Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter 2010: Final Compositing begins

Well, most of the team graduated last year and the professor was off writing a book. Production took a nice rest for a quarter. Now a new team will step forward and take this film to the final stages. Thanks to our very own David Beach (who has graduated) all of our data is in order and ready for rendering; the final animation bits can be issued; and compositing can begin. The first version of the sound track was created over the summer and will get finalized in these coming months as well. We have lots of work to do and the winter quarter to do it. Final renders to be posted in the coming weeks. Let's go team!
...Prof. O'

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ta Daa!

We have something special for you guys today! With great pride we present the first finished shot of the film!

Double click through it and hit the 'Watch in HD" tab on the bottom right to see it in all of it's High Definition glory. This represents a real turning point for the team, as it's a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel; our little pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow.

In other areas, I thought I'd show off some more of the periphery art being done for the film. As mentioned in this post, the main purpose of these pieces is to light up our backgrounds with visual interest while not being too competitive. The main objective of these is for two main points to be readable at a glance:

1. It's Jaguar.
2. He's doing something 'stuntman-esque"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rock N Roll...

Just a quick update for today, guys. There are some very cool things coming down the pipe over here at SCAD. Production is chugging along and we are all excited about some of the prospects laid out for the project on the horizon.

We have a new dailies sequence for you to take a look at. In this part of the film, ol' Jaguar is convinced that the cat wants some food, which happens to be sitting right next to one of his many prized trophies...


-Clint Donaldson, Director

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back with a Vengeance...

Hello all! Apologies for the lack of updates for the last few weeks, the team has been busy handling the quarterly transition, finishing up animations, and familiarizing new members with the production pipeline. The posts will begin to pick up now that production is in full swing again.

Today, we are going to talk about some of the logistics of making this film, and also some of the thought process going into the look and pacing of the film.

Over the break between quarters, the JM team fell into (and fought it's way out of) the logistical nightmare of managing the shot list. This list contains the status of 104 shots needing blocking, cleanup, background animation, lighting, sound and various other things.

Another aspect of the film we have been making progress on is the visual look and feel. Below, you can see some test renders and initial lighting passes.

You may notice a big difference between the 2nd and 3rd shots, this is a result of a post production effect we are using that squashes the color range into a specific area. The effect results in a more cohesive and readable image.

By altering the color range of the image, we can completely change the mood and feel of the image. Our goal is to really push the colors in a way that it emits an almost retro feel; a "golden age" if you will.

Finally, to improve the pacing of the film, it has been decided to add another "character". Although, this new character may not be what you expect:

To accent some of the comedic actions taking place, we've decided to alter Jaguar's world a bit by including a radio broadcast. While Jaguar is struggling with his feline troubles, the radio will be belting out anecdotes from a seemingly unrelated sporting event. This addition is small and adds relatively little to the work load, but at the same time adds tremendously to the amount of laughs we can squeeze out of 3 and 1/2 minutes.

That's it for todays post! Be sure to check back soon for more dailies and other goodies that will be posted in the coming weeks. See Ya!

-Clint Donaldson, Director

Friday, March 13, 2009

The End of an Era...

The quarter is finally over and the team has survived! What started as a small film that was to be completed in a quarter has ballooned into a school wide animation tour-de-force!

With open arms we are welcoming on board new members to our humble squad. More animators, lighters, and sound engineers are joining the ranks next quarter to help 'Jaguar' reach it's full potential.

To celebrate this milestone, we have two new videos today! The first is a glimpse of our visual direction, in the form of a concept render of the opening shot:

It's interesting to see the CG and 2d elements integrating and affecting each other in the same space. Through the use of shaders and photoshop linework, our intention is to make the divide between the two elements imperceptible.

The second daily is a bit more of the familiar sequence we have been following on the blog. This time, you can see the beginnings of the effects animation (water, fire, etc.) that has made its way into the reel.

You may notice the audio scratch track that is present in both of the clips. At the moment these are just place holders. The final soundtrack will be produced in a full foley studio.

I'd also like to take another moment to say "Thank you" to everyone who has helped the team get as far as it did this quarter. Through the support of the faculty, students, and our friends, we have been able to create something special out of nothing. We have all learned so much, and at the same time reaffirmed that we are doing what we love to do.

Last, but definitely not least, I would like to thank everyone who has taken time out of their day to visit our little space on the internet. Your interest and support has been a constant source of motivation for the team!

With only a week off (no rest for the weary), production is going to resume full force on March 23rd. As usual, keep an eye on this blog for new dailies and updates. We're not done yet!

-Clint Donaldson, Director

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ghosts From the Past...

