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Initial Test of staging for new project.
Intention is to use 'House of cards' buildings with hand drawn animated characters living there.
Not sure yet if the interiors will be 3Dcg and exteriors hand drawn, all up in the air.

 

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So which direction are you going with this? Comedy, satire, or true to the title?

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Roger.

Haven't wsorked the script out yet so, still playing around with ideas. Don't know if you have it in the US (?) but, we have a card game aimed at kids, called "Happy Families" where there are groups of four cards and you have to trade/swap cards between players to complete the families.

Mr Bunn the Baker, Mrs Bunn, Master Bunn, Mistress Bunn, etc.

 

The present thinking is to use that theme and to have each house occupied by such a family. The figures would be drawn moving, interacting, on the surface of the cards while the camera moves around the cards. There will be some satire and social comment and a bit of tragedy ( if thats not too grand a word for it ) which will cause a house of cards to collapse, but don't know yet what might cause that, internal or external factors ? Possibilities included, financial troubles, affairs across the fences, inter family feuds...

 

We start the project in two weeks time and have six months to do it so, it will probably start too big and get edited down ( thats what usually happens with me ).

Regards

simon

 

Ps

I bought somereplicas of early cards on Ebay.

HF 001.JPG

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Sounds interesting. We don't have anything like that in the US. The illustrations on the cards remind me of Alice in Wonderland, for some reason. Are you doing this all your self or with a team/studio?

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Roger

Its for the final project on the course I'm doing, so likely to be just me, although get some help with the sound. The big question at this point ( aside from writing the script ! ) is whether to use dialogue or not ?

There are lots of different versions of the cards, I'll post some more later today, those were reproductions of 19th century originalsm which may suggest "Alice" ? Coincidentally, I listened to a radio showabout "Alice" a while back and was surprised to find out that Rev Charles Dodgson ( Lewis Carol ) was a mathamatics prof at Oxford University.

regards

simon

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Some initial work towards the characters to be used.

The Mum and Dad started off, but now think the characters needed to be more 'graphic', which is not a style I'm at all used to trying. So did a few ideas towards the Son. figures to follow.

 

Dad 001.jpg

Mum 001.jpg

 

Son 001.jpg

 

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Tore

Thank you. The combo might be a way off yet as I'm still working on the characters and developing a narrative.. I keep messing up the cg house of cards too !

regards

simon

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I really like your character design artwork. Great style, expressive and very unique!

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Rodney.

Thank you for your feedback.

I was trying something I haven't used for a long time, fountain pen ink on cartridge paper, using a brush.

The idea at the moment is to use that drawing technique for the figures but have the set done in AM so you getacontrastbetween thge 'roughness' of the figures and the smooth surface of the cg. Hoping to get a first test done soon.

regards

simon

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Some More on the way to character design. The first two sheets should have been posted a few days back and are part of a series towards female characters

 

Women 01.jpg

Women 02.jpg

 

This was a quick attempt to use different drawing styles for different generations of character. Supposed to be two sets of grandparents, Mother and father, with two kids, male and female. Probably too complex for animation purposes (?)

Family 01.jpg

 

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Nicely done Simon. That works quite well. :)

 

One consideration... a consideration that adds to your workload if not considered from the initial stage... is to consider using 3D shapes rather than single patch planes to provide a sense of depth to the objects in the scene.

This usually isn't an issue as the depth is hidden by other objects/shapes. It's when the objects are taken apart (or put together as in your timelapse) where we see how thin the surfaces are (i.e. patches are infinitely thin!) The example in your video would be mostly of the walls as they are put into place. Those sides which face the camera are shown to be quite thin.

 

One 'trick' to adding a sense of depth to rendered shots that lack thickness is to use a sharpen filter which (basically) adds a slight emboss effect... adding the illusion of some additional depth.

A:M has such a filter so you might be able to get some of that rather simply by rendering with that GPU filter turned on in the render panel.

I ran a small test of your last .mov adding a similar effect in external program and it did provide a little more sense of depth.

So if not wanting to add additional modeling that might be a good approach to adding thickness.

 

Of course, I am not suggesting that you build virtually the same as you would in the real world (with planks/boxes instead of patches) but a few of those in the right places would go far toward completing the look of 'real' objects/buildings taking shape.

 

Now, if you are going for the look of those commercials where structures appear as if made out of paper or thin construction material then.... disregard all previous! ;)

Even then however, a little sense of depth can be advantageous.

And again, if not built into the models themselves that can often be gained by using a post process sharpen filter.

 

As for the timelapse building revealing itself... that's looking great!

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Rodney, David,

Thank you very much for your feedback. I'm starting to enjoy the project again after being stuck in development doldrums for a bit. It wasn't intentional but, the thinness actually works to the advantage of one of the themes in the piece. I had intended to use a 'House of Cards' type structure because of the fragility it implied but realised that was being a bit too literal, so that will be part of the titles and credits sequences instead, but the fragility could be retained by the thinness of the newer version (?) . I will try the sharpen filter you suggest though to see what it looks like.

 

I've not tried GPU renders, is that still possible on Macs or is it a PC option ? Would the sharpen filter in Photoshop or After Effects have the same sort of effect you refer to, I'll give it a bash later on. The newer version was only a 720 render, the final version needs to be 1080, so the render times will be very large as it was taking up to 10 mins per frame before. with no multi pass option selected. I am very grateful to Mark who introduced me to the "Multiple Master" option a few months back !

regards

Simon

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Initial test of idea, any critical feedback very welcome. Please be as critical as you can ?

My concerns are the speed of the transition into BW and, once there, the slightly wobbly horizon line caused by rushing the process in Photoshop.

simon

Intro.mov

 

Big thank you to Robert and Rodney for their help in getting this far.

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First test of the process for the project.

This is done with Photoshop, you can tell because I struggle being able to draw with a wacom tablet. The intentioin is to draw them analog and have them imported as cookie cutters in AM.

The model has been done in the past two days or so.

Any critical feedback very welcome.

simon

 

Comp test 001.jpg

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May well have gone about it the long way around but, this is todays initial test towards an interior view as it drives down the street.

Hope to use analog rather than digital painting for the finished thing but, need to hole punch some paper first.

Critical comments very welcome.

Mini One Test.png

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Looking very good!

I really like the way this is going.

 

No crits here (besides the very obvious fact that the guy is sitting in the passenger seat and driving down the wrong side of the street). hehe

 

.

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Had hoped to composite this into the car as it was driving along but something has gone wrong andI'm not at all sure what it is ?

Driver.mov

 

I rendered the Chor out as a line only,

Mini Three 000.png

 

took that into college and printed it out at A3 scale. Brought that home and used it as a guideline to draw the figure.

Photographed that in Dragonframe and tried to composite the frames into the AM render.

 

somehow or other the position and scaling of the picture elements has changed.

Back to the drawing board.

simon

 

Ps

I was trying to avoid using Photoshop or other digital media for the drawing part because I wanted to retain the 'messy' feel of the ink ddrawings.

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This should have been the first scene.

OK up to the tilt in the mirror at the end ?

 

Next is to see if I can get a result with a figure riding a Trial motorbike...

simon

 

Mini Comp One 000.mov

 

Ps

720 version of 1080.

This is what the whole sequence should look like, Minus the wonky mirror of course.

Mini.mov

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That's a good effect.

 

I'd suggest angling the mirror a bit in the second shot so the rectangle shape of it is more obvious.

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Robert.

Thank you for your feedback and encouragement. The reflection in the mirror will need some adjustment. I couldn't get it, and the figure, to line up together in one layer so, I had to cut out the reflection and do it as a seperate layer, which was a bit tedious but, got it there, almost !

Going to try the motorbile and the scene staging next.

The way I've been doing it is to set up the camera angles and staging in AM, render that out as a lines only, print that, then use it as a template to draw the figures against. The one you spotted in the mini, was a first attempt at using layers, forgot to remove it and, luckily, it was a good guide for the actual drawing.

regards

simon

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-possibly some half way point between teh two extremes, or...

 

-perhaps if it were not so dark. More greyish like the interior of the car.

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Test of idea, no character animation as yet.
Grandma on her way to golden wedding anniversary.
As before, the character will be drawn rather than cg

 

Looking good.

 

It appears the use of cardinal direction (straight forward and profile camera) fits well with your project's over all style but if possible I'd suggest moving the camera slightly to allow for some variation of movement. An alternative in cases where objects move in a straight line would be to have the camera drift ever so slightly.

