Friday, 19 October 2012

Getting Somewhere

Har! My last blog post was so melodramatic!

I have actually done a bit of texture work since then. Take a look:

I should be honest, the reason why all this got done was because I needed some more polished work so I could start job hunting. Nothing spells motivation like the need of M-O-N-E-Y.

I wanted to revisit Anna. When I made this image her face wasn’t rigged yet so she looks a little boring for a protagonist. 

I wanted to get her into these much more dynamic poses.
However, to do that I would have to enter the territory of no face Anna. (Remember her? If not read the post Attack of the Technical Difficulties)

I don’t think I’m ready to face her none-existent face.

Have you ever been really sick in the everything refuses to stay in your tummy kind of way? Do you blame the food or beverage you had pre sickness? Now every time you think of ingesting that food or beverage you feel like upchucking?  
No face Anna is like that for me. Every time I think about her I get overwhelmed by this frustrated, angry, despairing emotional vomit.    

Her and Baba Ganoush

But that’s a different story

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fatal Error

Poke, poke…poke


It doesn’t seem to be moving


I can’t tell if it’s alive or dead


One thing’s for sure, my film Porcelain is not doing so good.

Last blog post I promised to model a doll. I begrudgingly (I still am having a difficult time mustering up motivation) worked on one for a while. And then it happened again

I lost work.

it's the lattice...should of saved another version of the file 

I do not think I can express the full extent of my frustration. In fact I don’t think it is frustration anymore. It’s evolved into this weird acceptance that this project is supposed to go wrong. It is in the very nature of the fundament fibres that make up this production I have dubbed “Porcelain” to continually and horribly and devastatingly fail.

There I said it.


Part of me thinks that perhaps Porcelain died some time ago and in my denial I have developed the mantra “it’s still good, it’s still good” while grotesquely parading its corpus around like some hideous Weekend at Bernie’s stint.

I really don’t want Porcelain to die but I’m having a hard time coming up with reasons to keep it going. Right now the strongest argument I have is because I have put so much time and effort into it already. I am scared that if I don’t finish Porcelain it would mean that I have essentially wasted the last 2 years of my life. 

Part of me believes that Porcelain might be the stupidest idea I have ever conceived and I am a giant idiot for pouring so much into it. It’s better to put it out of its misery now before wasting more time and effort on such an idiotic concept.  

Yet I keep insisting that there’s something here worth working towards
There was once passion and inspiration. I remember feeling that way
But I can’t remember why

I am not yet ready to declare Porcelain dead

I’ll just stand here poking at it with a stick
Hoping for it to twitch with some sign of life




Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Motivation Deflation

So uh,

I kinda haven’t been working on this project

At all

For over a month.


This happened last year too. I was supposed to be working on Porcelain but instead I used all my free time making a video game about muscular slugs.

Something about the sunshine makes me unable to focus on such a bleak and serious project. 

But I’ve thought of a strategy to get me back on track!

Here it is:

Dear Internet,

I solemnly swear on my reputation as a creative person to model at least one new doll and paint 3 tileable textures in the month of August.


Robyn Fulbrook

There! Motivation!


In the meantime here are some inspirational images:  

Saturday, 23 June 2012

On with the Show!

It has occurred to me that I haven’t been keeping this blog up to date in terms of my progress on the film.
I certainly have been blogging about the problems, oh Lordy Lou, those problems…

But not about the actual work I’ve done on Porcelain.
So it’s time for a statues update!

Here is my current leica reel:

As you can see, all of act one is animated
Zero animation for act two
And the majority of act three is animated. I left out the ending because I don’t really have one right now. I have some ideas but I’ll get there when I get there.

I feel the animation I have done so far is lacking speed variation in the movements and over all feels too slow. I am having a difficult time getting passed the floating, underwater look of CG. However, I think it is getting there, maybe after a few more goes… I also think professional sound design will help it out.

Act two has no animation because it is by far the most complex part of the film. I do not have all the elements ready yet. I feel that the pacing is off. I’ll deal with that when everything is ready in CG.

I need a lot of dolls…

I have been playing with the sound for my reel. Following a brilliant suggestion from the very clever Mr. Martin Rose, I added bird sounds to the music box. I love it! It adds a surreal element that I had been striving for. The music box now feels unrestrained and alluring yet far more foreboding. To counter the music box, I added a clock ticking as a theme for the dolls. I like how the repetitive sound enhances the themes of mechanical, orderly and uniformity. The two sounds contradict each other beautifully, adding levels of meaning to Porcelain that I had always been wanting yet didn’t know how to articulate until now. Of course my sound work is very crude, but it gives me a glimmer of what I was hoping to achieve in this film.

After successfully creating the music box shot, I have been craving more finished looking work. 

