Sintel, the Durian Open Movie Project » First Minute


Archive for the ‘First Minute’ Category

Guardian Overhaul

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I’ve been meaning to get back to the guardians ever since I posted the last render of them. Personally I wasn’t happy with them but we needed to have something that at least worked on a basic level in a short space of time. If modelling gets held up, rigging gets held up and Lee and Colin needed to get on with planning and animating the fight scenes.

This is where I left them.

However, things have changed here and we are down to just the one guard. This makes things a whole lot easier to manage. While there still isn’t much officially scheduled time to work on them at all, one character is something I can realistically chip away at and I finally got around to starting that over the weekend, the progress is below. (Click for larger image)

Still more work to go and details to add back. I also haven’t forgot that the community lent us a hand with details so I also need to sort through those resources to see what fits with the rig, the animations and so on. For example we had a pretty cool bow (as in arrows) made but the scene and his movements wouldn’t work if it was mounted to his back like the original concept art. Skin, eyes, hair and metallic details still need work in case that isn’t clear.

While I’m writing a post I may as well throw in a WIP render of the snow scene which is what I’m actually working on these days. Her staff is proxy, she will have a cloak of some sort (still planning how that will work exactly) and there will be falling snow as well. Her hair is still going through a lot of work too. Things like fog crawling along the ground would be nice but many of the shots in this sequence go so quick I’ll have to see if it’s worth the added time given the schedule. Also need to tone the shadow down a fair bit as it is quite overcast. Anyway, without further rambling here it is: :)

(I don’t blog much, forgot the high res link. Thumbnail fixed)


First Minute Update

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Okay okay, should’ve probably updated you on this stuff earlier.

The first minute has gone through some radical changes since the last time I posted about it, and I think it’s much improved!

To bring you up to speed, the first thing I did was try an alternate ending for the bandit fight, partially based on the comments I received on the blog. I restructured things a bit to give it more of a frantic quality, and to better introduce the Shaman character. I can upload this version if you’re interested.

But a few weeks ago we decided replace the scene with another section of the fight scene that was originally placed later in the film. I think this change really streamlined the film and made it feel much more cohesive. An unavoidable biproduct of this choice is that we’ve completely scrapped three of the four guardian characters. (!)

Anyway, check out the current version of the first scene! Except for the last few shots, which are still in layout, the entire scene has been brought to *final* animation by Lee Salvemini. I could also show the layout version of the whole scene if you’re interested.

Jan Morgenstern is also doing great stuff on the sound for this scene as well! Dialogue edit and mix are perhaps not 100% final, but it’s getting close. See if you can spot the cameo in the soundscape! :P

Next time: renders!


Scene 01 Layout

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Over the past few weeks I’ve started doing “Layout” work for Sintel. Layout is the stage where we figure out the basic character blocking (in this case choreography), camera angles and movement, as well as the timing and rhythm of the edit. At this point the sets and environments are also roughed out in low-poly form. The design of the environments greatly influence blocking, as well as composition/shot design.

Much of these decisions have already been sketched out in storyboards, but layout makes the parameters of sequences much more concrete.

Here is what the opening scene currently looks like:

Much is subject to change. (Especially the first shot.) Predub sound by Jan Morgenstern. I welcome your feedback!


Snow Environment Design

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

David didn’t have enough time to do much design on the snowy environment before he left, which gave me a chance to do it. Now that the fight choreography is well underway I have been doing sketches, talking with Colin and the others and working out a an environment design that looks cool and fits the requirements of the fight. It almost goes without saying, but for the sake of those who are newer to 3D and Blender – the more fleshed out the concept art is the easier the rest of the process becomes. It’s something that took me a while to fully appreciate while I was starting out so I thought I’d just mention it anyway.

Same deal as usual, click to enlarge:


1. Concept painting


2. Flat render of the proxy environment WIP


3. Paintover of the proxy environment WIP, just to help everyone visibly check it’s still heading in the right direction. Can’t have everything stuck in the back of my head because I’d much rather make changes we are all clear on now than after a week or two of solid work.

