Thursday, October 29, 2009

Painting with Polygons

After looking at the technique described by Isaac Botkin, "Painting with polygons", I decided to attempt to duplicate this in 3dmax 6 for my next project. After a bit of tweaking with my standard 'tooning' technique that I used in Archon Defender, I was able to come up with a pretty cool look:


As you can see the new technique improves on the old 'tooning' method by introducing light color control. The new tooning material responds more to light color, as opposed to the old technique which didn't at all.

The sketch like effect is created using the multipass camera effect, in 'motion blur' mode. This subdivides a frame into 5 passes, which are different slices in time of the same frame, blended together (you can do 1 to 32 passes, each one taking more rendering time) The base object (here the teapot) has a noise modifier which distorts the polygons of the object, the cycling of the distortion is set to be synchronized with the frame rate. This means that the 'paint effect' will be consistent from frame to frame, otherwise the sketch effect would 'jitter' from frame to frame. (which could be handy for fire and effects... I'll have to experiment)

Now, because the camera is set to multipass, and the mode is motion blur, what I found is that any object in motion will blur instead of having this effect applied to it. To fix THIS, I set the frequency of the distortion to a ridiculously high value, so instead of one distortion cycle per frame, you get 100 or so. Then, I set the interval between the passes to a very short period, 1/100th of a frame, so you have pass 1 at 1 second, pass 2 at 1.001, pass 3 at 1.002 etc. This eliminates the 'smearing' of unwanted motion blur, the high frequency of the distortion 'cycle' maintains the sketch effect.

The only drawback is that this method takes 5 times as long to render. (because I am doing 5 camera passes.) After experimenting around, I found 5 passes to be the ideal trade off between artistic look and rendering time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Film Marketing How (not) To...

Filmmakers will do anything to convince suckers fans to go see their films. Case in point: the legendary B-movie horror filmmaker William Castle:

* Homicidal (1961): This film contained a "Fright break" with a 45 second timer overlaid over the film's climax as the heroine approached a house harboring a sadistic killer. A voiceover advised the audience of the time remaining in which they could leave the theatre and receive a full refund if they were too frightened to see the remainder of the film. To ensure the more wily patrons did not simply stay for a second showing and leave during the finale Castle had different color tickets printed for each show.[8] In a trailer for the film, Castle explained the use of the Coward's Certificate and admonished the viewer to not reveal the ending of the film to friends, "or they will kill you. If they don't, I will."[9] About 1% of patrons still demanded refunds, and in response:

"William Castle simply went nuts. He came up with 'Coward's Corner,' a yellow cardboard booth, manned by a bewildered theater employee in the lobby. When the Fright Break was announced, and you found that you couldn't take it anymore, you had to leave your seat and, in front of the entire audience, follow yellow footsteps up the aisle, bathed in a yellow light. Before you reached Coward's Corner, you crossed yellow lines with the stenciled message: 'Cowards Keep Walking.' You passed a nurse (in a yellow uniform?...I wonder), who would offer a blood-pressure test. All the while a recording was blaring, "'Watch the chicken! Watch him shiver in Coward's Corner'!" As the audience howled, you had to go through one final indignity -- at Coward's Corner you were forced to sign a yellow card stating, 'I am a bona fide coward.' Very, very few were masochistic enough to endure this. The one percent refund dribbled away to a zero percent, and I'm sure that in many cities a plant had to be paid to go through this torture. No wonder theater owners balked at booking a William Castle film. It was all just too damn complicated."

(wikipedia)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Archon Defender in the press

There's lots of buzz about the film building on the web as more people discover my film and spread the word:

Robukka, a fan of my films since the brickfilming days of the Rocketmen vs Robots series, has been busy promoting the film all over teh interwebs, check out his blog here.

digipendence.com got the 'scoop' way before my screening at the Revue Cinema

Someone on the gamers-underground forum found my film

Animation World Network posted my press release verbatim. If I'd known that would happen, I would have used more words like "genius" and "all hail our glorious imperial dictator" to describe myself.

The film did not escape the notice of M. Dot Strange, who gave me some good tips on how to proceed with the online distribution of my film.

The super-genius Chris Gomez at enginealpha.com also has a good writeup of the film.

And finally, a review from someone who has actually seen the film up on the big screen where it should be seen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Limitations (breaking free thereof)

M Dot Strange was recently typing about boundaries. The limitations that filmmakers (specifically, but this applies to anything creative) put on themselves to appeal to the established norms and practices of the 'industry'.

Money calls the shots. If you're a filmmaker in the industry, you make the film that the money wants you to make. You might even try to rationalize to yourself somehow that you are putting your own creativity into it in some fashion. Every now and then a good film manages to sneak through and out of the hollywood film machine. Movies such as Dark City, Children of Men, The Fountain, District 9. More likely a film will fail to live up to the potential of it's underlying premise, such as the recent movie Surrogates. Or worst case scenario, a real turkey just in time for thanksgiving.

