Looking back at ‘Sonic’ director Jeff Fowler’s Oscar-nominated ‘Gopher Broke’

Gopher Broke

The animated short was made at Blur Studio in 2004 – and it’s crazy fun

If you saw and loved Sonic the Hedgehog this weekend, I’d definitely recommend checking out director Jeff Fowler’s animated short film, Gopher Broke.

Executive produced by Deadpool and Terminator: Dark Fate director (and Blur Studio co-founder) Tim Miller – who is also an executive producer on Sonic – Gopher Broke was an internal Blur project about a hungry gopher that ended up getting nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Now, here’s the crazy thing – it’s hard to watch a full version of Gopher Broke anywhere. It used to be available to buy for $1.99 on iTunes and a few years ago was streamed at a few places. However, you can buy it on DVD from The Animation Show of Shows, and if you search around YouTube you’ll also absolutely be able to find it. I’ve just embedded a short preview I have of the film, below.

Blur Studio crafted Gopher Broke with 3ds Max, using Dimension Design Animation Group’s Shag:Fur for the fur and SplutterFish’s Brazil Rendering System for rendering (Brazil was actually developed by two artists while they were in the R&D team at Blur). The short was composited with eyeon’s Digital Fusion.

I remember seeing Gopher Broke on one of the Stash DVDs, and watching it over and over. Then, it was a short that Discreet (then owner of 3ds Max) pushed on their website. SplutterFish did, too.

Blur pushed some fun boundaries with its shorts – others I loved included In the Rough and Rockfish. And then there was The Goon movie in development for a long time (and which had a Kickstarter, where you can see some updates).

Finally, as I was searching around for a full version of Gopher Broke, I browsed Blur Studio’s vimeo page. There’s just such great work here in cinematics, VFX, commercials and shorts. Highly recommend checking it out.

Meanwhile, Sonic looks to have had a huge weekend which is fantastic news. There has been, of course, a whole lot of discussion about the character re-design and the impact on VFX artists. Clearly, Fowler (who shared this photo below of him in a photogrammetry scanning set-up during the making of Sonic) and the entire crew did an amazing job completing the film.


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