July 2008 archives

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July 28, 2008

new stopmo demo clip

by sven at 7:00 am

click on image to play clip (14sec - 261 KB)

There's a job opening at Laika right now for assistant animators. I'm applying.

Most of my animation so far has been character-driven... So to round things out a bit, I put together some clips of inanimate objects.

The work was done last week over the course of two days. The forest set was recycled, but everything else was made from scratch (including the flower).

I probably could have squeezed out another clip in the time I allotted myself... But at the beginning I got unnecessarily bogged down with hi-def workflow. It was taking 40 sec to capture a frame -- and then, later, 60 sec to translate RAW format to jpg. After the first project was done, I downgraded to a DV video capture workflow -- which made things go much more speedily.

I did my first significant work with rigging and rig-removal. Obviously it was necessary for the leaf. But surprisingly, the red ball needed a rig too. I couldn't find another way to keep it from rolling away from me that didn't also make the ball impossible to animate precisely. The rig wound up acting like an axle.

Lesson learned, though: A white background will show every little mismatch between your clean plate and the frame you're PhotoShopping. Not fun.

I'm excited about the leaf clip. It's the closest I think I've come to translating my 2D aesthetics to 3D. It has my brain burbling with new possibilities.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: stopmo

July 27, 2008

#2 exchange sketchbook: mitchel hunt

by sven at 10:10 pm

thousand-legged spider

The sketchbook exchange continues. Whereas the last sketchbook will ultimately return to me, this one is for Mitchel Hunt in Ontario, California.

blue eye

It's going to be a little unnerving to let go of all these pictures. Some of them I like quite a lot. Oh well: training in the ephemeral nature of life.

(And I've got some mega-high-res scans. Heh.)

close my eyes, look in the mirror

For "close my eyes..." I photocopied my face, then re-photocopied that image onto acetate. I distressed the toner using a wire brush. Then I used acrylic gel medium to glue the acetate onto a text-based under-painting.

The surface of this page is as glossy as if I'd poured clear resin over the whole thing. Very apt for something that references a mirror.

crab mab

This one was originally titled "crab man" -- but I liked the typo better.

Wash of blue acrylic. Outline the mab in black acrylic. Fill in the negative space with white (a trick I picked up from Egon Schiele). Scribble shading with a pen.


And a straight painting of a tiny village underneath mile-tall blue fronds.

* * * * *

The first three sketches were loosely inspired by a poem I wrote this morning... So here it is:

the soul

close my eyes
and look in the mirror

the soul dissolves flesh
i am flower bulb
branching tendrils

ageless sexless
profoundly sensual

don’t mistake me for
inner sight and silent tongue

i am the whipping red threads
the bubbling swamp
lit by a watcher’s small candle

to be buried here
when the light goes out
when fragile roots dry brown

suspended in darkness
invisible intangible
open my eyes to a bright world

the other thousand-legged spiders here
clothe themselves in faces and skin
they become what they wear

and i feel so apart from my species
on the outside of a humanity
that lives with eyes wide open
that never seems to blink

July 27, 2008

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sketchbook, writing

July 22, 2008

names of the mighty

by sven at 4:16 pm


John Hankins (AKA castlegardener) has started a sketchbook exchange. And, much to my own surprise, I'm participating!

Ten people. Ten sketchbooks. Draw on five pages (ten, if you use both sides). Pass the sketchbook to the next person on the list. Ultimately, you get your book back with drawings from a bunch of cool artists.

My big secret: I mistakenly thought there would only be one sketchbook being passed around when I signed up for this. Oops. Oh well -- I'm committed now.

what a terrible thing to do

"What a terrible thing to do, to deface a perfectly serviceable painting -- especially with penmanship of dubious quality... And yet, I'm finding that the more layers I pile one atop another, the richer the visual texture I create. It's a technique I call "obliteration." I'm not sure what good will ultimately come of it -- but it's one of my best artistic insights of the past few years, so best to just keep going down this road and see where it leads me. Similarly, stream-of-consciousness text seems to have a place here. Promising."

black moonless night

I've been having a lot of fun with laminating pages with layers of different colored tissue paper. It's kind of like a doing a wash with paint -- but with potential for some really interesting textures.

blinding noon sun

I'm also having fun with black-on-black and white-on-white artwork. I'm really pleased that these scans turned out as well as they did. I expected them to be completely illegible.

disapproving elf

Heh. And because some folks in the exchange were joking around about inserting secret messages in their art... There's something hiding on the "hello" page if you look really closely.

Sorry, dear readers: I used a technique that can only be seen if you hold the book in your hands.

(But if you ask nicely, I'll tell you a cute story about how I originally happened upon said technique. ;-D)

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sketchbook

July 20, 2008

we are not licked

by gl. at 6:23 pm

dearest elf: fear not! a new poetry car season will begin soon. the rainy season tends not to encourage spontaneous poetry, but trixie and her magnets have just been washed and the fair weather will undoubtably foster automotive poets everywhere. trixie is delighted you wrote to ask about her, though!

[we are not licked]

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: trixie

July 9, 2008

lsgl: the 100-day countdown is done!

by sven at 11:59 pm

The 100-Day Countdown is DONEDONEDONE!!

Unfortunately, Let Sleeping Gods Lie is NOT.

And what that means is that LSGL will not be ready for submission to the 2008 H.P. Lovecraft Filmfest. This truth is a terribly bitter bill to swallow -- but there it is.

Yet, I'm choosing to count my victories. During the 100 days, I put in 288 hours sitting at the computer animating. (I was hoping to break 300, but some truly massive renders tied up the computer for days at a time.) What all this work bought me: Act 2 is storyboarded, all the essential props and animation cycles are done, and final renders for more than half of the shots have been completed.

I'm going to take a brief summer break from LSGL now. Plans aren't definite yet, but I'm likely to pick up the project again at the beginning of September.

* * * * *

As a way of putting closure on the big push, I want to share with you the shot I just polished off tonight. It's the most complicated one I've done yet.

spoiler alert: a big reveal
click on image to play clip (19sec - 4.4 MB)

It took 128 hours of render time to output that 17 second shot of Babel. That's 5 days, 8 hours, 6 minutes... Not including the two times I had to re-render large portions due to errors I missed during tests.

The file that outputted this shot went through 58 versions. I can't even begin to count the number of test frames and low-resolution renders that I outputted while getting to that final version. In the end, I actually divided the shot into into 4 separate files (based on a master), so I could output each section most efficiently -- removing everything that couldn't be seen during that portion of the clip (e.g. the sky, or the stuff at the bottom).

Consider all the elements that go into this shot:

Depending on how you count it, getting this one clip done ate up almost a whole month. (Good thing I can use the same basic set-up for a few more shots.)

* * * * *

I began the 100-Day Countdown (appropriately) on April Fool's day. Today, July 9th, marks the 100th day. I had set out to do at least 15 minutes every day during the push -- but according to my records, I've got zeroes on 12 days. About half of those are attributable to the computer being occupied with renders; the other half are due to Life trumping LSGL.

A lesson learned: 100 consecutive days is too damned long. Pushing for 30 days is easy-peasy... 60 days is OK... But beyond that, going without any kind of break just gets too miserable. When I start back up again after summer break, I'll definitely be using some other strategy to organize my time.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: let sleeping gods lie