Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Librarian

I spent the last day or so working on the Librarian character. He was pretty much designed already - I had posted some head shots some time ago - but I had yet to complete the rest of him. All done now, barring the typical animation tests.

I've been thinking that a newer, higher end system might be required once I start into rendering. The characters have a pretty high polygon count, twice as much as I'd normally be using - not that it's a bad thing, I've been thinking about a newer computer for some time now anyway.

The Librarian himself is pretty simple as far as CG characters go. He's more or less a floating upper torso with a weird head and extra long arms. His clothing consists of a metal-looking neck piece and a poncho-like cloak. The cloak will be done as a cloth simulation, so I won't actually be animating it myself - it's movements will be based on the movements of the main body. The cloth movements are then calculated afterwards and hopefully it'll work with too much tweaking.

I've done most of the basic tests, so it's looking like it should work - but during the course of actual animation there's always little problems that pop up. I'm hoping that it should go smooth enough. So far I've managed to get him to the point where I can comp him into an actual shot and so far I'm pretty happy with the results.

So here you go:

The background in this picture might change once the actual library set is totally complete - I'm not sure how much will be visible in this frame, might just be a couple books floating in and out. It's pretty rough looking right now.

Once I sign off on the rigging and skinning, I can start the animation tests, then I'll make an attempt to do some face morphs so I can make him talk and give him some expressions. I'd imagine those will take some time to render - right now we're looking at about 11 minutes per frame (at the size he appears in the above shot at least - closer up will take longer).

That's it for now. Once the Librarian is finished I'll probably start in on the Titan, he's already underway, he just needs a body.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Downtime

It's been a couple weeks since we wrapped principal shooting, I've been sort of taking it easy. Been working to get Dan's movie up to date and ready for production the first week of the new year, so far so good with that. I've also been working out costume and prop details (among other things) for the new extended opening sequence.

About 90% of everything needed has been ordered and on it's way. There's some new contact lenses that will be ordered as well as 2 prop swords - which are unlike the regular swords I've been using, these are much safer to really fight with. And then we'll be working on the sword fight choreography for a couple weeks, as well I'll be storyboarding the whole thing, plotting out any visual effects and if all goes as planned we should be ready to shoot this by mid-February.

I was hoping to have snow, mainly because I want this one little scene to really look unlike the rest of the movie, which is mainly dark and could be summer or fall, this I wanted to be a little more hostile looking. I'm just hoping it won't feel hostile while we're shooting. We'll be padded up enough so I think we'll be warm enough - the only concern is the camera in the cold. So our location has to be somewhere close to a place where we can slip inside.

Location scouting this might be problematic, we'll see.

Otherwise I've not really made any progress on the movie. I've taken a quick look at this and that. I spent a couple days redesigning The Library. It's the biggest FX scene in the movie I think, I'll more then likely be trying to complete that first. There's only 3 or 4 shots out of the entire sequence (maybe 30 or 40 shots in total) that don't require any post work. The rest is almost frame by frame touching up. Fun stuff.

I've been thinking about the movie as a whole lately, the overall look and feel of it. The more I think of it, the more I realize I could've gone farther with it. Not that I'm disappointed with it, it's just a matter of several things that were unavailable to me when I wrote it that have become almost simple and common now.

There are some techniques and visuals that I would never have thought of 3 and half years ago when the script was written that I've since become pretty comfortable with - and there's really only so much going back and adding stuff you can do. For instance, and CG actors - no problem. Real actors interaction with them? Impossible, unless it's already been shot like that, you can go back and add the real actors doing something that you didn't shoot - unless it's a long shot and you replace with with a digital actor, in which case it better be worth it because of the amount of work. And reshooting is more of a pain in the ass then anything, too much time has passed and too much has changed to even think of doing reshoots. So I'm settling on the sort of weird detached feeling the movie has, which kind of works since Malice herself is a pretty detached person.

Specifically action sort of stuff. I wish I'd had more moments of some action, but it would've required rewriting scenes and then working out a fight, or whatever, and then how does this action impact the location - could we do a fight scene on this location and what can we do safely - and still believable and worth the effort. And then there's can the actors do it? Do we need props, are the props going to hold up and will they be safe to use? So it boils down to, just forget it. Let's shoot what we can.

So in the end I opted to ignore this and just keep it as it was written and try to flesh out the scenes with more live action visuals to make it more interesting. I guess I came about with this thought over the last little while, off and on, seeing other movies, older ones that inspired this one. Lately I just happened to see the trailer for HellBoy 2: The Golden Army (the original HellBoy was very much an inspiration for The Monkey Rodeo: Malice) and all I could think of afterwards was how much larger and more impressive I would've really liked The Monkey Rodeo to have been.

Obviously I have to settle on what's already been shot and just deal with it. There is no more adding at this point. All I can do is take the post visuals already planned from the beginning and just make them 10x more cool. I've been pushing myself to add more details to the movie that in the end you probably won't even realize are added visual effects. Mainly just to see if I can do it. Overall they should gloss over any imperfections or slacker moments of the movie.

