Well, I am back again. Seems like the posts must come fast now to get enough posts. Need 17 of em, and I got what, 5 or 6? Oh well. I got a word file that is getting bigger and bigger. Loads of notes that will be turned into blog posts.

So this post is first of all a post where I talk about blogging for this project, and how I do it. It’s something to talk about. Something that can be interesting.

It seems like my school want quantity instead of quality when it comes to post. Don’t get that. We need 17 posts and all of them need to be good. But 17 posts are not going to have the quality that is expected.  1 per week is a lot when you got the production to take care of, and a life outside the computer.

I have been told that I should divide my posts up, in not 2, but 3 or 4 posts because that will make it easier for me. But I am not chasing an easy ride to the end. Hard work is the only thing that get you somewhere in this world.

Of course I could divide up my posts, and be done without pushing myself. But I really feel that a post needs to be a certain length to be called a good post. My posts are not just an update on the movie, it’s a place where I try to explain, reflect and tell people about how we do it, and what I think. So I need a bit of length.

But, let’s face it. My blog isn’t exactly the most popular in the world. Don’t really think many are reading it, if any. But if people do, they will see that I really care about it. And I am not just writing to you, I am making myself tons of notes and workflows for different tasks. When I in the future am working on a big project, I will remember how we did it this time, and what was done wrong and can be done different. If I am not remembering it, I can just go back to my site and notes and read them.

So my reasons are many to continuing what I have started. I am certainly not dividing my post into smaller ones just to get quantity. If I only have enough work to write about, let’s say 10 posts, I am only going to write 10. Sure I am going to lose a grade, but that’s how I am. Kind of stubborn in that way. But I think that it will be no problem. Loads of subjects to write about later on. Got 2 posts just lying here, waiting to be posted. I just need to find some spare time to write them.

That’s it for now.

Here comes a post about the animatic and what we wanted to show with the camera angles and movement. Tried to keep it simple but explaining. You probably want to see the animatic once or twice before you read this post. Will save you for a lot of confusedness.

How we planned the animatic.

It started when we drew the drafts for the storyboard. We constantly chatted about the timing. Our group communicates well, so it wasn’t that big of a problem, and it gave Mats a good starting point.  Mats did the editing for the animatic. When he had a finished draft of the animatic, the group watched, and gave feedback so he could make fast changes.

I feel that it was a very good way to work. We don’t waste time by keeping all of the group members busy with something one person can do, but it’s really important that all is 100% focused and concentrated when we take those important decisions on the timing. Not float around or have the mind somewhere else.

If we had a much greater amount of time, it would have been fun to let each group member make an individually animatic. Just to see more of what each person is thinking and how he wants shots and scenes to be timed.

The decisions

We want to give this movie a easy and calm start, where you get to know the character a bit, and some clues of that she is sick. The camera’s is paning and dolly inn and out to get the right feel. If the camera stands still, we don’t get the right flow in the start of our movie. If you look at the bookshelf from 16sec, you can clearly see what I mean. You get the feeling of that something is really important in that shot. This will be changed in the movie to a paning camera.

We show different side of the room, to show toys and books that can be connected to a girl in the age we want to. And we want to show small thing like a” get well” card and flowers to give the feel of that she has been sick for a log time. It’s important that people get a feel of who she is.

The last shot of the introduction scene is the picture of the grandma. We chose to have that shot last, so people will really see who it is and remember her when they see her again.

At the first draft of the animatic we didn’t have that fade to black form shot 4(grandma picture shot) to shot 5(girl lying in bed crunching the teddy). That made the introduction and the action blend together in a bad way. It’s like you didn’t get a chance to breath. Boom Boom Boom. But the fade to black fixed that, and you got a much better connection between those shots.

When the door opens, we chose to have a fade to white to get a nice cut. A hard cut after that to the running legs will be a powerful transition that will really make the viewers get their eyes up. We will have a couple of angles from the running scene to get the feeling of running for a long time, but try not to make it boring.
Note: Middel picture should be rotated so she runs form left to right.

