Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A Quote from George Lucas on the subject of Cultural imperialism...

Cinema and Television are the most powerful media in the World. They can and they do affect our lives for the good and for the bad. I found interesting a not-so-recent article talking about an award ceremony dedicated to one of the most important director in the Film History. The guy who changed many millions of lives during may 1977, the year during wich Star Wars took place on every silver screen of the Earth.

“There has been a conflict going on for thousands of years between the haves and the have-nots, and now we are in a position for the first time to show the have-nots what they do not have.”

[...]the United States is a provincial country with a culture that has invaded the world via Hollywood[...]

This is what George Lucas, the mythical creator of the Star Wars film saga, commented while receiving the “Global Vision Award” in San Francisco, United States.

He went on with:

“I hate to say it, but television is one of the most popular exports,” Lucas said. People see shows such as “Dallas,” about a wealthy Texas oil family, and decide they want the grand lifestyles portrayed, according to Lucas.”They say that is what I want to be,” Lucas said. “That destabilizes a lot of the world.”

Other work i have been doing.

I have been doing a bit of 3D modelling for a friend; he is an archetect and i asked him if he had any plans he wanted modelling. I had a period researching into compatability of different Autodesk products but in the end i used some PDF drawings as importing the DWG files did not work.
This project can be used in the 'US and THEM' project i am also doing for the third years.
It is far from finished; but was just more of an exercise in working off drawings and with increments.

The beetle is coming along ok; with the addition of a spoiler i think it is ready. I have done a turnaround of it and some small animated loops (which i will try to find now...). Ah my blog wont let me post vids; but i'll get it sorted for later.
This is a still of the Beetle. I am fairly happy with it but i feel it could have been tidied up a bit more; especially where the edges meet.

Lighting Timmys Gift.

Hi i have been looking into the best method of producing some kind of fog in Maya. There is a way to do it at the render, but this is very general and does not look that good. It also is only available in Maya's own renderer.(Environment fog).

The alternative (or the one i am using) is to use a spotlight and a Mib shader. I also used a ramp linked to the colour of the fog to increase the feel of ‘drop-off’. There is a lot of methods of control, but the only way you can be sure that the change to the fog had any effect (at 640x480 for the sake of a quicker render) is to constantly render out your work and save incrementally. When doing this at home each full render takes 20 minutes but if i just render a section it does not take so long.

This is a shot of just the light coming in from the left; without the light for the characters. The blue spot in the middle is the size of the area i ended up rendering to speed things up. 

This is the same shot with the characters lit from one side. It is still a bit bright. By playing around with the penumbra and the drop-off the edge of  the light is feathered and soft. (sounds like some kind of nest!)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

New missions.

Hi all, had a good talk with our course leader Andy today (they call them tutorials; just like a catch up really), and he has given me the chance to work on an animation being made by Cherie, one of the third years on the lighting team. I will be working with Emma, who is a lovely girl, and starting on it TOMORROW!!! 
This is cool as i was really wanting to do something with lighting; and i feel the practical experience we had in the green screen room with the lighting in there will come in really handy.
I am going to research theatre lighting techniques and really get on this one; COOL!!!
This project runs through the break, so i will not lose the momentum i feel i have built up over the last term. Thats one thing about our calender; if you don't keep busy then you lose that drive; and i dont want to do that.
The animation is in the style of Tim Burton apparently; so i guess the lighting will be pretty important for the mood, etc.
Will keep you posted, another new project is iminent as well so busy, busy!
Also making progress with Alex on the city scape he wants me to make; will post up a still of the slotted building idea that we have come up with;it looks awsome; got the beetle dodging a few asteroids now, the thing is coming to life. Got to get on the graph editor to ease in the beetles flying turns; in this way the flight pattern will look a lot more natural. Still putting the finishing touches to my literature reviews; Cultural Imperialism is a pretty deep subject; especially when you talk about media. It is a thing that has to be quantified from several different standpoints and a lot of factors have to be taken into consideration, such as the political power that is dominant at the time; the ability of the population to digest the medium. This shows why animation is such a powerful tool to get any message across.
Well enough of that for just now; signing out.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Interesting take on animation types and discipline


My literature review.

Being that my dissertation subject is going to be colonial imperialism; especially post WW2 i thought i would see how the' problem' of identifying with the Middle East was tackled in the 1950's and especially in regard to the use of animated film.
I found a letter which had been de-classified http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB78/propaganda%20004.pdf which mentions the possibility of using Walt Disney to produce an animated propaganda piece.
This is all very interesting.

VFX-After the dust settled...

We are still working on the final edit and this should bee done soon. A hand in was made; but it was not finished. Told you i do not trust the rendering process...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Winding up the process.

As it is today that the deadline is upon us i am a little bit concerned that we have not rendered out anything yet.
This i have been reassured that there is no problem; its just using all the available time we have.
Still i dont trust the rendering/burning process and i still have to have time to sync the sounds. Thats all for now.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Beetle. They have wings you know.

This is another test of the reflections from the moire on the paintwork of the beetle. The model needs a bit more work on it; but it is taking shape.

