Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back At It...

Finally! Finally I have a bit of time so that I can get the creative juices flowing once more and get a film or two done. Well, at least started. :)

So what's on the agenda? Well, first off the bat, I've got a few voiceovers I've promised some people so that's getting taken care of immediately. They're interesting roles so it should be a lot of fun. The plan is to get those done by tomorrow. I'm all prepared for a long night. Sipping the coffee as we speak. :D

After that, I want to start working on two projects that are burning a hole in my brain - "Well Done" and "Hide And Seek". Both shorties, but both with some aspect of filmmaking that I really want to practice. "Well Done" I've mentioned before but "Hide and Seek" actually was an idea I've had from before my first released film. It was one that I had previously dismissed as not going to be made but it's been calling to me recently. Yelling actually. And when the muse speaks...

I've also had the pleasure of attending several of Stuckon3d's classes, a worthy investment for those looking to get more out of iClone - highly recommended. I've learned so much and that knowledge has only served to fuel my ambitions to do better and more challenging things. Part of the delay with "Well Done" is because I'm waiting for the Lighting class which is coming in early January. Lighting is so key to that project that I want to get a better handle on it because I'm not satisfied with it as it is. It's lacking something. Can't quite put my finger on it but I feel it. I'm sure that after a class with someone who really knows how to light a scene, I'll be in a better position to achieve what I want.

So, yeah. That's my little update in a nutshell. I doubt I'll be posting again before the weekend so I'll just take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Holiday - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Hope everyone stays safe while enjoying the company of family and friends. And a special shout-out to all the friends I've made this year in the Machinima community - you've provided entertainment, support and inspiration which is greatly appreciated. I am very grateful to have found and be a part of this community. All the best! :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Forging On...

Just had to say - I'm kinda happy but kinda wary at the same time. If you'd remember my post back in June, "History Re-imagined", you'd remember that I was all excited about a real life location/myth in which to ground my initial attempt at a feature length movie. Some main action sequences and events I had brainstormed beforehand seemed to fit perfectly within this structure.

Then I caught wind of the '2012' movie soon to be released. I personally had never heard of the whole 2012 issue and further yet, didn't know a movie about it was being released around the corner. I was really disappointed because my setting also touches on the 2012 mythos and I was thinking that creating it now would be a moot point - surely the 'big boys' would do it better.

But I'm hearing bits and pieces of a ho-hum response to it and that's leaning me to rethink my decision. From what I'm hearing, my vision is going in a totally different direction than theirs, with less focus on the destruction of the world bit. I haven't seen the movie yet and I don't intend to in the near future 'cause I don't want an unintentioned influence on how I develop my own film.

So I'm thinking I'm going to make it anyway - besides, I'd already purchased some props and developed some characters unique to this project so it'd be a shame for them to go to waste. Anyhoo, I had put the project on hiatus when I was still in the brainstorming phase so there's still a ton to flesh out. Don't be expecting it out anytime soon. This baby's gonna take a while.

'Til next time!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Been Rather Quiet...

Yeah, I know - silence for months! Yeah, this course I'm taking has completely consumed my life. I go to work, I come home and work on my assignments, I go to class, I come home and work on my assignments, I go to work.... you get the gist. I think my friends even forget what I look like, lol!

But nonetheless, I'm still iCloning - everyday in fact! It's just that it's all for the assignments and there are deadlines and due dates and really not enough time in the day to meet them all but I still try.

But in three weeks, this round will be over and I can get back to the moviemaking for fun! Yay! First order of business - only because I have yet ANOTHER deadline - I decided to cave and try my hand at one of the Star Wars Uncut scenes. I blame Biggs and Dulci. :D I had to grab my scene early cause the choices were running low but I can't even think of starting it until maybe a week before it's due (you only have 30 days). So I'll have to try and whip that one out quick!

Secondly, I'm going to be working on my "Well Done" short - finally. It'll be nice to actually release something again - it's been far too long. Still not 100% sure how I'm filming it but I just hope to try something new and learn something along the way that I can take with me into the next project.

Other than that, I've been dipping my toes into the voiceacting world and having a blast. I was fortunate to snag a role in Killian's Odyssey series - "Episode 6: Secrets and Shadows" that was released recently - excellent episode! I've accepted a few other roles as well in films yet to be released. It's really cool helping to bring someone else's vision to life so yes - definitely something I intend to keep up.

