The ever-prolific Lee Doll has a new series about to debut called The Fixer. In addition to the usual production team of Lee himself, Rob Long, and Jeff Herberger, one of my oldest friends, Steve Rifkin, wrote the screenplay (and also has a cameo). It stars Brian St. August and Sealed Fates alum Al Guy (who also did stunt choreography). As usual, I’m doing some visual effects. Looking forward to it.
The wait is over. The Blender Foundation‘s 3rd open movie is done! It premiered, and is ready for download here. The DVD should be available soon. I pre-ordered that, and am really excited to watch all the extras.
Congrats to the team of artists and developers who made it happen. I know from experience how hard it is to put together a film project — of any size.
And my heartfelt thanks for the hard work on Blender 2.5. It’s getting closer to 2.6 and it’s looking great!
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Last year, producer Lee Doll started filming a pilot series call “The Adventures of Louanna Lee” (sort of like the old Nancy Drew mysteries) with his teenage daughter in the title role. Talk about a great way to stay close to your kids.
I came out to grip a couple of times for the first 2 episodes. It was a lot of fun–especially since I know most of the cast and crew. Among them are Timewarp regulars Leanna Chamish and George Stover, who play Louanna’s mother and grandfather respectively, as well as my buddy Rob Long (production design) and Jeff Herberger (director/dp).
For episode 3, Lee asked if I could do some FX to help spice things up. I was happy to get involved. He asked what I could do–they hadn’t locked the script yet, and wanted to see if I could suggest something I could pull off convincingly. I said, “how about blowing up a building.” He and Jeff liked that idea and they wrote something to that effect into the story. As a proof of concept, they asked if I could do a test shot for them. Jeff sent me footage of what they use as the family house in the show, and the above video is what I came up with. They seemed to like it, so we’re going to do the real shot for the show–though Lee said we might be able to use this shot as well.
I know a lot of folks–cast and crew, as well as Timewarp fans–have been wondering when (and if) it would ever be finished. Well, the FX will be completed, and I’m shooting for the end of this year.
A lot of work has has already been done, and some FX are in the can. But one thing I plan to do is rework the look of the creature. While Don and Joe were okay with it, I was never completely satisfied. And I think now that my skills have improved and the tools available are simply amazing (I’ll be using the current version of ZBrush–check out the mind-blowing gallery), I want to go for something that will WOW people. Don always said that the creature would make of break the movie, and I don’t want to let him down.
Over the last few months, in addition to finishing Sealed Fates, I’ve been ramping up my CG skills to get ready. I hope to have the new Crawler ready by sometime in June, then fully rigged to animate by August. That leaves several months to do the rest.
I plan to post updates as much as possible with stills, clips, etc. So, stay tuned.
I started a section for showcasing the projects I’ve worked on. Projects from the Cellar will have stills galleries of FX and videos, with some behind the scenes commentary, and how-tos.
The future of digital art is about to take a quantum leap forward.
Pixolator has posted an announcement on the Zbrush central forum that on May 17th, Pixologic will release the latest version of ZBrush, their digital sculpting and painting tool. The announcement has a downloadable Quicktime that demonstrates ZB3′s capabilities.
If you create digital imagery of any form (stills, animated films, visual effects, etc.) and need detailed characters or other organic models, I recommend taking a look at it.
And take a peek at the Pixologic gallery to see some amazing art, all created with ZBrush.
I took a little time and updated the Monster Planet site. I also moved it to a new location: http://monsterplanet.silentgraywolf.com. It now has a snazzy gallery (2, actually), and the trailer is embedded via YouTube. Check it out.
For those into Web development, I used a content management system (CMS) called Joomla, which has a huge array of functions, such as WYSIWYG editing; category, section, and menu management; site-wide search; user accounts (requiring registration); and a host of others.
Once set up, it only requires someone to add content. Plus, it’s fully customizable, and open to plug-ins — of which there are a ton already available. And the best part is that it’s completely free!
Featured in this shot are actors Darla Albornoz and Justin Timpaine.
Only two more scenes to go. Yipee!!
Last week I finished what I called the “pivotal” scene. It’s pivotal for two reasons. First, the good guys face off against the creature for the first time. Second, it was the most challenging scene to complete. Ironically, though, the shot I expected to be the most difficult of the whole film, a shot that required a major on-screen alteration to the creature, lots of tiny particles flying around, and direct interaction between an actor and the Crawler, only took a day to complete.
While working on the scene, an issue that came up a couple of times, including the shot shown above, was dealing with continuity problems. It’s hard enough dealing with them when editing, but when you add into the mix the placement of CG elements after the fact, it opens up a whole other can of worms, or Crawlers in this case. Since we didn’t initially plan to use CG for the Crawler, we hadn’t planned the shots to the level of detail needed for adding CG. We basically winged it. Luckily, however, we decided to film with traditional editing in mind, as opposed to the style adopted by many newer Hollywood directors, the long, motion-filled shots with no cuts. The traditional way uses frequent cuts from various angles: wide, mid, closeup, etc., while maintaining proper stage direction. Thus, a lot was fixed in editing before we even got the CG elements. But, as you can see in the above shot, while Darla and Justin should be looking directly at the creature’s eyes, it appears that Justin is looking at the creatures throat (if it actually has one); they have two different lines of sight.
I dealt with this by making a choice: I set to Darla’s line of sight. Since she’s holding a shiny canister, she draws the eye more than Justin. Well, okay, she’d draw the eye more anyway.
Most of the continuity problems we faced were minor, and for some I did my due diligence as a post-production artist and “fixed them in post”. The rest we’ll live with as all filmmakers do.
After a brief diversion working on Dead Hunt, I’m now back to finishing up Crawler. I’m actually on a pivotal scene, a major confrontation between the good guys and the monster. This one has some serious FX stuff in it; I get to do neat things to the Crawler itself, but since it deals with the plot, I can’t give details. Suffice it to say, I get to pay homage to Terminator 2