Monday, June 18, 2012

Film temporarily on hold

Attention blog readers, we have decided to temporarily put work on the short film on hold.  Wallace and I began this short as an attempt to create something that would impress employers so we could get work.  It has already gone way past our initial time estimates, and we would rather put the amount of work in that the film deserves than rush it to get it on our reels as fast as possible.  Wallace put his part of the film on hold weeks ago and I am doing it now.  I was given some good advice on what I should add to my reel by a friend that works at Pixar that can be completed in a few weeks.  Once that is done and I'm happy with it, I will gladly return to working on the film.  I love what we have accomplished so far and I can't wait to finish it.

Needless to say there might not be many posts in the next few weeks but maybe I'll put up what I work on for my reel when it is done. 

We'll be back soon!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Playblast 2

Here are two more animation playblasts.  Unlike the first playblast which was pretty much final, these two are of my first rough pass.  I'm just trying to get the timing and poses down before I go and do a second pass to add overlapping motion, follow thru, and finer motion like the fingers and wicks.  Check them out and let me know what you think.  Feedback is always welcome!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Awesome Maya Plugin

Just wanted to share this awesome plugin I found for Maya.  In one of our scenes Bang and Boom are playing catch and I wanted an easy way to parent and unparent the ball they are throwing to their hands.  I searched online and found this:

 ZV Parent Master

Check it out.  It's great.

First Playblast

Hey everyone.  Here is the first playblast of the first scene I worked on.  It's pretty short but I wanted to do a quick shot first just to get a handle on using the new rig.  Feel free to leave any comments especially fellow animators.  Constructive criticism is definitely welcome.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Hey everyone.  Sorry there hasn't been any posts in the past 2 weeks.  I was dealing with some personal decisions about life, the universe, and everything.  All's good now and I finally started animating yesterday.  Should start posting some playblasts by next week.  If you are a fellow animator and have any constructive criticism feel free to post them.  That is one of the reasons I'll be posting them.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bang and Boom Pose

Now that I have the finished rigs I wanted to play around with them and put them in a pose.  It was important to me to show their personalities in this one pose and I think I accomplished that.  Bang is the cool and confident brother.  He protects his brother but also enjoys playing jokes on him.  Boom on the other hand is a bit clumsy and tends to be in his own little world.  He's definitely the comic relief but he doesn't know it.  I even used this image to make myself a new business card.  Hope you like it.

Rigging Finally Complete!

It took longer than I thought but the rigs for Bang and Boom are finally complete!  I want to give a special thanks to Tiru for fitting in all the work he did on the body rig in between all his grad student work.  It turned out great.  For time saving purposes, I myself ended up doing the rig for the face.  So now that the rigs are complete, animation is a go.  Right now I'm shooting to finish animation by the end of May.  I'll definitely post some playbasts along the way.

While I'm animating, Wallace will be busy painting textures for the sets and Noah will be finishing off our other two characters for me to animate once they are done. 

Here are the rigs.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Animatic finished

I finished this last Friday but completely forgot to post it.  Here is just a part of the animatic.  Keep in mind it is really rough but it gives me an approximation of the timing of the shots and camera angles.  Obviously these things might change once I actually animate it but it's a good place to start.  Check it out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I'm still waiting on the finished rigs for Bang and Boom but in the meantime I've been working on a 3D animatic with a test rig Tiru had sent me last week.  It should be done by tomorrow so I'll post some of it when it's done.  I'm trying to get the timing of the shots down as well as the camera angles.  This will help me figure out how the story flows as a whole and will allow me to make any changes that need to be made before I actually start animating.  Getting the cameras set will also help Wallace see where we might need high res textures if we get up close to anything.  I'm also blocking in character positions and movements around the environment to get a sense of where they'll be throughout the piece.  Come back tomorrow and the animatic should be posted.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Rigging in progress. More artists contribute.

There hasn't been much to post in the last two weeks since I'm waiting for Bang and Boom to be rigged. And the man doing them is named Tirumalai Shanmugam.  Check out his work here:  I met him last year at the Ottawa Animation Festival and he was great enough to offer his rigging expertise to our film. He started them this past weekend and they should be done by the end of the week so I should finally get busy animating next week. I can't wait!