And coming up this Sunday, I'm honoured to be participating in the "Women in Machinima" panel at the MachinExpo 2009 in Second Life along with Dulci, Sisch, Ingrid Moon, Tari Akpokiete, Kerria Seabrooke, Chantal Harvey, and Kate Fosk. Beyond the panel, it's a day of sharing and appreciating accomplishments in Machinima, that spans various platforms, with your machinima peers. You may not choose to attend the whole thing but it's worth it to pop in and take a look around. Watch a screening or two. It should be fun and I hope to see you there!

Well, that's all the update I have time for! 'Til next time! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Still Waiting ...

... for iClone 4 - it's torture! But I will be patient - I'd rather I wait and they work out all the kinks than get stuck with a buggy product in haste. But, it's still torture. :)

In the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy. I had my first "official" voice acting gig release in Alley's "The Incidious Wedding" - a short comedic skit. I had a lot of fun doing it, but I have to say it was weird hearing my unaltered voice in someone else's movie. It was exciting not knowing what was going to be done with it and watching the script come to life. I was also fortunate to get a role in Killian's upcoming Odyssey Episode 6 - get crackin' buddy - I can't wait! :D

As for my own projects - they're still on hold until iC4 is released. But I am working on scripts and costumes. My sci-fi "unnamed" flick has been running rampant around my head - still don't have a concrete plot, but I'm working on it. I've gotten a jump on my outfit for "Well Done". Still learning my way through the Clone Cloth design but I have to pimp Anima's wonderful resource again - AnimaTechnica's Production Diary - hats off to you, Gabe!

This week he graciously shared his method for clothing design - something that many newbies and even non-newbies struggle with. His insights will definitely help raise the bar in people's films as to the appearance of characters. Not only that, but I feel having this guide out there will help inspire people to actually give designing their own clothing a chance because they have something concrete and easy to follow. I follow his thread closely and try to integrate as many tips and strategies as I can into my style of clothing and set design. I don't want to be an "animaclone" but I want to make my own approach a little bit better.

Anyhoo, here's my latest clothing project for "Well Done" - trying to capture a western essence. I've still got more to add in the way of accessories but all in all, I'm happy with it so far. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Got My Fingers In Many Pies...

And damn don't they all taste good - I can't just eat a piece of one!

So my mind has been brainstorming over a few film ideas - I'm up to 4 at the moment. Sure some would say it's better to work on one to completion then move on, but I can't. I'm both a multi-tasker and a procrastinator. If something happens on that one film to derail me for a while, I need alternatives to work on. Be productive with my time, while alleviating the dry spells.

Besides, two of them are shaping up to be quite lengthy (for me). They could end up taking me 6 months or more to get done - way too long to go without cranking out a finished film. "Well Done" seems to be in the running for being the next one finished. The script is finished and the very awesome Goofparade has already completed the lines (thank you!).

I'm really just waiting for iClone 4 to come out so I can get this thing started. I'm trying something a bit different with this one and some of the new additions in iC4 will be a great help. In the meantime, the set is a simple design so that won't take long but I need to start tackling the clothing - that's going to take me a while, I think.

Other than that, I recently finished my first voiceacting endeavor for Killian's Odyssey series (I hope I did OK). If you haven't seen the series yet, go check it out! I have to say I had a blast, getting into character and figuring out how to deliver the lines. I went and got a new microphone, the Apex188 - my headset just wasn't cutting it anymore. And wow, what a difference - night and day! Only downer was that it only comes with a shock mount and not a tripod so I have to balance it on it's edges to keep it stable. But yeah, had fun this go round so it's something I'll probably open myself up to do again for other people's films.

Speaking of other people's films, I've got a ton to watch so that I can do my voting thing for TMU's The Ollies and Bitfilm. Tons of good machinima here so if you haven't seen them, you know what to do!

'Til next time! :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

To Share Or Not To Share...

That really is a big question that has been weighing on my mind for years and some recent events have bought it to the forefront. I'm not talking about freebies and such but more so ideas, strategies, tips and tricks. Now being a teacher myself, I think I come to it from a different perspective - it's more natural I guess to share. But in a community, is there an implied obligation of sharing regardless of what is asked? Is the betterment of the community more important than the benefit of the individual? Do individuals not have the right to hold on to their secrets that they've worked hard to develop without being frowned upon?

