Friday, December 30, 2011

Rustboy: The film that never was :(

The legacy you leave behind will be enshrined for all the ages...

Adding comments has been disabled for this video.
(Yeah, you know I'm about to go on a big Uberector rant about this,
but this is the kind of crap that really bugs me..)

Rustboy was a digima project started years ago, back in 2001, about the time I was working on the first Rocketmen vs Robots film. In fact, this project was one of the projects that inspired my early work, and I gladly adopted some of the composition and animation techniques that Brian Taylor described on his website (still up, but long abandoned)

As Brian says on his youtube post above:

"Rustboy opening sequence by Brian Taylor with music by Erik Nickerson. Originally conceived as a short-film, the movie never did see the light of day. (it was started back in 2001!) Rustboy was optioned by one of the major animation studios, who spent several years trying to give it the 'Hollywood' treatment. The option has now expired."

Wow... I hope they paid you a lot of money to not make your film.

Now in the meantime, since 2001 say, I haven't exactly been rolling in scrilla, but I have actually finished a few projects myself:

Rocketmen vs Robots

Rocketmen Space Patrol

Rocketmen Timecube

Rocketmen Zero

Archon Defender

Legend of the Moon... which took me 2 weeks for a moby video contest that I didn't win... :(

Tales from the Afternow... which Cimm still has to release publicly.. and which has cleaned up a bunch of awards, especially Dragon*Con 2010 Best Animated Sci-Fi

I'm 90% done Origin, so I'm just putting it here to be a bastard >:P

Now I'm not trying to sit here and brag or anything, but speaking as an Uberector, Rustboy should have been done long ago, and independent of any financial finagling which the film industry would dangle in front of your nose. And, I'm not here to tell anyone what to do with themselves (aside from the usual advice that you should be making films instead of wasting your time watching TV), but I like to finish projects when I start them, and especially to put so much time, effort, emotion, and soul into a project and just let it get swallowed by the corporate money system is a shame. They don't hand out gravestones for washing dishes or scrubbing floors, so you have to aim a little higher in life an try to achieve something while you're still kicking:

If there's any consolation, it's that a fully finished version of Rustboy already exists in the vergent datastate of information potential, unfortunately it'll be a bit of a wait before quantum computing is up to the task of serving up a coherent data stream the length of an entire film...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year

2011 is coming to an end, and the ominous 2012 is finally here. The fateful year predicted by the Mayans (and Roland Emmerich) to end in a calamity of earthquake, tsunami, and swamp gas. Guess I better get a work on finishing Origin before the apocalypse sets in, eh?

In the meantime here are a couple goodies to wet your appetite until it's finished:

Print this out and staple together, and you have a handy wall calendar with some screen grabs from the film.

Oh yes, I think it's about time to un-secret my 'top secret' teaser trailer that I had been sitting on, now that I'm getting close to finishing production:

Grab your red-cyan 3D glasses for a little teaser of the film ;)

I should be wrapping up main production by the end of January, having been working on animating shots since exactly 1 year ago. The film currently stands at 72 mins, so the remaining bit will bring it to 78 or so. Once animation is done, it's on to foley, sound fx, music, and then off to a festival near you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I realize It's been a while since my last post...

I realize it's been a while since my last post, as some of your kind comments have pointed out ;)

"Origin" is nearing completion, with the goal being to have main production finished by the new year.

So, although I've been short on words: I've been well busy on the final action shots which book-end the film:

Big "deadline" and a big push to not only get the shots done, but to make sure that they're 111% awesome. Sometimes you gotta prioritize, you've only got so much energy to focus, one project at a time and just buckle down and get the work done. Now, I'm off to get more of these shots done ;)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labour Day Weekend production blitz

"Origin - A Call to Minds" Production notes:

Labour day weekend 2011. 2:22 seconds of shots animated and rendered this weekend (they still need to be comped, which is to say all the layers added in, color graded, adjusted for 3D convergence, etc... but that's the easy part...) Getting to the end of the last "smoochy" sequence, it's all action parts after this, and now officially past 75% done, so a few more months and primary production will be finished ;) Hoping to make it in under the wire before Jan 1... how many feature film productions can claim a production run less that 1 year?.

