Jump to content
Hash, Inc. Forums
Gerry

Cicak

Recommended Posts

Thanks Chris! I did tweak a few keyframes and got the whole thing looking a little snappier. Yesterday I started building the whole video from the beginning and it's looking pretty good for a first draft. I want to get some nice transitions going as right now it's just cut to, cut to, etc. I've got my co-worker Randy working on some effects shots and I'm going to have him do some nice AfterEffects transitions to sweeten it up.

 

Also, once this vocal segment was in place, I wanted to see more of it. So I may not do quite so much cutting away from it and keep the camera on him. As my wife said, at this point in the video the character really starts to "fly", and he should have his moment instead of cutting away to shots of stuff the viewer has already seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just an update...I've got a full-length first draft all laid out and it's looking pretty good! It's nice to see the whole thing all the way through, it has a great momentum to it and the imagery and transitions work really nicely. It still has some rough spots but I'm hoping to put up a test version for everyone to look at after the weekend.

I'll be spending November tightening it up and re-rendering some shots. The plan is to have it done by the first week of December at which point I'll be posting it on YouTube and Vimeo, and wherever else they'll have me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a close-to-finished rough cut up on Vimeo at http://vimeo.com/31523384, as it's too big to post here. Some shots aren't final and there will be a lot of AfterEffects work on it, but the principal animation is done! Comments welcome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's looking great, Gerry! The lizards came out great.

 

I wonder if you could use one of those "morph" apps to make the tear-to-lizard transition a little more subtle?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow Gerry that is really coming together.

I love the colors and contrasts.

 

Two things that distracted me and spoiled a little of the enjoyment:

 

The major one: Not enough progression in the repeated sequences

the repetitive nature of the imagery is fine but I think it's important to show at least a little progression (or alternative camera angle) in repeated imagery... especially if the imagery is repeated three or more times. It's important to return to the previous imagery... I get that... but to give the viewer something new to look at, even if only changed slightly, will carry the audience forward with you. You do this in a lot of places (i.e who is standing under the streetlight) but some of the major ones (cicaks dancing on the wall) we don't get any relief from until near the end when the critters start running across the wall. This may be by design... suggesting we are stuck in some kind of hellish cycle here on earth but even if true some variation applies. Even a slightly tilted or zoomed in/out camera would suggest that we aren't simply seeing the exact same thing twice. If the exact same thing is seen twice there is then a special emphasis placed on it. So, the recommendation: Keep the film progressing, however slightly at all times. Eye each repeated sequence for little opportunities.

 

I should offer so way of proceeding so I'll add this: If you were to take each shot/sequence that repeats and line them up (without the rest of the film) you could find a way to progress each of them. For instance, rotating a little with each repeated sequence (perhaps with the cicak on the wall. The walkers with heart holes might be zoomed in a little tighter each time the sequence is shown (signaling this is in fact a matter of the heart?). The devil's close ups might get a slight rotation combined with zooming in closer and closer throughout the series of repetitions to heighten the tension in that cycle.

 

A minor one: Clarity and Lip sync at the pivotal moment on the roof

Note that I am not suggesting we have to see the character clearly here but it is a clearly readable silhouette that syncs with the singing that seems to be lacking. This is further obscured when the character raises his left arm and obscures his face/mouth during a key phrase. If this were a performance on a stage the actor would be taken to task for not using the other hand/arm to reach out so I'm taking your guy to task also. There are about three places where if the character sings out loudly that if you open his mouth widely the objective of clarity will be accomplished.

 

What you've got right now is already great. Plus it up and make it masterful!

 

Disclaimer: This feedback is based on a first view of the video in its current state. The mind tends to fill in these gaps on subsequent viewings and that is the case here too. In subsequent viewings the video is already approaching 'masterful'. I really enjoyed it! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love the imagery , the colors and over all look

But I agree with Rodny it needs so much more

I hope this is not a project where time will get in your way

Would love to see you push this to the next level

 

You can never have enough shots

 

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rodney, jimd and Mark, thanks for your comments. Rodney, I agree with the bulk of your comments. A couple of the shots you mention are still placeholders unfortunately, and some repeated shots will be sweetened with AfterEffects magic to give them a little more punch as they are repeated, so they are not just seen as reruns.

