Weeklies

Weekly #37: May 1, 2015

4 May, 2015 |  35 Comments | by Elysia Brenner

With less than two months left to complete the pilot, the Cosmos Laundromat art and development are going into overdrive! From new animations and a new version of the trailer to Sequencer and caching fixes, check out what Team Gooseberry has made this week.

 

 

The Highlights

 

Weekly Guests

This Friday brought three weekly guests to the Blender studio: Edwin Knip, webdeveloper and “Chief Nerd” of Nerd Inc., who has been working on the Blender Store and Blender Cloud; Michelle Monzalvo, who is persuing an AV degree in Mexico City that includes the study of 2D and 3D animation; and Alex Dowding, production manager of the live-action remake of The Jungle Book, who recently moved to Amsterdam from Paris, where he worked on the Despicable Me movies, The Lorax, and others as an editorial manager and production supervisor.

 

From the Director

Mathieu has updated the trailer with all the renders currently available — which includes almost all the shots but the tornado money shot…so we’ve got that to look forward to! See where the edit currently stands in Mathieu’s weekly Cloud folder. (The final version will be released this month!) In this folder, you’ll also find Mathieu’s lighting and flock tests from the week.

 

Mathieu tested 14 furballs together in this sheepy animation available on the Cloud (which makes a most Zen-like screensaver), which renders well in Cycles. For the final renders, this flock should be at least double the size (so, 30 sheep).

Mathieu tested 14 furballs together in this sheepy animation available on the Cloud (which could make a most Zen screensaver), and found they rendered well in Cycles. For the final renders, this flock should be at least double the size (so, like 30 sheep).

 

Mathieu also made an HD render of Hjalti's animation from last week of Victor smiling at the storm, one of the shots from the trailer. It's just missing the wind.

Mathieu also made an HD render of Hjalti’s animation from last week of Victor smiling at the storm, one of the shots from the trailer. It’s just missing the wind.

 

Mathieu also did three lighting tests of Franck pulling the branch, gathered together in an animation on the Cloud. The third version (pictured here) hits closest to final, with its dramatic light that screams early morning, but still needs to be lightened up a little.

Mathieu also did three lighting tests of Franck pulling the branch, gathered together in an animation on the Cloud. The third version (pictured here) hits closest to final, with its dramatic light that screams early morning, but still needs to be lightened up a little.

 

Animating the Action

Sarah spent this week working on the shot where Victor convinces Franck to give him "a moment of his precious time," which is now (at v13) 99% finished.

Sarah spent this week working on the shot where Victor convinces Franck to give him “a moment of his precious time,” which is now (at v13) 99% finished. Her struggle of the week had to do with getting Victor to place his hand on his knee without problems (there was a problem with detecting the dependency cycle), but Juan Pablo was able to help her figure out how to fix this. You’ll find the latest animation in Sarah’s Cloud folder.

 

Hjalti has just about finished the shot where Victor switches Franck's rope for the timer. In the video in his weekly folder on the Cloud, you will see several iterations of Victor's lipsync (with the camera pinned to the skull for focus) followed by the latest versions of the almost-final full shot (all that's left are the tiny details, like Victor's jacket movement.)

Hjalti has just about finished the shot where Victor switches Franck’s rope for the timer. In the video in his weekly folder on the Cloud, you will see several iterations of Victor’s lipsync (with the camera pinned to the skull for focus) followed by the latest versions of the almost-final full shot (all that’s left are the tiny details, like Victor’s jacket movement).

 

Beorn has started working on the shot that follows Franck getting his timer. In layout here.

Beorn has started working on the shot that follows Franck getting his timer. In layout here. This week brought the discussion of how the timer should actually sit in relation to Franck’s ears… Mathieu’s final decision was that the left ear should be tucked behind the timer so that you can see the timer and to maximize the discomfort you feel for Franck at this moment.

 

Beorn has also been moving forward with the sequence where Franck waits by the cliff while Victor walks away...giving one last contemplative look to the branch he just dragged all the way across the island.

Beorn has also been moving forward with the sequence where Franck waits by the cliff while Victor walks away…giving one last contemplative look to the branch he just dragged all the way across the island.