Anima's Production Diary. Gabe is generously offering some of his strategies on how he creates his awesome sets. In doing so, he gives up some of himself, some of what makes his films 'his' for the betterment of the community. Now in the grand scheme of things for him, these may not be valuable, 'keep it close to the vest' secrets. But what if we were talking about his clothing designs? Now that is something that I'm sure everyone is impressed by and definitely would like a blow-by-blow to know how to replicate. He may choose to share or not. But with something like that, for me, I'm thinking it wouldn't be fair to ask to put him in the position where he might strongly want to say no but feel community 'obligatory' pressure to say yes. And I'm only speaking for myself. Maybe it's because I try to put myself in their shoes and try to empathize the gravity of what I'm asking against what I would like to know. How important is what I want to know, to that person?

I've seen a few posts on YT for instance, not necessarily just for machinima, where a viewer was impressed by something in a video and asks the innoncent question "How did you do that?" Now that 'something' may have been a complex procedure, perfected over weeks or months - that person's pride and joy. They would prefer to not just give it away on a whim - it's a part of themselves that is for them, not the community. So they politely decline to share that information and then the asker posts an irritated reply or nags them again for an answer. And that's what upsets me - when people don't respect the right of a person to refuse. Does anyone have the right to begrudge them that?

I'm not saying not to ask - that's just my personal hangup (which I know I should work on). I would just feel bad imposing on someone and possibly putting them in an uncomfortable position. I'd rather research and struggle to figure it out myself until I truly feel I can't get any further without asking.

But what I am saying is that sharing should be voluntary, not obligatory and people need to respect that. We should all do our part to help the community rise as a whole, yes, but not at someone's expense through pressured compliance.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inspiration Out Of Nowhere...

It's strange. In reading Anima's Production Diary, I remember that his workflow was props first then the story second. Meaning that the story didn't really develop until it emerged from a prop he had created. I thought that working that way would be impossible for me. I always work the other way - have my story fleshed out first, then figure out how to make the props I'd need.

That was until today. Today, oddly enough, I was inspired by a prop. Nothing really spectacular at all about the prop itself, but I just felt compelled that I HAD to find a way to use it in a film - someway, somehow. It's actually kinda embarrassing, the more I think about it, that such a prop has been such a source of inspiration for me - but oh well!

So all day today my mind has been mulling it over - wondering how I can take something insignificant and bring it to the foreground. Then I sat down about 3hrs ago and wrote the lines for a shorty flick. And it is short - but I'm so excited about it. All the filming details aren't fleshed out yet at all but dialogue has always been a key hurdle for me and that's all done!

And even though it's short, it's still going to be a challenge to pull off well, I think. It's like with the less frills you bring, the more what you DO have has to measure up.

And then I come to my perpetual nemesis - voice acting or no? I know what you all will say, but letting go is hard for me, dammit! :) The tone, pacing and delivery of those few lines are key to the whole piece and I can do it perfectly because I know what I want but alas - I'm not a guy. Curses! :) BUT I think this time, I can do it. I'm going to release the iron grip a little bit and allow someone else to do the voice overs for me. No voice morphing this time.... wait... can I take that back?! D'oh!

In any case, I want to wait until iClone 4 comes out before integrating the voice work. I want me some in-program facial animation controls to tinker with! Can't wait! But I can work on the set, perfecting my lighting (also thanks to anima's diary), and designing the wardrobe in the meantime so I can hit the ground running!

'Til next time!

Friday, August 28, 2009

AnimaTechnica's iClone Tutorial...

Shameless pimpage but it so deserves it! If you have iClone, just starting out or have been mucking around for a while but think you can do better, AnimaTechnica's Production Diary is a MUST READ!

Gabe (animatechnica), creator of "The Expedition", is generously offering a detailed tutorial to how he sets up one of his awesome scenes, full of tips and tricks to get the very best out of iClone.

Take your iClone production to the next level - follow the thread!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Freebie G3 Outfits...

Are now available for your downloading pleasure at CoolClones. I've designed three so far - you're welcome to all of them. In addition to the two pics I showed in the previous post (which you can now download - Grey Dragon Gown Download Here, Tan Outfit Download Here) there is also a third dress Golden Flower Gown Download Here. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect...

Well, maybe not perfect but at least better. :) Thought I'd get some more practice in with CloneCloth this weekend. I have to say, I think I'm starting to get the hang of it a bit. Perhaps more accurately, it doesn't scare me as much. :)

I completed two outfits this weekend - one for him and one for her. I'm offering them both up at CoolClones as freebies (just waiting for them to get approved). I'm hoping to make my way through the various cloths and get practice with each of them. It's kinda exciting finally designing my own wardrobe - stepping away from just changing the colours on the original outfits they provide.