M Dot Strange could pull it off.. he's a crazy mofo when it comes to buckling down and getting it cranked out...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Recent News and Festivals and Shmoozing

July has been a busy month ( you may have noticed the lack of blog posts around here lately... or perhaps you DID NOT notice the plethora of absentee blog posts which didn't get posted... either way...) My short Tales From the Afternow, which I created in cahoots with the lads over at RantMedia, has screened at a number of film festivals, and has won prizes both at the California International Animation Festival, as well as winning best animation at the Mississauga Independent Film Fest (notable for having awarded me the exact same award last year for Archon Defender.....and yes, it's another huge film reel this year too...)

Is a hat trick in the works? (for you non-canucks, that's when a hockey player gets three goals in the same game.. ;) Could be, if MIFF can get 3D projection sorted out by next year's fest. Start saving up those 3D glasses... MIFF has been one of the best film festivals I've attended, not only are they truly supportive of independent talent, but I've also build a great network of talented voice actors, musicians, and other filmmakers.

So all the nay-sayers and complainers who had gripes about Archon Defender (who are no doubt working fastidiously on their own feature length digima masterpieces, just to show me up ;) they should have little to complain about this time...

Origin is now 70% done, and it's getting ridiculously close to the finish (and the most intense sequences as well) Those of you lucky enough to have had a preview up until now have given me positive feedback, which is good to know I'm on the right track.

More updates to come... though I'm obviously busy working on the actual film since nobody is going to want to see 70% of a movie :P maybe a trailer or a sneak peek soon...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Origin - A Call to Minds - 2011 Production Update

For those of you just coming here, or otherwise not in the know, (or just plain forgot, because making your own animated feature digima takes forever, even for the most ambitious uberector...)

Origin - A Call to Minds is the second film in the Unity series, and the followup to my multiple award winning film Archon Defender. This film will definitely blow away any of my past efforts, the Rocketmen vs Robots series of shorts, Archon, My other award winning film 'Tales from the Afternow' This is all of a bit of a learning process, and I've learned the hard way how digima should be produced, even if you're doing everything yourself, there's a certain sequence of production that will maximize your efforts an make the final product just that much better.

Did I mention it's in 3D...? :)

Luckily, over the last year and a half since the release of Archon, through the support of the fine people over at the Mississauga Independent Film Festival, as well as the contributions of a talented group of professional voice actors who have lent their time and talent to Origin, production on the new film has been easier than ever. ( plus a couple "new" core 2 duo render nodes put in their part as well.... )

One of the keys is to keep track of production... As you can see here, a good chunk of the sequences in the film are completed... that is finished animation with no reworks or errors and cinematic 'flow' more or less 99% final. The remaining bits of the film now are mainly action shots. I waited until the 'end' of production to do all the action bits just so I could hone my animation skills and deliver the best possible action sequences. Now, some of these sequences I still have to go in and build the sets (I'm in the middle of set building right now) but I will go and do these as I require, because any outstanding sets are either derivatives of existing sets or based on my "outdoors construction kit" with it's collection of grass, rocks, plants, and procedural ground textures that I've already used in other outdoor shots.

Right... so the film is sitting at 48 minutes, waiting for me to build more sets and get the final action sequences done... time to get cracking.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

45 minutes

The fight scenes have turned out really good,
and a lot easier to accomplish than I thought they would

The film now stands at about 60% done, and a little over the 45 minute mark. Which, according to the Academy awards people, now qualifies it as a 'feature' film...

Shots like this, looking 45° down, seem to look the
best of all the 3D shots, for some reason...

However, at the moment it also qualifies as an incomplete film, with some meaty action shots left to do, and a couple smoochy dialog scenes wherein you learn the motivation and history of some of the important characters in the film...

Effects heavy shots are often easier to script and
storyboard, but then the time comes to develop the shot
and create the effects...

