October 07, 2003: Life can be SUCH an intrusion on one's hobbies. Not much has happened since the last update. Well not much on Myopia, that is. Work has swallowed up alot of my energies and time. And when work does that it's hard to come home and feel like you need to spend another 3-4 hours working on a short film. Not when you haven't seen your kids all day, help them with their homework, need to help with household chores, go to the bank, pay the bills, etc. By the time I get done with the rest of what my family needs it's 11:30 pm and I'm just beat. Still, small progress keeps happening. I've managed to animate a few shots in SceneC and am in the process of doing blocking animation on the remaining 42 shots in SceneC so I can hand them out the the guys who are helping me with animation. I have enough for one assignment, but I figured I'd like to get the whole scene done and then do all 3 assignments at once. Keeps things easier to manage for me. The next few weeks looks good for getting some progress done, but then in mid-November things get crunchy again for a few months. This thing is gonna take alot longer to finish than I'd like. But mark this- we WILL finish this film.
August 27, 2003: What a week for the website. Oy! My host has been flaky and it took forever to get things fixed. But things are back to normal now. Some progress has been made on animation. We're in the layout/blocking stage on Scene C. This is where the action picks up, lots of slapstick physical comedy. Anything that is easy to animate has already pretty much been animated. We're looking at about 90 shots left to animate (out of 180). So this would be the halfway point of animation. Still got a ton of work to do, so I'll keep the update brief.
August 17, 2003: I finally solved a really tricky staging problem on shot B-23. I've been thinking literally for months about how to gracefully handle this shot. There's a big change in staging to set up the action in the next scene, where the speed of the film picks up pace. The challenge was making the transition in a subtle, but significant manner, so as to meet the dual needs of not being too jarring and still get the necessary set up. I've been afraid of actually getting to this shot, but after some playing around I got a halfway decent solution. We'll see if I like it in context after I let it sit for a day. Tomorrow night I check scenes A & B in context in the Premiere edit. I'm sure there's gonna be some shots that will get modified to keep the pace and flow going smooth. Hopefully this B-23 won't be one of them.
August 15, 2003: Cleaned up shots 15-22 of scene B. It was good to get back into those files and get back around the animation. I noticed a few spots where I'd been sloppy before. That's a common foe of mine, boredom and then sloppiness. In an effort to get the thing done I'll sometimes not take the extra hour or three that I ought to to make sure everything is completely tight. So this long break has allowed me a moment to go back and tidy up some of the little motion messes. On the flip side, one needs to guard against over noodling a shot beyond what it needs. I don't want to fall into the trap of usurping the story by looking for moments of flourish and fancy motion where they don't serve to show the character's core negotiation. A good example of adding some flourish where I felt it did serve the story and the character development is early in scene B where Nuph's glasses go flying off his head and he bobbles them before getting them back on his face. It was a nice extra bit of motion to open up his rustic awkwardness in the face of Sned's technological imposition. I find that often folks from other, supposedly "less developed" cultures, are often at a loss as to how they ought to conduct themselves in our western culture. This awkwardness is really noticeable in how they dress, in their use of the wrong English words, etc. It's charming and endearing. At least to me it is. I appreciate that level of naivete'. But ya gotta be careful to keep that from taking over. As someone recently put it, at Disney in the 70's Nine Really Old Men stopped working on crafting a creative story and filled their films with long flourishes of interesting, fancy motion that really just wasn't all that important. But then I've never been a "movement for movement's sake" technical kind of animator. So I think I'm safe there. Still, vigilance is the watchword of the day. And not being sloppy is the guard dog at the gate. Oh so many lines to walk. Such fine lines indeed.
August 12, 2003: Time for a web site update. I want to bring the Myopia page up front now that I'm going to be banging hard on the film to get it done. So I've made the Myopia homepage an equal citizen of my internet empire with my main site. In other news, Myopia has been chosen as one of ten short films to be featured on the new AnimWatch.com site. Steve Ogden's got a pretty cool idea with that site. I've already been in conversations with a few of the other directors featured on the site and we're starting to build this little guild of short film animators. Kinda groovy-shoes if you ask me. Anyhow, tonight's endeavors are limited to getting the website updated. Then the rest of the week will be spent in an effort to finish off the animation for Scene B. This Saturday I'll have to re-arrange my studio furniture set up to accomodate the smaller house here in SoCal. Seems big houses here are pretty much out of reach for humble little animators like me. Heck, little houses are out of reach too. Real estate here is blinkin' INSANE!
