h1

Composer Alan Williams Creates an EPIC score for TAR!

July 17, 2014

AlanConducting

Alan Williams is an award-winning composer and conductor with more than 100 motion picture and television credits. Alan’s scores include the Academy Award nominated IMAX film, Amazon, Sony Pictures Classics’ Mark Twain’s America in 3D and some of the highest rated movies made for television. Alan composed the award-winning score to the animated film, “The Princess and the Pea” and also co-wrote the original songs with Grammy Award winning Lyricist David Pomeranz as well as the Student Academy Award winning short “Pajama Gladiator”.  His score to “Estefan” received an Annie nomination for best original score. He has been awarded the Insight Award for Excellence for his score to “Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa”, 13 Accolade Awards for Best Original Score, 8 Park City Film Music Festival Gold Medal for Excellence awards as well as his score to “Crab Orchard” being named as one of the Top 20 Film Scores of 2005.  Alan has received 3 Global Music Awards for his albums “The Cinema Collection”, “The Documentary Collection” and “Patriots of Freedom” and a Prestige Film Gold Award for his score to “Cowgirls n’ Angels.”

When Alan contacted me during last years Kickstarter campaign about creating music for TAR, I didn’t really understand just how amazing and generous his offer was. I had an idea that the score needed drums, but otherwise I was pretty clueless about music…

Today he blew my mind with the the most awesome, visceral, pounding, epic musical score for the first episode! My heart was racing as I listened to it! It was just intensely powerful–it totally takes the animation to a higher level. It is EPIC!

You will hear it soon, and I know you will love it too. Until then, check out his work at http://alanwilliams.com

h1

Behind the Scenes…

April 1, 2014

My wife captured this slightly embarrassing video of me choreographing a fight sequence for TAR in the back yard. I was using the lid to one of her pots as a shield, which made for an even more ridiculous situation when the neighbor came out to walk his dog….

h1

Stylizing the look…

March 18, 2014

Have you noticed that the “look” of big budget animated movies has become  homogenized?  However beautiful those globally illuminated, sub-surface scattered, realistically simulated CG worlds have become, there is a common look to them…. I think it is because the artists and the tools are the same from studio to studio…

From what I understand about the industry, artists move from film to film, studio to studio, as each project ends (self described “pixel gypsies”)… The tools are similar between studios, the feature orgy in 3D software pushing in a Darwinian way towards a synthetic hyper realism.

Style4

The last animation that I posted suffered from this same look, and I had to stop and think about why…. I think  there is an unconscious bias towards that style, because our tools favor it, and there is an expectation that for it to be accepted   it has to have that look.

I am just one guy.  Even if I thought that this homogenous CG look was great–there are hundreds of people involved in creating it–and if my work attempts to emulated it, then it will rightly be compared to it.  The animation, the particles and effects, the lighting–everything has to be at Hollywood level…If it is not, then rather than being immersed in the story with the characters, the viewer is going to be distracted….

Realizing I needed to stylize the look–Dig a little deeper than what the tools want to give me–make them give me what I want,  I started looking at my influences for TAR of Zandoria to see what it was that I liked (and figure out how to make the computer render it).

Style1

Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, and Simon Bisley are my favorite fantasy artists. So I started looking at their paintings for stylistic cues that I could try to emulate–since that genre is the inspiration for TAR, if I could make it come to life that would be more satisfying….

The first thing that jumped out at me is the strong contrast between light and dark–It is called chiaroscuro in painting. The defined contours in Frazetta’s and Bisley’s work also stood out–I think this comes from their background in comics before they started painting…

Style2

The backgrounds are painted of course, and since I was already using a matte painting approach to creating my backgrounds for TAR, this is an easy shift–Even running a Photoshop filter was an improvement over the realistic matte painting…

I added toon shading to the edges of my objects, and I relighted the scene with a key light and a couple of fill lights.  I think I am also going to tweak something with the diffuse falloff at the edges, to get a look for like my airbrushed version of TAR.

h1

Shot 1(5)

February 12, 2014

I was watching some behind the scenes shots from the Blue Sky film “Epic”, and saw a lot of reference footage that was acted-out by the animators and used as a reference. I thought that the motion and timing was very naturalistic, and if a big studio can do it, then why not me?

