Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Caravan Girl

Curious Miss Mia from Mel Miller on Vimeo.

Shot 009, rough & clean animation

Clean up from today. I still have a few alterations I want to make to the final line here before I shoot it for color on Friday, but, it's well on its way, at least! :) Mia is so terribly cute when curious. Also, just for the fun of it, here's the tune I was blasting on repeat in Senior Studio today: Goldfrapp's aptly titled Caravan Girl.

And so it goes,
- Mel

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Production Photos (Pt 2)

Still a shutter-bug as always, here are a couple of recent snapshots of the digital side of Caravan's work space: Both fro Senior Studio at CCS. More to come!

My usual Friday Takeover o the Senior Studio Scanner computer.

7 hours of each of my Fridays are spent like what you see above: Clean up animation, scanning & awesome entertainment. The little light table is a home-made contraption created by my other half, Niles, last year while we were working on his thesis film, Code Monkey. As an aside, to give you an idea of how much of my time has been spent working at computers lately, I started watching Supernatural last week for the first time. As of yesterday, I'm already on Season 4! Another shot of the same work space is below:

Caravan in progress: Great tunes, Drawn background, rough animation & a stack of clean lineart!


Kelsey Clean-Up

Kelsey Crosses Mia's Path from Mel Miller on Vimeo.

One of the pencil tests I did tie down and clean up on yesterday - Kelsey unexpectedly crosses Mia's path to school. The tie down on this shot was pretty loose, but I'm pleased with the clean-up results regardless. The whole motion of this shot amuses me :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Composited Caravan Clips

Composited Caravan Clips from Mel Miller on Vimeo.

As I mentioned previously, I've come far along enough in Caravan's production that Niles has been able to begin compositing a couple of shots from the film together - very exciting! We've got just over a minute of the film put together so far, an will be compiling ore this weekend. Through all of these shots, Niles is beginning to address a number of visual effects that he is interested in adding to the film - smoke, fire, water, film effects, among other things. For anyone interested, the character animation and backgrounds are entirely hand-drawn, and colored digitally. Hooray for quality Vimeo video! :D


Caravan: Mia Runs Into Camp

Caravan: Mia Runs Into Camp from Mel Miller on Vimeo.

I've finally begun uploading Caravan related clips to Vimeo and will embed those here, with hopes of being ale to bring you guys better quality video than Blogger otherwise has to offer. Here's the first clip I've uploaded - a shot I cleaned up yesterday - shot 39, I believe. As the word around her transforms from summer to fall, little Mia Talbert skitters back to the Gypsy's camp in the woods.

More soon,

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Clean Up Process

A cleaned-up still of Nana Besnik from Shot 079

It's been an interesting feat, trying to figure out exactly what the proper way to go about this film's production might be - particularly when it comes to what order to do everything. I've been told many times that the standard means of production for students would be to do rough layout first, rough animation next, clean up after that, complete the backgrounds, and then composite the whole mess together in the end. This timeline, to me, just seems... awkward. Doing things sectionally - all rough animation at once, for example - is for me, at least, too wrought with the risk of burn out, and with burn out, of course, comes a drastic slow-down in production. I, personally, have been skipping all over the realm of production: For a while I was rough animating and doing backgrounds at the same time, and now, I'm rough animating and doing the clean up at the same time. If I get sick of one, I move immediately to the other, and vise versa - and things continue to get done. I also questioned the logic of doing backgrounds last - why on earth, if one has finished animation available, should compositing have to wait on the completion of finished backgrounds at the last minutes of a film's production? As such, I completed all of my backgrounds before the semester even started, and, throughout the rest of the semester, while I continue to rough animate and clean up, Niles will be able to take animation as soon as I complete it and get it composited - weeks, even months ahead of time. This gives infinite amount of time for feedback and critique on the film we're compiling to give way to improvement, as opposed to hurriedly cobbling everything into its rightful lump the week before graduation.

Not that I believe this is the full on right way to be going about a student film production. Frankly, I don't now - I've never done this prior to now. What I do know, however, is that the vast majority of projects prior to this who have adhered to more of a "sectional" strategy in production have, at least where CCS is concerned, frequently failed to reach a polished level of completion. Then again, I may fail utterly as well - I'm certainly as open to it as anyone! I'm just trying to avoid the like... hopefully I can manage, in the end!

Anyway, sleep deprived rambling aside, I am indeed doing clean up animation as of this week. I thought I'd post the stages I'm going through to get my intensely scribbley roughs into some semblance of coherency. Nothing I'm doing here is in any way out of the ordinary, but for those of you viewing who are less familiar with the animation process, the stages are rough animation, tie-down animation, and the final clean-up stage.

Mia, Kelsey and Hoobler at rest from Shot 079 - Rough, Tie Down and Clean Up stages

I'm hoping to get a couple of shots fully composited this weekend, including the one this entry's artwork is from, so keep an eye out for those. :)

More again soon, as always!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shot 030 WIP

This is Niles' first-pass at compositing for Shot 030 - Anya, Kelsey and Mia rest by a dwindling campfire, after an exciting day of introductions between Mia and the Gypsies. As always, I apologize for the lack of definition in this clip - Bloggers' compression rate is absurd. When we start to get final versions of these shots, I'll post them to Vimeo, and link to them here, which should provide HD video clips for everyone to view!