I've also recruited my best friend Noah Conti to help out as well. Check out his work here:  Pixel Epic.  Wallace is busy working on some other stuff so Noah will be doing the Zbrush work on our other two characters which I've already finished the low rez mesh of.  He'll also be doing our lighting and rendering if all goes to plan.

I'm excited to have two more artists join up.  Welcome to the team Noah and Tiru!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Evolution of the Characters

I wanted to show the evolution of our main characters from a quick doodle to the final 3D model they became.

Here is that quick doodle on the left.  I drew it to show Wallace the idea for the characters and the short.

On the right is a much better sketch that Michael did for us to flesh out the design a bit more. 
This is where I started with the modeling in Maya.

 This one is the first finished model I came up with.  His eyes were large and he had a nose like in the drawing. 

The first decision to deviate from the original drawing was the elimination of the nose.  Wallace and I both liked him better without one.  It makes his face less human and cuter as well I think.

The next major change we made was to his eyes.  As I said in a previous post I saw a commercial with characters with tiny little eyes and they looked really cute.  I didn't go as far with this character but making the eyes smaller really made a difference we liked.  I also tapered the limbs, a great suggestion Wallace had made.  This is the model I passed on to Wallace to take into Zbrush.

Along with tweaking the features of the face, one of the best details Wallace made to the characters was the folds he added to the top and bottom like a real piece of dynamite.  Even though we didn't want to make them look realistic, these details really help sell that they are sticks of dynamite and not just cylinders.  As you can see his feet are still very generic and I thought we might keep them that way (kinda like the M&M characters).  But Wallace surprised me and created these amazing shoes for them.

Below are a few views of the shoes.  They really stand out and definitely add character to these guys.  Click on the photos and check out the details he put in them.  Really great stuff! The difference in color is also one of the ways we differentiated the two so viewers can more easily tell them apart.
More on that below.

We needed to create differences other than the shoes.  A lot of that became textural.  Wallace made Boom dirtier.  He is missing a tooth and has freckles. His body is also slightly paler.  Even with all these subtle changes we wanted something a bit more drastic.

Wallace had the idea of giving one of them glasses.  Here is Boom wearing the glasses but after discussing it we both decided that Bang looked better in them.

So after two weeks of hard work in Zbrush, Wallace finished these great characters.  Like I said in the previous post, we definitely spent a lot longer on the characters than we had planned but in the end it was definitely worth it.  Here is the final Bang and Boom.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Characters complete

They took a little longer than we expected but our main character models are finally finished.

It's my pleasure to introduce you to dynamite buddies Bang & Boom!

Wallace went above and beyond in Zbrush what we originally envisioned and really made these guys shine. From the details of the body, to the shoes, and the features that differentiate the two. I'm posting this from my phone since I'm on a trip with my family but I'll add more photos of the details as soon as I can. In the meantime, I hope you like your first glimpse of Bang & Boom.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've been pretty sick the past week and a half so I haven't been able to do much work.  I'm finally feeling better and back to work though.   There isn't much in the way of progress to report (although the final character models are nearly complete) but I've been meaning to write a post about what inspired us to make a short film.  So here it is.

For me the it started a few years ago when I attended Siggraph for the first time in L.A.  Seeing all of the great shorts at the Computer Animation Festival really got me excited about making my own.  The ones that really stood out for me were Oktopodi, Chump & Clump, Our Wonderful Nature, and My Little Angel. Check them out if you haven't seen them.  What I really enjoyed about those was the cartoony style they were done in (except for Nature, that one is just plain funny).  That look is obviously the direction we are going with our film as well.  But as excited as I was, it obviously didn't translate into actually doing a film back then.  I had several ideas for stories but they all felt too ambitious and I knew I couldn't do them justice on my own.

Fast forward 3 years to my next visit to Siggraph in Vancouver.  That trip again fueled my desire to make a film of my own. Notable inspirations there were Meet Buck, and Paths of Hate.  I loved the different texturing looks they both employed.  During the conference I also took great classes in storytelling with color, and cinematography.  I made it a point to remember the lessons I learned there so I could employ them in whatever film I would make.