As an independent filmmaker, there is no money calling the shots. This also means that there's no money, which can be problematic in it's own right, usually resulting in you working at a garbage dump or call center. But artistically, there is no reason not to go whole out on your film.

Above all, I think it's important to be inspired without being derivative, which is to say that as a filmmaker you should definitely have your own ideas and develop a deep mythology and foundation to the world you are portraying on the screen. This should define your film entirely, and drive the stylistic aspects such as art direction, animation techniques, character design. The characters and story should develop from this foundation, and feel as if they are anchored in your world. With filmmaking, and especially with animation, anything is possible, although you should stay within the bounds of the coherent whole of the world you have created. There's no reason not to create whole new realities to explore in your film.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Archon Defender Premiere Screening - And now free on Youtube



Today is the world premiere screening of Archon Defender at the Revue Cinema in Toronto.

If you can't make it to the premiere, you can now watch the entire film here on youtube. If you want to support my filmmaking efforts, you can buy the DVD at filmbaby.com, as well as digital downloads for your mobile device.

Visit my official site archondefender.com for news and updates, and join the mailing list for updates on cinematic screenings in your area.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

All possible movies are contained in the mathematical abstraction of Codec Space.

Digital movies, such as are commonly transfered over the internet in DIVX or MOV or H264 format are encoded as a finite sequence of digital bits, one and zero.

Let's start with a simple example which I call 'two bit codec' In this codec, only two bits are used, and the resulting combinations of "movies" which we can encode are:

00
01
10
11 (my favourite)

in this space there are 2 combinations per bit (1 and 0) multiplied by the number of bits (2)

or 2^2 = 4 combination of "movies" we can encode.

Now, let's expand on this model, to a larger finite binary space. Movies are commonly encoded to fit in the space of a standard CD-Rom.

Let's examine the capacity of a cd rom:

1 MiB = 220 bytes = 1,024 kibibytes = 1,048,576 bytes

the net capacity of a Mode-1 CD-ROM is 682 MB or, equivalently, 650 MiB.

or

681,574,400 bytes

or

* 8

5,452,595,200 bits


Similar to our 2-bit codec space in the first example, we still have a finite mathematical space, Let's assume a single codec, such as the Divx codec, a variation on the mpeg 4 definition.

By encoding a video into the divx codec space, assuming a constraint of 1 cd rom, we have 2 ^ 5,452,595,200 possible 'movies' which we can encode.

A 'movie' in codec space is simply a finite number within this limit which, when decoded bit-wise through the codec, can be represented in a visual manner, at an arbitrary combination of frame rate, resolution, bit rate, or other codec 'encoder' setting. These particulars are not of great consequence, simply the fact that for ONE PARTICULAR 'number' in codec space, a movie exists at that mathematical point.

Or may exist. There are going to be far more numbers which represent a CORRUPT codec stream, and therefore either represent PART of a movie or NO MOVIE at all. There will also be other numbers in codec space which are RESONANCES of the movie, in different resolutions, different frame rates, different codec BITRATE encode settings.

In this codec space, there are going to be RESONANCES of a film that are similar to, but divergent from the original. Like the director cut of a film, for example.

In the finite mathematical bit space of a CD-Rom, we have to assume that there are certain movies that cannot be encoded to fit onto a single CD-Rom, simply because the space is finite.

The corollary to this is, that if we remove the limit of the cd rom, and expand our view to infinite mathematical space, then there must exist within this new view of codec space, all possible films which can ever be imagined.

Even whimsical fancies such as:

  • A version of Star Wars where Darth Vader is blue
  • A demonstration video on how to build a time machine
  • Episodes from the 9th season of the original Star Trek series.

In this expanded view of infinite mathematical digital space, all possible 'films' exist, and our divx codec becomes like a radio receiver, and we tune it to a particular mathematical 'channel'.

The channel exists, the number already exists, the only thing preventing us from finding these POTENTIALITIES is the overwhelming NOISE of corrupt channels.

If the promise of quantum computing can be harnessed to the point where 'mathematical potential codec space' can be browsed as easily as we can currently scan up the radio dial for radio stations, then we will be able to open our myopic view of our reality to a wider, hidden world of potentiality.

OpenIndie project: For independent filmmakers and animators

I'm supporting the OpenIndie project, started in part by four eyed monsters filmmaker Arin Crumley. This initiative is aimed at supporting independent filmmakers like myself through the building of an online community of fans with the aim of facilitating local screening of indie films, such as Archon Defender, where YOU the fan want to see it.



The premiere screening of Archon Defender at the Revue Cinema in Toronto Canada is now less than 2 days away. I've already seen a preview of it on the big screen, and it looks amazing in it's full HD glory. If you want to see a screening of my film on the big screen, the first step is to sign up for my mailing list. (I'm not going to sell your name to spammers or anything.. I hate those guys as much as anyone) Once OpenIndie gets fully up and running, that's the time to storm it with support for Archon Defender. Or any other indie film you want to support, for that matter.