However, most of the animation I have done so far can’t be rendered yet due to technical difficulties with the protagonist model. It’s very frustrating to have so much animation, but not be able to render it with textures.
I use something called point cache to bring the animation I have done in Softimage to the textured models in Maya.

Look! It’s working and everything is happy sunshine and flowers!

Lalalalalalalala, happy!

But when I do the same process to Anna, she ends up like this. (you can read about how this makes me feel in the blog post before this one. Hint: it’s not happy)

There are a couple of things I could try, but trouble shooting is not a very fun game to play. And every time I open this file I feel a strong urge to punch Anna in her none existing face.

So I’ve decided to change gears and focuses on creating a demo reel. I will still be working on my film, but giving myself a chance to create something to show.  It’s pretty annoying having done all this work only to end up with monster, no face girl.

For the time being Anna McNoface is going on the back burner

And I’ll make dolls

I’m working on this shot

The Dolls 

Here’s some work in progress of the new dolls

Original doll  

I thought the clothes where crummy on the original so I redid them, this is Anna's main doll

Needed more dolls for act two, in the middle of texturing this one 

Just finished modeling this one, Organizing the UVs now. Thought it would look cool in shiny green  for the  time being 

When everything is said and done I want Porcelain to look something like this:

But you know, in CG, not pixilation animation

There’s a lot of work left to do

I don’t know when I’ll finish Porcelain or if it’ll ever get done
But I’m easing myself back into this monster of a project.

As they say
The show must go on!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Attack of the Technical Difficulties

I suppose every project has its hiccups

May is the month that I blog about mine

WARNING: The following post is rated PG-13 for the use of frequent coarse language.

I believe my blog has somewhat of a poetic nature to it. Since poets carefully select words to best articulate their message, I too have chosen the most adequate words for the situation.

If you are going to get offended stop reading now.

If you are going to get offended but continue reading anyway may I suggest that you pretend I have used euphemisms such as Fruitcakes, or Shazbots.

On with the blog post!

It is a well-known fact that when you work with computers things will eventually go to hell. It’s bound to happen.  I take many precautions by backing everything up each night, saving multiple versions of a file, but never-the-less things will inevitably go unexplainably and horribly wrong.

It’s like being in a horror movie. You know the killer is in the house, you know they will jump out sooner or later, probably when you’re least expecting-




I started laughing hysterically because my film now looks like a surrealist painting.

Then crying hysterically because I had a grad panel in a week (the scary thing where a panel of Profs see your work and evaluate you accordingly)

 And I have no idea where my protagonists face is


I found it. It’s stuck in the wall.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Heartbreaks and Deadlines

About a year ago I started this production blog fully anticipating that the post I would be writing today would be titled something like “I AM DONE”

As you can see this is not the case.

I am sad.

More than sad.

These last four months have been horrible. Things could not have gone more wrong. And I have never worked so hard in my life.

Before getting much more into this there are some things you should know.
1.       Animation takes a lot of time
2.       Learning a new skill set takes a lot of time
3.       Making polished work takes a lot of time

There wasn’t enough time.

I would like to write about two issues that have been plaguing this project for a while now.

Problem one:

Dear Past Robyn,

Choosing to learn CG and then creating a short animated film all within a two year period is too much to chew. You will end up choking.

Present Robyn

In retrospect I think quite a few of my decisions were naïve as I greatly underestimated the complexity of CG animation.

As a bit of history, I chose to attend the Capilano University Digital Animation program between my third and fourth year at Emily Carr University of Art and Design where I am majoring in animation. Capilano is known in Vancouver for their great skill building animation programs. (For the record it was great! I will always be extremely happy that I chose to attend that program) ECUAD, on the other hand, is known for other things such as building creativity, but not technical skill building. I specifically chose to go between my third and fourth year because I wanted the skills from Capilano for my thesis project this year at ECUAD.

Going into it, I thought CG would be hard.
It turned out to be exponentially harder.

Also working solo on a short film with my minimal CG experience combined with the lack of technical support at ECUAD was frankly pretty idiotic.

CG is not a career path, it is multiple career paths! Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Animating all are different career choices.

Trying to do all of these things was just…overwhelming.

Problem Two:

Dear ECUAD Animation Program,

Please do not require me to make a short film in my fourth year if you are not going to provide any time for me to make it. Are you unaware of how much time animation takes?

Robyn Fulbrook

Before I get into this I must say a few things. Earlier I said that ECUAD was not known for technical skill building, instead I have found Emily Carr to be a school for building ideas. My time at ECUAD has taught me how to think outside the norm, to aspire and dream beyond limitations. The school often presents more diverse concepts and methods of creating which I attribute to transforming my interest in animation to a profound admiration. Because of some extraordinary teachers I feel I have grown not only as an animator but as a person. I do not always agree with or understand the school’s curriculum, never-the-less, I have been truly inspired during my studies at EUCAD and it will help shape and build my career in invaluable ways.
That being said…

I don’t know why animation students are not given any studio time to work on their films. On top of that, there is only one fourth year class. So if you are like me and have a full course load (none of the credits from Capilano transferred – don't ask me why?) then you now have third year classes with third year curriculum to contend with.