August 11, 2003: So much for the best laid plans of mice and men. After a VERY long hiatus, I'm finally getting back onto Myopia. The long and short of the last 2 months has been this: moving a family of 5 across country sucks wind big time. The hotel room isolation just ended up sucking the life out of me instead of giving me the time I thought it would to work on the project. I have always known it, but I realize it now more than ever: my family is my primary source of energy and motivation. When they're not around (or I'm not around them) I end up feeling listless and fairly uninterested in getting anything done besides the bare minimum. But we're all back together now, I've got the workstations set up and in the last few days I've started messing with Myopia again. What'd I do? Well, sometime in July I animated another 10 seconds or so. And came to a conclusion about the look of the film. Namely, I had dialed the look back a bit too far. It looked timid, scared of being too different. So I've once again gone in and re-tooled the final look of the painting style in an effort to bring back some of that energy and visceral-ness I found in my early test imagery. So the trailer and sample stills on the site are actually not as bold as the final paint look will eventually be. I guess that leaves some surprises for folks when the film is final. I'll probably post a new look test sometime this week. I'm back on a DSL line, so I hope to be able to upload some more in progress images and clips. Anyhow, it feels good to be back in the saddle and flying right into it. And good ting too, because I've already started thinking about the next film project after Myopia. :) But the break came at a good time for the crew as all of us were undergoing life and job changes this summer. Keith Osborn ended up in texas working for ReelFX as an animator. Jason Taylor joined me at Blur as an animator and Arslan had a stint in the UK doing animation work. So now we're all getting settled again and I think it'll be cool to get back into the project after the summer off. We can write a first week of school term paper: "What short film I didn't do on my summer vacation...."
June 1, 2003: After alot of nothing getting done, I managed to animate a few seconds of animation this evening. It's been a solid three weeks of dealing with realtors, tenants, spending more time (and money) at Home Depot than I ever care to and doing all kinds of house chores. It was good to get back on the box. I have to admit, I was pretty scared to get back into it. Having seen "Finding Nemo" twice yesterday (once in digital... oh dear sweet cheeses, that's pretty), I'm feeling pretty sub-par as an animator and filmmaker. Man, that's some sick animation. Dory's face was... wow. There's just a ton of stuff in that movie that makes me feel like I'm just wasting my time, not to mention everybody else's time. I love seeing Pixar films, but they also beat the crap out of my confidence and I walk away with this mixed feeling of "Wow" and "Jeez, I'm screwed." I wonder if I'm the only one who feels that way? So with that gnawing at my gut here I sat looking at my stupid little short film wondering what the heck I'm doing here. Oh well. It was good to get beyond that and get back into it. I've also submitted a render to CG-Talks' art book "Expose" as per Tito Belgrave's suggestion. We'll see if it gets in. I leave Thursday for LA. Thankfully I'll be able to get some work done while I'm living out of my suitcase for the next month or so. That's thanks to Big Idea being really super cool and letting me borrow my work laptop for the next 6 weeks. So now I'll be able to keep making progress on Myopia. That was mighty cool of them to do that for me, and I'm thankful. Here's to getting the layout for scene C ready for the guys.
May 20th, 2003: Well, I'm off to Blur Studios in LA as an Animation Supervisor. This is obviously gonna put a dent in our progress on Myopia. In fact it already has. The guys have worked through their assignments (man the stuff looks really good, too!) and I've been so busy with the job hunt and getting our house ready to sell that I haven't had the time to get their new assignment layout files ready for them. Oh well, it'll have to wait while I move. Right now we have over 3 minutes of final approved animation and over 1 minute of final renders at HD720. So we're in pretty good shape as I head into this little hiccup in the schedule. Even though the film will run over 8minutes, I think we're still on track for a 2003 finish
April 29th, 2003 What a crazy month. More layoffs at work. The Big Idea animation studio is gone. Been spending more time looking into possible career moves than anything else. Jasonís got 7 shots done and approved. They look good. Arslanís got his first assignment done and is working on his second. Finally finished the trailer! Yipee! Iíve got over a minute of final rendered footage. Got the webpage blocked in. Man, itís been long enough. Pulled an all nighter to get the trailer done. Now off to bed and more job insecurity!
