Nothing exciting to mention really, but I know unexciting news on progress is also welcome :)
Past month’s first half went to getting an application for the Netherlands Film Fund ready. With help from David Revoy (artwork for Mango script presentation) Anja (budget spreadsheets) and Rob (Sintel + Institute report) I delivered two booklets with about 150 pages of content to the Fund 2 weeks ago. (see image). Film Fund budget would be *very* welcome to lift up the quality of our filming work. Fingers crossed!
The time schedule is still same as well. Starting February 18th Ian Hubert and David Revoy will work here for two weeks on a final storyboard for the film. They then present that to the team on March 3, then they’re all here (apart from Jeremy who arrives 2 weeks later). Idea for the kick-off in the first week of March (3-8) is to make a short film together. Complete from start to finish in 5 days. Will be a great exercise together to figure out what we can do, and what Blender can do even! :)
In the past weeks I’ve also done paperwork for contracting, been contacting potential sponsors and studios, booked flights for everyone to Amsterdam, visited apartments where they can live, checked on where to get good bicycles. Also had a meeting with DP Joris Kerbosch, I’ve already booked in several experienced VFX supervisors as consultants, contacted camera sponsors (want Red epic!), visited greenscreen studio, checked on locations for filming (incl old factories).
The actual filming is still depending on a lot of variables. Current estimate is to rather do it a bit later than too early. Instead of ‘2nd half april’ it more is ‘mid may’ now. Final decisions on this will be done with Ian & Joris here, in about 3 weeks.
So; there’s a lot in the pipeline, as soon as there’s tangible news I’ll post it here immediate. Expect more updates here from other team members, and of course from Ian and David when they’re storyboarding. (Ian asked “can i change the script still?” Yeah, sure! Not for long!)
I’ve spent a lot of time doing various rigid body and smoke tests, just to get comfortable with physics in Blender.
I also tried to stress test the tools by using large amounts of active rigid body objects. That last clip with the round church tower collapsing consists of just bellow 10 000 active objects simulated by Bullet via the game engine. Both Bullet and Blender handled that many objects surprisingly well!
In his spare time – while finishing Project London vfx and getting pestered by me for Mango – Ian worked with his mate Scott Hampson on a crazy funny short film… just because! It’s a real zero-budget film; made with passion and shiploads of talent! Effects and 3d have been done in Blender, obviously.
The actual start of Mango-production is getting closer and closer and time is flying.
Since we have an awesome script now and even some great concept-art we can really start to think about HOW we are going to make things happen, technically. I mean, camera-tracking good and fine, but how will we, for example, do the makeup? Can we afford some actual makeup arists, who will turn our actors in some jawdropping vfx characters, covered with gore, blood, bolts, cables, jelly or whatever is required?
Or can we do that all digitally?
The basic idea for digtal makeup is easy, as long as you do not think about it too long. Just have a digital double, track the head, body, limbs or whatever, apply the textures, props or clothes to that digital version of your actor and composite it over the actual footage of your actor. Here’s an example:
This was not too hard to do, but it was a perfect situation:
Enough markers, ok lighting, lots of perspective shift, no fast movements, everything quite in focus, not too far away. And most importantly: No deformation! As soon as the markers move and deform in relation to each other you can forget about doing object tracking.