Wow! I know I know it’s been a long time!

Ok sorry for the massive lack of updates.  I’ve had month after month of crazy amounts of work and then just haven’t had the energy to sit down and write something interesting.

It doesn’t help that I couldn’t actually think of many interesting things to talk about seeing as we haven’t been able to make any films for a while.

I was thinking about maybe talking about animation techniques or VFX techniques but didn’t want to stray too much from the actual core part of making films.  If you feel this might be of some interest then I’m more than happy to oblige?

I have decided one thing over the last few months and that is to scrap the part of 22 days later where by we have to use a costume, phrase and prop from our viewers.  It’s not that I didn’t like some of the ideas that we pulled out the hat. After all without them we wouldn’t of had the insane films we’ve made so far.  But to be honest we just weren’t getting enough ideas coming in and at the moment I’ve got quite a few short films I’d really just like to make without random input.

Maybe one day I’ll add that part back in but for now I’m going with just making a film in 22 days. If I get an influx of complaints then I will consider bringing that part back.

Although it has been pretty much work, work; work these past few months – by the way I can’t believe it’s been over 2 months since my last post; we did manage to shoot a short film.

The idea was to enter a short horror in a competition called: Short Cuts to Hell.  Unfortunately we left it far to late – the night before, and so had to make up the story, film it and edit it in around eight hours.

It actually came out ok, the only problem was that one of the rules of the competition was that the film couldn’t be more than three minutes. Our film no matter how we tried to cut it came in at around four minutes.  So we decided to call it quits.

I have decided to that it would be a shame to just leave it and so over the next few weeks I’ll finish it off and see what we get.

Here is a still. It’s worth noting that because there was only two of us we didn’t bother with any lighting and just used what we had in the room…which is why it looks a little bland.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 23.37.28

In till next time – hopefully not two months.

Peter

The secrets of CG movies

I wrote this brief overview on computer graphics for a presentation I did last month.

Over the years I’ve found that there’s a lot of people that seem interested in how computer graphics and more precisly movies like Toy Story are made.

So I decided it might be of interest to some of  you as well.  It’s only a very rough overview and obviously there’s a hell of a lot more to the art of computer graphics but hopefully it will give you some idea of what goes into making these amazing movies.

Image

Image

I created this image in 2005. The face was based off of my Grandad. 

CG stands for Computer graphics

After the script has been finalised just like with traditional movies,  a CG movie should start with a story board.
Image

Once a storyboard has been drawn, animated movies usually have what’s called an animatic or Pre-vis. This is basically a moving storyboard. It gives everyone a much better sense to what the final movie will be like.

This link below shows the rough version of the short animation I created Baggage. This started off as very basic blocked out animation (Animatic) As I completed the animation I’d replace the rough version shots with the completed animations.  In the video you’ll see that some of the animations are still very basic,  these are from the animatic.

You’ll also notice that none of the shots look very pretty, this is because they still need to through a process called rendering which I cover further down in this article.

Animatic

Once everyone is happy with how the story flows production can start.

Unlike live action films in CG you don’t get anything for free, everything has to be made from scratch.  From huge skyscrapers right down to plug sockets on a wall. If it needs to be in the film then it has to be made.

Although just like sets on movies, you can cheat and  make facades. Below is a link to another blog post I did a while back on the creation of the street scene also featured in my short Baggage.

Making a CG street

Most computer graphic models are made up of shapes called Polygons, These are basically flat squares. The more polygons you have the more detail you can have in your models.  But with more polygons the longer it takes the computer to process. It’s always wise to use real world reference to aid in the building of your models but you can also use photos as a basis to texture (colour) your model

Image

Once you have built your models you need to add colour and materials to make them look real.  These can be taken from photos or created using algorithms within the computer. The term for this process is called texturing and shading. Texturing refers to the colours while shading refers to how light will interact with the material.  Just like in the real world, where light bounces of materials in different ways, the same can be achieved in the computer.  For example think about the difference between a tennis ball and a pool ball.

Pool balls are shiny and reflective

Image

Where as tennis balls have no reflections and thus no shine either.

Image

In this following video I take a simple brick texture and apply it to a surface.  Using separate black and white images I can tell the computer how shiny the object it is as well as how bumpy it is.   These separate images are usually replicas of the original colour image but have various grey scale intensities that allow the computer to know how shiny or bumpy you want your surface to be.