 

It has been said... although I certainly haven't vetted the idea fully... that straight on camera shots primarily lend themselves to comedy.

(speaking of which, I just noticed Grandma is riding the cycle backward during the second half of the previous shot (the terraced houses). I know that is just a standin, Press on. press on! :)

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Rodney

Thank you for your encouragement. I was hoping to paint the figure for the sequence with the houses over the weekend but made a mess of getting the images printed and can't get them done again until April 3rd. Will proceed with the others in the meantime. I did have some 3/4 shots, avoiding the cardinal directions you mention but haven't got them done yet. It was basically Granddad washing his Mini before taking it out on the run. They are off to their daughters to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. They are feeling light hearted and exhuberant, so there will be a slight culture clash when they get there. The whole story ends rather tragically but, that might yet change. The whole thing has changed about 6 times so far, and still changing...

regards

simon

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"Country Ride Two" needs some front and back drifting of the motorcycle so it doesn't look so rigid.

 

"Country Ride 03" would gain depth if the camera were "trucking" horizontally slightly as the motor cycle approached.

 

I think that's what Rodney was getting at.

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Robert

Thank you for your feedback, much appreciated.

I'm hoping to address the details after get the scenes and camera blocked. I need to get some vibration and road undulations as well as secondary movement on the figure but want to get it blocked for timing and sequence first.

 

Speaking of which.

This is Grandma arriving at the party. No animation as such but blocking the timing and camera.

The figure will be drawn as before.

regards

simon

 

Estate One.mov

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Didn't go as expected ( hoped ! ) but, this is the drawn version of Grandma arriving for the party on her Trial bike

 

Whoa. Grandma needs to settle down and consider who is watching her!

That's a very nice shot Simon. I like.

There is always some finessing that can be done. Little things that might please an audience...even if only subconsciously... upon subsequent viewings.

My thought would be to get some added emphasis on the bike to suggest weight. This might include any/all of the following:

- A noticeable drop of the bike while the wheels either don't move or squash and stretch. I'm not sure if the bike is rigged for that.

- A sharper movement at the very end where the bike drops would be nice and perhaps suggest the squash/stretch/impact even if it isn't there.

In other words, the ride into the scene is nice and smooth.... as is the movement across the screen... as is the final landing... as is the stop. A little texture in the movement would aid in suggesting the reality and weight and forces at work.

In reviewing the shot I can see some slight indication of this momentum shift but perhaps it could be exaggerated. Which leads me to...

- Some anticipation and follow through on the part of Granny would be nice. For instance, Granny could be up just a bit more on the pegs of the bike (straighter) as she rides into the scene but then her knees bend down as she sits and lands. This movement would also assist in selling the element of weight that squash and stretch is often used for. I realize that this might require drawing Granny again... very not good... so the standing vs sitting as she rides in may not be an option.

- Either some slight movement up/down or right/left to suggest Granny is controlling/resisting the bike's movement.

Aside: What you are doing here relates to why I got into 3D in the first place. I knew it was going to be difficult if not impossible to draw things like motorcyles over and over again from altering views and 3D modeling and animation could most definitely do that. :)

Bottom line: The point of the shot appears to be clear. Grandma has arrived at her destination. Well done!

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Rodney

Thank you for your feedback, much appreciated.

The way I did it was to animate it very roughly in AM. Then render Granny as lines, print those at A3 scale ( 29.7 x 42 cm ).

Draw on the prints using fountain pen ink, to get the shading.

Record them on a copy stand using Dragonframe, and output a .mov file,

Convert that to single frames. Cut out the unwanted bits and then composite back into the AM render.

 

If I had longer I'd use the high res captures in Dragonframe to get the parts for compositing but, that would take even longer than it does now. In my nievity I had thought when the renders would were printed, they would retain the proportional ratio. Sadly no.

So I had to cut them all out in Photoshop and composite them before matching up the with the renders for the final shot. I was going a bit stir crazy by the end as I had done it twice, thinking the first attempt was a mistake. I was trying to get a long shot pan, with a zoom at the end as the bike comes down. I wanted Granny to make an entrance, she's tring to "wind up" ( UK expression ) the neighbours.

 

Must admit to not taking the weight into consideration as I was too preoccupied with the staging and camera. Will address that next.

 

Just about to start on the part were she comes out of her house and rides off down the street. Hope to get it done by the weekend.

regards

simon

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