 

In addition to these two animations, in Beorn’s weekly Cloud folder you’ll also find another continuity test (picking up on last week’s) as well as the planning Beorn created to figure out what the animators need to do to finish all the shots in time.

 

On the Cloud, you will also find Hjalti's work on a new shot: Victor's stance the moment before the storm arrives.

On the Cloud, you will also find Hjalti’s four versions of a new shot: Victor’s stance the moment before the storm arrives. Hjalti’s challenge here was finding a way for Victor to display the intensity that Mathieu was looking for (and the approaching storm commands) while still leaving a way for that intensity to grow through Victor’s animation as the storm actually forms.

 

Realizing Renders

Manu’s weekly Cloud folder is packed with goodies this week: more renders and details, including a slightly rusted version of the washing machine drum…

Worn-out washing machine drum

 

Lighting tests for the aerial view of the island…

04__island_shading_lighting
05__island_shading_lighting

 

In the same folder you will find tests of the moving clouds in the background, including a simple rig Manu put together to make them move, and even a vertical render of the Fishy Cat creature you’ll find on the Blender.org homepage banner (plus .blend files for the creature itself as well as the vertical render).

 

Manu has been experimenting with adding foam to the water hitting the rocks with this modifier by BlueBird Animation!

Manu has also been experimenting with adding foam to the water hitting the rocks. Although this modifier by BlueBird Animations looks potentially even more promising!

 

Andy has, meanwhile, been testing the wind in the grass. In the video below you will see his rig for the island surface (allowing you to focus on the area you want to render) plus multiple tests to get the grass motion right (shouldn’t be too stiff or too uniform) and render it realistically.

 

In Andy's weekly folder on the Cloud you'll also see his tests of Franck running from the storm, seen here in a still render.

In Andy’s weekly folder on the Cloud you’ll also see his tests of Franck running from the storm, seen here in a still render.

 

Pablo has been doing some final lighting testing and updating all the renders to reflect the new light source. Visit his folder on the Cloud to see a bunch more examples and variations.

Pablo has been doing some final lighting testing and updating all the renders to reflect the new light source. Visit his folder on the Cloud to see a bunch more examples and variations.

 

In Development

  • Lukas started his week making some optimizations for caches, reducing cache sizes by at least 1/3.
  • He has also been trying to make hair collisions work, trying to make deflectors work (and fighting problems with hair stiffness), and testing hair movement when the sheep is running. See his test videos at 18:16 in the weekly video. He is still looking for the right solution — perhaps shape keys? (But that’s a lot of work.) Perhaps forgoing hair sims all together (especially as they’re less necessary the more the sheep moves). Stay tuned to see how this is resolved.
  • Finally, Lukas made an ocean shader test. Check out the result in the video here, and then head to Lukas’s weekly folder on the Cloud to download the .blend files.

 

  • Antonis has been working on metadata support in the Sequencer, which is now almost complete. And he also fixed a bug that was preventing people from rendering very high-res images, when the size could not be calculated correctly. Now Blender can display these images (as long as you have plenty of RAM). See his demo in the weekly video at 22:54.
  • Antonis also fixed some playback issues that would occur while the animators were scrubbing. Now scrubbing works like animation, which makes lipsyncing a lot easier.
  • And Francesco and Gabriel’s work on Attract and Flamenco continue! Pablo has, meanwhile, been working on getting the renders from Flamenco to load into Attract so that tasks can be assigned.



35 Responses

  1. Charlie Ringström says:

    Ehum… Despicable me, not dispicable… :-)

  2. Charlie Ringström says:

    I’m so excited about this! The visuals are amazing! Non-CG people often talk about “Can Blender produce Pixar-like films?” And so far I would say this film has passed that barrier. This will surely drive new persons to start with Blender!

