Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holiday Slowdown

No updates lately...but that's what happens sometimes.

So what's the news, both good and bad? Well, the work project that felt like a mini Bataan Death March is in a much better place now. It didn't air on the 26th as it was originally meant to but I think the pressure from Discovery has lessened a bit and we should be able to finish it working only "normal" hours. When this sucker does finally hit the teevee, I'll post an update.

Holidays were great with two sets of folks in town. One set's still here but all the hoopla's died down enough that I've been able to start laying out UV's on the first building. w00t!

With Borders gift card in hand, I went book shopping the other day. I had a long list of books I wanted, but on a whim decided to check the computer section for a book on mental ray. I didn't really want a book on mental ray but I knew that I needed to learn more about it. I only know what half (a third?, quarter?) of the mental ray shaders do and I'm far from being able to optimize renders in any way. Well, I found a damn mental ray book and forced myself to buy it.

mental ray, an artist's guide to rendering is one hell of a book and it's already making my brain hurt. a lot. I'm giving it a first read-through with a highlighter and without sitting in front of the computer. After going through it once, my plan is to go back through and crank out test renders, to see if I learned anything. Cross yer fingers.

The last bit of good news for now is that in a couple weeks I'll be starting a MEL scripting workshop offered by CGSociety. I'm excited to dig in to a little code. It will probably slow down the project some but I don't think it'll grind to a total halt. Hah! Of course it will, but I can dream, can't I?

No pics to post now, because there's nothing remotely interesting about UV layouts. I'll post painted texture maps but that's still a little ways away.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Two Weeks, One Building

Now that is one hell of an achievement!!!

Or something.

It's the same old story, work is kicking my ass. On top of that I picked up a small page-layout gig that's been taking a bite out of what little free-time I've got. Having said all that, here's one little update. This is the end of the modeling for now and it's time for some UV layout and some basic texturing. My UV layout skills are not great so here's a chance for them to get better.

Some messed-up normals in that new building, fixed in the subsequent pics.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Off The Face Of The Earth

So I actually have a few days of decent posts and then it all goes to hell. Arrrrghhhh!!!!!!

The last week, nearly two weeks now, just about killed me @ work. Lots and lots of styleframes to make in very little time with constantly changing goals. I canceled a few vacation days, including today which I worked from home while some plumbers tried to fix a leaking pipe somewhere in the bowels of my foundation.

Along with all that, James and I had a sort of "come to Jesus" conversation where we started talking about how the project was working and where it was going now that we're in different cities and both working hard.

This is all a ways of saying that I've done jack on the scene, or the project or the models - whatever scale you care to look at, it's been on hold. Today was supposed to be a big modeling day for me. Alas but no.

I should be back on the horse starting tomorrow evening - I hope, I hope, I hope.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Few Building Shots

Here are a couple quick AO renders of two of the buildings I've been working on. I'm happy with the way they're coming along but there's still a ton of work to be done on them.
Kinda neat, huh?

Ugly faceting on the doorway curves, way too sharp corners on the columns and a ridiculously under-modeled lantern.

Nope, neither building has a backdoor, or a back wall, or even a floor. I suppose I'll never make it in architectural previz.

Shutters and doors that look like ugly slabs of drywall.
I honestly don't think I needed to model the fluting on the columns on the right. I may rebuild them without it and add the details in Z-Brush later.

And a quick screengrab of the wireframe on shaded.

One thing I'm going to need to address is the uneven level of detail on different parts of these buildings. If you look closely you'll see some beveled edges here, some sharp edges there, modeled details on some parts, plain, flat polys on others. There is some method to my madness though. After I finish one more building, the plan is to unwrap them and take them into Z-Brush where I'll add some distressing and some modeled textures. The door and window edges that show faceting because there are too few polys will be smoothed and dinged up a bit. I'll add some weathering to the columns on the right-hand building and texture the shutters and windows. After all that I'll export a Normal Map and see what that does for me. I'm crossing my fingers that that solution works out. One thing I'm not sure how to handle is how to combine a Normal map meant to simulate textures and the normal information you get when you throw an Average Normals on a few polys or when you manually set normal angles or perform a Smooth Edge command. I'm confident someone, somewhere has explained this. In time I'll track it down.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Modeling Tools (Maya Tip of the Day #3)

Today we'll be looking, briefly, at two tools. The first is from the Maya Bonus Tools toolset.

