Skybase – “Take That Thing Off My Couch” Music Video

Music video for myself: “Take That Thing Off My Couch” by me. Used After Effects and Premiere CS6, fractals were achieved using Artmatic 5.

And just on that… here are some screencaps from the animation.

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Production Pipeline: HAVOC gets “tools”

So if you’ve been wondering “where is the animatic??” the answer is: I did it! And totally kept the render to myself for the whole time. Yes it’s the same thing only with the old doctor talking weird stuff. Come to think of it, I did go back and knock out several parts just over matters like “they don’t sound good” and otherwise.

Either way, allow me to introduce you to another concept: tools. Because “HAVOC” is being created at the speed of a rabbit racing away from a big, hungry wolf, I had to create some tools to aid me in quick creations of assets. Some tools are already available, like Adobe Illustrator which was very useful for making this:

The doctor’s castle is basically like a tree. Awesome. I used several new (and frankly, the best) features of Illustrator CS5 to assemble this work in about an hour or two. By the way, all the assets I’ll be showing you here will be used in the last shot. It’s a bit of a spoiler, but I don’t think it really matters.

Other tools were used to aid in creating backgrounds and simple assets such as windows. For this, I created a “generator” in a program I use often called FilterForge 2. Very useful for rapid content generation.

 

The Window Generator

These “windows” will be pasted onto a UV map for a bunch of houses and buildings I created over the week ends. I’ll be showing you those in the next blog post I guess. I don’t think any of them are ready for viewing yet. These windows will be seen from a distance, so I did minimum texture work on it, and went straight to just making sure it was reasonable and easy to use. Now because I am doing this procedurally, I can change parameters I set up around easily to create various windows instantly.

Example generation 1

 

Example generation 2

The basic idea is to avoid doing repetitive tasks that can hinder work times and flows. But not only that, because the project’s scale is huge compared to the time I have, it’s just one way to save time and costs.

Here’s the source of the window generator.

 

Explanation of the window gen.

I also wanted to save a bit more time making backgrounds for this one scene. So I patched together a background generator that will get me stylized vector backgrounds instantly.

 

3500x4000 pixel background generated with FilterForge

I have various parameters that I can easily edit to generate different moons, stars, and otherwise.

 

Yup. FilterForge saves the day.

Here’s basically the source for how FilterForge was patched to create the elements in the skies.

The generator for the Background

And of course, because it’s all procedrual I can quickly change parameters and make new backgrounds if I felt that the previous background wasn’t fitting the scene. Fun stuff!!

Generated Example of StarrySky gen

So those are some of the tools I made using FilterForge to create some elements of the film. Next blog post I’ll show you what it looks like when it finally all comes together.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this picture:

 

HAVOC SPIDER

Well! That’s pretty much it for now. I’ll update with more things next time!!

Production Pipeline: Going the Extra Step

I thought I’d share some of the tricks I use to create scenery with interesting illuminations and effects. Let’s first recall what HAVOC (the film I’m working on right now) is about. HAVOC part 1, is a scene in which the cone-headed, evil doctor Rudinsburg “operates” creating Havoc, a walking, dream-eating lump of charcoal. HAVOC part 1 is played out through the eyes of Havoc who lies on the bed unable to move. In other words, this film is mostly a first-person perspective view.

In order to display that “wideness” I decided to use a very wide angle format, 2.40:1. This kinda simulates the look and feel you would experience since your eyes do have a certain viewing scope. We get an odd sense of reality simply because the aspect ratio encompasses much of the display. With that said, lets take a look at the preview image.

Ok so it’s just plain black and white and rough shading. It has no atmosphere, honestly drafty and boring. Yup, it’s just a sketch right now. Nothing more than a doodle. So what can we do to make it look a bit more final? Here are some tricks I use.

I usually end up going heavy when I post-process things. Sometimes it’s applicable, sometimes not. I figure in this case it is. The first step for me is to give the scene some lights. Unfortunately our only source of light comes from the big operating light you see towards the center of the picture, everything else is grim. I gave those just white. For the heck of it I gave the doctor some glowing eyes too. Mind you, that makes him look even more evil. With those lights in place, it’s time to simulate some Global Illumination, or in other words, brush in bounce lights. Usually doing some dodge and burn helps make nice shadows. I mean there are other ways. You can make layers, you can make a 50% gray overlay layer which can give you similar results.

The next thing to do is color grading. In this case, I made the shadows an intense, deep blue and the highlights a bit tanned. That’s a common scheme to use, and it works most of the time. Although, just to make sure, I tried other color schemes and I figured this was the best so far.

Apply glow. It’s a bit cheesy, but a simple glow filter can really change the mood of the scenery. Now sometimes we overkill glow, which is why we want to make sure it has a purpose and not just for the overall look. But of course, we can break that rule and just overkill it anyway.

Finally lens effects. This includes lensflares, grudge, chromatic aberration and so on. In the case of Havoc, there’s some vingetting, blurring, chromatic aberration, lensflares, and grudge. I figure this ultimately stylizes the shot and creates an additional layer of atmosphere. It also gives a sense of reality even in a cartoonish setting like this. It’s quite a mixture, but it works well when it’s done right.

Lastly, film isn’t perfect. It’s not exactly 100% quality as we see through our eyes. In fact, nothing is perfect, which is why ultra smooth pictures irks you and makes you wonder what’s wrong with it. So, what do we do? The simplest solution is to add a faint layer of noise. Not too much, not too little. By doing so, we get some animated grudge, and something more to see instead of just a blown out white area or overly dark area. It’s just a nice way to add depth to the shot itself.

With that in mind, here’s what that boring picture looks like now.