3D animation is a very common animation type in modern day media, especially when it comes to companies such as Walt Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and Blue Sky. Pixar’s Toy Story was the first 3D fully animated movie, first released in 1995. However Pixar did not use popular programmes such as Maya or Cinema 4D, but a software called Renderman, which they still use to this date. For this task I looked at different resources from YouTube, Wikipedia and the Pixar website itself. In this task I have chosen 3 Pixar shorts to compare when it comes to animation technniques, creation process and various job roles, however it is important to know the difference between Forward and Inverse Kinematics before going into 3D animation.
The difference between the two kinematics is very simple- Forward Kinematics is when a 3D robot computes the position of an End-Effector depending on the joint parameters, whereas Inverse Kinematics is when an animator manually maps out the final position on an End-Effector. An example of this would be the bending of a leg, forward kinematics would bend the knee and flatten the foot, whereas inverse could bend the foot backwards or sideways, depending on the animators choice. An End-Effector is the end point of an object, for example the tips on a finger on a hand or the toes of a foot, something that is design to interact with the space/ environment around it.
The first short film I decide to look at was one of Pixar’s theatrical shorts, Presto. This animation is about the feelings of the bunny ‘Alfie’, when he’s been neglected one too many times and the love/ hate relationship between it and the magician. Presto is a mixture of both old and new style of comedy- older comedies were filled with quick and simple jokes like slipping on a banana or someone making a fool of themselves, whereas now people like to relate to humour and come to a funny conclusion rather than being told the punch line straight away. In the videos below it’s clear to see the process of what stories were going to be used for the final product, this was done by making several different gags, some being funnier than others and getting a group of people to discuss it. Like my ‘Warbutons Advert’ task, Pixar created an animatic to see what the short film would turn out like before going into fully animating it.
The programme Pixar used was Renderman, a rendering programme they have been using for over 20 years. Their first step to making a 3D animation, the creators at Pixar created real life sculpture out of clay because the substance is much easier to work with and they can then base the CGI characters off the real life ones they made. Pixar usually do this with a lot of their films, including ‘Inside Out, as well as drawing characters and scenes out using pen and paper. It’s not until after all the shots are complete, that the graphic designers put in more detail such as hair and clothe creases. For observing the first animatic, Pixar had drawn over 150 frames just for this 5 minute sketch, and this doesn’t include the other frames created when animating the figures in Renderman. Additionally throughout the video the character shape changes due to experimenting with what shape heads portrays a certain character style- this doesn’t become an issue until rendering on Renderman as that’s when the character design starts.
During the 2004 released film ‘The Incredibles’, there is a scene near the end of the film where Mrs Incredible is listening to voice messages from Kari, the babysitter about how frantic it is to look after Jack Jack, Mr and Mrs Incredible’s baby. The short Pixar film ‘Jack Jack Attack’ shows what happens between Jack Jack and the baby sitter, as well as new powers of Jack Jack that weren’t shown in the film and what happens to non-supers after having dealt with meta humans.
By looking at the different media the different stages of the creation of both Jack Jack Attack and The Incredibles, as they were both made for one film, it made finding the processes easier. This Pixar short was released after the film in 2005- character design was a step they could leave out as the characters were created in Renderman for the original film. The characters were based off real life people relating to Jason Lee, one of the main designers, Kari was based off his niece and Jack Jack was based off of his own son, except for a few ticks to make it more cartoon like, they were created by character designers Teddy Newton and Tony Fucile. Newton and Fucile used clay to model the characters like in Monsters Inc and Presto. However to figure out the plot and script throughout the short, the team of Pixar writers (Mark Andrews, Rob Gibbs, Teddy Newton and Bosco Ng) who found it ‘much easier as they only had to work with Kari and Jack Jack with the cameo appearance of Syndrome (voiced by Jason Lee) and the investigator Rick Dicker (voiced by Bud Luckey).
From looking at both of these shorts it does give me an idea as to what processes are required to do when it comes to making a 3D animation; storyboard/ animatic, 3D modelling/ animation and then rendering. I feel that I have learnt some valuable information about Pixar shorts and forward/inverse kinematics, even though I have never heard or seen the rendering programme Renderman before, I look forward to using it in the future.
