Monday, March 31, 2008

Flash Suit 1: Explanation of the project

I know it's been a few weeks since the last post. Here's my attempt to remedy the dry spell.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had started a new 3D project. Allow me to clarify that this is a PERSONAL project, and not a freelance piece from a paying client. With that said, I'm holding myself to a high level of performance on this. One of my favorite books that I've ever had the pleasure of reading is Orson Scott Card's classic sci-fi novel, Ender's Game.

For those of you have not read it, shame on you. Head to your local library and check out a copy now. Ender's Game, without giving out any plot details, involves teams of children competing in zero-gravity. They are organized into 'armies', each with their own distinctive artwork.

For this project, I've settled on the first battle between Dragon army and Rabbit army. I believe this battle will lend itself well to an animation form. The specifics of the battle, the battleroom layout, outcome, and strategy are all significantly independent from the story so as not to suffer without the additional context.

Why a battleroom game? I've been agonizing for a while over the decision: what to animate next. Wompa gave me enough of a nightmare of hair (rendering on a single cpu is painful at best. 270 million hair-frames later (hairs * frames) I'm ready to jump out the window). John suffered from needing a somewhat realistic environment, not to mention he's a slow moving individual to start.

I really wracked my brain. Surely other animators don't go through this kind of pain, just trying to think of a good subject to animate. I finally decided to look at my own weaknesses, and stamp them out once and for all.

I realized that I've never taken on an animation that involves lip-sync, or quick motion. After reading Ender's Shadow for a third time (haha 'third'!) I realized that I was staring at the perfect animation idea.

I immediately set to work designing what the flash suits would look like. Sketches moved from fun to painful quickly, as I realized I had one idea, and needed about 30. I'll post some of the sketches I threw down at some point after this, but for now, I can proudly say I've finished modeling Ender's face and helmet. I may still tweak his features between now and the final model, but this was more about designing a helmet that would accomplish its purpose, and still have the right aesthetic for the project.

Without further explanation, here are the first renders of the battleschooler's head.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Flashgun 1: Inspiration Sucks

Almost every artist will agree with me. Inspiration sucks. Inspiration is like a hot girl that never returns your calls.

Until one night, and it's like 2:30 in the morning, and she calls you, drunk, and tells you she needs you to come pick her up because her ride ditched her.

And do you get up at 2:30 and feed this thing? Of course you do. Every artist does. It's either that, or convince yourself that the idea you just had wasn't that good.

All that is a metaphoric explanation for why this drawing was done on a whiteboard, with multiple dry-erase markers, and snapped with a crappy cellphone camera.

This is a prop for an animation I've just started. I'll be documenting my progress on this prop from beginning to end, as I find time to work on it.

Flashgun 1: