Saturday, 18 July 2009

Transformers 2 - DD

CGSociety have a neato feature article on Digital Domain's CG work on Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. Though the heavy lifting was done by ILM, DD did bring a series of very cool shots and effects to the film like ALICE. See the full article for production shots and coverage of their work on several distinctive bots.

[production shots of ALICE from Transformers 2 via the CGSociety feature]

IFX Saejin Colour

As always I love getting my IFX issue each month as there is always plenty to inspire. One that caught my eye this time through was a tiny little Q&A article on blank backgrounds by Saejin Oh.
Though it is doubtless a quick piece of work, it just has enough character in it to lure one in.

[Pic compiled from the ImagineFX CD of Saejin Oh's colouring tips]

Since we are looking at Saejin's work, check out his masterful DeviantArt Gallery. He has a nice style with the girls and their outfits, getting all manner of real and implied detail in there. Here are a few examples that again leapt out at me (there are heaps more and larger sizes as well to be found there):

[Pic by Saejin Oh from his DeviantArt Gallery]

Elementals Concept Sketches - more

The short holiday was a good time to get in a little sketching, even if some of it was on the wobbly train. Here are a good number of the elemental sketches - continuing my exploration into these magically imbued constructs and their youthful masters.


Scanning in Sketches
A note on the scanning process, in case it helps others. I am just using an A5 sketchbook and for the most part nothing more extravagant than a 0.5 clicky pencil (pacer-like). I scan them in as colour photos directly into Photoshop using a simple Canon flatbed affair. Once into Photoshop, I crop them all down and resize to something sane. Then the important step is to go to each scan and go to Image > Adjustments > Curves. Here you will see that there is a whole heap of content right at the right hand edge of the graph (the light gray bell curve bit). This is all the paper grain, so to clean that out, just slide the little white box at the end of the line there to the left - just past the gray mass. This essentially cuts out all that noise in one fell swoop. Then click a point in the middle of the diagonal line and drag to the right a little until you get a curve that gives the sketch enough guts to suit it.
I should make a quick vid tute for that one day...

Friday, 17 July 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

As JK Rowlings novels grow in size, the films become more summary, but that was already in place from the very first. I have loved seeing the actors and their characters grow with each film and this was no exception. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the big screen gives us some thrilling quiddich, some great action sequences and effects shots to immerse us deep into this magical world, The smoke/cloud effects are used a fair bit, and they are wonderfully done - even playing a key role in the end credits and on the official site (dramatic and engaging site that it is).

The CG work was principally done by the might of ILM no less and though there are the standout effects shots, no doubt there are plenty of others that blend into the film so seamlessly we just soak them up - love those ILM guys.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the film for me was seeing the interactions of the kids themselves. The love triangles, friendship, rivalry, confused youth and more all play out for us and are given plenty of attention in the 2.5hour+ film.

Here are some images from the film, showing off the visual feel of the world created in the films and its characters:

[images from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince via]

Here is the stunning trailer for the film, I am still a great fan of a good trailer and this one ticks the boxes beautifully:


I mentioned that I liked seeing the kids growing up - here are a few shots of them from the Philosopher's Stone and now from The Half Blood Prince:


Forgot to mention the score, this time by Nicholas Hooper and it sounded great, in keeping with the originals by John Williams, but with its own darker more intense feel - iTunes is calling me...

iMovie fun

One of the fun things at the end of process for my Generi vs Photos animation was using iMovie to bring it together. I am looking forward to learning FinalCutPro in a few weeks, but it was was to see what Apple give us all with the iLife suite.
The software definitely has its oddities and it causes me plenty of frustration each time I try to do something non-standard. So then I need to make the mental shift and work with it the way it demands and things go much smoother then.

Here is a shot of the app in action - pretty interface it is too:

Corpse Bride

Tim Burton brings his particular aesthetic eye to another quirky tale. I must be a fair bit behind the times on this one, but I am really glad to have caught up. For a while I was actually wondering whether it was another lovely piece of puppetry or whether it was a CG film made to look like puppetry :-)

The animation is truly lovely to watch, just as much for the craft on display as for the final effect. The character designs are for me the standout feature, every character is pushed, refined and exaggerated to broaden the cast spread and to accentuate their specific qualities. Some of them walk around with their respective 'gags', be it a gaping hole through the chest or the worlds tallest hair.
The character designer was Carlos Grangel and it is great to see him talk about the process in the special features.

The lighting, effects, music (Danny Elfman) and camera work all add to the effect and we are presented with another inspired little film. My favourite part of the special features is the stop-motion footage of the animators, showing the amount of work it takes to create even a tiny shot for single character. You also need to check out the special feature (poorly named) called Pre-Production Galleries. This is actually video footage showing how the characters were built from sketches and several shots went from the storyboards to final animation - great stuff indeed.

[screen images from Corpse Bride via]

Here is the trailer, showing off the characters and also the gorgeous animation:

See also and - now to get Nightmare Before Christmas as well - hopefully lots more special features there too.


I would love to try my hand at a stop motion animation, the last one I did would have been waaay waaaaaaay back in school with some awesome gooey plasticine blob characters.


Also watched Highlander : Vengence (the anime one), which was kinda fun - though completely unrelated...

Monday, 13 July 2009

Generi vs Photos complete

I just uploaded the final version of the Generi vs Photos animation for SOMA9202. I am happy with the result as a piece of work, She certainly is an emotional wreck and the photos really tie the logic together. Though there are plenty of things I can see that could use tweaking/improving, I spend about as much time as I would have if my back hadnt self-destructed, so I am happy with the result.

I just uploaded the file to youtube via my tethered iPhone - very cool stuff - enjoy: