/ by Matt
Well, the others haven’t posted anything recently, so I’d better give an update on what’s been happening here! Work has been continuing thick and fast - we’ve given tutorial workshops here in Amsterdam (which will be posted about soon, I hope), Ton has still been coding like a madman, and over the last weeks, we’ve been working on putting together our secondary animatic, with the script broken down into individual shots by Bassam.
We did a very preliminary animatic (the ‘crappymatic’) a while ago, before the script was fully broken down, as a bit of a practise run to flesh out some ideas. It helped, but it was nowhere near anything final, and of course purposefully dodgy. For this one, we’d been working on scenes in parallel and in tandem, and we assembled them together over the last few days of last week to see the then current state of the film in its entirety. We’ve also been using the structure of the script, with the intention that we can take the .blend files used in the animatic, and revise them by replacing character models, re-doing the animation, building the sets, to gradually turn them into the final shots.
Here’s an example of one of the scenes in the animatic, actually one that has subsequently been partially cut/revised, for you to download. Of course it’s an animatic, with proxy models, very rough animation and blocked out sets. Please, no complaints that it’s not Pixar quality yet! :)
Rather than being anything intended for presentation to other people, the animatic is a tool for ourselves. It’s a tool for communication, and also for review - it’s much easier to use the animatic to see the quality and flow of the story than it is by reading the script itself. It was a very interesting and productive experience to see it all together as one. Some of the scenes were working very nicely, but some of them weren’t working at all, and seeing it all together like this was a catalyst for some of our dissatisfaction with the script to come out.
We had big problems with the dialogue, and the amount of it. It wasn’t really doing what we wanted, and there were far too many lines for what the characters were actually supposed to be saying. Particularly since lipsync takes such a huge amount of time and effort to animate well, this was quite scary. We realised, seeing the words together with the images, that there was a lot of redundancy. In many occasions, we wouldn’t need to have the characters say something if we could show it through acting or through the sets and props, and we could cut and combine many of the lines to be more concise and direct.
So, we’ve taken this opportunity (probably the last we will have) to make some revisions to the script, to give it more purpose and direction, and to give the characters more motivation. Bassam and Ton worked over the weekend making edits and cuts, and now things are looking much better. Although time is quickly running out, I don’t really see this as going back and losing time - it’s more like a natural progression. It took us this amount of time to get to this stage and see that we needed to make changes, so we’re revising as we go.
The other script
While making this animatic, we had the help of some nice Python scripting work by Basse for controlling the camera changes, and also to display subtitles with the dialogue. The script requires a recent version of bf-blender (the version 2.40 alpha 2 should be fine) since it uses Python scripting access to the Timeline markers.
You can download a demo file here that includes the script as a packed text file (timeliner.py). It uses script links, so remember to enable them in the script buttons window, and if necessary, add timeliner.py as a Scene script link on FrameChanged.
There are instructions in the .blend file on how to use it - they all involve markers in the Timeline. It’s very convenient this way, as it’s very quick to adjust timing and cuts. It would be nice too if we could influence objects’ animation with Timeline markers as well, perhaps the upcoming Python Ipo drivers will allow us to do this. If you have any questions about this script, I’m sure Basse would be happy to answer them here!