EOYS : Final Planning & Preparation

In the running months to the EOYS, I was part of the EOYS committee and assisted with Planning, however most of our plans ended up undergoing heavy alterations once actually faced with the space, boards and number of projects we had.

The past week has been a mixture of cleaning and painting and some panicked attempts at printing.

This brings to problem 1 encountered.

Generally, I’m not a fan of giving negative reviews to any business, but seriously, when I place an order for about £100 worth of prints, I don’t want to get an email back 5 days later saying that they can’t get our prints to us til Wednesday a week after the deadline.

This seems to be a commonplace situation, where the printers in Belfast had a backlog of online orders, or were not actively printing anything over the weekend, or bank holiday of the deadline.

As of writing this, I haven’t yet gotten a single print ready, though I am supposed to be collecting a number of the vital pieces at around 10am, giving just two hours to set things up. (It’s important to note that these were ordered on Tuesday the 22nd).

Initially our plan looked like this:

We had a small selection of ideas of how our stuff could be layed out, however upon seeing the actual space and where we would be positioned – some, rethinking was needed.

Looking at the space, we layed out what we thought might work.

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However, we felt that we needed more to show and to have our poster exhibited as well, to help direct people towards us.

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This was the rough idea we had, which we briefly highlighted in photoshop.

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The actual content of the wall can be seen below, in it’s unprinted formats.

Vignette Renders to go on the Right hand Side.

Pseudo-Wireframe Renders of Key Characters.

Original Environment and Tonal Concept Art.

Info-pages with relevant references to our roles.

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Concept and Texture Board.

And then taking the center piece.

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The Poster.

In addition to this we had 3 bunnies with some dandelions as our ‘feature’ to help tie the area together.

Upon printing everything at Windsor Prints, and sticking everything up with Velcro, which allows us to make minor adjustments to angle to help straighten things out without too much effort, it looked like this.

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On the right we are displaying the short film, with showreels playing side by side on the right.

CV’s were also attached, and placeholders for the Business Cards that are yet to be printed.

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Reflection on the End of Year Show.

Part of the difficulty of preparing materials for the EOYS was the fact that as a small team of two with limited resources, and external priorities, was that we couldn’t afford as much time or money to getting the things we would have ideally had access too.

This wasn’t just extended to the quality and quantity of prints themselves, but also the amount of additional pieces we could include, 3D Prints, tablets and the like.

Despite this, I’m pretty pleased with what we ended up getting, albiet a few minor hiccups along the way.

Rebuilding our showreels, websites and CV’s also ate into our time, and putting together a showreel on a dying laptop was a challenge, one that was thankfully relieved however just a few days before the deadline.

On the topic of my showreel, I do feel like I need to add more to it, including re-rendering some of the Zbrush Sculpts, which simply did not output with the quality I expected. I suspect this was due in part to a choppy conversion from .mpg to .mp4.

Aside from the contribution and reflection of my own stall, most of my contributions happened during the earlier months as part of the EOYS committee, before we began divving up the roles as the date approached and our plan became more secure.

One of the main things we did was try to ensure that larger teams took on the larger jobs, as they had more people, and therefore more time they could spare from their projects.

This backfired for some of us, as it meant we did not have a solid or set role to work on during the EOYS preparations.

In the end, it boiled down to doing what we could, more than anything else – cleaning, painting and moving furniture becoming about the sum of it.

 

 

Updated Animatic (Animation completed)

This was the point where my workload really bumped up, as the pressure now shifted from Anna to me, with the need to quickly begin rendering approaching.

Fortunately, I had great support and was able to begin rendering the first shots fairly promptly, with only minor revisions needed.

In reflection, we still have a handful of shots that I’d like the opportunity to re-render and prep for the EOYS.

Anna-Mation

This is the version of the animatic with all the animation (minus some environmental animation) completed. There are still some aspects such as leaves rustling and brambles slithering that need finished.

You can see some of the completed backgrounds, and also an example of how the entire film will look while rendered, as the first two shots have been completed in this version of the animatic.

