Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas / Happy New Year

It's the December null week in between Christmas and New Years, where all your free time is taken up with friends, family, and other ne'er-do-wells (aka coworkers). Despite the season's festivities (or what is supposed to pass for festivity) I've managed to break 57:00 mins, and get over a minute done in the final scene:

"Lucia, your foot odor is intolerable..."

"Colette, you aren't exactly Dr. Scholls yourself..."

This alone doesn't explain my lack of blog posting here in the last week or two. That can be explained by the following bullet list:

  • I'm Lazy
  • It's winter, and I'm hibernating
  • Srsly, this time of year sucks and there's no sunlight and snow everywhere
  • Squirrels
Luckily Santa was good, and I got a nifty new mp4 player (an el cheapo one from some fake company in china) which doesn't have too bad pic quality (320x240) so maybe I'll do a video review of it or something in a couple of days...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More sketches and a teaser framegrab

Here are some more sketches and concept art to keep you entertained.

I come up with these ideas from the crazy dreams I have every night, sometimes I remember enough of the dream and it makes it into my films. (I should really start writing all my dreams down when I wake up, if not all, more than I'm doing right now... ... which is zero)

More concepts for my next film, which though set in the same 'world' as Archon Defender, will have slightly different variations on the common aspects that link the two, mainly in the portrayal of the culture, technology, and mythology as portrayed in the film.

I'm looking to create a more technological feel for the next film, and though I'm a big fan of the steampunk genre, It's one that's getting played out a little too much lately, although I like the idea of mechanical / clockwork technology taken to a highly advanced level. Defnitely inspired by recent discoveries about the ancient world.

A quick set of sketches to unfreeze my brain during a daily drudge through the work day :|

And progress is coming along quite nicely on the last sequence in Archon Defender... ;D

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I found myself bored at work (heh suprise.. call center) so I broke out the color pencils:

A panorama of Bridgeland, the setting for my next film. Yup gotta always be thinking ahead, (if not writing the whole script ahead) So as I get closer to being done Archon Defender, I'm coming up with ideas for the next project, which will be set in the same 'world' as Archon Defender, but under much different circumstances.

I also colored in the fuchu japan panorama. I think this kind of modern rural/suburban Japanese style will be highly influential for my next film. Mmm... you can almost smell the okonomiyaki cooking....

Oops: all my sketches seem to slant away towards the top right corner. That's what you get for slouching and drawing at an angle. Good thing for the 'corner pin' distortion in after effects :P

In archon defender news, I'm at 55:55 (just over actually, but 55:55 is resonant with 11:11 if you're into the whole 11:11 thing) and I'm finally working on the exciting-and-complicated-to-render-thanks-to-reflective-floor final scene:

Am I allowed to otaku geek out about my own film? Sure why not: I knew Archon Defender was going to be good when I started it and (...thanks to doing the characters in 3d instead of drawing 2D like I was going to originally...) it's gotten progressivley better as I've gone on. That's the problem with doing a long film project by yourself, as you get better and your skills improve, there's a difference between the start of the film and the end. Hopefully it's not as noticable with Archon Defender, unlike my first film Rocketmen vs. Robots, But if I hadn't made this film it would be f**** awesome, and it's still f**** awesome even if I did make it. Which I did. Or am... hmm :|

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Woot 55:36

About two weeks ago (nov 19 2008) I was sitting at 54:00 mins done, and I set a little goal for myself to get to 55:00 by the end of november. Sometimes it's good to set goals like this, because not only did I get to 55 mins, but I got an extra 36 seconds done as well, not to mention I got this sequence done, and I'm now storyboarding and getting ready to animate the climactic final sequence. The whole film should be about 70 mins when I'm done, which means it's getting close ;D

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Sketches time again. Here's some of the sketches I've done recently while bored on the phone.

First with a page of little sketches to get the brain gears spinning:

Fuchu, Japan.
Or surrounding area.
Sort of.
From memory. 3 years ago+
Most of the Fuchu area of Japan looks like this, only with the occasional beer vending machine, and occasional row of 'snack' bar or okonomiyaki shops.

