Sunday, 27 November 2011

Set Building: Manny's chair... tangible

 Here is Manny's chair! In its first rough delivery. Note that the original in the game had 6 legs. But that's easier to model in 3D than to weld!

As for the guest's chair, that one will be properly dressed with red fabrics over some polyurethane mousse, and a tiny paint job before it gets into the shot.

Set building: The guest's chair

Here is the chair... or rather its "bare-bone" structure. It will be eventually dressed up with red padded fabrics like the original. The back of the chair is not as oval as the original, but it will have to do!

Set Building: Manny's desk in the material world

There is something immensely satisfying in being able to touch anything that comes from Grim Fandango. Here is my first prop... the desk. Pretty close to the mark, but of course the model has not been painted yet.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Puppet Making: Celso's armature proportions

After yesterday's "Usual Suspects" lineup, here is the adapted armature for Celso. Same height as Manny, different body shape.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Set Building: Grunging it a bit

Back to set-building... Right now Manny's Office set is pretty much a naked wooden structure. First, I will need to add texture to the wall, ceiling and floors, before my miniature props (furnitures, accessories) settles in.

I want the Manny's office to be as gloomy as the original, but with more details. His office is a reconverted storage room. It is the office of a looser, set in a dark, moist corner of the DOD building. I have therefore opted for preparing a vintage-grungy wallpaper in Photoshop, which I will print as a poster and apply along the walls. I want the corner of the room to be already shadowed by the texture to facilitate the actual lightning contrast of the set.

For those interested in the photoshop technique, I have used this tutorial together with this paper texture and some pretty wicked photoshop "Grunge Brush" available on DeviantArt.

The actual wall paper is one meter long, but here is a snapshot...

Puppet Making: Early tackle on Celso

"Do you recognize any of these skeletons Ma'am?"
The day-job has been in the way lately. But the project keeps moving slowly and surely : The set needs to be dressed up and some materials have already been identified. I am thinking of using some snooker-table type of textile to emulate the dark blue carpet in the office, while doing the walls by simply pritting out a pre-shadowed wall texture on cardboard paper and gluing the sheets it to the wall, like a normal wall-paper.

I have also started to think about Celso Flores, a minor character of the game, but who is the main dialog partner of Manny during the intro-movie that we want to re-create.  While both Manny and Celso are about the same height, Celso is much more anatomically correct than Manny (yet far less alluring!), with higher pelvis, shoulder, and a far less elongated skull. This difference of body shape will affect the armature design , which will soon follow.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Set Buidling: Decoration Details

What makes GF so stylish is the seamless blend between art-deco, film-noir and mexican-mayan graphic style which permeate from almost any scene. Tim and its designer team nailed down a very unique, and consistent, style throughout the the Wold of the Dead.
Manny's office borrows from a typical 50's bulky style. It is supposed to be a less-than-glamorous office - actually, as we learn from the script, a reconverted storage room - since Domino managed to get the favors of the boss Don Copal, hence taking over Manny's former stylish office.

The set will have to carry these dark, dull colors, and the unenviable spot in which Manny has been cornered. Yet, a few decorative elements can be noticed. Here are the sketchup 3D rendition of 2 plaster decoration that can me see on the top of the walls and on the ceiling.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Puppet Making: Manny's stand up

Intimidating? Me?
As promised, Manny's skull has found its skeleton. The armature has been purchased in Kit from Animation Supplies from the UK. Andy, the e-shop owner, has been very responsive in the purchasing process and the quality of the kit, its instructions, and the comprehensiveness of the package (down to the Threadlock glue, and the epoxy glue to be used, and tools) left little to look for to build the armature in a few hours.
Of course, I did all the mistakes, like cutting the rods a tad short, but this amazing Threadlock glue allowed me to make up for the shortfall in lengh by not screwing the threaded rods to the end of the balls and sockets... the Threadlock glue keeping eventually everything tight in place.
Yet, after a few manipulation, I realized why some animator prefer good old plain wire armature : beside the fact that it's a cheaper option, it has also the advantage of not loosening after a few manipulations. I have the feeling that I will have to re-tighten now and then the pressure plates to keep the right level of tention at the articulation, which might be problematic when the whole armature get casted in a thick layer of foam latex. I will have probably to find a way to leave access points, which promise to be an interesting extra difficulty for the casting of the puppet.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Set Building : Manny's office

When I started this project, I decided to adopt the 1/7th scale, popular in stop motion animation, which allows for a decently sized puppet (25cm) which is easier to animate than smaller format. I did not realize that, as the result, the set would be so big. Here is my office set. Or at least, the raw skeleton for it. The base is 1meter times 1.3 meters... which takes a significant space in my little appartment. The things we do for love...
Lots of works left to dress this up... As you can see, all the walls can be turned down to give camera access from any angle.