The shot  where the smoke is appearing behind the girl, is pretty straight forward. When she stands under the light you get the feeling of here being really alone, and then she can see light ahead, but she needs to get through that fence. So now she got goal and an obstacle. We want a path camera or a dolly inn camera so we can show of some of the environment, and really show here she needs to go.

But then this “happy” moment are broken up by the smoke coming up behind her. We let the viewers see it before she does. That will hopefully make the viewer a bit worried about the girl.

Then she has to run from the smoke, but teddy hooks into something from the fence and she loses it. We had to do a close up of the teddy to show it being hooked, and we got a low angel when she runs through the fence to get the feeling of the smoke being big and nasty.
Her best friend and companion are lost. Will she save it? Of course. More pace here. She runs and grabs it just before the smoke catches here. At this sequence we swap from close ups to wide shots to get the right feeling of pace. The shot from above the building is just awesome and builds up to the next shot. That had to be concluded in our movie.

She runs around the corner, and you can see the smoke coming after her like a wave of water. Crushing upon buildings and really want to catch her. Her we want the audience to feel that she has to hurry because it’s getting closer and closer.
We swap through the goal and her. The pace is really necessary here. This should make people sweat a bit. Is she going to make it? Or is she not? We show a close up where she reaches for the camera. The tension here should be built up good. After that we swap to a close up of her ankle being taken by the smoke. To give it a smooth ending for this scene, we chose to let here being taken away from the camera just to amplify that she is didn’t make it.

Then end we are not so sure about, but we might do some changes. We want to show that it was her grandmother that she saw in the place between life and death. So we need to show the picture again. But we don’t want to show her mum’s face. Don’t want to model that face too.

Well, that’s what can be said about the animatic and storytelling.

“The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”

George Bernard Shaw.

This post is not being written to complain and to just point my criticism at me and my other teammates, but to try to reflect on what can be done different in rest of the project and later on in my future work in groups. This post can be misunderstood, but I will give it a try.

We are fresh in this game, not in the group working environment, but in a so big project that goes over a so long period of time. I hope that all of us in the group was aware of what that was expected from us, but I think that we have failed somewhere along the way.  Maybe we weren’t aware of how much work it would be.

When I think about what that is needed to communicate well within a group, I come up with 3 important words.

·         Discipline

·         Responsibility

·         Criticism

First of all, everybody in the group needs discipline to do what you are set to be done. But you should do it properly so it is easy for the next process in the production pipeline. A good example is that a model should be done in the best way for a texture artist to texture it good. An easy and a clean model. And a rig should be done so the animator can use it. This is just some of the many examples that can be mentioned.

But, to do things that way, you need to feel responsibility. Just not responsibility for yourself, but for the others in the group too. If you make it easier for everyone else in the group, it’s worth to make yourself sweat a bit more. Not everyone got that attitude. I know that that is an attitude that is appreciated by the 3d industry, so work hard to have that attitude. But people tend to take the easy way to save some time, but what you often don’t think about is that it will cost your group loads of time later on.

You should start with this question when you for an example start on a new model, rig, or light setup: How can this process be done in the best way to speed up and help the next process?

To make it easier for the other group members, you need to listen to them, and hear what they say. Be open for a good portion of criticism and critique. Take it with you into your work, and make changes after the comments you got. You will be a hero. People will recognize you, and this can be useful in the 3d industry.

But, it’s very important that you also tell people how you want things to be if you are doing the next process in the pipeline. The best is to sit down with your group, listen and speak up. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself. Better said than unsaid.

With this stated, I feel that I can try explain where I feel that we have failed.

A style…

The biggest mistake is maybe a loss of a clear description of how thing should look. We got the heads up early one, but didn’t take it serious. Not that we didn’t bother, but we forgot it along the way and postponed it.

Our wrongs and mistakes start to shine through now that we have started texturing scene 2. I think we didn’t discuss the scene 2 enough, just because scene 1 one was done fast and good, and with a good result, a style we wanted. We thought it would be the same for the next scene. It wasn’t.

