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ChrisC

'Pixellation' - short film

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Hey all - I put a new short on Vimeo, 'Pixellation'.




It started off as a scene exploring the aesthetic of MeshFusion modelling, the 'booleans on steroids' plugin for Modo - which seems to give a really convincing sense of solidity and form, and markedly different from the sorts of results I usually get when poly-modelling. In the end it emerged as a metal, plastic & glass workout; a bit of self-promo fun with a twist in the tail.


Modelled the main bits in Modo. Animated in C4D, rendered with VRAY. Comping in AfterEffects. Colour work used FreshCurves mainly, and a little bit of Looks (don't judge me!). UI was Nodes and Plexus, plus some mography text animation. Motion blur was rendered, dof was all Lenscare.


Made heavy use of the Topology Vertex Maps plugin from Paul Everett - a great match for these sorts of models as the ploy count is high enough to make the maps hold up as if they were painted.




Love to hear any feedback about this, especially pacing, editing, narrative etc which are areas that I've been trying hard to work on. Cheers - C


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Edited by ChrisC

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Thanks folks. Been using Modo since it was launched. As a modeller it's peerless, at least from the ones I've tried. Some other things it does really well - UV unwrap. The live preview is dreamy. I wouldn't say it's a replacement for Cinema - although the gap is really narrowing - but as a second utility app it's great.

 

They have a quite different way of working though, I'd say there's less leeway for experimental noodling in Modo, you have to commit to the scenes you're building - if you just bung a load of stuff together quickly with the intention of cleaning it up later on, then you're headed for trouble.

 

I've yet to take a production right through to the end with Modo - even personal stuff I always end up jumping back into Cinema to finish. But soon...

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As a modeller it's peerless

 

What does peerless mean?

 

 

I never really looked at it until now. I had only heard of people modeling in it due to the speed of the workflow, then bringing the models back into Cinema. Between that and the name, I figured it was purely for modelling and had no idea it was positioned as an end to end 3d application.

Edited by AromaKat

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We can certainly talk about pacing, narrative, etc. but firstly, there's some really beautiful imagery here! Super nice stuff. You've really put some love into the details. So, on the modeling end, you've nailed what you set out to. I think it's really apparent that the modeling was the goal here, though, because the whole production seems to just sort of say "look at this neat bit, and this one... and this thing here, look at this." Right? :D And, y'know, I DO want to look at this neat bit and that neat bit, but if I'm taking the time to watch something, to go on the journey that's promised by any narrative, however simple, I'm going to feel a little let down if all it ended up being was self-admiration. Cuz then it smacks lightly of pretension. So there's a bit of a problem from the outset with this kind of project, because it's not really made to provide the audience with anything. It's mostly self-serving. As a viewer, it's kind of like (bad analogy alert:) being with a really hot girl who doesn't care about you. She's lovely to look at, and loves the attention, but you get nothing out of it. It's not fulfilling. And I think for your piece to be meaningful or fulfilling as an experience for your audience, you'd have to have come at it with a slightly different goal in mind.

 

Pacing, editing, and narrative are the things you're questioning, and rightly so, I think. But again, I think the decisions you've made about each of these things, and at each point, stems from the overall perspective of "I made this cool stuff and I want to show people, so I'll show the stuff doing things and it'll turn out that what it was doing was building my logo." Because every camera movement, cut, or action, is essentially to showcase some modeling or the animation you've applied to it, not necessarily to convey something intriguing to the audience. So like, when you're moving your camera around the door, watching pins unlock, the slow and repetitive cuts focused on that detail kind of feel like self-fascination. Like, you don't have to show multiple close-up shots of that action for an audience to get it. And the camera shouldn't have to have a Michael Bay dolly effect to add visual interest if what's happening is already interesting. But you're showing them multiple close-ups because this is a showcase, and you're making the camera restless either by accident or because you realize it'd be boring otherwise. But honestly, it's still boring, because it's a showcase.

 

This sort of thinking really does impact the narrative on every level, because it informs all of your decisions about what to show, how you show it, for how long, and so forth. Getting into the mindset of "what is the story that the audience will find really intriguing, and how do I best tell that story" will give you a different goal for all of these decisions and you'll make much different choices about what the camera is looking at or doing, and where the cuts need to be. And the result will be that all of your beautiful imagery will be vastly more interesting to your audience. I think you're fully capable of doing all of this already, and it'll come to you when you think of the audience and the story first.

