Sunday, 25 November 2007

Polygon Project

Did some tests last night and they worked! First time! This is an unusual occurence for me, as things usually fuck up straight away and I end up giving up in frustration. I am properly excited about it now though, and I can't wait to try it out in the shoe factory.

Hopefully you'll understand what I'm trying to do now, as I am aware my previous explanations were a bit rubbish. Just try and imagine this on a much larger scale, with way more shapes and more interesting things happening, without a kitchen table in the way...

My First Map from Retchy on Vimeo.

Edit - 01/03/08: It's been brought to my attention that I didn't actually explain how I did this in the end. So for those of you that are interested, here's how I've managed to do it without any programming trickery, which is what I feared may be involved.

The first thing I did was stumble across Deepvisual's tutorial on Youtube about how to do 3D mapping in Modul8 - here it is. Luckily, I have a copy of Modul8 and it was a great relief when I discovered you could do it this easily. To summarise his video, it basically involves taking 2D shapes into M8 and using the Perspective Transform Freeframe effect to distort the shape as if it were in 3D space. You do this as you are projecting onto whatever you want to map so you can see when it's lined up correctly.

Once you're happy with how it's lined up (and it can be a bit fiddly with this method), you need to render a frame of all of the shapes as they are set up in Modul8. If the map isn't quite right and leaks over the edges a bit, you may want to take the render into photoshop to trim the edges until it's right - this is completely trial and error and you'll need to keep importing new versions into M8 to test them as you go, but if you keep the current version projected onto the shapes you can make slightly better judgements by cross referencing. If you're doing more complex shapes than just triangles (like badly made cubes with curvy edges!) this can take quite a while.

So you've got the mask finalised, now you need to animate it. I use After Effects, so I took the still frame and used it as a template for my animations. Make sure the movie is at the same resolution as you have set up in M8 (in this case it was 640 x 480) so that it lines up properly when you bring the final animation back in to be projected. That should be it, as long as you've kept the projector in EXACTLY the same position the whole time. Pretty simple really if you've got all the right kit, but this is probably not the most efficient or accurate method, and perhaps wouldn't work for more organic, irregular shapes (although I haven't tried this). It works for my purposes at the moment though...hope this might help someone.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Amazing Maurice

The backgrounds are finished! Big thanks to Joseph - he done 'em, he did. We're gonna animate a few bits and pieces, like the fireplace in the kitchen, and drips in the caves etc. We need to re-scan the red barn I think, cos the colours are a bit screwed compared to the original.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Amazing Maurice

We did a quick test of the projector at the theatre on Friday, and discovered it's not very bright and makes our work look a bit shit, so we're going to need to borrow a good one from the college. I was a bit worried that we'd been doing everything on too small a scale, but having seen it projected I think we'll be fine with a decent projector. I would have more to show you, but I left my laptop charger at college and have about two minutes to write this - goodbyeeee!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Amazing Maurice

This is pretty much the finished version for the intro projection, although I've left out the 10 minutes of slowly moving clouds that will be there when the actors are doing their thing. The actor playing Maurice (the cat) will come on stage as the cat fades out...

Cheers Joe, awesome background!

Amazing Maurice Intro - Finished from Retchy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Amazing Maurice

Here we go, our first bit of animation for the projections. It's not finished though - just need to replace the background it zooms into with the proper finished and coloured one when we get it.

Amazing Maurice Intro from Retchy on Vimeo.

I think the jerkiness adds to it's charm.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Aurora 2007

Just had a great weekend helping out with the animation festival, as well as catching a few of the programs. The two Robert Breer screenings were definite highlights for me - I wasn't really aware of his work before this weekend, but it's clear other animators I've admired in the past have been. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to him a bit (well, Richard talked and I mainly listened), and there was a weird reversal of perspectives going on, where Richard was espousing the merits of film and it's freshness to us younguns, whereas Robert was defending all things digital, arguing that it was cheaper, easier for people to make a living from, and more reliable (I bet he wasn't thinking that when the dvd kept skipping during one of his screenings). Anyway, that little conversation, as well as his awesome films, have helped me develop my Polygon Project a bit more - more on that later!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


This is quite possiblty the best thing I've ever seen! I loves it, I do -


I saw some of his stuff ages ago, and he seems to have become a bit of a youtube hit now. I also think I may have ripped off his style a bit on some of my recent animations, without realising it of course. Only a little bit though - his ideas are far more fucked up than mine. Check out his web site for many many more amazing things -

Aaaand another good one that I'm allowed to embed...

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Polygon Project

A few very quickly sketched out ideas for the polygons. They will probably end up looking nothing like this, just thought I should actually post some of my own stuff for a change...

Monday, 5 November 2007

Polygon Project

I've got a better idea of what the hell I'm doing for my first self negotiated project now. Yay! Ummm...yeah, polygons. This is now officially called The Polygon Project, and will involve the reacreation of a digital 3D space in an analogue (i.e. real) 3D space. That sounds ridiculous I know, but let me try to explain.

Animating stuff in 3D software has traditionally pissed me right off, because it's so bloody fiddly and annoying. So I've always fancied having a go at subverting it somehow, and at dealing with a similar aesthetic but with the advantages and imperfections that live action filming can bring. The plan is to come up with some very simple compostions and models in Maya (3D software), and recreate them in the big old shoe factory (where the bluescreen space is), using hanging cardboard cut-outs of each of the polygons, but also to space them at varying distances from the camera, so that when the camera moves there is an artificial parallax effect - kind of like the channel 4 idents, but in reverse...

The idea is to blend in these live action shots with some fancy After Effects animations in post production. I don't really know why at the moment - I think I originally wanted to have the animations almost break down and have people or microphones being revealed as the camera screws up its moves or something.

Anyway, that's the 3D space / camera move recreation sorted (like there's not going to be any problems), "but what about the textue mapping!?", I hear you ask. Well, I'm going to use that projection mapping technique I've been on about to project onto each individual polygon, so I'll effectively be able to animate the whole set up as I film the camera moves, and because I'll be filming in darkness, anything that isn't being projected onto should be invisible, so I'll be able to play around with how the shapes are revealed, coloured, patterned etc.

This is really just a series of tests and experiments to see what the technique is capable of, and (assuming that something good comes from it) I'll go on to develop it for different ideas later in the year.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Amazing Maurice

Things are getting going now - We've got Joseph, one of the 3rd year animators, doing the backgrounds for us, and David found an old victorian photo album that we're customising and using as the book to animate opening onto the first scene at the start of the play. Should have something to show you within the next couple of days...

Friday, 2 November 2007

Sound Re-Design

Here's some stuff wot might be of interest to my classmates, cos we have to do a similar thing at some point...

Untitled#2 from # on Vimeo.

untitled from # on Vimeo.

We have to redesign the sound track to a 3 minute clip of our choice I think. Thought these were quite interesting in how non-literal sounds were used to give the images a different character...