April 14th, 2003 Big layoffs at Big Idea. Nice way to come back from vacation. Hardly got anything done on the short. Animated about 50 seconds over the two weeks, but I could have done a lot more. Got sidetracked fixing the house (my first ever electrical work and I didnít burn down the house! Yay!). Got a DVD burner. MmmmmmmmÖ. DVD burn. J
April 1, 2003 Prepped Scene D (cave interior) and Scene E (flying Sned) layout files. Handed off the front half of ScnD to Jason and shots 1 & 8 of ScnE to Arslan. The rest of ScnE is animated and about 1/3 of the shots in ScnD are done. Keith O. turned in a fun little test anim. The guys are pretty much on track for the style. All of them need to do a better job of thinking of constructing a 2d image with these 3d assets, but that's something they'll get the hang of after a few more feedback loops from me. I've gotten ScnB, shots 123 over and ready for rendering. Fixed the noise problems in the final comp. I think the final look is near. I'm sure I'll revisit the look again with each new shot. But from here on out it's degrees of miniscule, not magnitude. More animating for Scene B on my plate. I hope to make some good animation progress during the rest of my vacation.
March 28, 2003 Got some really positive feedback from the gang at work about the first 40 seconds of final render. Overall most felt the noise in the image was a bit hot, so I'll be dialing that back a smidge. Most also noticed a pop in the shading on shot, so I had to re-render that. Other than that the first 40 secs looked good and folks were pretty jazzed to see more of it. Got a nice boost from Tim Hodge who said 'I wanna know what else happens, there's conflict right there. What happens next?" Which is pretty cool coming from him.
March 16, 2003 Kim's a ton better. (hoo-ray for prednizone!) Anyhoo, the killer "Commando" project at work is done and my body has run aground. I've got a cold. That's what you get for grinding your body into a powder for 3 months. Got the first 6 shots rendered (including grass!). I'll be comping them tonite to string together the first 40-50 seconds of the film in final render mode. It'll be fun to see it together. The reason I do that is to give myself some upfront juice. It irons out all the kinks in the backend of the short. And I've learned that at the backend I'm short on energy and love for the thing, so the less i have to try and fight back there the better. And during those dark times when I'm tired and not sure I wanna bother messing with it anymore I'll have this cool looking minute or so of footage to spur me on. Oh, I finally decided on my ending. I chose to not go hopeless, but rather instead took a brighter end path. I'm not going to say anymore, but it'll be good. Poigniant (and funny, too. )
March 10, 2003 Couple weeks since the last journal entry. The CDís are off to the animators, as ell as the NDAís and agreements. Set up Maxís net rendering with mixed success. I got the manager and server things set up so they can see each other, but still need to figure out the proper config for the installed finalRender & max seat on the render boxes. Added clouds to the set, look good. Exported the animation for shots 1-6 and then imported it into Max. Fixed a few glitches with the flowerís rendering and discovered I canít have any meshSmooth mods on the source objects before the frame OBJís are imported or else the object wonít render. (weird one that). Split up the file into the carious render passes. Finalized the postFX recipe for the lines to get a nice soft look. Made a final decision to render at HD720 instead of HD1080 because the render times were around 40% less and thereís decent line doubling algorithms available for going to film. Besides, if 1280x720 was good enough for Toy Story, then itís good enough for me. Of course nowadays everybody goes higher, but this isnít a feature. Just finished rendering the color pass this morning for frames 1-945. Line pass will be set up today to run while Iím at work. Comet is writing an auto lag tool for Maya so I can get the hair on these guys to play along. Iíll live without it for the first 6 shots though. Will begin setting up the cave scene tonight so I can assign that to the animators. Need to get the claw thing in the cave working. This week is the last killer week for the project at work, so Iím not sure how much Iíll get done. Kim just keeps getting sicker. From strep to strep to rheumatic fever to arthritis to hivesÖitís been one long project trying to stay on top of her health and help out around the house. Iíd easily be twice as far along on this short if it werenít for work and the health stuff. But priorities are straight and this film is gonna be fine when it gets done, even if itís late. I just hope she gets better for her sake. It sucks to see her going through so much crap. Praying helps.