Do it properly and ask questions...

It’s hard for a modeler to make things right, when he isn’t sure on how things should be textured and lighted later on. But, things should be done in a proper way. As mentioned, people tend to try to get out it with what’s easiest for that process, not thinking on the others. Ask if you are unsure of something and use common sense.

I did the mistake of not asking enough before I started with the texture. Many questions should have been asked and the scene should be checked when it comes to camera angles and so. I take self-criticism for that, but others should do too. Group agreed that it was ready for texture, but it clearly wasn’t. Now things have been re-modeled, re-placed and I have asked a lot of question on how the textured should look. I have thrown out ideas, got feedback and I will take it from there.

Discuss… and don’t run away.

We need to discuss things within the group when we work, and of course persons will clash together sometimes. But you should never run away from a discussion just because you feel that your things are the right. They might be, but let people at least explain what they think are wrong.

I know that I can be a bit aggressive when it comes to discussions. I usually don’t back down, but when I see that the other person is right, I crawl to cross. What’s best for the group is often the best thing for me too. The thing that makes me most upset is when people don’t do their job just because they don’t bother to go through the trouble of doing some research, asking other group members or they just think it is too much work. I let them hear what I mean, but try to do it a good way. And people should let me know when I do something that isn’t high enough standard.

Get help and give help back.

People don’t always know how to do things. Don’t be afraid to get help. I feel that we should be better on getting help from those around us, starting with our group members, and classmates. But to do that, you also need to be willing to give help, take the time to explain and be positive while you do it.

These are things that I can point at now. Things that will be better. I feel that we discussed it a bit today and know people will try to communicate better. I know I will.

 Make no mistake and think this is a post where I attack certain people; this is a post where I have discussed and reflected on how I see it. People might see it different from the outside, and my group members might have other opinions. We are all guilty when things aren’t going our way. We are a team. If we learn to communicate better, we will achieve a result we can be proud of.

Next posts will be about the animatic, and then you will get some posts about the making of Herman the teddy bear. Much to looking forward too.

What a delightful process. More or less the part where the story really comes to life and we get a good look on where we are going and what style we would chose. We saw what didn’t work, and what really did work. Shots were thrown away, re-drawn and thrown away again. We wanted it to be awesome, almost perfect, but most of all a good pointer on what style and how things could look and how the camera angles would work out.
From idea to storyboard.

We sat down individually and drew the whole movie or parts of the movie on small paper pieces. The reason we didn’t do this as a group, was that we wanted to see how everyone saw the movie. Easier to show than tell sometimes. And  by seeing every groups members look on things really boost our brains into new ideas. We then got together and drew more together.

The wall was covered in storyboard drafts! Loads of frames where drawn and thrown away again. We had some pretty major discussions about some shots, but we all was happy with the result when we got there. It's great to see the movie take shape up on the wall. The 1st draft was done after around 3 days or so. But it was a lot of things that we needed to fix and change, so we worked on it for another 3 days. This made to movie so much better, and we get new ideas all the time, some better than others.
So random frames that where up on the wall at some time.
From draft to final.

When we was happy with the storyboard up on the wall, we needed them to look great and show what kind of lighting we wanted. Knut and I was the one that drew the frames. Mats started on the animatic and Fredrik on the 3d Previz.

The start of the process of drawing the final storyboard was a bit harsh. I started drawing as good as I could, but when I showed them to Knut, well, let's say he didn’t really like them that much. We wanted a high standard on storyboard, I really couldn’t see why that was so important,  but now I do. More about that later.

Since Knut is such a perfectionist, a good thing in this say, he needed to learn me how he got his drawings so awesome. I sat besides Knut for some hours and just asked loads of questions and learned a lot. I saw how his way of doing things is, and used them when I started at my drawings.