My team’s film noir trailer will be based on L.A Noire’s case file, “The Lipstick Murder”, this is where a serial goes around killing women and leaving a cryptic message on the bodies using lipstick. My group’s alternative story is where the chief of the police department (Myself) is the serial killer who has murdered two victims, however another body appears who is a copycat murderer where the body’s (Nichola) throat has been slashed. Additionally the third body that appears is the sister of the mysterious anti-hero (Nichola). This makes the investigation harder for myself as I knows there are two murderers but he cant admit that to the head investigator (Zach).
Myself, Matt, Nichola and Zach have our own individual roles which will ensure that our trailer will be professional and organised. What my jobs entails throughout the filming process is making sure the audio is clear when we go out recording i.e. using the correct boom box appropriate for the wind type, sketching up the story boards for the trailer so we know what kind of shots we can do/ get rid of and help during the editing process, putting the appropriate makeup on the actors & working with latex for the slashed throat victim and assisting Matt during the final editing process, so then Nichola can see if the tint is too blue or if a clip is too short. This’ll mean she will have to practice using various eye shadow pallets for making it appear someone is bruised and working with latex to give the appearance of ripped skin. When it comes to acting on set, Nichola will have to get used to wearing a corset and wearing a steam punk monocle as our main twist to the trailer is steampunk, that and practice on making a fight scene looking realistic as there will be a fight scene with in the trailer between the anti-hero (Nichola) and the police chief (myself). The main actors will be Nichola as the antagonist, myself as the police chief and Zach as the chief detective.
Nichola: main actor, screen writer, assistant editor, makeup
Matt: director, editor, designer, props, actor
Tom: cameraman, sound, main actor, management
Zach: main actor, producer, management
The location we’ve decided to film is in Camden, close to Camden Lock as it has a steampunk feel with the quirky shops and the fashion style that the public wear, they would be ideal for innocent bystanders in the background. Furthermore there are quite a few empty alley ways which will be ideal for chase scenes and sound recordings (there won’t be as much wind compared to recording audio on the main street). Additionally if we lack any props then we can always find a few items in shops and borrow a few off the local people. We may film in other places around London such as alley ways near our houses and within Kingston College for an interview scene. Before filming Nichola will have to make a large sign that says “Student Recording” as we will be working with realistic looking prop guns. Props that we’ll have to get for shooting will be the costumes (though they’ll be worn on the journey there), prop guns, police tape, a camera for Matt to take photos of dead bodies, metal pole for fight scene (made out of foam) and fake blood.
The equipment we will definitely need for our filming will be a boom mic to block out the rough rusting sound of the wind and focus more on the voice of the actors, we probably will not need a large boom as we wont be recording in a windy environment. Something that will also be needed will be a light source whether it be a torch or portable light box as lighting is key for recording if we want to highlight someone’s face to make their facial expressions clear and we’d need a light source if we were recording in a dark environment. As well as those two we’ll need a high quality camera, a reflector to capture natural light, microphone (for the boom box) and scripts for the actors to work on and a heavy duty tripod to put the camera on and to carry the wire which will be plugged in the boom box.
In conclusion we need a selection of items for filming, ideally we would use high quality equipment to ensure we have a high quality video with sharp audio and visual details. As we would be hiring them, we’d have to record in Camden quite early/ late as we’d have to give the equipment back after a few days. Personally my group and I have come up with a great interpretation of the “Lipstick Murder” case and it’ll look very striking with the cyber punk theme.
After planning each individual roles to each other, next was to create the pre-production including script, costume planning, call sheets and prop planning. Nicholas job in this group would be to create the main script and storyboards, which we would then develop with other ideas and concepts. Additionally she would assist Matthew Roberts in the final editing process, looking for any errors and whether some parts should be changed. In the film industry teams tend to be assigned to a task throughout a filming process, whether that be makeup, filming, account management, production, etc.
Our storyboard was based off the first concept that we had as a group, however Nichola decided to make another a based off our script so then it would be easier to edit during the final process. In her first storyboard set she had a variety of close up and long shots to show off the characters emotions and the landscape, however after looking at the trailer budget and items we would’ve needed it would have been very difficult to create.On the other hand having the black outs during the trailer was a great idea as it is seen in modern day trailers today, so she decided to keep it for the other storyboard set.
Risk assessment sheets are key when it comes to film productions because people have to be safe throughout the production, this usually included blunt objects, prop guns, body doubles and stunt cushions. With our production we checked through this list seeing what would effect this filming and our health and if there were then we wrote down the severity rating going from 1 to 5. One of the conditions that we had to be careful with the most is weather as it would roughly be 5 degrees Celsius and we would be doing shots in the cold, this would be challenging as the actors could be uncomfortable and it could even damage the equipment.