Feb 21, 2003 Sheesh, 11 days since the last journal entry? I'm terrible at this notation crud. Let's see what's transpired since the last update.... Met with Keith Osborne. He's gonna be great to have on board. Jason Taylor keeps bugging me for the CD. Oy! I animated to my satisfaction all of the first scene (6 shots). Fun, quick, strong animation with just enough polish to keep it flowing. Shot 6 got a good response from some of the guys at work. Chomp! Oh!! And I wrote a hop tool for Nuph. I just didn't feel like re-inventing his hop every time, and I figured it would be a pain in the butt for the guys to get right. So I took last Saturday and wrote the hop tool. Two hops, short and long, with an eraser button for the last hop (in case I make a mistake). After some bug fixes it works really well. Simple, but effective. It's certainly sped things up alot already. That thing is gonna end up being a lifesaver I think. Anyhow, I started on the second scene, setting it up and all. Then I realized that Sned was severely broken. His rig was twisting apart badly when I rotated him away from 0-0-0. I spent so much time on his wheelie rig that I totaly forgot to make sure his body worked right. Doh! So I open him up to try and fix that. Then I notice that he has even BIGGER rigging problems. When I moved him away from 0-0-0 his body started sailing away from the wheelie box machine, but not in the right proportions to indicate a double transform problem. I spent a good couple hours looking for double, triple, divided transforms or any other oddities that could cause it, but nothing seemed to be wrong. After a few hours of trying various fixes, I just said screw it and I re-rigged his body mesh. He should be pretty stable now. Did a check in the sceneB I was setting up and he looked good. Whew. No animation tonite, though. All rigging fixes and crud. On a side note I registered ionimation.com tonight. Could be something. Or not. Oh well, tomorow we animate! Well, I sleep in first, THEN I animate. Or set up the flower with textures in Max. I still need to do that for Sned, too. And add his chopper blades. Sigh. So much cruddy work, so little fun work.
Feb 10, 2003: Animated the first 3 shots of the film this weekend. I like it so far. I can see Nuph's character coming through already. Cautious, but not timid. I like him. Meet face to face with Keith Osborn next Monday at BIP for an interview. I'll have the first scene animated by then and the CD should be ready. Starting to wonder how (if?) I should pre-promote this film. Dedicated website? Start a real production company to own it and market it? Teasers? Trailers? How much crud do i want to put up with while trying to make this film? Hmmm. Need to sleep on it some more.
February 3, 2003: Got a few guys committed to helping out with the animation. Jason Taylor in Philadelphia, Arslan Elver in Istanbul and Keith Osborn in St. Petersburg FL. I may get another person if I feel the need. We'll see how it goes. These guys are good, or have the potential to be. Arslan is the least experienced, but he shows alot of promise, so I'd like to see if can direct worth anything. :) I'll be preparing a data CD for them this week.
January 25, 2003 Slow week. I was just tired. I think it's all the stuff I have to do at work that's been dragging me down. That and I need some exercise. Anyhow... finished the lighting, texturing and paint style rendering for the interior of the cave. So the last location has been prepped for rendering. only things left to do (on the asset prep side) is the flower rigging, Sned render prep and flower render prep. I'm adding infoNodes and rightMouseMenu capabilities for the characters. The biggest part of this is writing all the MEL commands to make the menu's work, but the effort is gonna really pay off once the files are handed off. Especially the Help section. Hopefully that will let the animators get up and running quick as a bunny once they get the characters. I also need to establish a standard project format for the directories so that guys can just copy the files from the CD to their harddrives and go. I assume there's be some re-routing of references once we get into production, but hopefully this is something the guys can handle easily enough. Still haven't edited the final ending for the story reel. I think I'm not gonna bother just yet but rather get right into doing layout for the first scene so that I can start getting some animation started. I know the new ending isn't going to impact the first 80% of the film, so I'm not feeling a huge crunch to take care of that right away. Of course for the DVD extra features I'll have to clean it up. :)
January 18, 2003 After two more story reel edits, some great feedback from some folks I think weíve got the story done. Needed a better ending with more impact on the characters. The original ending was flat and showed no arc in either character. The new ending hopefully will clean that up. I may yet need to revisit the ending to ensure that I am clear in my statements, since thatís gonna be the payoff to the entire editorial effort anyhow.
