. It's like choosing the best actors for your TV show. While that's being done, a vehicle will be designed simultaneously. In the overall process there's a lot of back and forth between bot and vehicle to make sure both have a balanced, agreeable design. When it comes down to it, the bot is started first and is also the last one to be completed.
Brent William Taylor asks: Were you given any specific guidelines as to which previous character versions/styles you were to incorporate?
AUGUSTO BARRANCO:When dealing with the Transformers franchise, everyone has a wish list. When new characters come down the pipeline, it comes with a specific kind of personality (i.e. sneaky, bully, arrogant), which influences design. From the script, the character comes with a certain kind of vehicle and weapon, and from Hasbro we receive a page of designs highlighting iconic items the character is known for having.
Cassidy Klassen asks: Every character in TFP has a very unique eye design: no two are alike. Can you speak to that at all?
AUGUSTO BARRANCO:Cassidy,A lot of the acting happens in the face and within the eyes. We enjoyed making each character very unique. As an artist, we hate getting bored with doing the same thing over and over.
Belinda Nieminen asks: Who is your favorite character and why? What has been the most exciting experience when you've designed Transformers characters? How did you end up to design Transformers Prime's characters and how long you've been fan of Transformers? Are you doing more Transformers designs in future?- Love from Finland
AUGUSTO BARRANCO:My favorite character would have to be Breakdown. He's one character that I handled 100% solo, which also makes him my least favorite. As an artist you always want to improve your work and when it's all done by you, there's a LOT of things you'd like to change and perfect. The most exciting part for me was the day when animation came back after lighting was done. That's when you know for sure you've made the right decisions with color, texture and design. I got started on "Transformers Prime" two years after my involvement with the movie franchise, and with that experience the art director felt like I might have some insight into the process of Transformers, along with some of my other film and animation experience. Being friends with the art director doesn't hurt either. In terms of my future with the Transformers world I'm not sure—only the head Primes know that one.
Augusto Barranco is a Conceptual illustrator and designer in the Los Angeles area. He has been working in the entertainment industry for 6 years since graduating from Art Center College of Design, where he worked closely with many directors to produce short films and commercials as a production designer. After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, he jumped into the film industry as a conceptual artist for many studios including Sony, Dreamworks, ILM, Paramount, NBC, Warner Bros, Imagi, Rhythm and Hues, Titmouse Animation, Obsidian Entertainment and now finally Hasbro Studios.