Like I said, it's not that I'm suddenly deflated and disgusted by what's shot. I think in comparison (both budget and talent-wise) to "Hollywood" movies, The Monkey Rodeo should prove to be a pretty impressive movie. It's just one of those things where you keep seeing potential to make a scene a little bigger and a little cooler. At some point you really have to just let it go and hope that you can make the best with what you got. And that's where I am right now.

Within the next 2 months I should have everything I need to start working on a completed version. Visually speaking at least. There's some software I need to complete some visuals that I should be able to snag over the next while.

By late-summer/mid-fall I hope to be doing all the dialog recording. That will mean all the visuals, probably rough versions at the least, will be done by then.

That's where things are now, I just wanted to make an update since things are very quiet on this at the moment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Aykroyd, Wine, Stealing Money from the Cash Registers and Staring People.

Not really movie related, at least not my movie, but - Dan Aykroyd came to town today promoting a new wine he has out now. Available in both exciting colours, red and white.

Derek Martin and I went up to get a bottle and an autograph. We arrived early, 3rd in line. I'd rather wait an hour and a half indoors then out. So we took out place in line, snagged our wine. Red of course, not too much fo a white fan these days - but I'm sure it's good. I'll probably try it at one point to see if it makes Blues Brothers 2000 a good movie or not.

I ducked out for a moment once we were settled to get a couple things from a nearby store - more costume pieces for the movie. And I swear to god while I was there I saw the woman at the register, just as she pulled out my change with one hand she pocketed a twenty from the cash. I was kind of amused by it for some reason.

So I got back, we waited and waited. I guess Aykroyd was supposed to be there at 4, but things got delayed. And no wonder. He just came from Dieppe and Moncton that morning (I guess it was 2 separate instances of wine signing, not sure) and he got here, he was scheduled to perform at 9 at an uptown Sports Bar as well he was supposed to be at another place between 5 and then.
So he arrived, and he made a loud entrance - like I really expected he'd slip in the back way quietly. He seemed pretty cool, much what you'd expect if you've ever seen him in a movie or seem him interviewed. But as soon as he sat down he was just in head down signing mode. He spoke, but it seemed more like stream of conscious out loud thinking - not that I was upset by that. I appreciate he had to be running out of steam and this was close to a veneer of "I'm excited to sit here and be gawked at and sign stuff for a couple hours!" as you were going to get without being obviously disingenuous.

So I took a couple pictures with Derek's camera, while he gathered up everything he got signed - and other folks came in right behind us - so no picture with Dan, but I did steal this from Derek's facebook.

The first head-signing of the night.


So we left. And such was my brush with fame...Ah well, it was cool enough.

Then I went to get some groceries and was on my way home. I was ready to pay for my stuff and leave and I got up to the register and this girl was in the lineup and was staring at me rather oddly. Not bugged drooling, but really oddly. And not it any way that I thought she was checking me out or anything. She I was in my lineup, she in hers and a few more quick stares.

I get to pay for my stuff, and then the girl at the checkout keeps looking at me. I was staring to think I must've had some booger the size of Texas somewhere on my face. And this one wasn't even being subtle like the first girl. I'm standing on the other side of the counter, two feet away and she's ringing stuff through while daring me to a staring contest or something.

And then I went home and I hope to avoid people for a couple days until they get over their weirdness.

And that was all. I'm taking some time tonight to work on some movie stuff actually. Not a whole lot, but a few little odds and ends. The stuff I bought from the pilfering cashier was for a costume piece for the extended opening sequence. Not something I have to do, but I wanted to do for a different visual - I just decided to do different looking bracers for Draper's character. They're sort of based of Boromir's from Lord of the Rings.

His looked like this:

I was going to even try to make them from real leather, but then the part of me that doesn't have a lot of money advised me to change that plan quick. I'm hoping to order a few more pieces within the next week or two. Maybe some location scouting over the next couple weeks. If all goes well I might have everything ready to go by February for this scene.

In the meantime, I'm reworking the Library designs and trying to get ready to start animating Dan's movie. Dan Caseley, not Dan Aykroyd.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Odd things people search for

This is actually not much of a movie related post. In fact it's more about this blog and how some people stumble upon it. About a month ago I added a tracker to the blog, so I could get some vague sense of whether or not (and whoever or not) was reading it.

Now I didn't expect thousands of people a day flocking to the blog, and good thing too because it ain't happening. Really, unless you know about it, you're probably not going to find it. Unless you search for: homemade monkey bars galvanized or even blind "contact lenses" halloween actress.

There hasn't been too many odd searches, but a few, such as demon footage, backup tape monkey and demon footwear. The others have been for some things only a little peculiar, rodeo props (???), warhammer prop and (twice this popped up) bile demon. In all fairness to the folks searching for Bile Demons, they were characters from a video game called Dungeon Master. And oddly enough the Bile Demons from the game resemble Pyre (big, fat, and orange) more then they do my Bile Demons. And it's actually where I got the inspiration for the name.

