Sept 8 2010

Rendering the fog is taking 55 min per frame ... weird ... 13 minutes was so much better. I think it's time for a new computer.

August 28 2010

The changes to film are still underway. Made the dragon's eyes glow whe talking which should make the static frames seem more interesting.

July 5 2010

The changes to the film are almost done. The sound effects are being added. I'm cleaning up animation as well as adding some particle effects.

May 5 2010

Got special access to show Death to the Different to the University and general public at Rose theater. My team had a chance to talk about what they all did too so it was a fun night. We had a great turnout and got a lot of press from the public including the University and city newspaper. I was also able to get some crowd reaction so I've decided to make some changes to the film.

May 1 2010

Still rendering ... on 30 machines!

Apr 27 2010

Rushing to meet the 3D animation deadline. A lot of shots are crashing so we decided to put the files on each drive. We also shot some photos to show the work process, from pizza to ... rendering!

Apr 23 2010

Animation has always been on the side, as the technical aspect of 3D animation seems to be the most time consuming. However, finally, I've been able to concentrate more on animation, by pulling out more emotion. I changed blendshapes by shot, which is definitely the least efficient way to approach this. However, you get very specific effects. The eyes got an overhaul too, setting transparency of the outer glass to 0 and using a lighter blue hue for the iris.

Apr 21 2010

Dad's hair is done! Looks like a wig, that's ok and with the correct diffuse.

Apr 19 2010

Sometimes you overlook what a modeler or texture artist has done. In this case, having skin at diffuse of default 0.8 makes the skin dead, but 1.4 makes the skin look vibrant.
The diffuse at .8

Diffuse at 1.2

Diffuse at 1.4

Apr 17 2010

Continuing the 'beautify' the short film. Taught Kirk how to create NURBS based hair since fur was giving us so many problems. His results were great!

but I made some modifications, through the shader and color texture

and then the creation of bump and spec maps to really push this through

and some inprogress Dad hair ...

Apr 14 2010

Chris went ahead and revamped dragon's original's textures after seeing what I did with Super Buddy. A bit too black on some parts, but after a fake rim shader was created, the dragon just pops out. This is before additional changes were made.

Apr 7 2010

Super buddy's finally got new textures.

Apr 5 2010

Trying to modify some of the models to make them better. I'm finding some odd things that the students did when modeling, which I didn't pick up at first. Doing it this way has made their files very difficult to modify (since they are also being referenced) and here they are. This is something that will discussed in detail on the next major project.

Combining polygon shapes is never a good thing, especially if they're not using the same material. Modifying the hair from the head is impossible since it's a referenced file and setting UVs a nightmare.

Almost the same thing going on with the previous note, but all shapes must be separated if you're using different shaders. I remember seeing Tyler selecting faces and applying a shader to it, seems harmless but makes updating difficult and rendering problematic. Who knew?

Naming ... As more and more people work on a production, you must name in order to avoid confusion. Also, note how all the models are not 'freeze/reset transformations.' What does this do you wonder? It makes updating the files difficult as any new change to the file, makes objects appear in random places since they're referenced. Very messy.

And finally, separating blendshapes. It seems ok to have blendshapes by emotion, however, when the film has voice over, the blends make mouthshapes ugly. Animating the eyes separate would be great which includes upper and lower lids. Although the mouthshapes are limited, they work quite good. Still could use the 'th' shape. Another side note, having breaths as a blendshape/set driven key would also be great!

This is an example that looks normal, but for strange and unknown reasons, this book disappears when batch rendered.

This is also giving me huge problems. The walls and floor will flicker when the camera is still, and won't show up as any alpha. The fix? I converted the planes (wall, floor) to rectangles. That didn't work but only when I changed the camera angle. I could then reset the camera angle and it would work again ... very strange!

Apr 4 2010

The paint effects as polygons seems to hold better than the paint effects. The grass is really what's slowing renders down with this one taking 4 minutes to render. The rest of the objects have been taken out as for some reason, the fur doesn't want to stay put but randomly move around in 3D.

Apr 2 2010

Getting some more composites ready, this is the depth of field render. Spent the last week trying to research the fastest way to get these files as Zdepth iff files aren't recognized in After Effects. This renders in 3 seconds using a Luminence depth layer in MR.

March 28

Getting files composited however, some files are missing shadows. I've been trying to find a place to render shadow passes on white but I've realized this might not be needed.