A Metadox Regent. I've started sketching concepts for the next film, which will be set in the same 'world' as Archon Defender, although much earlier in the timeline.

Metadox collectors. Note the ever present 'donations' box. The one on the left was the first model, I think I'll go with the one on the right, in terms of the boots.

Your typical wilderness outcast wanderer type, unlikely to receive 'employee of the month' certificate :P

Birds eye view of Bridgeland street market.

Bridgeland from the river, with Metadox dolmen in the distance

Yup, I'm always thinking up ideas, and now that Archon Defender is getting closer to being done (that is to say, closer to being done than not) it's time to start planning the next film. As usual, I have a general plot arc and basis in mind, it's just a matter of deciding the details now. And a major detail is how long of a film to make. I'm thinking along the lines of 20 mins or so, but you never know ;D

Monday, November 24, 2008

J.J. Abrams is the shizz

J.J. Abrams is rapidly becoming one of my favourite hollywood movie makers. Cloverfield was f**king brilliant, and although I haven't seen much of Lost, what I have seen (ie the first 5 minutes of the irst episode...) was also well entertaining. Check out the latest trailer for the next Star Trek movie:

:o that's one light saber fight away from being better than Star Wars.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

54:00 mins

I'm almost at my goal for nov. to get 55 minutes done. Current running length: 54 mins. 1 min to go. Plus these current scenes are dialog shots which means not too much animating or effect comping needed. The running length is actually more like 54:26 with a couple shots waiting to be comped (which I'll do all at once on my next day off) So 34 seconds more to go. Then it's on to the final two sequences of the film.

No screenshots this time because it's all top secret stuff ;D

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lazy and Busy

I haven't been updating this production log as much as I should be recently, due to several reasons / excuses. Here they are in descending order of truth:

1) I'm lazy
2) I've actually been busy socializing more than usual recently
3) I downloaded the most recent series of Dr. Who and Torchwood episodes, and had to watch them end to end.
4) Same with the mega hella super long extended Lord of the Rings trilogy
5) I'm working on shots right now that I cant tell you about bc they are central to the story and totally give away a bunch of stuff.
6) Fall / Winter sucks :|
7) Squirrels

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting more shots done...

November is here already, and I've been busy getting a bunch of shots done. In fact, this month's goal is to break 55 minutes (now at 52:37) Which also means that it's getting closer to being done.

Done initial filming that is, I still have to go back and add some shots, fix a bunch of mistakes, and adjust for continuity. Plus all the audio has to be done. But it's definitely getting closer to being done, which means:

Time to start thinking about the next film ;P

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Connect the shots...

I've been busy building some sets that I need for a series of 'connector' shots. Shots that tie the previous scenes in to the next scene and help to establish the flow of the film.

One of the shots I never got around to doing in Rocketmen vs Robots 1 is a shot of civilians being evacuated from the war zone, and this time I wasn't going to omit this, since it's a shot that broadens the scope of the film. Here you have civilians being evacuated from the war zone, and soldiers being transported into the fight. This establishes that there is a wider world of people than you see on the screen, and countless lives that have been disrupted by the events in the film so far.

These shots are based on a couple concept sketches I whipped up at work:

The next scene shows Colette and Alan, two of the main characters, on a cliff overlooking the fighting in the distance. This shot is identical to one earlier in the film (under much more peaceful circumstances) and serves to tie in and contrast the earlier part of the film to the latter.

Now we come to a grimy, dingy room which will be used in an upcoming dream / revelation sequence. I wanted to make this as gritty and dirty as possible (given what goes on in this room)

These shots don't get much screen time but are necessary to maintain the continuity of the film and establish the motivation of the characters.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Wallpaper

Today I was refining my crash scene model getting ready to animate the next bunch of shots, and making additional models and rigging that I will need. A couple of test renders looked good (and will even become shots themselves in some fashion later in the film...) so I put together these wallpapers:

1280x640 for CRT's

1680x1050 for widescreen LCD monitors

Yup, it's kind of a spoiler / teaser... but you'll never guess what's going on here til you see the actual film. And even then it'll be a surprise ;)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sketches and 3D modeling

Time to make the next couple of sets and models, based on these previs sketches I 'whipped' up ;D

3 Days of modeling, this is going to be an exterior / interior shot, and has to be a 360 degree environment, based on the shots required.

