Sunday, 19 June 2011

Last remarks

so final hand in is done and this is what we have to show so far. i am extremely proud of what we have managed to achieve so far but at the same time i feel there is a long way to go yet in order to deem the film finished. most of what is shown in this rough edit is just straight renders from maya as we had very little time for compositing. the edit is very rough as well and there is no sound as of yet. sound people have been involved for a while and we sent them a copy of the playblast animatic, after this they requested a finished rendered version to do the sound to, hence no sound yet.
there are a couple of shots in this edit which have been composited and they are proof of the quality that we can achieve given a bit more time.

The Experience
It has been an amazing experience to spend a year creating my film, there have been some tough times and some difficult decisions but overall the experience has been great. i feel that directing is something i will definitely be interested in pursuing in my career although it is terribly stressful.

The Team
The team as a whole has been great and production was solid and consistent from start to finish, the team has also worked well together and we helped each other when coping with the pressure.
i must say that some members of the team have been outstanding with their professionalism and commitment to the project. Ben has been like a rock solid throughout and always there to support me in whatever decision i chose. ben was there many a time to enforce the deadlines of projects and arrange meetings with the sound guys. Ben was also invaluable when we decided to do the over night shifts at college, we bounced off each other and kept track of the jobs we were doing whilst trying to stay awake.
Keith has taken a very professional approach to his work on this project and has produced some great work. Keith has been great at taking constructive criticism to progress his work and develop his skills. as i have a very perfectionalist attitude to my work i found myself getting keith to redo the same task over and over again until he got it right. But Keith has remained true and has taken the criticism in his stride. Keith has also put in many many hours into the project and this definitely shows with the amount of work we have managed to produce.
Mel has worked at a consistent rate but has only really shone in term 3 with some of her animation and her compositing. there was 1 shot in particular that took considerably longer than it should have done, but she kept working at it whilst working on a number of other shots. i was skeptical over her compositing to begin with as she was insistent upon using nuke instead of after effects. my main issue with this is the fact that we would all be using after effects and she would be using nuke and there would be the possibility of continuity errors over visual style. so when we came to doing the composition of the rendered shots i was insistent that she used after effects and she has shone through and displayed has produced some amazing results.
Fahran was what i would call a work horse on this project as in he had to be told what to do but when he did it he would usually do a good job, although there were a couple of times when more direction was necessary. for example the eel model is amazing and this was all done pretty much under his own direction whereas the kid model took a lot longer to get just right. all went quiet for a while with fahran but then he came back in force on the very last day to ensure he could do everything he could to help out. i feel that fahran is possibly better suited to working on his own projects than big group ones but still his skills and results were invaluable.
Emma has been a key animator for this project and in the early days produced some really nice designs for the project. Emma was good at meeting deadlines and again was someone who was great at taking constructive criticism. i feel that she will have a great career as an animator as long as she keeps working on her digital skills in maya.
Carlos has produced some very nice work for this project including some fantastic set pieces such as the iceberg and the ice cave. Carlos has a quick but strong way of working where he can be given a job and deliver good results very quickly, i do feel that he could be much greater if he spent a little bit more time on some of his work. Carlos is a great 3D generalist and can pretty much do any task assigned to him, this is gunna go down great in his future career as im sure hes the kinda person who learns as they go along, the only possible issue is his relaxed attitude to attendance.
Clym did some great work in terms of the rigs that he produced and i have to say the film would not have been possible without him and his work is greatly appreciated.
Joe was a late addition to the team and as he is creating a 3D piece i decided to allow him to distance his trailer from the main film. i made this decision so that he could utilise his skills as a 3D guy and not be hindered by elements of the film. this has also allowed him to explore his own skills and techniques in the realm of 3D.

Whats Next?

so now that we have handed in our folders and there are no more submissions i feel that the film can be worked on and improved ten fold. my intentions, now having the finished visuals and timing, are to do a very heavy edit of the film and possibly cut the entire opening scene from the film and replace it with an earlier idea of having the film start in the interior of the submarine and have the kid read something like a newspaper or a flyer that causes him to go and photograph some cool stuff. this re-edit and re-animation will be timely but i think it will provide greater grounding for the film and make a much better film as a whole.

so this is me signing out of this epic documentation of the last year its been tough but over all its been amazing.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

another all night render binge

so it is now the day before hand in and we still have at least 10 shots to render and about 30 shots to composite. ben and i have decided to stay late again which is great as we seem to have a gd working relationship and we are able to easily keep track of whats going on. the only downside is that all of the shots that need setting up have to be done by me in order to get the right lighting and to ensure everything is how it should be. ben will be compositing some shots that he has completed which will speed up the edit later on. i must say i am extremely happy with the level of commitment shown by most of the team there are however two members, Carlos and Fahran, who would be extremely uselful in this tight space of time. i have asked on a couple of occasions if they could come into college and help with the rendering but they are insistent that they wish to work at home. i cannot let them do this as i need to be able to give advice on the lighting and coach them on how to set up the scene properly for rendering to keep in touch with the films continuity. i have recieved no replies from my messages for help. apart from this the rest of the team is flawless. i do understand however that towards the end of hand in every moment is precious and some people need a lot of time to commit themselves to their personal submissions, it is this reason that i have not pushed carlos and fahran to come into college as i do not want to hinder their submissions. but i am now very tired and very hungry...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

forgotten problem

there was an issue we had where certain objects would not render at all and would in effect be invisible when rendered but perfectly visible within the scene file. after some sifting through attributes keith and fahran were able to discover that the render stats of some objects had been disabled. it started happening with the kids button ties and then happened more notably with the entire eel. it turns out that when you use the create deforemer- wrap tool it messes up the render stats of that object and you must manually reset them. it is vital not to forget to do this before batch rendering otherwise it can be very disappointing.

in this image it shows the location of the render stats found in the attribute editor on the first tab of the selected object. all of these, apart from opposite, should be switched on to obtain a visible render.

working 24hours

so ben mel and i have agreed to do an "all nighter" to get a bulk of rendering done. good idea but the room was mega hot and we needed to take frequent breaks. we had also rented 2 laptops from the college stores to help with the work load. right so the college laptops worked after a fashion but they just werent powerful enough to render efficiently so we stopped using them after the 1 render submitted took most of the night. the college computers on the other hand worked well and we were able to max out our log on capacity of 7 computers. some renders took very very long to complete. running at around 8 mins a frame i feel this is impracticle. so ben and i worked till 5 am and got a few hours sleep whilst mel left at 4am after completing her compositing for the day. in the morning i returned the laptops and retrieved the completed renders then set about rendering the next lot.

ben turned 22 on this shift and we agreed it would be sensible to leave college at 5pm to refuel and get some rest ready for thursday another possible all nighter.

the chart shown is representative of shot completion as of 5pm , when we left college. as you can see a few shots have gone backwards as the renders produced, when passed over to the compositor had failed to render anything or needed re-rendering. a pain in the backside but at least it is easy to keep track of those shots with this chart.


here are my maya light renders for shots ....

im really happy with these results and after speaking to mel, the main compositor she was happy too as it gives her a lot to work with.

the next problem

its come to our attention whilst setting up a batch of scenes that the eel was not rigged with the colour changing glow spheres that are an important part of the storytelling within the film. the colour change is there to denote the eels mood and as such add another level of depth to the film. it came to our attention when i asked fahran to give me a demo on how to animate the colour change, to his horror he could not find the glow spheres thena fter some searching we discovered that they had not been applied to the rig. after a short phone call to clym the answer was to retrieve the spheres from an older file and use the create deformer - wrap tool to individually attach each sphere to the mesh. this simple fix is rather time consuming though as each animated shot with the eel needs this to happen and as such is another request for the individual setting up the render file, me ben keith or fahran.

after this it is a simple task of keying the glow attribute and the colour attribute on the shader.

the chart

so we are rapidly approaching the hand in but i feel that we are a long way from the finish line here is the chart that shows our progress, i have added a new column just to make things easier for myself. red is necessary to complete, green is done, orange is in progress and black is cut.

keiths light set and cleaning the files

so keiths light set is great but it can create complications in the form of light linking. when it was first set up the light rig was linked to models in that scene, as it was then exported to another cave file it lost the linking information and as such creates a very flat and nearly uncontrollable. i attempted with keith to relink some of the objects but this became very time consuming and near impossible to know what objects you were linking. so i tried to introduce my own lights which were having mixed results within the scene,.....

then we went to lunch and discussed the situation. the result of the conversation that i thought if we isolated each one of keiths lights on their own display layer then i could illuminate one by one and see exactly what each light was doing. after doing some rigorous testing for a around an hour i managed to find a happy solution which involved switching only 4 of keiths lights on and then introduce some of my own lights to light the shot. the 4 lights that i have chosen produce a nice contrast between light and dark and keep the nice bluey/purple tones in the cave. i also introduced some shadows onto the characters aswell to add some depth to the scene. so the lights i added were mainly area lights in order to provided some focused colourful light. i believe that using the light rig in this way is very efficient and provides continuity and freedom to develop the style of the film.

beginning to get a bit messy

so nearing the end of the project and renders are floating around all over the place. not to mention the very time consuming practice of setting up the shots to render. the animated file must be cleaned up, so that only the characters are present and that all of the textures, shaders and lights have been deleted from the scene. display layers must be compressed to the essential and render layers must be deleted back to the master layer. thus creating a clean file. the animation is then imported into the master cave scene that Fahran and Keith have set up. Fahran created all the shaders that would be used, so it is a case of reassigning shaders to the characters. keith created a pretty expansive lighting rig that can be used in a multitude of ways. niccceeee. once all the textures are attached then the render characters must be added to the specific render layers and then checked. as keiths lighting set is an overall lighting for the environment each shot will be tweaked to ensure the characters and set are both lit in a dramatic way but stay true to the films continuity.

Monday, 13 June 2011

2 weeks to go

so we have 2 weeks to go and i finally have all of the animation to production standard with a few minor alterations i believe it will be great. the hardest shot to get finished has been Mels initial shot, shot 3 of scene 1. as it was given to her at the beginning of animation, 4 weeks prior but now animation has finished and the lighting for scene 1 has been finished rendering can begin to roll.

