I've decided to move on to my 4th short film which I've entitled as "Uyir". I was happy with the response for "Vetri" and took all the feedback to heart. The two main weaknesses of Vetri was bad character animation and mediocre story. So this will be the main focus of the short. I've also decided not to cheat like my previous films, and have decided to model and rig all the characters on my own. Eventually, I plan to release everything for free on BlendSwap.com (including characters this time).
In terms of story, I've sat down and had a good think about the story. To be brief, the story follows along the lines of, the life of a joyous old man is turned upside down when he is abducted by criminals. It's a simple story but hopefully it will work. Personally, I'm quite happy with the way the story has come out and I feel it will be far better than any of my previous short films. Conceptually, I think there's a lot more substance and emotion in this story and it also conveys a more powerful message! That said, it might look good on paper, but whether it would look good on screen is another challenge..
I've learnt a lot about character animation over the past two weeks, but yet to put it into practice. I will be using this project to hopefully bring out the best character animation I possibly could. I will be posting a lot of the animation dailies and progress on the new Uyir short film website and hope to get feedback from the community. This is something I didn't do enough of in my previous film. The story though, is created in a sort of way to minimise character animation but there are a couple of complex animations, such as the kidnapping scene.
My goal is to make this film a lot better than any of my previous endeavours both technically and storywise. Since I'll be starting this project from scratch, I'm expecting the film to release around December of this year (the total length of the film is planned to be 8-9 minutes). The film will be released on my main YouTube channel. I'll also be using the BURP Community Renderfarm again to do most of the rendering of the film.
The "What To Do" webisodes will still be uploaded on my main channel (hopefully 1 webisode a month) but it will be a little slow going (especially during the production phase of this project!).
Hopefully this film will release on time and will end up with a film that viewers will really enjoy!
Once I entered Uni, I was itching to go back and fulfill my dream of making an animated film. I then did proper research. After reading many software reviews and the features it contained, I decided to settle with the software I promised I would never look at again... Blender! I saw some user images and was awestruck with the level of quality that was able to be produced with free software. I could never afford 1000 bucks for those Maya, 3DS max, C4D type of software, so I figured Blender would be close enough. It contained a lot of very good modelling tools, a neat renderer, and some cool physical simulation tools which I found to be a very cool bonus! So, I gritted my teeth and decided to follow the Noob-to-Pro Blender tutorials for a few months. After that, I snacked on a lot of Blender video tutorials found on YouTube. I particularly found Andrew Price’s tutorials inspiring and motivated me to keep going. I also found BlenderCookie to assist greatly as it helped cover almost all aspects of Blender. After about 6 months of tutorials, I decided it was finally time to make an animated short film.
I would then spend another few months or so, researching how animated films are made. Thankfully, YouTube existed then and I looked at the process of Pixar and how they made films like Toy Story, etc. I also read a lot of articles on how films are made and started to at least get an idea of how films are made. I realised at this point, I needed a lot of patience and planning BEFORE I started to even touch Blender. I learnt the basic concepts of script writing, storyboarding and animatics. I was not the best at it (still not!) but at least it would guarantee that the project would not fail before it even started.
After this, I managed to complete my first animated project ‘Theevan’. It’s not the best film out there and does not even compare to Toy Story or Avatar, but it’s the best thing I ever made on my own. A tremendous level of satisfaction ensued and gave me a lot of motivation to make more short films. ‘Theevan’ does has a lot of technical flaws and I will document the making of ‘Theevan’ in another blog post. Here are screencaps from the film:
The biggest mistake I made with ‘Theevan’ was starting the project too early. I should have waited until I had a bit more experience instead of rushing ahead and producing a half-done film.
My final advice to people out there interested in making animated films with zero budget and zero educational training, is to have a lot of patience. A LOT of it! You also need plenty of motivation if you want the project to reach its completion. I may write another blog on how to make animated films later on but this is how I started making animated short films. Follow tutorials to the point that you feel you can make your own stuff. And learn the process of filmmaking from the abundance of content available on the internet today. With the improvements and capabilities of content and technology today, it is possible that you could one day make your own animated short film!
Go to Part 1!
All throughout my childhood I really enjoyed watching animated films and I guess it hasn’t really stopped. It started with Toy Story, then it was Finding Nemo and even now, as a fully grown adult, Avatar. There’s something about animated films that I loved in comparison to live action films. It might be the fact that we are able to create our own parallel universe and script our own events the way we want it. There was a time, perhaps during my high school years, that I dreamt of creating my own world.
I started out with the idea of making a city. So I searched everywhere on the internet for software that will allow me to do just that. Maya and 3DS Max were the top two results from my online research. So I tried the trial versions. I was initially confused when I started and became even more confused when the trial expired. So I looked for free alternatives. I tried Blender (version 2.4x at the time). The interface was clunky and when I tried to do simple things like select an object, it never really turned out what I expected. It only gave me so much headache and frustration that I vowed to never use that software again. So instead, I continued looking for free alternatives that were easy-to-use. I found a software called Anim8or. At the time of writing, the website for it still exists (anim8or.com) however, it appears that development for it has since been discontinued. I found Anim8or to be extremely easy to do things and the interface was nice and simple enough. After following a few easy tutorials, I set out to make my city.
The result? Not so spectacular! Really just a bunch of cubes and cylinders organised to look something like a city. In fact, it took me weeks to figure out how to do this. After this, I set out to make a short film project. It failed as quickly as it started. I struggled to make characters and when I finally did make a character (a very poor one at that), I struggled to rig the character for animation. Anim8or was not particularly robust with character animation, but what would I know. But I feel the main reason why the project failed was due to a lot of overconfidence and a lack of patience. I had an idea of a story in my head and decided I would make the story up as I animate. I had no script, no storyboard, no character planning, nothing. The hype I created over my own film died without a single shot being animated.
I then played around with other free 3D software. I looked at tools that would do good character animation. I found Daz Studio. I couldn’t properly animate a character without it freezing a lot. That may in part be due to a pretty old and weak PC.
I then worked on creating better virtual environments. I found Bryce. It was pretty neat in that it created natural environments well and also quickly but was limited when it came to interior scenes and did not handle character animation at all. Feeling frustrated, I quit! For a few years at least…
Continue to Part 2!
I make movies for fun, love watching Pixar movies, and hopefully one day I can make something similar (probably not!)