March 23

Getting ambient occusion is becoming harder to realize as 1 frame can take 10 minutes to render. I've been trying to find a hack to get AO as a software render. Even as that though, it takes about 30 seconds per frame.

March 20

Compositing in layers and throwing them into Premiere now means there's about 150 sequenced files (some files in 1 sequence has 500 indivitual frames) has caused Premiere to crash so we don't have a video to send to Rabby Teng for musical composition or sound effects. So I've begun putting the sequenced files into After Effects without a DOF pass since ZDepth iff aren't being recognized. My last film used Shake which did recognize iff. EXR is the format needed for AE. My photography background has helped a lot to get this type of shot looking good. Bokeh is unlimited in post so here's a camera lens simulating a F1.4. Too much blur makes the bg black on the edges. Also you can notice the wall on the right (which is closer to the camera) has the same blur as the hallway on the left.

March 14

Heard the first cut from Rabby on the soundtrack. It brings the film to life! Here's apreview(or click below) of some of the different tunes you may hear throughout the film! There's some things that might change, but the lullaby will stay. He's also done a great job with the reverb on the voice overs.

March 10

Begun compositing the layers as the .avi files rendering out of crashing randomly in the lab. The lab is running Intel Core 2 Duos with 4GB of ram but are crashing which I suspected was from Windows Vista. However that's not the case as they are running Windows 7. The machines are also running Maya 2010 now and this is also giving us problems as we can't render backwards meaning a file which is worked on in 2010 must be saved over in 2008 in order to render on a machine using 2008. My Mac Pro runs on 8 cores and it renders most files without crashing. However, some files which my home machine can render in 20 seconds, it takes that machine 30 minutes or more. I suspect when Windows XP was installed on that Mac machine, the tech crew didnt' use Bootcamp which could mean wrong drivers were installed.

March 4

Got a chance to speak about 3D animation at the library during one of their Lunchtime talks. It was a lot of fun and the team also were able to discuss their contribution to the project. It was a great way to give them the spotlight :)

March 3

Fur and paint effects has some great promise but is giving odd results after each render. The shot below has lots of grass which Kirk put together, but not only is it inconsistent, it also takes a few minutes to render 1 frame. I will try to convert to polygons to get faster results.

Feb 26

Kirk has been doing some hair tests, with some pretty solid results using fur.

The final version, looks great! But it turns out there's a lot of problems rendering it out, as it takes 5 minutes per frame. Not only that, the model was modified significantly which makes it impossible to use in animated files. You can never freeze/reset transformations and delete history on a referenced file. I should have told him that.

Feb 20

I wished I shot some photos of the audition of Gabriel's voice in which a colleague, John Dudley brought in his 3 sons and their friend, who are all between the ages of 9-13. Jacob had the best voice acting. Hear it HERE or by clicking the image below. He is naturally gifted and the answer of prayers!!! Finding a child's voice has been so difficult and I auditioned so many people, from college students (male and female) and 6 year olds. The Theater dept. was not helpful so this is the 2nd time a collaboration with SEMO faculty has failed (the first being with the English Dept as I was trying to secure a short story writer)

Feb 10

Rushing to get to the March 24 deadline, everything should be finished by then!

Feb 5

Don't want to spoil the film too much but more final lighting shots.

Does Superbuddy come to a house in the evening or daytime?

bizzare paint effects with background, it's time for render in passes

Feb 4

Finalizing the lighting on all shots.

Feb 3

The workflow is difficult as it involves multiple computers which aren't networked. The files for the project are located on an external drive in my office. I often work at home, which means I must transfer files to a thumbdrive, then put them in the external HD in the office. Doing this everyday is ok, but sometimes, I forget to get the new files from either system. Some work has to be repeated as older files sometimes overwrite new files.

New UV layout makes the rocks more real, this is an example where I had to do it twice, as the new file was overwritten by the old file.

the bg with new UV

Superbuddy looks a bit dark, so he'll have to be brighter

Feb 2 2010

the Dragon looks great from afar, but lacks some energy close up ... spec lighting coming up looks great

how much should the Dragon's redness come into Gabriel?

ground is rough ... need to UV by camera here ...

The reflection is coming hard on his eyes, time to do some facing ratio for the fresnel effect ...

as shown here

experimenting with the background shadow here, how can the shadow be 'larger than life?'