  3. forrest-house says:

    I have several questions about the pilot, that are more or less important (to me),
    (Disclaimer: I don’t have the subscription, so maybe those questions are already answered):
    1. What is the motivation of Franck to commit suicide? This seems not to be explained in the pilot. Most important question for me, because as it is now, I really don’t care about the character. If I (the viewer) don’t care about the character, I don’t care about the movie. And therefore I’m not interested in following his adventures.
    2. Why does Franck drag the branch to the edge of the island, instead of jumping from the clip and drown or get killed by crushing on the rocks?
    3. Why Franck runs away from the tornado? I though he wants to die.
    4. If he really doesn’t want to die, then what is the reason for that suicide drama?
    5. Why does his herd don’t care about him commit suicide? From the psychological standpoint is this kind of behaviour a plea for help. But none of his herd (family/friends) does care. In one version of the animatic they even sing, when he is going to be sucked in by the tornado.
    6. Why doesn’t Victor ask him what’s going on first, instead of “tricking” him into wearing the collar.
    7. How does the sheep herd enter the island? With the help of a helicopter? There is no visible docking bay for a boat and a path to the top of the island.
    8. How does the rope work, which Franck uses to hung himself? Where does it come from? There is nothing on the island. How could Franck bind the rope to the tree?
    9. Does Victor still smoke? If so, that would be really bad. It doesn’t give the character an edge, or makes him a anti-hero. Those smoking-hero-type times should be over.
    10. Where is the humor?

    • Neil Burgin says:

      These things are more about explaining the technical side than the plot, so it’s not surprising that it wouldn’t answer most of these questions. And do you want the whole plot spoiled beforehand anyway?

    • Samuel says:

      WOW!! nice questions tho.
      But i think we should wait till the final video gets out.

    • matray says:

      Waow, that’s a lot of remarks. But first, let me state something, if you didn’t like the movie, or what you saw of it, maybe it’s best to say so. Instead of listing everything you think is wrong with it… It’s in production, not perfect because we’re a small studio trying to do our best. And from the story perspective it was also a long and passionate way to define this project. I’m very happy of it as it is. It’s not perfect (but what is ?) but it has a tone, an approach we tried to make different from big studios and big classical storytelling things. Because we can’t ! We don’t have John Lasseter around here and 50 people writing scripts and storyboards for two years. So we tried to be clever, original and creative. Maybe we failed :)
      Anyway.
      I understand what you say about Franck’s lack of motivation to kill himself. It’s not really explained for two reasons. First, it’s the opening of the movie, and we’ve tried to drag you into the story with a feeling, an emotion, a particular situation that raises questions. And apparently that worked :) Second, it’s only the first 10 minutes of a 90 minutes story, so of course we wanted to let things open to answer them later.
      As for the flock, to me, it’s obvious they are sheep. Literally, they don’t care about anything but grass… And they sing because they’re enchanted by the tornado/song/Victor’s spell.
      The smoking thing, I won’t go into that because for now he’s not smoking anymore (due to lack of time to make it happen), but there is many, many reasons from a character point of view, why he should.
      And finally “where is the humor ?”. Well… Is that really a question ?
      Maybe what makes you laugh is not the same things as we do. But that’s okay ‘right ?

      • forrest-house says:

        I like a lot more about the movie (the mysterious Victor character, the general idea that there is more in

        life, the tornado/laundromat concept, the adventures to come (different worlds, character), the sneak peek of

        the jungle world, etc.), then I dislike. So why should I write something like “I don’t like the movie”? And I

        write, because if the movie doesn’t find an broad audience that likes it, it may never be finished due to

        lack of support. And then we have an unfinished story. And I want to see the whole movie.

        My list contains the points that don’t work for me. And I speak for myself. I try to provide some solutions

        how the open questions could be handled. Here are some suggestions:

        1. Franck depressed, hanging head, passes in front of two sheeps of his herd.
        Sheep 1: “What’s wrong with Franck?”
        Sheep 2: “Well he fell in love with Dolly, but as you know, she left the island to pursue a career in

        science.” (Hint Google Dolly & Sheep. Could also be something else like movies. The point would be she left

        him which is not the “true love”. SPOILER: Chasing Tara is the part of the movie plot, as I understand it.)