There are a ton of Bonus Tools. I installed them all when I had the option to because, well, why the hell wouldn't I? They're tools and they're bonuses. I like both. But there are so many that I spent more time being daunted by the long list than I do actually using them.

(that's like 30 tools or something!)

I'm sure there's documentation for all of these but I've not looked for it. What I was looking for though was a way to pivot a piece of geometry around one of its edges. It's a window shutter on a building I'm modeling and I had it placed right where I wanted it, then decided that I wanted it open, just a little bit. I knew I'd downloaded a 3rd party tool that was built for this but I couldn't remember what it was. So on a lark, I checked the Bonus Tools.

It's in there. It's called "Move Object Pivot To Component Center." It's a long name but it does just what it says. I selected the edge I wanted, ran the command and voila, the shutter was cracked open. After that, a quick Center Pivot gets things back to normal. That one's heading to a marking menu soon.

After finding that, I was still wondering what tool I'd previously found to do this. Well, it's Local Tools by Henry Korol. It's actually in one of my shelves but because I've yet to make custom buttons for my shelves, it gets lost easily.

The good and bad thing about Local Tools is that it's way more powerful than the Move Object Pivot bonus tool. The good part of that is, well, it does more. The bad part is that it does so much more that it's really worth reading online documentation. I've not done that yet but I've bookmarked the page. I'm sure that it's going to be part of my modeling repertoire soon.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Marking Menus

I'm not all that stoked on my building models just yet so no pics of them today. I thought, instead, that I'd share my custom marking menus.

I have three marking menus set up, bound to Option + 1, Option + 2 and Option +3. I do 90% of my Maya work on a Macbook Pro and on that keyboard, those bindings work pretty well. They're not super-intuitive and I imagine that I'll try out some other options eventually but they're fine for now. I can't easily hit the Option + 4 chord, so this set up is limited to three menus only.

The commands in each menu are all loosely related. MM_01 (marking menu one) is commonly used modeling tools. MM_02 is commonly used viewport options and MM_03 is, well, I'm not sure what to call it.

Here they are:

So, I use these tools a lot. This menu is a bit too full for me to truly work gesturally with it, at least at the moment. With more time spent using it, maybe all of the tools will become gestures. Insert Edge Loop and Extrude are well-placed, I think but I don't know that Combine really deserves the "pride of place" of being the bottom tool. I should put something that I use more often in that place, maybe the Split Polygon Tool.

This one is nice and light. I use X-Ray all of the time and both Isolate Selected and Wireframe On Shaded are easy to hit gesturally. This menu I really don't have to think about at all.

The To Edge Loop and Delete Edge/Vertex don't really fit the theme of this menu so well but it only bothers me a little bit.

These are the, "all right, let's move on tools." The set-up here works well for when I've got an element just the way I want it, I can very quickly gesture up, down and up to the right, and then move on. Ok, ok, Duplicate Special has no place being here and, frankly, I forget that it's there. I nearly always grab that tool from the Hot Box instead of from here. Maybe I should swap Combine and Duplicate Special. That actually makes a certain amount of sense, because after Combining it's a good idea to "reset" your geometry before modeling away.

Well, there you have it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not Dead Yet

Over a week since the last post, that's not great.

But I've been working on the scene in my free time and I'll have a new building or two to show pretty soon. I spent so much time earlier on modeling the clocktower (which I fear I will have to substantially rebuild) that I never got to model any buildings. So now, whether or not it's truly necessary, I'm giving myself the chance to kick out a couple of apartments. I'm quite enjoying it, though I'm having trouble integrating some of the steampunkish elements into the buildings. All of this means little without pictures, so I'll try really hard to have a picture post up this weekend.


Monday, November 12, 2007

A Few Random Shots

The project is, or it may be, floundering a bit...I don't know exactly, but so what? That's what happens sometimes and even if it is, it ain't over 'till the fat lady sings.

