Year 3

Year 1      
Year 2      
Year 3     
Year 4      
Year 5      
Year 6      
Year 7      
Year 8      
How To Make A Seven Minute Film In Just Eight Years

Year 3
Mount Waverley, 2000-01

Even though my pace had accelerated rapidly now that I had the whole day at my disposal, completion in time for Siggraph, let alone Christmas, was looking unlikely.  As compensation I would just have to make the film even better.  Despite the lack of a deadline and a history of abandoning personal projects, the commitment I had now made to this project meant that there was no doubt in my mind that it would be finished, and I cemented the fact by announcing it to anyone within earshot.  With my reputation now firmly on the line it was no longer a question of if it would be finished, but when

The struggle for a satisfactory beginning and ending to the story continued for months.  Even more elusive was a decent title for the film, which up until now had been known as "Stinky".  In addition to the creative block was an equally debilitating struggle with software malfunction. Sometimes this would bring the project to a standstill for weeks as I hunted for a workaround.
Some Rejected Titles

Scared Silly
The Wrong Bus
Nightmare In Zone 4
Destination: Terror!
Scared Ernie Takes The Bus
Ted's Unpleasant Evening
Nightmare on the 64
Needlessly Nervous

A conclusion to the story of Stinky finally presented itself, and that inadvertently provided a beginning. My first cut of the animatic was around two and a half minutes long, and having felt that I was now comfortably past the point of no return it was time to get some feedback.  Fortunately the feedback was positive, and I was able to press on unhindered by any self doubt.

Now that the film was taking shape, more ideas spewed forth, and I was determined to put as many of them in as I could.  I made it my (somewhat futile) agenda to find out, just this once, whether a compromise-free result was within the realms of possibility.  I also decided that, in order to maximise impact, I would buck the current trend of revealing all the highlights and major plot points of a film before it's even released, and would instead keep any information about the film away from the internet until it was completely completed.

After an unscheduled relocation to Mount Waverley, I continued work on the exterior environment that was to provide the setting for the beginning of the film. The sky, created with a combination of painted backdrops and Lightwave's Hypervoxels (volumetric particles)  resulted in weeks of testing, as the Hypervoxels always behaved unpredictably, and the only way to preview the results was to endure ten or twenty minute low resolution render tests.

Rather than animating thousands of individual leaves by hand, I turned to Lightwave's soft body dynamics system to generate the motion for the trees, which amounted to further weeks of waiting for the motion to be calculated. The time in between was spent tweaking the wind and material properties, and trying to convince a dynamics system which inherently wants to behave like jelly, not to.

The twelve second motion file for the main "hero" tree took about five hours to generate, and with only one computer at my disposal I was forced to take extra long lunch breaks.

After a concerted effort, I had finally come up with a title.  I proceeded to design it to death.

Assorted digital and analogue title designs

I continually revised the animatics and substituted storyboards with increasingly polished animations. The cut extended to three minutes. Up to this point I was fuelled by the vision I had conceived at the start, and worked relatively easily and at a fairly consistent pace.  However, after three years of staring at the same imaginary scenes day in and day out, the vision was beginning to wane.  Perhaps I should have spent more time immortalising it in pre-production, rather than relying on memory.

Continue on to Year 4...

Useless Information
Press Kit