Wednesday, March 04, 2009


At last! At last, animation.

I am animating, and its fun and amazing, its like getting to play with dolls all over again. Slowly moving dolls with strange joint and twist controls that have a billion little colored lines coming out of them that make them look like they're covered in ugly neon string.

But still! Animation! Rigging and modelling of all characters has been completed, and a tweaked script awaits storyboarding. While I wait for my lazy pencil to kick its own ass into gear, I move forward with animation.

I could post the entirety of the six seconds here, but that would take forever.

So here:

You get a screenshot. Not much is happening, obviously. Some construction. Its a frame from the very first shot of the short. Lots of "s" words and "f" words in that last sentence.

But yes. Lots of things still very rough around the edges in there. Textures, lighting. You can't see it, but the animation needs work too. Basically as it stands now, what I've got is a bit of a redheaded stepchild.

Hopefully within the next few days I can beat it into something prettier.

Observant readers (all two of you) will notice the presence of a new chap in town, and by town I mean in the animation, one that I haven't shown before. Well I'm glad you asked, Billy, because here he is:

Presenting a proud member of the Los Cielos manual labor workforce.

More to come soon, friends.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bigass Baby Steps

That's what I'm taking with my most recent thesisical undertaking.

Bigass baby steps. They're baby steps, but they're big ones. Bigass ones, even.

First of all, let's see some setwork.



Firstly there's outside the big old dome city of Los Cielos, that barren, rocky wasteland where the workers will first begin.

I know what you're going to say. The rocks look ok, but the cliff-face and the dirt ground look like shit.
And if that's not what you were going to say....well then, fuck you, that's what -I- say. Because it does.
The textures here look like they were made with a cheese grater, which would be so cool if it were actually true.
Nothing a day or so of being shoved around won't fix though.

Next is inside the city, and not only inside the city but inside one of the buildings inside the city, and not only inside one of the buildings inside the city but inside one of the rooms inside one of the buildings inside the city.
Specifically speaking, the bedroom of our protagonist Kryssi. Is that saucy? That might be saucy.

The room doesn't really look saucy, however. There isn't even a bed. Well ok, that's not true, there is a bed, you just can't see it from this angle.
What the room -really- needs (other than a desk that isn't made solely out of WHITE) is a woman's touch. With the exception of the flowers on top of the desk thing, you'd never know it was a lady's room.
I'm at somewhat of a loss. But only for the time being. I will be speaking to some advisors about this presently. And I don't mean Myles. I don't think he has any first hand experience on how a girl decorates her room.

Speaking of girls, there is progress on characters. Progress. Outside of the Manifest Destiny context that word sounds so....-neutral-. Its like saying "things are going." No mention of where they're going, or how they're going. They're just going.
So I take that back. There is no progress. Instead there's a bigass babystep. Yeah.

They've been gussied up a little bit. Kryssi has eyebrows now, and our friendly neighborhood terrified polizei has been given something to breath through (his mouth grate texture). Its stunning what a difference a few little things can make.

Speaking of a few little things.

Its funny to me how many third party tools go into making Maya....functional. Yes, functional. I've come to a conclusion over the past months, and that's that Maya, as a 3d imaging program is horribly unintuitive. Anyone who knows it or has used it would probably agree with me. Its certainly less intuitive than my flagship program, 3D Studio MAX. Hell, I even think that its worse than Lightwave.

And Lightwave is pretty damn unintuitive.

For this project I've been forced to use, nay, LEAN on a few 3rd party tools in order to be able to crank my project at a reasonable speed. In particular, I'm using Roadkill UVUnwrapper and The Setup Machine.

You'd think a 3d imaging program worth its salt wouldn't need these things for work to progress at a rate that doesn't induce hairloss via one's own fingers, but these tools, which assist in texturing and rigging, respectively, now that they are being used, seem invaluable and utterly critical to the process. And Maya has no provisions that come even close to what these plugins do. Gravy.

Ranting aside, what this means is texturing and rigging is progressing much, much faster than would likely to be initially anticipated, and all that crap ought be done within a few days at -most-, and I'll be on to animating like a happy child being let out to play after finally finishing his chores.


Bigass baby steps, aye.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Breathing Fog

You know, I was telling a story the other day about a man lost in a city that was drowning in a bank of sickly, yellow fog. The man would breathe in the fog with every step, and each time I described it as feeling like it was breathing in fine dust. It would coat his mouth and the inside of his lungs with a sickly sandy feeling, sandy like the sand you'd find at the bottom of a dumpster.

He died later on.

