Two Is Company

I've got some cool news this week. A new artist has joined the Hunted project! He's going to be helping out with character concepts, and I couldn't be more excited! As soon as we have something ready to show, I'll be posting it here.

Characters are definitely not my forte, so I'm pretty pumped to have a seasoned character designer lending a hand on this. :D

In other news, I wrapped up version 2.1 of the animatic this week. I made quite a few changes in light of the feedback I got. I tweaked camera angles, screen direction issues, many of the cuts, as well as some important story beats. The whole second half of scene 7 had to be reevaluated. People just weren't clear on what was going on, and I had a time discrepancy to resolve. It's still not perfect, but it's closer now.

One thing I've been learning more about is how to navigate in and out of screen direction. Namely, how one goes about bridging scenes where screen direction has to change. For most of the film, characters travel from left to right. However, there are moments when I need to film on the other side of things. Most of my set building revolves around this function of the camera. How interiors are arranged, for instance, is largely dictated by camera needs. But what about when I have a cool design for a shot composition, but it goes against the 180 rule? Bridging these moments was tricky. Maybe I'm overthinking this? Maybe all that matters is that the audience understands the set, and never feel irked by a cut. I'm learning, though!

I also had fun doing a little world building and reference gathering. In order to get new artists up to speed, I finalized a visual guide and finished a character design document. I also spent some time pouring over reference photos for character inspiration. Reference gathering always gets me excited!

One of the many reference photos I gathered. This one is for Chloe. I like the intensity of it. Kudos if you know what film this is from.

One of the many reference photos I gathered. This one is for Chloe. I like the intensity of it. Kudos if you know what film this is from.

Bailey

Second Pass

Woot!

The whole movie has finally gone through a 3D layout phase. Might be overkill, but I had to do it. There were 2D drawings that I understood pretty well, but when I recreated them in 3D, I inevitably learned things. Editing cameras made me address problems that I couldn't see with just 2D boards. I'm sure simple boards can work, but this process was good for me to find where my imagination was covering up issues.

Next I'm going to be showing the film to people who will give me brutal and valuable criticisms. I can't wait for it to be torn apart! It has to go through hell and back in order for it to have a chance of being good. Because, let's face it, it sucks right now. There are so many things that need love...editing, cinematography, design....it goes on.

Bailey

Layout - Nearly There

Layout continues. 75% of the film has now been blocked out in 3d with decent cinematography. I also re-boarded one last scene with rough drawings. Basically I produced a few dozen of these thumbs, then just played with them in the timeline. It's a travel sequence, so I was able to approach it differently. Worked out pretty well.

In other news, I did manage to spend some more time thinking about the characters, their motives, and formalizing their profiles (which included some reference gathering). It shan't be long before I'm knee deep in design. So much to do! I'm hoping that I can bring in some more artists. :D

For interest (and because I don't know what else to show), here are some reference pieces. I did most of my reference gathering a long time ago, but I figure people don't really talk about this part of the process very much. It's basically the point when an artist is studying and exploring ideas in the real world. Sometimes this is in the form of photos the artist takes or finds, and sometimes its with art (for some inspiration)...

I did not take this photo. But it's pretty, right?

I did not take this photo. But it's pretty, right?

I didn't take this one either, but I love the mood here. Bonus points if you can tell what this is from!

I didn't take this one either, but I love the mood here. Bonus points if you can tell what this is from!

This week I'm going to wrap on the last tricky scene, which has a lot of players, props, angles, and shifting cameras. It's at the gas station, which features interiors, exteriors, and looking through windows to view important actions. Layout, I'm finding, is like solving a puzzle that you haven't made yet. The complex scenes can really have a lot of inter-dependencies.

Bailey

Simple Cameras

Cinematography is hard. In this case I'm trying to pull off a scene that has more movement and action than the other scenes. It's been a fun learning experience, but also tough.

When it comes to action scenes, I think it's pretty easy to get it wrong. And while I know I'm not the most experienced camera operator, it doesn't stop me from having some strong opinions on the matter. Specifically that scenes, no matter how intense they are, should be clear and understandable. A pet peeve of mine is the overuse of the shaky-cam effect. It decreases one's ability to perceive what is happening. Yes, camera noise can work at times, but only when it aids the story or a moment. When it's used right, it feels right. But it's rare.

In Hunted, I've been forcing myself to design a shot and then do as little with the camera as I can get away with. For instance, there is a scene where Chloe (protagonist) stares at something that is off-screen. However, the camera remains stock still. It's often tempting for me to put a little zoom on it for a dynamic feel. But I'm experimenting with stripping things down to the essentials, like a graphic designer would remove unnecessary shapes for a minimalist feel. Simplicity is so hard to pull off. I often refer to it as having the audacity to create something vulnerable.

Gray block out mesh of Chloe. Very simple stuff, but hopefully it delivers in the end.

Gray block out mesh of Chloe. Very simple stuff, but hopefully it delivers in the end.

Bailey

Finale Layout

This week saw a lot of work done on the finale. This is where our protagonist, Chloe, finds what she has been seeking. It's an important scene, and I feel like it's coming together fairly well. But, naturally, everything at this stage looks awful. Still, there are a few neat moments that I'm trying in earnest to pull off. Like how to keep the intensity of the segment going without sacrificing clarity. Some of my camera shots hold for a while; no quick cuts.

Here are a couple screenshots of what I've been up to. For those you don't know, layout looks awful as there is no real art in place. Its great purpose is to essentially lay the groundwork for the film.

Screenshot of my work set up. Can see rough animations and hierarchies here.

Screenshot of my work set up. Can see rough animations and hierarchies here.

Finale edits. Each piece is an animation chunk exported out from Max.

Finale edits. Each piece is an animation chunk exported out from Max.

I'm doing the proxy modeling, animation, and layout in 3ds Max. Then I'm importing captures into my timeline for editing. Even though I have the progression pretty well planned out, I'm still experimenting as I go. And sometimes my original ideas don't work as well as I hoped. So, I try different camera angles and stuff like that. It's a lot to keep track of. So many potential ways to go about this.

Different angles of an important piece of information. All work in progress.

Different angles of an important piece of information. All work in progress.

I will continue to do more layout this next week. Until Tuesday!

Bailey