Sunday, 21 February 2010

Animation- a social stick up the back.

Been thinking about my dissertation subject and have been looking at how most western mainstream animation installs American values in its characters. I have to get some more reading material on this before i concrete it as my choice; but it should not be far off this subject, f@%! yeah!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Studio time!

As luck would have it (and an awful lot of planning); we had until 9 oclock to get the filming done. And as it panned (lol) out we needed almost all the time. We had the greenscreen induction at 2.30 and then just stayed there til close. Here is a short vid of the Studio.
Note the lighting system that we had to use is the portable one; as we have not yet had the full studio health and safty induction. The yellow ones are called 'Blondes' and the red ones 'red heads',(this comes from a photography/film background,girls,girls,girls!). The Blondes are for lighting the back green sheet; they are set to flood and give off a light which produces soft edged shadows. This is also thanks to the gel deffuser. They are set to the side more than normal to imitate the street lighting and to aviod the back shadow. The Red heads were used to partly kill the shadow made by the blondes; but to also light the subjects. These were also gelled and flooded. The next thing to do was take a shot and work out the angle/position of the camera. This had to be only roughly because the images are on a plane and can be moved in 3d space afterwards. We also set the camera up.
Once some footage had been filmed we got a rough key in aftereffects using keylight 1.2 and decided on the final position of the lights and camera.
The next thing was to make sure the 'actors'knew where they had to perform the action and where the cut off points were. We knew the shots from the storyboard; so this was governed mainly by the shadows and the space we had available to us. The first shot of the boys walking toward eachother was first filmed separatly and then the two of them coming together.

The Rehersal; be serious!!!

The shots of the gun were taken from two angles and then cut together; the shot of Oddne being kicked was also shot from two angles and stitched together.
In my next post i will include the footage at the correct timing without the background; almost like our blockthrough.
I feel we are making progress and are on time with this project; but also i am aware that time is never on our side...

Studio prep.

Environment Lighting.

As Pete has drawn in where the light is going to be coming from on the scene we have to match this up in the 3d scene. To do this we
got hold of the layer of the drawing with the clouds on it and used this as an alpha channel. this enabled the light to be filtered in various ways
and levels as it comes into the scene.This effect has only got to be very subtle as another light effect is going to be used post rendering.

The Gun

The shape of the gun is going to be like a stubby mini-gun; about 50 calibre and is going to look absolutely HUGE.
This is one thing we have to act out quite well so that the scene is believable. The acting is going to take place infront of
'green screen' and the build of the gun should enable the actors to imitatae a bit of weight in the weapon. As we saw earlier;
the Keying points have been reduced in size, as , weirdly enough the program likes to descriminate between smaller tracking marks
than big ones. Im glad we done the test runs; else that would have been a nasty surprise being that green room
time is hard to come by.

As we have the filming tomorrow; i have flagged up the question of lighting, and how the scene is going to be lit.
Most of the light is coming from above and behind the actors so i have asked if it is ok to put some street lighting in the scene
so that we can imitate that with the lighting in the green room. On this subject we have to pick Georg's brains; and hope they have a decent rig in the studio.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

What has been done so far...

Firstly the scene has been made; using matt painting for the background and some 3-d elements for the foreground. A bridge has been built which is going to collapse; this is going to employ a shatter effect.
The textures for the bridge were taken from some of the bare concrete in the uni building; and a bit of graffitti applied via photoshop.
The gun has been modelled and textured; the shells for the gun have been put on a motion path so they look although they are being fed in on a belt.
The shots have been planned; we need five in all' this has been accertained from the storyboard.
Today we are going to put all the elements together for the first scene render; and then we should have some idea of what the finished shot pre-effects will look like.
I have been trying to manage the time assets, making sure that all props and recources are in place for the filming which should take place today. I have had trouble getting any time in the green studio; with the media office stone walling me at first ask; saying the studio was booked out for the whole term! WHAT!
Eventually i found out that our first years have an induction in the said studio; and with a bit of communication found out we can shoot for an hour at the end of the day.
This means the preparation of the shots has got to be 100% and multiple takes are on the cards; with two cameras (for tracking) plus we can hopefully play around with the lighting a bit as this may aid for keying/garbage mask creation.
Well thats it for now; today is a big day and i have got to get with the program...

