It's been a while since my last post: over Jan and Feb 2013 I was working on script revisions and storyboards for Cold Dark Mirror. I'm now working on creating all the 3D assets in Blender which I will need to start animating: Characters, Sets, Props, Models, etc:
There's kind of a 'book' theme going on in this film, so books feature quite prominently throughout. The only problem here is that you end up having to model a lot of books, and to keep things visually interesting, there has to be a lot of variation in the layout and positioning of books on the bookshelves... I'm still working on a way to easily set this up... maybe something with particles. One thing Blender does well is handle lots of particles without a low memory overhead.
I've intentionally been keeping the backgrounds simple, at least for the interior shots. A lot of the background elements are just going to be shilouette or total darkness. There's a darker feel to this film than Archon or Origin, so the backgrounds are going to be less 'busy' and let the characters and action stand out.
Blender has a lot of great smoke, fire, and fluid simulation tools, I may even use them in this film ;) Only trouble is there's a lot of pre-calculation involved which I don't want to have to sit through, especially to tweak values until they're exactly what I want. The candelabra flames here are just mesh objects which I've rigged with a simple set of morph targets which I can manually animate to flicker when I need them to.
Layer compositing is the best tool for independent 3D animation production, in terms of getting shots done quickly. You don't want to sit through a bunch of full frame renders if you can help it, so the technique is very similar to the traditional 2D cel animation technique where characters are animated on top of a painted background. In this case, the 'cels' are PNG files with an alpha channel.