Friday, 11 March 2011

Project Insanity

No art of picture this blog I'm afraid. Mainly as what I'm working on at the moment is for a project that's a long term one, and while I could show you, I'd rather wait till it's done. So what is this mystery 'project' a few of you will have seen me reference in a very vague way on twitter and Facebook? What I'll get out of the way straight out of the gate is I am not going to tell you everything as I do what things to be a surprise, if everyone knows exactly what to expect a lot of the potential 'wow' factor may disappear.

Myself and my good friend Rob Angol have started work on a very complex (and some would say very stupid' ..and they may well be right) project, that is a short film. Now what makes this a bit different is a few things, one its scale and scope is the stuff normally only attempted by a large studio (and hence not two guys) on a budget of zero (and I do mean zero, there will be no hiring or money paid out for anything, only our time and expertise in software we already own.) Plus we'll be doing this in our free time and fitting it around our jobs and freelance work.

Every single shot in this short is a very complex one and there's not one shot that only contains a single model, but a vast array of them of just about every type you can imagine. We are to be blunt aiming for movie quality, anything less is unacceptable. Are we reaching too far for what 2 guys can do on a zero budget in 2-3 month of free time? It may well be possible that we are, but as with a lot of things in life, there's only one way to find out.

So why are we doing it? There are a few reasons, firstly it a great way to show what we can both do when we pull out all the stops on a single project. Secondly it means we get to try in a production environment a few new ways of doing stuff that's well outside of the norm without screwing up existing pipelines, thirdly it'll also act as a far more entertaining 'demo reel' than anything that would normally be put together it we want it to. Fourthly, its something we've talked about for over a year now and I suppose its either do the damn project or shut up about it lol.

So far I've done a lot of typing and told you sod all about it. What I will say that while I am off to do quite a lot of shoots for some back plates, that this short will not have a single frame that doesn't have bloody complex amount of models , added mattes, come shot siht complete CGI enviroments and god alone knows what else. A conservative model count would probably be about 50-70 bare minimum, but probably the final model count will be far more than that (and that's not counting any instancing we do). Shot composition is king and nothing will be put in just for shits and giggles, overall as well as being something nice for 3d people to spend a little while looking at once done, it will also hopefully keep non 3d peoples attention and show what can be done with some hard work. (Although I would be the first to admit that the plot will not win any awards, mainly as a certain amount of paranoia means that as every character will be photoreal CGI..and yes that included humans. So I don't really want to push it too far from a performance angle and hit a massive uncanny valley.)

We have been worried about one very big deal...the actual rendering as we're not talking stuff that's going to be possible on a desktop machine. We did think that we may have to scale its scope back due to that, which would have been a shame and have basically pissed on the whole reason for doing it. Luckily a friend of mine Francesco Faranna who owns German FX firm Breitbild vfx offered out of the blue to lend us some of their render farm for this. This means we don't have to do pulling in mates and families pc's to render this damn thing once done. Will this have a story? yes. Will it have photoreal characters, complex environments and animation...yes. Will it have a shit load of other stuff that no two sane person would try and do for 'fun...yes. It allows us to push the envelope and also to show a few skills that maybe people don't realise we have. But its main reason above all else....because we think it's fun to do.

Now of course, it is possible that something real life gets in the way or some other crazy shit mean we are going to have to put it to one side. But fingers crossed we can get it both done, rendered and out by our deadline which the end of June this year. By far the biggest problem is some places we have to film would normally require permits so Wayney boy here is going to have to do some serious guerrilla film shooting, let's just hope I don't end up getting into shit while I film lol. I have booked my nervous breakdown for july as a result :)

Are we certifiable? Probably

Will we get this done on time? Probably

Will it look nice and be entertaining? Yeah we're pretty sure that ones a yes ;)