But I have to say, designing is deceptively challenging. Creating a simple neckline could take an hour or more depending on the shape, getting the seams to match or maybe adding trimming. Trying to add the illusion of depth and texture to an outfit is also a big challenge that I know many struggle with. But I'm finding that in designing my own outfits, I'm also learning a lot about my photo editor - integrating features I've never used or understood well. Hopefully the more I learn, the better grasp I'll get on this designing thing. All in all, it's good learning fun. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On Vacation...

Leaving in an hour... still packing!!! Oy! Catch you all in a week. No internet where I'm going - Nooooooo! How will I survive?

Stay safe!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vertebrate Evil: Excretion - iClone Movie Tribute...

I finally got it done - and before I left on vacation to boot! :) For a Plan B, I'm really happy with how it turned out. In some respects, this version is actually a bit better at showcasing the clothing - which after all is the main focus of the competition.

So here it is - now to finally get some decent sleep! Please watch in HD if you can by double-clicking through to the main YouTube page. Thanks for watching!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Got A Plan B...

Well, I'm feeling a bit better. Wow, I was pretty bitter yesterday - walking around with a scowl on my face, lol. But now, I can sit at the computer and not glare at it with seething betrayal because I finally have a Plan B. It's simple, yes. But I think it'll get the point across while still being engaging. That's mainly why I was peeved - everything about Plan A was linked so well to the poster that I couldn't think of any viable alternative. I had to tweak the poster a tiny bit to match this new version (and no - the boobs stayed the same, lol!) Glad I hadn't officially posted it yet. Something told me to wait until the video was done first, just in case. This version will actually have minimal iClone footage (serves it right... hmm... am I still bitter?). In any case, I think I'll be good to get it done by the end of next week so I'm ok with it. Yay!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bridge Washed Out - Must Detour...

Why can't things run smooth?

I'm at an impasse. I've started my vid for the competition but now I've run into some memory issues. My ram is taxed passed its limits and now iClone keeps crashing when I try to open my project. I can't get in to work on it anymore. So I'm trying to scope out some new ram (I hope that's the problem) and get that installed. Problem is, the nearby stores don't have the one I want in stock so I'm going to have to order it online to have it delivered. That probably won't happen until Tuesday earliest so I'm losing the whole weekend.

Now that's not taking account the additional elements that I had planned for this video - elements that I'm basically learning as I go, will take quite a bit of time and that I need the renders from iClone first before I can even start them.

Tack on to that that I'm going on vacation for a week which means that's a whole week I can't work on it, that leaves me with just under 3 weeks to get it done. In some respects, my "Pinhead in the S*** " is technically a lot simpler than what I'm attempting now - and that took me almost 2 months! :(

If left to my own devices, I would move the coffee maker on top of my printer and I would work on it day and night for the rest of the summer (yes, I am that crazy - ask my friends) to get it done in time but that would be at the exclusion of all other responsibilities which simply isn't fair to those people. And my peeps would break into my house to stage an intervention by kidnapping me in the middle of the night and leaving my butt in Amish country. *Oh the torture!*

So here I am - what to do? For a second - only a split second - I thought about compromising the scope of my film. I would not be happy with it but it would be for the sake of getting it done on time. I quickly nixed that option because I think my idea has grown from just being a piece to compliment a poster to a piece that could stand on it's own.

So here is where I'm going to detour - I'm going to make two films. One, my original vision that most likely won't be done by the end of August and another, much simplified, that iClone will be able to handle at present and I could probably bang out within the week before I leave. I'm going to take the day to think up a new script - probably same premise (to go with the poster) but a totally different approach. I still aim to have my original version completed in time for the Machinima Expo - thankfully, I've got an extra month for that so it should be doable. Wish me luck.

'Til next time! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Movie Tribute Poster...

Alrighty - here's my poster for the Movie Poster Tribute Competition. I'm really happy with how it came out - especially for my first completed outfit. I'm still working on the video though. I hope to have it done by the end of the week! :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Challenging Yourself...

That's where the fun with machinima is at for me. It can be stressful too - sure. But if you're just going through the motions and coming up with a piece of work, decent or not then *sarcastic* woohoo. You haven't pushed yourself. You haven't challenged yourself. You haven't made that accomplishment that little bit sweeter because you fought for it.

I have to say I'm having a blast with the Movie Tribute Challenge that Reallusion is putting on. I enjoy having to push myself to rise to the occasion. Right now, I know what I want to accomplish, but it's figuring out how to actually do it that's both frustrating and exciting. And hell, I don't even know if my ideas will work! Which means there may be some problem solving, some compromising, some hair pulling, some capitulating, maybe even some failure but in the end, I'm sure I would have learned something from the experience that I can take and put towards my next project.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. End up with a spectacular product in the end one day. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

So Far So Good...

