I feel obliged to pass on this amazing free sculpting program I found today. It's essentially as easy or easier to use than the creature creator from Spore. I made this little demon guy in about 30 minutes. The same results would have taken me a day to achieve with Lightwave or Blender.
My goal with this little film was to try and limit myself to only one shot per scene, which I hoped would force me to pay more attention to staging, rehearsal, and choreography. It really felt like I had my hands tied behind my back, knowing that I couldn't get away with just taking the best bits of multiple shots and stringing them together in whatever way I wanted after the fact. The effect is much more theatrical, in the sense that I was required to nail the pacing of a scene in camera rather than the editing room.
Then I had the bright idea of shooting on a miniDV camcorder, rather than the beautiful canon DSLRs that most people have switched over to. I figured that my long scenes would be better suited to the tape format, which I assumed was much more reliable.
Lies. The damn camera botched my opening scene! Sound cut out, video skipped, everything went to hell. As a result, I've sworn to never shoot on tape again.
I think I'm also done acting in my own movies. It's too distracting. I used to feel like I had more control when I was in the middle of a scene, but now I just feel like it blinds me. You instantly lose the perspective of an objective craftsman and quickly devolve into the self importance of an artist.
Thanks to all who helped out!
I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to figure out how 3D models are imported into games, along with all of their textures, bones, and animations. It's a very tedious process of trial and error, seeing as how there's really no universal file format that all game engines recognize.
The workflow that I've found most reliable, for example, uses three separate programs to work. After I create my mesh in Lightwave, I'm forced to move over to Blender, where I do my rigging and UV mapping. From there, I need to use some godforsaken python script I dug up on the internet that lets everything be readable by Irrlicht, the 3D game engine I'm planning to use over the summer.
But it's all worth it! The following video of a shmee was captured while running irrlicht's model viewer, which allows you to preview your assets in real-time. This was a workflow test more than anything else, so please excuse the misaligned textures, choppy animation and scandalous nudity.
To be totally honest, I think it would be better for shmees to stay in two dimensions. This thing is just hideous.
This is sort of a melancholy post, considering that the following effects shots will never be presented within the film they were meant to be a part of. That short film, which I've been working on with my classmates for the last four weeks, unfortunately suffered the unbecoming fate of being catastrophically deleted from a school workstation. Poof.
And so it is gone. Bits to bits. Zeros to zeros.
The biting irony is that we were making the video for a competition called "good things just get better."
One bright side is that the work I did do forced me to sort out some match moving workflow issues I'd been putting off for a while. While it looks like a simple shot, it's actually got some pretty fancy techniques under the hood, including Lightwave's cloth simulation system, wind randomization, and animated textures. Each poster was rendered out as a separate pass and combined in After Effects, where they were all given a slight glowing effect and rotoscoped behind my head.
There's not supposed to be a jump cut in the middle of the shot. That was where one of the fallen reaction shots was supposed to go...sigh.
I might not be a fan of Jean-Luc Godard, but I do have to give him credit for creating what I would consider to be the most amazing, terrifying voice ever to to be featured in a film. HAL just seems like an amateur after listening to this old computer grumble existential questions into a mechanical larynx.
Before you watch this, I suggest you lower the lights and turn up the volume. Berets are also welcome.
While we're on the subject of mechanical larynges, here's a video of one particularly amazing innovation called the Trutone Electolarynx that allows you to modulate your pitch with the touch of a button.
If you can't already tell, I have a paper due tomorrow.
Naysayer's and skeptics of the groundbreaking video game distribution service Onlive must be getting tired of feasting on their own words.
A recent announcement by the company's founder and CEO Steve Perlman has marked June 17th to be the day the service becomes available for residents of the 48 contiguous states, at which time subscribers will be able to open their single core laptops, download a simple browser plug-in and start playing Crysis at full quality within minutes.
How is this possible? The magic lies in the fact that all of the actual game processing is happening in Onlive's data centers, which could very well be hundreds of miles away. The gamer's computer is merely displaying a live video feed from these data centers, which, in turn, have received control inputs from the gamer and done all of the processing far away from where the game is actually being played (their website explains it a little more clearly).
Basically, Onlive allows gamers to play any game on any computer at full quality with no loading times, all for only fifteen bucks a month (not including game purchase costs). If you compare this subscription fee to what it might cost to upgrade your computer every few years in order to keep up with the latest games, it's a fantastic deal. Onlive upgrades their computers for you, so that you're always able to play the latest games with the latest hardware.
The implications are staggering. As far as I'm concerned, this marks the death of all console systems, not to mention conventional digital distribution systems like Steam.
This evening I stumbled across an intriguing synopsis for an upcoming English film by the name of Ironclad:
"A ragtag group of Knights Templar hold out for months against the hard-fought siege of Rochester Castle in the thirteenth Century. Set in the time of King John's signing of the Magna Carta treaty, the group struggles against the King to defend the freedom of their country."
Congratulations, England. You just nailed my demographic with a rail spike.
It's purportedly a medieval remake of Seven Samurai, the classic holdout film by Japanese film god Akira Kurosawa. If it turns out to be even halfway decent (which, after glancing at the cast, I'm guessing it will be,) I'll have no choice but to cross off another entry from my list of movies I need to make some day.
You can find more info here, including a strange, half-baked "raw footage trailer" that I suggest be taken with a grain of salt:
By the way, if you were intrigued by the use of my term "holdout film" and you have a lazy weekend coming up, I invite you to watch the following movies back to back to get a better idea of what I'm talking about:
Seven Samurai (1954)
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
The Nest (2002)
So here's an interesting nugget I found today...
A group of programmers has claimed to have found a method of rendering 1000 times the level of detail found in PS3 level graphics, all without the use of a graphics card.
Smells like a scam to me, but the logic they provide in their video demonstrations seems to be at least theoretically sound. And just when I thought onlive was going to turn the game industry on its head...
Here's an animated version I made of the pre-existing Carleton Cinema and Media Studies logo. It's the first chance I've had to integrate what I've been learning in Lightwave3D into a legitimate project. The awesome sound design was created by Sam Scherf.