Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Interview: Jose Pavli, Director of Dawn, an Animated Aerowar Audioplay
Updated: 3 days ago
With its teaser announcement on May 22nd, 2021, Dawn is described as an "Animated Aerowar Audioplay, intended to tell a story about a sortie that stands to change the course of a years-long war and the pilots that weave their way into it." There are many questions surrounding this project. Dawn's director is Jose Pavli, a composer that made a big splash with his work on the soundtrack for Project Wingman. For those unfamiliar with his music for this game, this Best of playlist and Making of videos (part one, part two) for the soundtrack serve as a good introduction. Skyward Flight Media was fortunate enough to get an interview early in this project's development with Jose Pavli.
Is Neïwa Interactive a newly formed studio?
Yes, it is. It is also a production company. At the moment, we are three persons working at Neïwa Interactive. Me and two collaborators who help me with everything that is not art-related. (Legal, Production, Copyrights issues, Publishing, etc.) On top of that, I hire artists on projects when I need them. That is what I've done for Dawn.
What is the creative scope of Neïwa Interactive?
I publish my soundtracks through Neïwa Interactive, and to be honest, that is the only reason I created this company a few months ago. I didn't plan to make it a studio, but now that it is the case, who knows where it will take us. We have just started working on Dawn, so one thing at a time. If we manage to get funded and release it, we will see what we want to do in the future.
When and how did the concept for "Dawn" begin to form?
After the release of Project Wingman, I've received so much love from the community that I wanted to give them something back.
Naturally, I have decided to work on an album in the same genre, but only with acoustic instruments, so people could listen to it while doing other things like working, programming, reading, or playing other games.
Right after starting working on this album, I've seen Mobius (Creditian Istani, 3D Visual Artist on Dawn) posting a 3D animated short clip, showing two planes flying and shooting missiles. I knew he was a fantastic artist already because he also made the key-art for Project Wingman.
It gave me this idea of having those animations in between tracks from my album. I realized that by doing this, the project would become more ambitious. I reached out to Matt (FlyAwayNow, Writer and Producer on Project Wingman) and asked him if he would be willing to join this project and write the script based on a few ideas I had. When I explained to him my idea of blending together an animation, audiobook, and a music album, he came up with the term " Animated Aerowar Audioplay". I immediately loved it, the concept was created.
Unlike a traditional audio play, this production is utilizing various 3D assets to create animated scenes alongside music and voice acting. Will the 3D scenes be present throughout the entire audio play or only for certain scenes?
Animated scenes will be throughout the entire audioplay. Some of them will be in 2D because our characters are made in 2D, but everything that happens in the sky including dogfights will be animated in 3D, during the whole story. We have a 2D Visual Artist onboard who joined the team recently, he is a great addition to the project, but I can't tell who it is yet. We want to show one of his concept art when we reveal his identity. All I can say is many people from the community know his work.
As a primarily audio-driven production, the soundtrack and sound design will be paramount. While your work as a musical composer has been put on display recently with Project Wingman's soundtrack, are you also creating the sound effects and overall sound design for this project? Is this something you've done in past works?
Sound design will definitely play a huge role in giving Dawn's characters and lore a unique identity. That's what I chose to work with my long-time friend Anize Amestoy. We've been working together on various projects for years now and I know he will create a sound atmosphere that will enhance the viewer's experience. We've started discussing how we want to use sounds in order to make the whole audioplay even more immersive and I can't wait for people to listen to what he's done.
It's intriguing that the story centers on a single combat sortie rather than an entire conflict. Will the backstory about the war and the world this event takes place in be explained either in the audioplay or through other materials?
The fact that this is an audioplay, means that we won't be able to expand too much about the backstory, the lore, and the reasons this sortie is so important. We don't know if people will like the format or if they will follow us on this journey and be there when we launch our Kickstarter. So, as Matt told me a few days ago when we were finalizing the script, it's better to tell a simple story strongly, than telling a great story poorly.
If we reach our initial Kickstarter Goal, we will tell a simple story, but we can guarantee it will be consistent and deliver what we promised.
Now, depending on the resources we get, we do have options/stretch goals to expand the lore if we can. Since it is not a game, we can't tell if there is an audience before we launch our Kickstarter, that's why we've started simple, but efficient.
Is there anything else about the world setting that you can discuss at this time?
