The Premiere – Photos of Steel

by - 2012/08/29 43 Comments Production

Some more phodos from the premiere (there will probably be even more in the next couple of days).
It was such a great evening!
We really enjoyed it and had lots of fun. Seeing the movie finally on the big screen with Joram’s awesome soundtrack was just great.
Now some days of recovery and then we’ll start polishing everything so we can present it to you guys!

Pre-premiere & party!

by - 2012/08/29 16 Comments Production

Hi all,

The day after – hangover day for the people with bad habits (like me). It’s been a blast! The film screening was great – last minute grading was surprisingly good, even while watching it on a regular projector (the DCP failed). We had a wonderful participative audience, laughing and cheering for us. Can’t have it better! After the film we had a load of fun with the film team, the actors, the blenderheads & fans, and of course the entire Mango crew! Oh, and I only had 1 complaint about the script sofar! We’re improving :)

I’ve had so much fun that I only took very few pictures… during dinner and at 2 AM when I left a nightclub. (Excuse me; I had to be up early to bring Roman to the airport! We’ll post more impressions of the premiere here soon.

(Image1:During dinner, Ian with his cool tee, Scott and Joram in back. Image2: Sebastian and Heike on the dance floor. Image3: Ian, Scott, Sebastian, Heike… Nicolo + gf should be hiding somewhere too. :)


Masking tips

by - 2012/08/27 17 Comments Compositing, Production

Hi! Today I prepared a few tips about masking, I hope they will be useful for you.

1. Analyze the sequence. Try to figure out which parts of the object are overlapping, moves in different directions (arms, legs, body of walking man; protruding elements and body of a car (eg: mirrors, antenas, lights on the roof); ears and nose when head turns). For each of those overlapped objects you should create separate mask. Obvious masks also should be overlapped, not end-to-end (only just touching).

Its a good idea is to create separate masks for parts with different kinds of motion. For example, if a man stays still and shakes his head actively, you can create separate masks for head and figure. But someone moves across the screen in a straight line and hold his head straight, you’ll need separate masks for arms and legs, and you can create single mask for head and body.

It’s important to create masks namely for objects, not for spaces between them.
For example, if a man is waving a flag held with both hands – Then the overall shape the hands, body and flagstaff would be much more consistent and easy for masking, than it would be if the whole body’s silhouette and spaces between arms and body.

Never try masking out a group of moving people with a single mask. The same thing applies for clenching fist. In this case you should use separate masks for each knuckle.
Also for complex shapes, use several masks with just one “working” side (see below)

2. Always use tracking where possible. If the shape of the object changing slightly, and you have translating, rotation or zoom in the sequence, you can track the motion and attach mask vertices’s to the track. In this way you’ll get general motion and you’ll need create much less keyframes for compensate inaccuracy of tracking.

3. Find the frame where you can see whole object. Start masking from this frame. Try to use as few mask points as possible for the objects outline. Otherwise it could be hard to animate.

Next, to avoid jittering and sudden movements of mask, animate the mask in several passes. Firstly create basic keyframes and then add keyframes where its necessary.

4. First pass. Find the key moments – beginning of objects moving, stopping, changing speed. Create certain amount of keyframes accordingly.

While animating a mask its easy to forget the origins of the mask points – so for eg: what starts as the point of an elbow may end on the wrist by the end of the animation. – This should be avoided because the areas in-between the keyframes tend to look bad and you end up adding more keyframes to compensate for it.

5. Second pass. Check how mask interpolates between keyframes and how it follows the movement of object. Add keyframes where the mask has the most significant offset from the object. Repeat this 3 or four times.

Once you have the bare minimum number of keyframes needed, the masks animation will look smooth so you’ll be able to adjust mask’s shape with less effort.

Now you can enable motion blur on the mask node, adjusting individually for each shot. In Blender I usually use Shutter = 0.25-0.35.

One more time – less points, less keyframes as you can!

Big thanks to Alexey Shavrov and Campbell Barton for help with this post.