Feb 1 2010

Decided the campfire look seemed more appropriate in the dragon

evil and dark, exactly!

Jan 31 2010

Tyler did his best with lighting. However, I didn't stress naming enough early on so modifying his files has been difficult. There's been a lack of consistancy in naming.

lighting is dark, need to rework some of the textures and UV mapping.

Also very dark, it's amazing how the texture is simply 1 photograph taken in a cave in Van Vieng Laos.

A lot of stuff gets done, so much that sometimes it's hard to keep up with. Here, the bump map and color map in Buddy (now named Gabriel) are different. The cave is dark and deep, the lighting works great to give this effect.

Jan 30 2010

This is the first day of work in 2010, it's been almost 2 months since production halted. It's always hard to get back to work as it takes so long to recall what needs to be done next. Two months to not see file structure, naming and processes, it's difficult to remember what exactly you were doing. It's intimidating! Student workers also decided to take a break. There is an obvious difference between seniors and freshmen students. I would be frightened to try to find work in this recession. I hope I can get some Graduate students too!

The final render of this shot, with the right balance of dirt, mystery and material.

Applied a new light to give a moonlike effect inside the cave

Still a bit dark on the top, it's hard to know that the spikes are close to the camera ...

applied displacement on this shot, as it renders very slowly, making a shot take 4 -6 times longer. This lighting works best ...

too dark

even darker!

really dark!

Jan 20

Went to Canada to meet with the sound engineer, musical composer and sound effects expert, Rabby Teng of 1 Inc Studios. Super talented guy who was able to put my words into music! I'm excited to hear what he'll be able to produce!

Dec 8

This will be the last post for this year. It's been 12 months since the production started. Notice the new cake, a combination of Tyler and Patrick, who did the texture work on the top. It's a great design but will see some modifications.

Nov 25

Continuing with the same scene, this is how it looks with modifcation of the UV in the translation. Definitely looks more disturbing than the render below, which has the same UV in the bump and color map.

Nov 24

It's important to understand how bump works, as you can have 3 levels of bump instead of just 1. In the sword, there's a difference between the bump going into the sword and coming out of the sword. As the students are working, I often go into their work files and change things ...

this ok ... but

this works better

I also have gone and projected UV by camera, as see above. The texture work is messed up, but for something as random and caves, we can easily UV this based on camera and get professional results.

the cave textures are tiled over 3 for color and 2 for bump, giving it a more random look. Above, I have applied a .25 bump.

a bump of 1 with some displacement.

this is 3 bump with displacement applied. Pretty crazy!

Nov 22

Some bizarre rendering problems with the dragon. Lights are not being shown. Nov and April are always hard months for students. We've hit a standstill with lighting shots, having generalist students who can do it all might be too much to ask, as my current workers only like modeling. This school doesn't allow us to focus on any particular 3D skill set which makes production quite difficult.

Some new development in light shots. The fake rim will need to be animated.

Nov 20

We're still modeling and cleaning up textures based on the different shots. This process works well.

The current state of the control room whcih Chris has been working on, still needs to look like it's been through generations. Still a lot better than the original design.

Nov 18

The current lighting workflow is to have student workers working along side me to light the shots. They light the same shot as myself, as we discuss the eventual mood of the shot. We change positions, colors and number of lights to come to a discussion point. What lighting looks best, and why? There is no 3D lighting class so getting help lighting the 35 shots has been tough and very time consuming.

Student lighting

My edit #1 - brought more red into the shot, since he's talking to the dragon, who is also red

Edit #2 - brought back the hot keylight, making him less flat

Edit #3 - brought back the red, while keeping the hot keylight

Made a fix with his blendshape, since his forehead and cheeks look very flat. I couldn't do much more to the checks and since a student created the topology of the face, I didn't get a chance to add an edge loop to the cheek to add more definition.

Nov 14

The fake rim works well but with the flexiblity of referenced files, makes adjusting the rim in different scenes easy.
High Rim

Low rim ramp

The eyes are built in two shapes, with the outer sphere collecting the reflection. I'm starting to wonder if this is really necessary to build the eye this way. Nonetheless, the glass is creating shadows to the eye color so turning off cast shadows is necessary.

Nov 12

Gave the students their own shots to render. We've been rendering straight to avi with half the size to keep rendering to about 20 sec a frame. I'm working with Scott, our tech support to get a shared drive in the 30 computers in the lab to speed up rendering. Unfortunately, it's much more difficult than back at AAU when the server was fast. I'm learning a lot about networks and how slow they are at SEMO University. I've really digressed from AAU but who doesn't miss Cali.