The script was Nicholas job to create, this meant writing up what characters say, various shots and characters motions when saying lines. Usually she would write character’s names on the script however the only character with a name is Zachary Creer, so she decided to just write the actor’s names. After creating the first draft, she compared it to her storyboard and discussed it with the team and we thought it would be best to get rid of the Gene Krupa- Sing Sing Sing (Truth Soul Remix) song from the original L.A. Noire soundtrack and replace it with a song that suits the genre more. Additionally Nichola moved the dead body shots down to about 30 seconds into the trailer, therefore making it more of an impact when the viewers see the victims of the crime.
Next was costume and makeup, this was something I was not experienced with, so with had help from an FX artist Lauren Brooks (@xlauren_brooksx on Instagram), she already had a large portfolio with gruesome makeup, some are listed below. Getting assistance from Miss Brooks was ideal as she knew how to use FX makeup whereas neither myself, Matthew Roberts, Zachary Creer or Nichola Humphreys had much knowledge about it. Some keys products that will be used for the FX makeup would be the Kryolan Brandel Make-Up Palette, Naturo Plasto Wax, Vampire Blood and Kryolan Brandel professional Powder. The possible injuries that we would need for our trailer would be bullet woulds, sliced throats and bruises.
Every film character has an iconic costume, for example Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ or Darth Vader from ‘Star Wars’, like them we tried to make a each character have a unique style however we didn’t want the costumes to give off too much colour/ attention that it would reveal parts of their character and spoil the story. Having a tonn of browns, black and whites, these are pretty neutral colours, according to colour-meanings.com “brown colour meaning calls for high priority, a strong need for security”, “White contains a balance of all colors in the spectrum that represents both the positive and negative aspects of all colors”, “The closer the gray comes to black, the more dramatic and mysterious it becomes.” and “Black is a color that is often used to portray something evil, depressing, scary and even death in the Western civilisation… In color psychology black means power and control”. We tried to have the three main characters (Nichola Humphreys, Thomas Duncan and Zachary Creer) to be a mixture of all three colours to have a balanced appearance.
When filming we will need a large list of equipment, this will mean hiring out equipment such as a Tascam DR-05 Voice Recorder, Sigma 24mm Art Lens, DSLR cameras, Rode boom stick, Windshield Microphone, 2 in 1 Light Reflector and an XLR cable to connect the recorder to the microphone. Devices that will be available to us will be a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500, various mobile phone for photos/ recordings private computers for editing the final cut. The range of cameras will help for our filming because we will be able to capture movement more clearly; DSLRs for the gorey close ups and the character expression and the Cyber-shot for action scenes where the camera follows the movement. As we wont be filming in too many dark areas, we will only be using the light reflector to focus on someone’s face in a scene, other than than we will be using natural light so it wont effect the dark cyber punk tone too drastically. As Zachary Creer’s character will be the main protagonist his costume will change the most, in fight scenes he will not be wearing the long brown coat whereas in casual shots and crimes scenes he will have the addition of the coat.
(Add photos of equipment)
Props were essential of our trailer as we’d want to have action scenes to keep the target audience (young people and adults, 15-30) “glued” to the trailer. The props we used were a fake mp5, fake pump action shotgun, fake revolver, a blunt screwdriver and fake pistol, these would be the weapons used by different characters. Additionally there will be a batting stick for the fight scene between Matthew Roberts and Zachary Creer.
During our filming we will go to a wide range of areas to film, as we live in different areas in London each member had written down ideas where to film, the key places we chose were New Eltham (Scout Club and forest), Camden Lock, Wimbledon and Morton Park Green. Having these different locations adds a variety of different environments and possibilities to make shots like interrogation scenes, action shots and casual shots while still keeping to the cyber punk theme. New Eltham, Wimbledon and Camden Lock will provide us with shots that will continuously show that most of the investigation takes place in the city, other than the last body which is the plot twist of the story.
The location recce checklist is a document that is needed to see what services will be provided and what will be needed on the day of filming. This job was allocated to Zachary Creer and myself, we made sure to tell and show everyone where the local toilets are, how much money would be needed to travel and what the dangers could be to all the actors (Nichola Humphreys, Matthew Roberts and Zachary Creer). One of the major health and saftey hazard would be the the cars that drive through Camden as they are quite close to the busy walk path so one of us could collide with a car by accident.