 

The one shot that I like repeating without change is him getting up from the kitchen table. That is supposed to be a "Groundhog Day" moment, he's trapped in this loop like a bad dream. I have some additional gecko dance steps that I haven't used, and maybe varying that element will help it look like more than a retread.

 

Some others that are repeated without progressing, will still have some work done, especially the repeat of the wall full of geckos. The second use of that I just ran out of steam, but I was in a hurry to get another version posted. I'm not happy with the fact that we are just re-seeing it again. Not satisfying as far as I'm concerned, and I'm continuing to work on it.

 

The lipsynch is also a problem. In the shadowy nighttime shot, believe me his face and mouth are quite animated, but with the distance and shadow (and his arm!) obscuring it, I don't know how to fix it at the moment. After doing the lipsynch and rendering I was really surprised how little you can see of it. Then when daylight comes up his arm does block his face. Not sure how to deal with this but I understand your comments.

 

Thanks again, all your comments are helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like that!

 

notes:

 

- on the cut-zoom to the lizard's head, I think the difference in sizes needs to be greater to sell that effect

 

- the flat-footed walk (0:26) will look stiff and weightless.

 

- don't do a bent knee walk. It's a classic comic strip convention but no one actually walks like that, it doesn't transfer to animation.

 

- he's instantaneously rebounding off the bottom of his walk. That will always look jerky.

 

- the hip swinging of the lizards around 1:16 needs to be much bigger to read in the long shot

 

- the "elbow" of the lizard is popping the wrong way in the close ups of the lizard dances.

 

- When the guy with the heart-hole stands up there's a weird pop to the right at the end.

 

-when you turn the lizard head dont' just swivel it on the end of the neck, pose the whole neck/head line as one flexible curve.

 

- the close up of the lips is hard to do. Instead of having it drift open, use a slight anticipation and slow into the open pose. The right mouth in this comparison anticipates before opening and slows into the open position.

 

lips.mov

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The lipsynch is also a problem. In the shadowy nighttime shot, believe me his face and mouth are quite animated, but with the distance and shadow (and his arm!) obscuring it, I don't know how to fix it at the moment. After doing the lipsynch and rendering I was really surprised how little you can see of it. Then when daylight comes up his arm does block his face. Not sure how to deal with this but I understand your comments.

 

I don't know how much time you have to adjust such things and I like the camera angle as it is now. One option might be to have a moving camera that subtly moves from left to right. You might use Jason's Camera Rig to get the simultaneous rotation and side movement.

 

I suspect that the post work done in After Effects will blend these shots enough that most of the areas under consideration will become negligible. In the real world things are not perfect either so take heart!

 

This may just be an opportunity to consider for later projects but I think the element that is missing in the lipsync area is one of exaggeration. Subtlety and precision wont read as well and an exaggerated movement or an emphasis of a word or phrase at exactly the right moment can really sell the shot.

 

I must say... it's fun to imagine refining someone else's scene... a lot harder to actually do it oneself... I'm hoping I can maintain your level of quality in my own efforts! In watching a few more times I do see some considerable progression already there in the repetitious scenes I've mentioned and look forward to seeing the whole video again after the AE treatment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I decided to try re-rendering the sax sequences with some reflections turned on, as my original version looked too flat and clay-like to me. So I added reflections and the results are spectacular! So I'm redoing all the closeups of the sax.

 

But the problem is render times. Even at only two passes it's taking anywhere from 17 to 24 minutes a frame. In fact, switching from four passes to two seems to have increased render times. The real time eater seems to be "rendering patches", which I take to mean rendering the reflections, but I'm not sure. I would gladly experiment with the settings if I knew which direction to go in. The current settings if I recall are, two levels of reflections and softness of 40%. Maybe that's too much?

renderScreenshot.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That really looks great Gerry. The result is as you say 'spectacular'. I hope you can keep that reflective look.