So here's where I'm at for the Movie Tribute Competition. I'm actually kinda proud of it so far - it's the best I've managed to design to date. About 2 days worth of work for me but it's a learning process. I'm more or less done the upper body, but I've still got to figure out how to put wrinkles in. That's a huge challenge. Hoping to tackle the lower body later tonight.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So Much To Do...

Finally, freedom is mine! Finished the presentation today, will finish the course tom'w - one more teachable under my belt. Yay! And now I can set my sights on new goals - getting my doggone script done! It'll be good to flesh this thing out finally but I can tell I'm in for a challenge. It's all good! There's also a CloneCloth challenge over at Reallusion that I'm thinking I might try my hand at. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And not to forget, I've got to work on my lines for Killian. And then there's the seriously behind banners for the last two Kawoosh! challenges. Hell, I'm going to be just as busy as if I were still in a class. But I think I'll have a bit more fun, though. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Professionalism - On and Off the Court...

So yeah, just a brief little comment. There's something to be said for courtesy in public forums. I've just read a couple of posts by someone, who I don't know personally, but was strongly considering asking to VA for a major role in my script. (And to those I may have dropped names to, no this is not the same person). These posts in my opinion were very disrespectful and smacked of immaturity. Immaturity I can deal with, disrespectfulness I can't. For them it may not be a big deal and the fact that it is for me, most likely doesn't matter to them either. It's a shame - I really liked the way this person delivered their (I'm keeping it neutral) lines, but if this person is going to be representing me in a way, I want to feel proud to be associated with that person. So yeah, it's a personal thing but I can't in good conscience continue to consider this person and it's disappointing. You should always be conscious of what you post - you never know who's reading. Bottomline, treating others with respect is always the way to go - even if your opinions differ.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Procrastinator At Large...

Yeah, yeah - I know. "Back away from the computer!" I couldn't do it! I had to try another strategy with the Clone Cloth (besides, it's late -who's going to do work now?). :D I'll be brief.

Bad news - while not a total fail, I didn't like the result much at all. I was following a tutorial I found, just using Photoshop colour layer fills and creating my own elements like buttons etc using a combination of shadowing and highlights. The hand drawn look looks tacky to me - at least what I turned out did. And I found it hard to create detailed freehand designs like trims without the benefit of (usable) guides on the template.

Well, the good news - I learned a bit more about Photoshop that I'm sure I'll be able to use later. And I learned that real textures are the way to go. Guess I'm going texture huntin'... but not now. Now I'm getting some sleep! (honest)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

On The Ground Floor...

Well, adventures in G3 Clone Cloth have commenced... with utter fail! :) No surprise there but I'm not deterred. Did a whole smack of research last night - found some very informative tips I'm going to utilize in my next attempts. AND on Monday's Wolf and Dulci Hour, they're going to be having the two guru's of Clone Cloth - Alley and Animatechnica on - what timing! I think most of my difficulty stems from my lack of proficiency with Photoshop. I can get by, but I don't really know about or use 90% of the features it has... ok maybe 85%. I think as I get a better feel for the program, the quality of my creations will improve greatly.

With the eagerly awaited (by me, at least) release of both the Male and Female Clone Cloths, I'm finally able to tackle an aspect of iClone that so intimidated me. It's going to bring me one step closer to 'doing for myself' and making my vision more of a reality when it comes to the appearance of my characters.

Also, this is a great time for me to get in on the ground floor and make some contributions back to the community. Since there are very few freebie clothes available with the G3 Cloth, I hope to offer up some of my decent 'training wheel' creations to the masses.

On the real world front, my AQ class has begun which means an intense 3 week period of readings, assignments, and presentations. Yay. Which also means my exploits in filmmaking will be curtailed for a while. Boo! (though I'm taking Friday nights off for G3 cloth, dammit!) So that script I was hoping to get done in 3 weeks - so not gonna happen (though I do still work on it during my 30 min lunch break - I can't stay away!). So progress will be slow, but it's progress nonetheless. If I happen to stray from my self-imposed restrictions, being the ultimate procrastinator (when it comes to work) that I am, y'all will be the first to know! :D

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

History Reimagined...

I just made the most amazing find I could have made for my next film! I still can't believe it! I came up with the general gist months ago but was struggling to find a place to ground it. Would it be more realistic or more fantastical (aka scifi)? I decided on the weekend to go with the more realistic grounding but the actual location was still not nailed down yet.