Once we had all the elements together, next up was to name out trailer as we didn’t have on yet, these are a few different ideas we came up with. As a final decision we went with ‘Werewolf’ as it ties in with the original ‘Red Lipstick Murder’ in the L.A. Noire game where the murder’s nickname was ‘The Werewolf’.
Red Cop, Red Homocide, Doubt, Cyber Blood, Werewolf, Bloody Murder, Betrayal
While going out to record our trailer, Nichola had assistance from Oscar Holmes (@oscaryh_ on Twitter) to record behind the scenes of out trailer. When recording films it is interesting to see behind the scenes of films to see what it is like for actors to perform without the CGI/ non diegetic sounds as well as discussing ideas with the director, however we usually see more in depth knowledge when actors are interviewed after the movie premieres. Behind the scenes footage is a way of showing all the work that is done behind a camera to make a film or media product.
Throughout this montage of each recording session and the preparation we had to go through before getting the shot. This was done using a Sony DSC_WV500 as it was small and portable enough to carry around. Nichola divided each day up and used a fade transition to indicate the days passing. The one scene that took the longest to create was the dead body scene in Eltham because the sliced throat took an hour to create and we had to create an area that looked like a crime scene. As well as making a behind the scenes we also had enough footage to create a bloopers to look back on when the main actors (Nichola Humphreys, Matthew Roberts, Thomas Duncan, Zachary Creer) forgot lines or did something incorrect.
Storyboard and Script
When creating these, Nichola had the director, Matthew Roberts, explain the story to me and what he imagines the trailer to be like and then she brainstormed a few ideas on to a storyboard, this wont be the final one as it was only for ideas. Once Nichola had a rough idea for the storyboard she started to discuss with the group as to whether parts could be improved, this involved messaging one another as she was working from home.
Some improvements included changing the song in the middle from an L.A. Noire soundtrack song to more suited song to the genre, (insert song). As well as that we changed some shots around like the three dead bodies and fight scene between Zachary Creer and Matthew Roberts. After finishing up the script, we came up with the final draft, which ended up being more tense and action packed that the previous draft.
Acting Day 1- Camden
This was the day we started filming and my group travelled to Camden Town to record shots. One of the first shots was for Nichola and Zachary Creer to sit on the edge of the Camden river and look out to the rest, to prevent our costumes from getting too dirty. After gathering a few scenic shots we then went on to the shot of Zachary Creer walking through Camden market, at this point Nichola followed behind him and made sure that there was a constantly over-the-should shot and attempting to maintain the focus on him. This also applied for the other shots we filmed in Camden, Nichola only took over from myself when extremely low shots were needed or fast moving shots as she had the steadiest hands.
Acting Day 2- Eltham
This filming day was straight after Camden so we had all the camera equipment ready to go. Eltham is where Nichola was going to play two roles, one being the anti’hero with short white hair and the other being the sister that is murderer, this meant having FX makeup put on her by Lauren Brooks (scar wax, paint, vampire blood and syrup blood). When we got to the forest scene then Nichola had her ankles tied up with a rope and flung over a tree branch to give the impression that she had been hanging from my ankles, this was done by Matthew Roberts and Connor Brooks.
As I was a main part of these shots Nichola had to take camera control, unfortunately we had to switch cameras half way through recording as the DSLR had a very temperamental battery, meaning we had to shoot with the Sony Cyber-shot (when there were scenes with both Nichola and myself, Matthew Roberts took over. The filming location also changed from the forest to Eltham Scouts Club. The scene that caused more difficultly was when I “stabbed” Zachary Creer in the hand as we all had to stand still so then FX makeup could be applied to his hand.
Acting Day 3- Wimbledon
As Lauren Brooks was unavailable to do FX makeup Nichola brought a couple of tubes of fake blood with her as we would be recording two more dead body scenes and a few shots that would require blood such as Zachary Creer getting punched in the face and the aftermath of the quick time action shot we filmed in Eltham. The first dead body was Oscar Holmes whose face we covered up so it doesn’t appear that we killed him twice through our trailer. The second body shot was Matthew Roberts, we covered his face up with a plastic bag but ensured there were air holes to prevent suffocation, as I was unavailable that day, Nichola and Matthew Roberts shared the filming role.
When we were done designing/shooting the body scenes, we then moved onto action shots within Merton Park this including Zachary Creer and Nichola doing a running shot away from the camera and Nichola “punching” Zachary Creer in the nose. The one part in these scenes that Nichola could’ve done better would be if she didn’t continue to run when she pretended to punch Mr. Creer.