Friday, 27 May 2011

so so

animation deadline week for the deep, my team is extremely busy with their animating and i today collected all the finished shots from people and gave extended deadlines to get the excess shots finished.

this chart shows in colour form what we have completed what is being worked on and what is in need of attention.

i believe we have made great progress and am looking forward to the end product but i am constantly aware of the amount of time we have left to achieve this.

rig demo

here is a demo of how the rig works and the controls involved.

i am extremely happy with the result as rigging is probably my weakest area. but after this i feel much more confident and feel that i will be doing a lot more in the future.

rigging process and breakdown

so here is a brief description and breakdown of the rig that i produced for Patience, i created the skeleton and all the controls, i also painted the weights for the character.

i found the process of creating the FK Spine the hardest but most rewarding as through this process i was able to further understand the task of rigging and i now have a new set of tools to use when i rig in the future.

Rigging notes

so i thought that seeing as i noted my progress and techniques whilst i was doing the rig i though i would post them on here to show my own process.

patience rigging

so i offered to help Chris Caldow's film in the form of rigging. they have their character modelled and UV'd all that is left is for it to be rigged. as they were struggling to find a suitable artist i offered my services alongside chris learning to rig himself.

i began by looking into what the character would be doing, mainly just simple walking, sitting down and use of arms hands and fingers, so i set out to create a simple humanoid rig with some more attention placed upon the hands.

this video was my reference for the characters spine, in order to get a nice arch and amount of control for when the character sits down.

this video was my template for the head and neck

Friday, 20 May 2011

the code that saved the film


mel script:
// Batch rendering workaround V3 - John Mather (NextDesign) // Author page: // Check for updates here: string $filename = "render";  int $startFrame = 1; int $endFrame = 24;  string $directory = (`workspace -q -rd` + "images/");  // check for render panel. Found here: string $renderPanel; string $renderPanels[] = `getPanel -scriptType "renderWindowPanel"`;  if(size($renderPanels))      $renderPanel = $renderPanels[0]; else {     $renderPanel = `scriptedPanel -type "renderWindowPanel" -unParent renderView`;      scriptedPanel -e -label "Render View" $renderPanel; }  for ($i = $startFrame; $i <= $endFrame; $i++) {     currentTime $i;      renderWindowRender redoPreviousRender renderView;      string $concatFilename = $directory + $filename + "." + $i;      if (`getApplicationVersionAsFloat` >= 2011)         // Thanks to nowayfra on creativecrash for his workaround         catch(eval(renderWindowSaveImageCallback ($renderPanel, $concatFilename, `getAttr defaultRenderGlobals.imageFormat`)));     else         renderWindowSaveImageCallback ($renderPanel, $concatFilename, `getAttr defaultRenderGlobals.imageFormat`);      print ("Saved " + $concatFilename + "\n"); }  print ("Completed rendering of " + (($endFrame - $startFrame) + 1) + " frames.\n");

next morning.

so up bright and early at 8am with fresh ideas of how to tackle this problem. i decided to export all the models and import it into a fresh scene such as how we solved the occlusion problem. this did not work either and im at a loss through scouring the internet. i have decided that it is either there is a big problem with maya 2011 batch rendering mental ray, or that the project file i have from keith is full of imported objects trying to link back to their original sources. obviously if they are trying to link to their sources they cant and that is why the render fails, but it doesnt explain why the render works as 1 frame.

i phoned keith to consult him and arrange to meet on monday to try and use the render farm. it was in this discussion that i discovered keith had had exactly the same problem. he had managed to find a code though on a forum that forced maya to batch render through the render view, in othere words bypassing the batch render altogether.

SUCCESS!!!! finaly after 12 + hours of trying to get this darn thing to work. the only draw back is time as it take s long er as maya is producing a fully rendered preview each frame. but it does work and i am currently rendering batches of frames on 2 computers.

the other problem is that after about 20 frames-45 mins- some of the textures turn bright red and u have to preview the rendered images make sure their all ok then restart maya and restart the batch render from a new start frame. as a result this means that i have to render about 50 frames a time and keep an eye on the render viewports to make sure the render hasnt corrupted.

slow but definately getting there :D.

long night

soooooooo, i came home from work to find the render was useless. it had rendered all that i asked but only the first frame was textured all subsequent frames lost their textures.

so i ran a test render to see if i had done something wrong...nop didnt work.

i then alterered the frame padding and numbering as my frames are rendering from -140 i thought it could have been a computing error due to the minus numbers. nooo didnt help.

i looked into reducing the render size as we are rendering 1280x533.... no

i removed final gather from the render luck.

i began to research online and found that if u were using an ocean shader in 2011 from a previous version of maya that could cause trouble so i deleted it and no result.
then i came across a tab in the render settings that was advised when using an ocean shader to stop crashes. something to do with using mayas base shaders. no did not work.

by this point i had reset my preferences in case a bug had found its way into my program no avail.

i uninstalled maya and re-installed but still no luck.

after more hunting and more testing i came across the hotfix 3 for maya and the mental ray stand alone renderer. so i downloaded and had to then un install and re-install maya again.

no louck still. so i installed maya on a different computer and attempted the render only to have the same problems. now maya was crashing the mental ray render after the first frame causing hours of acheing in my head.

although i persisted and attempted to reload the very original scene that keith had given to me, but this did not work so i tried a ball moving in an empty scene rendered fine in maya software and just as fine in mental ray.

it is now around 3:30 am and im losing the will to live. so i decide to call it a night and tackle the problem in the morning, dissappointed that i could not render the scene.

