Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Caravan Fall09 Semester Progress

I have my end-of-the-semester review of my film's progress tomorrow afternoon, and as per usual with any student review, I've cobbled together a quick reel of a healthy portion of the work I've done throughout the semester (although this is hardly all of it - I could only fit in so much!) It's a little difficult to make out some of the rough animation in such a tiny dimension, I do apologize for that. Hopefully, however, it gets the point across well enough - The film's truckin' right along!

Put together in about 3 hours, throughout today, amidst my Maya and Sound Design classes.

Caravan Fall09 Semester Progress Reel


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OMG TREES! (Part 1)

Here's 5 of 6 backgrounds I colored via Livestream the other night - only just now had the time to post them! (Ah, finals.) These cover shots 004, and 006-011, of Mia discovering in and consequently following Kelsey through the woods. I have, for a long while, imagined diffused oddly stage-spotlight esque lighting for these shots, in hopes of giving them a slightly dream-like, surreal quality, while still being fairly solidified in the reality that is established in the film as a whole.

Epic thanks to Kat for her help in flat-coloring some of these!


Sound Design In Progress

This semester, I had the opportunity to finally take Sound Design. I'd saved it for my senior year specifically in the hopes to be able to apply what learned directly to my thesis film. My professor, Aaron Gelman, was kind enough to allow me to use my final project for the class to begin to build a Foley database for Caravan's eventual final sound mix. The sound I've edited to parts of the animatic below is not by any means finalized, but it's a good, rough start for certain, and is beginning to establish the audio mood and feel I'm looking to project in the film.

Of note: The humme dtune in the backdrop of both of these clips is, in fact, myself. The tune itself is "Mia's Song," - a lullaby of sorts I've had invading my thoughts routinely while working on this film. Also, the guitar/harmonica tune of The Edmond Fitzgerald in the second clip is by the awesome mister Larry Larson, who has been kind enough to agree to work with me on the final musical score for the film in January.

Clip 1:

Clip 2:


Friday, December 11, 2009

Mia's Path to School

Two more backgrounds completed, and I may LiveStream the coloration of more this evening. I'm working on a number of the films' opening shots at the moment, taking place in the span of early spring, on Mia's long, rural path to school. Here are the backgrounds from shots 002 & 003.

The Talbert Farmhouse, as it will first appear in the film.

I've had this shot, with this particular lighting, in my mind for a while now. It was really nice to finally be able to sit and render it out.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Opening Shot Completed Background

S001 - The Talberts' Front Lawn in Spring

Here's the background from the very first shot of Caravan! The shot is a multi-plane one, each tier of the roof and the ground being separate elements, so that we will better be able to force a feeling of depth when we pull this whole thing into After Effects.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Finals Week Game Plan

It's that time of the semester - I'm officially battening down the hatches and rushing headlong into Finals. That said, here are my official plans for Caravan's production over the course of the next 9 days:

Mel's Wacky Finals Week Caravan Game Plan

Shots to rough animate before presentation:

- Shot 21, just over 4 seconds - girls react to seeing Kavenaughs in camp
- Shot 26, 3 and a half seconds - Mia looks back then smiles at Charlie's acceptance
- Shot 50, 2 1/4 seconds - Ethan charges Mia
- Shot 51, 1 second and 4 frames - Ethan grabs Mia
- Shot 52, 1 1/2 seconds - Kelsey looks shocked
- Shot 55, 4 1/2 seconds - Kelsey pounds on door, pants (Mostly looped animation, & 3-frame hold still)
- Shot 56, 3 seconds 6 frames - Kelsey runs up walk

Complete and FTP the following for Niles by this weekend.

- FTP completed S019 and S013 backgrounds (Campground Pan and Fireside Rest)
- FTP the exact timing needed for both shots in WordPad Document.
- Do clean-up for still character shots in S019 and S013
- Scan S019 and S013 and have Niles overview the color process to flat-texture the clean-up shots.
- FTP cleaned-up, colored S019 and S013 characters to go with backgrounds.

The goal in doing so will be to have two completed shots to show for Final reviews.

