Friday, February 16, 2007

Filming to resume soon...hopefully.

After a very long hiatus from filming, it’s beginning to look like we should be returning to it very soon. Things were slightly rushed, but better rushed then taking too long - which this project has already. It was really a matter of being able to afford it, there were certain elements (props, costume pieces and equipment, etc.) that I needed to have in order to shoot certain scenes properly.

I’ve more or less sectioned what’s left between my two lead actors, Heather Panton and Derek Martin. I’m treating both of their scenes as if they’re two separate projects, especially now since I’ve completed the few scenes they had together. First off we’ll be completing Heather’s stuff, there’s only 4 scenes left, and almost no dialogue - which is a huge relief for her I’m sure - although 3 of the 4 are fight scenes.

First up we’re doing “The White Room” scene, which is kinda hard to explain, but visually speaking it’s just the two actors wailing in each other in this overbright white environment, with this continual flow of debris floating up around them. Sounds a little more dramatic then it will look onscreen though. Since the rest of the movie is very visually dark, I wanted something for the final showdown between Malice and The Resurrectionist to be different. It’s a fairly straight forward scene to shoot at least, so that’s good.

Next up will be “The Bile Demon’s Lair”, which could be a huge pain in the ass, but I’ve got a good feeling about it. It involves Malice entering the basement of an old abandoned house to retrieve an object called “The Spike of Valania” which is guarded by a small army of Bile Demons. While in the context of shooting there’ll only be two Bile Demons (Draper Bulger and Dan Caseley), there’ll be some creative editing and split screening to make them look like several demons. Again, this is pretty straight forward, we have a bit of a lead up as Malice walks through the basement until she finds the Spike and has to fight off the demons to escape with it.

It’ll be a long day, I’m planning on that at least. We’ll be starting quite early, as I have to do both Draper and Dan in demon makeup. And even though it’s not the final scene of the movie, it’s pretty much the biggest live action moment - so of course we’ll be documenting the whole thing with pictures and an actual documentary. It’ll follow right from Dan and Draper arriving and getting into makeup, to arriving on the scene and the whole shoot and even the aftermath of removing the makeup and winding down. Should be kinda fun.

Then it’s the “Abandoned Building” scenes. There’s actually several, but I’ve sectioned it up to make it a little neater filming-wise. There’s a lot of cuts back and forth from scene to scene at this point, but that doesn’t change anything when we’re filming. This one has presented the biggest pain the ass, since getting just the right location has been horrifically difficult. I thought we found the perfect place, but man, was I wrong there. So since then I’ve been sort of looking, but nothing has really jumped out at me. Over the next two weeks that’s going to be one of my main things.

Everything else for this scene is nearly taken care of, I have two new actors to the project who have to be settled in - I don’t see too much of a problem there though. It’ll be chopped up into 3 basic segments, based on the actors involved. Overall there’s only 4 actors in the whole thing, but never more then 2 in the same sequence at the same time.

Once all this is done, then I’ll be moving on to the remaining 5 scenes with Derek, those are fairly easy scenes to shoot, just dialogue. So they have the potential to be a little boring, so in the downtime I’ve had up until now I’ve been thinking of ways to really make them visually more interesting. More props and funky sets, something that should give the actors as well a little more to work with.

If all goes well, and to be honest it rarely does but we can always hope, Heather’s scenes should be completed by the end of March, roughly 6 weeks I’m thinking. Then I’ll probably take a quick break as I work out the remaining 5 scenes with Derek and then it’s onto post.

We’re approaching the 2 year mark pretty soon. Actually we may have passed it, I really don’t recall when I specifically started this carnation of the project. I think I mentioned in the very first post that this was originally supposed to be just a 8 minute short, all shot in one night...things change.

That’s it for now, I just thought I’d update the blog with this info, since it’s been some time since anything has really happened. So I’m hoping in a couple weeks I’ll be updating again with some pictures and extremely interesting and provocative anecdotes...or something like that.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I think I hate designing things, I’m much better at actually modelling or drawing them. I’m too picky I think. At first when I’m done, I look at it and think “That’s the most awesome thing ever!” then 30 minutes later, “Wow, does that suck.”

However, after throwing out design after design I finally settled on something I think works for the set of The Library. I had this thing in mind originally that looked very much like a real library, just really freaking huge and slightly ornate looking - while I was cool with it, my computer really hated it.