Tyler and I have begun lighting the shots by location: outside the cave, inside the cave, inside with the dragon. My students are working on this about 25-30hrs a week. I've been spending about 20hrs a week this semester. Meeting the Dec deadline doesn't look possible.

Working with Tyler to light the shots. This one needs some trees in the bg. I know Kirk can do this for usI don't have much time to do anything else, even sleep.

The interior room shots are done. Just need the drawings from Michael.

I had to fake rim to speed the lighting process using a ramp to the ambient attribute. The bangs are using the same shader without the fake.

Nov 10

Chris modeled the chandelier after realizing the space is older than having an electrical fan. The open flame makes it easier to see the chandelier, which acts as a halo in a particular shot.

The chandelier without candles.

The room looks brighter too, suggesting an afternoon setting.

Finally got the recording studio working again. I did some recording with Osby in May and the quality was poor. I had to remember how to use the sound board from when I used it extensively during my McMaster U days.

Nov 8

The celebration room, designed to be at night.

This wouldn't have been possible without photographic references. Below for the night. (credit to the respected photographer)

For the daytime. (credit to the respected photographer)

Nov 4

Begun lighting the room based on the draft work of Tyler.

Tyler's work (above) is a bit dark, after making some changes, we still have so odd shadows on the left. As you can tell, the room looks French, the textures were created during my summer trip to Europe. I went to so many churches, I don't remember any of them.

Nov 2

The new missile to match the design of Super Buddy. It also matches the flower better.

Older versions (see Feb 24 for the first version)

Oct 25

Rendering out the scenes is taking a lot of time even in DOS. An image is taking anywhere from 1 - 2 min to render. By changing the anti aliasing quality to low and reducing the image size by half, it now takes about 15 seconds to render 1 frame without complete smoothing.

Oct 23

Making edits to lights that are referenced is giving some problems. The biggest problem that could have been avoided is naming the lights for light linking. I make the assumption that students know to name their files but it's extremely important to name lights and keep elements in their groups in the outliner. Without these simple tasks, the referencing of files is almost impossible to maintain.

I'm also finding that some shots aren't rendering like they should once batch rendering occurs in DOS. More tests are in the works.

Oct 21

Buddy has been upgraded with animation to both his helmet and wings. Because the 'parts' of the helmet breaks down, blurring the animation will help make the parts more seamless.

Chris has done a good job retexturing the dragon. Since all my students learn only modeling in the intro to 3D class, it's great to see these students become more versatile. Other students who have taken the class are becoming better at other areas. I'm starting to teach 3D animation next semester, which will help locate a pure student animator.

The dragon here, seems to blend in the background, which is both good and bad. I think we'll be looking at ways to bring him out more.

Tyler has done a good job lighting. Although he's never lit anything before, this is very promising. I'm wondering how things are going to be 'lit' in a cave, so I've begun consulting with my peers.

Here, the lights are too bright, it brings out the bad texturing of the cave too. I'm feeling there should be more red, like blood splatters.

Oct 18

Buddy's old eyes are gone. Tyler came up with a procedural shader for the eyes. He's now named Gabriel.

Oct 15

Render testing has begun and there's a few different issues that we have to deal with. We are trying to solve a few different logistics we didn't think when developing the pipeline.

Problem 1 - Rendering time
- the use of an entire computer lab to render every shot and saving the files to the server. The lab closes at 10pm - 8am which means the computer must automatically shut down and the files must be saved to a network drive.

Problem 2 - file location
- the server drive (s:) isn't linked the way we referenced the files (h:) making renders a bit tedious

Problem 3 - Mental Ray vs. Software
- which gives the best results in the least amount of time? Which of the two is most important?

Oct 11

The dragon gets a make over.

Oct 9

Luckily a 3D storyboard has been made to label the files onto one page. It's very difficult to manage all the shots without it. Every shot is progressing at different stages so it's very important to quickly know what to work on while juggling other things in life, like buying a car.

Oct 6

I'm really starting to see how much faster it is to work through screenshots when exploring design instead of Maya. You spend less time loading and 'fixing' the model when time should really be spent discussing what's good or bad about the design. I'm starting to book screenings of the film for 2010 at a couple of different venues. Should be exciting! The current process of the dragon's control room.