        2. + 5. + 8. Franck sees the old tree which is a gibbet (the rope is already there). Instant he has this

        idea to jump into it to end his life. But the branch breaks (already established!). Jumping into the sling

        makes it very tight around his heck. So he has to drag the branch behind him (already established!).
        Cut to the sheeps:
        Sheep 1: “Shouldn’t we help him to get rid of the rope?”
        Sheep 2: “Nah! The heavy branch prevents him from being stupid again. The shepherd will be here tomorrow

        anyway.”
        (Which won’t happen, because Victor gets to Franck first. Established.)

        3. and 4. He realizes that he doesn’t want to die. So he runs. The realisation of this should be expressed through his mimic.

        7. Extend the island shot to include a path, a docking bay (some beach?). Even maybe a boat…

        9. Chewing gum is an alternative to smoking and healthier.

        10. Sheep 1 and 2 provide the black humor. They are like Statler and Waldorf form the muppet show.

        So yes, I belive that relly some small changes could benefit the pilot movie.

        • A Blender Fan says:

          Frank could run away from the tornado towards the cliff…

        • matray says:

          You make totally valid points. We thought of dialogues to establish the island and Franck but we couldn’t make something great out of it. So we went for the mood and sensitivity approach to be drag into his reality and feelings instead of explaining them. We’ll see if that works :)
          Few remarks : why do you think chewing gum is better for the character than smoking ? If you were immortal, wouldn’t you smoke all day ? (I would…)/Having extra sheep talking was also lots of extra work we decide to cut out early on/ Emphasizing is not always explaining, I tend to disagree on the ‘over establishing’ thing, as long as you’re feed with enough questions and interest-feelings, audience is smart !/Why do you want to have a bridge or an explicit reason for the sheep to be on the island ? Do you know how animals get on islands ? How kanguru’s arrived in Australia ? Does it matter from a story perspective ?
          And we really want this to be the best possible story, even though it was decided not to go too “classic” but take some risks. It’s what independent means ‘right and offer the best ! So I hope it will work great and please the most people, but we don’t have the ressources (nor the talent, let’s face it) to beat Pixar and I think it’s important to be realistic about this. At least not to pretend we are as good as them. We have too much respect for their work to say we can do the same with 10 young people in 10 month…
          But I don’t want you to stop suggesting us things ! It’s very exciting to read from people who cares about this project. It helps to sense the future audience and their sensitivity.

          • forrest-house says:

            As always this is my personal view/opinion.

            Context
            Have you ever seen a movie and thought “How did they get there? Where does it come from? This is ridiculous! etc.”. As you said, the audience is smart. They will ask questions. So establishing a context is very important. Otherwise it distracts too much from the movie, and in the worst case you loose your audience.

            Victor smoking
            You spoiled the Victor character for me! :-) I didn’t knew it. So maybe Victor is [SPOILER], but the audience isn’t. Promoting smoking is always a bad decision. This may be an independent project, and of course you can do this, but it is also a moral decision to do so.

            Animals and islands
            I don’t understand. What is your intention in asking that questions? You will never find big mammals like sheep on small islands, unless humans brought them there. Smaller animals like birds and insects can fly/swim (alone or on parts of plants) to islands. Australia is a continent, not an island, which had a land bridge to Asia during the last ice age. The kangaroos evolved there. And yes it does matter, see “context” paragraph above.

            Independent project
            I don’t see this as an experimental project. One of the goals is to achieve support. By doing what you want and breaking conventions, you put the entire project at risk. It’s not an one shot project. Independent doesn’t rule out (commercial) success.

            Resources
            Blender has a giant community. Here you have a chance to outsource shots of the project to Blender users. You could use this opportunity and give people a chance to prove themselves. I bet many would want to work for the Blender Institute on future projects, like the commercial feature Agent 327: Manhattan File. Outsourcing was also done on the Sintel project.

            Gooseberry team
            I think you have an excellent and talented team. Everybody works hard. And I really don’t understand why are you comparing the Gooseberry project to a Pixar project. You don’t need to compare the gooseberry team to Pixar team. And you don’t need to “beat” Pixar. Anyway why should you? I would never put Pixar on a pedestal and worship them.

            But we are drifting away. I understand that you don’t want or can’t make changes at this point. Which is fine with me. I only suggest and don’t demand those changes. :-)

          • I’ve shown the current state of the pilot to my family this week end, and it seems you already succeeded in your mission as they all wanted to see more of the story.