In other areas, I textured and lit the exterior spire today. Also verified that NPR renderís paint style works on particles. And I was really surprised at how sweet they looked. Also played around with using PaintFX clouds rendered out of Maya and comping them over the paint renders. I found a solution that works fairly well, but I know that more exploration and tweaking will be necessary before the final look is ahcieved. I know this, though, I like the softness and look of the PaintFX clouds better than the geometric clouds coming out of Max. Iím sure if I did a better job of modeling cloud shapes that I would be happier. But Iíll take doing FX work over modeling anyday, so Iím gona try and milk the paintFX for all theyíre worth.
Last style exploration involves tonal variations on the final comp for more contrast in dark/light areas of the image. I got an interesting bloom/blow out feel with one combination. Iím not sure what I think of the results just yet. Iím gonna have to sit on it. The look I got feels very processed and digital (but not in a poor way) and it pulls the images a step further away from the painting emulation. Again, it doesnít look bad. In fact it looks downright cool. Iím just not sure itís the right look for this project. But itís definitely a keeper for any commercial work in the future cuz it could easily become a very hip look.
January 6, 2003 Finished the story reel, first draft. This thing checks in at around 8 minutes, 15 seconds with titles. Zoinks!! It moves along pretty well with the music, though. I get feedback from the guys at work tomorrow. I need to touch base with Randy from The Rogues again to re-introduce myself and make sure the music rights arrangement we discussed over a year ago (!) are still valid. I'll need to draw up some form of contract for this. But if it falls through I can contact Mark Cox in LA for some music help. I'm still gonna call Mark because I need to run this by his ears to see if he thinks he can improve upon the mix/edit with some originally scored bridges. There's some spots that are a bit....out of skew? I dunno. I'll see what the reaction is from folks who watch the reel. Then it's on to reel version 2.0. I hope to have that done by end of next week. Then....dear me oh my....actual production!!!! Sheesh. It's taken long enough.
January 1, 2003 Started working on the story board, mixing the music from the Rogues.
December 31, 2002 I'm spending my New Year's eve scanning my storyboards. All 400 panels worth. Nearly 60 pages. Cutting up the individual panels in photoshop (Thank heaven for Actions!). I start the story reel tomorrow. I'm nigh unto giddy, but nigh-er unto tired. :o)
December 30, 2002 Break through! I found a good After Effects comp solution to making Maya PaintFX flowers looks like they fit with the NPR1 Max renders. So now I can add the flowers as PaintFX and comp 'em in and they look pretty good. This is really cool. It also opens up the possiblities to bring the grass back into the world. I'd long given up on grass and weeds as too expensive polygonally. Need to schedule some time to build a file that has the paintFX foliage in it so I can reference it in in my Maya production scenes and render them as an FX pass. Cool!
December 27, 2002; Came up with a dusk version of the lighting/rendering for the landscape set. I also figured out how I'm gonna handle the smoke coming from the smoke stacks in Max. After some particle R&D I've got that solved fairly well. Well, the particle part at least. I still need to make sure the shading will work. I don't expect any problems, but you can never tell. Some other day.
December 23, 2003 Somebody call the police, Keith is storyboarding with pencils!!! Yeah, I broke down and decided to do this the "right' way. I realized that I have too many ideas to try and sort out in 3d just yet. Hopefully I can get the story reel done before I finish my holiday break. I boarded 34 pages of thumbs today (6 panels per page). I'm not even quite halfway through the story yet. Yikes!
December 22, 2002 Ahhh, Christmas break. 2 weeks of solid fun! I did some more render R&D today and I think I nailed it. I made the After Effects template for how to build the basic composite for the painting look I want. The break through was adding the rough outlines by doing a lines only render. The roughen edges filter nailed it down tight. It really helps bring it all together nicely. Final list of render assets is color (no paint), toon line only, painting render, red bump, blue bump and green bump imagery from the painted renders. Mix well and serve chilled. Me likey. I need to remember to write down the formula in a doc (although I have the default AE template file to work from).