Monday, 8 February 2010


A rough storyboard has been drawn up,it is not one of my strengths but i had a crack at it anyway. This was then put on a time line to give us some idea of timing and camera angles.

This has highlighted a few problems with the lenght of the production; and made us think of some filler shots (thinking silhouettes of the lads fighting from more dynamic angles). I saw this used to great effect on KIll Bill two. Nothing is set in stone yet; so we won't be making any decisions till we have filmed the main footage plus the green screen footage.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A few notes on the tracking process.

Here are a couple of vids that show the green box gun; the tracking points and some in promptu acting from Pete (note the war face).
In this vid we see masking tape being stuck onto the gun. As it happened we found a problem with the shininess of the tape (you can see it on 48 secs) this made us loose a fix on the points in the software. Poster paint or sticky fuzzy felt would be a lot better.
This clip shows filming with the P2 and the gun itself being waved around by Pete. We had to reducethe frame rate on the camera because of the flickering of the flourescent lighting. This area had great light and the distance we needed to see if we could pick up on the tracking points on the gun.

Sparks and smoke.

Today i have been playing around with Maya fluid dynamics. This is to create some gunsmoke. I have had a bit of success; but i still have to look into how to feather the edges and how to distort/ transform it.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

VFX report into how the project is going.

We met up in the studio and had a chat about what was being produced and what we were going to do today.
Pete was going to try and track the mock gun with Match mover. Oddne is getting the motion paths going on the bullets on the 3d mini gun. This is right boys stuff, love it! We had a look at connecting the instances of the bullets to the master path so each bullet followed the same path and the path could be animated to simulate 'belt wobble'. This is great.
We have a few shots of the background which are matte paintings. Here are a few examples.

Pete has done a great job in making the background for our piece; here it is.I think he has done a great job. There is going to be a bridge in the forground (which is going to collapse) and the fighting is going to go on in front of that.

A bit of life drawing.

Went to the life drawing class last Thursday and found it most rewarding. After the first couple of poses went not too well got into the flow and how much time we had on each pose and working with the broad medium.

This is my best bit of work from the session because of its simplicity and commitment. I am sure i will make every effort to attend tommorrow and try to push this aspect of my work further; even though it is not compulsory.

Animation producer- a quote.

"A good producer is one who anticipates and plans, protects both the creative vision and the artists, and delivers on time and on budget. They also need to be excellent plate-spinners, fire-eaters, and circus ringmasters, with an inherent ability to herd cats."

— David Sproxton
Producer, Chicken Run; Executive Producer, A Close Shave, The Wrong Trousers; Director of Photography, Sledgehammer; Producer, Director of Photography, Creature Comforts; Co-Founder and Managing Director, Aardman Animations
Started 1972

This shows the battle which is at hand; but im on it!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Post production project.

We have been given the chance to produce a visual effects piece incorparating live footage and some 3d work. I am working with Oddne and Pete; these guys had come up with the conceptual idea before i joined the group; but i have found out that there is plenty to do production wise. i have started to put together a timeline in Excel and also to make sure all the human/technical recources are in place. This involves making sure we have P2 inductions; access to the green screen studio, a rejeme which involves meeting up in the studio at least twice a week (preferably three times) and good communications when we are working at home through text, etc. As the project progesses i think that we will be spending more time as a group in the studio; as files will need to be going from artist to artist. The next thing we have got to do isget the storyboard on to a timeline; this will give us some idea of timeing for the shots and also will be work in progress. As the live footage is shot, thos can then be overlayed onto the timeline, and then taken off and the effects applied. As it is going to be a fight scene we will have to be very careful of quite a few things. Firstly the space we take up (as the green screen room is limited) secondly lighting as the inside outside shots are going to be different. I think it would be easier to just shoot it all outside and key it out in post; some of the software we have been looking at has some grea roto-scoping capabilities and this could save a lot of time cleaning up shabby keying (produced by keylight, etc). Third year vj loops. I have been giving the third years a hand (mainly Alex)and have produced a couple of loops. This is one of them; i have others in the pipeline. I am hoping to be able to produce a whole series of them. This short piece will loop when played with the vjing software.

What do you want to see and hear more about?