tuesday blooming tuesday

so big 'ol meeting with dan and the whole cohort to find out all that we have to submit and how, twas very useful but highlights the fact i need to do more.

on the other i hand i was able to collect the rendered frames of shot 1, unfortunately there were some irreparable problems that has resulted in a re-render.
the mountain range and sky were not rendered seperately to the town so they mountains and sky would not be editable in the composite. the occlusion included the skyplane which means the sky when composited would be plain white. so the only way to work around this would be to rotoscope out the entire sky and then seperate that way. the main reason tht i want these layers seperate is that the mountain range was not colour matched completely so it needed editing in post.

so to save time i offered to take half the file to render myself and keith would do the other half.

when i got home to my computer and opened the file i realised there was a lot more wrong with the scene. there were floating buildings that casted unwanted light, floating objects, but more importantly where i had asked keith to reduce the poly count in the scene he had deleted unseen faces. evidently unaware of the cameras view there were huge parts of the scene where u could see straight through buildings or that a building had been cut in half. annoyingly i contacted keith and informed him to stop rendering while i re-arrange and fix the scene.

i had about 2 hours to fix the scene and get a render running whilst i went to work. keith did offer to help fix the scene but instead of adding another layer of confusion i decided to do it myself.

so i managed to fix buildings textures and models then set a render to run. planning for a long night ahead to get the shot done.

animation so far

this is a rough playblast edit of all the animation so far from across the whole group!

this is very encouraging as you can begin to see sequences being formed, very nice for me to see my vision unfolding.

shot progression list

so this list is my way of keeping track of our progress it is very similar to the layout of shotgun from term2 but i have total control over this now and it only shows what i want.

so it has the scene number with shots in the scene.
each shot has its number relevant to the scene and also how it appears on the storyboard.

there is the initial of the member who is animating the shot.
A= andrew(me)
B= ben
C= carlos
E= emma
F= fahran
K= keith
M= mel

then in the relelvant columns such as animation the "y" stands for yes or completed.

there is also a line called "in folder" which is for me to see which shots are set up and ready to be rendered out. this is important as i can prioritize my rendering.

there is also a playblast column this one is important as i am editing the playblasts together to give to our sound guys so they have the timing to work with without having to wait for final renders.

i am intending on giving the sound guys a finished playblast scene at a time so they can produce a completed soundtrack for that scene.

shots 19 21 22

so been busy animating and this is the result

roughly spent a day and a half on each shot but again i am extremely pleased with the level of animation given the time restraints i have placed upon myself.

so shot 19 was cool but i feel that maybe the pacing could be improved. shot 21 , the face ECU, i feel is great and i decided to exagerate the size of the eyes in order to obtain more expression from the somewhat lacking face.

22 is again good but could be faster maybe.

i animated this scene as virtually a continuous shot as the movements all flowed into one another. this saved me time when it comes to starting and finishing. then i simply pick the timeline to render the desired frames.

to render

so with this established i set keith the task of rendering the first shot, either through the render farm if this was possible or locally on his computer/laptop. big up to the keith man.

occlusion render problems

so the proposed layers for the film are as such

full light
ambient light

full light - retains all texture and light information with shadows.

ambient light - is flat light with no shadows to enable the compositor to enhance base colours, or wash out the shadows.

occlusion - add depth and substance to the object.

the occlusion with the town does not work for some reason all we get is a stark bright white screen. after messing around with the amount of samples and max and min distance we establish it is nothing to do with the shader as the objects do not hold the characteristic jet black appearance in the orthographic viewports. so what to do......

we had decided that the scene had probably become corrupt due to the amount of shaders and imports involved with the scene.

we discussed the issue among us and still no resolution until clym came up with simply exporting all of the objects as a .obj then re-importing them into a new scene. this worked!!!!

by doing this we were able to get rid of all of the shaders and let maya concentrate on just the town and the occlusion.

so with this i sat down and spent the morning exporting and importing geometry chunks at a time in order not to crash maya, which happens frequently on my laptop. :D


so we are deleting all of the elements from my animation that do not need to be there such as the town that is there for reference and shaders and such. in otherwords we are cleaning the scene before we import it to try and avoid unnecessary junk in the scene.

so the kid imports successfully yay but we now have the task of reassigning textures to the kid. we began with fahran and started reassigning the textures, in doing so we discovered that several nodes and shaders had either dissappeared or had been corrupted so fahran kindly redid the shaders in the morning.

this then lead to the thought of having to create a new shader network for everyshot that included the kid. fahran discovered a tool called export shader network this enables us to create a set of shaders for the kid that retain the texture information and in an empty scene we can simply import this shader network scene and it attaches itself to the character. this is extremely useful and will hopefully speed up production when it comes to rendering.

town progress

i am pushing keith really hard to get the town sorted out as this is the most heavy scene in terms of poly count and stuff thats going on.

he has finished with the location of models and such all that is left is to import the character. booom

week 3

so had some more meetings today and discussed progress with the group which has now come along leaps and bounds we are scheduled to have 17 shots finished by the end of the week at present we have roughly 7 with most of the others being blocked out.

everyone is putting in a lot of work and its really showing :D.

so for me i have animated shots 16 and 18 this week and here they are. with my personal animating i am planning on sticking to my schedule so i can get the bulk done and out of the way, then if we have excess time at the end we can re-render the shots with better animation but at present i doubt we will have time for this, fingers crossed.

im really happy with the animation i am producing as i would say that animation is my weakest skill. shot 16 has some particularly nice pace and weight to it and im happy with the way the character appears to be moving through the water.

shot 17 is good as well but lacks the anticipation, part of this could be due to the very restrictive blendshapes but i have to make do with this.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


so the group wanted to be assigned their shots for the whole film so they could work on multiple shots not just the ones assigned that week so i divided all the shots up and everyone was mucho happy.

