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...)