So my next idea was that whatever it was, it needed to be something fairly simple, but still funky and unique looking with some amount of detail. And of course it needed to be set up in such a way that would allow for the chase sequence between The Black Book of the Skull and the Jim-Jim (if that sounded odd, you haven’t been paying attention).

So I did a few different things, had a few of them halfway modelled then scrapped them because the more detailed it got, the lamer they began to look. I even began researching a few different styles of architecture I could steal ideas from and mix and match...ultimately...lame.

To digress for a second (this’ll make sense in a bit), I frequent a few computer graphic websites, usually for inspiration or ideas, or whatever. I stumbled across this tutorial ages ago and thought it looked cool, tried it, didn’t work (didn’t have the right plugins for the software to make it look as cool as it did in the tutorials) so I passed it by. The tutorial was for making this ice-like material, a sort of shard of ice or something like that. I thought “that’d be cool to put in somewhere”. I thought about adding it to a character, didn’t seem to make sense though after a fashion.

I tried it again, got annoyed and moved on again and this time I finally gave up on it. Then I had this idea - after spending 2 days modelling a really elaborate set and then scraping it too - to make these book stacks that just kind of floated in the empty space of The Library. Since the scene is supposed to be set in a sort of other-worldly supernatural library, I figured why not. Can’t hurt. 1st problem solved.

And this way each stack is sort of a separate piece, so when I’m rendering the chase sequence, and stacks fairly far from the camera won’t need as much detail as the ones closer. 2nd problem solved.

The last problem was making something that would feel like there was a force keeping the stacks up, making them float. So I went back to the ice shard/crystal thing. And while I didn’t have the right software to do what the tutorial was getting at, I improvised and I’ll be damned if I didn’t come up with a really cool looking crystal shard looking thing.

This is the second render of the shards, bit of a glow added to it - not too shabby, I’ll probably do more work for the final shots, but even this looks pretty good. So after that little bit of fun I went to work on the shelves themselves, which are going to be very simple.

I thought, why bother with these really freaking detailed and elaborate stacks. If I was some crazy wizard dude and needed to store my books, just a regular old set of wooden shelves would do it, oh, and I’d have to stick these giant glowing blue crystals on the underside of it to make it float. Because you have to have floating bookstacks.

A rough version of the nearly, almost - but definitely going to use them - bookstacks.

The texture mapping is a bit sloppy and there's no books in the shelves, and...well, there's a million miles to go on this, so don't look and this and go "Ah, this movie will suck because this model is so lame."

And so finally, I settled. Now it’s going to be some time before I properly finish these badboys all up. Each one is going to be exactly the same. Just some wooden looking shelves, but painted on certain parts will be some glowing symbols and whatnot (because again, if I was a crazy wizard, I’d do the glowing symbols thing). Each one will have a different model of the crystal shard on the bottom of them, as well as different books - doing all the books is going to be a big pile of fun.

As well, I’ve been playing around with some...well, the best way to describe this is, really simplistic AI. Not AI in any true sense, but that’s the best way to describe it without going into tech-talk mode. I need to have the air around the stacks filled with floating books, some huddling around each other, some wandering aimlessly - various floating books behaviour. So I went to work a couple days ago learning how to do that stuff.

All I have to do it model a couple different books, fairly generic, then I can make flocks of them and they will float in and about the bookstacks. I don’t have to animate anything, it’s all done by the software. Each set of books will have a “behavior” assigned to it, they’ll know where they can and can’t go (so they don’t pass through the stacks or each other) and then when it looks varied enough - we have an entire weird-assed looking library.

Here’s a rough version (very rough) of a single bookstack, along with several books floating around it. This is as far from the final version as possible. The books are facing the wrong direction and their movement is a little wonky, the textures are messed up, but I thought it’d be cool to see - since this is the first video ever for this blog.

Half of the original footage has been fixed up already, most of the easier shots, now I’m working on some of the more painful shots where I have to mask out chunks of Heather’s hair. Now I have to finish The Librarian (very close to being done, but you won’t ever see it here for the sake of the final version), as well as all the extra stuff here and there. Just to give you a bit of an idea of what going on in this scene, I did a couple 360 turnarounds of The Black Book of the Skull and the Jim-Jim.

So that's about it for now.