December 21, 2002 Did some render tests of the hop cycle I did yesterday. Found a few small kinks in the Maya-2-Max pipeline and in the NPR1 rendering software. I sorted those out, though. It seems the pipeline won't have any major "leaks" as I move into production on this. Also got my Maya 4.5 in the mail. Need to get the flexLM license from Britain, though. That should be fun with the holidays.
December 20, 2002 I finally did a hop/run animation test for Nuph. I've had this idea in my head for 2 years about how he should (could) move about, but I never actually did a motion test. After all the work I did on getting my animation chops back up to snuff (mainly for my demo reel. Don't even get me started on that. Oy!) I figured now's as good a time as ever to see if the idea will work. Well, I'm pretty pleased with it. Could be a little better in spots, but it holds up well enough for sure.
December 18, 2002, Fixed another bug in Nuph's rig. And I found a name for my short. For over a year it's been known in house simply as "shortFilmNo6". And today I finally found a name that fits my tastes AND the story. So now I'm working on "The Secret Joys of Myopia". It's nice to have a name.
December 14, 2002 Found another bug in Nuph's rig. Fixed it. Made the arms single IK/FK like we discovered at work (not the IK/FK switch, but a dual IK/FK single mode arm. Pretty cool, and alot simpler to use).
September 18, 2002 Downloaded Kaydara's MBX plug ins for getting Maya scene data into Max. Just to see if it's better than what I spent weeks this sumer creating. It's pretty techy, and it has alot more stuff than I'd use but it's kinda cool. But I think I'll stick with the devil I know on this one. It might be cool for maybe for a freelance project in the future, though
September 13, 2002 OK, I need to set this project aside for a little bit here. I've been banging away on modeling, render tests, tech issues, pipelines, rigging and all that since the spring and I'm worn out. I tried doing some blocking and I realized that I'm really fighting myself on this. I'm plodding along through a part of the process that a) I love too much not to do well and b) is too important to the story not to do well. So I'm gonna shelve this thing for a few weeks and see if I can't catch my second wind for the actual production part.
September 12, 2002 Wrote my own field guide tool for guarding the 4:3 in a 16:9 format. Based on a MELscript I found on HighEnd (the fourthree.mel script). I pretty much gutted it and added alot of my own stuff. Like the ability to adjust the focal length, alter the clipping plane, etc and still have the poly wire filed guides stay in proper position onscreen. It was a bugbear to figure out. Way too much math. Ick.
September 9, 2002 Well, I think I got the workflow tools for the Maya end of things up to par. I added back the cameraMain hook ups, wrote my own create camera tool and even wrote a blocking to layout converter like we have at work. Of course it's not the one Comet wrote at work. it's my own code, but it does the same thing. Instead of looking to Sprout database, it looks for an ASCII file I generate. So now I can go ahead and block this thing and then expand all the 10 frame shots into the actual time lengths for the shots. (even added something we don't have at work, but it's no biggie). So I can get going on this I suppose. But I'm getting tired.
September 3, 2002 I started doing some blocking today in 3d. I'm thinking maybe I can skip the 2d storyboard stage and do a kind of 3d boarding in blocking, like I did on Lunch. Using driveNull to add shots and it looks good, but it needs some special luv'n which I'm adding in. I also found some bugs in the character rigs. Fixed another bug in Sned's rig and Nuph's rig as well. I think I've got them figured out now.
September 2, 2002 Sigh. More rig fixes to Sned. Fixed a stupid error on the middle cluster when I tranlsate him. Also did some tweaking to the outline. I added some art direction notes and emotional beat board notes. I'm feeling pretty good about the truth behind this film. It's got a solid message that I think is salient and clear. The trick is gonna be in pulling it off. Can you make a funny and poigniant film at the same time? Hrmmmm. We'll see.
I also created my Master Production Spreadshet in Excel. It's just a first crack at it, but I wanted to get some ideas down. I'll tighten it up when I actually get down to real shot production.**
August 27, 2002 Started working on rigging the Nuph model I made. Hopefully he'll be a bit more straight forward since he doesn't have the mechanical cart stuff that Sned has.