            What amazed me is that some of them already discovered that victor is supposed to be an ‘angel’ due to your clever posing in the laundromat with his “wings” drawn on the wall.

            I really love your camera movements, it gives a surreal atmosphere that is quite pleasant !

            As for the humour, I’m quite fond of dark humour, so I like it the way it is !

            Congrats to all the team, and good luck for crunch time, many sleepless nights ahead ! ;)

          • matray says:

            Well thank you Forest house for precising that Autralia isn’t an island :) Y ou bring a lot of topics and maybe here isn’t the best place to talk about all of them (outsourcing, independent, story telling, content, vision…) But it leads to very interesting discussions ! As for changes to story plot we can’t work on them anymore and we did do our best. It’s not perfect but it has the right spirit and the tone we were aiming for I think.
            And for spoilers, unfortunately for you this is an open project, and everything is shared and shown :) That leads to massive spoilers…

          • matray says:

            Thank you very much Henry ! i’m glad to hear you intrigued and pleased your family with our layout ! I hope it will get them again with the finished movie :) (and you spotted one of my favorite shot/symbol in the movie : Victor’s wings ;) shhhhh…)

    • I much rather they leave some things a mystery than dive into exposition. There’s an elegance and mood that they achieve through the sparseness of the story-telling. In-your-face exposition usually comes across as unnatural and cheesy, and gives a feeling of falseness to a story.

      Also, it strikes me that some of these questions are pretty straight-forward. For example, if you were stuck on a boring island your whole life, with nothing but mindless sheep around you, suicide might start to seem like good idea. Franck’s conversation with Victor strongly suggests this is what’s going on. Maybe it turns out that’s not what’s going on, but watching the pilot doesn’t leave me feeling like something is missing there.

      Some of your questions also strike me as missing some of the humor. The existence of the rope, for example, and how he managed to make a noose…? To me that seems like an absurdist joke. They don’t focus on it, so it’s subtle. But how is that not a joke? We’re being thrown into a world that is bizarre and doesn’t completely adhere to the rules of reality. If you try to apply realism-esk rules to every detail of a story that takes place in an semi-absurdist world… yeah, you’re going to end up confused.

      • PGT says:

        Please dont spoil the movie !

        Good movies dont explain everything, you got find you’re way into it.
        And i can imagine living on island is depressing. I hope he gets some real depressed voice or so (like Marvin had from the hitch hickers galaxy), let him be an anti hero, or a failed hero like, Oliver B Bommel, Donal Duck or Kenny from southpark. Anti hero’s add much to stories, their failures are things we recognize and feel attached too, (since we cant fly like true heroes such as Batman, or Neo from the Matrix or others.. etc). Anti heroes (and i dont mean evil ones) are much more fun.

        But please dont spoil, i like the technical updates, i hope some will make it into blender.

  4. Neil Burgin says:

    It’s really cool to see the progression of these shots from their rough realtime state from the earlier weeklies to now being lit & rendered. And I’m loving how well it shows off the hair-system upgrades.

    • Neil Burgin says:

      I mean, this new hair is really good, I can’t stress that enough. A few months ago there was no way Blender could handle thick curly wool, but now you’ve fixed it so it can. I might even go so far as to say that, by the look of it, you seem to have caught the hair quality up to about the level Pixar first reached a few years ago with Brave. Of course the real test will be when it’s put in motion.

      • Karlis says:

        I am happy that they are upgrading hair system also, but it look’s like problems with it still are so huge, that it’s not usable. I already said in previous posts, that they should have remade hair system from scratch before starting to really use it in production, now they have realised how big the problem really is and even are considering to not use simulations at all.. well.. ok, shit happens, I just hope this will be a good lesson for them for next project. And I hope they will not forget to really improve it and remake it even though the project will be finished, because it’s really often, that features in Blender never seam to be finished and are left half-baked.

  5. Luciano says:

    Hey, you mentioned a modifier made by bluebird animation for the foam colission and it points to a website that doesnt mention it anywhere, can you point me to the right site?.

    Cheers!