So doot-de-do, I'm scouring the web yet again researching locations, cultures and histories when I came upon a find that took my breath away - based on a real life historical myth! It is almost EXACTLY (and I am by no means exaggerating) the setting and situation present in my outline. Every time I read more, I'm like "Omigosh, I have that! I have that too! And that!" It is beyond perfect - it's uncanny. Every thing I have devised to date - all my location sketches, plot twists and story arcs - all can fit perfectly in this framework.

I am seriously still in shock and so estatically happy!

So what does this mean? Ultimately, now I have a bit more direction when devising the history and dialogue mentioned in this film. I can now focus on guided research in this area so I don't sound like an idiot who doesn't know what she's talking about. Yay, I don't have to make crap up!! On the down side, some of my purchased models are now moot so I may not be able to use them as I intentioned. Oh well, c'est la vie!

I'm doing my happy dance - woohoo! :)

EDIT: The more I read on, the more freaked out I'm getting about the correlations. Seriously.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ambition Aside...

I have come to one conclusion - 3ds Max is NOT my friend. I extended the olive branch of peace, it quoted me Braveheart - "Are you ready for a war?"

Rigging/skinning is an absolute nightmare - it's no wonder why few people do it. Now I could tough it out if it were a model or two, but I'm looking to bring in 7 or more - and THEN animate the suckers on top of that! One of my models is a centipede - you know how many bones is in one of those?! No amount of coffee could save me from that insanity.

So it dawned on me that basically I've been trying to reinvent the wheel - a lose-lose situation. I have perfectly fine rigged and textured Poser models that I've been trying to re-rig for Max all so I could import it into iClone. Plus, I lose the advantage of the preset poses and gain the headache of re-boning/skinning/ini creating/and animating from scratch.

There is but one solution. I've got to learn Poser. It's a concession but hell, it's one I can live with. Yes, the technical achievement of using Max would have been great, but I'm thinking at too great of a cost. The trick for me now is trying to find a way to integrate Poser with iClone as seamlessly as possible - as if I had the model in iClone to begin with. I'm thinking that's gonna take some clever greenscreening, masking and footage layering but it just might work.

The upside is that I can include all the non-bipedal models I was hoping to use - even the complex ones, without fear of crashing iClone with the crazy polycount. I'm sure as I get more into the process I'll find something that won't work as well as I envision, but that's another problem for another day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Charting New Territory...

Well I've been busy, but damn if I have anything to show for it! :( RL started to calm down for me this past weekend after a job interview (haven't heard back yet *cross fingers*) but it's gonna kick back up next Thursday when I start yet another AQ course (why do I torture myself). I thought I'd take advantage of this 'downtime' to make a teeny tiny advance in my next project but of course, there are challenges at every turn. Gotta love it.

So the bare gist of my story is formulated - got my general plot and main characters identified (with names). I've been thinking about VAs I may like for some parts but I've got tons to do before then so I can present them with a dignified script.

Which brings me to Challenge #1 - writing the darned thing! Man, it's hard! I'm pulling out all my 'Writer's Digest' books and stuff - my desk is piled high. Yeah, tried to get into writing fanfiction way back when. School got in the way so I never had time to devote to it. The creative outlet may have changed but the storytelling drive remains the same! I'm also trying to use Celtx to do this right. Gotta learn all the proper jargon and format and stuff - Killian - save me! :) But anyhoo, got my character profiles with pics started which I think will be really helpful for the voice actors so they can really know their character. I plan to just distribute my Celtx file to the VAs so they can have everything they need.

Character-wise, I've got the faces of three of my male characters done - nothing special but at least it's one less thing to worry about. I haven't even thought of the outfits - no, I'm lying. I've thought about it but I'm just too intimidated to start working on it, lol. Clothing is a challenge for me - Challenge #2. I've recently picked up the G3 Male Clone Cloth - has some issues with the cloth 'tearing' sometimes but I can work around that. This is the first time I have the whole set so I'm thinking of a varied wardrobe depending on the scene/circumstance. I'm really glad they got that wrinkle map addition to the cloth - I think it'll help the realism look a lot. I know I want an expedition-ish theme but I want to be careful because of Gabe's awesome release "The Expedition". Plot-wise there aren't really any similarities but I still want to be as unique as possible. So yes, I will be attempting my own wardrobe. If I fail miserably, I'll probably go grovelling to the lovely and talented Alley to possibly help me out. :)

Now my biggest bone of contention - Challenge #3 - my props! This is really driving me up the wall because it's integral to the plot and I can't get it working yet. I'm wading out into new territory - ambitious? maybe. likely to fail? probably. am I doing it anyway? yup!

