Tuesday, October 19, 2010

First Drawings

Technically these aren't the first, but I can't find the notebook that the other ones lived in.  Here's some rough workups of the dude... lets call him Benjamin.  I found an old mugshot of a larcenist from 1912 that I really like to use as reference.  I'm not going to mimic him exactly, but there's something about his features that are really interesting to me.  My drawing skills are very rusty, but I tried some variations and ended up liking the last 2 the best. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

3D Paint and Subsurface Scattering

I finished up this gross looking elf model with some even grosser looking additions.  I learned how to use the 3D paint tools in Blender and played around with the subsurface scattering.  I'd like to be able to control the SS settings on different parts of the model, but I couldn't figure out a way how.  For instance the ears need more SS than the rest of the face, and I'd like to figure out how to put some veins in there.  Here's the result. (click to enlarge)

I couldn't decide between a robot with organic pieces thing and just a flat cartoony jagged edge thing, and today I had the idea of trying both by having skin over moving parts. Hopefully I'll also be able to figure out a way to have the parts show through, though that might get a bit complicated in the rigging stage.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Normalmapton, Tennessee

I spent most of my day yesterday following this handy Blender modeling tutorial.  

Check out this gross Harry Potter elf I made.  It has nothing to do with my project, I'm just learning sculpting tools in Blender.

It's bumpy AND shiny.  A true accomplishment.  I'm getting much faster with Blender controls after this.  Here's what I got out of it:
  • The normal map and UV stuff was touched over very fast so I don't think I'm going to remember most of it.
  • Blender's way of handling materials/images is going to take some getting used to (it's also broken on my old laptop).  
  • The multi-resolution stuff broke on me.  I was able to get around it, but it took my Blender hope down a notch.
  • The stupid thing about modifying your preferences in Blender is that the only way to save your changes is to make your current scene the default "new" scene.  WTF!?  Must be some ancient thing that's a pain in the ass to change.
  • The modeling tools are amazing, except for moving topology around... I can't really figure out how to do that as easily as you can in maya with the split polygon tool.  If your topology isn't created the way you want it's such a pain to change it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Picture for First Part

This is what I want the first part to look like when the dude wakes up:

I took that picture on the southern coast of Iceland.  I had never seen anything like it.  It was pretty incredible.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I can't find my old sketchbook that had my writeup in it, so here's a rewrite.  Listen to the song while you read:

It starts with a close-up shot of a man's eyes opening.  Cut to a medium shot of the man sitting up.  He's in an empty landscape with nothing but black sand and dense fog.  He stands up and takes a look around while assessing the situation.  As the percussion of the song starts glowing white spots show up on the surface of his face and neck, pulsating to the music.  This startles him.  He watches the pulses and checks other parts of his body. Cut to a full body shot, and it's all over him.  The kick drum comes in and the little pulses now rattle and jump off of his skin and he starts to look irritated by it.  The bassline comes in and a colorful wave shoots up his body throwing him off balance, forcing his limbs in different directions to the music and making him dance.  Several seconds of this, different moves and different shots.

As the synth element enters the song, cut to a close-up shot of a sleeping woman's face.  It's dark but faint lights dance on her face.  She awakes.  Cut to a top-down shot to reveal that she's lying in bed facing the man from before. He's asleep and was obviously dreaming the previous scene, only the pulses and waves are still happening in "real life".  The room is small and and looks as if it's part of a house in the countryside. She sits up in a panic, and he soon wakes.  She jumps out of bed and backs away.  He realizes what's going on and tries to calm her down.  As the breakdown of the song starts a broom flies into frame and bash his head several times to the beat.  He stumbles out of the bedroom and runs down the hall to the front door.  Cut to outside the house which is an impossibly small building.  He runs off with the pulses and waves still going strong. Cut to a trucking out side shot of him running full speed to the beat, foreground and background objects creating parallax disappear faster than and he's quickly in the middle of nowhere.  As the breakdown of the song ends, he slows to a stop and collapses backwards with exhaustion

