Creating a short animation/cinematic.

Ever since I learned about Blender a few years ago, I’ve been dying to create a short cinematic. I’ve watched a large collection of tutorials including purchasing the Creature Factory DVD from as well as watching a lot of videos from BlenderCookie by David Ward and Jonathan Williamson. I would rate myself as a fairly decent modeler, nothing overly fantastic, but I have a few questions on how to pull everything together. I have a few ideas for a short WoW-style cinematic that I’m dying to create. My question is, how do you put everything you learn in the tutorials together. As of right now, I’m sitting at my computer with a notepad trying to think how a person can go from just a nitty gritty idea into an actual storyline and basic blocking to a decent production. It seems like the one kind of tutorial that is missing is how to create an entire short movie/animation/cinematic that outlines the entire process. Anyways, any pointers in the right direction would be appreciated.

There’s a book called ‘Animating with Blender’ by Roland Hess which covers making a short film from start to finish and that’s been very helpful to me. But the best way to learn is by doing, so just pick a small project first, complete it (finishing projects is the hard bit!) and then go from there.

Edit: I think the book covers Blender 2.49.

I was pretty impressed by the making of movies for final fantasy the spirits within. theres a lot of information in there from story boarding to the final shots
p.s. not to be confused with the book which I haven’t read.
also I have a book by Tony White called Animation from pencils to pixels. Theres only a small section on 3D Animation. but it covers a lot of ground and its by someone whos been in the business for a long time and at all levels.

As TheChief already mentioned, ‘Animating with Blender’ is a very good start and gives a good overview of the basic steps you should know of before starting out.

It also helps to look into more specific areas of filmmaking to get inspiration and knowledge. I for my part found the book ‘Directing the Story’ by Francis Glebas an immensely insightful book. Its about storyboarding but goes a lot into why we enjoy watching movies and how you can use this to better tell the story. And that just the start.

It may give you a hint on what is involved by going through my WIP and blog (both are linked in my sig) where I document my now 2 year lasting effort of producing a short (~7 min).

Be prepared for a huge amount of work and set backs, but also for deeply rewarding moments :slight_smile:

I second the notion of learning filmmaking. There is also “The Five C’s of Cinematography”. Purely on the subject of camera angles, cutting and so on. Then there is also The Technique of Film Editing.

Then there is the sound side of the picture. Sound is probably the most over-looked and neglected part of the process. I am sure it would not take too long of a Google search to find tips on sound effects editing, foley and so on.

When it comes time to look for some free pre-recorded sounds I like this site:

I just thought of some additional questions when it comes to actually creating the Blend files. Specifically, I’m wondering about the proper use of multiple Scenes inside the same blender file. Do I just create everything (scenes, characters, weapons, etc) in the same Blend file and just use different layers, or should I make a Blend file for each character, and then link it into the main scene? I’m assuming there’s some type of “master” blend file that has all of the different shots for each story block separated out into individual scenes?? Also, a compositing question. If I have two scenes in the same blend file, can I composite each scene differently, or do I only get the one? Any insight would be great.

If you are serious about making a cinematic short, I really suggest you get a copy of ‘Animating with Blender’. It has the answer to the questions you just raised and a lot more.

Questions like these will pop up continuously and most of them are handled in the mentioned book.Digging into the open blender movies is another valuable resource which cover a lot of workflow questions.

Now to answer your questions: Typically you have a blend file for each character and prop. Those are linked (using various techniques) into files. E.g. there are scene files, consisting mainly of non animated props and environment.

I use a single blend file for each shot and inside it I have scenes for the various levels of detail (blocking, rough animatic, full light setup).
For compositing I have another separate blend file for each shot, but only because I render shots out to multilayer exr files and do the compositing afterwards. And then I have a master blend file for the editing process, where I have a scene for each shot and a master scene for the final edit.

These are not things you must do, but they can help in the workflow, but maybe not necessarily yours. It helps to have an overview of what is all involved in creating a short to decide what approach fits best for your needs.

Its all about having a very good plan, and to be able to plan you have to know whats coming.

I brought the ebook version of this book because Ioramel had mentioned it in his thread, this is the book you want to read above all the others IMHO if you don’t have a story to tell than you don’t have a short worth watching.

As a cautionary note look at what happened earlier this year to Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. A visually impressive movie that completely and utterly bombed because the story sucked buckets. Never under estimate the intelligence of your viewing audience.

Directing the story is not about animating or anything like that its all about learning how to tell stories that people are interested in and if you get that right people will forgive so many short comings.

Thank you all for your help.