August 25, 2002 I took a look at my old MEL scripts for controling cameras and shots that I built for Lunch. Ick. I'm no code cowboy yet, but I'm sure glad I've come a long way since then! Anyhow, it's too hard coded and unusable. I need something more flexible. Then I remembered that Big Idea released driveNull & cameraMain to public domain this year. So I downloaded the freebies from HighEnd3d. Looks like Henry ripped out alot of the functionality and hooks to the database. But there's still enough good stuff there to worm with. Some of the auto connection stuff doesn't work, but I can hack that back in.
August 18, 2002 Finished up fixing Sned's rig. Boy did it get complex with the robot arm and flower cannister. I hate rigging. Almost as much as I hate modeling.
July 10, 2002 Found a cool Maya-2-Max camera export import dealie-bob on highEnd3d. Works great for single point cameras. Sweet. <vader voice> My transformation is nearly complete. </end vader voice>. :)
July 3, 2002 The pipeline works! Yay! Now I can rig and animate my stuff in Maya and then get the object's deformation data into Max for rendering. The best of both worlds. Hee-hee. I'm psyched (and worn out!)
June 29, 2002; Well, I sorta got my Maya-to-Max pipeline working. A little history since I haven't been keeping up on my journal:
Since being able to get a copy of Maya I decided that I really wanted to be able to rig and animate this thing in Maya. I'm just not comfortable with how Max handles things animation wise. Comet's stuff helps alot, but just not enough for my tastes. But I really love the look of the Max renders I'm geting with the NPR! software and Final Render. So I did some poking around and found that Maya spits out OBJs that Max can read in with a fair degree of accuracy. So I figured 'hey, I wonder if I can spit out frame by frame OBJs from Maya and them import them into Max and apply each frame's OBJ as a new morph target in Max?" After some late nights of poking around and asking Comet a ton of questions I figured I could. So off I started in writing the code. Ran into some problems right off the bat with Maya's export OBJ feature. On LINUX I could pass a file name and tell it to save when the navigate dialog came up to save the exported OBJ. (that's cuz on Linux the dialog is just another operation that you can querie and edit.) But in Windows (what I'm using at home) you can't do that. Windows takes over the OS when the dialog comes up and you can't querie or edit it. So that sucked. There was no way I was gonna babysit and name and hand save each OBJ export. Then Comet said I should write my own OBJ file. So with a little help from Alan Millman I figured out how to reverse engineer an OBJ file and write out my own as an ASCII file. Long story short, I got it working tonite. Now I just need to tighten up the Max import side of this. That was another long battle since I'd never done Maxscript before. I've been working on this transfer pipeline for 3 weeks now. It feels like playing golf. 17 holes of horrible shooting, and then on the 18th I nail it. The result is I get just enough encouragement to not give up. :o/
June 19, 2002 Modeled the landscape set in Max. I also figured out the shaders to get the look I want (I think). Still not 100% on that, but I've got a decent lead. Looking to do some more test renders soon. Spit out a low poly version for animating in Maya.
June 4, 2002 Downloaded the 30 day trial of XFrog to see if I can do my foliage and flowers with it. Really weird. A bit too techy for me. It's cool, but I don't wanna become an expert in this esoteric software to get grass, ya know? Besides that the poly meshes are gonna be a bit too heavy to carry around. Especialy stuff like grass and weeds. Really, really heavy. I need to find some solution to the foliage or I may just need to drop it. I'd like to not have just a barren desert landscape, but I will if it is the difference between finishing and not. I have already hand modeled the flower that the characters actually grab, so this is for background foliage. Set dressing. Hmmmm. well, I got bigger fish to fry for now. I'll have to come back to this some other day...
May 20, 2002 Wrote up the paint style doc for the painting style test I did. I used the animation I made for the November 2001 10-second Club as a test to check out how the NPR1 software would handle deforming characters. Seems to work pretty good. Using FCheck I was able to access bump data in the blue channel of the paint stroke renders. I used that as a faux bump to give the paint some depth. I tried a canvas texture as an under texture, but it's not what I thought it would be. The painting feels very multi-plane. As such you'd figure it was oil on glass, not oil on canvas. Not sure what to do about that. I also finished up my first landscape test to see how this style holds up on the landscape set I modeled. Did a camera push. Lookin pretty good. Not quite everything I want yet, but it holds up really well. Dan P. gave it high marks, which made me feel pretty good about it.*
May 11, 2002. Wrote up my master asset list. This is a doc that outlines every prop, character, set and item I need to build & rig in order to make this short. Thankfully the list is pretty managable. The rendering pipeline is gonna be the hairiest part.*
May 5, 2002 Played with the demo version of Reyes-Infografica's NPR1 non-photorealistic rendering plug in for 3ds max. Veeeeeeerrrry cool. I think I've got something in this. I wanna dig around some more and see if it can handle some stuff I have in mind. The stock look is a bit too fake and flat, so I'm gonna have to see what I can coax out of this thing. But I'd love to make this short with an NPR rendering style. That'd be pretty buff.