This is another shot with the wings extended. I hope that Alex (the guy i am working with) does not mind; but i have removed the spoiler. I can always put it on again. Modelling is not my strong point; but i have enjoyed this process so far, and, it does look like a Beetle. Cool. This is rendered with mentalray; as the paint shader i am using does not like Maya's own shader.
I have done some other experimental loops looking into reflection, refraction and Moire patterning; these are to follow.

The Visual effects Project.

There has been an awful lot of stuff going on; a lot of it in the studio, and a lot in the chambers of Pete our friendly German, insomniac, and a wiz with the visual effects.
Here is a linkto his blog; where any of the more technical problems have been documented.
This guy rides with a wingman named Oddne; and on his blog you can see how the Gun was modelled and the box built.

These guys have been great to work with and have been putting me to shame by staying in the studio till 9 all this week. ( I have been staying till 7 and not getting home til 9, sorry lads i need to see my family some time!). The role of producer is not one to be taken lightly; i have found you have to have an understanding of the technical process (so you can estimate if you are on time or not) excellent communication skills, silk gloves, and the shadow of a guillotine cast upon your back. As i write this the deadline is 48 hrs away and it is going to be a fairly close call. Till then; chow.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Visual effects update.

I must admit i feel like i left the rest of the team holding the baby earlier; as i had a meeting with Anne and then i had to go at 5.

I know for a fact the lads worked on as we have had trouble with rendering, (for some reason the ambient oclusion pass is not rendering) and this means we are a little behind scedule. I will get in early tomorrw and put some hors in; and hopefully we can get on track. There is an awful lot of rotoscoping that needs doing; and this can be pretty monotinous.
Us and them update.
Using transapancy on layers to get moire effects; here is a still.

I am going to do this with a less gradiated image; and in this way i should get a sharper image. The effect i am after is definitly present; so happy days!
(imagine this blown right up on a 20m screen, barely legal!)


Friday, 5 March 2010

Notes on the creation of star travel.

Im making a load of animated loops for the third years at the mo. Im doing doing one with the theme of stars and space travel, using polygon primitives, simple camera movement and projections.
This is the first render just to get an idea of the speed.


And this one has a flash at the end; which i suspect is overkill, to enable a loop.


The next thing i am going to do is try different primative polygons and try joining different images and polygons together. I'm thinking other worldly, wormhole like journey...

Update on the visual effects project.

We have been keying out all the green screen for the last two days. Toxic is a great package; with lots of room for minute adjustments. We have had to identify the edge to soften it up (with a gaussian blur) this was after we shrunk it with the keying node. The visability of the edge was improved with a ramp which was added to the background (a red one as this is opposite green and this made the splash from the green screen stand out). Pete has rendered out all the scenes in passes so that we have more control when we comp it together later. The only worry i have is the lenght of the shot; it is not as long as we thought it would be, this is partly because the cutting room floor is littered but also because of the story just not supporting the time. I think there is an opportunity for us to do a bit of slow motion and maybe add a little drama at the same time.
Its getting quite exciting now, and the end is in sight, but unfortunatly i am going to have to re-sync the sound because the clips we have used have changed in duration.
This should not take too long; and i have a great idea for the musical score, after speaking to a musician; he said about the prolific use of threes in animation musical scores. But i will get on that if we have time....

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The process so far...

So far a lot of the process which i have been involved in has been ;let me say 'hard to see'. Being in the producer role i have had to make sure of some very important things; but maybe not so obvious things. So here is a short list outlining some of my contributions to this 'amalgimation of make-believe and reality'.

1.Assets. Making sure i have the equipment and skills available to me to satisfy the contract with the client. This involves making sure that the training is in place and studio time is booked; also any hardware is available. Also this calls for my team to all be getting the necesary sleep/food, etc.

2. Time management. As this is a project that we are using a lot of new software; we have to have strict time constraints; and if something is not happening we have to find a way round it. We had a lot of time put to one side for testing; and this was a wise decision seeing the problems that we ran into. (see previous entries). We are now getting close to the end of the project and are pretty much on time; but i suspect the keying is going to take an awful long time and eat into our contingency time.

3. I have been working on a sound track for the shot even though it is a visual piece. This has been taking a back seat and will only really be put into place when the visual work is done.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

My thoughts at the moment (got a penny?)

If anyone gives a shit out there its not too obvious. I feel like i have been palmed off on this 'Vj project' and the fact is i am being given no direction from the guy who is running the show; and the guy i am supposed to be working with has no definate plan of what i am supposed to be doing. In a way i wish i was doing sound design in the 3rd year projects. Suppose the only thing i can do is start making some myself and build a library that way. Sorry this is a bit bitter; but ive had a shit month. A lot of it is my own fault; and this has just topped it off. I need a kick up the ass from someone; do your best!

The Visual Effects Project This is going to plan at the moment; we have had a few rendering issues and a problem with the particles (no shadows! doh). After that we can get on with the keying. I cant wait to get into this, as Pete and Oddne have been doing most of the modelling/tracking. I have been making the sound effects (which i enjoyed) and got to use Pro tools and a sister program for sound effects and some of the music. Here is a short vid.


Production meet today so hopefully all will be thrashed out then. My team has been ace so far; so no quibbles there. I just hope they can say the same about me as there producer....

What do you want to see and hear more about?