Knut drawing at school.
The most important thing I learned was to pay attention to the light and where it comes from and how it would bounces of things. Things I really knew from the 3D programs, but something I really didn’t thought was that important in the storyboard and drawings in general.

For my drawings I just started with blocking out where the light come from, and the basic shapes of everything that was in the frame. Just worked from the  things far away to the ones closest to the camera, layer for layer.  Always refining. The last things I did with my drawings was  to darken and highlight some of the areas so objects or people stands out. A good contrast in other words. Then the frames were sent to Knut so he could have a look at them.

Above is 4 of the earliest drawings I did. And under is someone that was done later. I feel that I can see a improvement. And that’s a good thing.

I felt that I learned a lot, and think that my drawings improved over the short period of time.

The high quality - why?

Well, when Knut told me that my drawings wasn't good enough, and that I had to do them over again, I asked myself that question many times. Why so high quality? It's just to show people what happens in the story, the camera angles, light sources and pace. It's not an art gallery.

I was so wrong in many ways. First of all, I think our storyboard is an art gallery now. And I really think it is a good thing. People really want to take the time to watch the storyboard and animatic when the drawings looks good. We get more attention and with a lot attention comes many comments and critique. The buzz around it. And all of this feedback makes our movie better. So it's a good thing that we uses a big amount of time on that storyboard.

A another reason is that with a good and detailed storyboard, we are going to have easier way to get the finished 3d scenes with lights. We can use our storyboard drawings to get our models right, and we all know it should look, no mix ups.

So I admit that I was wrong. I can see the advantages now and it's great.

The inspiration - where does it come from?

When it comes to my inspiration sources, I am not sure where to start. I just cruises through the internet and look for good art. Love to see how people play with light and colors. But at this task, the storyboard, Knut was the biggest inspiration and he kind of had to be. We needed somewhat similar style and look on the drawings, so I tried to copy his look. Have a look at Knut's page if you want to see some great art.

Another artist I look to when I feel that I need inspiration, is Time Sale. I got my eyes up for this artist when I watched the Heroes the TV series for my first time. He is the one who drew all of the art to character Isaac Newton. Love the way he uses his ink to get an awesome look. He uses drew in black and white, and some others colors them because he is colorblind! Believe it or not.

And then it is Craig Mullins. He uses his brushes in a very rough way and get a totally unique style. I get a really good drive when I look at his work. You just want to draw something myself.
Art by Craig Mullins
Not much more to say about that. Here is the whole storyboard. Note: some changes in the story are made and will be made.

Just feel that I have to say some more about the story. Like what we chose and why we did choose it. That’s kind of why do this blog. So this can be a spoiler for the story of the movie. You are officially warned!

Our first idea, was to make a story where the girl was playing in here room, and without the viewer knowing it, we would swap into her imagination. We played with the idea of making a scary movie where people would be afraid of what would be happening to the little girl. Then at the end, we would reveal that she was only playing in her room with some pillows or something.

Overall a great idea, but we had a bit problems finding elements that could drive this movie forward. After a long discussion and a lot of thinking, we thought of the idea where she was lying in her bed, almost dead. Death is a serious theme, and need to be handled with care, but we wanted to give it a go.

When she is a place between life and death, she is being chased by a "smoke monster". The first part of the story will be driven forward by that she is being chased, but then she sees a warm light. Now she got a point where she needs to reach before the smoke catches her.

We still wanted a little girl as our main character. Everyone can imagine what a little cute girl is thinking when a big smoke cloud is trying to catch her. And a little cute girl is the opposite of a big scary monster thingy. By this we will get a perfect balance between good and evil, and life and death.

The story was still lacking something. We needed something in the start of the movie that would make people see the different between life and death. So we brought in the grandma. She is a key element in the movie, even though she just make a couple of small appearances. You will understand when the storyboard and the animatic is being uploaded here. Next week sometime.

All that we missed now, was a companion to the little girl. We felt that she couldn’t manage without a good mate on her journey. She needed something that she could be holding onto and giving her strength. We ended up with a teddy bear, the kids best friend.

