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!