Some work in progress

I often get asked the question how I made my character. And I realise that while explaining it I often loose half of my audience. So underneath you can find, some screenshots and other work in progress, that very briefly illustrate how I made my film.

The first step was creating my character. I used a particle system to collide with a model of child. Then I used the path of those particles to create curves, which in their turn I used to convert to a geometry.

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The next step was rigging the character, so that it would be able to move.

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And then adding the wires that connect them all together. I used some dynamics so that I didn’t have to animate them all by hand. This meant I had to make sure the dynamics moved in a semirealistical way.

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Creating the background, I’ve rigged a couple of those characters as well, to make sure they could move a little in the wind and wouldn’t appear dead.

And after that I made an animatic, where I blocked out all the key poses, and defined the movement of the camera. After which I started animating the movements.

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And rendering and compositing, there is your final image.

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Bonus images:

Some very fancy crashes and errors:

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The Invite

A couple of months, lot’s of work and some crashing computers later, I’m in my final week before the film needs to be finished.

It is a strange thing to think of, how much work needs to be done to make a short film of 4 minutes. If only there was a big button with the word “animate” on it that I could press… Then again, luckily there isn’t one, that would certainly make it too easy for others to do the same.

Because classmates and I all have worked very hard to make our movies.

So it’s time to make sure the movies will be seen. They will premier the 1th of July at the Chassétheater in Breda, and later that week  there’ll be an expo at my school AKV|St.Joost.

A very diverse program, lots of different stories, lots of different techniques, made by some very talented people.

Look at the poster I made with a classmate Koen van Geel. And if you happen to be around, consider yourself invited.

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Creating the first character

After weeks of not knowing what the character would actually look like and some really ugly tests I finally had a breakthrough and made some test that weren’t half bad.

I really liked the way the character was recognisably human, but still in a very abstract way. But still this was not the look I was going for. I wanted a look that was very transparent in some points, but for the waist I wanted a something more solid look. I wanted to incorporate some colours. And I thought the character could use some more humanity, for it is a character you have to identify with a bit, so some hint of a face would be necessary.

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So for my next test I created a lot more wires, coming from the centre of the character, leaving the transparency for the head legs and arms.

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This was a look I really liked so I started to build my first real character. The child, however all these wires are very render intensive, so I started experimenting with the amount of density that would be needed, and light settings, to see how I could have the optimal effect with the least amount of calculation needed. ChildTubeTests_TogetherBlog_C

And in the end I came up with a turntable for the child, the rendering took way too long so changes will have to be made, but for now I really like the look it has now.

Storyboarding and music

With the storyline clear it was time to make a storyboard. I started drawing it, but in the end the figures needed to be so expressive in their poses that I soon decided to make it in 3D instead.

Storyboard

Meanwhile I had found a composer at the conservatory in Amsterdam who was willing to collaborate with me on the film. He took my story as a starting point and started improvising.

Some of this I have used under the moving storyboard to add some emotion through music.

The big and nasty divorce

Let’s start with the new logline:

In a world where characters are made out of wires, everybody is connected to the people they care for, a young child gets stuck when her parents start to move in different directions.

So I’ve already said a lot about this world where everybody is made out of wires. But I’ve said little about the other half of the sentence. I’m using this world to show a divorce, why did I make this choice?

The film is actually shown from the point of view of the child.

Like I said already I feel like this is a perfect situation to show my themes, for a child is the most dependent of us all. They have the fewest connections which makes the impact of maybe losing one all the more daunting.

If a child loses connection with their parents, who’s left to catch him?

But before I started I did some research concerning divorce. I had heard a lot of negative stories about it, and I could find a lot more of those. How divorce could drastically affect the childs life, psychologically, socially and even medically.

I saw these stories, films and articles, which painted such a black image about the subject. And I compared it to my own life, my parents are divorced as well, and is that a huge tragedy in my life? Well no, actually it is just something that is.

And sure I won’t deny that divorce can be difficult for a child, certainly when it is happening. It comes with lots of uncertainty chaos and it can be quite scary.

But afterwards when a new balance is found, I think it is not necessarily worse than having parents who are still together.And that is the underlying message of the movie. Divorce is chaotic, but it might even come with new freedom, independency and perspective.

Some Styleframes

It’s been a while since my last update. I was working a lot on my projects until the winter holidays hit me, surrounded by my family and my cats, focus was not easy to find.

Maybe it was a good thing as well. Before the holidays I thought I finished my scenario. When I got back, I reread it and I realized, I didn’t like it anymore.

The story was unclear, and if there is one thing I proud myself on it is the fact that I make killer stories. Ok maybe not always the clearest, but magical, surreal and impactful, not easy to forget, and not something anybody could come up with.

With that said, after the holidays I had a moment that I would have loved to throw the entire movie in the trash. I felt like it had travelled too far from it roots, and it had lost the essence of what I wanted to tell.

So what was this essence, the essence is me: the creator of imaginative worlds, reliable on their own rules, telling my own mysterious and surrealistic stories.

And the world that I created now had his own message: You need other people, you need connections to live. And the biggest hardship a person can endure is to lose these connections to the persons around them, and fall.

It is a story about thrust, and dependency. It is about the fear of abandonment, and loneliness.

And I linked this to divorce. For what connections are stronger and more valuable than the bonds between a family. Who is more dependent than a child? And what happens when those bonds snap?

So that is that it was time to make some styleframes, just to be able to show my world to those around me.

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First tests

How do you build people from wires? What could it look like and what has the right qualities to unravel, move, bend or stretch like might be necessary in my movie. So I started searching some inspiration. For example these amazing works by Adam Martinakis.

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And then it was time to make some styleframes. Meanwhile the development of the story continued as well. My first thought was that if everybody is connected, dependency and thrust become bigger issues. So I started with the idea of enormous height. Which would make people with lots of connections save, but without it you’d be helpless.

StyleframeA StyleframeB But in the end I started to question if I actually needed these huge pillars where the people were standing on. What if there would be no ground whatsoever? And all that keeps us from falling, is each other. So I started making some tests using that idea.

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