6- titles
40- anyone and everyone

week 2

so after week 1 and went and spent ages setting up the project folders for everyone to access their animation scenes from. it toook a long time but it was 100% necessary to provide clarity and continuity to the animation.

keith is still refining the town and it is looking great. and people are producing some great work
emma has pretty much finished shot 07 and has blocked out 08 i have given shot 10 to keith as he needs some animation to do ben has produced a nicely paced distant swim for 10 and 11 fahran has produced some animation for hots 4 and 5.
so all in progress.

problems it has come to light that the seagull that i have created and rigged in 2011 is not at all compatible with previous versions of maya. the rig is distorted and destroyed. i am using 2011 but the rest of my team are using 2010 as they argue that 2011 is broken and inferior to 2010. so to stop all the hassle and keep the project moving the seagull has been cut with the intent of adding him back in if we have time. dam u maya

after 1 week

damn after 1 week of animating i was able to finish shots 1 and 2 to level of animation that i am happy with.
on the other hand tasking the animators with such a tight schedule has not paid off and the rest of the group are still in the block out stages of animation. the town is taking longer than expected to complete as well and i am personally behind on creating the master projects for people to get their next weeks worth of shots.

meeting with ben

i met with ben a week before we are due back at college, easter break, and we broke down all of the shots and how long each one would take and who should animate it . this was a great move as it put the whole project in perspective and enabled me to prioritize the animation.

so according to my schedule

shot 1 and 2 will be animated by me.
shot 3 will be Mel
shot 4 and 5 will be Fahran.

scene 02

shot 7 and 8 will be Emma
shot 9 and 11 will be Ben
shot 10 will be me

this is 1 weeks work and will be the basis of a weeks workflow rota.

members get 1 week to animate the shots assigned then the shots are collected on the friday sent to the render farm over the weekend and then the frames are collected on the monday. the animators will be assigned their new shots on the monday and the rendered frames will be composited that week. this will create a rolling animation and rendering pipeline that will increase productivity.

the master plan

the kid is finished and i am now consolidating all of the assets so they are workable upon return to college after the easter break.

so i have set up a scene that contains all of the characters and the environment is being laid out by keith. i have the intention of simply importing the characters to the environment scenes.

my intention is to set up a project for each scene in the film , so 6 projects in total. within those projects the individual shots will be saved as scene files and will have the characters in their starting locations with a camera set up for the desired rendering view. there will be no textures in these projects so as to keep the projects low in size for transfer. the animators will work with the un textured models then delete all everything apart from the character so it can then be imported to the environment scene and textures can be re-assigned to the character. this will hopefully eliminate the need to re-assign the textures to the entire environment each time. this is an issue we have all had over the last 3 years of using maya.

ok so project Scene_01 will have 5 scene files, shot_01 through to shot_05.

test renders

so these are two test renders of the film showing our two main environments. all is good in the hood. the environment above water is very model heavy whilst the underwater is all a matte painting with just the character being 3d.

the town

the assets we will use can be seen in this version of my showreel at 1:05 to 1:10

showreel 2010 from andrew on Vimeo.



so a longer intro was introduced to express the the kids environment with the hope of defining the kids world being a built upon warm rural environment contrasting with the cold emptiness of the water. in effect placing the kid completely out of his element in order to achieve his photograph.

i used an old scene from last year where i had preoduced a pirate town consisting of 2 tudor like buildings with a hillside and crates/barrells. this piece was done as a portfolio booster for last years showreel so we will use this as the base to form the town. the pontoon model that keith has produced will slot into place and the town will be populated with more buildings, a few more built and many duplicates. the plan unfolds and we all get to work.

time and cuts

so after assessing that we were roughly 3 weeks behind schedule i had decided to cut the kraken from the film as it was still not textured or rigged. i estimate that if we were to include the kraken it would take a further 4 weeks to complete due to its level of complexity and the amount of research i would have to do to make the rig. so the film would in effect be cut in half the relationship between the eel and the boy is reduced to predator and prey and the story is more slapstick and "animationy".

i approached my team with this idea and it went down extremely well by producing this alternate story we reduce the shot count from 60 to 40 and we lose the hassle of animating the 5 armed kraken. mel in particular was extremly relieved to not be animating the Kraken.

so decisions made the kraken was cut.

the meetings

as it happens keith had arranged a meeting with clym, myself, and ben keswick to discuss the e-mail as he sensed that things needed to be discussed.
as it happened fahran was in college as well and he joined the meeting

we met and begun discussions

i felt it was rather important as we were able to discuss the issues we resolved problems and focussed on the completion of the kid character. we discussed that it was key for both of us to be updating work and that i was aware of clyms commitments to other projects and that any week that he was un able to work on our film that he send a simple message saying that he was working on another project so we know that time is not being wasted.
so we arranged for the kid to be done by the 18th of april. giving clym around 3 weeks to complete it. everyones happy.

after this we clym, tom rotchie and i met with mike smith to discuss the rigging progress on further films. mike suggested that the time line of my film be cut by half to account for time lost and that we needed to produce a render test of a scene a "beauty shot". agreed job done.

so resolution

i went to college the day after the email was sent and continued work as normal arranging for a group meet on monday,, today being a tuesday.

i was approached by my tutor Dan to discuss the e-mails that clym had been sending around the tutors. we first discussed when problems had arisen , which was at the time when the character had become confused between clym and fahran.

