Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Apple a Day... #53 and 54

Parts XVII and XVIII

Some notes on Parts XVII and XVIII:
  • Right off the bat, the color of these two pages seems a bit weird despite them being the same hues I've been using all along. Or maybe it's just me, I don't know. The amount of time that passed since cleaning up XVI (something like 8 months) could probably be a contributing factor here.
  • I had really high hopes for that Zelda joke. Unfortunately, it never really gets properly implemented in later parts of the story (as we'll see soon enough).
  • Part XVIII features yet another Robot redesign. 
  • I was pretty happy I could bring back the VS split from Moustache. It also serves as a nod to the previous story (much like Edward's off hand mention of a bet in Moustache was a reference to The Bet.)
  • Boy, those yogurt bastards sure are dramatic aren't they? (Yes, Edward and his ilk are yogurt. Recently I read something which called him a stack of talking rocks with moss. It was kind of refreshing after years of hearing Edward being referred to as poop.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

IN PROGRESS: Balloon Cat - Revised Space

So, I wasn't happy with the previous Maya renders (as if it wasn't made clear in the last post), however, I hacen't given up the ghost yet. I decided to go back and remodel and stage everything, this time using paint effects and minimal lighting to try and achieve the look I'm after. Below is the result:

Already, this is a stark improvement over what came before. Some more tweaks are needed (for example, the stars a a bit too large) but it's definitely a step in the proper direction.  I figure, in terms of textures on the planets, I can craft something in Photoshop that I can map onto the Maya polygons that would help blend them in with my visual aesthetic. Also, when exporting the scenes for compositing, If I render them in layers, that would give me more control over individual tweaks I may need to make down the line. While playing with the lights, I got to experiment a bit with leaving the objects in the dark. When I turned the light off, I was presented with a scene that had some dark, almost cloaked objects, that helped break up some of the negative space in the shot. It was a nice little discovery (even if it is a bit obvious) that will benefit me later on when staging the shots leading up to the black hole.

The next thing that I need to focus on is getting the framing of the shots solidified. I have to take into account the cat's coloring and be attentive to his fading into the background textures. Some of this could be solved by decreasing the size of the stars, overall, but it will, probably, still take some figuring out. Wide shots are going to be a key aspect to some of these space scenes, however, they won't work if the cat blends in too much. So, I'm really going to have to nail this staging before I can proceed.

Looks like it's time to set up a 3D animatic for these shots.

Monday, November 12, 2012

IN PROGRESS: Balloon Cat - More Space shots.

So, despite the recent shift in focus to Robot, Balloon Cat is still in full swing, preproduction wise. Below, are two additional space shots I created, working from my terrible storyboards. These served two purposes: 1) To help me visualize these two shots in the proper aspect ratio, and 2) To provide a clearer understanding of the general aesthetic I wish to move towards with this film. (It has been painfully clear to me that I am, generally, terrible at explaining my internal processes to anyone. Hopefully these sort of things can help in that regard.)

Moving forward, I am considering creating the entirety of the galaxy in Maya in order to have more complex camera moves and whatnot. When it comes to animating the cat, I'll just rotoscope a stand in model that is placed in the scene in Maya. Doing the space (and, subsequently, the sky) shots like this will also make sure I have the cat in proper perspective when drawing him during these camera moves.

Now, an issue arises from this: I am not very good at using Maya. I'm proficient in the basic sense. But when it comes to having actual lighting, texturing, and mood, I'm a bit out of my element. However, with the winter break coming up, I can use the next six weeks or so to really brush up on those skills. (I'm not looking to do anything super complex with these Maya scenes, so a basic grasp of these techniques will probably suffice. Balloon Cat is, and will always be, a 2D animated film.)

Below is a test render from Maya that I did quickly. The first image is the scene directly from maya. The second is my attempt at enhancing it in Photoshop. Let's marvel, together, at how terrible these actually are:


As it stands right now, I really prefer the top two images. Despite their flaws, I believe they're better overall. Perhaps, I'll create the space in After Effects and only use Maya for the vortex and black hole (but, I'm getting ahead of myself, here. Black hole, what?).

An Apple a Day... #51 and 52

Parts XV and XVI

Some notes on Parts XV and XVI:
  • I had originally intended for the robot to talk. In fact, Part XV was completed with Robot's dialogue intact. It made him sound like a needy creeper, and I felt like it wasn't in keeping with his characterization up to this point. (He went from being a scary, brooding, shadow-cloaked menace to a needy, creepy, hug-demanding pervert. Trust me, it wasn't good.) I felt that keeping the robot a pantomime character would benefit his overall portrayal in the comic (after all, it's very easy to misread someone's action's when they cannot explain themselves (i.e. babies, animals, etc)).
  • Part XVI features two of my favorite renderings of Zordon. The first is when he has that smug smile on his face as the lightning bolt drops. The second is in the sixth panel. 
  • Part XVI also has the distinction of being a page that I feel looked better as a rough drawing. Some of the energy of the panels gets lost in translation from rough to cleanup but, for what ever reason, it's much more noticeable in this Part.
  • I still don't know what the hell is going on with Edward's hair.