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Latest Version

Hey team,

here is the latest version. This one is color graded, has the string quartet and a first sound design.

Password is the usual…

Exhausted but happy

I am back on the other side of the world. The jet lag is taking it easy on me and things are going quite well. But maybe I should begin further back.

The last weeks (or rather months) were probably the most intense ones. Right after the 3D renders were done I jumped into the compositing stage with the ever closer coming deadline looming over my head. 3-4 hours of sleep per night were pretty much the most I could afford. But there were still a few things that needed taking care of, like fluid/smoke simulations and then some. And while I ticked off shot by shot, other things came to light that needed fixing. Thankfully, my wife kept feeding me during that time and made sure that I showered enough so that I wouldn’t offend the noses of others around me ;o)

Then in December some great things happened. We got a composer on board who was happy to write us a score in the shortest of times. Not only that, but Corentin (the composer) organized a string quartett and a recording session for February … from which I am writing right now, because my non existing knowledge in this field isn’t actually needed.

The other thing that got done was the color grading. For that I sent the project over to Belgium, where my friend Olivier took good care of it and treated it with a very pleasing look. By the middle of January I had applied all of his settings locally and was pretty much ready to take the plane back to the other side of the world.

All this happened while we had to tackle a pretty major project at work with the worst clients we’ve ever had. So a relaxed timetable was pretty much out of question.

So I had two more weeks until I would have to get on the plane, thinking that I was done. But far from it! Being as picky as I am, I managed to spend most of my time until the last day before the flight working on the film … and there is still some stuff I wanna change, but now can’t. So I assume that my part is done…

Two days ago I arrived in Paris, where I met Corentin for the first time. We are right now at the studio finishing up the recording session, at 4 in the morning. The musicians left a few hours ago, having given us a wonderful performance. Corentin and Vincent (the sound engineer) are almost finished massaging all the stuff. Next, all the audio material will go straight to Brussels, where Yves will mix everything together and marry the strings with his sound design. We will use the first rough mix this week to send off a DVD just in time to make it to Annecy, the most important european animation festival.

And because I am too tired to come up with more stuff to talk about I will regard this as the end of my posting. Enjoy some pics of todays session.

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I should probably…

…write about how the 3D renders are done, what the challenges were, how I solved problems and what not. But I am already so deep in compositing land and short in time, that I’ll skip any bigger posts til the trailer is done. Suffice it to say that everything went reasonably well and that a third of the total render time so far was spent rerendering faulty setups.

Back to work!

Worth Mentioning

Turns out that we hit the 75% mark for finished 3D renders … which we like.

Check out the progress overview below:

75-percent

It’s 2am now … time to hit the hay!

Well this time it has actually taken me four months to post something new here … can you tell that I am not really the blogger type?

So, have I at least been productive? You can bet your ass I have. The month of May saw the beginning of the rendering process. And I am glad to say that we just passed the 50% mark. Although this would have been close to 90% if there weren’t other things that happened. Such as getting a kick ass job … yes indeed, yours truly is now employed as “Senior Animator and FX Artist”.

After quitting my job as “Flame Artist” back in September ‘09 and relocating to New Zealand I have been working from home, full time on the short. But living off your savings can last only for so long. So at the end of May I slapped together my latest showreels and went to all the post and animation houses in town and sure enough shortly after (in fact 2 days later) I got a call. Had me a 4 week paid trial period and then got hired. Sweet!

However this reduced my ability to work on the short from an average of 15 hours a day to a merely 3 hours a day. Hence the slow progression. But dude … I am being paid to animate!!! And my team is awesome.

So what else? How about a another appetizer? Want it? Sure?

Alright, there you go:

WFY - Teaser 02 from wfyfilm on Vimeo.

Also on Youtube in 1080p

This one was actually ready to be shown for quite a while now but I was hoping to get a new website up, together with the release of it. Yet seeing that getting the film done is currently more important than promoting it (which I still don’t seem to manage or have any clue of) I decided to just do that when there is time for that kinda stuff.

Is there more news? Yes indeed. Our composer has left the project due to personal reasons. Which kinda sucked because the deadline is January ‘11. But you know how they say that everything bad makes room for something good? Well it’s true, because now we have a certain artist that goes by the name “Eavesdropper” on board. And boy does he make some wicked stuff. Check it out here: Eavesdropper on MySpace

Jake_HairRender_Final_1080p from wfyfilm on Vimeo.

I finished the simulation of cloth and hair a bit over a week ago. Meanwhile I was busy sculpting detailed clothes and arranging some references for the score. Since I don’t really have much to show yet, I decided to create a little workflow video to show how I get the hair driven by a cloth simulation. Hope you like it:

Cloth Driven Hair Dynamics from wfyfilm on Vimeo.

One thing I forgot to mention in the video is that you have to parent the scalp object to whatever drives your head object.

More Hair

The advantage of having more than one computer to work with is huuuuuge. While I simulate the characters clothes on the high performance workstation I can do all kinds of other stuff on the laptop. Like the almost forgotten hair setup for Sophie. This is what it looks like:

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A welcome side effects of being surrounded by screens is being able to absorb the much needed energy to work through the nights :o)

My current workflow of creating hair is as follows. Rummage through the internet for hair styles. Sketch out my preferred one on the mesh. Create a simple scalp mesh with volume in Maya and then become a hair stylist in Zbrush. And after this I take the mesh from Zbrush and use it in conjunction with Joe Alters “Shave and a Haircut” to style the hair in Maya.

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I am not sure about color and strength of the hair, but this is what it looks like from all angles and with a nice dynamic rig:

Sophie_HairDesign_v06 from wfyfilm on Vimeo.

Milestone!

It feels like I have been fighting my way out of a colorful pit of entangling spline curves, all too eager to trap me inside a bottomless pit of keyframes. But if you’ve been following the progress bar up top then you will already know that I finally managed to finish the animation. The length of the film without credits and titles is now around 6 minutes and 40 seconds. And as I’m writing this I’m already busy with simulating the clothes and the hair.

I know I haven’t been posting for a long looooooooong time … again. But I just seem to completely forget that part all the time. Of course I have other excuses for you, including my recent move and a holiday to recharge my batteries ;o) But I will try to post a bit more often.

And so that this post won’t be just pointless blathering, I included some sketches that have been my main inspiration during the whole time. The artist behind these is Nima Nilian, an old friend of mine, who made these for my very first 3D short film (which I will probably won’t be putting online). And since I am somewhat of a complete disaster when it comes to drawing I took the liberty of frequently glancing at these while I was pushing vertices.

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On another note. I had to remove the user accounts and disable registration due to the Wordpress worm. This means there won’t be anymore newsletters. I just don’t have the time to update the blog to a newer version. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Hello World!

Ok, so I haven’t been posting in an awfully long time. Many things have happened that prevented me from really working as intense as before.

But…

The render farm is taking shape. Yesterday at 11pm “Render01″ started buzzing it’s coolers. I am so proud. It is just magical, when you first hold this little fragile thing in your hands and realize that from now on things will change.

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I guess that was a little weird.

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