So that’s it for now. Will come back with a couple of posts next  week I hope.

I haven’t been able to update the blog as frequently as I should be, but I am writing down stuff at the train and when I wait for other things. So I am taking notes on what to post later on.

First of all, we needed a name for our group. We thought of Fail Factory, so I did a couple of drafts.

But hey! We chose the name Polygon Ink. We really don’t want to fail, so Fail Factory wasn’t an option and Polygon Ink is a name that can be connected to 3d. So we went for that one.

We all were supposed to make some drafts and stuff. I just found a good font and played around with it and came up with this.

Design and stuff like that is just fun so I had a blast. After a while I came up with a good concept on how it could be looking like in animation. So I used After effects and 3ds Max, masked out the motion of the pen, made the text look like ink and ... let's face it, this blog shouldn’t be about the logo, so if anyone want know how I did it, just comment and let me know. Then I can make you a tutorial or something!

A almost finished logo were showed to the class under a presentation of the idea. They thought it was good, but my group members wanted some small changes. Motion blur. So I changed it and here it is. Got another epic idea for the logo too, but will concentrate on the production of the movie at this time, but will try that out later if I got some spare time. Oh well.

Looks like youtube didn't like it, so it crashed a bit in the start, but just close ur eyes the first second and ur good.
The story

I want to talk a bit about the story. The story started with the basics from an idea that Knut had posted on his blog. Mainly this idea was about how a girl imagined the world outside her own secure home. Our starting point was to play with the imagination to a the girl. We did a lot of thinking about that idea, but after a day or two we mixed it together with a more serious theme. Death.

With our story going a totally new way, it developed into a strong a good story. And the best part, it is still developing each time we talk about it. We take it up a notch each time. Our group shows a great passion to get this story to a new level and something that can strike the viewer.

We started out with little girl as our main character. As the story got more complex, we felt that she needed a good companion. A teddy bear.

Our pitch is: “A fatal illness strikes a young girl. In a place between life and death, she finds herself running from her fears. But all is not always as it seems...”

Knut drew some awesome concept along the way to get us in the right mood.

Just one thing at the end: I think that we have an advantage on many of the other groups, just because we all have contributed to the story as much as we have. Many of the other groups have been formed around an idea, but our idea is formed by our group. This means that everybody in our group have the feeling of that they own the idea.

The next post will be about how our group works together, and the storyboard. Stay tuned.
So, the Student Film Project has started. I haven't posted anything at my blog yet, but here comes the first post. After this one I will try to get about 1-2 posts each week where I reflect on decisions and how the work is developing.

It all started when I showed up at school and decided not make movie of my story. I found out that the story wasn’t really developed enough and it missed some important pieces. To make a long story short, I went to a couple of group meetings and found out what the others was thinking, but in the end I ended up making a new story with Knut, Fredrik and Mats. I will tell a more about the story and some details around it in my next post.

I think we are group with different skills and think we want to achieve the same things with this project. Let me introduce them:

Mats is the "special effects guy". He is learning Fume at the moment, and doing it with great success. It is a key element in our movie that we get this part right, and I really think we will get this part spot on. He is also know Nuke really good, so we will take advantage of this.

Fredrik is the all-rounder. He has studied technical draftsmanship so he know how buildings should look like, and he is a steady modeler. Loads of thing in this movie will be modeled by this guy. Fredrik likes that things is done fast and efficient. So we need to try to keep his tempo.

Knut is the guy that lets us know that things needs to be awesome. He pushes us until the work is great and is at the needed standard. His skills is many, one of the them are in Zbrush and any type of character modeling. He will do the main characters. He is also a awesome drawer, and the storyboard will be just awesome.

And then it's me. I amthe guy in group that will be nagging on people if they don’t do anything. I can't stand when people just watch someone else do their work, so I will always work hard myself. My main focus in this project will be lighting and texturing. Will be exciting since I haven't used Vray before.

I will come back with more sometime in the next days with more about the story and the storyboard.