There was also iceposter canvas (referring to the place where I got my posters done) and firestore fs-4hd (the digital storage drive I use) and homemade steadicam (which reminds me I should put a link to the place where I got the info to build mine). And that was more or less the extent of it...except.

Now, I don't want to creep anyone out with letting you know this, but 4 other searches that led folks to my blog were women's names. I will point out now that they were all from the UK or nearby, so chances are it wasn't anyone any of you know searching for you on the net. I don't want to name names - since it's obviously not the folks involved in my movie they were actually looking for I'd say.

I also don't want to give anyone the impression that it's that easy to track people's net surfing habits. Well, it kind of is, but the only info is an IP address and a referrer. By referrer I mean whether it was a search engine (and what search words were used) or what website if any. Some IPs aren't static, I guess dynamic IP is the right term? I'm not sure, in any case it just means your IP isn't always the same so you couldn't really track and IP address and tell exactly whose it was - at least I can't, someone else might though I suppose.

Still, it's all kind of weird knowing that all these people who have no idea what the hell this movie is have stumbled upon my blog. Quite a few are scattered over Europe, including 2 from Singapore and 1 from Instanbul, the bulk come from Canada, supposedly on 3 from PEI though. So obviously it's not that easy to track specifically where an IP comes from, I guess because Aliant is all over, sometimes it guesses the address come from Nova Scotia, unless that 18 people from NS know about the movie. I doubt it.

The numbers I have so far are about 181 pages viewed in the last month. Good thing I don't expect to make money from this blog. Most folks are using Firefox 2.0 as their browser and 1 person out there is still using Win98.

Anyway, that's it really. I thought it was interesting, perhaps it's not. Why knows. In any case, if you got a website or blog or whatever and want to keep track of it. http://www.histats.com/ That's where mine came from. It's free, doesn't seem to bog down the site or anything.

And if you want to see what kind of info can be found from just your IP address, check this out: http://ip-lookup.net/ It also allows you to look up info on other IP addresses.

If you're suddenly paranoid about that fact that someone out there can tell you searched for "Mistress SpanksAlot", remember that there's probably a couple thousand other folks doing the same and much, much worse.

Friday, November 30, 2007

That's it for now

I'm done filming. That's about all there is to say about that. The shoot went well last night, took a little longer then I thought, but then again I shot everything from about 4 different angles. There's probably more footage of those scenes then I can ever use, and one shot that I didn't expect to get. I can't really say what it is without giving away too much, however it was great looking and extremely dangerous - so we never bothered to try another take of it.

I guess I should more accurately say I'm done principal photography. So by all accounts I'm not really done, but what's left are a couple minor pick up shots that require no more then a few minutes attention. I'm not too worried about those, might get them next week, maybe next year even.

All that's left is an added scene, which I'm not filming because I'm in - although you'd never recognize me. This scene requires a bit of money to shoot, so it's on hold and can be shot whenever. It will be awesome though.

There won't be any shots posted of the last scene, it's a bit of a plot giveaway so I'm avoiding showing anything from it. Both Derek and Steve did a great job though.

I have a couple meetings today about other projects and I need coffee, so I might be done filming, but I still have a lot to do otherwise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gearing up for one more shoot

I'm just going over my shots for the last scene. It reads pretty simple, so it should be a simple shoot. Right? Nope. I don't say that to scare anyone involved should they read this before Thursday night though. It's more difficult for me then the actors.

The scene is simply this: Grayson (Derek Martin) finally assembles everything he needs to translate this prophecy in order to figure out just what the hell is going on. He's doing so as Malice is off to fight some evil elsewhere. Now there's some previous references that Grayson's method of choice isn't exactly safe, in fact he's supposedly dealing in some serious dark magic.

However when I started looking at it and thinking about it, there was no payoff to all this talk of dark magic. He just reads it and that's it. So with the help of a few visual effects, I've added some spice and we got ourselves a nice tasty bit of dark magic gumbo. We will get to see a result of these warnings about using this sort of magic. I had to keep it simple though since it intercuts with an action scene and it'd be stupid to pause and explain crap - so I'm hoping to rely on some serious visuals to sell the point.

The effects are simple, nothing groundbreaking as far as what I've already been doing. If it holds up on screen as well as it holds up in my head, it should be a pretty cool little scene. And it marks the reappearance of the Delvian Demon Rum.

I also want to point out, while I was working on this I was checking out some movie stuff online and apparently the first stills from the new Indiana Jones movies have been released: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/34908

While Indy looks pretty clean in his adventurer duds, I have to say Ford still looks pretty good in character. There's only going to be two good movies next year folks, HellBoy: The Golden Army and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (both of which feature John Hurt). The predecessors of both, by the way, were partial inspirations for The Monkey Rodeo: Malice.

Monday, November 26, 2007

1 more left (part 3)

I haven't edited anything in ages so I took a quick stab at the scenes.

The Two Ricks.
This part of the shot is just old-fashioned
split screen. It works pretty damned well too,
Rick's eyelines are perfect.
However right at the end of this both characters will walk
offscreen together - that'll be fun to do.
Everything looks like it should work just fine. I did some rough comps of the Twin Guards shots and they look awesome. Rick's timing and placement in the shots was perfect. It's going to take quite a bit to really clean the edges up and even add some shadows here and there to really sell it, but it's well worth it.