I REALLY want some non-bipedal characters in this project. Not just static props or live props. Rigged characters that I can manipulate as I see fit. I've been researching how to do this for weeks. I've been looking into using Poser models, running them through Daz (of which I know very little) and bringing it into Max which I know less than nothing about. Therein lies the problem. Rigging? Skinning? Whoosh - over my head! But I've been trying to learn anyway, watching my hair turn grey one by one. I've reached the point where I have successfully gotten a rigged poser model into Max but now I have to replace the dummy helper bones with max bones and the bones aren't attaching where they should and I don't know how to link the model to the new rig and I have no clue how to attach the saved envelope to the new bones. Grrrr!! If anyone knows what the heck I'm talking about, please throw a sista a life preserver and save me. You'd have my everlasting gratitude... and my first born if that's what it takes! Nah, sorry - you can't have him/her but everlasting gratitude is still a good deal! :D

So yeah, that's where I'm at. I'm hoping to nail down a rough 1st draft of the script in the next 2-3 weeks. I'm also going to work on my lines for one of Killian's upcoming Odyssey episodes - if you haven't seen - go watch!

Till the next time - toodles! :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Adventures in 3D Blocks...

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks for me in the real world but the end is near! Finally I can catch up and give some feedback on some of the awesome releases at TMU. It's been too long!

There was a new challenge sprung by the Wolf and Dulci Hour - the Building Blocks "Make-a-Castle" Challenge. Great radio show, by the way - get to chill with fellow iCloners and learn some stuff about iClone. Highlight of an otherwise dreary Monday night. :)

Well the timeframe was tight for me - two weeks. And of course I had a major presentation to prepare for at the same time. But in any case, I came up with something and sent it in. It was great to try to build something with the 3D blocks - props that I'd overlooked because I couldn't really see how to use them. Now I find that I'd be looking at things and wondering "How can I break you up into nice little 3D blocks and recreate you?" :)

It's the texturing that got me though - frustrating as hell sometimes. I think I just need some more practice and to look into really understanding how the UV map works. Different blocks would texture differently depending on how I arranged them, or grouped them or resized them - oy! Then there's the whole planar, box, cylindrical bit! I guessimated my way through it but I still have more learning to do on the subject.

But all in all - great learning experience to open my eyes to the possibilities, especially as I look towards working on my next film. There's a lot of stuff that would require extensive set design but now instead of scouring the web for already made props, maybe I can look about building my own!

Here's some pics of Castle d'afterThought. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Outsource or DIY...

I often wonder which is the better route as a director - to cater to your strengths and delegate other aspects to those who know better OR to develop your weak points, thus making you better overall.

In deciding how to tackle my next project, I often go back to why I'm doing it in the first place - to learn something new and develop my skills. But when does DIY become too ambitious? In a perfect scenario, I would learn how to write a good script, design and make my own clothing, build my own props and sets, rig, texture and skin (and heaven knows what else) my own non-standard characters, orchestrate my own soundtrack and I'm sure a whole host of other things I haven't realized yet. Tall order.

Would the result be a satisfying accomplishment and an awesome, probably frustrating, experience? You bet. But would it result in the best film I could possibly make? Probably not.

Jack of all trades, master of none? There are those that are excellent in one aspect of the film process, like clothing design for instance. It's something that takes time, practice and skill to do and do well. Odds are highly against me that anything I would produce would be half as decent. Would it be wise to attempt it anyway, knowing that that aspect of the film will suffer but that I would gain valuable experience in getting myself to a point where I can do better next time? Or should I take advantage of the skills offered by others and make the final film more as it should be but as a result, hinder my own development?

Case in point - my first project. By general consensus, it was good. BUT if I had other people doing the voice overs, would it have been better? Probably. But V.O.s can be a different animal - a necessity even, for a great film. Is it fair to compare it's value to the success of a film to that of clothing design, modelling etc.?

But then when you outsource, does it begin to feel a bit less like 'your' film? Does it seem to detract from the value of the end product because you didn't do it all yourself? Is your final product any less of an accomplishment?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To Make You Believe...

That's the goal, I think, of a great storyteller or filmmaker. To draw you into a world of their construct and have you believe the story they tell you is plausible... within reason. When I think about it, I can break it down into 3 factors that are essential - imagery, sounds and plot.