As you can see, I copied the posing and framing from the original 2D animatic to the best of my abilities, and put a lot of emphasis on creating good strong silhouettes with the characters.

Below I have shared examples of some of my personal favourite shots from the entire film. I think they show off my skills in layout, posing, timing and expressions quite well.

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Environmental Textures

The colour palettes established in these pieces of artwork by Anna were used to help work out the tone of each sequence and what kind of lighting would be required.

For the darker shots, harsher and slightly purple tinted lights had to be used to ‘frame’ the characters and help them pop out of the background.

Alternatively, in brighter shots, a yellow directional light was used to cast shadows around them to make them stand out from their environment.

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The plan was for every single background of the film to be completed in a very painterly style, with thick, visible brushstrokes and bright colours.

Part 1: Skyspheres

SKYSPHERE_MEADOW_02 This Skysphere is used in Scenes 1 & 2. It is the pleasant, normal sky that appears when all is calm and at peace. As you can see I used very vivid colours and thick brushstrokes to paint the fluffy clouds to create a very fun and carefree sky.

SKYSPHERE_CLOUDY_01_wip This second Skysphere is used during Scene 3, when the rain begins to fall. The colours are still natural, signifying that the situation is not so far from reality, but the swirling vortex of the clouds tells us that the worst is yet to come.

SKYSPHERE_STORMY_01 The colours have gotten even more intense and surreal for this skysphere that is utilised during Scenes 4, 5, 6 and 7. The contrasting colours create a sense…

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Project Poster

The Idea for the poster came from one of my favourite video game covers of all time, being Fable 2.

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Anna-Mation

After much brainstorming we settled on the title “Storm Within” for our film.

Following the general aesthetic of the film as a whole – that being painterly with very vibrant colours – I designed the poster so that it could properly represent the overall colour scheme and tone of the animation and represent its themes.

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Portfolio Post #2: Film Specifics

All Videos are Examples and do not reflect the sum total of contribution.

Meadow Sequence

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Lighting.

Stream Sequence 1

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Lighting, Water & Paint Effects

Stream Sequence 2

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Lighting, Water Effects

Snake Sequence 1

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Lighting, Paint Effects

Snake Sequence 2

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Lighting, Paint Effects

Hill Sequence

hawk

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Camera, Lighting, Paint Effects

Hill Base Sequence

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Lighting, Water & Paint Effects

Log Ocean Sequence 1

Modelling (Rabbit, Environment, Wolf Retopology), Rigging, Environment Layout, Lighting, Water & Lightning Effects

Underwater Sequence

Modelling, Rigging, Lighting, Water Effects

Memory Sequence

Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout, Camera, Lighting, Water & Paint Effects

Log Ocean Sequence 2

chimera

Modelling, Rigging, Lighting, Environment Layout, Water Effects, Camera Correction

 

Portfolio Post #1: Contribution List

The Short Film Storm within was created by myself and Anna McCraith, whilst Anna handled the Character Animation and Compositing, as well as Texturing of characters, I dealt with the 3D Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout and 3D Effects that you see in the film.

A brief bullet-point of my contributions broken down by scene is below.

