Creating MatterControl

My most recent commercial endeavor now has a home in the behind the scenes section here at Forma Pictures:

This was a really fun project to work on. As I've said again and again on this website, be sure to check out MatterHackers. Such excellent people. Alright, that's enough talk about MatterControl. Next week I promise to talk about the other projects. ;)

Hmm, well, I think I teased this before, but I've started work on an exciting new project. I'm currently in the middle of the arduous (and fun) task of fleshing out the story. It's due to launch early next year, and it really has the potential to be something unique. Now all I have to do is work until I can't work anymore, because it's shaping up to be one of the most ambitious projects I've worked on to date.

Exciting stuff! :)



Good news! New video to show:

This is the second video I've had the pleasure of making for MatterHackers. The first video was all about the vision of 3D printing and this video is about their product MatterControl, which is the open source platform for 3D printing.

On the whole, I love working with these guys. They're smart, dedicated, and a total joy to work with. I said this after the last video, and I'll say it again: I hope I get to work with them again! Check them out!

In the meantime, Forma Pictures has got a number of projects in the cooker. Hunted will continue its slow development, as will a couple other small things which are yet to be revealed. And, of course, client work continues too. The next for-client video is scheduled to release in January.


Twenty Percent

The last twenty percent of every project is always the most fun for me. It's when everything starts coming together. Because for the longest time (the 80%), the art is never very interesting. There are so many missing pieces, proxy portions, and tests littered throughout the video. In fact, for most of the project I'm just hoping that I'm making something good. It's hard to see the end result when everything is in progress. It requires lots of imagination.

But once the polish phase begins, that's when I get really energized. I assume there are lots of other artist out there who feel the same. And as the puzzle forms, the vision finally comes into focus. It's very rewarding, in general.

I'm currently entering the last week of such a project, and as I feel the joy of this 20% time, I have to be extra careful not to work myself too hard. Like I've said before in the 20-Mile Marching article, it's easy to get caught up in the work and not get enough sleep each night. I'll admit that it remains a struggle to resist the urge to work in favor of rest.


Tedium Is My Middle Name

With every project there comes a moment where I have an idea for something, but it's going to require a hefty number of mind-numbing hours of tedious work. In each video I've made, I'v managed to dream up a sequence where a large number of objects on the screen have to animate, and they have to be hand animated. I try to find a way to automate things (and I often do), but sometimes...sometimes I just bite the bullet and do the work to get the result I want.

I thought last week had some tedious moments, but this week was a record setter. The shot in question lasts only about 40 frames, but what I did was place over a thousand cartoon leaves by hand. Each leaf was placed in a logical growth position so that they all grew sequentially in a way that made sense (based on tree branch growth, which I had animated beforehand). Each start point had to be set, and each leaf had to fill up the space so as to not leave any gaps in the image. This is probably boring. You'll just have to watch it to understand.

But anyway, that's my big story this week. I spent 3 days clicking myself into a state of pure monotony. Aren't ya jealous!? ;)

A small portion of the scene (like a 1/10 of view). There are thousands of layers (including the controllers).

A small portion of the scene (like a 1/10 of view). There are thousands of layers (including the controllers).


A Whole Year of Blogs

Startdate 69142.3. Blog Entry 52.

Yep, it's been a full year of weekly, Friday blog updates. And over this year I've rambled about everything from project updates, art philosophy, business ethics, experiments, and even the emotional struggles of this craft. This weekly commitment has kept me accountable to peel back the curtain on this journey however I can. I hope it's been interesting to somebody. If not, that's okay, because it's been extremely useful to me.

In other news, animation work rolls steadily on. I recently hand-placed 442 tree leaves and gave them all subtle, stylized animation. It was a way to give the background elements of Scene-D a little extra life. I hand-placed them because I wanted them to look a certain way. Typical. ;)

I wonder how many times I clicked my mouse working on these puppies.

I wonder how many times I clicked my mouse working on these puppies.