As mentioned in the last post, many things have been naturally trimmed off of the film over the course of production. Instead of showcasing something new today, we are going to focus on something that never was... the foot chase sequence.

About halfway through the film, Jaguar's cat is annoying him to the point of action. In this particular moment, the cat is sitting on Jaguar's chest. The injured stunt man decides (after much deliberation as to which of his limbs is most useful) to force the cat off of him by using his foot. What follows was to be a spectacular chase in which the cat skillfully evaded a very serpentine like foot.

Here's the sequence:

In the original concepts, the scene was much less aggressive in nature. Rather than kicking at the cat, Jaguar was merely trying to pet it, in an effort to quell it's constant meowing. In the midterm review, it was noted that the idea of a man trying to pet a cat to the point of injuring himself was a bit of a stretch. It was difficult to read, and the motivation was weak as well.

After the film was refocused to the main theme of 'frustration', the chase became more of an effort to get the cat off of him. This added humor and contributed well to said theme.

As deadlines loomed however, our animators began to shudder in the shadow of this sequence. It involved a very fast paced and complex interaction between 2D and CG elements, which is a tall order even for an animator who has all the time in the world.

As a result, this sequence was put up on the chopping block. The argument was made that while visually interesting, the action in the sequence was too different in tone in relation to the rest of the film. For the majority of the film, Jaguar is incapacitated almost completely. In this sequence, his leg suddenly gains the ability to nimbly snake and slither around his body. While humorous, it worked in contradiction to the action both before and after it.

This sequence was definitely the largest chunk of the film to be cut. It was a part of the film from the early concept phase on. In the end, the cut made the film leaner and much more focused.

As a tribute to the man who blocked out this sequence in vain, Dan Murdoch, here's one of his early concept drawings. Somehow, It's strangely fitting.

Look forward to the big quarter ending post (the film is done?!) next time! See ya!

-Clint Donaldson, Director

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From Concept to Creation...

So two weeks have gone by and production has soldiered on. All asset production is coming to a close while at the same time animators are still burning the midnight oil. I'd like to take a moment to thank all the faculty and other students that have helped us get this far. This film is starting to come together in better ways than I ever could've imagined.

For the moment, however, deadlines are approaching and at times like these the team needs to be kept on a strict leash!


Now, onto the dailies!

Today's collection of shots contains some things old and some things new. First off is the actual opening shot of the film. Please ignore the slightly confusing placeholder texture on the wall poster. In the final cut, a spectacularly glorious poster of Jaguar will be in its stead.

Next, we have the cat introduction scene again, this time with the addition of some Jaguar reaction shots (affectionately referred to as "man face" shots by the team.) This little sequence is interesting because it afforded us the first look at the two main characters truely interacting with each other.

Finally, the trophy breaking sequence. I chose to include this series of shots as it demonstrates practically every stage of our workflow, from animatic to CG blocking to 2d plate animation.

Shani Vargo takes a break from drawing cats.

Switching gears from the present, here's some pieces from the past. Specifically, some of the storyboards that started it all. It is amazing to look back and see how the film has evolved from concept to creation. Even in the first pages of the boards, one can see how much was cut in order to stream line the film.

As seen in the dailies above, the opening shot involves a pan down to an injured and deflated Jaguar.

In the original sequence, Jaguar went on a kind of mental journey, looking over the artifacts of his past glory. In the final cut, however, these shots were dropped in favor of a much leaner transition from the establishing shot to Jaguar's noticing of a nearby fluttering newspaper.

The third page reveals yet another cut shot. The rear shot of the cat (4 panels in) was cut both for streamlining purposes and clarity of visual direction. The over the shoulder framing of the cat contributed to an unwanted ominous and foreboding feeling that (while it might have worked in the original context of the story) seemed awkward directly following the already establishing "reveal" shots directly preceding it.

Hopefully, over the course of this blog we will be able to post more of the boards and reveal some of the more dramatic cuts that had to be made for the greater good.

Bobby Miller works on some newspaper clippings

In the next few posts, we will be featuring some of the final assets that make up Jaguar's world, and of course, more dailies.

As a final note, please check out the Links section to the right, which has been updated with several team members blogs and personal portfolio sites. They are all great artists and have each contributed valuable time and effort into this massive project. See ya later!

Clint Donaldson - Director

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Media Blitz

Another week has gone by and the production of the film barrels on. We have shots coming in, textures getting approved, and producers eyeing approaching deadlines. The team is starting to hit it's stride and we have people turning out great work in all different areas.

Chelsey throws down on some balloon textures.

This post will focus on the aforementioned illustration work being done to facilitate the backstory of the film. But first, more dailies!

