Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ok, Here's the Plan

While working on some new shots, I've been rendering out the right eye version of the first couple of shots that were produced; I now have my first seconds of final 3D video. The 3D in motion works as well as my test frames suggested. I did make a sizeable goof in one 75 frame shot (about 3 seconds worth), which now needs to be re-rendered for both left and right eyes to correct the perspective problem.

Anyway, the plan... I'm trying to figure out how this thing is going to look in its final DVD incarnation, so planning has to be undertaken at this stage to ensure the best quality result. I'm producing all the images at 852x480, then importing the resultant right and left eye versions into a freeware program called
Stereo Movie Maker. The program creates 3 AVI files for each shot - a 2D version (made from the left eye video file), an anaglyph 3D version, and an interlaced 3D version. This will probably cause me storage headaches down the road, as about 15 seconds worth of footage equals about a 400MB uncompressed AVI, per version.
Then, I take the 2D version into Adobe Premiere and edit it. The goal is to go straight from the Premiere timeline to a DVD-ready MPEG2 file without any intermediary steps, which would cause compression loss. To acheive this (since I'm using Premiere 6), I'm evaluating a program from
Videotools called Premiere Video Server, which allows you to use an encoder, such as TMPGEnc, to produce a final video stream directly from Premiere. I did a test using Cinema Craft's MPEG Encoder, but was unsatisfied with the results, and have opted for the freeware TMPGEnc for the quality of its video output.

The 852x480 16x9 image is smashed into a 720x480 anamorphic frame, which is then decoded back to a 16x9 image by your DVD player. I haven't burned a test file for playback yet, but looking at it on a computer monitor displays no edge problems associated with most video scaling operations.

Once I have the 2D version finished, I can then have Premiere replace all the 2D clips with their 3D counterparts, while retaining all my edit decisions. The encoding process can then be repeated for each subsequent version of the movie.

So, there you have it. The initial tests of this process have gone well, so we're off to the races. For those of you interested in current stats, there is 1:14 of finished animation; 39 seconds of that is final, rendered 2D animation; and 17 seconds of that exists in 3D.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Website Update

Back to work on movie. Taking a breather here to do some website reprogramming. Upgraded the Synopsis & Trailer pages, and added a working Photo Gallery. Posted two finished movie stilsl in both 2D and 3D.

Reworked the poster, which uses virtually the same artwork as seen on the main page of this site. Since the robe the Monster is pictured wearing broke repeatedly when I was trying to pose it, its been changed to Daz's Morphing Trenchcoat for Michael, which looks and works a lot better. Hopefully, you'll be seeing it soon...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

First Slowdown

I've been procrastinating about getting back to work on this sucker. For the past week, I keep circling the computer. It dares me to sit down at it and do some work. I had been working on a sequence that's come to be known as Scene #29, which is the opening of the final battle sequence. After completion a chain-of-events, I'm stuck now dreaming up how to handle the next section of the scene. I have in mind what needs to happen, but working on the same set, with the same characters lends it a feeling of deja vu.

I've come to realize that to keep my interest high on a project, there needs to be something new interjected into it at regular intervals. That can be as simple as the introduction of a new character, or something more complex, such as a change of scenery. In all the movies I've done so far, the fight scenes are the most challenging because they have to be done in short cuts and multiple setups, all featuring wild motions. For those of you who saw the terrible climactic fights in the two RAVEN movies, rest assured that the footage here is looking much improved. There's a better sense of fluid movement and physics, which hopefully will serve to make it a little more realistic and exciting.

Andy tells me that the basement recording studio is coming along. Prior to this, he, and his cohort Rob, had a mobil setup that allowed them to bring facilities to the talent. Now, with dedicated space available, they hope to make something more permanent. Once the equipment is all wired in, we can begin recording the actors.

I've been generating some headshots of the movie's characters, both in 2D and 3D, for eventual posting on the Characters page. I'm still holding out to see if we can get photos of the actors playing the parts to post along side them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Happy New Year

The holidays broke my forward momentum on the project, and I'm still trying to get back on track. I'm using my PC to do the animation, and my wife's computer to render it out. Unfortunately, the scene I'm rendering is so memory intensive that it keeps clogging up the system around frame 195 or so (about 3 days worth of work), and has to be restarted. I have set it to render out only to frame 190, after which I will render out the remainder of the 278 frames as a seperate file.

At some point here I have to do an encoding test to see what this will look like on DVD. I'm rendering the frames out at 852x480 widescreen, but DVD only accepts 720x480. The idea being that the widescreen aspect can be squeezed anamorphically into the DVD compliant frame size. We'll see if that holds water after I have a minute or so of completed footage to test it.

We still haven't done any recording. Hopefully, that will come together soon. I will post more artwork and the script to the website once the bulk of the voice recording is in the can.