Attached are a few shots rendered with temp geometry on the buildings and the birds, with no textures and with one ambient and one point light. Never the less, I like them. I like this scene even if I can't say what story it tells.

Monday, November 5, 2007

First Round of Concept Art Sketches

We just started working with a guy named Nigel Sussman. He's a flash developer (programmer? Like I know the difference) and illustrator up in the Bay area, which is where James is now located. He's got some great illustration skills, a real strong sense of line and the good sense to realize that doing some drawings for this project was a super-cool thing to do.

Did I also mention that he hosts his site on Laughing Squid? Yeah, that means he's down with the digerati hipsters and pixetelegensia crowd.


Thanks for coming aboard sir.

We'll have sketches up soon but I thought a shout-out was in order.


Essential Maya Tools

As part of an ongoing series, I humbly present Lightgirl.

This lighting GUI, built in MEL, is absolutely insane and one hell of a lifesaver if you have a scene with more than, uh, one light in it. It was built by Ben Wronsky, who I don't know personally but is apparently a Senior Technical Artist over at EA Games. Looking at this, I wish I was a Senior Technical Artist but I have to realize that for all my many gifts, I just ain't smart enough to pull off something this rad.

It's available both on his site & on It's a must have if you care at all about being able to easily control the lights in your scenes. I found it while looking for a tool that would allow me to change the intensity attribute of a cluster of four lights. Without a tool like this, it's a matter of selecting one, changing it, then selecting all of the others and repeating - one at a time. This makes for lots of steps and lots of preview renders if you're trying to find a setting that looks "just about right."

Bah! All that crap is behind me now. The one caveat is that the UI isn't perfect in the OSX environment, but that's what I get for using Maya on a Mac.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why Does the Bird Have a Prussian Helmet?

I don't really know. But it's kind of funny. The bird on the top left also has a key slot on its chest. I'm not sure what key might go in there, maybe it's a wind-up key to get the bird's interior clockwork mechanisms going. Maybe it's not but the key slot would be really ornate, with filigree and etching and cool stuff like that. It's fit into a torso that's more utilitarian than aesthetic. The torso's made up of a bunch of bolted on panels, or screwed on panels, with holes cut out for the feet and head.

The wings don't work at all like real bird wings but they pivot out from a couple of axles perpendicular to the imagined spine of the bird. The lower right wing is made up of lots of overlapping metal leaves (feathers).

Yeah, so that's that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Moving Forward

I've talked some smack about moving onto the animatic but after some discussion we've decided to put that aside for a bit. We've also shelved, for a little while at least, the idea of doing detailed styleframes for our shots.

Below are two super-rough styleframes that we did, one apiece, earlier this week.

While there are some similarities, (both have bridges, that being the main one) the two frames are pretty different in a lot of ways. Seeing these two frames side-by-side like this could've led to a knock-down, drag-out conversation about art direction and intent but we decided to avoid that talk and just focus on a scene.

We're picking the first scene, and why the hell not? For that scene, and for the next couple scenes, we're really gonna need some bird models. Therefore we're in bird concept mode.

It's tricky, this concept art thing. I've been sketching away and getting lots of crap. Hopefully some gold will shine through eventually. From there it's the simple matter of modeling and rigging. Yeah, those will only take an hour or two each. Then, after another hour or two, the whole film will be done.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Still On The Weekly Schedule

Yeah, this is lame, this current posting rate. But that's the way it goes sometimes.

Right now James and I are exchanging styleframes, looking at color & lighting & mood and trying to get a feel for the final art direction. These frames will also help establish which elements will be modeled and which can be done with imageplanes and matte paintings. Once we get to a look that we're at least somewhat agreed on, I'll post some pics.

So, work continues.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

100th Post!!!


I didn't get a great deal of time to work on the animatic but I was able to get started. Here's a still from the first scene, not a rendered shot, just a screengrab of the Maya windows.

(The top shot is a split of the scene and perspective cameras and the bottom is a close-up of the little birdies. They've a long way to go before they reach co-star status.)

As I work on the shots for the animatic, I think I'm going to do a little more lighting than I'd originally planned on. I think it'll help in the sense that it'll give us a better idea of the levels of modeling & shading required on our geometry, plus it'll start to give these shots a little bit of emotion, which is never a bad thing.