Background Rendering: (to be completed during AVC Shifts, including Thursday's 24-hour extra shift)

- S001: Background for opening shot of Mia skittering up her front path from overhead.
- S002: The Establishing Shot of the Talbert Farmhouse
- S003: Opening Woods Shot Mia walking sulkily to school, looking very tiny next to towering, barren trees.

- Use Portions of Friday and Saturday evenings to complete first full draft of thesis paper (which is already 1\3 complete)

Percentage calculator: (So I can keep track of where I'm at!)

Of Note:
  • If I getup to 50 shots completed in rough for the semester, I'll be 61% completed with rough animation.
  • To reach 50 shots, I only have to complete 7 more pencil tests in 9 days.
  • I'm 62% completed with backgrounds, without completing the one listed above.
  • I've also begun recording sound effects for the film's final sound design.
You can watch my progress on this to-do list as I tick them off on its recently published GoogleDOC. And bare in mind that the above workload is in addition to 11 seconds worth of computer animation for my Character 1 Maya class, as well as my Sound Design final (Although, said Sound Design final is allowing me to collect sound for Caravan's soundtrack, so hooray for that!)

Wish me luck!

5 New, Completed Backgrounds

Here are some of the latest completed backgrounds for Caravan. I've also completed 4 simple textured wash backgrounds, though those are hardly interesting without characters in them as accompaniment!


Production Photos (Pt 1)

For a chuckle, I thought I'd post couple of photos I've taken of life amidst film production. I'm a complete shutter bug by nature - I absolutely love to capture life in still frames - so, my time so far working on Caravan has hardly fared much differently. I'll post ore photos as I go undoubtedly. Here's a few to start:

A small portion of Senior Studio, as well as some of my awesome classmates The two fellows in the middle were visiting underclassman, the folks on either end, Christina and Matt, are fellow seniors, and wonderfully talented ones to boot.

Myself, at my light table, working on a perspective run shot that was rather giving me a bit of hell last Monday.

Patrick, working on shadow model for his film, My Dad the Giant.

There are SO MANY amazing games coming out in the past few months and I haven't had time to play a one of them. A fix to this deprivation, however? watching my lovely boyfriend Niles play them whilst I work - the proverbial two birds with one stone! Thus far, I've seen him through through Brutal Legend, Dragon Age, Assassins Creed 2, Condemned 2, and replays of Bioshock.

More soon,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Whew! The Doozie!

EDIT: Oh, the perils of saving and uploading files in the wee hours of the morning, on absolutely minimal sleep. It just dawned on me that two of my lighting/shadow layers were invisible on the file I uploaded earlier. So, here's the proper image, complete with lighting on the river, and shading on Nana's pop-up camper in the middle of the scene there. I have also left up the improper upload for comparison, and to giggle at what a silly tit I am when tired.

Shot 019 - the establishing shot of the Caravan.

The "Oops" Upload, by comparison:
I knew, out of all my backgrounds, this one would be the most consuming to color, so I decided to get its final render out of the way up front. Not only and I pleased with the result, I can rest assured that, compared to this doozie, the rest of the final background renders will be a piece of cake!

More again soon,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Short Post, Big News

Albeit a quickie of a post, I have great news:

Caravan is officially 50% into its rough animation!

*Insert all manner of happy dances here!*

Hope everybody's Turkey Days were good ones!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shot 034 completed background

Took my sweet time on this today, as I needed something that would really let me decompress a bit before finals get here. Really enjoyed coloring this layout as a whole. From here on out, I'll probably be bouncing all over the film in terms of which backgrounds I color. Hmm... I wonder which I'll do next.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shot 033 Background Finished

Just a quick update to show the fourth background, this time, shot 033 to go along with 030-032 I posted just the other day, completed yesterday evening. It's also of note that I have only two character placement layouts left to do, and it's back to rough animation! (This past week, I took a short while away from animation to created character layouts for all of the film that hadn't yet been addressed in rough. This will make progressing onward with the film's animation much more organized.)

Special thanks to Kat for doing the flats on this one!