But what is done is looking great so far, and that's 45 mins of finished shots.. no reworks or screwups left, that's the finished film so far. Once main sequence production is done, then it's a simple matter of editing and tweaking a bit to get the film flowing right, I'll probably beef up the action shots a bit but for now I'm sticking to the storyboards as close as possible, and any re-cuts or inserts I can do in a second round of storyboards / shots. It's important to stay focused and stay committed to what is already in the script and on the storyboards, I have a couple of ideas, minor tweaks, and a 2-3 minute insert shot that will tie up some loose ends. But for now, I'm sticking to the storyboard.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Department of Redundancy and Backups Department

Most of you may have never seen a great little animated short entitled “Secret Joys of Myopia”, which was in production a few years ago by animator Keith Lango... Actually... pretty much ZERO people have seen this film, including Keith himself because he lost all his project data and backups in one head-exploding fateful event.

For those who don't know, I worked on this film for two and a half years before I lost all the data (and back up data as well) in a freak computer incident in which I lost two completely seperate workstations within 16 hrs of each other. To add insult to injury, all of my DVD backups were lost in a move.
(Betcha Keith wouldn't be too happy to know that his film actually still exists, lost somewhere in the strings of 1's and 0's of binary data...)

Which brings me to the subject of backups. You can never have too many backups, and it's also good to keep backups off-site. Keith had lots of backups, but he still got screwed, so the lessons to learn are:

When you think you have enough backups, you don't

Don't trust your important shit to movers, they're a bunch of a$$holes who like to break and lose your shit.

I'm especially paranoid about backups, and suffice to say that I have project backups of all my old films, as well as my current "Origin - A Call to Minds", squirreled away in safe places I know about (and keep secret ;)

FreeFileSync is a fantastic little program, you can setup batch sync updates, and one click, all your important data is saved onto a little portable USB harddrive. Speaking of which;

Walmart is great. Yup, you heard me say it... People (hipsters) love to rag on the evil corporation Walmart blah blah bicycles blah blah environment etc,... but seriously, where else can you get cheap backup USB harddrives, cheesies, and fresh baked oven loaf bread at 3 am?

So, unless you like your projects to exist lost somewhere in the binary information datastate of codec-space, make lots of backups.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Into the good stuff :)

May 1 will mark 1 year since I started pre-production, which is everything starting from script writing, storyboards, voice actor recording, animatic, building sets and rigging characters. Getting all this done in pre-production (I have learnt (the hard way)) makes for an easier time of it when it comes to actual production.

Since jan 1 I've been working as fast as possible to get the 740-ish shots done that I have scripted. Starting with the easiest shots, all the dialog bits and landscape shots that aren't as animation intensive as the action sequences, which is why the film stands at just over 35 mins now, and that's just in little over 111 days of production now... 35 mins of shots that are done, edited, fixed and finalized with no outstanding screwups or any further shots to add at the moment. As I go along, I try to stick to the storyboard as close as possible, especially now that I'm into some of the fight scenes (as seen above ;)

Getting these guys to clobber each other with sticks is lots of fun... slow fun, but nevertheless... and now that I've spent the last 4 months or so getting my animation skills back up to speed, getting the right timing, posing, and interactions with the characters is a lot easier than I thought it would be. Now I'm not going to post any clips of these fight scenes for a while yet, you'll just have to wait on that one a bit ;) ...but I'm really happy with the way these are turning out ;)

Saturday, April 2, 2011


“If you have one person you’re influenced by, everyone will say you’re the next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you’re so original!”
Gary Panter

Austin Kleon has come up with a brilliant blog entry entitled How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me)
A collection of inspirational quotes and ideas just suited to getting the creative juices flowing... And basically saying what I've known for a while: If you're going to when you plagiarize, rip off from enough sources so that whatever you do appears to be original. Your fans will have great fun identifying your sources, assuming they can.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Web slacking = Production Awesome

Hangin' out, waiting for renders...

I realize I've been somewhat slacking in the Blog department lately, however this is what happens when I get busy with production. Which now stands at just shy of 30 minutes (I'm actually waiting for today's renders which will put me over the 30 minute mark as I type...) Which means I've completed 1/3 of the film so far, and that's since Jan 1 of this year.

