Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Passenger

Chris Jones has finally finished the Passenger, and amazingly has a low quality version on youtube. Looks like there's a making of production log on his website, and the making of looks like it might make the DVD a must have. I'll have to explore the site later, I'm up to my elbow's in making chocolage pies. Happy thanksgiving everyone.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mac & Roe - Elmer Kaan

Found it again, had lost this one for a while, clever playing with the camera frames I thought. By Elmer Kaan

Mac and Roe from Elmer on Vimeo.

Fumiko's Confession

Yeah, this has been everywhere, but now I know where to find it in 8 months when I go looking for it again. I first saw it on the brew. By Hiroyasu Ishida, production blog Rough translation is she's asking both boys out, and getting shot down.

Director/Animation/Background/3D CG/Editing/Sound: Hiroyasu Ishida (a.k.a. Tete)
Background/3D CG Textures: Yūko Iwase
3D CG Textures/Background: Kazuhiro Murakami
Animation: Tatsurō Kawano
3D CG Modeling: Yūsaku Nagata

Game Trailers and Matte Painting

So my lead is making a promotional video (in a ridiculous amount of time, like 3 days, and we're going right after blizzard, crazy) and I am amazed at how well it's looking, more specifically how he's achieving the illusion of high quality with limited resources and time. He's using a matte of the sky, sliced and overlapped a few layers, that skew for the duration, that totally gives the illusion of a huge sky (if you know to look you can see in a corner odd looking mountains.) And we're using our in game models, with high res textures. Then he keeps each shot very short, with camera movement and character movement (which are tricks he's used before) and some god rays and viola, looks great. I'll post it once it's done.

But while we were talking about making it we looked at this Guildwars 2 cinematic, which is also pretty decent looking, especially when you consider they're just cutting up and wiggling their concept art.

Guild Wars 2 teaser trailer from ebonhawke on Vimeo.

So now when I watch this fun trailer by Fortiche Productions for Academy of Champions, everything looks like mattes.

Academy of Champions from fortiche production on Vimeo.

good things to keep in mind to up value, and shorten time. also a nice way to show off concept art.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Act Curtains by the numbers

Was skimming through the blog of an author I recently read, Wen Spencer. She has a few posts about the story telling process.

She had the useful definition of Act 1 being about introducing the main players and problems. The transition from Act 1 to 2 is when the main characters change from being reactive to being proactive (so not just getting bounced around, they make a plan). Act 2 you can introduce new problems or characters, but they shouldn't be major ones. Act 3 is about tying up the threads, no new stuff, this is the act where you have the big showdown, and then let the readers bask in the after glow for a while (let the readers enjoy a taste of the happily ever after they've earned with the characters).

Another interesting idea (to me at least) was knowing your acts by word count (which works minute wise in film). So her books are 100,000 words long, so each act is 33,000 words. Each scene is about 1000-2000 words. So she only has 15-30 scenes to set up her main characters, introduce the problem, and get the team together enough to make a plan and get to work. So when you break it down that way, each character really only has a handful of scenes for us to get to know them, there's not really time for not getting right to the point.

*All these "write a screenplay" books basically point back to Aristotle and 3 Act structure, taking it for granted that that's the way to write a story (and admittedly it can make very strong stories). But I am really curious about what other cultures take for granted as the basic building blocks and essential parts of making a story, if any one reading this has any insight please chime in :)

*think I need to split up the story and character label, though they are pretty integral to each other

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


*found by Lango

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Aaron Hartline - Blue Sky

A half dozen vid ref to final comparisons over at Aaron Hartline's blog. One, two, three, four, five, six.

*found by Jeff Cooperman

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Story Treatmenting

Reading that Miyazaki book, he talks about basically he writes the treatment, then goes to story boards from there. From what I've heard of Brad Bird, he works similarly, getting into storyboards quickly since animation is inherently visual and we do our editing up front instead of aftwerwards.

Me being the noob that I am, I didn't really know what a treatment is.

Wiki says a treatment's between index cards and an actual script. Basically a quick description of every scene and beat in the story (a beat outline being just a list of beats without descriptions of them), so you have a roadmap of where you need to go when you write the script (or are making the boards).

One way of writing them is to put a big header at the top of each scene, describing the director beats. So it's easy to skim just the headers and get the flow of the story. Here's quick advice on writing one, and here's an article with examples of a prose style treatment vs a header style (skip way to the bottom, the majority of it is satyrical filler about writing treatments)

I also recently came across the idea of director beats. The idea that the director has an overall meaning for each scene. (IE. This scene is about them having to work together despite their animosity, this scene is about the audience getting tense because they see the bomb is running down but the passengers are oblivious.) Which is a pretty useful perspective if you are plotting the course through your movie, knowing what each scene needs to mean for the storytelling reasons.

And just to be thorough, wiki says a scene is an action in a continous time. And a sequence is a series of scenes which form a distinct narrative unit, usually connected either by unity of location or unity of time. So acts built of sequences, sequences built of scenes, scenes built of shots (if you're thinking camera wise) or beats (if your thinking acting wise.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kate Brehm - Puppeteering

I was tracking down these videos by Paul Louis about how to make a muppet style hand puppets (good videos, simple and easy to follow, you can also find them on youtube, but either place I watched them an ad was played in front of it)

Anyway, I ran across these bunraku puppet performing videos by Kate Brehm (they're all about a minute each, again youtube or expertvillage). She has some really interesting things to share that apply directly to animation. If Marc Craste was making appealing characters who are very simple and only have eye expressions, Kate Brehm is making appealing characters without even that, based solely on timing and movement. She breaks down ways of thinking about movement, she made it clearer to me how Laban movement theory can be used to shape character (which Ed Hooks talks about) and makes it simpler to understand in a kind of power center/gravity/personality way. She also talks about body mechanics and thought process stuff that helps the audience believe your character is an actual living creature.

definitely click through and watch the rest, well worth it!

One interesting thing she does is that the puppet breaks the 4th wall to acknowledge the audience, as a way of creating more empathy with the puppet, kind of like the puppet and the audience are in on a joke, which seems typical of puppeteering and I wonder if it's just a acting choice common in puppeteering or if it's necessary because of the lack of facial expressions.