Less Than a Week!

by - 2012/08/22 20 Comments Production

we’re at the end of our rope! hohoho

We premier in less than a week! Will we make it?! WILL WE MAKE IT?*

Scrubbing through the timeline is super fun; just a crazy strobing mass of absurd colors and visuals. We’re not entirely done yet- we still have a couple hand-replacement shots to wrap up, and we’re probably going to be re-rendering some of the big shots till close up to the end, but 98%(ish?) of the film is at least at ‘Final 1’ status. ‘Final 1’ means, ‘yeah, it’ll work. We won’t cry if we show that at the premier**’.

Some of us are working on wrapping up the few remaining shots, but most of us are actually going in and upgrading ‘Final 1’s to ‘Final 2’s or 3s or 4s (or… far far more.) Which is super great for pleasing our perfectionist sides.

And the music and sound! Joram Letwory’s been delivering some fantastic things these past few weeks, and whhewhwhew it’s incredible how much it elevates*** the film. Since the film is so short, and we’re trying to cover so much ground, it goes all over the place pretty quick, so being able to come up with a score that follows the beats of the film without feeling like it’s being yanked all over the place is a huge feat, and especially towards the middle the music takes the form of a polite host, staying out of the way, but still giving you tips on how to best enjoy your dinner, or where the bathroom is****.

Joris and I are going to start grading tomorrow using Sergey’s new incredible grading tools he’s put in the sequencer (I suspect a rad blogpost will be coming out about this at some point- but they’re nifty!). We’re gonna convert the STFU room into a little grading suite*****, and lock ourselves in there till the film’s done.

So yeah- a lot’s going on this last week, and it’s probably going to get pretty hectic, but man- oh man- it could have been so much more so. somuchmoreso.





**at least nothing that can’t be smothered gently into a pillow.
***This is a producer buzzword meaning, ‘makes better’.
****This is a metaphor, and I am the first to admit it kinda fell apart towards the end there.

Crunch time!

by - 2012/08/16 14 Comments Production

Nobody is thinking of you – loyal blog reader – these days anymore! Well, a film has to be finished you know. With just 12 days left for our pre-premiere there’s only one thing people worry about – how to sleep at night avoiding Amsterdam mosquitos. :)

(L to R, T to B) Campbell, Myself, Sergey (hiding in “the cave”), view on our internal and new (!) external render farm renders, Kjartan, Jeremy, Ian (sporting a cool mo!), Sebastian, Andy, Francesco (Mohawk!), Rob and Roman.

Greeetings from everyone from a still relative cool Amsterdam. This weekend it’ll be 30+ here. :)

Mango Weekly 10.08.2012

by - 2012/08/10 18 Comments Production

It’s weekly time again!
Since Ton has been visiting Siggraph last week and hasn’t come back yet we are doing the weekly without our beloved boss. And in 2 weeks it’s already premiere! OMG!

Pre-premiere & wrap-up party: 28 August, De Balie

by - 2012/08/01 23 Comments Artwork, Production

Tuesday evening 28 August at 20:30h we’ll do a first official screening of Tears of Steel in De Balie in Amsterdam. This pre-premiere is for invited guests and (DVD) sponsors only! After the screenings (we’ll show it a couple of times) there will be a wrap-up party with the entire crew in De Balie cafe, to enjoy the past 7 months of work here and to say goodbye to Roman, Jeremy, Kjartan, Sergey, Campbell and Nicolo. Four artists – Ian, Sebastian, Andy and Francesco – will be staying during September to prepare the film for the official premiere (online) and the master the DVDs. The online premiere data is not known yet.

If you want to join us this evening; just send me an email with your DVD order number, you then will be added to the guest list. A sponsor can bring 1 guest, but let me know please. :) We have 150 seats, so don’t wait too long.

ton at

Music Demo

by - 2012/07/30 37 Comments Production

So Joram has been doing some crazy great music- and we figured it’s about time you guys heard a bit more of it! (the teaser also featured his music)

Performances from Sergio Hasselbaink, Derek de Lint, Rogier Schippers, and Jody Bhe.

The visuals are our current WIP for the week, so I’ll try to post an update soon!