The interior is done, the exterior still needs a bit of work though.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Neat youtube trick

You can watch any video in higher quality by adding


to the end of the url string

(doesnt seem to work for embedded videos, though :(

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cool animated short

Animator Adam Toews presents a short student film:

I was immediately reminded of the film The Fountain, and the cg short The Cathedral not to mention several other strikingly similar elements to my own Archon Defender. I normally don't get too excited about shorts, but this one is original and striking enough that it could even be the basis of a much larger work.

The eye hand is a neat element, although in this film it depicts evil, in Archon Defender, opening eyes are symbolic of a character's awakening to a greater level of awareness and understanding than they had before.

The only thing this film really suffers from is the 2D animation, which looks rough, but to their credit, 2D is hard to do, so extra points for effort and originality and not making yet another 3D animated short with 'quirky' and 'snappy' characters.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

2008 trailer in HD

Seeing as how I'm making Archon Defender in HD (1280 x 640), it's only fitting that you all get a taste of what the final film will look like in HD, as the youtube clips I've shown so far don't really do it justice to the level of detail that I've put into the film.

Thanks to the kind folks at vimeo, you can watch my latest trailer in HD, and even download the original AVI which is even better quality:

Also, best viewed on a big monitor. Like my new acer x233w I got for really cheap at a much otherwise despised retail vendor I won't admit to shopping at on occasion.

Hello to all visitors from too.. ;D

Friday, October 3, 2008

Next scene

It's time to animate the next shot, an action sequence that transitions from the ground battle scenes back to the main storyline:

This is going to be another continuous shot that tracks multiple actions over 20 or 30 seconds, and will involve some more fancy camera work.

Y'know this is going to be cool ;D

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics

At my day job (at the call center...), when they aren't busy filling out my paystub every two weeks, they spend the rest of their time obsessing with a multitude of statistics which are supposed to measure how badly I'm slacking off at work. In a similar fashion, I have a number of statistics that I keep on myself just to make sure I'm keeping up progress on the film:

Average daily shot increment: 4 seconds / day

On average I manage to get 4 seconds done per day since the beginning of main filming (oct 8 2006) Yep, the second year anniversary is coming up soon, and I'm glad to say I've finally broken 50:00 minutes.

Average monthly shot increment: 1:58 minutes

Not quite as crucial, because some months can be less or more depending on the type of shot (action or dialog) and if new sets and models have to be built.

Projected 60 min completion date: Feb 23 2009

The glorious day, long prophesied and awaited, when the last shot will be rendered and comped. Then it's a matter of going back and touching up all the reworks, that have accumulated, fine tuning the edits and adding a few last shots to tighten things up, add sound and music, and *done* It'll be a while, this date tends to fluctuate and keep getting pushed back. Depends how complex the final fight scene goes (reflective floor... :o

New Trailer

Check out my new trailer for Archon Defender. This trailer gives a little bit more of the storyline, plus some delicious previews of my most recent action shots ;D

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's over 9000!!!!!

Over 9000 1/3's of a second, that is.

9000 / 3 / 60 = 50 mins

And I'm now at 50:01

Yeah I cheated a bit and stretched this shot out longer than it should have gone, so it'll get edited down in the next few days, but it's always good to have some wiggle room.

I also didn't end up following the storyboard exactly, so there are some shots that are going to get re-done and used again because they will look cool from a close, ground up angle. I promise not to use too much of the same animation ;D

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2mins on action sequence done

The battle scene is shaping up quite nicely after 2 months. 2 months and 2 mins done. 2:30 if you include some dialog shots later in this sequence (which I dont) So 2 minutes... one minute per month, including all set building (I had the actors and vehicles done and rigged already). Not as fast and I would like to get it done, however these full motion shots are heavy with effects, and motion tracking, and layering (106 layers for one shot...)