This is what my fourth year was like:  The amount of work in a full course load is like working a full-time job. Trying to make a 4 minute animated film is like working a full-time job. Add the technical difficulties of CG animation = one extremely overwhelmed and stressed out animation student.

Somehow I managed to survive the fall semester. The spring semester was a different story. (I think you can only pull so many 15 hour plus days before you start burning out)

I remember starting the spring semester just praying that my new classes would work in conjunction with my grad film. Unfortunately that didn't happen. Call me crazy but if you are required to make a short film in fourth year shouldn’t the classes help you to achieve that goal as much as possible? I would like to take a second here to thank some of my teachers who were very helpful and understanding. My situation was bad, but without their help and flexibility it would have been a lot worse.

Even the fourth year class became problematic. There was a lot of talking but extremely little doing. At first I found this to be very helpful. Gaining an outside perspective definitely provided valuable insight to my story. But with the clock continually ticking down, it became increasingly difficult to sit for six hours each week talking about our grad films.  Every week that slipped by, the chances of finishing became less and less likely. And talking is not animating.

Pretty quickly into the spring semester it became apparent that I was going to have to make a choice: Grad Film or Grades

I chose my film.

Simply because I have never wanted anything in my life so badly as to make a film I could be proud of for graduation and after developing the concept so much I desperately wanted to bring my ideas to fruition. 

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work the way you want it to.

Dear Fate,

I really could have used a little luck over these last four months.


Skipping over intense headaches, back pain, anxiety attacks, and computer problems

To my current situation

I did not finish my grad film

I did not graduate

My grades dropped like an 808

I went from straight A’s to, well; let’s just say I passed… barely.

And I have never worked so hard.

Dusting Myself Off, Picking up the Pieces and Moving Forward

I am going to continue making Porcelain.

Even though the last past months have been hellish

At times I have never hated anything as much as this project but I have also never cared about one so much.

So from this point forward Porcelain is no longer my thesis film.

It is now simply my film

And I feel excited again

For the longest time, I felt like I was drowning in this project and that my film somehow wasn’t mine anymore. Initially I found my classes helped my film become stronger in concept and approach but somewhere along the line things changed and at the end it felt like I was forcing Porcelain to fit the expectations of my university classes as opposed to creating my film. I cannot express how painful it was to build a concept for so long only to find myself hacking and slashing because there simply wasn’t any time left.

But now that I have failed at this game so spectacularly I am left with

Just me

And the fragment of an unfinished film

But I can breathe again

So I plan to pick up the pieces

And finish my film

My way.

Here is a teaser for my film.  

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Animation in CG is like Under Water Spaghetti

 At this point, my fellow fourth years and I are all madly trying to get our animation finished. What I find interesting (in a horrible way) are the different and unique problems my friends and I are running into based on the different methods of animation we have picked for our thesis projects. For the record none of them are easy.  Animation, whether it is stop motion, flash, traditional paper and pencil, or CG are all difficult and have problems exclusive to that type.

The exclusive problem in CG is what I like to call underwater spaghetti.

Underwater spaghetti

I’ll start with underwater.

In CG animation you start with the main poses (key poses) of the scene. Next you work on the in-betweens, the movement to get from one key pose to the next.
To get the in-betweens, I flip a switch and the computer program fills in all the animation between the key poses.

 True story

Awesome! What an age we live in where the computer does all of the work for me.




(If you imagined me yelling all those noes in a loud and frustrated manner with rage evident in my tone, then you are imagining it accurately)  (Them’s fighting words, boy!)

It is true that the program will fill in the poses for you, but it will look like VOMIT!

It is the worst part when animating in CG,
cuz it was looking good
then the computer got involved 
now everything looks the worst floatyweirdunderwatermechanicalcoldgarbage you have ever seen!

The computer will make all the movement look underwater like. Hence the “Underwater” part of the title to this blog posts.

From this point forward, all my time and energy is spent trying to fix the computer’s animation.
I will fix it in the Spaghetti zone, better known as the Graph editor. (The “Spaghetti” part of the title)
It just looks like spaghetti to me, or like a sewing box where all the thread has become tangled, or just a giant hot mess of work.  


I will go in noodle by noodle until I have final fixed the animation the computer program so “conveniently” did for me.

Noodle by noodle

As a film progress update, I am currently about 2/3 done my animation and am working like a mad lady to get it done as soon as possible.

Anyways here is some animation I have been working on.

Still looks too underwater like. Goddamn you, computer, Goddamn.