Developer meeting

by - 2012/03/06 19 Comments Development

Yesterday I sat down with Brecht and Sergey to go over the main development topics, checking if we’re still on track and still have the big picture in mind. Because of the current workshop week we didn’t go over issues extensively with the artists, for that we’ll have plenty of time later. Here’s a short summary of what we discussed.

  • Motion tracker: is in good shape already, a new solver is underway to test. No bottlenecks.
  • Cycles render: will be seriously used. Brech is unsure how fast it’ll be in our production setup. We will do GPU and CPU (farm) comparision tests. Missing features are known topics (like shadow & id passes). He’ll also check volume render. Antialiasing and sampling (FSA) is an issue. A more detailed Cycles review we’ll do in 1-2 weeks here with the team.
  • We will need light probes or environment mapping (and stitching). Worth to investigate is efficient methods to extract light conditions from footage. Sergey loves to dive into this.
  • 3D viewport: Brecht will check on overlay methods to enhance selection/active info, especially in rendered display.
  • Compositor project: some nodes – required by tracking – will need porting to opencl still. Might become a bottleneck.
  • Green Screen Keying: we will investigate best practices and state-of-the-art articles on this. My suggestion is to connect keying (mask extraction) to the clip-editor, using markers and tracking info and temporal filter options etc. Jeroen Bakker and Pete Larabell¬† are interested to help too.
  • Depsgraph: we’ll try to focus on solving the crucial failures. Like the ‘dependency cycle conflict’ for piston cases and essential driver updates. As a bonus – when there’s time – we can try multi-threaded anim updating. The “proxy armature” also will have to get attention.
  • Getting Alembic to work would rock too… it would allow to combine a lot of real-time characters in a shot for animators and shade/lighters.
  • Color pipeline: the confused code for alpha and color spaces will have to become stable and useful (also on UI side, to clearly communicate things). OpenColorIO needs to be investigated still by the team.
  • Asset managing: continue work with Andrea Weikert on it (or gsoc student?) or help out ourselves.

We’ll keep you posted, next week we can do an artists’ version of the above :)

Kickoff workshop: Day 1

by - 2012/03/05 14 Comments Random

We started with a briefing at 10 AM and around 8 PM the mango team finished the animatic. Here are some photos and a short video. Tomorrow we will do the filming, so stay tuned!

Kick-off week

by - 2012/03/05 32 Comments Directing & writing, Production

Kickoff meeting!

Monday morning, 10.00h. I delivered a script to the team, which they’ll have to turn into a short film within 5 days. Premiere will be here at 18.00h friday, on youtube an hour later! The process of making it will be shared as open as possible. So: here’s the script already linked to the right. Written by yours truly, playing here in the Blender Institute! By the end of the day it should become a full storyboard and shot breakdown.

Tony Mullen will be here filming to deliver a documentary making-of!

Nicolo, Kjartan, Francesco arrived. First day together!

by - 2012/03/04 24 Comments Production

No blog updates? Unfortunately that means we have loads of fun together! It’s now sunday afternoon and it’s the first time in 2 days I can sit down a while and check the web and email and this blog! Here’s quick bullet point updates:

  • Everyone’s installed in a room in a cool appartment. Especially the one in the canal area (at Keizersgracht, awesome views) will make your Dutch friends green with envy!
  • Yesterday Ian and David presented their mindblowing storyboards and script. For the team it was the first time they saw the entire story worked out visually and in detail. Lots of questions, many open (design) issues to tackle, definitely a lot fun ahead! There’s shots in this film that’ll become epic & iconic :)
  • We then went for the ritual after-weeky ‘beer at the windmill’ and ‘dinner in thai’ evening. Many more to come!

Right now:

  • Sergey is doing is Russian citizenship duties! He’s now on a train to The Hague in Amsterdam to vote.
  • Sebastian is doing recordings for the Track Match Blend DVD here.
  • Francesco is finishing his Animation Mentor homewerk.
  • David Revoy is at Schiphol airport waiting for this flight back to Toulouse.
  • Kjartan and Ian are on a bicycle trying to find the bridge over ‘t IJ to the northern part of Amsterdam, enjoying some nature.
  • Tonight Rob will bring the *horrible cheesy funny* Amsterdamned movie, to have a film evening with the guys.
  • I’m going to write a funny silly short script to present tomorrow morning to the team; they’ll have to execute & finalize it in 5 days as getting-started workshop!

(BTW: it seems nobody is smiling at the pictures, but that’s a coincidence :) I’ve just done quick snapshots yesterday, didn’t want to miss a second).


Open or closed?

by - 2012/03/02 97 Comments Production

In a previous post people mentioned they’d hate it if we would give too much away here. I realize there’s a certain level of fun getting a surprise when you watch a film. However, this is also a making-of blog… so how will we balance sharing here? Here’s a couple of suggestions to promote more openess for Mango than previously for Durian/Peach/Orange.

1) Organize external help

If we want help from the outside world again, we should be able to talk about what we’re making, right? For example, we can really use help with props again (real ones and cg ones).We will have complicated vfx challenges to tackle as well – not only in smoke/fire sim and with fracture. Discussions and reviews – what to film in a studio, what to do on a film set in town, and what we’ll rely on to do “in post”- would be great to share here with an audience too.

2) There’s a lot of fun to share

We are going to talk to the costume designer, there’s going to be a casting stage – and we’d like to introduce the characters here – and we’ll do filming on public locations (and will also allow visitors on the set). We will be doing storyboading, animatics, test renders, experiments… if we have to think twice before sharing anything the threshold for posting here will get higher and it’ll result in only very few posts.

3) Low posting threshold = more involvement = less frustrating crits

I think that a higher level of openess here will also work very well for the team. During Sintel, the quite critical blog following we had was often spoiling the fun and interest to post here. We should be able to post unfinished work-in-progress here without immediately getting flooded with (constructive but) negative reactions. I think that can best be tackled by posting much more, allowing followers here to track actual progress and get involved in the process that way.

4) Process of film making is coolest thing ever!

The process of making a film is much (much!) more rewarding than watching it; even when you can only witness it from the outside. Also when you already know everything (like me), it is stil a mystery how the film will actually look or work in 6 months from now. This is a gradual process of small steps during a long period… and actually we only know if it works in front of an audience in a theatre!¬† Further, even though I’ve seen ED, BBB and Sintel like a 1000 times, I can still enjoy watching it. Having seen it grow and come to existence only makes watching it more interesting. Every time.

Realize that you already knew the story of a lot of movies you’ve enjoyed. Lord of the Rings, Titanic, TinTin, etc. Did it spoil the fun? Wasn’t it much cooler to watch how the filmmakers solved things in the end?

Anyway! Feedback welcome :) The team will be arriving today and tomorrow, and after next week we should together make a good decision on what to keep hidden, and what to share. Personally I think we could share much more than we did for Sintel. Just not the final edit and script itself.


Concept art: the Oude Kerk dome

by - 2012/03/01 22 Comments Artwork, Production

Just outside the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam is a small bridge where the key break-up scene happened in the past. Scientists have been constructing a gigantic dome and a lot of equipment around it to ensure they can reconstruct the past there perfectly… or is it a time machine? Image by David Revoy!

(Concept art is 6 days old, things are evolving into exciting directions, involving robots – for sure! Stay tuned!)