The room is too open, so more of the units will be compressed into the front. Since the shot in the film is not a long shot, that only seems necessary.

Oct 3

Animation pass #2 is on its way with some shots being added, edited for length or cut all together. Sent out a grant for another production which ended up taking a lot of my week. Some time was spent designing the interior of the Dragon's head. I'm thinking of a 'end all' button to further add to the complexity of the themes in the film.

A 1 page process page for new student workers is a great idea. Naming seems to be the biggest problem for short film production, 2nd would be file reference and linking. Another problem I'm finding is organized model scheduling where some models could be made later in the production vs. things that are absolutely required for animation, etc.

Sept 29

The bomb was redesigned since it was done first and has nothing to do with the design of Super Buddy. About 45 minutes was spent with Tyler doing concept drawing on the huge whiteboard. It was a great session.

Adding arms to change the direction of the missile, having different 'head' types explored ...

The flower was also rebuilt since it now appears easier to animate and easier to see it's silhouette. Here's the original design. It's nice but it doesn't look like a lotus flower.

I don't do this enough, but I did a render of the flower, only to find that it looked really flat. The students did a texture for it but didn't UV it. I went in and cleaned it up.

Here it is applied with a Blinn and smoothed 1 level, when I smoothed it twice, it looked a lot better and less artistic/painterly. I think people would recognize a rose better, and I'm thinking maybe I should have done that instead of a lotus, which most people have never seen outside water. I may close the lotus a bit to make it seem more like a romantic type flower.

Added some more props to add some more depth to Buddy.

Sept 26

Lighting has begun and without any experience, Tyler has done quiet well. It's been 3 years since I lit Winston's Shuttle and with my photography experience, the lighting of this film should be quite well presented.

From the opening shots, dark and mysterious ...

Color temperature, warm or cold?

Quick renders show some bad UV layout and over exaggerated bump

After lighting 5 scenes, the quality is getting better. Many spotlights with an ambient works overall. The split screen design might work in the film too since I cut out a couple shots of Buddy walking. It'll end up being a trend to my work if I decide to do that.

Caves are much darker but suggesting a mystical space might be useful.

More bad bump mapping and UVs. Some lighting in the shots are looking too flat, where the lower right seems better but could use more work.

Dad's textures are coming along and is a great exercise for Chris. I believe this might be the first time he's done it.

Sept 22
David Hayes, the original story writer asked to see some shots, so I sent him the latest animation, which was the helmet animation. Having something transform from something to nothing is quite difficult to get the consistent style. Since the wings and flower will be animating, I have been watching closely how things are being transformed.

Sept 16

Focus has been lost with the team since coming back from the Summer break. The students are not saving their latest files on their drives to present them during meetings. They aren't saving jpg screenshots to help us stay away from Maya, they are not writing notes again and are not remembering the discussions during meetings. They are not naming files correctly, shaders, textures and not linking those textures to the default drive letter. There's still more problems!

So they asked to do a work session together. Lots of work completed during a 5 hr session in the computer lab. With some minor distractions from other students in the room, the process was necessary. Watching how the students work helps me better understand their strengths and weaknesses, interests and focus. It seems that the students have one interest. I may need to consider bringing in other students to work on other areas. I also need to teach animation to get help in that area, since it's the most time consuming.

Some work from the session:

The original design of Super Buddy's glider, which gave us the most problem in design.

The 2nd design, a lot of time was spent designing and redesigning. I think the process could be much faster if more time was spent in concept design. This design is good but seems too much like a butterfly.

The 3rd and 4th (final) design of the glider. Texturing the head, body and limbs shows some promise. The superboy logo was shot down pretty fast. But nonetheless, the students are thinking.

Some great detail work by Chris.

Sept 13

The living room has been retextured to appear like a old medieval church room with stained glass windows. Not the final design but it's much better than the stale 'Prairie style' interior of Frank Lloyd Wright. I shot all the textures in France during my raid of French church textures. The dimensions of the room seems almost like a jail, which is interesting. Here's the room with the 'celebration' props. The banner and cake textures are not done since Brandon our graphic designer left to grad school.

Finished modeling and partial texturing of the greeting cards. Right now, they're not complimenting the design of the film. Since it's suppose to be in the early 1980s, it may be too graphic.