April 27, 2002 Now we've got something. Another revision on the outline. I think this one's pretty close to it.*
April 21, 2002 Created my storyboard template sheet today. Not sure when I'll start boarding it, but when I do at least I'll have the board sheets. :) I also made blank "Block Charts" for charting the affinity/contrast of various visual elements (as learned from the Bruce Block seminar a year or more ago). Started filling some in, but I realized I can't really get going on that til the outline/screenplay is solid. *
April 20, 2002 Another outline revision. Got some good feedback from Rob espcially. I think I've found my theme, and that has helped a ton in shaping how this thing unfolds.*
April 12, 2002 Mitch Stark handed back some really fun and cool concept pieces. A couple color keys, and this really neat internal view of Sned's anatomy. Definitely pretty cool. I also did some concept work of my own, Not as neat as Mitch's work, but it helped me start shaping some ideas in my head. Primarily played around with color combinations. I'm thinking a green and orange thing. Not sure if that will hold up, but that's where I'm heading for now. It's got potential due to the cool/warm contrast thing.
April 10, 2002 Worked on the next revision of the story outline. Still needs help. *
Mar 27, 2002: Started writing up the outline for the story. It's pretty rough. Needs alot of work, but I think it's got legs. *
January 2, 2002; Well, Ashes (the dragon film) is shelved. I realized this thing just isn't something that i feel I could live with for the 2 years it would take to make it. Too bad, cuz I had some folks lined up to help out, too. Oh well, if Hollywood can pull the plug on a project, so can I. :) So I'm gonna revive my Sned & Nuph short film idea I started working on in early 2001, right after Lunch was finished. I have the Sned & Nuph models. And I had the beginnings of an outline, but it really needed work. The idea was inspired by a visit to Dan Palladin's Synj.net and watching his really fun, wacky and deeply intriguing "Mr Grhib Cube Collector" short series. He's got such a fun sensibility. Anyhow, I started working on Sned way back then in a fit of inspiration. Even did an animation of him. Kinda fun. Right now there's a mountain of hurdles to jump. The primary one being whether or not I can animate this in Max. I did the 10-Second Club November 01 entry with a Max version of Sned. It was OK, I guess. Not as nice as what I'm used to in Maya. But right now we'll see what we can do. Final Render sure is nice, though.
Novemebr 20 2001, The Well story line for Sned & Nuph isn't gonna work. There's just too many fundamental flaws in it. I'm still intrigued by the void world and flower eating possibilities, but it's just a single premise. I need a theme. I've got this other idea for a longer short. Kinda Dungeon & Dragon-y, but I'm gonna go ahead and write the screenplay anyhow, just to see if I come to like it or not.
November 5, 2001 I'm gonna give this Max-Sned a whirl in the November 10-Second club animation. Gotta see how it is to animate in Max. Feels kinda pokey, but with Comet's add ons I think I can make it work.
October 17, 2001 Got Max. I'm modeling & rigging a version of Sned in it. We'll see how it goes. I think it might work.
May 2001 Mark Behm did me a huge favor and painted a matte painting cylinder background image for the DrippyMud Mountains scene I built. It's sweet looking. I wish I could do the whole thing like a painting. That old 3d look is starting to get....? Old? Dunno. Hopefully I can hit a style that works.
April 2001 Got these cool new characters, Sned & Nuph. Inspired alot by Dan Palladin's Synj.Net. His Mr. Ghrib Cube Collector series is really out there. Simple, whacked and out there. Got a story line in mind. Early draft idea is called The Well. It involves a conflict between 2 guys who go to the same well. Still trying to work out the conflict, but I like the imagery of these two guys hopping or sliding down to this island well. Gotta work on it some.