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This week has been pretty good, I finished up my face project which you can check out by clicking the picture above, as I mentioned earlier I met a guy who is interested in being basically an animation intern. His name is Henry and after showing him the ropes of my setup I had him do a piece of test animation, it's a little rough, but he hasn't animated in the last couple years and I just wanted to see what he would do without really getting any prompts, it's definitely a good starting place.
My plan is to trade off jobs with him, I have a lot of work ahead some of which is just stuff like going through speech files mapping out mouth sounds and the like. Sometimes I will have him work on stuff like that, but when I fine tune speech animation or whatnot I hope to having him do more test animations. Ideally late into production (or possibly by mid production) I'll have got his animation to a point where I have have him do some shots for the film. It would also be nice to get him trained up to where he can do motion tracking as well so I can have him work on that during lighting setups which can take me FOREVER. That would really help ease the load of work I will have during post production.
As I get ready to start building sets and commit to a style I am worried about the wide shots. It's important to me to create the sole crushing emptiness of a vast suburb. Ideally I would like to open with a shot something like this:
However, even at micro scale I don't think I really have any chance of having that many houses, one option I have is to digitally expand the suburb much like I had to do for this shot. I am pretty sure I will have to use a miniature scale, and think that something like this might work well:
One idea I was kicking around was to try to build the house of the sister and brother in a more Chuck Jones style, but I am not sure that if I did nail that look if I would be able to make the miniature match
I would really like the style of house to be a 50's style rambler, which if you are not familiar with looks like this, I feel it fits very well into the image of suburbia I would like to portray.
I feel like I need to build the full sized house exterior before I can really get settled on the wide shot, I was really hoping I could make this film without any major bricklink orders but I think I might have to get a bunch of pieces for the roofing at least. I could cut the wide shot out entirely as it will really only be used for the opening title but I feel like that would really drag the project down turning it into a cheap sketch comedy.
A movie scene that immediately came to mind was a part from Edward Scissorhands, where all the neighbors are leaving for work and drive their cars, symmetrically and systematically, down a residential block with cream-coloured houses on each side. There are some still photos from the sequence that I'm describing in this video. Usually, you'd be able to find something "whimsically suburban" in your average Tim Burton movie. Maybe some of the opening shots from the pilot episode of The Wonder Years might be useful, too.
My main point is that I don't think you have to depict an entire neighborhood, but instead, maybe try to make some dolly shots of three or four LEGO houses, with a car or two in the front, to make it look realistic. And it doesn't even have to be the entire house. Maybe just the view from the street.
Last edited by Mickey (March 4, 2015 (04:55pm))
I was thinking of posting this image, but my idea of the opening was running more along the idea of American Beauty's opening, but I guess rethinking how I do the shot is something I should consider. I like the idea of the colorful pastal houses but I don't know if a Stepford wive's suburbia is quite the look I am shooting for.
In case you missed it, I was working on some stud free animation tests and it turned into a Dane Cook gets video.
Well the intern was in today and I had him animated a bouncing ball test and he also tried his hand at a stud free walk cycle. I also had him phonically break down the first scene. I got a bit of speech work done as well as he animated his tests.
After he left I started to work on a shed interior set, after a bit of work I came to the realization I didn't have the pieces or lens to create the sort of shot/set I wanted out of that scene. Rather then spend ungodly amounts of money at Bricklink like I did on Beyond the Eleventh Dimension I figured I would revisit some old ideas I was kicking around years ago for an unfinished musical idea I was working. This is a set I started building for that project:
But I needed to update those ideas with some of my more modern sensibilities, I think I am going to jump down the rabbit hole of non-literal sets, this is about as far as I got on my shed interior, what do you think?
I've been thinking about the problem of the large neighborhood shot, and I was browsing Flickr when I ran across a LEGO recreation of this scene from Aliens
Both the original scene and the LEGO recreation used a mirror to make the whole thing look impossibly large, maybe trying to do this to an outdoor environment might be a bit of a stretch but I feel like with something as small as LEGO it could be possible, maybe with a little bit of digital cover up over the scenes and a few other touches I could create a huge in camera neighborhood.
That could work, having it be the same type of shot as the above, but with houses instead of chambers. It'd work well for the suburbia you're trying to create with everything being the same.
The only problem I can think of is how you would do the sky. I mean you could composite it in, maybe just a flat blue with some LEGO clouds. But if you wanted to keep it pure and practical, you may have to finagle.
Painting out edges is not to bad in After effects and I feel pretty comfterable doing that, it does not have to be full pure, but we will see.
Today I got the first shot of the film animated, 8 seconds down!
Sadly the floor boards are not animated in camera, however I am thinking of cutting them out of the frame and adding a digital float effect to them, not as pure, but it does make for easier filming, I think I would have needed something like 6 helping hands if I wanted to animate them individually which would cost a bit.
More progress, two shots down today, both of which done't require any lipsync too! I am REALLY happy about the composition in the last shot I did, which is also the last shot on this crazy set, I might make the living room set next which would really push this film into gear as that will be the set with the most animation in it.
I started working on the living room set, and relized I haven't even desided what sister will look like, thoughts on the outfit?
here is what it's looking like, I need to finish work on the kitchen as the little window that looks into it is just revealing my messy table.
This is quite an ambitious project you are working on and I can tell you are putting a lot of time and effort into it. Also I think the lip syncing looks great! Good luck and I can't wait to see it finished!
The room looks great! I really like the colors and design. May I ask if it is modular?
As for the minifig, she looks fine too, the face kind of makes her look a bit old to be wearing that torso (probably because I've seen the face on old ladies in official LEGO sets). I personally like the character you originally had better, but of course, I have no knowledge of the plot or anything, so I can't really say.
Well the face will be CGIed on, might try to find a slightly younger looking placeholder though, I'm locked into the hair as I shot her from behind in her pj outfit with it. I really liked the wavy black hair I used on the test animation but I really want to see her eyebrows move around. I do want her to be young like 22-24ish or so.
And about the set, it is somewhat moduler.
Dang, that's a nice-looking set. My only concern is that it might appear a bit too tall vertically without seeing a ceiling. I think it's borderline though. Any higher and I'd start to wonder where the ceiling is, but I think it's good right now.
I think you struck a great balance between realism without cluttering the set with too much detail.
A little more detail on how I went about and built this set, I started with some floor plan drawings of what I would need out of the house for the story
First drawing was a house without a bathroom, so I drew another floor plan which suited my needs:
Now that I have gotten some feed back and due to Nathan's comments about the ceiling I have added a bit of molding to the top of the room, but the nature of the molding required some revised lighting as due the the placement of a rooms lights the molding shouldn't be casting any shadows. This what were I got. Due to the nature of the lighting setup I will have to light each room individually (almost like in real life, the horror)
As you can see the lighting setup will make animation hell if I can't find a setup that frees up a bit more room for my hand and still doesn't cast shadows.
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