Dan then asked why i hadnt approached him about the confusion and i simpply stated that i didnt think it was a big problem back then.

it was only with the e-mail that i realised what situation we were in.
we then broke down clyms e-mail and took points from it where clym had criticised me, it was apparent from our discussion that most of the points were vague and inaccurate the main issue that arose was keeping people constantly informed. communicating with a large group is tricky but that is the area i need to work on.

so the main points were as such:

level of pressure and anxiety - we discussed that it is acceptable to be stressed when in charge of such a large project.

lack of knowledge of the subject area - it is unclear what subject area he is stating but we decided that my role as director is to ensure the narative is good and that the reason for employing students with specific knowledge base is to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge that i dont. it is unfair to assume that the directors should know how to do absolutely everything.

Lack of positivity to getting tasks done - it was noted here that i should be more encouraging and compliment people more for the hard work that they have put in.

constant changes to the look and feel of the film - the film has changed in feel but it hasnt changed in look or style that has remained constant throughout.

changes to the story - as director i have complete freedom to change the story as and when i wish as long as i am not hindering peoples performance or work. i must ensure that if i change the story it will still utilise characters and set pieces that people have made so as not to waste their work. this was ever present in my mind anyway the penguin that was cut was cut in the design stage so no modelling was lost nothing has been cut that people have already produced. plus i must get the best story i can.

updating my group - it was raised that the group had not seen enough of my work to notify him of my input to the project. this was noted but at the same time a lot of time is devoted to reviewing the work of people that turn up to college and then assigning tasks to them. but i will be better with producing updates.

that my project is the most important- it is to me and that is fair enough i guess.

these were the main overiding points and there are a few in there which i can work on to make me a better director and group leader. my next step is to arrange a meeting with clym to discuss the e-mail and get both our points of view out into the open. i will then have a group discussion to highlight key points raised i will then assess the project and our status.

the e-mail

i was sent this e-mail by clym as he replied to a tutor. he added all of the members of my team aswell.

in plain im not happy. this e-mail i can only regard as a personal attack and as such will not reply, the most worrying thing is the fact that he has added all of my team, by doing this he could directly effect the morale of my team and dissent could be inevitable. there are some points i can agree with but most of it is exageration. the only good thing that can come of this is me personally becoming hardened to criticism. i will consult my group as a whole and discuss this e-mail to discover if feelings are mutual and if they are then i shall work to improve upon them.

but all in all i was disappointed by this message.

[Hi Mike,
Since your previous email I have been in contact with Sophie, Depa, Tom and Kofi regarding rigging for their projects. We discussed communication and they have stated they are completely happy with the level between myself and them regarding my role and the completion of tasks.

I would agree with aranging a group leader discussion however I do not feel it is entirely necessary and would just prolong tasks longer.

I do, however feel, that there is an issue with the project leader of The Deep - Andy. I feel that the level of pressure and anxiety is building up on him, especially due to lack of knowledge of the subject area and processes as mentioned before - which I agree is a learning process however this doesn't mean it is an excuse for poor managing. I personally feel a lack of positivity towards getting tasks done and a sense of constant changes regarding the look, feel and story of the project has caused the whole group to feel lost and unsure. As a group we have definately sent updates and keeping him informed but likewise we too must be informed of what he is doing and how that is coming along which I have to say is far and few between.

I personally feel a lack of encouragement towards the work i have either solely done or contributed to, from Andy and I know that there is a general feeling of this from other group members. He also presumes that we are working soley on his project alone and that there will be "fresh" results every week, when he himself has not produced anything that excites nor stirs us forward. I know for myself I am definately not committed to just this project, and he presumes that I am, that his project is the "most important" of everyones.

I know that a few other members definately feel that he a) constantly changes things b) is not aware of the production process c) presumes much without communicating via email, and this is why I have attached the group members themselves to this message so they can add anything they feel comfortable to.

I hope this answers a few more questions and hope to hear from you soon]

a heck load of confusion

so i have been very frustrated lately with the progress of the kid it has now taken 3 weeks and the progress is slow and garbled. i assigned the job to fahran and clym is taking it upon himself to complete tasks. lack of communication between us as a trio has meant that work that fahran has done, blend shapes, was done on a character that was the wrong scale so the blend shapes need re-doing. miscommunication is the key here but i just feel confused and let down. so much so i actually shouted at clym for his extremely relaxed approach to college, he didnt bring his laptop in to work on and joked about not having anything to do. i should not have snapped but i felt that if i hadnt said anything matters would have continued to pee role along.

so whats the status. the kid is not finished and i dont know who is doing what.