I've been pretty slack on the blog updates lately too.. the good news is I've been busy working on shots. The whole film is reaching the 50 minute mark (49:30 actually) so 30 seconds to go. Then it's 10 more minutes to reach 60 minutes, and the whole film should be just over 60 minutes long.

Yup... you know this isn't going to end well... ;D

There are times I think I went a bit overboard on the quantity of blood.

The nifty 'trails' effect was suprisingly easy to achieve.
I may post a tutorial how I did this, should I find some time (and remember :|

There goes the neighbourhood

The latest sequence I'm working on kinda went of the storyboard a bit, so I just may re-do the shots again, this time following the actual storyboard. This is another benefit to working the way I do, with no restrictions of budget or time, I can go off on a tangent and add to the film with whatever cool idea comes up with at the time. Another lesson should be: the storyboard isn't written in stone either. If you come up with a cool idea, in it goes. You don't necessarily have that freedom when working on a big money project that is not your own film.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reports of the world's demise have been greatly exxagerated (again)

Well, it seems they fired up the Large Hadron Collider today, and the world didn't get sucked into a black hole.

Now that means I have to go to @^$&*@$^ work tomorrow ;(

On the good side, at least work on Archon Defender can also continue...

Unless there are other unforseen disasters to come:

There goes the neighbourhood.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

woot more battle shots.. ;D

Despite allergy season being in full swing again, I've managed to knock off 30 more seconds of the battle scene. In two shots. Yup, that's right. 2 shots...

Inspired by the brilliant film 'Children of Men' which utilizes long continuous shots (stitched together digitally) to great dramatic effect. Not my usual way of working, this puts some constraints on how fast you can get through the workflow of each shot. Combined with the fact that all these shots are effect intensive, and the result is a slower rate of getting the film done than I'd like.

But, the final effect is well worth it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More busy...

It's on to the next sequence for now, the second set of shots in my ground battle scene, and time to make a new set. Here's what it looks like after 2 days of modeling:

This set has to be a wide open area where I can show off a neat explosion effect that I thought up ;D And of course the area has to be surrounded by buildings, which have to be, um... built. (thus the name) You can't just recycle old buildings all the time or ppl will say you super-cheated so it's going to be another couple of days before this set is ready for animating.

The world is flat... don't fall off the edge! :O

Here's what it looks like from above

There goes the neighbourhood...

I like this view so much I might just have to add it in as a shot...

The level of detail for this battle sequence is slowing down production, but in the end it's well worth it because it will eventually make for a much better film. This is another benefit of working outside of the money/budget 'industry' with all it's time constraints and 'business needs' etc. My film is going to look f****** awesome (at least to me ;) and be exactly the film I want it to be, as my own personal artistic expression. How many people who worked on certain recent theatrical releases can say the same?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Been busy lately...

I've been busy arcing* the latest scene, a battle / action scene which is super labour intensive. Which is why it's taking bloody forever to get these done, but it's worth it (trust me, these shots look great animated... ...I just cant let the cat out of the wok bag just yet)

Firstly, each shot is a long continuous action sequence lasting 15 to 20 second seach, with full 3D camera movement and framing to accentuate different parts of the action. I have 50 seconds done, in 4 shots, which kind of gives you the idea. Having a moving camera (vs a stationary cam and creating camera movement in post) accentuates the action but adds up in rendering time.

What is more labor intensive, however, is the multiple layers of effects, which can weigh in at 70 to 100 layers per shot, with nested comps, z depth maps to get everything where it should go, etc. A typical dialog shot would only have the background, the actors and maybe a background environmental effect (clouds /rain / etc) and be 6 to 8 layers max.

This is all to make the action sequence stand out on it's own, as well as accentuate the rest of the film and place it in a context of a wider conflict that is raging around the main storyline.

Within another couple of weeks I should reach the critical mass of at least 2 mins of this battle sequence, which then transitions back into the climax of the film (which is, again, another exciting and labor intensive action packed sequence)

I may be at this for a while...

* ARC, another little acronym I've made up that means Animate Render Comp. This has nothing to do with my title ARChon defender, aside from a nerdly humorous coincidence... ...significant only to myself, I suppose ;D