Sept 6
Watched a few movies the last month which is not common. I discovered a few different ways to move the story faster. A walking scene was cut as well as a 'tired' shot. First pass animation is done and I'm now in the 2nd pass while waiting for the final modeling of super buddy. One problem was my students textures not appearing since they were running off their own computers but since going to drive H: and having the same file structure, things are moving smoothly. Referencing files without groups is hard, since they are not cleaning up the outliner. Another problem is adding too much detail on props that don't matter. Here's an example:

This is an awesome wooden sword with bent rusted nails too! There's no close up shot with this sword so all that time spent on it was not necessary. Fixing these management problems will speed up the creative process a bit, enough to matter.

August 26
The third cut is now 7 minutes long. A lot of the 2D was cut and I think more can be cut from the 'walking' scenes. The 2D shots will be drawings that come to life with layering and tilt on a 3D plane. The words will also appear like a booking coming to life.

Final thoughts from Dad will simply be some mouth movements. It's not important what he says, but leaves the audience with some breathing room to interpret it anyway they want.

July 29

Super Buddy is taking a different design since last. Using Jing to send back design ideas seems to be working well. The proportions are very off, a problem that student workers have. Luckily, I was able to catch it before rigging.

July 14

The second cut is now 11 minutes long which I still think is too long. I've started cutting the descriptions in the narration. If I cut too much, what will be of the story? The dialogue between Connor and dragon is already 3 minutes and setting up the story is another 3 minutes.

If the 3D part is 5 minutes, the narration can't be longer than that. I really saw it being 3 minutes of narration and 4 minutes of 3D animation. I've also begun changing the dialogue and script making buddy more scared and giving insight to dad's final thoughts.

July 10

The first cut of the film is finally done. Almost 8 minutes is spent introducing the story through drawings and narration and another 5 is spent in 3D. A 13 minute short film is too long and I've began cutting the narration and 3D dialogue.

July 6

Animation is being done and all shorts in 3D are being blocked out. I've begun finishing the rig of dad and added a couple new props to add to the story. A flower and mountain are currently being modeled.

July 3

I began speaking with Rabbi, the music composer and listened to his work. I'm very excited to say that his skills are better than I imagined. After getting some suggestions from students for composers, there's no one better than Rabbi.

June 30

Super buddy being over the top with the rainbow design. The flower is also used and foreshadows the future. Although the lotus flower is more the design I'm going for, this gives me some other ideas. Super buddy looks great from the side view but I'll have to do more changes to the rest of him to make him look more friendly, stream like and cooler.

June 18

The doll only appears for a few seconds so although it looks anatomically incorrect, it will be sufficient for its screen time. Since I don't want to suggest same sex 'stuff', Chris is working on a male version too. I will be making some changes to the face.

June 6

Some different designs of dad. I wanted him to look like a traditionalist, someone who can't think for himself. He reminds me a bit like John Lennon.

The cave opening with updated textures. The gravel probably isn't needed since this path isn't used often. The sign may remain to keep a playfulness to the story.

May 30

Some more designs and redesigns of Buddy's glider.

May 14

Oz came in to do some voice over for another film and I thought we'd try him for the dragon. It is the best I have come up with so far for a voice. He is a very talented voice actor. Unfortunately, I recorded him too quiet so I'll have to bring him into the studio again.

May 11

Super buddy's design is starting to take shape. He does look different from original designs. The main idea is for him to look like a friendly warrior. He may look a bit too feminine though and I don't want to suggest anything about his gender preferences.

April 27

Major design problems with Super Buddy. I don't want to lose the character of Buddy if we made a mega robot out of him.

April 22

Voice overs have been started and while Buddy's voice is working, the dragon is looking like a demon. Some students suggested I went for a more Poltergeist sound. From the volunteer voice over group, I should be able to come up with a deeper, scarier sounding dragon/demon.

April 18

Animatic for buddy's transformation is underway. Tyler suggested I have him toss a flower instead of a small round ball (A27).

April 12

After a test, Buddy got a slight makeover, the texture work may not be complete but it's a good start, with diffuse, transparency and bump maps.

April 11

Buddy's eyes at this stage. Looks better than before but might need a real photo texture.

April 9

The cave opening in different stages. The 2nd is currently being reworked. The guys don't like texturing as much as modeling.
This is with a wall, looks like a war zone so Chris is reworking the wall. The box is the size of Buddy.