  6. Hey Gooseberry team!

    What you guys are creating is absolutely stunning. I’ve watched the
    edits of the pilot progress over the last many months, and even from
    the beginning it gave me shivers and butterflies when the tornado
    scene kicked in. The story really speaks to my heart, and the telling
    of the story is sparse and subtle in all the best possible ways.

    The art going in to the film is also top-notch. The finished
    animation I’ve seen is by far the best of any of the Blender films.
    The environments and character designs are fantastic. The lighting,
    texturing, simulations… everything. I am immensely impressed. Even
    if it never becomes a feature film (which I absolutely hope it will!),
    the pilot alone is going to be a landmark moment in Blender’s history,
    as well as a great achievement in its own right.

    I know that when you’re deep into production you can sometimes lose
    sight of how great what you are creating is. Just in case that has
    happened, I want to assure you that what you are making is fantastic.
    I am incredibly proud to be supporting you guys financially in this
    endeavor, and I’m sure all of the other supporters feel the same.

    Thanks so much for working hard to create such a great film
    experience! I can’t wait for the pilot to be finished!

  7. Eibriel says:

    Everything looks so so so great!!
    I like how photography is unlike anything seen before on CG animation.

    Amazing work!

    • matray says:

      Thanks Eibriel ! It looks “so so so great” because you made it renderable :) Thanks to you !!

  8. Ville says:

    I think it’s great decision that other sheep are just sheeps. And sheeps don’t talk. Frank is not an ordinary sheep (or perhaps not sheep at all, just looks like one), so he talks. This is implied in the dialog.

    I understand that the opening is the suicide attempt. There is no need to justify it more. But.. I wouldn’t show it that much. Perhaps just rope tightening and the voices, but seeing the legs is little too much for my taste.

    There seems also interesting cultural difference here with the Victor smoking. I wouldn’t smoke even if I were to live forever. Sucking a lollipop or even a baby pacifier seems more resonable. Perhaps he also drinks alcohol all day and injects heroine =) Yes, I did silly slippery slope. But I admit, there is no information about which time this happens, so like 30 years ago smoking was popular and even some smart people did that.

    Some friday ago there was this university/or_something art guy giving good points about the movie. Many people were either quiet or a bit defensive. I think he had also great suggestions and notes. One was the shaking camera thingy. It is a bit overused, but I don’t mind it that much.

    But overall it’s looking good! Keep up the great work!

    • matray says:

      Hey Ville !
      Thanks for your remarks ! Yes the cultural thing is interesting. But Vicotr smoking wasn’t a big thing at all at first. It’s just to give him more personality and paradox (its both cool and uncool and zas fitting his ambiguity I thought) but we have another idea which is to make him remove his headphones instead (which he still has on from the island/tornado scene)
      As for the university guy, I wasn’t here during this weekly I had to leave early, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to talk about all those great questions and remarks . The team felt uncomfortable justifying some of my and Esther’s decisions… Also the Weekly is more related to Blender development and the artists achievements of the week. starting a big discussion about the story or directing choices would have taken a lot of time… But there was a lot of fair points and things I would have loved to talk about.
      And that’s great if our decision about the flock works for you too ;)

  9. If the story is good then it will be a great movie with many improvements for blender, great work.

  10. I love the light in Victor’s face as he’s smiling into the storm.

  11. Regus says:

    It would be awesome if the Ocean Sim Modifier turned into a real “sim”. Like some kind of a mix between the current Ocean Sim and the fluid Sim.

    Imagine you need a ship going thought the ocean. Right now there is no way to do it well in Blender. If the Ocean Sim had a collision element then imagine what we could use it for!

  12. Michelle Monzalvo says:

    Hey everyone!!

    I was the invited one. I just saw this and got really excited, almost as excited as I was while being there. Thank you very much for letting me see your amazing work, it was like meeting my rockstars. Can’t wait to see the results. You were also very nice and made feel really comfortable, therefore the meeting was beyond my expectations.

    Pablo, do you think it’s possible for you to come to Mx City and give a course at my university? It would be awesome to get to know the software in a deeper way coming from you. In case you are interested, please contact me and we can see the details and arrange something.

    Regards to all of you from a big fan.
    Michelle.

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