The making of Crash! - Part 1

So, i decided to post here the production process of my short animated "Crash". The entire project took me the 6 months I was attending Vancouver Film School and it was done with many other assignments, so I don't consider the total time completion of this short the entire 6 months.

The Idea

Every animation must start with an initial premise, a reason for the character to act, something that guides the entire production of the movie: the idea.

When I arrived at VFS I kinda of have an idea, but it was not so developed. It was something about a glass (or a bunch of them) that wanted to escape from a kitchen because every night one of them had their life taken from them by a drunk guy (Jack) that used to (as many drunk guys) break them. Then I made a few sketches just to show the senior instructor my idea.

After presenting it to him we discussed about it and after some thinking we decided not to make the story in a kitchen, but in a bar.

The production process

The production process of this animation was divided in many steps that ran concomitantly: the story and storytelling development, the reference research, the props modelling, the environment and the characters development.

After many Maya and Visual Storytelling classes we learned how to create better compositions and how to create storyboards to guide our stories. That is also the phase where we show our ideas and these storyboards to our Animation Instructor, Steven Taylor, who orients us through the confection of these storyboards and guided through the characters designs.

This is also the phase where I started to create a rough plan of what I would for the next phases of the project. The storyboards started to show what I would need for each scene, I started to model the bar, the characters and the props that would be used in the animation. And organization is the key word for everyone who wishes to work with animation because at this time I had to organize everything in order to have all the parts ready at the time for the next phases of the animation project.

Cuppy designs and development

Firstly I researched some references on the web and did some sketches from real life just to get the initial shapes of the characters (you can see above only three of my references, but actually I had more than 40 of them only for the glasses):

Then I started to design lots of shapes and expressions directly in my sketchbook just to have the best options that would fit my character needs and to experiment with the character's shape deformations and also to know how I would create the rig and the 3d model later on.

One book that was really useful in the next process, the modelling, it was the Jason Osipa's Stop Staring, in which I've learned a lot about facial modeling and topology for facial expressions. This great resource was really useful because I was able to make the proper facial deformations and expressions later. The other great help I had to model these characters came from Greg Berrigde (my senior instructor) and Paul Tanner (modelling instructor) who helped me a lot with my glasses topologies questions.

I always make a plan before I start to create something in 3d. Sometimes it is only a simple sketch and many others it is detailed drawings that can help me in thinking the stages of the 3d work. So, for this glass I did a brief drawing showing the basic topology for the edge loops and the mesh...

...and then I started the modelling of the mesh, which was based on a cylinder, until the end of the process of creation of the correct edge loops for the facial expression.

And then I came the question? Can a glass be rigged? How it could deform properly and keep its characteristcs? After some rigging class and ideas discussion with Greg I started rigging my glass like a spine and after many other problems with deformation he came with a great solution for my glass: a rig that deforms not the mesh itself but a lattice, and then this lattice deforms the geometry (it seems simple but it is not... and painting weights on it was really hard).

Ok! It is rigged! May I start to animate it? The magical moment when your character gives his first step (or a small jump to a glass but a great pass for a future animator :) ):

Yes, it is the most magical moment... But it was not concluded... After that I would need facial expressions, and I got them with a lot of modeling work and a... ...few bunch of blendshapes (later on I needed more and I added them):

And then voila! Facial expressions ready to go:

Of course this is not a straight ahead character development. I had many backwards and forwards during all stages of its process and the most important thing to me during this process it was the feedbacks I received from other students and from VFS Staff, that helped me to take the right directions.

Making of: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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