The following piece is a short film that I directed this semester for my TA 100W class at SJSU.
This was made by seven filmmakers working for the fictional company of Polygon Productions:
Kathy Chu, Stephanie DeGiovanni, Youri Dekker, Samia Khalaf,
Emily Little, Kamran Sohrabi, & Justin Vu
THE MAKING OF:
This project took about 6 weeks to make. Half of that time was spent on storyboarding and creating an animatic, the other half was animating it in Maya and then lighting and rendering it over the course of a weekend.
The concept for me was simple: create the simplest type of story with the simplest type of character. I knew from the beginning of pitching this idea that it would only work if we stuck to that idea, so that's where the ball and city of cubes came into play.
What you see below is the character that I came up with. The crack was a way to indicate a personality to the ball, as well as showing which direction it would be looking throughout the piece.
There was always this image in my head of this tiny red ball coming across a massive wall of cubes, but the story had to remain simple in its structure as well: the ball was free, it would get trapped, and then it would be free again.
This was one of the first sketches I had done for the film.
It became a little bit more developed in the animatic...
Below was one of the images that I showed when I first pitched my idea. This was the first thing I made in the computer, even before I had done the final concept for what the ball was going to look like.
And then a final image of what is seen in the film, done by Justin Vu.
One aspect of the film that we discussed a lot in the group was what the world would ultimately look like. At one point there was going to be clouds in the sky, somehow designed from cubes as well. Stephanie had developed a back story as to how the ball had received its crack, and we even had ditches in the ground to put the ball in more complications. But what we ended up all agreeing on was always going back to the simplicity, and so those elements never made there way in to the final story.
Shot by Emily Little.
So with the structure and storyboards done, we put together the animatic, and then started animating.
This was a quick test I had done to see how we could use the crack as a way to get the ball to look from place to place. It became a guide for everyone while we would animate.
Each person was given a certain amount of shots, and then it was up to each of us to build our own simple sets in Maya and then animate from there.
Shot by Kathy Chu.
But then someone named Justin Vu went overboard and had a little fun...
It might seem ridiculous that a set of this size needed to be made, but for certain shots it was actually necessary because of panning and perspective matters.
Did all of the cubes really need to be made? No. But it's awesome, so no one cares.
With everything animated, lighting and rendering became the next step. Samia Khalaf had done a test render of one of her shots within the first week of animating. This was done by using Maya's "Physical Sun and Sky" tool. It created a very nice look for what we wanted, and it was quick and easy to make. With a little bit of tweaking to the numbers and attributes, we landed on our final look.
To get to the image to the look seen above, I did a test render myself to try and get the correct feel.
A scene with no lighting.
Lit using Maya Software.
Lit using Mental Ray and the Physical Sun and Sky.
Changing the color of the ground to white
Fading the ground into the sky and adjusting the saturation to work for the tone of the shot.
With each of the shots rendered in this manner, it was then edited together by me in After Effects.
The amazing voice over work was done by Kamran Sohrabi. The idea of having narration was always very minimal for me because I wanted to tell this story without any dialogue. I wanted to try and get the idea across with only visuals and music.
Ultimately I gave in, and I'm so glad I did. I wrote up a few simple lines for Kamran to read, and his narration brought the whole film to an entire new level.
So that is ROLL.
It was amazing to me that even though the idea for the film was so simple, the process behind it was still as intricate as it would have been if we had made a more complex film. Nevertheless, it was exciting and a thrill to have something like this done.
I think I speak for everyone at Polygon Productions when I say that the reception received was better then we ever thought it would be. I'm so humbled that the audience responded the way they did to this very basic tale about a ball, and so to that I would just like to say thank you to everyone, and I give those who worked on the film an even bigger thank you.
Now onto the next film!
From left to right: Kamran Sohrabi, Emily Little, Justin Vu, Kathy Chu,
Stephanie DeGiovanni, Youri Dekker, and Samia Khalaf.