This is a sequence from around the mid-point of the film when things really start getting hairy for Jaguar. One of his prize stunt capes goes up in flames as he struggles to put it out with his one free leg.

The sequence is actually proving to be one of the more complicated sections of the film as it involves 2D, CG and effects animation (water, sparks, fire).

Director Clint Donaldson and Art Director Jason Walling work out the timing of a falling vase.

The Media:

One aspect of the film that has actually been reeled back in a bit is the telling of Jaguar's backstory. The original concept involved telling a sordid tale of revenge in which the cat half of the duo was getting shafted in all the stunts while Jaguar reaped all the glory. This was to be depicted in various pieces of media (newspaper clippings. magazine covers, etc.) that were placed about the room.

The story, while interesting in concept, proved to be much more complicated in terms of visual storytelling than we anticipated and viewer readability became an issue. As a result, the "revenge" storyline was scrapped and we parred the film down to a stuntman who's main motivation is the need for peace and quiet. "Keep it simple!" is a motto that definitely proved true for us.

While we scrapped one aspect of the story, we still wanted to maintain the fact that Jaguar was a stuntman. The humor of a cocky showman who has been reduced to wiggling around in a full body cast was something that we fully intended to keep.

An obvious source of inspiration for the illustration work was the print documentation of the career of Evel Knievel.

Dan works on a few illustrations.

We've experimented with many different takes on the media coverage of Jaguar:

For the newspaper clippings featured in the film, we decided to put our stop motion inclined team members to work and had them make actual maquettes of Jaguar that would be photographed in mock news conferences and the like.

Brent poses with his maquette.

Even though many of these pieces will be featured, at most, in the background of a few shots, it does not lessen thier importance. By creating a detailed and believable world that Jaguar and his cat inhabit, we are breaking down the wall between the story and the audience.

That's it for this post, please keep checking back often! Animation dailies are starting to roll in so the posts will become more frequent as we draw ever closer to the inevitable deadline of doom. See ya next time!

-Clint Donaldson, Director

Sandee loves Jaguar!

(This post featured work from Clint Donaldson, Jason Walling, Sandee Chamberlain, Bobby Miller, Chelsey Cline, Adam White and Brent Mellecker)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bridging the gap...

Alot has happened this past week. Sequences have been cut, shots have been redone, and the ending has been rewritten. This all stems from a midterm review (involving some intimidating instructors) that both knocked down and re-invigorated the team. After all the changes I am happy to report that the film is all the better for it.

As a special treat, today we have a first look at some of the actual film!

This is an excerpt from a sequence early on in the story. Jaguar is bed-ridden and wallowing in his own self pity. He is interrupted by his cat, who seems to want to be fed.

This is an example of the workflow we are following in this film.

Starting with the animatic, we first block out the shots and the camera moves in the CG Room environment.

We then hand off the shots to a 2d animator who animates over the CG plate using Flash. At the moment, we are still in the Keying and breakdown stage, in betweens and cleanup are going to be done in Photoshop.

Alfredo works on a shot that will be passed off to the 2d animators.

One interesting challenge we are trying to tackle in this project is the character of Jaguar himself. As a hybrid 2d/CG character, his body cast has been modeled and rigged in Maya, while his "organic" parts (his head, fingers, toes, and free leg) are 2d.

David Beach, our resident shader monkey, has been trying to wrestle with the difficult task of matching the CG and 2d elements into a cohesive look and style.

Here are some of his shader tests:

I know I promised some illustration work in this post, but due to the restructuring of the film, the illustrations are being reworked a bit. If there's anything we've learned from this process so far, it's that you can't get too attached to anything! See ya later!

Clint Donaldson, Director

(This post featured work from Jason Walling, Clint Donaldson, Shani Vargo, and David Beach)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jaguar's world..

Dan REALLY likes animating.

The Room:

Color palate frame by Jason Walling

While the animators are slaving away on their first assigned shots, another part of the team is building the world in which Jaguar inhabits. The entire film takes place in Jaguar's home bedroom, which is adorned with artifacts from his stunt work.

Mario plays with fire as Andrea works on color schemes.

Recreating an illustrated concept environment in a CG world is a difficult task. As a result, we've dedicated alot of effort into creating every detail of Jaguar's room.

CG texture work by Adam White.

CG Room Mock-up using models made by various team members.

Another problem being tackled is the rigging of the various objects in the room that we require movement out of. These include things like fluttering papers, floating balloons, and swinging IV bags.

Alberto finishes up a rig for a fluttering newspaper...

...and Jason promptly tells him to redo it.

The next post will deal with some of the illustration work being done for the film, which mainly focus on detailing Jaguar's success as a stunt man. See ya later!

-Clint Donaldson, Director

Adam can't wait for the next post!