The Pilot Episode

Fate Saga's pilot episode highlights the rivalry between Cain and Cyrus.  With very limited funding to work with, it was imperative to keep the pilot at a short length so that it could be realistically finished.  In the beginning stages of the pilot's concept development, it was a juggle between whether to use the episode to demonstrate the plot of the series, introduce most of the cast at the sacrifice of plot, or whether to focus on one or two characters.

The latter was decided because characters are the heart of any story.  If too many characters were introduced, none would get enough spotlight to really show off their personalities, and no one cares about the plot if they don't care about the people involved.

Because Cain is the hero of Fate Saga, it was obvious that he would be the main character of the pilot episode.  The decision as to who his co-star was a little challenging, but ultimately the it was also obvious.  Although Fate Saga has romantic elements, Larkspur would have implied that Fate Saga was more of a romance story than it actually is.  Guile and Rori made the plot too complicated and couldn't introduce enough conflict in 5 minutes.  Drax, Seiron, Armand, Lukas and Bianca would bring with them baggage and plot that the pilot wouldn't have time to explain.  Cyrus didn't need an explanation.  Even if the pilot didn't have time to introduce his background or place in Fate Saga's general plot, Cyrus need only to be placed next to Cain in any situation in order for them to fight.  Their personalities cause instantaneous conflict without demonizing either of them, and it was a quick way to introduce viewers to the action and magic system in Fate Saga.

The pilot does not focus on their backgrounds or their status in the show, but rather their personalities and powers.  The plot is the same as the premise of the series - Cain sees a terrible vision and tries to stop it, only able to go by the few clues his vision gave him.

For Cyrus, what was most important was to show his personality and empathy.  Despite becoming the arch nemesis of Cain, Cyrus isn't evil.   He's brash, immature, crazy, emotional and is easily overwhelmed by the emotions of other people.  Cyrus' empathic powers in the pilot are more developed than they are in the beginning of the series.  In the beginning of the show, he merely feels their emotions and then later it develops into telepathy.  But in the series it's not as important for viewers to understand, in that show instead of tell kind of way, that Cyrus is influenced by the emotions of people around him.  In the pilot, it was the entire driving force behind his reason to fight Cain.  So it was decided to go with a later version of his powers in order to give viewers auditorial clues.

However, although Cain and Cyrus are the main characters in the pilot, there are brief cameos by Larkspur, Guile, Rori, Armand, Malachi, Kyle, Cera and Bianca in the pilot.

It was an easy choice to set the pilot episode in Duero.  That is where all of the first season takes place.  The Crystalin was also an easy choice to target, because this would allow us to focus our environmental designs and models on places that would be used in the series.  The decision to mix 2D and 3D was something I had been experimenting with even before the pilot episode was written.  The reason to go with predominantly 3D backgrounds is because I knew that the camera had to be able to move and be repositioned as the shots needed.  The pilot episode alone had 152 shots, and some of the angles are similar but not the same.  This prevents the need to haggle layout designers to sketch, ink and color the background for every single camera change.

However, we couldn't go with an entirely 3D background, relying only on the powers of rendering to make the backgrounds look as if they fit with the characters.  Even with After Effects' color correction, it doesn't always work.  The interior of the Crystalin is dark and monochromatic, so it was possible to use just textures for there.  However, viewers see Duero itself with much more light and detail, so any distortion between the characters and their environment really stood out.  Consequently, the backgrounds for Duero are matte painted instead of textured.  That way it keeps the hand crafted look that is hard to get with only 3D, that allows the characters to fit in more seamlessly.

The Pilot's Place in the Series
How the pilot will be handled in continuity will be determined by the type of sponsorship Fate Saga receives.  If Fate Saga is picked up as a television series, and the pilot becomes more of a DVD extra, then the episode will be treated as a short film test and the events may not be considered in continuity.  If Fate Saga becomes a web series and the pilot will be featured right up front as it is now, then the pilot will be considered a prequel to the series.  The only real difference is that Cain will recognize Cyrus when they meet for the first time in the series, and Cain's first meeting with Larkspur will go a little differently as well since she was inside the Crystalin when Cain was thrown in.