Thursday, March 21, 2013

Plagarus Animation Blues

Character animation remains the singularly hardest aspect of this movie I've run into.  I think the problem stems from the fact that we see real life people moving all the time, so when a CG character starts doing it on screen, any irregularities immediately start popping up all over the place.

Take this animation I did:

Weighting seems off, as far as I can tell.  There is definitely potential, here, but it just seems very embarrassing, to be honest.  I've asked for help on Blender Artists.  Waiting for any clear advice that'll help me improve on there.  Hopefully by the time the more sophisticated character animation comes along in the film (Parts 3 and 4), we'll have some pretty solid animation ready for the heavy stuff.

Otherwise, I think the film will sag under the weight of the failure at animation, and probably collapse.

Hopefully that doesn't happen!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Plagarus Part Two Update (Again)

Working on a movie by yourself can be pretty daunting.  The biggest problem seems to be discouragement, believe it or not.  The general quality of all aspects of the film seem to suffer when one person has to work on basically everything.  And when you're a perfectionist who must send stuff out without being up to your standards...

Unfortunately, it actually may take more time and effort to coordinate with others than to simply do it all myself.  In the end, Plagarus won't be the best movie out there, but it'll be the best I can produce in the time frame we're looking at. :)

Considering that it's my first movie I've ever actually made, I'd say that's saying something.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Plagarus Part Two Update

Just one more shot of the conversation scene in the Plagarus Part Two.  Then we're onto a nice, fairly easy musical interlude.  Hopefully it works well.

New rendering techniques have made the rendering times much faster.  For instance, the original Plagarus scenes were extremely noisy due to the fact that I had to use CPU rendering, while keeping render times reasonable.  Now that I've got a pretty good graphics card, GPU rendering has allowed render times of less than a quarter what it used to be on the i7.

Also, I've discovered that I don't need to have the background geometry involved in many scenes.  The shot above is taken with a simple equirectangular background image.  The advantage of this is that there is nearly instant rendering time for background elements, as well as the camera can pan, letting the background image move with it.

The downside, of course, is that it's almost impossible to completely merge it with the real background geometry when rendered for real.  So, the room will appear slightly different between shots where geometry is rendered and it's just the character in front of  a backdrop.

Also, there is the benefit of having better DOF effects in Cycles than before.  This is a huge advantage as well.  Additionally, something new since the release of the previous installment of Plagarus is motion blur.  This is a particularly useful technique which greatly increases the believability of the animation.

The downside? The next installment of the movie is probably going to start looking visually different from Part One.  This is going to be an issue which may involve me having to go back and re-render the entire thing.

There was a chance I had to do this anyway, as I was hoping technology would advance enough to allow me to render a 1080p version of the movie.  Right now, it's in 720p.

Hopefully one day this film will be done.

Here's hoping, anyway.

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