Juna is a young rebel who was once part of the ruling religious order. She pays for her betrayal with her own life. However, she’s not exactly dead. Juna wakes up millions of light-years away from Earth in a different part of the universe. As she comes to accept her disposition in a new, unknown and frightening place, Juna discovers she’s not alone. Her previous beliefs and convictions come under scrutiny as she faces off a mysterious life form: the Omkai.
In many senses of the word, this is an extension of the post-apocalyptic science fiction. The Seed of Juna is a tale from a dark and conflicted place so far away from home, the word itself means nothing. Alvaro Garcia’s 13-minute pilot has been released and can be played here as well on YouTube. Additionally, there will be eight 22-minute episodes continuing on from this, where more of the plot lines will become clear.
Director Alvaro Garcia says he was inspired by the mystery of existence. “With The Seed of Juna, I wanted to lay ground as vast as a universe in order to create a twisted reality that provokes the characters and to raise deep questions,” says Garcia, “such as, what are humans’ role in the universe and whether we are as special as we think.” Garcia says he didn’t want to answer theses specific questions with the story, but to have the audience think more deeply about the questions the story poses.
Álvaro grew up in Madrid and developed a passion for animation and filmmaking from an early age. He started his career in 2010 as a 3D generalist. In 2014, Álvaro directed and produced a short film titled Sumer, which swept a number of selections and awards within the festival circuit, including an official selection at the Academy-qualifying Cleveland Film Festival. As a VFX artist, Álvaro worked with a number of top facilities, including MPC and ILM, where he developed visual effects for a number of box office successes, such as The Jungle Book, Ready Player One, Avengers, and Pacific Rim.
The production crew was lucky enough to have access to the ILM motion capture system. They used Vicon cameras in Blade and the resulting captures were re-targeted in Motion Builder. Then Garcia used HumanIK in Maya and the motion editor for the second re-target for the hero characters. Then they used some of the basic tools in Houdini to use that FBX motion in their crowd systems without having to do the simulation for each figure. The idea is to re-render the nine episodes in Unreal Engine 4 later on, but in this production they used Houdini and Arnold, especially for the crowds. “We are transforming entertaining platforms into something completely different,” says Alvaro.
Lately, Álvaro has been leading real-time solutions for DNEG and sharing his knowledge and passion for innovative technologies in filmmaking through a personal educational project during this pandemic. In his work, Álvaro uses the sci-fi genre to create stories, which take the audience on a visually and emotionally captivating journey exploring human relationships with themselves and others. When ray-tracing and RTX came to the market, these were the tools to use with Houdini on each of the major scenes. Alvaro Garcia says he also likes to animate faces, with Key-framing in his comfort zone.
Garcia had some great help from over 20 high-end professionals from the film, TV and game production industries in a virtual effort to develop the film over the last four years. “It is amazing what can be created when these incredibly talented and stubborn people get together,” Alvaro says.
Alvaro is excited by the combination of sci-fi and using full CG technology with MoCap. “Anybody with a bit of talent and persistence can construct an immersive visual story, without leaving their homes,” he adds.