He falls through the ground and continues to fall through a seemingly endless space.  The pulses and waves have stopped.  Where the earth ends dust and rocks fall into the abyss.  The space appears to be dimly lit from below.  As he continues to fall there are also massive metal objects, 3 times his size, falling around him. Spoons, door knobs, sledge hammers, etc., all have dust slowly trailing them as they fall.  He slams into the ground, which is indistinguishable from the space above, except for his shadow.  The massive objects are all gone, but it begins to rain spoons.  He covers his head, but it's still quite painful so he curls into a ball with his back facing the sky.  Cut to a close-up of his face and he opens up to check his surroundings.  There are no spoons in site.  The next synth of the song comes in and it shakes the entire world with a high frequency.  He looks everywhere for the source, turns around and finds a massive sheep 5 times his height.  It's making the sound from its mouth.  When the bassline comes in again cut to a truck-in shot of his face, in awe, then another truck in of the sheep's face which is in awe, but you can't tell because sheep don't really show emotion.

As the synth transitions to a chord instead of a single note, cut back to where he fell on the ground to reveal him waking up once more to 3 cats circling around him making the sound at different frequencies.  Cut to a closeup of his face looking confused for a moment before he notices the sheep that he was so infatuated with standing nearby.  The pulses and waves on his body are fading now.

And the end is still TBD, but I'm thinking he falls in love with the sheep and becomes a Shepard.  I'd like some sort of ending shot though.

Now for Blender progress:
I've been watching a few more blender tutorial videos and it's looking pretty amazing.  The rigging works way different than I'm used to, so that will take some adjusting, but there are some cool features, like bone segments.  I spent hours writing a twisting shoulder/wrist scripted rig setup, and this just does it automatically.  Granted I wrote mine for a game and I'm not sure how transferable this would be, but it's still pretty cool.  I grow more and more excited to learn the ins and outs.  Thank god it's customizable though, I was beginning to worry I'd have to learn a bunch of hotkeys that I don't agree with.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


This past year I've felt stagnant.  I've been in video games at the same company (Double Fine Productions) for 7 and a half years.  I started when I was 19 and haven't really done anything else.  It has always been exciting and fulfilling but it has started feeling a lot more like a job.  Like work.  I equate it to feeling like I'm not growing, or not working on my own ideas and always putting my soul into the visions of others. Not to mention that I feel like everyone around me loves video games a lot more than I do.  It could also be that I've always wanted to work on music videos or films (short or feature length).  In short, I need a change.  I've decided to start on some projects that I've been ignoring for years.  I figure if I'm still interested in working on an idea that inspired me several years ago, it's a good sign that I need to push toward it.  My hope is that with some initial documented momentum I'll be less prone to listen to that part of me that gives up.  That's where this blog comes in.

This blog is a progress diary for a music video I've had in mind for the song "This Could Be Beautiful (It Is)" by Metronomy.  I haven't touched this for over 2 years, and all I have from back then is a few sketches and a writeup of the idea.  I can see 90% of the video in my head already, clear as day.  I'll dig those pages up and post them as a starting point, but the next thing I want to do is plan out the work involved and the time I think it will take to complete each task.

The other thing I'd like to do is make the switch from Maya to Blender.  Mainly because it's free and open source, but also because it looks like an amazing piece of software and it's growing so quickly these days.  I've been using Maya for almost 10 years now and it's the only 3D package I've ever really worked in. There are things in blender that make SO much sense to me, and others that make me wonder wtf they were thinking making software that ignores the way other software packages have been doing things for years.  Which, maybe it's for the best, but right now learning blender for me is like relearning how to walk.  It's extremely frustrating to know that you can do something in Maya so fast, and you have to take a step back and relearn that muscle memory for every single tiny operation.  I guess I haven't done much of this relearning a massive 3D program yet.  While I think it's extremely valuable to add a free 3D package to my skill set, it's going make jumping in and being creative really difficult.  I'll be tracking my progress with thoughts and suggestions for blender, coming from my Maya background.