test vid

thar ya go a 5 second clip of an animation that took like 5 minutes this vid was not ever intended to show off my skills as an animator but it is there to show that the rig is usable and some of the functions . pleased much = yes :D

seagull is next

so i decided upon a background character to add populous without doing too much

so the model took about a day in all as it is a very simple smoothed shape the beak and eyes are separate to the mesh so they can be easily weighted.

the rigging took a further 3 days.
it wasnt too challenging as i rigged the character using the same techniques that i have done for simple humanoid rigs before. so the legs are ik and the wings are an attempt at FK which i havnt done before. i believe it works really well and will upload a video shortly showing a demonstration. the weights were the hardest thing to do and as such is where the rig falls down as any extreme movements will cause a lot of tearing. i am very proud of this though as i have wanted to test my skills this year and as such i have produced a usable character.

features include:
reverse foot
fk arms
ik legs
fk spine and neck.

problems - when i skinned and weighted the character i had not textured the character yet. i went to texture the character after the rig was complete and to my horror after UV'ing the character the textures would not stay attached to the character so i proceeded to do the usual delete history which inturn deleted the weights that had taken 2 days to produce. noooooooo.
to get around this i decided not to back track due to time but instead i compromised. i simply selected polygons and created simple block colour shaders with no textures. this will work due to the simplicity of the character. hopefully but lesson learned

UV map the character before you rig as the weights are painted on to the uvs lesson learned.

the kraken modelled

so here is the final model that i have produced using maya and zbrush its great and exactly what i wanted. im elated at what i have managed to produce the only problem is the fact that it is 5million polygans which means it is completely impractical in terms of the film. an error such as this is a great draw back and i will discuss this with my team when we next meet.


fahran was not in this week but clym was so i spoke to him about the situation of the character. we created a list of objectives that needed to be achieved for the character and i rescaled the character to a shape that was more like the character that i envisaged.

after the list was completed i asked clym to give fahran the re-scaled character and also the list of changes to make for the character. clym was more than happy to pass this on.

cool i am greatful that the character is well under way and tasks such as this will push the whole film forward and also spur the team on.

the kid

fahrans first pass of the model was a little bit dissappointing as it had strayed from the concept in terms of shape, size and form.

i had found out that he had sent the model straight to clym to start work on the rig which was good and bad as it will speed up the rigging process but there are still a lot of things that need refining in terms of the model.

Kraken Progress

so i have created the low poly mesh of the kraken, which is now ready to be exported as an .obj to zbrush.

this will be a big test of the model as any innacuracies with the topology during transfer will appear as holes in the mesh in zbrush.

greatfully there were no problems with transfering the kraken across programs and all is well and i am ready to start detailing the model.

lighting and environment concept for the cave.

im really happy with this and i hope that it will be of some use to carlos when he is modelling the cave.


so i have capped off my concepts as im pretty happy with the shape and design of the thing and intend to use the following process to model the beast.

i intend to do a low poly model of the kraken in maya and then export the mesh to zbrush to then add extra detail and make the character better in general, i will then export the altered mesh back to maya to texture and rig.

whats going on

so fahran is now modelling the kid, main character and i am currently modelling the kraken.
rest of the world is slowly ticking by...
mel is doing test animations and keith is modelling the pontoon for the film plus texturing.
carlos is now modelling the interior of the ice cave.
ben is modeling the camera for the kid.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011



new script

The Deep

written by

Andrew Kinnear

draft 05

1.EXT. Pontoon

low angle push track and slow pan along the pontoon as the child runs into frame from the left and sits on the edge. The kid proceeds to open the newspaper he is holding.

2.EXT. Pontoon

cut underneath the pontoon looking up at the kids legs dangling over the edge and swinging as he reads. His legs bolt suddenly.

3.EXT. Pontoon

close up shot of the kids smiling face. Out of focus submarine behind the kid.

4.EXT. Pontoon

Kids POV shot of the newspaper as he reads it, the kid has won the photography competition and is reading his story. Transition through wavy text as the kid swims through frame on z axis. Swimming towards the iceberg.

5.EXT. Ocean

Kid is infront of the entrance to the ice cave hollowed into the ice berg. The kid is dwarfed by the scale of the ice.

The ice berg dominates the left of frame whilst the kid is centre and slightly to the right.

6.EXT. Ocean

Close up of the kid looking up at the huge block of ice. He then proceeds, without breaking line of sight, to raise his camera and take a picture.

7.EXT. Ocean

cut back to shot 5 as we see the kid proceed to swim at a moderate pace into the ice berg.

8.INT. Ice cave

The Kid is swimming into the ice cave in a large corridor of ice, swims from left to right in a leisurely fashion taking in his environment. Light to dark.

9.INT. Ice cave

The kid comes to a bright section at the end of the cave so he investigates, as he reaches the end of the corridor he is confronted with a cavern made of ice that is housing a sleeping giant eel. Cam moves with the kid as he swims then breaks and pans around to reveal the cavern as the kid sees it.

10.INT. Ice cave

kid is fearful at first but then holds his camera tighter and smiles to himself. Camera in front of the kid he is framed by the rocks dominant on the right of frame.

11.INT. Ice cave

kid swims down to the eel who is sleeping peacefully. Eel on right side kid on the left.

12.INT. Ice cave

kid comes to a stop and cautiously raises his camera. He takes his shot and there is a large flash.