In going over all the shots one thing I noticed, and I was thinking of this last night, is how hard it is to focus the camera in this kind of light. It's got a touch of orange to it, so it tends to look slightly blurry even when it's in perfect focus. A quick couple tests and I should be able to tweak the shots to make them look a little sharper, as well as really fix the major out of focus shots.

This helps with some previous scenes as well. So in conjunction with all the visual effects, there's going to be a lot of work in just cleaning up the footage to make it presentable. Overall I'm pretty impressed, it was a bit of a bugger to organize, it well was worth it though.

After this coming Thursday, our last shoot of this year, I'm going to try to get a rough estimate of the running time of the whole project. I have no idea how long it'll be at the moment.

So that's it for now. One more to go and we'll see how it progresses from there.

1 more left (part 2)

It wasn't the most awesome sleep in the world but it was more or less sleep.

Right now outside my window there's these two people who have been walking up and down and staring at, going up to the door and wandering away from the dentist's office next door. Some people are really weird.

Anyway, I started porting all the footage from the storage drive over to the computer this morning and I think we ended up with somewhere near 45 minutes of footage. I'm going to assume that means we caught everything.

I was noticing while we were shooting Steve's closeups that he reminded me of someone - not really acting-wise, but he just reminded me of Ralph Fiennes a little. Could just be me though.

We started with Grayson's entrance, which included Rick playing twin security guards. It was a little clumsy at first, I think we got it all though. It was rather amusing shooting with music constantly playing in the background, so when we did Derek's shots of him entering the boardroom the theme from Shaft was playing. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed that.

We then had quite a bit to shoot in the boardroom and a lot to cover considering how very little transpires action-wise in this scene. I wanted to make sure I got all my extras in at least one or two good shots. Steve and Derek were pretty simple to shoot, I just did two basic shots of each to cut back and forth and a few in between on certain lines.

They both did a good job. Derek I never really worry about, he has no problems adjusting his lines if he thinks they won't work - which so long as it doesn't change the plot I have no issues with. It's one of those things where what you write doesn't always translate well to be spoken.

We shot Derek's angles first so Steve could read off the page a few times and get into character - that's not what I told them, but that's why I did it like that - and when it came time to do Steve's stuff he really did a good job. When you take someone who's never really done acting then sort throw them into it you either end up good or horrific. Even more so when you give them 3 pages of lines to remember. Luckily another "good" situation.

I then took some cutaways of the extras doing their thing, to add in here and there and cover up awkward lines or even lines changes when we start doing dialog recording. There were two characters that will need post work, Pete Murphy as Cthulhu Jr, a bit of an H.P. Lovecraft reference and Dan Caseley as The Invisible Man. Any shot with Dan I really had to pay attention to, since in order to make him invisible I had to make sure I had a clean background behind his head and hands. So every shot with him was done twice, once with and once without.

I think I got them all. If not, it's not the end of the world, most can be redrawn, unless he's covering Andrea and Richard sitting beside him - then I'm kinda screwed. Although I was paying pretty close attention to certain shots like that.

Anyway, here's some behind the scenes stuff for a moment:

The ceremonial adjusting of the lights.
Everyone was quite excited by this.

Dan and Rick, this is Dan pre-invisible.

Dan, Wendy, Pete, Holly and Sandy.

Sandy and Holly.
They way Sandy looks with a beard,

he should be playing an Exorcist I think.

Steve and Derek.

And some "Demon Skin Chinese Takeout".

And the Fish Faced Psychic, Myk Hambly.
Here's Rick with his very dangerous prop.
That thing is pretty heavy and very sharp.


And this is pretty much everyone except for Derek.
I had to make sure to shoot around the
Christmas tree in the background.


Dan, Wendy, Rick
(and I think Sandy and Holly are still there),
Pete and Draper.

I think this was around when everyone had to act dead.

And we're done at this point I believe.
Richard, Andrea, Rick, Dan and Myk.

And a delightfull little video of Myk
struggling out of his makeup.

video

And that was it. We started around 1 doing the makeup and I think I got home at 8:30, there was at least 45 minutes of just gathering ourselves up and loading the equipment at the end. So we were pretty much on schedule.

I'll probably take a closer look at some of the footage today, I might do some quick visual effects composites with some of the shots to see how they'll look. Otherwise that is it, it's lunch time. So thanks again to everyone who showed up, and thanks to everyone who endured makeup and a toasty warm location.

Check back for part 3 coming soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

1 more left

...well, that's a lie. There's 2 more left, but the other one is going to be too much fun so I don't count it.

It was a long day. A long day in a good way though. I'm pretty tired, haven't slept too well the last couple nights and on top of this it's really wiped me out.

