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