The assignment was to choose a line with 3 words and create an animation off of it. When I found the "Shall we begin?" line, I saw this type of scene in my head, where a ruthless chess master was about to start his next match against a timid opponent.
I can remember being a kid and always playing chess against my dad. Never was he this intimidating, but there's always a competitive nature about him, so I thought I'd use that as a way to drive the shot. I dedicate this shot to him and all the time he's kicked my butt at sports over the years.
The first step was figuring out who the character was. I did some research on Magnus Calrsen, the reigning World Chess Champion, and in turn named my character after him.
The next step was gathering reference. I took a lot from Star Trek: Into Darkness, the film which the line was from. Benedict Cumberbatch does a lot of great things with his eyes, so I pulled what I could from that. I also found a cool shot from Lawless that helped inspire some poses. There's no sound, sorry.
I also began looking a lot at Anton Ego from Ratatouille. I love his performance and how he's animated, and so I did my best to study from that source material in addition to the live action reference.
I then went in to build the chess set and create somewhat of an environment for the scene.
Being that it was my first attempt at dialogue in 3D, I wanted to make sure to get the mouth shapes down before blocking and polishing in the computer, so I drew them out in 2D before hand.
And then here's the shot progression.
I shot my own reference, quickly roughed it out in 2D, then went on into Maya to finish it off.
The Chess King (Shot Progression)
And that's that! It was really difficult keeping him alive considering how little he moved around. It was a quite a challenge trying to tell so much with so little, but I'm fairly pleased with the result.