Saturday, 28 January 2012

Set Building: Progress report

Here is a little update on the set building. This picture shows most of the props in place. Latest work was the application of the upper wall pattern in green, and some windows dress-up work.

This picture was taken without flash, with a single light from behind the camera. The trick is going to drop two incoming light on the carpet, as in the original game background. One square of light from the door, and another one from the window. No idea how to place the lights to do this effect. It is very hard to drop a shadow with nice hard edge...

Any photographer around to give me some advice on how to achieve this?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Animation test: Lip Sync test

Testing my new (still virtual) replacement mouth set on original audio... The Sync work was done under Dragonframe and the video was then built from still image using VirtualDub (a nice little free software).

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Puppet Making : Mouth replacement set (trial 2)

A few weeks ago, I have presented on this blog a mouth replacement set for Manny made by hand in Sculpey clay. But I was still not very happy with the outcome: the match between the lower jaw and the upper skull was approximate, leaving big gaps which will prove to be hard to conceal.

At the same time, I was intrigued by Celso's skull made by Chay in a 3D software that he recommended to me: zBrush.

Unlike a conventional 3D authoring software, zBrush lets you sculpt intuitively shapes without worrying about meshes of polygon : it's a bit like using some digital clay.

I decided to give a try on a trial version, starting from Tom Beg's original 3D model skull for Manny.

As you can see, I had a lot of fun with it. It took a little while to get through the beginner's learning curve, but once you get used to a few (among many) brushes it gets really intuitive.

The advantage of this method, would be to be able to make a very clean, precise, and consistent cut between the skull and the mouth set, and get the pieces sent to a 3D printer. The fit will be almost perfect, and the remaining contact line will be more easy to conceal in post-production.

Now it gets really tempting to have a set of upper skull (i.e. with different position of eyebrows), to de-multiply the possibilities facial expression. But I am getting ahead of myself... as my father always taught me: "le mieux est l'enemi du bien".

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Set Building: Details, details

Some time ago I have published a 3D model of those plaster patterns that are running on the top of the wall.

My initial thought were to get it 3D printed, then to create a mold to make as many plaster tiles as I need.

I have finally decided against this approach : too expensive, too time consuming. Got to cut corners here.

My 3D sketchup model will still be handy though. The flat sketchup model is exported here :

 Using V-Ray for sketchup (free trial edition), I manage to get a hi-res output of this tile

It still looks a little too nice and computer generated. So photoshop, throwing in a bit of burns, cracks, highlights, I ended up there :

Now repeat this tile 10 times and print on sticker paper (just as I did the walls), there we go. Quick and cheap. For the opposite wall, this same tile will be flipped so as to give the impression of that the light is coming from the same direction (the windows). I hope that, in the lens of the camera, this will be convincing enough.

Friday, 13 January 2012

I rest my case!

Working, but nothing to show.

So... here is a little breather...

VampireNaomi, moderator on GF's forum on Lucasforum, pointed me to an apparently popular site called AdventureGamer.

While discovering this erudite site on all things adventure-gamy, I stumbled upon their very recent definitive, TOP 100 all time adventure games, no question asked.

So, guess which game was ranked first? Ha!

Sorry to be gloating... it just feels like I have have some vested interest in the GF world now.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Puppet making: Iron man evolution

Left: Manny's clay modelling armature, Center: Manny's animation armature, Right: Celso's animation armature
Just finished Celso's animation armature this week-end.

So, how are we going to dress up Manny and Celso? I keep pondering on that one. And, for Manny in particular, I have a problem.

Animation puppets can be padded with foam, then dressed up with puppet clothes, but fabrics tend to be messy for stopmo animation : It does not stay in place and move from shot to shot.

Ideally those animation armature would be dressed in molded foam latex: a flexible foamy material with a realistic (non porous) skin, think stress-balls. But the process to get there is long and tedious :

  1. First a clay-modelling armature must built with the same dimensions as the animation armature. This is what you can see in the picture on the left.
  2. Then master shape of the puppet is molded and sculpted around the armature.
  3. Then a 2-part mold of the clay-sculpted "master" is made in plaster
  4. Only then the animation gets placed, somehow in the middle of the inverted body shape of the mold, and some scary 5-part cocktail of chemistry is poured into the mold. The whole thing is placed in a oven (but given the toxicity of the stuff, NOT your kitchen oven) and after some curing, fuming and foaming the puppets can be released from its mold and
  5. finishing, imperfection corrected (i.e. bubbles), painted.
I have never done anything like that before. And most of the recommended ingredient for this magic are not available where I live.

I take this opportunity to pay a tribute to  John Ikuma from John has made a serie of incredibly informative and well produced tutorial which make the whole process look almost easy. Most of what I know about the craft is coming from him. John, if you read this blog, a big THANK YOU! Your website and Youtube channel are best of breed.

So what's the problem about Manny?

Well... in the end of the movie, Manny undresses. He removes his reaper cloak to be revealed all his splendor in a business suit! That sequence is going to be very tricky. I need to make a black reaper cloak that can be undressed (that will have to be fabric, no choice) and have Manny inside wearing a suit (ideally in painted foam latex, but the process looks scary). And don't get me started on these pneumatic leg-extenders. How the hell am I going to build this?

Well I guess, time is on my side...

Friday, 6 January 2012

Set Building: OK Computer

Here comes my biggest prop so far... Manny's computer desk! The shape is not as intricate as my 3D model , but I had to be realistic... Some details will be added (buttons etc..), and some decoration will be added with printed stickers (the patterns on the left and right column of the screen).

But Manny and I are very happy to have extracted this fine piece of art-deco furniture from the game into the tangible side of the screen.