We plan to give people more info about the world as we get closer to our Kickstarter Launch. However, what I can tell you is that it takes place in a fictional world, a completely new one, not related to past projects. While the story focuses on a single sortie, I can tell you that this is an important one and by the end of the audioplay, the story we wanted to tell will be told. You will definitely learn more about the world, the context, and the reasons things are like they are, as you progress through the story. Most of the lore elements will be given to the viewer by the characters you encounter during this sortie. And last info, it is not necessarily an alternate Earth. ;)
The assumed protagonist, Zodiac 1, sounds like they have lost much to this conflict. Both family and their pre-war identity. Is this person viewed as a type of heroic figure in this conflict or more of an unknown soldier in the grand scheme of things?
Unfortunately, it would ruin the fun if I told you at that point. But it's neither of those. Or maybe a bit of both, I don't know.
Will the characters of the story be seen in any way or solely represented by their aircraft and voices?
No, you will also have 2D animations of the characters. That's a bold creative choice, I can't think of anything like what we plan to do, in the genre. Now that we have our 2D artist helping Creditian Istani (Mobius) with visuals, we will be able to push that aspect and give every characters its visual identity. It will add a lot of depth to them, and help the viewer like them, or hate them. I can't wait to show you what we have in mind for this specific aspect of the animation.
Who are the voice actresses and actors for "Dawn"? Do they have previous experience?
At that point, we've only cast the actors of the main characters. They are all very talented and I've been mindblown by their performance so far. They all have experience in the industry, whether it is for commercials; video games, films, etc.
Here is our current list of confirmed actors and their links if you want to check them out.
Was it a conscious decision to keep "Dawn" separate from the established Project Wingman intellectual property?
I haven't even talked to Abi (Project Wingman developer) about Dawn happening in Project Wingman. Dawn was meant to be a personal project from the beginning. While most of the team working on Dawn has worked on Project Wingman, it was always intended to be something different. After working for years on Project Wingman, I also feel it is good to try something else, explore new ideas, whether it is with music, or with the world we are building for Dawn.
The Kickstarter is listed as "coming soon". Should the public be on the lookout for the campaign to begin in the next month or two?
There is a huge amount of visual work to be done by only two artists before we can go on Kickstarter. However, I would say it is closer to two months than one. But we have some juicy content ready; to tease you until we are good to go live on KS. Stay tuned!
How many tier levels will there be in the Kickstarter campaign? Will any of these tiers have backers directly involved with the development of this project?
The Kickstarter page is still a work in progress, but we currently have 7 tier levels. The highest tier, allows you to give your name to one of the enemy ace squadron pilots. And your name will be mentioned in the story, not just written. But there are only a few slots available, for obvious reasons. We are also considering sending physical copies of the soundtrack to high tiers backers. Other than that, the highest tier you take, the more content you get: Original Artbook, BTS/Unreleased content, High-Quality Soundtrack, etc.
Is Dawn going to be a single-release feature or a multi-part feature?
Nothing is set in stone yet. At the moment, the plan is to go for a single release for the whole audioplay.
Will the final product be sold as a standalone item? Like a movie, for example.
Once again, I can't say for sure, but at the moment selling it as a standalone item, and put the soundtrack on streaming platforms is our best option.
Assuming that the Kickstarter goal(s) is met, is a 2021 release date possible?
That's very unlikely. Quality takes time. We will get into full production for approximately a year after the KS is successful.
On a personal note, before your previous work on Project Wingman, did you have any experience or interest with flight games or flight simulators?
Well, Project Wingman is actually not the first flight action game I've scored. I also made the music for another one called Vector Thrust. And I am a fan of the Ace Combat series, and its music has always been a great inspiration for me, and probably one of the reasons I am doing this job today. Reading some comments comparing Project Wingman soundtrack to some Ace Combat tracks felt completely surreal for me. But to answer your question, I am definitely a fan of the genre.
Thank you for this interview during the early development phase of Dawn. We look forward to the Kickstarter and future developments. Is there anything you'd like to say to readers interested in your project?
We believe we have a strong story, with amazing visuals, meaningful characters, and a team made of experimented talented artists. Dawn has all the ingredients to be something people will enjoy.
We hope the content we will release until the Kickstarter, will convince the community that this project is worth supporting. It is a new format, we are taking some risks with it, but I can already tell you that it is a breath of fresh air in the genre. Support has been amazing so far, and we want to thank everyone for that! We can't wait to show you more! Stay tuned.
About the Interviewer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.