That means the animatic will go a tad bit more slowly than it might otherwise, but ideally some of the lighting choices will then transfer over to the final shots, saving time on the backend. Or something like that.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tricksy Camera, version 01

So all the futzing and time wasting and random code typing is done for now. I've got a camera rig that I'm going to live with for a little while, see if my half-baked ideas for what would make a workable set up make any sense at all.

Here's a copy of the Maya scene file (Maya 8) and the script. To try it out, import the camera rig file into any Maya scene, position it roughly, then run the script.

(screenshot of the rig and the GUI)

Now that this is in a workable state, I'm moving onto the animatic for the film, just blocking out shots and figuring out rough timing. I'll probably have stills to show as I go along but not much very exciting as models I'll be using in it are going to be very, very basic.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Maya Tip of the Day #2

This one is a little MEL script that's far from finished but that's gonna make it into my camera GUI in one form or another.
window -title "test Field Slider";

float $currentXLocation = `getAttr pCube1.tx`;
attrFieldSliderGrp -min ( $currentXLocation - 15 ) -max ( $currentXLocation + 15 ) -at pCube1.tx;
This creates a slider that slides the cube on the X-axis +/- 15 units based on wherever the cube is when the script is run. Wow. Now that is...uh...what exactly is that?

The way I see it working is as follows:
The camera and aim are blocked in roughly using the 4-pane orthographic & perspective views. Once the basic shots are set up, I'm going to need to refine them while looking through the camera. It's at that point that I'll call up the GUI and there I'll have sliders and keyframe buttons to dial in the actual shots. Because the transforms are locked on the actual camera in my rig (to avoid gimbal lock and throwing the camera totally out of whack) you can't move the camera using the usual pan & dolly mouse controls.

This rig is taking me about nine years and seventeen days to build but an end is in sight. I think.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Maya Tip Of The Day #1

Adding commands to your shelf the easy way:

Bring up your custom shelf of choice.

Hold down Control + Shift + Alt (the one with the apple on it) and navigate to the command you want to add.

Click it.

Voila! It's on your shelf.

Damn that's nice and easy.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

MEL Script = Headache

Ugh. I just spent the last several hours puzzling over how to do a bunch of different things for my camera rig. I've come the conclusion that a lot of the things that I put in my original rig & UI aren't really necessary any longer, particularly having two Aim Constrained locators and animation sliders for both of their weights.

I liked the idea at first. My plan was to aim the main locator at the main target of the camera and then have the secondary locator pulling it off target, bringing a little life to the camera. But if you think about how many possible animation tracks there would be in the graph editor with that kind of set-up, it gets ugly. Also that way of aiming the camera has no real relationship to the way an actual camera works. Not that a CG camera has to mimic a real world camera but I should probably have a decent reason for making it drastically different. Plus there are plenty of ways to bring life to the camera that would be more direct.

Alright. I'm tired. That's it for me. A copy of the rig will be up here eventually.

Moving Onto The Animatic

Looks like I'm on a weekly update schedule, which I'm not very proud of but it's a schedule at least.

So, the brief is in the hands of an artist I've worked with before. He's giving it a quick pass for clarity and to assess the reasonableness of what I want to get versus what I'm paying. It's not that I have no money to spend on an artist but it's more along the lines of, I'm offering one day's day rate and asking for, probably, more than one day's worth of work. Nevertheless, it's very important to me that I am offering paid work. All of the time in this industry you see "offers" for people to do free work because it'll "look great on their reel/portfolio." Now, I've done free, low-budget and work-in-trade but on this thing, I don't want to go that way. If an artist I already had a relationship with offered to do the concept art in trade I'd probably go for it, but I'm not going to approach someone I don't know hoping that they're in the mood to throw me some charity. This film is, for me, a real project and I intend to treat anyone who works for me on it professionally.