Yup, it definitely helps to write your script, record the voice actors, and build your models before you do any production. Now, a lot of that 30 mins is dialog shots, which are supposedly easier to pull off than action scenes. Of course, once you go in to animate character interactions and get the timings correct, convey the emotions and keep the characters in a set of 'behaviors' consistent with their character, it's not as strait forward as you'd think.

This can only end horribly...

Of course action scenes are the bread and butter of any good film. And now that I've got most of the dialog shots out of the way, I find myself getting into the action shots. The black shard is back, and looks even better in 3D... It's starting to shape up, now that this movie is getting a body count >:D

So, the process for anyone who wants to make their own film is really quite simple:
  1. You need a good idea, one that will sustain a feature length film. If you have an idea more suited to a short, these steps apply as well, you'll just be finished sooner, is all
  2. You write your script. You revise your script. You give your script to some friends who won't just give you the "kidergarten mom praise", and if they tell you it doesn't suck, then you revise your script a few more times because you've probably missed some shitty dialog or scene that needs to be polished
  3. You storyboard all the shots in the script. This is a good time to start thinking of previs and concept design, which will kinda flow from the storyboards. Nothing fancy here, stick figures will do.
  4. You abduct / bribe / find some voice actors and record all the vocal parts of your film.
  5. You cut a rough animatic / motion script where you sync up all the vocals to the storyboards. If you have any music, you can stick that in here as well to get an idea of timing and scene pacing. This rough edit will help you streamline the next couple steps
  6. Make a list of all the shots, characters, sets, vehicles, props, effects, and other elements that show up in the animatic. No sense in building something that you're not going to use. Your camera angles from the storyboards will guide you as to what is going to be on camera. I rarely build full 360° sets, unless I know I'm going to be doing a lot of camera movement or shooting from all angles. Your shot list is what you use to streamline the next part of production.
  7. Build all the characters, sets, etc. This will take you a few months depending on how epic you have envisioned your masterpiece. I can't stress the importance of recycling. If you back and watch my earlier films you may notice certain set props turning up again and again. There's no prize for spending 3 days building a chair model again. Now, for this film I've still got a bunch of models and sets to build, but I'm 85% done that, and for now I've got everything I need to carry my production. A couple weeks break to build the last models and sets, that'll be in the summer sometime.
  8. Animate, Render, Comp. Splitting the film up into scenes, start animating the easiest stuff first, all the dialog shots. Got a couple scenes that take place on the same set, but in different parts of the film? Do them all at the same time... just like a live action production. As you go along, try to stick to the storyboard as best you can, in terms of camera angles and sequences. You'll think of cool stuff to add along the way. Hopefully it won't be extra dialog; your actors will hate you calling them back for line pick-ups, especially if they are "working" pro-bono. (So lock down your script, and read through it a few times before you even begin anything else... sleep on it a bit and let it grow for a few weeks... ) That said, I've added a bunch of stuff in production that wasn't in the script, and the film is going to be a lot more coherent and powerful for it... When you add shots in, don't just rush ahead and animate blindly, add the shots into your script and then A/R/C them as you would for the rest of the shots.
  9. Done animating all your shots? Cool. I'm not, ...yet... but then again it takes the big money studios 3 years or so of production to crank out their masterpieces. This is the part that most of you will balk at. Making a feature is no different than making a short; the number of characters, sets, and props you have to build for a feature may not be that much greater than for a short, depending on how much 'screen time' each particular set or character gets.
  10. Right, so now you're done animating shots, and you've been slipping them into the animatic as you go along so you have a rough edit of your film that may not be too rough, a quick polish here and make sure everything is good for continuity, add a few shots here and there, and the edit is done.
  11. Sound... Music, effects, foley. Because you animated to your vocal track, which you established beforehand in the animatic, the timing should be all tight and it's a matter of adding music and sound effects.
  12. Done the film. Congratulations... now figure out how you're going to get rich and famous off it... (then let me know...)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"A Call to Minds" Production log 17:36

17:36 of shots done so far, +5:30 this week... and that's since Jan 1 when I "officially" started production, I'm finally up to "M Dot Strange" productivity levels. Now these are a lot of dialog shots, which I thought were going to be easier than they have been, however there has been considerably more work and animation involved. Character interactions and emotional states need to be carefully executed, otherwise you might as well be filming cardboard cutouts...
The 20 minute mark is getting closer, that's the point when you start to have something resembling a film ;)

Now, onto some more action and effect intense shots.. ;)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Usage Based Billing: Canadian Internet access in jeopardy

A recent CRTC ruling (yeah the same guys who brought us the tariff on blank CD-roms and DVD-roms) means that the big Canadian ISP's are set to gouge and rob blind the Canadian internet user:

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are about to impose usage-based billing on YOU.

