We had our third team meeting this last weekend, things are still happening. I skipped last week’s update because there wasn’t really anything cool to talk about, but again, work isn’t always that glamourous.
This is the team, meeting at my apartment. Exciting, right?
In addition to the storyboards, we are pushing this month to work on getting No Man’s Land relatively designed. For that purpose, I spent this morning laying out som quick pre-vis 3D renders in Vue. I LOVE Vue, you can get a full version for free, and all it does is watermark, which doesn’t matter at all for the stuff I use it for.
With a little setup, I can push out dozens of these renders a day, and they take the place of thumbnails for idea generation.
Another productive week, this time focusing on what we want the technology to look like. We know that the film will be vaguely “World War I” levels of technology, but with magic, so really, the sky is the limit. By saying WWI, we’re trying to give it a design language that will be familiar to viewers, but when you get down to details, that could be anything from horse-drawn wagons to tanks, or blimps to airplanes.
There’s an airship of some sort in the movie, and Robin and I spent some time this week trying to nail down exactly what that means. Initially, we were thinking some sort of dirigible, but now we are leaning to a more fantastic, huge bi-plane - less realistic to the era, but more fun to put into a cartoon with flying assassins and giant golems.
With the airship designed, the other technological elements become easier, as they will be variations or reactions to things that have already been decided on.
Man, I was hoping when I started these that I would have something amazing to say every week that would blow people away with my perspective and growth on the subject….
Not happening this week.
Work has continued. Sinan has been kicking ass with storyboarding out a rough pass, and the rest of us have been working on designs for environments, vehicles and characters….but nothing earth shattering this week. People are engaged and we are moving forward, so this is a case of no news is good news :)
Man, I can't really believe I haven't featured Wyeth yet, but according to my google search, I have not. He was a student of Howard Pyle, and created over 3000 paintings and illustrations in his lifetime. I remember him from my childhood for Treasure Island, King Arthur and Robin Hood.
Things are going really well! We had our second monthly team meeting yesterday, and laid out the next month’s objectives. Our goal is to get rough storyboards in place by March, and to start narrowing down character and vehicle designs. We’re going to be looking at 6 or so animations that we find inspirational, and making our characters in those styles. Hopefully that will give some baselines we can use to pick final canon of proportions and rendering styles.
When I first started thinking about becoming a painter, I watched today’s artist's Gnomon DVD, and it changed my life. It first made me realize this was possible, and then it quickly made me realize it was nowhere near as easy as he made it look :)
Last weekend I saw him speak at Schoolism Live in Austin, and it was a tremendously rewarding experience. If I ever get the chance to work with David on a project, it will definitely be one off my bucket list.
I didn’t get much done myself this week, although the rest of the team has been busy making designs for characters and vehicles, and creating storyboards. I’ve been in Austin, TX at Schoolism Live, listening to David Levy and Nathan Fowkes talk about designing worlds…and you can be damn sure I was taking notes for this project.
Figured I’d take this time to introduce the team as it stands right now.
For the success of the project, I really wanted to have someone like Robin to make sure I didn’t get tunnel vision. Robin recently finished art directing the video game “Citizens of Earth”, and he is a fantastic artist as well as one of my closest friends….he’s also not afraid to argue with me when he disagrees, which is critical to this sort of project.
For people who aren’t used to big projects, here’s a weird fact - the hard part isn’t the massive deadlines, it’s the other times, when you just have to keep going without getting the buzz of a deliverable.
We’re doing great on the project timeline - we have our story, we’ve started storyboarding, there’s been a lot of visual development going on….but nothing *fantastic* or “finished” that you can point to and be excited about.
I met with our lead animator yesterday, and we've got our next full team meeting on the 8th. These projects aren't won or lost in a day, or a week, or a month.
Thanks for following along and being a part of this with us :)
Well, since I missed posting last night due to watching the fan-edit of "The Hobbit", it only seems fair to pick one of the artists who worked on concepts for the movie :) He may not live here now, but he's a Vancouver boy by birth.
Things are progressing! We have a team together (I will introduce everyone later), we have a rough schedule, and it’s taking pretty much all of my free time, which is about what I expected.