 

I don't want to send you off too far afield but perhaps applying a Matcap shader to the Sax would produce the same or similar effect without the hit on the raytracer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd go with a material with an Environment Map. Then you can turn reflections off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is the Soft Reflections that are killing your render times. You might try using a blurred environment/reflection map on the sax to see if that gives you something acceptable, but the soft reflections do look really nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a feeling that an environment map might make a difference but I've never used one. Need to look it up and see how! Thanks for all the suggestions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah man! That makes all the difference, in fact I think I even like it better. And 1:30 per frame instead of twenty minutes!

renderScreenshot2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it succeeds in feeling like weight is being put on his heels. One suggestion I think would help would to have his feet turn out a little. Right now they feel a little robotic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gerry,

I'm going to guess the rig doesn't allow for any toe movement?

 

Personally I don't think you need a toe bone but just a little bit of movement (particularly squash and stretch) will sell this one.

You can probably get this done in short order just by creating a Pose slider and adjusting the mesh to give a sense of weight by pushing the CPs/splines downward and outward.

 

This character has the weight of the world (literally) on his shoulders so the contact with the ground... the ground doesn't give way but the shoe will... that contact is important.

 

Edit: If you can render that without the background (make the background invisible) that Squetch can be animated/adjusted in post to demonstrate. I did a quick test manipulating your animation on a grid... harder to do without inadvertently changing the background.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Mark, I think I will look at that.

 

Rodney, I'd been on the fence about that very thing. The rig does have a toe bone and it bends at times but maybe not enough. However having the foot itself deform with the weight was something I'd been considering but wanted to solve the problem without it. However I guess it's called for here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
- the "elbow" of the lizard is popping the wrong way in the close ups of the lizard dances.

Um, yeah, this was in the back of my head for some time. Should have seen it sooner, but edits are more a matter of triage at this point. I may go back and tweak it when I've got everything else fixed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an update of the feet closeup. I was going to create a new walk cycle from scratch but adjusting the existing keyframes seemed to be working okay. I took some reference movies of my own feet and that helped a lot. I also re-rendered the closeups of the hands and face.

 

Rodney, I added quite a lot of deforming/squetching of the shoes and I'm surprised it's not clearer to the naked eye. But though it's subtle I think it does add to the "realism" of the walk.

 

Mark, also turned out the feet a little.

 

Thanks for all the comments. I'm calling this done for now!

feetCU_h264.mov

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That definitely reads as having more contact. I like that! :)

 

I took some reference movies of my own feet and that helped a lot.

Without examining some video reference myself I don't know what other suggestions to offer. My thought is that for just a moment (during the moment where the weight is on each foot) there should be some obvious pushing down at the heel... with only about three frames to work with that's not an easy thing to show. If I were trying to accomplish it I would try to keep the contact line of the heel on the concrete while pushing the top of the shoe's heel downward. It might be easier for me to draw my thoughts. ;)

 

I'm calling this done for now!

 

I think that is a wise call.

If we were to use a three color system to indicate if this as a 'final' shot that is good enough to go into the final production I'd color this one Red (good enough to go forward but still could use some additional work). Then if time allows you to return to the scene you could strive to move it to Yellow or Green as the final goal. The important idea being that you could spend too much time in this shot when another shot is more deserving of the time at your disposal. Hope that makes sense.

 

If you have time near the end of your production... who has time... you could always revisit the shot and exaggerate the weight more. What I've been finding in my little tests is that when I tweak I tend to hold back and only incrementally correct when major change is really called for. Animation is the medium of expression and clarity often follows after we register what has been communicated via exaggerated poses. I'm working on this whole idea myself and I've got a long way to go! In the end it's generally better to over-exaggerate because you can always soften that back if it reads (to the audience) as overdone in the final results.