This means we're looking at a future where ISPs will charge per byte, the way they do with smart phones. If we allow this to happen Canadians will have no choice but to pay MUCH more for less Internet. Big Telecom companies are obviously trying to gouge consumers, control the Internet market, and ensure that consumers continue to subscribe to their television services.

That last bit is a good one... I haven't watched TV in ages... But I think I'll go visit my local used book store soon, now that I think of it..

I thought I'd tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper how I think of all this...

An open letter to Prime Minster Stephen Harper:

Dear Mr. Prime Minster Stephen Harper,

I am writing to express my concern over the recent CRTC ruling regarding “Metered Internet” , or ‘Usage Based Billing” of internet services by major Canadian Internet Service Providers. I feel that this is a step backwards for Canada’s information infrastructure and will result in a deleterious effect for Canada’s position as a world leader in creative industries.

As an internationally recognized and multiple award winning Canadian Film Director and Animator, I rely upon the access to the worldwide audience present on the Internet. The potential of the internet in enabling an independent producer such as myself to gain a worldwide audience is in orders of magnitude greater, and of greater importance, than all previously established methods of discovery and distribution.

Canada is recognized on the world stage as a leader in film, visual effects, and animation. “Usage Based Billing” will only serve to stifle this creative community, and will have a negative effect on the cultural and economic vitality of Canada. Information technology is the dominant economic growth sector, and growing at an exponential rate.
“Metered Internet” will only allow the rest of the world to outpace Canada, at a time when we can scarcely afford to throttle our economy.

I urge you to consider a policy which will not restrict Canadians’ access to the Internet, but rather to encourage and develop this already important and vibrant sector of our economy and culture.


David T. Krupicz

I certainly wouldn't have all these:

if it wasn't for the internet.

Friday, January 28, 2011

10 minutes

10 Minutes done...* ;)

I haven't been updating this blog lately because I've been busy in production for A Call to Minds, the next film in the Unity series of films, following Archon Defender of course ;)

So to answer some of you in the comments: I haven't dropped off the side of the earth (yet) and production is going at a good rate... Now these are all mostly dialog / expository shots, which are easier to animate than action, however there are good reasons for doing the film in this way:

  • I can crank out dialog shots really quickly these days thanks to the freeware Papagayo lip sync program from Lost Marble, and a quick little Maxscript script I wrote to import the lip sync data onto my face animation rigs. So lip syncing, which is a boring job I absolutely HATED doing for Archon, takes zero time by comparison.
  • These "simple" dialog shots are actually anything BUT, and involve a lot of interaction between characters, motion and timing. ( I don't just sit two characters down on a sofa for 10 minutes, like some directors...) So, this is all ramping up my animation skills for when I'm really going to need it: the action shots.
  • There's something to be said about doing things the right way around this time, recording the voice actors before hand, and building the sets and modeling the characters before doing any production is another reason why I've been able to get so much done in just one month. Not to mention I've been able to use the voice performance to drive the animation, which gives the characters a lot more emotion and emphasis.
So, off to finish a few more shots in this sequence and then changeover to another "set" and get the next sequence of shots done... ETA on the film being done... at least the animation... Aug... of this year... "IF" I can keep up the same pace (hehe...)

*Yes, that's 10 minutes of animation in 1 month of production. Impossible.. you say.... Not counting the fact that I've been in pre-production since May of 2010... script writing, storyboarding, recording actors, syncing the animatic, building sets and modeling characters.. ignoring all that :P I'm pretty happy with the way things are going ;)