One thing I noticed, and I've actually always been very conscious of this, is leaving my extras just sitting there in between shots with nothing to do. I freaking hate it. It's always in the back of my mind while I'm shooting something that doesn't really involve them. Are they bored? Is one of them sitting there pissed because they feel like their time is being wasted. I'm trying to plow through some major technical shots and I feel distracted because I'm worried about my extras.

Mind you when you have about 10 of them all cooped up in a very warm room, you should feel distracted by them - otherwise you're probably a dick.

I was doing some really hard shots with Rick tonight, who I'm sure felt like a bit of a confused ass (and he shouldn't, I did a lousy job directing him tonight, so I feel like a confused ass), where he played twins. So it's a basic split screen sort of deal for a couple takes. And I'm pretty sure they're going to look awesome, but the whole time I'm worried about the room of extras sitting there waiting.

I need a 2nd Unit Director or something for this sort of thing.

So, makeup. It went well, nicely on schedule and everything. I didn't feel rushed. I was able to do what I wanted for the most part - so that really helped set the tone for the entire day. I was originally doing 7 people in makeup. Our schedules got juggled and messed up, but ended up working out and I only did 5 people in makeup. In 3 hours at that. Thank god I had Devon to help out.

Me putting some horns and
a little brow piece on Wendy Poirer.

Devon McGregor helped out a lot,
she's doing some work on Rick here.

Myk Hambly's makeup took the longest,
but looked pretty damned cool actually.

Richard Haines getting a final touch up.
And Andrea MacDonald looking like a green DareDevil,
but way less annoying then Ben Affleck.
Sandy Carruthers and Holly Noel were also supposed to be in makeup, but judging from the repeated phone calls all afternoon they seemed like they had a full, if not confusing day, already.

Everyone else involved, Pete Murphy (who hung out at my place with us during makeup and became my driver) played "Cthulhu Jr." (there will be pictures soon, it's a CG character) and on set we met up with Dan Caseley: "The Invisible Man", Steve Gillespie: "Crais", Draper Bulger: "The Guy Not in Makeup or Playing a Character for a Change", Derek Martin:"Grayson" and finally Sandy and Holly showed up as well.

It took awhile to get things going, but everyone seemed pretty patient - even if they weren't. The folks at Sim's Corner were great to deal with, no one seemed to have an issue with demons wandering around their restaurant and going out for a smoke. Well, if they did they never told me so it doesn't count.

We also had to deal with the sudden appearance of a Christmas tree on out set, which I really wasn't expecting and was really not thrilled to see. The manager actually came down and move it for us with no problems at all. And then we were set to go.

I'm going to break this into 2 parts because I really need to crash, so stay tuned for the 2nd half tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Almost done

Kind of hard to believe this thing is nearly done - well, nearly done shooting at least. There's a pretty big shoot coming up this Sunday and although I qualify it as a "big" shoot, it's a pretty easy one.

It's the Boardroom Scene, I've gone on about it dozens of times I'm sure. We're finally getting to it. There was a slight glitch when I lost 6 actors, all extras, but that quickly turned around and I ended up with more then I really needed in the end. I'll be doing makeup for about 3 hours, with the help of an assistant this time, Devon McGregor - who happened to be the first person ever in makeup for this project - will be helping out with the last big makeup scene. Which should have about 6, maybe 7 people in makeup.

I'm pretty happy to be getting this scene over with. Not because it means I only have one scene left to shoot, but because it's the last scene I really have to worry about wrangling several people together at the same time. The following scene is just me and two actors on a readily accessible location.

So things will pretty quiet here once I'm done shooting that last scene, Thursday the 29th. I'm busy getting things back in proper order for a long overdue project I'm working on for someone else. I'll probably post a few things here and there during the course of post-production though, so you never really know.

I've got a busy couple days ahead of me, a schedule was worked out for the other project and right now I'm working on delivering certain aspects of pre-production by certain dates. That should run through for another month and then I'll be into animation. It's a totally animated project, so it's all up to me to get the work done on time.

I'll also be working out a shot list, designing makeup and pre-painting prosthetics until Sunday for The Monkey Rodeo. I'm hoping to have some cool pictures to show off that evening, so check back by Monday morning to see how things went.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Re-designing the Titan

I've been over and over and over this I don't know how many times, but I'm going over it again. Sometimes certain character designs just never seem to come easily, and if you've been following all this you probably recall that the design of the Titan definitely falls into that category.

The design of both Pyre and the Librarian seemed to come instantly. And so far even my attempts at designing Mal'Vash, the big bad of the movie, is going pretty well. But for some reason this one character has simply never worked well.

I'm in the midst of yet another design. This one had taken a few other elements into account. Such as scale, I think I was going too large with my original ideas. When he was composited into the shots with Derek standing before him, I couldn't even fit it into the shot properly. Then there was realism, sometimes simpler is better - to a degree. Personality was something I really hadn't considered until I saw how well Pyre had turned out.

So I went back to the drawing board. I had some ideas I worked out, and they seemed good, but when I started modeling the design started to stray a bit...Quite a bit. Once I had what I considered to be a really good start, then I began to wonder if I was approaching the whole thing wrong - did he have to be a giant living statue-like thing? I thought about it, maybe he could be organic looking, like just a big creature...that thought process didn't last too long.

