Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Romantic - A Film by Michael P. Heneghan

"Deep within a mythological world of autumn landscapes and wondrous creatures, a heartbroken young Romantic swears an oath to free his race from the omnipotent control of the otherworldly gods. But as he ventures forth on his long and lascivious path, other forces conspire with their own agendas. For when all the gods are dead, who will sit upon their empty thrones? A fantastical satire on religion, responsibility, and romance, The Romantic bends genres into a haunting tale filled with humor and horror."

Over 3 years in the works, "The Romantic" is a Digima production by Uberector Michael P. Heneghan, working with a small cast of voice actors and a skeleton crew of co-animators and musicians, to create a film with it's own unique visual style. And you can watch the whole film online, and read about the production, cast, and crew over at

Digima is a quietly growing art form, every year I come across another Uberector or two, and I certainly know more people who have made their own films or are in the process of making them than I did back when I was making the first Rocketmen vs Robots film. As more filmmakers get into the game, the quality of films will only go up: the tools and resources get better, filmmakers get better with each project, The best films will stand out above the crowd...with the stuff that hollywood and the big money studios are putting out, the theater is pretty crowded... but at least it's easy to stand out: all you have to do is have an inkling of originality, creativity, and artistry

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Forever Alone Filmmaker Podcast

So Ronerey :(~~

I interviewed with M Dot Strange and Jimmy Screamerclauz on their Forever Alone Filmmaker podcast on the weeked, you can catch the latest episode with me here, and check out the previous episodes, this is a good look into the world and methods of Digima and the Uberector.

In the meantime I've posted new versions of the Origin: A Call to Minds teaser trailer, a 2D version and a Youtube 3D version

And for your daily film entertainment, check out "Lost Planet", a film by Uberector Dmitry Petrov who made this film working by himself over 8 years (!!!) There's definitely some good cinematic shots in this one, using Bryce for the animation and rendering, a program I remember well from the "Rocketmen vs Robots" Days:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Toon Shading and Paint Effect in Blender

I've been playing around with Blender lately seeing as how it's packed full of up to date features including video editing, compositing, game development, not to mention it's open source and freeware as well ;) One of the main requirements for me was to evaluate Blender to ensure that I can migrate my visual style to it, the 'toon' render style based on Issac Botkin's Painting with Polygons method.

This is how you achieve this effect, very easily, in Blender:

Starting with any object, create a standard blender material

For the texture, you want one of the procedural textures, the animatable properties of which will become important momentarily.

A: I've used "clouds"

B: You want to set IPO keyframes with the "I" key for the Mapping Offset at frame 0 and frame 1. I set it to -10 X at frame 0, and +10 X at frame 1

C , D: You want to set the map's influence to only affect the displacement of the object's verticies.

E: In the curves editor, set the Channel Extrapolation Mode for the keyframes we just set to Cyclic. Now for each frame, it will cycle from -10 to +10 and will repeat each frame.

Now as far as the renderer is concerned, the object will now have the same displacement for each frame, but we are actually animating the displacement on a sub-frame basis.

To get the 'painted' effect out of the renderer, we need to use the Sampled Motion Blur, which combines a number of render passes over a user definable time period. I've typically used 4 or 5 passes depending on the complexity of the scene. Because it is a multipass technique, each render pass increases rendering time. 5 render passes means your render will take 5 times as long. Do this in stereoscopic 3D and you now have 10x the render times as opposed to NOT using this techinque ! :(

The important thing here to remember is that the renderer is taking sub-frame time slices and combining them into one image. If you have moving objects, for whatever reason ( in your animation ;) then they will appear motion blurred (which is ostensibly the original purpose for this feature....) The trick is to use a very fast Shutter speed: I've found that 0.042 frame duration works best. SO... for each frame it's actually combining 5 'slices' over a time period of 0.042 frames. Because we are using the animated texture displacement to move the verticies of the model during that time period, the overlapping render passes combine to create the 'painted' effect. Synchronizing the effect to each frame ensures that the effect will be consistent from frame to frame.

To get the toon shader look, you can use a Ramp on the Diffuse channel, as well as setting the Edge effect in the Post Processing section of the render settings. I also add in a bit of Specular, set to a very soft setting which helps the material catch a little bit of colored lights and which also gives the models a slight 3D effect without completely overwhelming the 2D tooning effect.