A Juxtaposition of Homes

The Talberts'
Inside the Talbert home. Shot 075.

The Kavenaughs
Inside the Kavenaughs's RV home. Shot 079.

Animation, onward!

The Closing Shot

I'm officially (and finally!) done with all of Caravan's backgrounds. I, accordingly, completed the film's final tilt shot last, and love the results, so I thought I'd share. For those curious, the shot will pan up into a parchment paper background for credits, hence the gradient fade up top there. Hooray for completed backgrounds!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Latest Inspiration Tunes, and Updates

A couple of quick updates:
  • Shot 19 is now complete in its composited and ready to be plunked into the final film edit! Shot 30 is pretty much complete as well, though I'm going to have it passed around a couple of critique sources before I call it "fully done" just yet. When it's gotten the seal of approval, I'll post that here. So, that's two down - plenty more to go. Niles is doing a fantastic job putting these together though, they look just as I envisioned. We're both incredibly excited!
  • Next of the list of things to do for compositing - Niles is going to start working on the SFX for both seasonal transition shots in the film. I'll likely end up posting a couple of test runs for that here.
  • Meanwhile, I've only got 3 and a half backgrounds to complete out of 65. The proverbial home stretch on those. Awesome. The general thought behind getting all of the backgrounds done this soon is to allow us to get shots composited as the animation is completed, as opposed to having the massive, time-wasting lag between completing the animation and waiting on backgrounds to be completed after that, as my original schedule suggested. Completing shots entirely on an as-they-go basis leaves for more time to have them viewed, critiqued by others, and improved.
  • I'll post more completed BG's soon. ♥ There's plenty. Last I counted, I've completed 40 backgrounds since last Tuesday. Not half bad.
Just for the fun of it, I thought I'd post two of the latest tunes that are serving as on-repeat brain fuel for the Caravan project. And the lucky winners are...

"Not Fade Away" by the Rolling Stones. Niles and I were joking just this morning, actually, that if Caravan were altered into an animated series, this would be the perfect theme song... mostly because neither of us can visualize Stu Bogey jamming to it behind the wheel of his truck without completely cracking up.

"Jesus Don't Want me for a Sunbeam" by the Vaselines, as revisited by Nirvana. I enjoy its chipper derision.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Colors of Fall ♥

The peak of Caravan's story also provides its peak in color - it takes place in the fall, my favorite season visually. I've got 7 fall backgrounds completed so far - here are two of them.


Peaking Tension Through Light

Background layouts from a moment of fright for Mia and Kelsey - and my attempt to portray that through background color rendering alone, particularly through the sudden spike of intense lighting from the more saturated, darker shots prior to this. I'll post two of those in a moment as well.


Change of Seasons

There is a small change of seasons montage about 2/3rds of the way through Caravan, to show that Mia becomes a part of the Traveler family over the course of the summer. It's three shots, three layout drawings - most of the transition will be handled and animated in After Effects by Niles, including the appearance of trees "blooming" to life from spring to summer. While there are only three layout drawings, I had to digitally painting doubles of each drawing (all of which are now complete) to accompany the fade between the seasons. Above is an example of this - the encampment, from summer to fall.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Night Backgrounds Complete

I just completed the 5 remaining night backgrounds for the film! Above is my favorite of the group. Up next? The three backgrounds involved in the spring to fall seasonal transition.


OMG TREES! (Part 2)

Here's 4 of the 5 backgrounds I completed today - and the last of this section of similar tree backgrounds, thank goodness! The next lot I will be doing are all of the night-time shots, as well as the three involved in the spring-to-fall seasonal transition. Keep an eye out, they'll be done and up soon as well!

Shot 012

Shots 013 and 015

Shot 017

Shots 016 and 018


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Caravan Shot 19 WIP

Sadly, as per usual, Blogger ate this video clip alive - most of its subtle SFX are not visible here, HOWEVER, I've uploaded a crisp, high quality (and bigger!) version of this video to DeviantArt for your perusal. Please check it out!

Shot 19 of Caravan, in its latest Work In Progress stage. While we (Niles and I) are still fixing a couple of hitches with this, it does give a pretty spot-on idea of what the film will look like when it's completed. (For the record, I'm doing all of the animation and background renders, Kat Bongard has helped me with background color flats though not with this specific shot, and Niles Bontrager is doing all composeting and SFX.)

Notes on Effects:

Niles created the smoke and fire, water animation and camera effects from scratch in Adobe After Effects. I adore working on film projects with him, (I worked with him on his Senior Thesis film, Code Monkey, this past year) as our intuition towards each others' aesthetic sensibilities is so keen. He nailed the nostalgic look I was going for with this. You'll be amused to note that a little clip from Code Monkey is playing on Stu Bogey's television there at the left.

Things in line to be altered/fixed/improved.

1) We may slow this down more, even still, to allow the viewer time to take everything, as the camp ground is a bit of a clusterfuck of imagery - they are wanton to be!

2) There is some clipping present in the smoke on the right most campfire, near the Kavenaughs' camper. Must fix that.

3) We're still working on getting Charlie, the fellow fixing the pickup truck, to "pop" enough to be visible upon immediate viewing. At the moment, he entirely is not!

I'm open for suggestions! Also, I'll definitely post the completed version of this shot when we get to it. Thanks for your support, guys!