Wednesday, June 25, 2008

+ 48s


As I've said previously, dialog shots are easy to do compared to action scenes. So easy that I was able to get +48 sec done in the last 2 days. Some people have been riding me saying that I should just 'skip the boring dialog scenes' and just make a film that's nonstop action and violence.

hmm.

I would counter that by saying that character development, motivation, and purpose are the driving reasons behind the action sequences in a film. Without 'kissy smoochy' scenes, all you have is a demo reel.

For those that still insist: here. go make your own film.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New wallpaper


New wallpaper based on the crow model I made the other day. Click on the image for the fullscreen version.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Crows

It's time to model critters again. More accurately, it was time to model critters today. So I needed this shot of crows flying to symbolize a pivotal point in the film, when a character changes in an instant from having innocence and trust in the world, to bitterness and hatred. they also symbolize the death of a character and the betrayal of trust. Crows are good for this kind of thing: they're noisy and hated by everyone, even the birds around here in my neighbourhood aren't above mobbing up to drive away a crow.

So today, I threw together this quick 3D model of a crow, rigged it for animation, and made a simple wing flap cycle animation, cloned it with particles in 3dmax, and here you go, one 'instant" murder of crows.

Other birds that appear in Archon Defender:

Seagulls

Chickens

In all three cases, it was easier and faster for me to build the model from scratch than to search on the internet for a free pre-made 3d max model.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Characters pt.2: Merelle

The next character in my round up of Archon Defender cast members is the lovely Merelle:


Originally, she had a larger role than ended up in the final cut. She's in 3 shots now, and one's a back shot. And she doesn't say anything. Or do anything, except look worried. I had intended to use her as a bit of a tom-boy mechanic type, and I may yet have an opportunity to bring her back in the next scene, although I still may use another character just to tie up a bit of a loose end from earlier in the film.

Poor Merelle.

Perhaps her troubles come from guzzling too much "drink":


I'll have to recycle her for my next film.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Characters pt. 1: Avi

In this series of posts I will introduce the characters in Archon Defender. You might want to read over 'how to understand archon defender' first.

Let's start with Avi:
Avi started as a bit role in the beginning, and she was only going to be a maid servant, but got a bit of a promotion as I refined the story. She is a student shard adept from an unspecified foreign city state (unspecified because it's not crucial to the story, and I hadn't really put that much thought into it until now ;) studying to become a full fledged shard monk in the city state of Echelon. The upcoming ascention ceremony is of utmost importance to her, and she is quite intent and focused on learning her meditations, and spends an equal time trying to get her resonator Lucia to do the same.

Avi plays a pivotal role in establishing the momentum and purpose of the film, unknowingly betraying Lucia to the Echelon Council, and setting in motion Lucia's ambitions of power and war.

Avi rapidly became one of my favourite characters, and I have developed several character traits and behaviours unique to her performance, a concept that I have extended to other characters as well. This gives more depth to the character and enhances the emotional connection to the audience. This can be achieved by something simple as a nervous tic, an emphatic nodding of the head to emphasize speech, or a pair of glasses constantly slipping down the nose which have to be pushed back up periodically.

(And yes, her name, Avi, comes from the .avi video format ;)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Getting close to 45 mins

I'm getting close to having 45 mins done (43 min 52 sec actually). 45 minutes is a good milestone, although it's in the no man's land of film: too long to be considered a 'short' at film festivals, too short to be considered a feature. It's the space occupied by broadcast tv shows, which usually clock in at about 45 - 50 mins with ads to pad out the rest of the time (or more accurately, the show is used to fill the gaps inbetween the ads...)

The final film will be over 60 mins long, so this means I'm 3/4 of the way done.

I guess i better get working on the last part of the script then, eh? ;)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Film production tips #6: Digital encoding tips

Recently I've been plagued by an annoying "pop" in brightness in the above scene that only appears in the divx compressed video and is completely absent from the lossless source shot (after careful frame by frame examination.) This shot is longer than most of my shots, so I got curious and measured where the pop occurs from the preceding scene. Turns out it's at frame 300 (more or less)

Now the divx codec has a setting for maximum keyframe interval, the default is 300 frames. So every 300 frames, the codec is going to 'refresh' the stream by inserting a new keyframe. Without getting too techincal, this creates a dual frame visual discrepancy which is visible to the human occular visual eyeballs type situation scenario.

Right.

So in simple terms, you should set the max keyframe interval to the length of the longest shot in your composition, in order to avoid 'popping'

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dialog shots: quick and easy

I'm padding out the end of the month with some dialog scenes that I'd been putting off, only because they're so easy one you get the lip sync done. I got +24 sec done today. Good for bringing up the end of the month's shot count when working on action / effects shots. And when job / family / beer all conspire to eat into my productive time.

My lip sync and facial animation rig

My facial animation rig has been refined over time. The controls are linked to morph modifers for the mouth and eyes, and skew modifiers for the eyebrows and eyes to enable me to get any expression I want.