Making Of,Production,Weeklies

Final Weekly of the Year: December 19, 2014

22 December, 2014 |  10 Comments | by Elysia Brenner

The year is coming to a close, and everyone is going (has gone) on vacation. Meaning: this is it for 2014! This weekly started two hours early (a) so that Mathieu could participate before leaving for France and (b) so the rest of the team could leave early for a studio trip to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in IMAX 3D!

Now, just a handful of people remain in the studio, and there won’t be another weekly until January. So let’s take a look at what Father Christmas (aka Team Gooseberry) has laid out under the tree to close out 2014…

The Highlights


Total Story Makeover

We started the weekly with a look at the full animatic…which has changed dramatically since last week:

  • As it stands, the film is now a neat 14 minutes.
  • Most of the dialogue has been removed for this version, since the script has been changed and it all needs to be re-recorded. (Perhaps with placeholder dialogue again via team members, but the professional recording sessions are also already booked for early January!)
  • Victor and Franck’s first meeting has been changed: it no longer takes place at the cliff’s edge, so there’s less imminent threat of death and Franck has a little more room to show his personality and resistance to Victor’s offer. Other details will also change, like Victor will explain less and will fumble for matches instead of showing Franck his business card.
  • Franck’s intro to his new caterpillar body and jungle world has been compressed: he now falls only once, and instead of meeting a flock of caterpillars and a caterpillar-eating frog, he comes face to face with a dragonfly buzzing by, foreshadowing his upcoming ride.
  • The dragonfly chase scene has been better resolved, from how Franck gets on the dragonfly in the first place to how he tames the beast so that he can drive it in pursuit of Tara.
  • The frog has been removed. We’re all sad to see him go, but it was going to be a tricky character to animate with not enough return, in terms of story. (RIP cool Costa Rican see-through belly.)

Watch the beginning of the weekly video above for Mathieu’s live commentary, or find this version of the animatic whenever you like on the Blender Cloud.

Model Time

Angela has been making more model improvements — this time to Tara! Check out the Cloud for another Tara infographic...involving teeth.

Angela has been making more model improvements — this time to Tara! Check out the Cloud for another Tara infographic…involving teeth.

Manu has been working on grass with Lukas, creating mock-ups of island scenes like this one (and the three others you can check out on the Cloud). Manu of course wants to emphasize that his final versions will include a LOT more of his magical details.


Wind Work

Lukas has been further developing his hair and grass physics features (with Manu’s help dutifully crashing the system as much as possible to help Lukas make it better/faster). He’s also created some presets for the hair dynamics (stiffness, damping, etc.) In the video here you’ll see a more realistic reaction to both steady and buffeting winds. Manu’s then applied this to a slice of the island grass. More refinements to come, but see what they’ve done so far:

Face Mapping

Antonis has continued his work with face maps, a new type of Blender vertex group (the blue areas here). He's added a toggle for face maps, which can now each be directly linked to a bone with the same name. This is meant to replace custom bones as a rigging tool to move invisible bones, but it is still a work in progress.

Antonis has continued his work with face maps, a new type of Blender vertex group (the blue areas here). He’s added a toggle for face maps, which can now each be directly linked to a bone with the same name. This is meant to replace custom bones as a rigging tool to move invisible bones, but it is still a work in progress.


Back to BAM

Manu has been working on a logo for BAM — this is not the final version, but you can see where he's going!

Manu has been working on a logo for BAM — this is not the final version, but you can see where he’s going!

  • Bastien concluded his in-studio time with some “pre-asset” work, improving asset loading, etc. The system can now show all objects in a folder, apply filters to results, plus preview .blend files (per object) in the asset manager before opening. You can now also import from different libraries to a single shot…though there are still some crashes with very large objects (like the dragon from Sintel). Check out the demo at 37:00 in the weekly video.
  • Campbell has now created a BAM Python package, so that you can incorporate the asset manager’s functionality into your own (proprietary) system. Watch the demo at 45:05.
  • BAM will now zip together all files related to a master file, wherever those files might be available on the system. (In the weekly they show off by going straight for the full animatic.) This package can then be opened and used as is from any computer (with the software installed).
  • Francesco is working on incorporating this functionality into the Cloud…but that is still a work in progress!
  • Francesco will release another update about the BAM planning (with Campbell being back in Australia and all) on this blog in the next week or so.


Comings & Goings

Campbell and Bastien have, like most of the office, returned home for the holidays. Only…they won’t be coming back (any time soon). Never fear, though: they’ll still be knee-deep in Blender work from Australia and France, respectively! AND there will be more new faces in the studio to replace them in the new year. Watch this blog to find out who will be joining us in Amsterdam next!