NOTE: Please excuse the “Demo Mode” across the middle. I was using a capture software that I downloaded so they stick that across in till you decide to pay for it.

Texture shading demonstration

If the object being created is a character or something that needs to deform in an organic way, then it needs to have bones, very much like we do.  This allows the object to bend.

Where the bones are placed dictates how the object can bend.  And just like a puppet these characters need to have controls so that the puppeteer/animator can control the character.  This process is called rigging.

Image

Once the character has been rigged it can be given to the animator to animate.

There’s a common misconception with computer animation.  A lot of people I speak to believe that computer animation takes a lot less time than hand drawn animation.  The reality is that although the computer does make some things easier, there are others parts that take longer and so both methods take a similar amount of time.

In the link below I show a brief demonstration of how an animator would use the controls on the characters to put them into a pose. Again please excuse the big “Demo Mode” across the middle.

Posing a character

The animator will of been given a shot to animate. They sometimes get the animatic as a template to where the character needs to move to and how long it should take.  If there  are a number of characters in the one shot it’s usually the responsibility of the one animator to animate all of the characters.

Usually an animator will shoot live action reference of them acting out the actions that the character needs to do.  They may also sketch some thumbnails to get an idea of how to add appeal to the poses.

Reference

They then need to create all the main key poses that express the movements and feelings of the character.  Once they’ve done that they will add in all of the “in-betweens” which is the part of the action between the main poses. Below is link to a shot from the short Baggage where Sam pulls his bag from some Tube train doors.  This stage is called blocking which is where all the main poses of the animation have been put in place.

Key poses

It’s also worth noting how some of the poses I’ve stretched his body more then would usually happen. This is a principle of animation called Squash and Stretch. There are 12 key principles in animation which were thought up originally by the nine old men at Disney. You can find out more information about these principles here Principles

The next part of the process is to pass the animation onto the rendering and lighting team.  This is where the sets and characters are lit and finally a process of what is called rendering.
Image

Rendering is where the computer takes all of the information that has been created. So things like where the polygons sit in the virtual world, what moves where, how the lights affect the shading and textures, what’s solid what’s transparent, what’s reflective.  All this information is computed so that we the viewer get to see the final result.

And that is a brief overview of what goes into computer graphics.Like I mentioned at the start this is a very basic overview, if you’re interested in learning more then give me a shout I’m more than happy to talk about it or point you to some good websites.

In till next time!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Video

Hello everyone.

I hope you’re all set for the big day…or maybe you’re already celebrating?

I thought I’d do a quick blog update to say I’ve now finished the short animation I was working on,

The plan was to send it out as a video Christmas card but I started it too late and so it all got a bit rushed.

It’s a little bit flawed as I didn’t get time to animate all the shots I wanted.

I also really struggled to get music to match the scenes. One of the reasons why if you’re creating a film it’s really really a good idea to get a professional composer.

However I have to say that in looking for cinematic music I did find this amazing royalty free music site called http://www.a-scores.com.

I honestly can’t believe how good the standard of this music is, every track could easily of been taken straight out of a Blockbuster and for personal use they’re only charging $1 per song.

Anyway that’s enough of me chatting on. If you’d like to see the finished animation you can view it here.

Music, film and animation!

I thought I’d just give everyone an update to what’s going on at the moment.

So it may appear from the activity on the blog that there’s not much going on. It’s actually completely crazy so I thought I’d just give you an overview of what’s going on.

So, I’m still working on finishing The Great Spielron before Christmas although it might spill over as there’s just soooo much to do. 

Although we’ve finished shooting I’ve still got to add in a lot of CG effects, I’ve also got to do a lot of removals of things like lights that were in some of the shots. 

Most of the film is edited except for two scenes.

I’ve still got to fix all the sound and foley and sound effects and colour grade a lot of it. 

But that’s not all. I also decided to shoot a music video and do an fun animation for Christmas because for some stupid reason I thought I might be able to do it all…which so far isn’t going that way.

I thought I’d post up some stills from each of these to give you some idea of how they’re coming along. 

You can probably guess which ones which.

Short film clips from the horror the great Spielron

Snapshots from music video

animation for christmas with snowmen and baubles

 

So again apologies for the slow down in updates regarding the film.  I promise that everything will resume back to normal once Christmas is out the way.

Oh yeah I almost forgot that’s another little task I have to sort out, Christmas Shopping!