Four easy steps:
  1. Spread the word
  2. Tell everyone you know about Archon Defender, and how it's possible for YOU to join the online revolution, unleash your own creativity and make your own film
  3. Tell your filmmaker friends about OpenIndie, and get them to join the growing online community of Indie filmmakers and Animators
  4. Chill out, relax, drink a beer, roll a joint, smoke some crack and rob a liquor store, and just enjoy the true creative art of indie filmmakers.
The way it works is simple: I already know that Archon Defender is awesome, otherwise I wouldn't have made it. If you think it's awesome, then spread the word, tell all your friends, or at least anyone who is into Anime, Sci Fi, Fantasy, and films like Dark City, The Fountain, Band of Brothers, etc. Me sitting alone in my house knowing that my own film is awesome is fine and dandy for me, but if you are sick of the garbage that is thrust upon us by the money studios then you need to spread the word about cool indie animated films.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

1st Place Animation Trophy Award Ceremony

I received a mysterious box in the mail today, which much to my surprise contained my award from the SkyFest festival:



So with an impromptu award ceremony I was able to award myself with this prestigious award... Finally something to replace my 'Call Center Employee of the Week Jul 8 2007 - Jul 14 2007' certificate.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

hmm...

So the IMDB won't let me add my award for
First Place in Animation, Because they don't "recognize" the festival.

Funny. I'm holding the trophy, certificate, and cheque that I got in my hand right now. >:P


I'm only mildly annoyed, in fact it's not really that big of a deal. Hey IMDB: I won't be able to check back in a few months because I'll be so rich and famous with millions of dollars, mad scrizzy up in the hizzy, and surrounded by papparazi and hot actresses and fashion models.

Smoochy dropped by to give his opinion on this:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I went on a recon mission to the Revue Cinema today to sort out some final details for my Oct 7th Premiere screening. The Revue Cinema has been in operation since 1911, and aside from a 2 year hiatus (2006-2008) has run continuously in the face of the faceless and soulless multiplexes.

In comparison, over the last 20 years here in Durham Region, the big cinema multiplexes have been torn down and replaced with bigger and more flamboyant locations at least 3 or 4 times in that period alone. The old downtown cinemas that I remember from my youth (where people lined up around the block to watch the first star wars movies) are long gone, long converted into serial failures of nightclubs, carpet stores, or other such "ventures"

Which is why it's important to preserve places like the Revue Cinema, places which welcome the Independent filmmaker, like myself. We need to preserve these places, in order to preserve the sense of community and independence which they represent. Culture today is too fast food, portioned out by the big box stores, and subdivided into the hive houses of the suburbs. Just as fast food is unhealthy for the body, fast culture is unhealthy for the mind and the soul.

But, there is a growing awakening, a growing awareness of the shallowness and sustainability of our modern culture. This is not to say that I'm opposed to technological advances, in fact it is advances in technology which are enabling this awakening. A connection of the technological future with the spiritual past. And places like the Revue Cinema are the temples of this new awakening.



Now... as I was saying I was on a recon mission to sort out HD playback of the film, which is BTW going to look WIN up on the big screen. So I met with Tim, the Revue manager, and he gave me the grand tour of the place, which is an art deco masterpiece from the 1920's. It's not in pristine condition by any stretch, but rather has the character of accumulated wear and tear of the last century. plus. So to get up to the projector room, you access the most treacherous flight of stairs. From a side door in the men's washroom. Stairs, a ladder would be more appropriate a term, but also safer. A reminder of the days before building codes. So up the stairs and into a world simultaneously frozen in the 1940's, but with layers of the technological encrustation of subsequent decades.

The projection room. The projectors are from the 1940's (or so, according to Tim) The lamps are newer, 1950's or so, not to mention the huge reels of 35 mm film. The faded Marilyn Monroe poster on the door, and an admonishment for the projectionist to focus, written on blank frames of film and posted onto the wall ( sometime in the 40's. )

Now the new tech is high speed, the digital projector is this huge box with some german company name I don't even recognize, connected to a DVD player or alternately a playstation 3, and it this is where the delicious 1280 x 640 15fps divx avi is served up onto the big screen.

DVD's available at Filmbaby

If you can't make it out to the Oct 7 Screening at the Revue Cinema in Toronto...

The DVD's are now available at filmbaby.com

(and digital .MP4 downloads for your mobile...)

DVD Features:

Full length feature 66 minutes
Chapter Selections
Directors Commentary
Animators commentary
Making Of and Production Tutorial Videos (over 60 mins)
Trailers and Music Videos
Concept Art Slideshow
Top secret hidden easter eggs !!!



The digipack dvd's are WIN, and environmentally friendly too (I elected to use the smaller "CD" type format) To celebrate my contribution to a reduced carbon footprint, I'm going to BBQ me up some greasy ol' ribs and burgers. :9 mmm mmm