Josh Staub

Josh Staub has been quietly assembling The Mantis Parable for a few months now, and I've been privileged to have received almost daily updates on his progress. The renderings are always beautiful and well detailed, but what do you expect from Cyan's Art Director?

But one of the things that excites me most about his project is that Josh is very story-oriented. He builds story into the props and environment, into the characters, into everything. The Mantis Parable is built around a very strong theme, and he's put as much detail and hard work into his story structure as he has into the visuals. I know that when he's done, this film will be worth watching.

Josh has a really nice Mantis Parable website, complete with a journal and a respectable and growing Making Of section -- I know he has plenty of design and production material to show. He loves talking about this project, so visit his site, sign his guestbook, send him a question via email.

La parabola de la mantis (2005)

"The Mantis Parable is a wonderful exercise for me because it's new and different than what I've been doing as a Game Creator/ Designer/ Artist for 10 years now, and yet similar enough that I can apply the techniques I've cultivated at work to creating a short film. At least that's the idea.

I obsess over movies and books because emotionally I'm a sucker for a good story, and while I love my day job at Cyan Worlds (and am truly passionate about our newest project Uru: Ages Beyond Myst) there is a certain frustration with trying to tell a story in that medium. In a game (even at Cyan where thankfully story and visual quality is king), the creator is ultimately at the mercy of the player, hoping they take the appropriate steps to reveal the story in a sensible manner. Any "mis-steps" by the player, and he/she may miss out on the "optimum experience" the creator intended. With this lack of control, story is instead visually conveyed via every piece of architecture, every ancient carving translated, every insignia on a lamp post. There is no singular storyteller because the WORLD is the storyteller. While incredibly challenging and satisfying, occasionally I find myself akin to a frustrated writer shackled inches away from a piece of paper and a pen. I suppose those frustrations are at least in part a driving force behind my attempt to create something for a linear medium.

Stylistically, my career has been centered around creating things that look very realistic in nature. This is due to the sense of "immersion" we attempt to provide the player through the environments they freely explore. This "immersive" sensation is achieved when the worlds we create are realistic and therefore familiar enough to make sense, but foreign and beautiful enough to intrigue and entice. This attention to detail is what I know and trust, and ultimately believe can be used to enrich the delivery of a linearly-told story.

The visuals in The Mantis Parable are a step towards simplification for me due to my humble computer system, my lack of spare time, and my desire to actually finish the project. In addition, it is carried out through insects who don't speak, and who provide few physical tools with which to communicate and reveal emotion. I've taken certain liberties with these "actors" (in case you're wondering, real insects don't have eyelids) because again, my goal is not to create something photo-realistic, but something where the details simply enhance the depth of the story I'm trying to tell.

The Mantis Parable website is another example of this simplistic approach. It contains a production journal I update every couple of days with my progress (or lack thereof), and a "making-of" section updated every week or so. Its design is purposefully clean and simple which allows me to update it easily (and therefore often) and to showcase the work above all else. I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks again to Steve Ogden for putting this site together. It's a privilege to have The Mantis Parable featured alongside such visionary and ambitious works." (via)

WEB de Josh Staub

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