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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Interior concept sketch

Extended Backstory

We'll trim these backstories to a paragraph each for the production bible. Thought I'd have some fun being indulgent with them, going deeper than necessary.

The Duke

The Duke was born the second son of a wealthy, though kind and compassionate, aristocratic family. His early childhood was uneventful until the outbreak of war in the country. His father and older brother, fierce patriots, were both killed during the fighting.

In her grief, the Duke’s mother vowed to do everything in her power to keep her only surviving son safe and from harm. The Duke, from then on was sheltered and over-protected by his well-meaning mother. Mocked by his peers for the behaviour of his mother he soon lost interest in playing with those his own age, instead he socialised with children younger than himself, to whom he soon became a bully.

Having an unfulfilling social life, the Duke soon took advantage of his doting mother, and took up a number of expensive and unusual hobbies, his favourite of which soon became lepidoptery, the study of moths and butterflies. Not so much excited by their gracefulness, but by their beauty; and by his ability to posses such beauty.

His collection of pinned butterflies soon grew, and the Duke grew interested in other flying creatures. In his attempts to purchase an aviary the Duke’s attention was brought to a young Duchess named Emily from a neighbouring country with a famed interest in falconry.

With revolt threatening in the Duchesses country, the Duke once again abused his mothers love to arrange for his marriage to the Duchess.

The Duke simply wishes to posses Emily as another trophy. He is not an evil man, but a mean-spirited, vain and spoiled bully, one who cannot stand to be challenged or denied.

The Bandit

Edward came from a once wealthy family who had lost their fortune to a series of poor business decisions. His father, a hopeless romantic, was an amateur magician who hoped to one day travel to America and make it big in the emerging motion picture industry. Never succeeding in this plan, he died young, leaving his son with nothing but debt and a talent for close-up magic.

Edward had aspirations of a much grander life for himself and planned on getting an education from a well respected university. To pay for his first year’s tuition, his mother pawned a valuable family necklace, the last of their fortune. Edward soon ran out of money and could not afford to pay the rest of his fees. In desperation he took to petty theft to try and raise capitol, using his skill at sleight of hand. By chance, he spotted his mothers necklace in an up-market jewellers’ window display and could not resist stealing it back. Edward’s skill at misdirection was not enough to deceive the jeweller who caught him red-handed.

Taking pity on him, the owner instead offered to employ the young man as his gift for quick, crafty movements would make him ideal at spotting similar attempts at theft.

Edward is not naturally quick witted, but makes up for it with determination and a desire to work hard. He is impulsive and throws himself into challenges, enjoying the thrill of being slightly out of his depth.

The Duchess

The Duchess Emily had a comfortable, but dull life. The youngest of a large family, and the only girl, she was dotted on. She was prized amongst her family, and amongst her father’s Duchy, for her uniqueness as the only female, a curse as much as a burden that she soon became aware of. The young Duchess watched all her brothers grow up to lead exciting, fulfilled lives knowing she would never be allowed such a life for herself.

An intelligent young women, not often allowed to take part in many exciting activities by her good-intentioned parents, the Duchess spent much of her youth at her studies determined to have an active mind if not an active lifestyle. The weight of her responsibility soon diminished her enthusiasm and she resigned herself to a life of privileged boredom.

Her one enjoyment in life came from falconry, a sport her father considered safe enough for her to take up. Having little else to do she devoted much of her time to her bird and garnered quite a reputation around the kingdoms for her skill, seemingly able to have any command carried out by her faithful falcon.

The Duchess is an intelligent and compassionate young woman, but feels her life is not her own and wishes desperately to break free of her societal bounds.

The Plan

Rising unrest in the Duchess’ homeland gave her parents cause to think that the aristocracy in the country would soon no longer be safe, they accepted the offer of marriage from the Duke of neighbouring Duchy.

Emily was completely opposed to the plan, the Duke was boorish and proud, and she detested being treated like a child. This arranged marriage was one more unwanted obligation in her life. In a clumsy attempt to appease his future wife, the Duke offered to buy her an expensive wedding ring before they left.

When Emily and her suitor arrived at the jewellers, Edward fell instantly in love. While the Duke and owner haggled over engagement rings, Edward entertained the Emily with acts of magic that delighted her. The Duchess found all the Duke’s choices of ring to be vulgar and tacky, but found Edward’s suggestion of a beautiful diamond necklace to be very charming.

The Duke purchased the necklace, unaware that Emily had become enamoured by the charming young assistant. In the days before she was due to leave the country, Emily met with Edward frequently; thrilled at the sudden acts of rebellion he inspired in her. In secret and they plotted to run off together, leaving their dull lives behind.

The plan would need to be clever and daring and would require careful planning and a lot of luck if they where to break the social bounds that constrained them, as well as to escape the Duke who felt the Duchess was his by social decree.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Landscape geometry development

I'm using latice deformers to manipulate this environment which gives a satisfying level of control. I'll play with the geometry a little more before painting a texture.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Falcon observational drawings

Emily Re-design.

The problem we've been having with Emily is that we haven't really spoke much about her character the way we have about Edward and Duke; here's what Ive been thinking:

We're all reasonably familiar with Pratchett heroines and we should keep them in mind for Emily, in particular I'm thinking Susan Sto Helit, a strong minded character who finds herself living a life she'd rather not be;

Emily should have Susan's attitude for getting a job done; she should resent the fact that she's been given a place in society that she didn't choose for herself; being married off to a foreign Count that she doesn't know or even like would be the final straw.