April 7

The dragon from what I did to Tyler's additional design and placement. Again, modeling is really moving fast compared to other aspects of the project. It is looking good for student work under my guidance.

April 4

Early development of a sword for the dragon.

April 1

The first shot of the cave wall. Our dragon will fit nicely on the wall.

March 29

Texture work on the cave using existing photographs taken from my trip to random caves in Laos. It worked out well.

March 28

The living room UV' ed. I was going for a Frank Lloyd Wright Parried style to give it a more home like feel, but after thinking about the story, a more traditional, routine like room seems to fit the message better.

March 26

Buddy's textures in stages. I wanted a more feminine character ... he also looks 5 instead of 13. A nice attempt by Chris.


March 22

Buddy's father is being modeled from Buddy. Based on the shots, there will only be a couple head shots and a full body silhouette shot. Chris has started this task.

March 15

Buddy is now fully rigged with blendshapes and is ready to be handed back to Tyler. Tyler will be doing some animation tests and some dialogue tests with the initial blend shapes. Buddy will be playing with some dolls, so his character will be more unconventional. Will need some basic human models for toys and a basic body with detailed head for father. Mom will be as a silhouette in 2D form. We picked up Chris this week, which should give a major boost to production time. He will be picking up on cave modeling/texturing where Jeremy left off.

March 10

Buddy is looking too Asian so I had to make some changes to Tyler's original model. He wasn't looking cute enough either so I made him chubbier, almost as if he's a 5 year old. There's also a problem with converting to Sub D, which probably has to do with the idea that Buddy is not entirely in quads. The room is also complete mimicking the prairie style of Wright. After visiting a Catholic church, candles and the more ritual approach will be appearing in this room.

March 2

The missile and stand are complete. Still behind with the schedule as the project should be at animation/texture now. Also to note: major lapse in 'note taking' as I'm finding the team is having a hard time remembering what I ask for in meetings. This will be a major problem as I can not focus on 1 project at a time. Jeremy has had some things to deal with and won't be working on this project, it gives a major blow to production.

Feb 24

The missile is almost done. It looks good. It needs some moving parts though as it will transform literally. The idea of making Buddy into a Megaman type character during the change has been put on hold.

Feb 16

Production is slow. I will be gone to LA to speak at CAA. Meetings will be held over Skype. I've begun modeling the dragon. Since he will be in pieces and rely mostly on lighting and textures, there hasn't been a major emphasis.

Feb 8

Modeling is coming along with Buddy. Tyler has only had 1 Maya class and his progress is very good. Brandon is on board and will give us some texture help. He has no background in Maya but his Photoshop skills will be needed. Storyboards are also complete. Determining the drawing style is underway and well as the rendering style. Something like "big planet" may be the direction we'll take.

Feb 1 2009

The cave is being built by shot with reuseable parts. Jeremy has worked well while using references from his own personal experiences and my photos. It's good to know Missouri has the most caves in USA so he brings lots of knowledge

Jan 20 2009

Arrived back in USA. Time to recover but meet with the team: Jeremy and Tyler. They will be getting started with modeling the cave and Buddy.

Dec 10 2008

Got Jeremy and Tyler on board for this project. How well they can help with their limited background in Maya will be questionable. Still worth the experiment.

Nov 20 2008

Great News! The grant was approved and production is slated for January!

Oct 27 2008

Completed the grant proposal for the Grant for Research and Funding. The grant has changed emphasis from creating a narrative based short film to discovering the production methods to speed up the process of creating a short film. Very interesting turn based on the recommendation of the Department Dean, Randall Shaw.

Oct 6 2008

Played Soul Caliber 4 and got some great inspirational ideas for the dragon. I wanted to bring in a different twist with the character. I've also decided to begin some work on the transformation of Buddy as a Megaman type character. It will give an interesting design contrast from the dragon.

Sept 30 2008

Buddy is being created. I wanted to go for the typical 3D kid character we often see. Has similar proportions as the baby in Incredibles.

May 08 2008

After a talk with David, I'm deciding to change the story a bit. The original has a children's story ending and I want to comment on some current events. I officially rejected the offer from GCU and accepted an offer at SEMO University so I'm busy making the necessary arrangements for relocation.

April 08 2008

Spoke with David Hayes, a colleague at Grand Canyon University to see if he had any short stories. After reading 3 from him, this one was the obvious choice, entitled "The Last Dragon."