Enough time on the soapbox. One place I am planning on going for some free help is the CG Society forums. Now that the storyboard is considerably tighter (though probably not "done") I feel like it's time to get the animatic cranking. Earlier, before our change of direction, we brushed past the animatic but I think that this time it's important to make one. It'll help us really suss out our shots, it'll suggest which shots are just plane lame and can be cut and it'll give us an idea of whether or not the structure of the scenes makes any sense. In order to work on the animatic, I returned to look at the camera rig I was building a few months ago. That's what I'm going to be asking for some help with. I'm pretty happy with that I've built but it's not working exactly as intended. I'm hoping someone up there can throw some pointers my way.

I'll post screens and the MEL script once it's in a place I'm happy with.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Progress On The Board

Not posting anything just yet because I've not been able to run it by James, but the board's coming along quite nicely. Another sit-down or two with it and it'll be done. I'm not blocking out the shots all that completely but I'm taking them far enough to know what'll need to be modeled and what won't. I'm using this board as a chance to get more familiar with Sketchbook Pro and it's going pretty well. I'm still not as comfortable with it as I am paper but it's one hell of an app. I do wish it had a slightly broader range of brushes than it does but it's good. I like being able to add color quickly and easily, which is one thing I don't do when I sketch on paper.

Hopefully next week I'll have some progress to report on the concept artist search but even if that takes a little bit longer than hoped for, there's still plenty we can do while waiting for designs. There are matte paintings to paint and there are plenty of city elements left to model...This sucker is still a ways from being done.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Behind Schedule, Still Working

Ver. 01 of a brief is done and I've got a few initial feelers out to an artist I've worked with in the past. I'm tempted to put the brief up to give a sense of where we're going, design-wise, but 95% of the reference in the brief isn't our work and I don't know that I want to do anything that would imply that it was. I could source it all but that would be one hell of a long post and I've probably lost links to some of the stuff along the way.

One fun thing has been going through a lot of forums and blogs and putting together a list of artists we're planning on contacting for the job. I've been scouring the forums over at CGSociety and ConceptArt and spending a little bit of time on Deviant Art looking for good folk - and finding plenty. Our problem is going to be that we don't have a lot of money to spend.

Now that that's somewhat in motion, it's back to storyboards. I'll start posting them as soon as I have enough frames that are working for me to make a decent post.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Arrrgh! Weekend Work

Absolutely no progress to report from this weekend.

I spent most of Saturday finishing some animations for FX and right now I'm in the middle of doing styleframes for a new talk show on...I don't remember what network.

I'd hoped to get a brief written for a concept artist but once I'm done with this work, I really don't want to keep sitting in front of the computer. About the most I think I'll be able to do is to sit in front of the television for a while with my sketchbook. If I can get a page or two of sketching done I'll be happy.

Hopefully I'll have a brief Monday night and I'll be in touch with some artists over the next week. After the brief, my next task will be take a second pass on our storyboard. We have a new beat sheet/outline of the major scenes (did that last week) and it calls for some small revisions to the board. That's fun enough work and it'll be good to get done. I am so ready, though, to get back to modeling.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bird Sketches

This is another character we're going to try to get some help with. These mechanical/clockwork birds are becoming more important in the story and we want to make sure that the designs for these ends up being as good as it can be. These initial passes are telling me more what the birds shouldn't look like than what they should look like - but that's important to know.

This is some sort of mecha-dodo bird. Odd shape, not very menacing. The bird(s) in our short need to be able to do some menacing. This one is not spooky in any way. Nevertheless, I like the placement of the seams along the body shape.

Here I've moved from paper and pen to Sketchbook Pro and Wacom. I like the combo. It works for me. The sketches though...meh. The one colored bird head is ok, but that's about it.

And this is just my menacing guard bird. It works for what it is, but it's not much more than a notion of a menacing bird. It's not yet an illustration of one.

So, yeah, hopefully we'll be getting some help on these sketches soon and then, armed with awesome orthographic views, we'll be modeling fools.


Girl Sketches - First Pass

None of these sketches are really nailing it but they're a sampling of where my head is at- sort of - in terms of the main character in the short.

She's a skinny girl, 9-12 years old maybe, tall-ish and gangly. Here she's rocking a very simple ragamuffin outfit, colorful patches accenting a plain, utilitarian dress, striped sleeves and maybe colorful knee socks to add character. Not too dissimilar from Sally in Nightmare Before Christmas - but our girl is alive, and not a puppet seamstress.

