Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Due Date!

Today our thesis papers were due. The video projects are due in a couple weeks, but as I boasted earlier, I have finished both ahead of time. Not by as large a margin as I had hoped, but still, everything has been completed for the Source Animation Thesis Project.

It feels wonderful to be able to write that out.

Unfortunately, I cannot yet hand in the video files, as the requirements for the deliverables are being revised by our school dept. Until they settle on that, I can't render out the final version to whatever spec they're looking for. But I can at least share with you the paper :) The paper itself is not terribly large, but the entire production process from storyboards to rigging is detailed there. It's a flash book file, so once it loads up you can turn pages with the arrows on your keyboard, or by clicking and dragging one of the page corners over.

[click here to view paper]

I have a lot more to say about the project's results, but it will have to wait until later. I'm up to my neck in job applications and that need to be handled first!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guns and Butter

I loved my high school economics class. I may not remember much of it now, but at the moment, I am faced with a 'real-world' application for something we actually covered in class. That problem was about two fictional countries, each is capable of making two products: 'guns' and 'butter', and they are capable of trading with each other. At the end of the exercise, we learned that each country made huge gains by specializing their industry and trading with the other, instead of doing everything on their own.

This is relevant to me, because despite my love of audio composition, I'm finding myself trying to juggle both guns and butter at the moment, and now my hands are getting all messy. I got about halfway through the song for the thesis when I realized that it was taking way too long. The solution? ROCK-OUT STOCK MUSIC!

It's not as pretty as I'd like, but I found a stock song that fits fairly well, and also that allows for a full sync license for a very reasonable price. So I put aside my keyboard and the 17 gigs of audio samples I was playing with, and wrapped up the music portion of the short film.

I will learn from this experience and avoid making the same mistake twice. Sure, I love tinkering with composition, but if I start down that path I will have to give up my other duties to the project, because there's only so many hours in the day. Especially when I have to share those hours with a full-time job. So for the next project, I will find myself a good composer and coordinate with him/her early on. That'll give them the time they need to work their magic.

And make no mistake, good music in any film/game project is worth its weight in gold. Magical gold.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Home stretch, plus audio

Several more small edits have been made since the last video was posted! I asked around and got a lot of feedback from classmates and colleagues, and I think the result is a leaner, even meaner robin danger commercial. All of the video files have been officially rendered out from Source, and I've got all of the little visual tweaks down. Now it's just some finishing touches on the comparison shots, and background music.

I've been putting off the music for way too long. But that's okay. I spent a great deal of my formative years playing with midi composition, so I've re-built a  replica of my old midi rig to see if I can whip something up. If that doesn't work, there's always free music online! You can see my setup below:

In true New York form, there is no space for anything. I have that keyboard crammed in so tight that I think it's structurally supporting the rest of the room at this point. That's my mic to the right, still taped to a pole. That bowl on the desk is one of my props, which doubles as a food receptacle when I remember to eat.

The bowl was used mixing sounds, which you can hear when there's that row of chefs mixing stuff at 1:30. Most of the sounds for the project were recorded this way, with me just hitting stuff in my room. Characters falling on the floor was me hitting and flopping onto a pillow. The trapdoor KATHUNK sound was just a broken part of my computer chair. Those robot arms? My trusty power drill. The whooshing and thwacking noises? I took a bandana and whipped it through the air near the mic. It's amazing what you can do with random household items. The sounds don't need to be perfectly authentic, but they do need to sound believable.