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


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. 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: 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.