The Surgeon’s Son
Graduate Researcher – MFA Thesis Project
Ryan Nathan Hale
Completed in 2011
Alan Price, committee chair
Maria Palazzi, committee member
Amy Youngs, committee member
This story is based on the adventures of the filmmaker’s relative, Dr. Nathan S. Hale. Nathan wrote a memoir entitled Cut Boldly Down, Medicine, Nature, and a Life of Curiosity: A Surgeon's Memoir which is on many levels a very personal account of his life and members in his community. During the production of this film, the story became a reflection of Nathan's early childhood activities. By using key artifacts from his past as containers for his memories, and sets which are designed as virtual dioramas, this narrative animation is a visualization of Nathan's imagination and curiosity.
Using the written accounts from the memoir, The Surgeon's Son focuses on the life of a young explorer growing up in Wilmington, Ohio in the early 1900's. Through his stories, it was possible to isolate a few intriguing elements to form a story: his love of nature, collections, and exploration. Through the translation of these memoirs, the filmmaker sought to expose the artificiality of the medium of computer animation. The sets were designed as virtual dioramas, and using this idea, 2D elements are juxtaposed with 3D elements. Emphasis is placed on combining a first person point of view with other techniques to personify and interpret Nathan's imagination of the artifacts he finds, and the events connected to those artifacts. Lighting and texturing were a major focus, and inner monologue plays a big part in story exposition. To fill the sets with plant life, Maya's Paint Effects tools (procedural plant generator) were implemented. Using the Mental Ray renderer, and the wonderful render farm at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), the sequences were slowly dropped into After Effects.
After earning a Bachelors of Fine Art at Ohio State University in Art and Technology in 2007, Ryan was accepted into the Design Department at Ohio State. Studying Digital Animation and Interactive Media at ACCAD, he began to focus on storytelling with an interest in finding and implementing experimental methods. Ryan is currently an adjunct faculty member, teaching 3D graphics and animation, while working on a new screenplay, and searching for work in the computer graphics/special fx field.