Year 2

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How To Make A Seven Minute Film In Just Eight Years

Year 2

North Caulfield, 1999-2000

This is where I spent the first two years on the film.  Tip:  leaving unprocessed  film in a camera for over five years will give you that vintage photo look -  whether you want it or not.

After a year or so of whittling away at fragments of storyboards, animatics and models after work and on weekends, it had become apparent that I needed to dedicate more time to my extracurricular activity if I was going to finish it within my lifetime.  I re-defined the project as a "short film", which somehow made it seem more important, and anticipated completion around Christmas 1999, after which I could submit it to the Siggraph 2000 Electronic Theatre.

Concept sketch

With my plan in place, I put in my resignation and upgraded Lightwave and my PC, although I stayed to complete obligations on the current game project until May 2000.  My frugal lifestyle had afforded me around AU$60,000 of savings, which I could string out to six years or so, which of course was more than enough for a measly short film.

Now that I had updated Lightwave to version 6, I set about re-rigging the main character.  This involves setting up the model so it can be operated like a puppet, making animation quicker and easier.  I soon learned that big feet and hands on short stumpy limbs makes animating not so quick and easy.  Feet intersected frequently - even a simple upright standing pose was impossible - arm movement was restrictive, and fingers deformed badly and intersected each other.

In addition, the fact that the upper portion of his head was comprised almost entirely of eyeballs was impairing his ability to emote, rather than
facilitating it. The problem was that the eyes were so cranially encompassing that there was hardly any room left for brows and cheeks, and the absence of a nose wasn't helping things either.  It was the areas around the eyes - not the eyes themselves - that were needed for expression, and I had omitted them almost completely.  A few limb extensions and eye socket enhancements later, and a somewhat lankier but slightly more manageable and expressive hero emerged.

A more exasperating problem though was that the rig was plagued by gimbal lock, a phenomenon that was supposed to have been remedied with Lightwave 6.  Furthermore the software appeared to be incapable of delivering the rigging solution I wanted, despite weeks of determination and consequent frustration.  After a while I realised that the time spent searching for a solution was outweighing the time the solution was supposed to save, so I resigned myself to the fact that it just couldn't be done.  I would have to move on to other things and deal with the ramifications later.

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