This month, my #1 job is to get the story to the strongest place it can be. In a film we are budgeting on 5 minutes to tell, there’s not a lot of time for fluff. We want the viewers on the edge of their seats, and we want things to make sense without wasting time with exposition.
In a live-action movie, I would make a tight script, revise it a couple of times, and then storyboard it out a bit to see how things flowed. Live action gives you the flexibility to “fix it in post”, editing down extra stuff you don’t need and potentially even doing some reshoots.
Things are a little different over here. With the help of the art director and head of storyboarding (yeah, I like titles), I have hashed out a beat-outline of the major plot points, and how the story will string together. From here, it goes to boards, so we can test how the flow will actually feel. We are doing our editing before we “shoot”, because animation takes forever to create in comparison with just shooting an actor in a location.
My visual part of this is to create a whole bunch of keyframe images, either drawings or paintings, that capture the feel of the scene, so that the board artists know what the mood they are trying to hit feels like. These paintings are what most people think of as “concept art”, and they are a part of that process, but at this stage, keyframes are less concerned with what a character looks like and more with how does it *feel*.
Meanwhile, the entire team (yeah, we’re all artists) are drawing characters, locations, vehicles, weapons and magic effects. We are creating a pantry of designs that we can mix together and hopefully come up with something that is both exciting and unique. At this stage, the drawings aren’t much to look at, they are just thumbnails and shorthand to express ideas to other members of the team.
Our next full-team meeting is the start of February, and the hope is by then, we can go full-bore on both storyboards and design.
As always, thank you for reading, sharing and otherwise supporting this crazy idea!
There appear to be at least 2 painters with this name, but today's artist was the British illustrator/pin-up artist in the 40s. I've been looking a lot at painted simplifications of people, and this sort of pinup style works really well for the sorts of cartoon vis-dev work I have in mind.
I've always loved animation. I tell people without exaggeration that the movie "Akira" changed my life. I literally mostly dream in cartoon. It should surprise no one that I moved into the industry I have.
....But....As much as I love working in studios on shows, it wasn't scratching an itch - the desire to tell my own story. In December, I watched "Poet Anderson - Dream Walker", which was the animated short that won at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival.) I was blown away by how good it looked - even more so when I did some research and learned it was basically made by a group of friends with no major studio experience. I took a long, hard look at myself.
What was my excuse?
I've been saying, "One day I'm going to..." for years.
My friends, that day is now.
I connected with some people I know in Vancouver and around the world, and together, we're in the process of creating a 2D animated short. It's going to be loosely based on WWI, but with magic, airships, crazy assassins and all the other good stuff we love to draw and create. Right now, we're thinking "Miyazaki meets the Gorillaz" when people ask us what it's going to look like.
In the last couple of weeks, we have written our initial breakdown of the story, and we've started doing the design work we're going to need.
I'm going to try to post once a week with updates, letting you all know how the project is doing. I have no experience in these sorts of things, this isn't going to be a "how-to" written by an expert. I'm hoping I can shed a light on how regular, every day artists solve the problems they encounter while working their way to something cool.
Right now, the project doesn't even have a name....but a lot of babies don't get names for a LONG time after their conceived.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy following along, and tell your friends to do the same :) This thing is going to be sweet! Next week I'm hoping to talk a bit about who is working with me, and maybe share some more of our ideas.
Ok, the *plan* was only to do 1 year, every day...and I liked that plan, but there are still tons of cool artists out there, and I like finding them and sharing them...so I'm thinking I'll keep going, but instead of every day, I'm going to do one a week on Fridays.
Today's artist worked in BG paint on Wakfu, which is one of my favorite cartoons, both visually and from a story perspective. Her character work is awesome too :)
(OOPS! My internet in Mexico was bad, and this didn't post! )
Well, we made it! A whole year of artists who inspire me...and so, the last day, I want to remind everyone on this journey with me to be inspired by themselves. Keep doing projects, keep pushing yourself, keep remembering you *can* be better than you were yesterday. Thanks for staying with me for the year, it's been really fun!
Today's artist didn't start drawing until he was 33 years old. He used to be a computer consultant. Now he paints and draws in the animation industry for a living, and he couldn't be happier. He's inspired by a TON of other artists, many of whom he is friends with in real life, and he hopes he has helped inspire you.