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