 

One element I'm trying to get locked into my pea sized brain is that each action/shot must carry a primary message. Looking at this one it seems to be 'the weight of the world'. To that end anything and everything at your disposal should be used to convey that otherwise why bother doing it at all.

 

Ultimately, if the shot works... conveying YOUR intent... it works.

 

Onward!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good thoughts Rodney. At the very least there is still some slippage in the right foot that I should fix, but in general I find that I hold back on exaggeration/squash/stretch because in the back of my mind that's for wacky Chuck Jones style slapstick. But one of the most insightful things I've read (either in TASK or Drawn to Life) is that EVERY move has either squash or stretch in it and yet I still hold back on that in my own work. So it's a learning process and I may go back and tweak this shot yet. When I watch the finished video it's like all I see are the mistakes, also a mindset I need to work on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alrighty, here's one more in wireframe and I think the "squash" in the heels works a lot better, i.e., you can actually *see* it! Also fixed that foot slippage.

feetCU_v4_h264.mov

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yeah. That's got the squetch going on.

The difference isn't very noticeable until comparied with the original you posted. That subtle emphasis on the contact where there heel of the shoe gives way really helps a lot whereas there was no sense of weight before.

 

Rockin'!

 

Because I know you've got a lot more of this in you I'll call that one Yellow. IMO to get to Green you've only got to see the results of the final rendered shot! :)

 

When I watch the finished video it's like all I see are the mistakes

 

I think this is one reason why it's usually best to exaggerate our Actions/Poses at the early stage as they will always undergo change, be desaturated, watered down, and smoothed over later in the work. The strength of a shot is most often captured in the initial idea and that raw roughness needs to get locked hard in that first stage. Exaggeration will do this. Better to over exaggerate the shot then set it aside and later return when that shot can be viewed in the light of the entire production. We can always scale something back in if it works against the over all performance. If we are too conservative at the beginning we'll still be tweaking and refining the minute details when we should be polishing for the final presentation of the work... determining if our message has been received and determining how the audience is affected by the work. We tend to be conservative because we are too close to the work. That's only natural of course when the work is so personal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's finished and I am officially in relaxation mode. I'll post some links over the holidays.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welllll... the dvd's are burned and ready to ship, and I'm already re-doing some shots. heh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to announce that "Cicak" is officially released! It's on YouTube at

and on Vimeo at http://vimeo.com/34194395 . Thanks to the forum for all the help and advice over the past months, and a Happy New Year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's just stunning, Gerry. Quite an achievement.

 

Out of curiosity, how did you come across this song and decide on it as the one to do? Did you know the artist? Do you have plans for more?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comments, guys. This was a commission from the musician's mother who wanted to surprise him with the video for Christmas. He's an American, born and raised in Tulsa, who now lives and works in Singapore and is apparently a big deal over there. She picked the song but otherwise had no input, it was just "call me when the video's done". It was really a once-in-a-lifetime deal and I would love to do more like this, but time will tell I guess! Right now I want to get this into festivals and contests, stuff like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats Gerry! That was wonderful. Style, color and presentation - excellent.

 

Steve

 

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bravo... and Wow!

You put a lot of work into that and it shows.

 

Congratulations Gerry!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, if anyone here wants to share this on Facebook I would be extremely grateful!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey, if anyone here wants to share this on Facebook I would be extremely grateful!

ok sure!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just got the go-ahead to do a cover story on "The Making of Cicak" for The Cartoon!st, the newsletter of the National Cartoonists Society, for the issue that will coincide with the big Reuben Awards weekend over Memorial Day. And A:M will be getting a big mention!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Cicak" has been accepted into the Queens World Film Festival here in NY and will be shown at noon on Monday Mar. 3. I am a total stranger to the whole film festival thing but it's pretty exciting! It's also nice that I can drive to it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"Cicak" has been accepted into the Queens World Film Festival here in NY and will be shown at noon on Monday Mar. 3. I am a total stranger to the whole film festival thing but it's pretty exciting! It's also nice that I can drive to it!

 

Fabulous! Congratulations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome, Gerry! Very cool!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...