Bad Tuna was my senior film completed upon graduating from USC. The final film can be seen below, as well as some of the process.

Initial Designs

From the outset, I knew I wanted to animate a chase scene, and I wanted it to take place in a vaguely 1920's-ish world. I researched art nouveau and art deco designs, architecture, and German expressionist films as a starting place. Here are some sketches and a selection of reference images I scrounged from online and books.


Bad Tuna's story changed up throughout production. Originally it was going to be about a young girl who happens upon a sinister tuna cult, but I simplified things to make the actual animation feasible under my time and budget constraints. Here's some thumbnails as I planned out my shots.

An early sequence: Ethel sneaks up on a tuna cult meeting and witnesses a horrifying, eldritch ritual. Her elder brother (he was cut from the film) scolds her for running off.

The final storyboards can be seenĀ here.

I put together an animatic as the film started to take shape. The animatic changed constantly throughout production, but here's one version of it. The password is badtuna.

Designing Ethel

My main character, a young girl named Ethel, had to stand out against the detailed backgrounds but still fit into the world she ran around in.

Designing Tuna People

The inhabitants of Mumu Island are strange, squishy fish people. I decided to give them a Lovecraftian vibe by having them wear capes.

Background Design

Designing "Mumu Island" was lots of fun-- It's an Italian coastal city, designed by a city planner ignoring the laws of physics.