So he remains pretty close to the original idea. Then there was a problem I had with the idea that if he's made of stone, I didn't want it to move like flesh. It's been done before and whoever did it I'm sure got away with it, but I wasn't sure myself. Until I added a new element to the design.

I decided he should look literally like he was a statue that somehow came to life and in order to move he had to be all cracked and broken around the areas that would move - it's a pretty simple concept actually, and it's been done before to pretty decent effect. However, I don't think it was ever really done with something that needed to speak and show character and emotion.

He's no longer 200 feet tall. I just couldn't see fit to do that. I think right now we're looking at maybe 50 feet? Maybe only as much as 20 maybe, it all depends. Still pretty huge by all accounts. I have the head designed and nearly done (a work-in-progress shot is coming up at the end), I'm still working on ideas for the body.







So there you go. There's a few spots where there's some major texture stretching - mainly around his eyebrows. Given that most of his shots will be up angles that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Normally this would be a huge issue, but I'm willing to let it go for this and hope it won't show too much.

I might also tone down the colouring of the cracks in the stone. While it helps in some cases to emphasize the cracks, it comes off a little too cartoony at times. It's an annoying balancing act. In any case, I still have a long way to go.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to take care of the last two scenes. I just found out in the last couple days that a good chunk of my extras might be unavailable - the guys from Sketch 22 are filming some of their own stuff on the same day. Luckily I made sure I had way more people lined up then I really needed, so it should work out fine.

That's all for now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More Pyre stuff

Now that I have some footage to work with I started trying to figure out the best way to composite Pyre into the shots. I originally was going to make a form that would slide under the covers to represent his body, but any movements on the bed itself would've caused it to shift - so that, and the fact it would've been annoying as hell to create something that large and portable.

So I opted to do a CG sheet covering him., that way if I felt like it I could even move it a little bit here and that making it looks like Pyre shifting under it. The image below is my first pass at it.
It looks pretty good, a few problem spots here and there - if my computer hadn't been acting so pissy all morning I probably would've addressed already. In the original the blanket really picked up the orange/yellow glow from the lights, I need to do some major colour adjusting there. As well, the area on the right side of the bed, I need to cover over that edge of the bed and work at blending it in more around the area where Jordan is - that's pretty easy to do.

One thing I did that should help blend it a little more is I added a bit of a glow coming off the lamp, so when his hand passes in front of it the light spills over. I'll probably do more to recreate the look of digital video too with Pyre, straight CG is nice and crisp looking and lack the slight blotchy quality of video.

Shouldn't be too much work to make it all fit together.

This is the second time I've encountered minor lighting problems, when we shot at Sim's Corner the light was a little dimmer then what I would've like, but it worked so no big. But once we were done someone noticed these little tiny dimmer switches next to the main switch - making it really bright. Well, while we were shooting at the Inns of Great George, same thing. I recall moving a light around at one point thinking "it'd be nice if these were tri-lights or something"...turns out once we were done and I went to switch the light off, turns out they were tri-lights. Ah well, maybe I'll learn next time.

So I'll leave you for now with this:

While doing a shot with Derek and Graham they decided to do a couple improved and totally unusable takes. Normally they made it right to the end at least, this one take kind of ended in the middle.
video

And since I had the girls all dressed up we decided to do a staged photo where I'll add Pyre to the middle of. I took another little video. I'm impressed how well that little camera picks up the light when the video camera doesn't seem to be able to quite so well.
video

There you go. I'll post some more perhaps when I get the pictures from Moe, or whenever something else really exciting happens.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

2 more scenes left!

It was a long couple days leading up to this one scene and I don't think anyone realizes how close it came to never happening. There were so many little things that kept popped up and nearly ruined the whole thing - luckily it happened and it's done.

I'm just getting home now, taking a quick look at the footage and then time to, more or less, sleep.

The first glitch came early this morning when Amanda Gallant called me sounding horribly stuffed up - it actually sounded a little like a kid pretending to be really sick in hopes of staying home from school, but I'm not complaining. She was looking forward to it, she was supposed to play the 4th wife and look really freaking ugly. Well since she had a cold there was no way she'd have survived even an hour in the makeup, it totally covered up her nose - I don't think I have to say much more. Bad cold + Nose Covered in a Prosthetic Mask = Something No One Really Wants to See.

I tried last minute to work something out and in the end I resigned to removing the character. I have figured up until Amanda volunteered that I'd have to cut it anyway so it was not the end of the world. I think there was enough going on in the scene for it to survive.

I checked into the room at 3 this afternoon, I had Rick help me lug down all the stuff I needed for it. I started setting up, Graham showed up and we started in on his makeup, then one by one everyone arrived, made up and I think it was shortly after 6 we started shooting.

It took awhile to shoot everything, there was just so much I wanted to get coverage of but I had to draw the line eventually. I think I was able to get everything I need - I hope at least. It's difficult when you're dealing with a CG character to make sure you get all their shots, but it's also easy to fix depending on the situation.