One specific area of "sound" has been drawing my attention recently and that is of dialogue - the voice and the delivery. I'm not used to including dialogue into my works and as evidenced from my first film, if I must - I'd do it myself. Why? Again, probably my control freakish nature rearing it's ugly head but also because I felt there were factors about the voices that I needed to be able to control in order to maintain the illusion I constructed.

Now, when you open up the field to voiceactors, you gain diversity - yes. But you lose some control. This is where I am trying to find my balance. Trying to find a way not to control but effectively guide the performance of voiceactors of whom I can demand nothing. These people are friends and volunteers. All I have is the hope that they will try their best to perform the role for me and that I won't piss them off in the process.

I know how I am with my work - I'm nitpicky as all hell. Some things I can just let it go but when something bugs me because it's not the way I want and I know I can fix it if I just put in the time and effort - it BUGS me. And as such, my animations I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked some more. My voice overs I did over and over and over until I had it as close as I thought I could get. I can't do that to voiceactors! I'd drive 'em nuts.

So I've come to the realization that I just have to set myself up for as much success as possible by being particular not only of whom does the voiceover but for what character. Sometimes you may have wonderful voiceactors but when you hear them coming out of a particular character - something doesn't quite mesh. And I have to say for me - that jars me right out of the illusion and I start to 'believe' a little less. Doesn't ruin the production by any means but it just prevents me from enjoying it as best I could.

So in a roundabout way, I'm kinda going in reverse. I have a few people in mind already that I'd like to ask to help out. Once I get a feel of their voices I think I may try building their characters around THEM. Some personalities for this next film are fixed and I have to find the right voice to do them but others are more flexible. Maybe their character's personalities can be influenced by how the voiceactor sounds and the voiceactor's capabilities.

Again, these are all musings - thoughts playing in my head as I embark on this new film. Whether I'm being realistic in my approach - I don't know. I'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

Friday, May 8, 2009

4 minutes of powerful awesomeness...

Just in case anyone hasn't seen this animation - "Sebastian's Voodoo" by Joaquin Baldwin - it's a MUST! I can't believe how much personality and emotion can be conveyed by a character without a face or without any dialogue. Had me in tears - absolutely fantastic!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Go Big...

Or well, you know. So, guess I need to start thinking about making another movie, eh? Well, the hamster's been running around for a few days and I've got an inkling of what I'd like to do. I kinda base my projects on what I'd hope to learn by the end of it - what new skills I would have acquired. That being said, I don't know much about set design in iClone - can't really use the primitives provided to save my life, all pinkies with Sketchup and other 3D modelling programs I just haven't delved into that much. So that's what I'd like to focus on for this next project... and it's gonna be a big one.

I was sooooo tempted to return to my vidding roots. I've had some music video ideas that I was hoping to get done eventually (still might) but then again it comes down to - where's the challenge? Sure there are editing challenges and story telling to be done, but it's not something that by the end of it will leave me saying, "I did it! I conquered something!" In order to get better at this thing, I've got to step out of my comfort zone and push myself a little. Will they always work out as I hoped? Hell, no! But in the end, that's not the point.

So along with my focus on set design, I also want to try my hand at dialogue - writing a script and having proper voiceovers (any volunteers?). :) I really, really don't know how to go about integrating others into my work. Am I a bit of a control freak? Hmmm, maybe. I'd prefer to say that I have a vision and I tend to be reluctant to stray from it or half-ass it in any way (if it's avoidable). I very much do my work by "feel". It has to feel right to me. If it doesn't, it nags me EVERY time I see it and eventually, it's got to go. But then again, maybe that's something else I have to learn - to let go a little. Hand over the reigns and trust that it'll still be ok. I'll get back more than I'm giving up. My friends, you're gonna have to help me a little bit with this one! :)

So yeah, this next one is going to be challenging. I'm aiming for an action/adventure, more feature-lengthish than snippet. I'm going to work some After Effects in there, get learning in that program going as well. It's a big bite but I'm hoping I won't choke on it. If I do, I'm sure I'll have some friends standing by with the Heimlich!

To Boldly Go...

So here I am - entering the daunting world of *gasp* blogging. I tend to reflect and vent a lot as I work through my "creative process" so I thought rather than go crazy, I could rely on the support of my machinimating community (or at least entertain them a little as I careen into the void).

If you endeavor to follow this blog, I must warn you - everything I post may not be riveting morsels of incredible insight and sometimes you will wonder what the heck runs through my head. That's just how I work and it's served me well so far. Bottomline, I simply have a passion for creating stories and finding a means to share them with whoever cares to see it. If you think my ramblings might be a nice way to kill a minute or two, feel free to join me on my journeys across the bridge. :)