1(5)-rotoscoping

So I opened up the iPad and filmed a couple of takes of me taking off my shield/hat and flipping my staff around to use as a club, as storyboarded.

TAR_SC1_6A

Dropping the footage into Animation:Master as a rotoscope, I was able to step forward in the timeline and see myself acting out the shot.  The timing and spacing was already worked out–I just stepped to where I needed to set keyframes and posed TAR to match….

One thing that had struck me as odd on the Blue Sky example is that the reference shot matched the finished shot exactly for the camera angle…. To me, I had thought of myself as TAR, standing looking into the shadows at Ninja Pass–preparing to charge into a fight! The best camera angle came after I had dropped TAR into the Choreography.

h1

3D Print your own TAR of Zandoria Collectible!

January 23, 2014

TAR_stl_1

Download and 3D print your own TAR of Zandoria collectible statue! Print it and put it on your desk. Print it and give it as a gift. Take a picture and share it! Every time someone sees this statue, they are going to ask “What IS that!?”

That is going to help spread awareness of this project, and the cost of the .stl will help me keep the lights on ;)

Pierre at Cults3D invited me to upload  my sculptures to their new 3D model marketplace where people can buy print-ready models to build on their 3D printers. It seems like a great idea–I imagine that there are only so many Stanford bunnies and Yoda heads that a person needs… As 3D printers become ubiquitous there is a need for high quality sculpts to fill the build platforms.

I foresee that there is going to be a market for commission work too, so if you need a little help bringing your idea to life, please give me a shout. Here it is on Thingiverse

TAR_stl_2

h1

Landscapes

January 21, 2014

I have been a little torn between using somewhat realistic CG landscapes or digital paintings for this project. After doing a number of tests each way, I felt that a hybrid matte painted look was going to be better for the introduction of this character…

I started with a Digital Elevation Map (DEM) and exported a greyscale image from MicroDEM. The DEM files and software are available for free here.

ADAMANA, AZ

Using the greyscale values, it is pretty simple to generate a terrain mesh. In this case, I used Zbrush to generate the geometry, but I exported it to Sculptris to work on the detail and textures. The reason I wanted to use Sculptris is that I could use the Reduction brush to simplify the geometry in the distance. The detailed rocks in the pass is where the main action of the scene is, so I figured that I could just drop the landscape in as a PROP and render everything in A:M…

WIP_1-14-14

Unfortunately, the maximum texture resolution in Sculptris was too pixelated when rendering up close. So I decided to render the landscape by itself to get the lighting, and retouch it in Photoshop to create matte paintings to use as background rotoscopes in A:M.

I added the dunes in the distance, and the sky, as layers underneath the rendering. Then I added extra detail of the rocks and scrub as an overlay layer.

1(3)_retouched

I set the ground plane to Front Projection Target and Flat Shaded.

1(3)_wireframe

Now the only object in the shot is TAR. The dust particles are Sprites emitted with each step, and are drifting off to the right as though blown by the wind (actually there is a fan Force Emitter creating the wind).

I started rendering the shot (in HD, 1280 x 720), The first couple of frames took over 1-1/2 hours!  With over 400 frames in just this shot, that was way too long…I knew that I was going to have to make some compromises….  I eliminated global illumination, ambient occlusion, and multipass–relighted the scene with Z-buffered shadows instead of ray-tracing. The new render time was only 2 minutes per frame!

TAR_1(3)_342

 

h1

Zbrush to Animation:Master

December 24, 2013

I’ve been learning to digitally sculpt in Zbrush, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve abandoned Animation:Master. I need to be able to take the sculpture back into my animation program to rig it and animate.

I’m still learning my way around Zbrush, but thought it might be helpful to some if I documented the steps to get a model from Zbrush to A:M:

ZB2AM-1

ZB2AM-2

ZB2AM-3

ZB2AM-4

ZB2AM-5

The Zremesher is really awesome–I went from almost 1/2 million polygons to a little over 6,000 patches! There are some retopology tools that I’m going to explore too (looks like I can manually redraw sections of the mesh if I don’t like the automatic results…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 279 other followers