Abstracting the head shape a bit more, trying to work with simple shapes and not being too concerned with realism.

This looks a bit more like someone's still kind of hot, hippy mom, than it does like our girl.

A couple Courtney Crumrin-inspired sketches here. I'm a huge fan of this book, though it's not really a direct inspiration for this short. Maybe the next project....Who the hell knows?
And lastly, a girl with some spunky attitude, demon eyes and a scarf.

Yes, it's quite the mixed bag (and there are others I'm not posting) but it's been a good exercise for me. I think that we're in a position where we can start talking to a concept artist or two for some help in taking this character - and two or three others - all the way to completion.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Tools

I just ordered a new MacBook Pro and I feel totally sick to my stomach. I am a total cheapskate. I hate spending more than $5 in any one place, let alone spending way, way more than that on something that's gonna be obsolete mere weeks after I buy it. At least software updates are usually a year apart - and then you rarely need to buy whole new versions, you can just update them.

Nevertheless, I felt like it was time. It'll be a faster rig than my current desktop, which I'm not getting rid of, and the chance to be somewhat more mobile is awesome.

Oooh boy I'm excited.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Character Design

With a title like "Character Design" you'd think this post would have some pictures. Alas but no. More than anything else, this is a post to kick myself in the pants and get a post up so that this thing doesn't succumb to blog-fade.

What we've been up to is looking at characters and sketching some and really trying to nail down who our main character is. When we first began this, we made a decision that we'd not go too "AmeriManga" with our main character. It's that I'm not a fan of the style, it's more that it's ubiquitous. AmeriManga characters are everywhere these days.

But, some of my favorite character designers show a definite manga influence. And a good AmeriManga character is also a good character, simply put. So I've opened my mind to that look a little bit and we're making progress in creating our girl.

I'd love to be able to show some sketches soon, with the understanding that I'm no character designer, but I don't have a scanner and my best drawings so far have been on that old analog paper. I am starting to make a transition to doing more digital sketching with Sketchbook Pro but I won't be doing really good work in it for a while, I think.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Further Explainations

So, riffing off of Barry's post, this diagram is an attempt to illustrate (My Take) on the changes being discussed. They consist mainly of artistic and pragmatic changes and not a complete re-think of our story or primary art direction.

I choose this picture as it was one of the pictures included by Barry in his post "Rethinking Stage Design"; Regarding certain shifts in art direction.


These images were not photographed by us, nor did we have ANY involvement in the creation of the models, set, props, etc. The changes made in panels "B" and "C" are for illustrative purposes only, and will not be used for commercial purposes.

Image A:
The original image from our Tear Sheet.

Image B:
A more developed rendering, with emphasis given to the 'Space' in which this scene takes place. 'Space' here meaning: lighting, physical space, negative space, and the overall relationship between actor(s), primary set objects, and secondary or tertiary objects in the scene.

Image C:
A technical breakdown of the shot elements from the standpoint of production. (If this was a shot of ours and if we were to approach it from this revised direction - How would we do it?)

**So what's the point? What are you trying to show?**

Well, the main change here is not about puppets or stages - so much as it is about changing the way physical space is represented in our piece. Barry and I have been spending quite a lot of time modeling objects - In an attempt to represent the 'Space' of the story.

In other words making sure the spatial relationship of every object makes sense, logically, with other objects in the scene - according to our established art direction.

In attempting to represent so many aspects of each scene explicitly - Some of our focus on the artistry and elegance of the work as a whole has been put on hold. At times we have found ourselves asking questions more akin to civil engineers than artists.

In addition, the man hours involved to model an entire city - down to the last screw or nail - are proving to be beyond the resources of our limited crew.

The reason that stage work, stage design, and puppet theater have all become so important to us is that we have decided to borrow from them a more spartan design aesthetic - as well as their sometimes surreal depictions of time, space, and circumstance. (Usually necessitated by traditional stage works' having Real-World limits on time, space, budget, and the like.)

Having said this - The significant thing being illustrated in Image B is a more Stage-Like approach to Blocking, Lighting, and Set Design - As opposed to an all-inclusive 3D world - In which the scenes take place. (For example - It's okay that the Foreground Characters are floating in space and not grounded to anything physically - What is important is the overall impression of the frame upon the viewer.)

