Monday, February 24, 2014

Blocking and Animating Plagarus

By far the most complicated part of making Plagarus is the character animation process.  Creating shots and ideas is extremely time-consuming and difficult.

The first step is always writing out the script.  The second part is recording the dialogue.  Both of those steps have been done for Part II.  Now we're onto the process of actually animating each scene one shot at a time.  This is the most complicated and difficult part.  It requires absolute quiet in the house and absolute concentration.  This is rare when you've got a family.  Patience is a must.  Frustration is your enemy.  Tempers can flare.  Feelings can get hurt.

Typically, the process involves listening to the recorded dialogue and laying it out in Blender's non-linear video editor.  Then I take the sound, and start blocking out shots and camera angles as I think they'd appear.  Character animation involves taking key-frames and refining them down, adding more and more frames until the final product is able to be animated.  See the 11 Second Club blog site for a good trainer on character animation.

Then comes the final render, and inevitably, a few re-rendered shots to correct any problems, such as fireflies and whatnot in the final render.

This could take days, or weeks.  The more time you spend on it, the better it looks, to an extent.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Contest Entry Posted

Uploaded the contest entry.  Let's see how we do.  We win by how many likes and +'s we get, I suppose.  Not entirely clear on that one.

The product page.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Sci-fi Interior Contest Part One Finished

Finished the first part of my contest entry.  Will upload the corridor to the contest site tomorrow, I think.

Next up will be the captain's quarters to this fictitious alien capital ship.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

New TurboSquid Product

First new product I've uploaded in a while.  I took a look around and discovered that other artists have been uploading better stuff than mine for a while, now.  So I hope this doesn't get overlooked too much.  I uploaded the apartment set to TurboSquid for sale, for those interested in taking a look and perhaps seeing about supporting a starving artist.

Sci Fi Apartment Scene


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sci-Fi Interior Contest Entry Day 2

Nearing completion on the door section.  This can be used in other sections of the interior set, as well.  Greatly streamlining the design process.

Doors need to look like doors, but at the same time, be interesting enough to stand up to their surroundings.  They present an interesting challenge.

I'm in the process of redesigning the floors, so there's just some place holder geometry there right now.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Sci-Fi Interior Contest Entry

Doing a contest.  Since I've got so many projects running currently, I'm trying to bust this one out as quickly as possible to reach the March 17th deadline.  I can thereafter use this design scheme in my future projects, so it's all good.

My goal is to improve the quality of my "good guy" ships.  Good guy stuff usually is smoothly modelled, with gentle curves and transitions between geometric parts, as well as brighter, warmer lighting and color schemes.

Bad guy stuff, on the other hand, tends to be more brutal, mechanical and harshly lit, with more angular, harsher geometric shapes.

There are always exceptions, however, to both rules, and you can mix and match and make angular, mechanical geometry look like a good guy ship with brighter, warmer lighting, for instance.  It's all about what story you're trying to tell with the model.  But in this case, I'm pulling out all the stops and pouring all the good guy conventions into this particular piece to really leave no question.

About three hours' work, right now.  Still have a long way to go, unfortunately.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Plagarus Voice Recording Session

A good evening spent with friends also produced much more amazing results than I ever anticipated.  The quality of the vocals (there is a comparison between the original Part I dialogue and the new, unedited, Part I recording at the bottom of this post), was far more superior than I ever imagined possible.  This was despite the fact that the environment we were recording in was still less than ideal.

Thanks go to #1 Dan for his enormous help and expertise.  It's great to have someone around who knows what they're doing.

What voice actors stare at for hours on end
Danny's a Mac guy. We shall call him Mac Danny from now on

Mac Danny.  The hat picture is the only picture we've got

The nameless voice actor, of questionable taste in hats.  The sign next to his head may indicate what's usually on his mind
We decided to use a Blue Baby Bottle microphone.  I admit, I was incredulous at first when I saw it, but it turned out to capture the voice much, much better than my own microphone, which was used to record Part I.

We got all but three lines done on the written script (the last part still needs to be written out). We're aiming for this Sunday to pick up the last few lines. There are a few issues here and there, but overall, the recording was surprisingly rich and clean.  We averaged about three takes per line of dialogue, with four characters, all aliens, being represented.  The quality is a vast improvement over the previous Part I recording.  Take a listen.

Hope you're all having a great time.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Plagarus Voice Recording Tomorrow

So, finally getting around to recording the vocal audio with a friend of mine who is an audio artist (also named Dan!) tomorrow evening.  Hopefully it turns out we get most of the dialogue recorded.

This is the proposed ending spot for tomorrow!

His sound equipment is far superior to mine (which consists of a USB microphone, which I used to record Part I of the movie).  He also is a college student in audio with experience in vocal recording, so it should be good.  I think the main problem will be getting the performance to be better than the first time around, as there is a load of more voice acting in this one, including more nuanced scenes.

Many thanks to #1 Dan for his help.

Meanwhile, in preparation, I'm blocking out the scene and the placement of characters in it.  Suffering from severe lighting issues with the characters (the set is overblown and too flatly lit and the characters are too dark), so I'll probably work tonight on getting them with a lighting set-up of their own which is separate from the room around them.

Oh well, guess this project won't let me take the lazy route, will it?

Room = too bright! Characters = too dark! All around = too flat and overexposed!
Another angle = same problems.

Hope you're all doing awesome.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Sci-fi Apartment Update

I find there can be a certain beauty in science fiction art.  The greebly bits and the techy lines and glowy lights--sometimes it all conspires together without the artist's implicit consent to create something special.  I don't know where it comes from.

It's good when it happens, though.



Monday, February 3, 2014

Material Tests on Plagarus Set

Doing some material testing on a set for Plagarus, Part II.  Trying metallic materials.

Selecting materials is hard, considering this paint scheme has to work in two different rooms with different lighting schemes, and two very different characters with a wide variation of skin tones, yet still look cool.
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