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Hi all -

Still in a daze from the project I just finished. Mainly because I didn't have a break since then. I guess it's good to be busy. I finished a short film for CA Square called El Stupendo. You can read more about the characters and such on the website - View it now, or at the end. Otherwise, read on.

It was a lot of fun working on this because I haven't really done serious character rigging and animation since Pen vs Pencil. It was a hard deadline, which meant it was immovable because it had to get done for the Promax Convention...or else. Well, for those last few days I was up until 5 AM, but it got done. Of course I wish I had more time on it because I was having fun with the characters and I wanted to really tweak them.

Character design and rig. The design of Stupendo was such that the face was a 2D image on a 3D body. So the face had to be animated and lip synched, rendered out and then the body was animated. That made it quite unique. Originally I was thinking of making an After Effects comp for the face, but I shot that down real fast in lieu of the control I could get with a Maya rig. That meant that the 2D face was actually made in a 3D program using an orthographic (no perspective) camera...the control I had was far better than what was even represented in this short.

The Jaguar was different. He was only in 3 shots and the original plan was that he wasn't going to even do much, and he was built that way. It made him really difficult to animate with...I had to add eyebrows to him in the end so he could emote something. Even his mouth had only 3 controls (open, close, "u")'s kind of silly, but that's it. By comparison, Stupendo had 9.

The Balloon Man was a balloon. Can't get simpler than that. Basic arm and leg movements, plus I needed him to inflate. Because of the curved design, I modeled it using subD surfaces and I realized that I like that method and might need to model that way from now on.

Then there was the roach, only appearing in one shot...I thought it was cool that I made him walk. Wanted to do more, but it just wasn't built for it. Neither the Jaguar nor the roach were modeled by me. I just rigged them. They were great models...just that the design never intended them to do more.

Layout. Basically I took the edited storyboard animatic and broke it down into sequences and shots. This made it easier to keep track of things. There were 7 sequences and 48 shots...37 of them had 3D animation. Once I got that, I created rough shots with the 3D characters in them and adjusted the edit a little more.

Animation. Done in less than a week. Luckily for me, a good number of shots where basically done at the last stage...nothing more needed. I left one sequence (the 3rd, if that means anything to you) until the end because it contained all the dialogue and acting. It was nice to sit by the computer with the mirror once again and bring the characters to life.

Composite. Because of the schedule, this was really going on consistently from the beginning. Some shots, like the ones in the opening sequence, were purely 2D shots in After Effects. In order to get the cartoon-ish look, I rendered out the characters with a ramp shader in 2 passes...the second pass as a matte so I could make the darker shade in comp.

The TV sequence was interesting. The first shot I did was the 3D one with the Balloon Man and the hand held camera was done nicely...all in 3D. I tried to replicate it for the other shots in 2D but it wasn't working...I think it might have been 3 AM at this point. So I opened up the trailer fro
m "Cloverfield" and tracked one of the shots and applied it to the cameras in my shots. It was long enough to use different sections of it for each shot.

So, from all those at CA2 who worked tirelessly to bring you the first (hopefully, of many) episode. Click on the graphic to check out...


- Luciano

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© 2009 Luciano DiGeronimo