Acting Day 3- Kingston
These were the last shots that we needed to film for our trailer so we decided to film them in Kingston where we initially hired the equipment. The first shot we did was when Nicholas character insists on helping the police force even though she isnt a police officer, for this she had to push Zachary Creer against the wall and say “That f*cko killed my sister!”, when doing this she made sure not to push too hard so that she could prevent hurting Zachary.
Lastly we shot the scene where Zachary Creer gives Nicholas charcter a license to murder people who she deems threatening and the shot where her ans Zach are sitting on the ground contemplating the busy fight scene filmed in Eltham. Doing the last shot meant that they both had to have blood on their faces (again) and look quite tired and beaten up. Matthew Roberts did both filming and putting the blood on them.
Overall I am pleased with my performance and I would be happy to act again if it was needed but I do belive that I could learn more skills such as getting confident at stunts as I was a bit apprehensive about doing them, for example ‘”stabbing” Zach in the hand as I was worried that I would actually hurt him.
During our recording we had to make sure the camera equipment used was treated accordingly as it wouldn’t have been easy to replace them, especially when it came to the DSLR and the Tascam recorder as they had the memories cards that contained the recorded files. It is very important in film industries to save their files accordingly and not damage the storage as it may ruin the rest of the film.
When it came to recording, we ensured that all the video files were separate to the audio files and tried not to get mixed up with one another, this is why separating a movie into scenes is much easier as once that scene is done a filming industry can start a new memory card with the next scene. Saving all the video files in the same area did cause some difficulty in my group’s trailer as we had to use a variety of different cameras (due to technical difficulty) on non consecutive dates.
The way in which we kept them safe, we arranged each file into an according folder, this was more difficult on the Cyber-shot as it had a collection of both behind the scenes video and final videos for the trailer. To make them easier to document I would arrange them alphabetically so then they would appear in the order we shot them rather than file size. As Matthew Roberts was editing the final piece Nichola would send all the files to him in a zip. folder so then he can edit them all, this is also the reason as to why there is no audio folder with in Nicholas computer system. Matthew Roberts’ email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Re shoots were usually done if we weren’t satisfied with our performance or some one had forgotten the words, this is clearly seen in the bloopers video Nichola uploaded previously where we may have been giggling on set or doing something we shouldn’t have. One time that we found it particularly difficult to shoot would probably be in Eltham Scouts Club as we had more people on set, making it more challenging to gets things perfect and stay professional.
Before collecting the actors we needed, we had to make them sign an ‘Extra’s Release Form’ proving that they give consent to be featured in the trailer and that they were over the age of 18. The actors we got to sign this document was Oscar Homes, Connor Brooks and Amy Lott. All three extras played the role of gang members trying to kill Zachary Creer, however Oscar Holmes had the additional role of transforming into the first murder victim- without these actors, the trailer wouldn’t be as action packed or maintain focus from the audience with the diversity and look of each character. Additionally these people played the role as camera crew when either myself, Zachary Creer, Nichola Humphreys or Matthew Roberts were in shot. The only other crew member that we had working on this trailer was Lauren Brooks but as she was not featured in the trailer, we did not need her to sign a release sheet.
After gathering the footage Matthew Roberts edited them into a trailer just over 2 minutes long. Most of the video had a Blue Ice filter placed on it in Photoshop 2016 and the text titles were edited using After Effects 2015. Below you can see the video prior and after added in the special effects.
The footage used was a mixture of the Cyber-shot and DSLR camera, the audio used was recorded on the recorder, camera and mobile phones, the song used was ‘I Am Dust’ by Gary Numan. This song was appropriate to use as is categorised as ‘Cyber Punk’ and matches the style of our trailer.
The use of a popular song in a niche genre and well played video game will attract two types of audiences as well as our target audience 15-30 year olds (the seriousness and the drama wouldn’t be appropriate for children and older generations to watch). As it wasn’t made with a high budget company there are a few elements that could’ve been improved such as the amplitude levels between voice lines and background music. Additionally there are a few acting parts that could’ve been improved such as the dead bodies as there are slight movements of them breathing and voice lines as some may not sound as convincing. For a trailer based on a small portion of a video game I believe that it is pretty well made, near to professional standards. Some shots such as the last bloody laughing scene, detailed dead body injuries and fight scenes are going to keep audiences captivated and want to watch the full length movie.