I feel like I managed to get enough footage though. I just took a quick run through it all an I think we're covered. It one of those scene that will require some post work to fix certain aspects.

Anyway, so here you go:

We ran this shot a couple time, it's fun to sort of wind Graham up and let him go. This was the first time Derek also really got to do some some stuff, normally things are pretty straight forward with his lines. There's a few outtake done on purpose I may post here over the next couple days.

Yes, for those of you who are wondering,
that is indeed Graham Putnam under there.

Funny how sort of sparse the room looks in this shot.

Nikkie Gallant (Aneska)

Kim Johnston (Emmaline)

Jordan Berzins (Anya)
In case you realize that Anya looks very similar to another character Jarrill/Vanya it's because it's supposed to be her 101st daughter. It all makes some sense when you see the movie, really.

Otherwise that's it really. The folks at the Inns of Great George were awesome to deal with, they let us sneak Graham down the stairs and outside to do a quick entryway shot - we were trying to keep as low a profile as possible. Kelley Keefe was the one I mainly dealt with, so big thanks to her not saying no as soon as I mentioned "a big CG demon and his four wives".

Derek and Graham did a great job, no surprises there really. Jordan, Nikkie and Kim were very patient to just sit there and look pretty. And of course I hope to have some Moe pictures to show off here soon, she made it to this shoot and I think she managed to get some good stuff.

So that's it. There was some debate about leaving this room I'd rented empty for the night, in the end Jordan ended up staying there. Hope she enjoys it. I had to lug all the equipment home myself afterwards, so my shoulders are pretty sore. I think that's all there is to say really...I might think of more by the morning though, who knows.

And I'll leave you for now with a pretty near completed image of Pyre, the centerpiece of the whole scene. If you're wondering why he's smiling like that, you did see his wives didn't you?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Another decent night of shooting

It was a pretty fast and simple shoot. I was just dealing with two actors, Will Beckett and Jordan Berzins, getting some shots I needed to fill in some gaps in the lead up to the ending of the movie.

The only really stressful part of it was hoping it wouldn't rain. It was supposed to, but it seemed to be holding off and around 7:00 pm I was thinking "Just hold off for 2 hours, that's all I need." And as soon as Will showed up to pick me up, the rain started. We drove to get Jordan, it started a small downpour, and hen once we got to UPEI (where we were filming) it had stopped and we had a clear night from there on out.

Not too much to say about it really, it was only 8, maybe 10 shots. It was one of those really nice, not rushed kind of shoots though. You almost don't feel like your filming and worrying about will it work or not - because I was able to check it before we left.

So here you go:

Will in his car, out in Stratford
The best parking lot for lighting and being empty.

And I decided as I was shooting this that it'd be part of a
digital matte painting since he's being sent out to investigate
something going on in an abandoned building, I thought it'd
be nice to see a big wide shot of a mass of buildings.

Will entering "Building 51" - where unbeknowst to him,
evil awaits to do evil things to him.

And it's right behind that door!

But don't worry, here's come Malice.
And that was it. It was nice to finally have these shots taken care of. I was even able to take a few cutaways that I wasn't planning on being able to take that night, nice to have those over and done with too.

I've been working like crazy trying to plan out the shoot for this Sunday. I kinda can't wait for this shoot. There's been a few little bugger ups, I'm not sure how I'm going to get around them, but I've got a few ideas that I'm sure will work out well enough.

One thing about this next scene that is a first, I'll actually have the centerpiece of the whole scene, the CG character of Pyre, completely done before the shoot. This gives the actors a chance to actually see what they'll be acting with in the scene for the first time ever on any project I've worked on.

Normally it's not a big deal, I'll just tell them, "you're looking at a this big, massive thing in the sky over there" or "there's all these things on the ground your looking at" and give them a bit of a description. Which I think it good enough for this level of production.

When we did the opening with Derek and the Titan, he had no idea what he was supposed to be looking at. Hell, I had no idea what the thing looked like. I still don't really. Same with the Wyrm Demon - which went from a multi-legged creature with several arms to a big freaking worm with teeth. When Heather was having a conversation with the Librarian, she was just looking at "some weird little floating thing" and the fight scene in the end was with "A giant 20 foot demon." This time though, I'll actually have some still shots and maybe a rough animation of Pyre for every to see before we even start shooting.

I think I've gone on about this before, I'm really happy with the way Pyre has turned out. He was the first breakthrough moment in the CG characters of this movie - when I was relieved to realize, "okay, this might actually look exactly like I want it to and look really good too at that". He's not ultra realistic looking by any means, how many giant, fat orange horned demons do you know to compare it to anyway? But he definitely has a personality without seeing him move or even speak - which is, without a doubt, the hardest part of creating a computer generated actor.

I've got a couple days to run through things again, solid up my ideas and shots. We're going to shoot the hell out of this scene too. I want as much coverage as possible. I've got a pile of really good actors, I've got Graham Putnam playing a thug demon with a flintlock pistol, I've got four beautiful women playing a harem of weird demon wives and a CG demon whose basically a cross between Homer Simpson and The Godfather - and poor Derek has to work through this pretending this is just an everyday thing that doesn't phase him at all.