I believe our final approach will be a combination of stage, dream, and reality; Ideally in a space unique to this production. I suspect....Looking foreword, Some scenes will be detached from 'reality' - While others hint at the physical word beyond.. And still others are a more grounded - almost deliberate - depiction of real world relationships between objects and events.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

This Weeks Homework Will Be...

American Set Design, by Arnold Aronson.

It's another $10 find from my local used-bookstore, The Iliad. It's a lot of interviews, which I may or may not read and a bunch of pictures, which I'm hoping will be very useful.

Stay-tuned folks, this sucker might actually turn out kind of cool one day!

Tearsheet One, Rethinking Stage Design

I've been looking at stages online, puppet theater stages, "experimental" black box stages, all that jazz. I've really been out-to-sea, somewhat, trying to understand where we're going with this new look.

I've had no trouble grasping what this will do for us in terms of character design. There are lots of brilliant marionettes and puppet designs out there that I'm more than happy to use as jumping-off points for our character. I've had trouble understanding the space that the film will be taking place in.

The photos leading off this post are the first stagings that have made sense to me. I can start to see how to construct a space for our short to take place in, after looking at these and thinking about them a bit.

They're from a production of "The Peddler of Swaffham" by the Bognoggin Theatre Co., at the Witham International Puppet Festival. Witham is a little ways outside of London, in the UK. I've never been there, never heard of it before, never knew they had a puppet festival there. Oh the wonders of the internet.

That's my post for now. I think it lacks in some particulars, particularly the part that explains the "why" behind the change of direction, but that's just the way that it goes sometimes.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Small Art Direction Re-Think

Don't wait with bated breath for the next AO-shaded model post. We've had a small change of art direction. As we develop the concept a bit more, we'll start throwing up some reference images and, eventually, some tests of the new look.

The reasons behind this change are myriad, some purely practical, some aesthetic. I don't have a full-blown post in me right now but I imagine that one of us will explain our new choices before too long.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Overall Scene Progress

Here are some stills from the scene camera as they stand at the moment.

Here are some stills from the scene camera as they stand at the moment.

Updates to the Hill (BTW CB14 and CB15)

Well, I sat down to work on my current building (CB 14) but as I had said before I was going to work on the hill behind in tandem with the building, since CB15, CB14, and the hill all are elements in a large part of the shot. After working out the dimensions with my stand-in scene (mentioned here) I roughed in the hill and built a walkway which passes through the space between the 2 buildings. I also added a short wall almost at the top of the hill, just to extend to depth of the scene.

All of these details need refinement so, this is still just a rough blocking in of the next level of detail and composition.

The renderings here show the refined area.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Oh, I Know You Love My Little Updates!

This is somewhat close to where the camera ends in the final shot.

This is just another angle, showing the new brackets and maybe some other new stuff. As I model this, I re-look at lots of pieces of geometry and I worry that I'm going to have to remodel tons of this thing when it's time to UV map & texture. I may be wrong. But, let's face it, I am not "Mr. I've Been Poly Modeling For The Last 10 Years." This thing has got to be full of rookie mistakes. I just hope they're not so large as to be deal-breakers on down the line.

One or two more posts and I'm moving on, I think.


Monday, August 20, 2007

The Hills Have Eyes (or CB 15 WIP 4 continued Pt. 2)

Another part of this shot is the hill which can be seen between the buildings as the camera approaches the window on the left. Since our original scene was so basic, I had to do some gymnastics to figure out just how much hill needed to be developed. Now that I have it isolated; I will work on it in tandem with CB 15, to help insure that the placement is correct. To this end I created a new scene with: The scene camera, CB 14, and CB 15. (Most of the stuff in the top picture.)

CB 15 WIP 4 continued

A few renderings from the scene camera - To see some of the alley in context.

CB 15 WIP 4

Well work continues on this building.. Mainly the wall which faces the camera (As mentioned previously) Not much to explain here, just building up the overall details on the wall closest to camera in this shot. (Well I guess I should explain that the things that look like curtains will be corrugated metal.)