It took a few months to finally get down to it, but here we are now making this film.   Obviously an important driving force behind doing this is to get steady jobs.  I hope to exhibit not only my animation skills, but my overall talent as a storyteller and creative thinker. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Character Version 2

After finishing the first version of the character I wasn't entirely happy with it.  I liked the elimination of the nose but the eyes were bothering me.  I ended up seeing this Exel gum commercial with some CG characters and I liked the simplicity of their eyes and their proportion to the rest of their faces.  Here is a picture of them so you can see what I'm talking about. 

So I played with the size of the eyes until I was happy.  I decided to keep the eyelids and the normal eyes.  He didn't look right with all black eyes.  On a suggestion from Wallace I also tapered the arms and legs and I think they look much cuter.  I'm a lot happier with the outcome.  Here it is.

The last step is still to do a bit of tweaking in Zbrush but I don't think he'll change too much.  Just to note I also have our other character finished but we won't be showing him since we don't want to spoil the story.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The first character

 Here is the first draft of our main dynamite character.  I'll just be altering this version to create his friend.  As you can see we have two versions.  One with a nose and one without.  We decided we liked him without a nose so that's the design we are going with.  The next step is to take him into Z Brush and add some more detail and play around with the sculpt of his face until we are happy.

No more snag

Just got a call from the gig I was supposed to start and was told they are going to do the job in house now.  Guess they got more time from the client.  It sucks but I guess that's the nature of the business sometimes.  C'est la vie.  Luckily Wallace has finished his job extremely fast so it looks like we are back in full swing again.  I'll be posting an image of the first pass of our main characters soon.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Good Snag

As luck would have it, as soon as we publicize our new endeavor, we hit a slight snag. It's a good snag though. Both Wallace and I have gotten calls in the past 2 days to work on paid gigs. Hurray! They are both short though, so there shouldn't be a big delay. We'll both still try and work on the film at night but there might not be too many posts this coming week We'll be back in full swing soon.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Set

Wallace got to work quickly on the set. As I mentioned before it is taking place inside a train car.  The camera will start outside the train car to establish the setting so we'll need the outside and inside fully built.  Here are a few images of it as it has progressed until now.

It's still a work in progress but it's coming along great.

The Characters

As I said in the previous post, I'm not much of an illustrator.  Luckily, Wallace knows a friend who is.  Michael Concannon was kind enough to whip up some character sketches for us.  I think he did them while riding the train.  How coincidental?  Here is his quick sketch:

So here we've got the set as well as our two main characters. There were three characters but I erased one of them from the sketch.  We are going to keep him a secret for now.  We wouldn't want to give away everything now would we?  And as you can see, there is no canonball.  Mike had the idea of just making it two dynamites and we liked that.  It makes for one less character model and setup while not changing the heart of the story.  Anything to streamline our production is great so thank for the suggestion and the sketches Mike!

Here's Mike's website.  Check it out.

Getting Started

After settling on the story outline, we started with a storyboard.  I'm not much of an illustrator but I banged one out in photoshop using my tablet.  Here is the first page:

So as you can see, our setting is inside a train car which is loaded with explosives.  Our two main characters are a canon ball and a stick of dynamite and they are having some fun in a playground made of old boards and train parts.  You might also notice our title was "Wanna Play?", and that was only a week ago.  The title is fluid.  I think we've settle on Perfect Match but who knows what it might be by the end?

The Idea

After scrapping our original idea of working on a set Wallace had already built and introducing a character to it, we talked about others we both had.  There were a few criteria this idea had to have for it to work for us.  One, it needed to be short enough that we could complete it in a reasonable amount of time. Two, it had to have a nice set for Wallace to show off his skill.  Three, it had to have great characters so I could show off my animation.  And lastly, it had to have a great story to pull it all together.  After discussing this we decided to use an idea I had been sitting on for a few years.  So sit back, relax, and stay tuned for our journey into short film making.


Hello there visitor!  Our names our David Diaz and Wallace.  Welcome to the production blog of our animated short currently entitled "The Perfect Match".  Over the course of the next few weeks we plan on documenting our progress through this blog.  This is our first attempt at a short film so we hope to use this to not only track our progress but to hopefully see what we did well and what we could improve when we are done.  And maybe our experience will help you make your own short some day.  Stay tuned for more!