In other, mildly related news, there's been a little bit of progress on that thing called Rain.

Yes, that thing.

Animating is fun, I've realized, but the steps that it takes to get you to a point where you can freely animate can be a rather tremendous pain in the proverbial (or none proverbial, I'm spending hours and hours on end sitting after all) arse.
Luckily I find texturing fun. Though I probably oughta rein it in a little.

In other news, I'm not ready to start animating yet. This is mostly in line with my traditional schedule of work, which typically goes like this: character models, set models, spattered with intermittent work on textures for said models, completion of textures after the models are done and rigged, then with the characters are thrown in, like so many action figures in a massive digital Malibu Barbie playpenhousemansionfortress, and animation, camerawork and lighting all begin simultaneously.

Editing typically comes later, and all at once. Well no, that's not true, editing happens in the beginning, with the animatic and in some senses, the storyboard and the sound design, etc etc. Whatever. Koo koo, potato potato.

Its a(n) order of work that's evolved naturally and makes a lot of sense to me. Imagine the colossal task of building a house. Now imagine that you have to build that house yourself. And then imagine the house has to be able to get up and walk around and conduct itself in an orderly manner, likely involving handling kittens without crushing them.


So I start from the ground up. Make sure I have all the individual pieces before I start applying the duct tape and staples of animation and editing.

Its not exactly easy to monitor, but its safe and its been consistently reliable. Aside from some deviations, in terms of showing things off during critiques, that's how I'm gonna be working.
Its all on my Gantt Chart, I swear. Wherever that is. I might have jettisoned it into space.

The man can't hold me down.

What was I talking about.

Oh yeah: progress.

Here's some snaps of models, almost fully finished, in terms of actual modelling (some tweaks here and there, the fussy things) and partially textured. They're partially rigged too, but there's no good way to show that off until partially rigged = fully rigged.

Here's Kryssi, our pwotagawnist. I mean protagonist.

The background is peach for unrelated reasons.

And here is your friend and mine, the Gas Mask doffing officer figure:

What time do we have, little Timmy?

Oh yes, that's right, that reminds me.

Did I mention that I'm fully two weeks behind in production? So here I am. I'm a month into thesis and playing it like its the first week. Working every day, getting things into place, and I'm still only where I should have been weeks ago.

But I prefer not to worry. Worrying and stressing makes me churn out shit for work. -Utter-. -Shit-. With a capital "S" "H". Just look at the swill that I was making last semester. Yeah, ankle deep mucking around in that is a lot of fun. So no, I'm not going to worry. I'm not going to stress.

I'm done stressing. I've breathed the suffocating yellow fog-sands and found them wanting.

This is my project. You people told me it was my project, and I took that to heart. Now I'm going to make something that I can bear to watch, no matter how long its going to take.
At least then, in the end, no matter what manner of project I end up producing, I know that I am going to have at least -one- dedicated viewer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beyond The Veil of Madness

Its a new semester. New professor. New classmates. New classes. New attitude. New haircut. New things to look forward to.


This is good.

Let's see where this takes us, shall we?

Here's the animatic, held over from last semester: LINK

And the synopsis and statement as it was at the end of last semester: LINKY

Monday, October 20, 2008


Moving forward is fun. Its so much better than moving backwards, unless you're being Michael Jackson in Billy Jean, but then you have to deal with the children.

What was I talking about.

Oh yes. Moving forward is fun. Most (in fact, all) of the moving forward that I"ve been doing this week has concerned my dear old thesis project, entitled Rain.

Note that I say "moving forward" and not "moved forward and done and now we're doing some actual work on the project."

I'd have a finalized version of the project by now if I didn't continually get it into my head to run it by a few trusted friends of mine and getting suggestions that blow my mind in how perfect they are.

So the script and screenplay you all saw last week, or whenever the hell I last posted here has been demoted to a v0.5 and v1.0 is still to come.

I've lashed together a storyboard out of the rotted wood and metal that is the now-v0.5 and there's an animatic ready as well, but one thing at time, hey?

Here, have a storyboard:

More to come, soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


So some people have asked me "Patrick, you lovely ultra-desirable piece of beautiful man-meat, where do you get all of your ideas?" Well I'm glad you asked that, Timmy. Now shut up and sit down.

The big example I'm going to to be blathering about in particular this time around is my thesis project. My big final opus of one minute and eight (was it eight? or was it nine?) seconds that will become the culmination of all of my efforts as a New York University SCPS student.

So, Rain, basically, the project I've been going on about for a little bit by now.