13.INT. Ice cave

close up of the eels eye opening wildly as the flash dissipates.

Pupil dilates.

14.INT. Ice cave

close up of the kid aghast at the wakening of this mighty beast. Terror.

15.INT. Ice Cave

kid swims in a flurry of waving arms and kicking legs up to the direction of the exit.

16.INT. Ice Cave

camera looks back at the kid from the exit as he struggles to swim away, we can see the eel rearing up and then swimming down on the kid. The kid swims out of the way just in time.

17.INT. Ice Cave

the kid continues to swim around the cave looking for an exit but the eel Is gaining on him fast. The swims lower in to the rocks around the floor of the cave.

18.INT. Ice Cave

pov from the kid as he is swimming he notices a rock archway that is narrow enough for him but not the eel.

19.INT. Ice Cave

kid bolts towards the archway and swims through the eel lunges at him but gets stuck in the middle.

20.INT. Ice Cave

wide angle of the kid swimming away with an air of relief as the eel flails wildly trying to free herself.

21.INT. Ice Cave

the kid is approaching the exit when the shrill wailing of the eel cuts through him. He turns back to witness what he has done and sighs in disgust.

22.INT. Ice Cave

the kid returns to the eel and looks her in the eye the thrashing and wailing stops all is calm.

23.INT. Ice Cave

the kid investigates the rocks holding the eel in place

24.INT. Ice Cave

kid struggles with the key stone that is holding the arch in place. With a final push the stone is dislodged

and the eel is free.

25.INT. Ice Cave

the eel swims free and turns straight to the kid and the come face to face. Kid left eel right.

26.INT. Ice Cave

a moment is shared between the two characters where the kid reaches forward to touch the eels head. A moment before the kid is to touch there is a ground shaking roar which scatters dust and debris the kid looks around fear in his eyes again.

27.INT. Ice Cave

the eel also looks shocked but edges slowly towards the kid and nudges him with her head, gesturing for the kid to climb on.

28.INT. Ice Cave

the kid turns not understanding at first fear still etched on his face. The eel nudges one more time and lowers her head, as if bowing. The kid realises and begins to climb on top. As soon as he is on the eel shoots off. The camera pans to see them heading towards the exit.

29.INT. Ice Cave

looking back at the kid riding the eel he struggles to get a grip rodeo style. He finds his hold and sighs then looks determined towards the front.

30.INT. Ice Cave

when the kid finds his grip the eel smiles and pushes onward.

31.INT. Ice Cave

Wide angle shot that echoes the kids entrance to the caves the eel and the kid are swimming straight out of the cave and into the the open right to left of frame. Camera tracks to follow them out as they burst from the caves entrance.

32.EXT. Ocean

looking back at the ice berg we witness a huge tentacle reach up out of the deep and with a loud slap hits the side of the ice berg.

33.EXT. Ocean

the kid turns back to see what it was and is horrified by the sight of so he turns to the eel and taps on its back/head.

34.EXT. Ocean

the eel looks back so slightly then looks more determined and focussed towards escape.

35.EXT. Ocean

long wide angle shot showing the eel and kid on the right swimming for their lives diagonal, upwards. The kraken can now be seen encroaching on the bottom left of frame.

The Kraken brings its tentacles half way forwards and propels itself through the water. It then brings its tentacles up and around the eel and the kid to encase them in a ball of flesh.

36.INT. Tentacles

horror from both the kid and the eel as they are being pushed towards the krakens beak.

37.INT. Tentacles

ots looking into the beak of the kraken struggling kid and eel.

38.INT. Tentacles

wide shot with the kid and eel on the left being pushed in by tentacles the krakens head on the left beak open wide.

Then all of a sudden a camera flash goes off amidst the struggle.

39.INT. Tentacles

the kraken falters and the tentacles stop pushing and relax.

40.INT. Tentacles

the kid looks down to locate his camera then looks baffled as the connection is made, the kid then proceeds to repeatedly flash the camera.

41.EXT. Ocean

close up of the krakens reeling and screaming from the blinding flash

42.EXT. Ocean

wide angle eel and kid turn and flea out of frame as the kraken wiggles around writhing when it comes around the kid and eel are gone. It lets out another roar but this time it is weaker and one of defeat.

43.EXT. Ocean

looking back from the direction of the eel and kid we see the kraken turn and disappear into the deep.

44.Ext. Ocean

the kid turns back and looks back towards the eel and smiles then pats her on the head affectionately. Fade to black.

45.EXT. Ocean

the eel delivers the kid back to his submarine. Dismounts on the top of his submarine.

46.EXT. Ocean

the eel is looking away from the kid back to the deep, she turns to the kid and nods.

47.EXT. Ocean

the kid standing tall on top of his submarine nods his appreciation and success then slides down inside his submarine.

48.INT. Submarine

pov of the kid watching the eel, his friend swim back into the darkness.

49.INT. Submarine

the kid sits in his chair then slumps forwards and reaches for his camera on the table.

50.INT. Submarine

close up of the kid removing the base of the camera so he can remove his photos.

51.INT. Submarine

the credits roll over the top of the kid re living his story through the sequence of photographs laid out on the table.

52.INT. Submarine

The last photo fades to the one in the newspaper that the kid is reading on his pontoon, the kid looks out over the ocean smiling but seemingly deep in thought … cut to black.