Through rounds of feedback there will be changes to the structure, look, feel and so on but for now the file is over to Colin to start moving cameras and character blocking for the layout. The background mountains can obviously be changed around a lot but you will notice that within the space of a day the horizon is already very different to my first painting. This way it feels more like a part of an epic landscape, rather than having the fight conveniently take place at the pinnacle of an epic landscape. Decisions, decisions…

Software was Gimp for anything painting related, Blender 2.5 for the little bit of modelling so far. The concept art was all done in Gimp, blending some photo reference into painting. Also to re-iterate, the environment model is simply blocking in the forms for Colin to plan the shots. Then based largely on the shot placement, the actual set will be modelled.

- Ben

Villains are fun

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009


Hi all from the Blender Institute after two months of waiting! Talk about being late for work…

Best advice I can give for jetlag is to just get straight into it. I got here last monday morning at about 9am after a whole lot of flying so I wasn’t up to full speed that day of course (still worked a bit), but have been loving it ever since. I’ve been given domain over creating the guardian characters. Baddies are a lot of fun to work on. I’ve tried to keep their expressions fairly neutral for rigging because it is very easy to get carried away and give them massive smirks, angry eyebrows and all that sort of thing.

One day I’d like to pull out all the stops and create my own ridiculously over the top evil supervillain, but for now these characters need to fit in Sintel’s world. Which brings me to the point of style. Most characters I have worked on (at least in recent times) have been based on photographic reference of people, meaning my default reaction is to aim for as much realism as possible in proportions, details and so on. While we plan to add a lot of detail to much of the film, the world does have a certain style to it. My main challenge was to stop modelling from references like Jack Black and Hugo Weaving and bring the models into line with Sintel and each other. This aspect might take a few more revisions yet but the team reaction so far has been quite positive which means I don’t have to get on the next plane back home. Yay!

As far as technique – I modelled Jack first, tweaked the topology a bit and then made the other characters from that mesh so they all have the same topology. Not that we plan to just use one texture map for all of them because that would be lazy and really boring, but it should help troubleshooting when we get to the facial rigging and so on. Brecht has his genius hands full for a bit so sculpting is on hold for a little while (I was testing it for a bit on the weekend) so I’m working on finishing up the characters bodies and then some environment work. Really looking forward to how far we can push the characters with sculpt though, mainly in detailing their outfits but it will help add a lot to the look of the film in many ways.

Three quick things to finish up the post:

1. Go to the AAO (Approximate Ambient Occlusion) settings and look at the new options. (Not in the Alpha – try a build since last friday.) Indirect light with multiple bounces! I’m still hesitant to post a .blend example because I’m just playing with settings like everyone else for now. Basically the same advantages and disadvantages as AAO, works with falloff, works better with higher subdivided surfaces, etc. for some related experiments and images.

2. Apparently it’s been in there for ages, but Angela and I didn’t know : In edit mode when you click the icon to go into vertex, edge or face mode you can simply shift click on those icons in any combination and then be in ‘edge and face mode’ and so on.

3. Good ol’ fashioned fun for fans of good ol’ fashioned supervillians. Recommended. It premiered online which is cool in and of itself, but not sure where to watch it now outside of the US other than the dvd.

- Ben

1st Minute – Animatic

Friday, December 4th, 2009

So. In a continuation of our “1st Minute” series, here is the current state of our Animatic!

Keep in mind that this is *very* rough. The fight is literally a bunch of random drawings that look like a fight– there is no choreography and very little visual continuity between drawings. (This will be filled in later once we work out the fight with the kung fu guys!) The scratch dialogue has, uhhh… room for improvement. But check it out:

Forgive the patchy drawings– unfortunately David left before he could get to work on the boards, so these were done by me. Rough sound design was done in like an hour by Jan Morgenstern. It totally makes it work! And guess who did the voices?



1st minute – Concept arts updates

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

click to enlarge

Here some of the concept art concerning the first minute of the movie. Shaman changed to the definitive one after some Al.chemy research, the shaman hut got some drawings too, and the guardian “Jack” got a portrait to help modeling. I painted some weapons :  the knife of Sintel, and the blades of the guardians. And to finish my period at the institute in beauty ; I wrote especially for the community a tutorial about my speedpainting process, as you asked me in the previous “1st minute concept art” post.

I’m back to Toulouse (France) tomorrow , but I will surely keep blog posting sometimes as I will continue to work remotely on the Durian. I hope you will enjoy !



- The tutorial -

click to enlarge