Emily though is not as hard as Susan; she has a softer side, her love for her falcon for example. Emily is a woman who would take a good pair of sturdy boots over ridiculous high heels but at the same time be secretly embarrassed that she wants the boots with the pretty silver laces.

She presents a cynical exterior that hides a more idealistic personality inside. This is why she is so attracted to Edward; he's a hopeless romantic and doesn't care who knows it; Emily loves that Edward will throw himself at any challenge without worrying that he will look foolish if he fails.

As a real-world actress reference I was thinking maybe:

Kirsten Dunst. She's lightly built, and often moves quickly; much like a small bird. She tends to play women that have tough exteriors that hide vulnerabilities.

Whatcha'll think?

3D character ref

Finally got the 3D character reference done.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cocky Edward & Profile Shot

So I just thought I'd upload the initial cockier edward for a better evaluation. I still quite like him, but prefer the one in the trio. Also, here's a purdy profile.

Edward Model Sheet

So the criticism on the last model sheet I did, which I don't think I uploaded, was that he looked too 'cocky' - the character itself was on track, but the attitude wasn't quite there. I worked a litte this time on bringing out his goofy side - what's the verdict? I think this may be Edward just about nailed. It's hard to get across his character in such a static pose, hopefully I'll have an expressions sheet worked out soon.

Edward run cycle test coloured

Will need to find a way to clean sparkly areas of the scan as a batch although a lot this is down to the dirty scan bed. Please post comments on animation, colour and lighting.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Victor Horta

Reinhard mentioned this could be an excellent resource for interior designs. Wiki says-
"Victor, Baron Horta (6 January 1861 - 9 September 1947) was a Belgian architect and designer. John Julius Norwich described him as 'undoubtedly the key European Art Nouveau architect."
Click for Victor Horta in google.

Model test

Quickly animated a crude walk to test the skin bind. Ignore the poor, dreadfully slow animation.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Camera Motion Capture Test

Daniel Borg used motion tracking software to resolved the original footage into a camera motion path, then placed within our 3D environment. Next to try integrating our characters.

Research photographs from last weekend in Glencoe.

If the embedded slide show doesn't work, click here to view in Picasa.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Animatic 2

New animatic, still a little rough, will no doubt be replaced shortly but thought I'd stick it up just now anyway.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

First Flying Duchess Linetest!

Mwaha! Let it be known it was done in March!

Vimeo link for better quality:

So this is my first ever run cycle, so be gentle. I was going for an arrogant, enjoying-the-moment type of lope, rather than a full on run, hence the exaggerated poses and slight drag. In my head he's looking over his shoulder as he runs away from the Duke; who's chasing him at a distance. So a cocky demeaanour. Unfortunately the goofy side to his character seems to have been lost somewhat, so that's something I definetely need to work on. Edward's character is proving quite elusive to pin down.

Would also like to point out it is unfinished! I gots hands and clean up to do, and then possibly some lights and colouring.......

I'm experimenting with different ways of generating mountain geometry. First attempts using bitmap relief ended up with massive polygon counts and a lot of distortion, here's a screen grab of a more successful polygon model.

Clean scan tests

These scanned images were processed identically, the left hand scan was made using a sheet of foam to hold the paper flush to the scan-bed despite the peg-bar. This should save many problems when it comes to digital cleanup. My next studio campaign is for decent lighting on the line testers!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Pearce Sisters - go and watch the film and also the documentary. Very warped but very relevant to our 2D - 3D endeavours.

Some other sources of inspiration which haven't yet reached the blog are:
Pyrats - and many other Gobelins films which are beautifully finished using a lot of 3D reference and background.

Cerdric Babouche - is an animator who we looked at a lot last year for his use of 2D - 3D composites.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Had a stab at recreating Kieren's Emily colour test on this, (not so), cleaned up animatic panel of Edward in a very spider-man esque pose.
Have we noticed just how much the notion of flight is present in this story? Apart from the obvious; the title; name of the engine; and the presence of the falcon; we also have our heroes 'flying' from their old lives.
The above pose has Edward flying through the air, a pose also seen earlier in the film.
The Train 'flys' through a high mountainous region on a high elevated track.
In contrast, we've made our villain a heavy figure, not as suited to flight as our light, athletic heroes.
Just something to keep in mind as the development continuous.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

This is a test I made for a now dormant 2D-3D project idea which Luke Smith and I worked on in level two. The moving shadow marks where a 2D animated creature was to be composited. Excuse the stretched video on you-tube.

First the crater was modeled, lit, and rendered from an orthographic plan view. This shading reference was painted over in photoshop and re-applied as luminescent planar projection texture.

The final render uses no light sources- the shadows are built into the texture by hand. This was easy to do as the model was very flat and lent itself to planar projection.

For a similar effect to be attempted on our more ambitiously shaped mountains the process will have to be adapted for UV mapping. Any advice or ideas on how to create a UV mapped shading reference to be painted over would be much appreciated!

UV map for rough carriage interior

Quickly done to serve the animatic and animation test, this UV map will be textured by hand on the light-box and coloured digitally to match the look of the drawn animation.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Animatic Update

Just to announce that the character layers for the animatic are now finito! So this means can start compositing and doing timing tests asap. Rough scans are a go-go but would ideally like to do some kind of colour work on them eventually. Would be good to get the team together to have a look and a think about the next step before we rush straight into after effects with them.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Interior Concepts

Watcha think of the colours? I prefer the last colour scheme.

Interior render

Rough model for the new animatic and test should be ready to UV map soon.

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