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Bingo - thanks for the analysis Binky - and this is why mograph can kick the other forums to the kerb ;-)

 

Agree with pretty much all of this, and it's something I've been fighting with in the past, being at heart a 3D guy I usually spend a ton of time getting the 3D right, and then have to fight an emotional attachment when it comes to chopping the footage and losing all that detail in a flash of motion blur. The fact that the modelling stuff was what got the project going makes this worse.

 

There was a point to the slow build up - trying to build a bit of mystery with a slow reveal, progressively widening the view then stuff starts to happen - but agree that it was laboured by the end.

 

Camera work - yup, guilty again. I've spent quite a lot of my time doing 'device' animations, where a phone or whatever is basically floating in space, so the camera has to work bloody hard to extract some kind of interest from the scene. So I've got that part nailed, and tend to overuse the same tricks in every situation. One to watch...

 

About the self-promo part; hmm. The reason I spent some time doing this was not purely a vanity project; the thinking was more like this: - my current work is OK, if I bung loads of it together in a reel and push it out then I'll get more of the same sort of work, but I want to get out of this rut into new areas. So I have to make something to serve the purpose of a reel but full of the sort of work I actually want to get into, deeper into the messy swamp between 3D and design. So in the end, it's a 2 minute business card :-) How it works out remains to be seen.

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The fact that the modelling stuff was what got the project going makes this worse.

 

I don't think that the raison d'être being a showcase of the modeling stuff was just complicating. I think it was the crux of the problem. The problem from which most other problems flowed. I actually think if you had started with a viewer-centric goal, a story goal, you're totally capable of having made something really resonant. And I don't think you did this as a vanity project. I'm not saying YOU'RE the hot self-interested girl, hahaha. I'm saying that, as a viewer, the experience is of watching something admiring itself. And that that's a direct result of what you really set out to do, which is to let us admire the stuff you made. It's not vain. It's proud, but not vain. And proud is totally fine, but it isn't really something the viewer can appreciate. Like when a kid learns to dive into a pool head first and they're really proud and they want you to watch. It's great for the kid, it's just not that fun for the watcher cuz there's not much in it for them. Now if that kid put on a compelling show about an aquatic race in the deepest part of the sea and it incorporated diving as a necessary element... y'know, that'd be more for the viewer.

 

 

 

There was a point to the slow build up - trying to build a bit of mystery with a slow reveal, progressively widening the view then stuff starts to happen - but agree that it was laboured by the end.

 

The slow buildup is great. Mystery is great. But it has to work at inviting the viewer to stay curious and then it has to pay off. If you've seen A Christmas Story, there's that mystery code the kid is trying to figure out and he goes to some length to decode it and solve the mystery. And when he decodes it, and knows his efforts must surely have earned him some kind of great knowledge, he's rewarded with "Drink more Ovaltine." It was an ad. How utterly deflating. He felt pretty cheated. Taken for a ride at his own expense, so someone else could put their name out there. Not that there's a sense of utter deflation when your short culminates in self-promotion, but I think there's kind of that feeling of having been lightly cheated out of what seemed like something more important. I think your tactics of slow reveal and mystery played well to your goal, but again, your goal was problematic.

 

 

 

Camera work - yup, guilty again. I've spent quite a lot of my time doing 'device' animations, where a phone or whatever is basically floating in space, so the camera has to work bloody hard to extract some kind of interest from the scene. So I've got that part nailed, and tend to overuse the same tricks in every situation. One to watch...

 

You're right about those phone/device animations and the resultant cam moves. They're product demos, so they're usually coming from the "I'm a gadget, watch me do this thing" perspective, which you know is boring, so you compensate by making the camera do something just for visual effect. So it totally makes sense that, having gone into this one as a "watch me do this thing" project, you might feel like you need to compensate by putting some extra whizzy moves in there.

 

You basically have all of the skills you'd need to make something resonant and fascinating. It seems like it's really about reorienting how you use that skillset. What you're using it for. I mean, this is really lovely stuff you've made, you just haven't used it to make something for the benefit of an audience. And I think learning to do that, putting story and viewer first, will make your work really special.

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Thanks again Blinky for taking the time to break this down, all good actionable stuff. And thanks for clarifying that you weren't calling me a hot girl. Such a relief ;-)

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