My primary inspiration for Rain doesn't exist. I cannot and could not say that there is one thing that inspired me to make this project the way it is, with the exception of my previous project, which takes place in a similar futuristic-sci-fi-dystopian-city-with-a-dome-over-it setting, Euphoria Inc.

But like so many fliers for shows that I'm never going to go to, picked up off of the ground outside of a club in midtown Manhattan, my inspirations came from all types of things.
For example, the story itself, or rather the style and attitude of the story itself. For all two (Timmy doesn't count) of you who remember, most of my previous projects have revolved around two attitudes: surreal horror and film noir. Adagio, Hellhounds, Royal and Manchester, Anathema, The Laboratory of Doctor Aken, they all generally fit into those two categories.

As much as I love these two categories like a fat man loves his chocolate, I felt it was about time I did something different. Just to tell myself, yes, I can do something different...after all, nothing's worse than realizing you're a one-trick pony. But what to write?
Now for the past five or six months I've been regularly (and by regularly I mean irregularly) dropping into the Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Union Square to read through Neil Gaiman's magnum opus anthology, The Sandman.
Four months and five books later, I was officially a fan of the way Neil Gaiman tells stories. Not necessarily the actual stories, which range from phenomenal to "meh", but the way he tells them.
WIth that on my mind and thesis season encroaching, it was only a matter of letting the right two brain cells rub against each other for me to attempt to do something similar.

Now how about the characters? Kryssi in particular comes from a bunch of different places, and has probably mutated the most over the course of the development process.
One thing that has not changed in the least is her underlying attitude, which is directly inspired by the female leads of a few webcomics that I read and still read regularly, Dresden Codak and Gunnerkrigg Court. In particular, they are quiet, observant and incredibly resourceful gals (each in their own way), with strong tendencies towards not only thinking outside of the box, solving their own problems, and not being afraid to go after what they want, when they get it into their head to do so.
Her appearance, however, has shifted all over the place. She started off as a spunky ten year old girl named Anna, then turned into an not-entirely-emo mid-twenties woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders, also named Anna, then back into a spunky ten year old girl, except this time with a smaller head, still named Anna.
It didn't really click with me though. It'd do in a pinch and a half, sure, buuut it stilll really wasn't something I felt was -there- yet.
It wasn't until I took a page from my previous Euphoria Inc. project that I settled on something I could really go with. You see, almost all of the characters from Euphoria Inc. are inspired by people I know in life. A friend, a lover, an acquaintance, some shmuck that I happened to live down the street from, its their stories that I try to tell, in my own way, and their personalities that drive their counterparts in the graphic novel.
It turns out that trying to come up with an entirely new character for such an unfamiliar means of storytelling was exactly what my problem was.
And so she went from being Anna to Kryssi. She's based on an old friend and romantic interest of mine from a long time ago and who I've long since parted ways with and who's insistence on deviating from the norm, no matter what it may have been, was responsible for drawing me to her in the first place.

The other characters, at least the ones with legs and sentience, consist entirely of the three hazmat suit workers who chase Kryssi through the city, and who are the first to discover, after Kryssi, the harmlessness of the falling rain outside.
Since they are almost entirely defined by the appearance of the hazmat suits, I made the decision to design the suits in a fashion that would outwardly express the terror that is contained inwardly, towards the rain and the environment in general that exists outside of the safety bubble of Los Cielos' dome, and where better to look for expressions of terror than Edvard Munch's Scream:

So to sum up, my inspirations have been pulled from a highly successful and lucrative author, a person who exists in my life, and an impressionist painter.

How's that?

Previsualizationerarium Update (aka about fcuking time)

Ok so.

The project is called "Rain."

No wait, we've already been over that.

Here's the update, I've finally got a script and screenplay that I really like, and that I'm almost 100% confident about whether or not I'm going to be able to actually pull it off.

Its just a matter of tweaking and dusting and punching it in the face until the kinks, which I'm positive are there, are worked out, like those annoying gas bubbles that always end up in your hummus and make you pick up less hummus every time you scoop. You know what I mean.

So yes...SCRIPT and SCREENPLAY...a moving Oscar-award winning film about a script and screenplay who move to Africa and embark on a journey to find themselves in the midst of...a lot of Africans. Also the meaning of twoo wuv.

More to come, summarily. SUMMARILY, so says I. This is shaping up to be cool. But first, I gotta get something to eat.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Yes, this is exactly what I shouldn't be doing. I'm running my process under the big heavy tuesdaytuesdaytuesday wheels of dragged time.

But its how it'll happen.

Gimme a second.