I'm hoping to have a pile of images to slap up here shortly after the shoot and, if possible, within the following week I'd like to be able to post to near final animations of Pyre composited into the scene. Maybe stills of him in shots if I'm busy at the least. Who knows.

That's it for now. I'm going to play video games and drink beer, it's been another long day. Thanks again to Will and Jordan, it was a great little shoot tonight.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I went over the footage pretty quick this morning and snagged off the backup tape most of the lost footage. I guess the "technical problem" was sort of twofold. At a point in taping, things were going pretty fast, I had mistakenly been paused while recording and recording while I should have been paused. So I missed a couple things completely. The other part was I believe the cord from the storage drive had come loose.

So what did I lose, not too much, not so much you'd even notice really. We did a couple quick shots of the guys battling invisible demons - I lost about 2 of them, luckily we redid shots of all of them so I do have quick shots of all 4 of them, not enough to do several shots, but enough to do one of each. Ah well. It was added stuff, not scripted.

So here's some shots:
















So that's more or less it. Should make an alright scene for the most part. I should take this time to point out, the costume (the cloaks and the jerkins on Draper and Tim) were made by Kim Bradford - thanks Kim. The rest of the costume pieces were made by me, cobbled from stuff here and there. The only things that were bought were the belts and the boot tops. The boot tops were really bright and shiny originally so I had to really scuff them up to make them look good.

Thanks to Rick, Draper, Tim and Dave for getting all dressed up it was a fun shoot.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

2 more scenes down

It was a long couple days, but well worth it. I'm pretty tired and sore right now and can't wait to go to sleep, I think I'm might actually get some sleep after all this. Although it wasn't a completely problem free shoot, I think it went incredibly well. We kept the the schedule pretty well (which is always a huge plus), and we didn't run into too many problems.

One small problem that was easily fixed was one of my actors had to drop out near last minute due to being ill. It happens, thankfully he had enough foresight to call me on Friday and let me know he thought he was getting sick. So I was able to run through a few names and get everything back on track.

Originally a friend of mine, Reg Clark was to play the 4th member of the original Brotherhood, so in a pinch we got Dave LeBlanc in, a friend of a friend sort of deal. He was great, although when he started swinging that axe around everyone stepped pretty far back. Everyone did an awesome job, it was pretty spot on. There was a technical glitch with the camera and we almost lost some footage, luckily the I can recapture it from the tape I'm still not sure what the glitch was and it does me me a little leery about this camera - thank god I'm so close to be done.

Now in case you're not aware what we shot today, it was the Brotherhood Flashback scenes, or the 60 second Lord of the Rings stuff. and to prove we actually did something that looked really cool:

Left to right: Partick Poirier, Draper Bulger,
Tim Gormley and David LeBlanc.
The four original badasses.

I think what the best part of this was that for a little while it felt like I was finally getting to shoot something different, this is totally unlike anything else in the movie and in some ways it really doesn't seem to fit until you get to see it in context - which won't be any time soon probably.

Rick

Draper
Tim and Dave

We managed to shoot everything pretty quick, the lighting wasn't the most awesome, but I'm doing a lot of color correcting so hopefully it'll be taken care of easily. Funny that the few times I'd been out there before, Fort Amherst, there wasn't a soul around - today, 2 cars when we arrived, and about 3 or 4 more over the course of while we were there.

A few folks watched for a bit, realized it was only so interesting and left. There was an older couple who I noticed as soon as we wrapped, they asked a few question and seemed pretty amused by it. Then just as I was taking some pictures and getting ready to leave there was this girl that appeared and asked up if we were with a re-enactment group, we said we were just making a movie, and it turned out she was from the Society for Creative Anachronism and from somewhere in Europe at that. She actually didn't even know anyone from PEI, why she was there and at the moment just seemed really odd. If you don't know what that society is, look it up online, you'll get why it was strange.

Then we headed back to town for some much hearty grog!

Nothing like a big tankard of beer-like substance
after a hard day of monster slaying.

And the grog came with it's own bar wench! It's actually Dave's girlfriend,
whose name I cannot for the life of me remember. I so suck at names.
She was a pretty good sport and just happened to volunteer at the last minute
as an extra in the scene.

And here's our table of weapons.
In case you're wondering where this awesome set came from, I built it myself...Well, that's not entirely true. It's the private room in the basement of Sim's Corner. It's an awesome looking place, perfect to something like this. Cost's $100 to rent for the night, pretty well worth it.

Overall it went well, despite the technical glitch. I have yet to go over over all the footage, I know what's missing and I hope I can salvage it from the backup tape. I've seen the more crucial missing shots on there, they look perfect, it's just some of the more fun stuff I may or may not be able to use I was really hoping turned out. We'll see, let's hope for the best, I'm too tired to deal with it tonight.

So I'll leave you with this, while I was taking pictures of the guys I accidentally took a video with my camera, so I figure why not post it.
video