  • Writing
    • Original Concept
    • Major Villains (Conceptualization of the Wolf, Hawk, Snake and Chimera)
    • Potential Environment Planning
  • Character Modelling
    • Rabbits
      • The Main Character, Alan – Modeled based on original concept art by Anna McCraith
      • Fat Rabbit’s – Modeled and adapted from the Model of Alan.
    • Snake
      • Modeled based on original concept art by Anna McCraith
    • Hawk
      • Modeled based on Silhouette Reference.
    • Wolf
      • Retopology and Model Adjustments to Zbrush Sculpt originally made by Kerry McCormick.
    • Chimera
      • Model ‘bashed’ using previously listed models.
  • Environment Models
    • Trees & Shrub Pseudo-3D models based on 2D Textures by Anna McCraith
    • Rocks (27 Unique Rocks arranged into 3 Clusters)
    • Reeds (Used in original Animatic)
    • Brambles
      • Attached Thorn Models
  • Rigging
    • Rabbits
      • Alan the Main Character Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
      • Fat Rabbit Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Wolf
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Hawk
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Chimera
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Snake
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
  • Environment Layout
    • Meadow Scene
    • Stream Scene (Version 1)
    • Stream Scene (Version 2)
    • Snake Lair Scene
    • Snake’s Run Scene
    • Hill Scene
    • Hill to Ocean Scene
    • Log Ocean Scene (Version 1)
    • Log Ocean Scene (Version 2)
    • Underwater Scene
    • Underwater Memory Scene
    • Final Step-Off Scene
  • Lighting
    • Scene Lighting
    • Character Mesh Lighting
    • Volumetrics
    • Reflective Lights
    • Film Colour Sequencing
    • Tonal Planning
  • 3D Effects
    • Lightning
    • Water
      • Stream
      • Hill
      • Ocean
      • Underwater
    • Grass Effects
      • Reeds
      • Shrubs
      • Plants
    • Highlight Smoke
      • Snake Eyes
      • Wolf Eyes
      • Chimera Eyes
      • Hawk Wing Trail
  • Rendering
    • Wrangling
    • Set-Up
      • Cloud Render Management
      • As-Needed Correctives
      • Shot-By-Shot Assessment
      • Colour Correction (partial)
    • Organisation
      • File Fixing
      • Sequence Set-up
  • Compositing
    • Shot Assistance & Planning
    • Credit Sequence Planning
  • Additional Contributions
    • Sourcing and Laison for Music Production
    • Sourcing Sound Effects
    • Primary Research Gathering

 

Fire : Learning to Burn

In the plan for our short, the wolf was originally going to be comprised entirely of smoke and electricity, however after looking into how to do that, we quickly decided to simply have it emit some smoke and flame.

It took several attempts before we realized that this was an unfeasible goal to add in the time we had, especially as a team of two with a wide spread of work to do.

The tests initially started simple, adding some smoke and flame to the eyes of the characters to make them appear more threatening.

After a lengthy series of tests and practices, I eventually figured out how to graft the smoke to the geometry of the characters so that it moved with them.

This however, created a different problem.

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In shots where the wolf moved, the smoke effect came off blocky and thick, rather than the whispy aesthetic I was going for. When static, it worked fine, aside from a few glitches.

Rendering the successful ones also sometimes created this problem.
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This mainly occured with Zync, and was supposedly due to issues with caching the particle effect history, however no matter what tutorials I followed and attempts I made to correct this, I could not get Zync to render the particles properly and without issue.

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This was what the above images looked like when static, and as you can see, despite all 3 having identical sky-boxes and light set ups, the results could not be more different when rendered through Zync or a different computer.

This inconsistency then drove me towards Paint Effects, and attempting to create the fire and smoke using that.

Needless to say, it had mixed results.

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Generally, the paint effects looked good, but didn’t necessarily fit the aesthetic of the film – and as they rendered fully 2D, without existing transparency – it was hard to get a visualisation pre-composition of how it might look.

Image converted using ifftoany

As it stood, it’s impossible to tell how this would look in the scene – however the results were more shocking when comped together.

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Whilst certain terrifying, and very close to the aesthetic we wanted – the wolf seemed to lose all definition as to what it was when we covered it in flame.

Additionally, the sheer amount of compositing that would need done for this, the hawk and the snake proved to be quite excessive.

Given these factors, we decided to keep the smoke and flame effects to a minimum, using them sparsely to accentuate danger through after effects.

This tutorial was interesting, and in an ideal world, we’d have liked our film to feature effects like this on the characters. – However, as you can see, even creating a simple static effect took time – and replicating this through dozens of shots on a moving creature proved… troublesome at best.

This was the idea of how we could go about doing the shot in which the wolf disintegrates into smoke, using a combination of render layers and effects to have it disappear.

As can be seen here, most of the smoke effects we ended up using were simple ambient pieces, with the occasional piece of particle effects around the eyes and mouth, like shown at the beginning of this post.