Things could change, but I feel comfortable continuing the weekly Friday updates. Onward!


Animation Aspiration

Currently spending most of my days animating and trying to figure out ways to push myself. Some of these scenes are taxing my brain, which is a good thing. Lots of inter-dependencies with 3D and 2D stuff. The next month will be be spent making boatloads of key frames, so expect more of that. And if I think it's worth it, I'll post a clip later to show you how things are progressing. For now, enjoy a screen cap. Not much to see, but the careful observer can pick up clues! ;)

I like curvy stuff.

I like curvy stuff.


The Skill Paradox

This week saw a ton of look development on the commercial project I've been working on for weeks. It's tough trying to find something that fits the company's vision, the music, the story, and ultimately my taste. I am continually reminded of how difficult this process is. Oof!

Still just a concept, but getting closer to something that I don't hate.

Still just a concept, but getting closer to something that I don't hate.

Oh hey, I also added a section to the site where I recommend my favorite books on business. Go here and read those books (if you haven't already).

Art Troubles

I recently saw a tweet from an artist named Dave Kellett. He made a comic strip that captured a feeling I've been having for some time now. You can check out his work here.

With each new project I embark upon, I have found that it becomes more and more difficult to feel like I'm creating something worthwhile. I have happy accident moments, but I was expecting my career to remain just as difficult as time goes on. Instead, it seems to be getting more difficult as I get better. So, perhaps the comic strip above explains this?

It's as if my increasing standards inhibit my ability to get excited about most of the stuff I create. I've always been hard on myself, but I remember past projects feeling more energized, like I was riding the edge of my skill set and everything was new.

I still push myself, and I always do as many new things as possible with each project. But it feels like when I understand how to do something, I'm no longer interested in making stuff like that again. Basically I worry that if I do something that I already know how to do, I risk making something that is too same-y, and ultimately uninspired. I fear making art that is soulless, so I'm constantly attempting to create things that interest me and are genuinely "me."

It's a tough business, I'll tell ya. I'll figure this out eventually (I hope), but these are my thoughts at the moment. Let me know if you have any insights? How do other artists create things that are similar over and over again, but are still genuine?


Animatics and Answers

In a continued effort to make what I do more understandable to prospective clients, I added an FAQ section to the site. People can also request more answers if they want to too.

I also updated the About section to now show what services Forma Pictures provides. Forma Pictures works with both companies and individuals. Big and small projects. :)

As for work, this week saw a bunch of storyboarding for the MatterHackers project! Boy, like I've said before, boarding really pushes my brain. It's tough work trying to do so many things at once, like staging, flow, and visually understandable compositions. The storyboard basically defines what the movie is going to be, so no pressure, right? :)

Here's a screenshot of the animatic I was working on, in the editor:


Eating Frogs

I've been gulping down frogs this week. Well, figuratively. It's a concept from the book "Eat That Frog!" by Brian Tracy that I picked up this week. It describes ways to organize and prioritize tasks in business and in life. Each day there is a task that is more important than the other tasks. This is the one that will have the greatest, positive impact on one's life. This high value task is the "frog" that should be eaten first, before doing the low value tasks that yield fewer positive returns.

It also describes how to practice "creative procrastination." We all procrastinate, but we need to procrastinate doing specific things because there will never be enough time to do everything we have to do. Instead, we should just be on top of our most important responsibilities. The book discusses how to approach this and much more. In the end it's about being productive, efficient and smart. One can fulfill their ambitions and still get home each night to be with their family. I recommend it.

What else...oh, the good people at MatterHackers commissioned me to create some art for the tech conferences that they attend throughout the year. See?

A bunch of banners for all their convention needs. :)

And last, but not least, I've been building a SHOP for Forma Pictures. And in it, you'll be able to buy art I release in the future as well as some merchandise. Actually, the first batch of goods will be arriving today, so I expect to start selling with the next week or so. Stay tuned...