www.sparkythegoldfish.com is all about Sparky and his unusual life.

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First Steps

Everything is still in the very early stages for a movie about Sparky. I'm currently researching possible mediums, with a strong leaning right now toward 3D animation. Now, I'm not a cartoonist or an animator or a 3D-modeler, so this is going to prove quite a challenge. But I've wanted to dive into this area for awhile now, so this seems as good a time as any.

Tools Research

I'm looking at Poser, a 3D character creation tool. Poser 6 just came out and has a cartoon rendering option that looks interesting. I'm still not decided on the look for the movie, whether it's more 2D cartoon-looking (even though generated from 3D) or more 3D-looking (think Finding Nemo or Toy Story). The character models I'll be using as a base will most likely be from DAZ. DAZ has a product called DAZ Studio I want to investigate for scene layout and animation. They also sell Mimic, a tool for synchronizing voice recordings to 3D character's mouth movements.

Other 3D options include higher-end systems like 3ds max and Maya, but I'm concerned that the learning curve may be too high for those programs.

I'll be using my old favorites, Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects for digital video editing and compositing, respectively.

I'd like to investigate potential soundtrack music from SmartSound, but if I have to I'll get some decent MIDI gear and do it all myself (an option I'll probably do in the long run anyway).

posted 2005-03-22 12:06:00

Tool Research

I installed Poser 5 & 6 and DAZ Studio last night. Poser 5 & 6 came together as a package deal (buy 5 now and get 6 for free when it arrives -- so I placed the order and 6 became available the next day). I've also installed some 3D models I'm thinking of using for Sparky and Kara, but I don't want to disclose what they are or show any pics. I think it's better to surprise everyone with them later :)

I've played around with Poser 5 before, but nothing serious. I think I'll read up on DAZ Studio first, since it's new to me and the interface looks nice and streamlined. The only potential downside to DAZ Studio is that it's beta, but maybe 1.0 will come out by the time I'm ready to seriously use it (if it's the tool I choose).

I've been thinking about how I want to approach the 3D work. I want it to be as simple as possible. I'd like to throw together existing 3D models and animate them. A key part of 3D animation is character rigging. This involves using special tools that are not rendered to aid in animating the characters. With Poser and DAZ Studio, this is accomplished with property dials. It's possible to add your own property dials, but I hope I don't have to get into that for now.

So my plan is to first learn a software environment well, whether its DAZ Studio or Poser. Then learn how to assemble 3D objects into a scene and easily animate them (yes, I know, lighting is important, too). I imagine this will also involve building my own libraries of animations that I can easily reuse later. Since I'll be using Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects to put everything together, my 3D animations only have to be single camera shots. I want to build up a nice set of animations for my main characters first, and do some test renderings to get used to the whole process and make sure I like the look.

posted 2005-03-23 09:25:00

DAZ Studio

Last night I played around with DAZ Studio quite a bit, learning the interface. I successfully posed, lit and rendered three stills of Kara in various guises, wearing different outfits and using props. Still a lot more work to do, but it's looking promising. I'd like to next work on getting more fluent with manipulating figures, lights and cameras. It's currently time-consuming. Then I'd like to explore DAZ Studio's animation capabilities. The pic here belongs to DAZ by the way; it's not Kara :)

posted 2005-03-24 16:46:00

Editing Ideas

I watched Underworld last night again. A fun, stylish movie about vampires and werewolves. I was looking for ideas on camera shots, lighting, and editing. And this got me thinking about editing approaches for this 3D animated movie. Since a scene can be replayed in 3D over and over, this means I can render any number of camera angles, and later edit them in Adobe Premiere as if it's just raw footage! This seems very freeing. Now there are two limitations to this idea.

1) Many times 3D models are only partially detailed, for example on one side only when its known that they will only be shown on one side. This won't apply to me unless I start developing my own models. But it will apply to properly lighting a scene from all angles that will be shot.

2) Actors have talked about playing a scene differently based on which camera shot is being filmed. They will play a long shot different from a medium or close-up for the same sequence. It works better for the camera that way. I'll have to see how that works out with this project, but since it's a 3D animation, I'm not too worried about it.

Many times a scene needs to be played around with in the editing room before it starts "working". With 3D you can not only have exact matches on the same scene from multiple angles, you can also reshoot additional angles later on that will perfectly match the rest. Very cool!

posted 2005-03-25 13:40:00