Have a Happy New Year, and see you in 2015!

10 Responses

  1. Ciriaco says:

    An idea about asset-experiments, for easy file navigation :

    Thanks for your great work

  2. Big Fan says:

    I am a little unhappy that we are taking an axe to stuff at this stage and I guess the script changes yet again….
    That’s a lot of work wasted and it seems like we really haven’t known what story we want to tell despite planning this out well before the studio team assembled. It is obvious BI could not have delivered a full movie as originally envisaged even with full funding because there is no way multiple teams could have been adequately directed on a workable story and really the asset management has not been in place early enough. As the short is now I wonder how interesting it will be and convincing that a full movie is worth making from it or if that was to proceed that we could deliver on it anyway. Sorry but I get the impression we are not making the progress we should and the content is coming up short and shorter with repeated changes. To me it looks like we will end up with another half-assed Blender animation by default. Don’t mean to be negative or rude about it but that’s where it seems to be going. Still enjoy your holidays and I hope we get into it properly in the New Year.

    • Matray says:

      Well it sure sounds negative but I totally understand your concern. But sharing the whole production process shows how complex and changing a movie creation is. That’s totally normal it would even be very creepy not to change things. If you think it’s not improving that’s not good for sure. But twisting, testing, changing things is essential in pre-production. Script, dialogues, acting, and even the looks of the movie are not final yet ! Since our deadline and the organization here is challenging, those changes are on purpose, they are part of the process. If the result is not better at the end compared to the beginning, then I agree, we do have a problem. And on showing progress, well it’s still preproduction, and a lot of people went out, and some new will come in to start production. But again, sharing the production process online is challenging because you see how difficult it is to make a good movie, how good ideas don’t work, how bad ones stays until it’s obvious they are “good” bad ideas, and so on… And if you feel you can suggest things to improve, you’re more than welcome !

      • Chad Gleason says:

        Well said. I think pre-production is going well, and solid decisions are being made. And for the record, I can concur that changes are NORMAL and GOOD for a film in pre-production.

  3. paweł starz says:

    Full animatic looks really cool now but there is one thing I’m not satisfied about. In opening scene Frank wants to commit suicide but it’s not explained anywhere why he is so depressed and why he doing this in that way (single branch might be not heavy enough for fat looking Frank). It looks like something cut from human life and put in animals world in very simple way. He’s not alone on island so what is his problem? Maybe it would be better to present Frank relationship with other animals. He might be some kind of outsider not accepted by other sheep in the flock. Someone like “black sheep” that is not treated well by others. And he has no other place to go. Opening scene could start showing Frank being bullied by other flock members (in some humoristic way obviously). After that he goes away alone completely depressed and then he meets Victor and listen his offer. It would be nice to see other sheep running scared after watching Frank lifted by tornado. Being all alone and not accepted by others on island is good way to convince people why friendship with Tara is so important for him. I just wanted to share with you my ideas. I’m sure that final movie will be great :)

    • Matray says:

      Hey ! I agree for now as it is on layout you don’t really understand why Franck wants to die. But my idea is that it doesn’t really matter since you’ll FEEL it. The grey island, the fog, how desperate his environment is, how sad and “horizon-less” his life is will induce the feelings he have to do this. No other sheep cares about him. His alone in a depressed prison, to me that’s good enough to introduce him if we succeed on the cinematography, animation and sound on this (all of this that are missing on the movie right now…) also being too explanatory is something we want to avoid with Esther. Don’t get me wrong we want people to clearly understand his trying to kill himself because his life is sad and meaningless on the island, that he hopes for something else, but we want him to show it, by doing something, not because the other are mean with him, or that he talks about it… It’s not the easiest path maybe but to me that’s the most efficient if we succeed :)

      • paweł starz says:

        Thanks :) The description of first scene looks fine for me, so I am not going to misguide you anymore. I am waiting for next update of animatic. And maybe one more thing – please try to not delete other things, because an idea of caterpillars standing in line was great. I’m missing it already.

  4. Zeauro says:

    It looks like header of file browser is too small.
    Maybe it is time for tabs in File Browser.

    It is great to see that you are still delivering a lot of new stuff although 2.73 release is close.

  5. Anton says:

    “BAM BAM ASSET MANAGER” sounds rediculous )) Too many “bam”. Maybe you might try “BAM” and below it goes “BLENDER ASSET MANAGER”? That would look more profesional from logo design point of view. Anyways, looking forward to see what you’ll come up with regarding asset management pipeline, it’s a much needed tool.


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