EDIT: Character shot layouts for the 2\3rds of the film awaiting rough animation re now complete. I'll be picking up animation again tomorrow! :)

More again soon,

Inspiration: Larry Live

I mentioned a while back that one mister Larry Larson and his lovely guitar were kind enough to agree to helping me create the music score for Caravan. As well as being an inspiration as a professor and a great guy as a whole, Larry is an absolutely wonderful musician - I enjoy his music immensely, and he was the first person I thought of when considering how to go about creating a sort of bluegrass Celtic inspired sound to the film. I'm so looking forward to January, when I reach the point that we can record the tracks!

This evening, my roommates, other half and I visited the Gaelic League to see Larry play live. It was a wonderful time, and Larry was even kind enough to play Edmund Fitzgerald for me - a track of who's guitar/harmonica instrumental sections are set to comprise the last 30 seconds or so of the Caravan film: Inspired the film's ending montage, at that.

A brief clip of Larry playing one of the many great tunes from his CD "One Twelve String Guitar"

Mia's reaction to the whole lovely evening.

Doodles! Patrick and I had fun sharing a sketchbook page - including my various doodles of Mia, Kelsey, Stu Bogey, Hoobler, myself, and my other half, Niles. Pat drew... three questionable fellows, two of which were himself.

Niles did a quick, adorable little doodle of Hoobler. Had to share!

And one last image for the road - thanks for a great show, Larry!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mia Pat-ronizied

My awesome buddy and roommate Patrick drew Mia with his adorable little Emilio, the star of his Senior Thesis film "My Dad The Giant". Patrick starts animating soon - very exciting! It'll be awesome to have a partner in crime on these long sleepless animation-o-thons! You can check out more on Pat's film at his My Dad The Giant production blog.


First Completed Backgrounds!

Well, I managed to complete color renders on three backgrounds in downtime during one four-hour work shift today: A good sign for productivity on these to come! Here's my first three fully completed backgrounds for Caravan The top of of which has flat colors was posted here, for the curious)

Shots 031, 031 &032

I've mentioned previously my affinity for musical inspiration throughout the creative process. Two days ago, I discovered yet another lovely track from the August Rush soundtrack (Never seen the film, hence the delayed discovery) that has so many textural similarities to how I want Caravan to feel visually, it, frankly makes me rather giddy. So, I had to share.

More again soon,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Smoke and Fire, First Pass

Earlier this month, Niles utilized one of my flat-color backgrounds to begin testing smoke and fire effects for some of the various campfires throughout Caravan. He is creating and animating the effects from scratch in Adobe After Effects. Below is the first pass of said effects - I apologize for the video compression, blogger ate what was once a rather sharp image. I will try to figure out how to get a better quality upload soon.

Fire and Smoke First Pass


Background Layouts in Flat Color

A couple more background layouts in the flat stage of color.

Nightfall at the Kavenaugh Camp Site

Off the Porch, up the Talberts' Front Walkway

Inside the Talbert Home

Inside the Kavenaughs' RV

Mia At Peace

I'm working on character layouts at the moment - here's a particularly cute one from today. One of the last shots of the film, Mia finally finds her peace.


Mighty Miss Mia: Rough Pencil Tests

Hi everyone!

It's been a little quiet here, I know, but for good reason: I now have all of my background layouts for Caravan (All 65!) in flat color. 1/3 of the film is also rough animated. As of the moment, I'm working on rough animation and character layouts for the remaining 2/3rds of the film, as well as shading/texturing the flat-colored backgrounds. The production is moving right along!

Below are a couple of first-pass rough animation tests of little Mia Talbert.


Mia, catching sight of something in her peripherals along her path to school is startled, before her curiosity peaks.


Mia skitters up the path to try and catch up with the curious anomaly. (limited rough animation)


Albeit still backed up against her tree, Mia realizes her predicament isn't nearly as precarious as it had initially seemed.

As per always, you can keep up with my progress on the film at these links:
More again soon,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gypsy Camp Environment Background

The establishing shot of the Kavenaugh's back-woods encampment is undoubtedly one of the most important - and busy! - pan shots in the film. It is the shot that most clearly defines the humble, well-lived and well-loved campsite, as well as establishing the film's 1970's time period in terms of aesthetics. Here are both the lineart and initial flat colors t the background of that shot. At this point, I've all of my background layouts drawn, over half flat colored, apart from being a quarter of the way into rough animation. Caravan is certainly coming along! More again soon.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Posies for Hoobler

Mia & Hoobs.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Production Check-Lists

I'm slowly but surely ticking away at my epic to-do lists for this film. My buddy Kate NY turned me on to the magic of Google DOCS many months ago, in all of its organizational, easily accessible glory, and I've been using it to help me keep track of what's what with Caravan's production ever since. I thought I'd share said documents with you all, so you can follow the film's production right along with me. These pages will be updated automatically every time I edit them myself. Here's to more progress!

Sidenote: We now have a shiny HUGE new scanner in Senior STudio - 4 weeks of bitching pays off! I'll be able to scan teh backgrounds now quite soon, and it's on to color!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Animation Station & More Progress!

As of today, I've begun animating on Caravan. I already have 5 seconds roughed out - given the fact that I've got a bit of a head cold, that's decent progress for one day's senior studio.

My roommates and I are also working on getting a pencil test shooting station set up at the house, so that the lot of us can get work done at home as well as on campus. Here's the beginnings of the down-shooter:

The general space. Patrick, being the awesome fellow he is, plans to lend his PC for the set-up. Soon as we get that pulled into the kitchen and properly programmed, we'll be all set.

My peg strip and lamp, Patrick's webcam and Niles' drafting table. Team effort for the win.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Camp Site Inspiration

I spent the day at the camp site that is currently "nearest and dearest" this past Friday, and took a number of photos to look back on while working on Caravan. It's late in the season for casual visitors by now - slowly but surely, the long-term residents (whether by choice or unforseen cercumstance) are being weeded out from those left. While I love these shots, fall is in the air - I'm admittedly rather ecited to get another photo op when the entire woods are on fire in whatever shades of crimson and gold.

One of the various things I love about visual camping aesthetics: even the propane tank gets a little love. It becomes more then an unsightly white heap. It's part of "home" wherever home may be at the time. Flower pots and decorative wiring give it a little spirit of its own.

Indoor decorative rugs on hard-packed dirt, bonfire smoke, and a slight chill in the air.


Dad is a tremendous inspiration for Charlie Kavenaugh: The gentle spirit, relentless protector, steadfast supporter - well traveled, and road weary, who's strength of spirit and compassionate smile have inspired me for as long as I can recall.


Mia & Kelsey Doodles

Quick little bust doodles from just last night. If nothing else, they were interesting to post for the contrast: I'd yet to have drawn Mia and Kelsey in my "usual" style, opting for the more graphical look Caravan adopted very early on. I was curious, however, to see ho the characters would come off drawn "normally" (in accordance to the Book of Mel, shall we say) and the results were, to me at least, pretty amusing.

Skeptical Mia and Kelsey... a somewhat disturbing little 'Toon Bogey doodle. "YEEhaw, dumplin's!"

Mia & Kelsey - Melificated ;)


Monday, September 28, 2009

Layouts Complete!

A couple of background layouts - 3 of which are for pan-shots. Click for a larger view!

One of many milestones for Caravan today - I finished drawing all of the film's background layouts! Apart from scanning and prepping the layouts for color, I'll be spending this week compiling a rough pose reel, and moving on to rough animation as of next week. So far, Caravan is moving right along.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chipper Charlie

A quick image of Charlie... something as a means of rebellion for having had to move around a poorly constructed model in Maya all morning - "Oh yeah? I'll draw 2D, dammit!"

I do love Charlie Kavenaugh - little Kelsey's father. He's the sort of dorky dad who tries to be cool, despite the fact that he, quite implicitly, is not, by any little kid's standards... At the same time, he's too irresistibly adorable not to have a soft spot for.

As a side: I want that hat.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Work Space (Part 2)

I finally got the chance to add just enough to my workspace to really make it feel comfortable and reflective. Here's a few shots of its latest incarnations.

Added a quilt for curtains - needed some privacy from that window! - more lights, and random bits on the table.

The general Space. Patrick and I commandeered the corner of the studio (He's got a Renaissance theme to his film, Mine's Gypsy traveler-inspired.)

Patrick rather sneakily snapped this shot while I was sketching my take on one of the characters in his film.

I especially love this space in the evening - the lighting is really comfortable.