Listening to: youtube.com/watch?v=cSZ55X3X4pk
Reading: The Hobbit
Playing: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Eating: Those gummy mint leaves
Hey, guys. For anyone that hasn't heard, my work will be included in an upcoming Nintendo Power issue. I was informed yesterday that it could be as early as the October print. I was interviewed for it, however in similar past articles they only used lines from the interview in the article written by the editor, so I figured that I'd share the full thing with you guys. Be sure to check out the issue for me! It will be in the "Community" section in the back. Without any further ado...
- Please tell us a bit about yourself (include name, age, location, and occupation).
My name is Daniel Cattell. I'm a 23 year-old animation student at Rutgers-Camden University in New Jersey.
- Why did you decide to create these 16-bit Super Metroid costumes?
I wanted to create an effective costume that stood out from others that I had seen and to do it with almost no budget, relying entirely on my creative abilities to make up for it. As an animator (and pretty skinny guy), I finally realized that I could make these costumes based on cardboard recreations of the 2D animated sprites of a game. As a Metroid fan, I was drawn to the Chozo Statues which had a human-like form and a distinctive animation and silhouette. I settled on the Torizo boss from Super Metroid as the most visually interesting iteration of the sprite, and stuck with that game for the remainder of this series. The Torizo rising to attack sticks to the memory of Metroid players.
- How did you go about designing and constructing each one?
The Chozo Statues are twice the size of Samus, so I had to make it as large as my proportions allowed. I rotoscoped it in the the animation software software we use at Rutgers against a human model when I realized how long the arms were compared to a human, so I determined how long to extend the costume over my head, the arm extensions, and the pixel-to-inch ratio. A piece had to be created for each limb section on the left and right side of the costume.
The Samus Aran costume from this year had to be as small as possible compared to the Chozo, so we made it almost exactly Krystal's height. I experimented a lot with the last one by rounding out pixels and considered creating a low relief with cardboard. I realized later in photographs that the more pixelated areas were more successful, as is deceiving the audience with a 2D appearance, so Samus is all flat pixels.
- How much time did each take, and how much was spent on materials?
The first time took weeks to design, on and off, while I was testing more possibilities, and a week to measure, cut, and paint. Samus took a week to design and paint and had the advantage of larger pixels (lower resolution), so I spent less time on measuring and painting.
The only costs were paint and materials to attach the cardboard to the body. Our attachment system is being refined every year for comfort and reliability.
- Who wore the costumes to the convention(s)? Did they have to practice to get the poses and angles right for the best effect?
I wore the Chozo costume to last year's Otakon in Baltimore and Krystal Belcher wore Samus this year. We spent extra time studying the animations in Super Metroid and the rest of their appearances, though the costumes restricted some poses or movements from happening.
- What's been the reaction from people who have seen the costumes at conventions?
Mostly "Don't move!" from the crowd of photographers that we can't see to each side that keep us standing for hours. The best reactions are the sheer number of people who come up and say that this made their day, considering the price paid for the convention and the other experiences there. People come up to investigate the cardboard structures are occasionally surprised to discover a person inside. Watching them take off in popularity online was amazing. We took almost no photos but found dozens all over the internet for each. Also, there is a special place in my heart for those who leave comments that the costumes had to be edited into picture.
- What do you have planned for the Ridley costume? When will that be ready?
The Ridley costume is going to be tricky, because the pixels are smaller, like the Chozo, it doesn't match human posture and it has a large tail and jaw, which I'd like to have articulated. We plan to have the three costumes together at Otakon next year, though I am considering submitting them as part of my senior thesis so it may be done as early as spring if I can work on it alongside my animation pieces.
- Have you made any other gaming-inspired costumes or artwork?
I made two Metroid paintings in high school, an aboriginal Mario painting, an Ordon Link costume, an Asteroids animation, one of my original game designs was programmed for me, and I created a Kirby: Epic Yarn quilt patch that was displayed at the Nintendo World Store last fall. It was pretty surreal heading up to NYC with the university's Art Students League to see my own work on display there.