Sciencey-comedy (short film)

After finishing Mite! last year, most of the suggestions I got for improvement were all about texturing and lighting, so I’ve been putting the emphasis on those two areas while making my latest film. It’s untitled right now, but it’s a 3-4 minute long slightly-dark comedy about a little girl who gets to taste and test out experimental soft drinks in a chemical lab:

That stool on the right is where she sits reading comics while waiting for more drinks. I should probably add some mist up at the top swirling around, to add to that “deep undergound” look. Unlike my last stuff, I’m forcing myself to do without raytracing to keep my render times low, so lots of buffer shadows are at work! The geometry of the lab is done, though I’m still working on the props - the two tables will be covered with lots of lab equipment and drinks ready to test:

It took a lot of testing to get that “perspex/glass” look without raytracing - I mainly use blended sphere textures mapped to the geometry’s normals.

Here’s a test shot of the girl, Suzie, in the lab.

Because she’s got such a round face I had to go for a combination of shapekeys and lattices to make animating expressions well-defined but also smooth. You can watch a quick and dirty animation on Youtube here. Here she is again with Gruber, one of the scientists who invents drinks. He’s a bit mad.

I wanted to keep animating as simple as possible, so I avoided any kind of cloth simulation on Gruber’s lab coat. I came up with a few dirty tricks to help, like using separate bones to control the bottom of the coat and Gruber’s thighs. The coat bones have a Copy Rotation constraint to follow the corresponding thigh bones, except they don’t inherit the local Y rotation, meaning they don’t twist as his feet turn. The left sleeve hanging down in the picture is done with a bone attached to it that just slides along the arm. The coat is deformed with a mesh deform, but the wrists and legs are deformed by the armature directly, to keep the clothes looking smoother.

Both characters aren’t finished (I haven’t even started texturing Gruber’s face), but thanks to the great group linking feature in Blender I can carry on tweaking up till Render Day. It’s all in 2.5, and I found that porting a character from 2.49 to the new Blender is a great way to bring yourself up to speed with the new UI.

There’s another scientist I have to make, and finish the props, but after that I’ll hopefully be in a position to animate! There’s going to be a lot of fluid and smoke systems in this, which I’m not looking forward to, but I think it’s probably better to tackle them once the character animation’s out of the way - better to have the physics working around the story than the other way around!

I’ll post some more things when I’ve done them, but I hope the work I’ve done so far isn’t too bad for a solo project. I’m looking forward to animating Gruber - he’ll be a very wild character and should be fun to move about.

I’m really hoping to do a good job on this one, so any pointers I can get, I’d really appreciate. Thanks!


I’ll be watching this thread closely. You have talent sir.

I want to see this when it’s finished.
You definitely have a lot of skill.
I love the poses and the animation. The characters are awesome.

The hair bugs me a little on the girl. I think on the scientist too, but its hard to tell from that image. Though its probably challenging to render good hair without ray-tracing.
You’ve done a really impressive job without it anyway The lab props look great.

Good luck on this!

@LiquidApe: Thanks very much!

@Consideringthepickle: The “no Raytracing” rule I gave myself came when I heard Big Buck Bunny did without it, so good-looking hair is at least possible! I know what you mean about Suzie’s, especially in the first picture - I’ll work on this.

I’m preparing to begin modelling the other scientist, Hans - here’s a concept of the current look I’m thinking of:

The idea is that he’s a kind of father-figure to Suzie, so he plays a protective role. While he’s fat, I also want him to be quite strong. I’ll post a full model in a few days for crits.

Just over a week of evening work, and Hans is nearly done. Click for a quick anim:

I’ve been experimenting to find the best “smile” shapekey for him, and I’m not very happy with it yet. I don’t want it to be completely symmetrical, but it’s difficult to stretch the mouth on one side without it looking wierd. Soon though he’ll be done, and after a bit more prop work I’ll be ready to animate! The set doesn’t have all the details yet, but I’ll add those in after animating.

Hair fits the art style! Btw love the post it looks amazing, definitely making this the first thread i follow!

Finally! After one set, three characters, a dozen rigs and around 40 props, I’ve at last begun animating. The storyboard’s also done - post-it notes are currently covering my walls. It’s a surprisingly effective way of managing the story, much better I think than making an animatic, since you can chop and change shots around with just a pencil in a few seconds. (This is also the first film I’ve done with the story finished before I’ve started animating, go figure…)

Effects like flames, smoke and liquids I’ll do afterwards. Materials and lights also need to be tweaked, and my plan is to render out a single frame from each shot, use those to make changes I need (everything in the film is linked, including composition), then render out again and compare. But for now this is what it’s looking like:

It’ll get better!

amazing work. as someone above said you have a lot of talent. Good luck.

This is looking really good. The red almost glow of light on his nose is really nice.
There are some like white lines around his face and parts of his figure though that are a little bit jarring. I can’t tell if those are just an artifact from scaling of the image or the lighting itself, but they probably shouldn’t be that bright it makes him look a little plastic to have those (I think specular regions)

Keep up the good work!

looks great! cant wait to see the final product!

Thanks for the support! :slight_smile:

@Consideringthepickle: Thanks for the advice on the white lines. I’m using a normal node to generate highlights around the characters and props to help with definition, but I can see I’ll have to soften it. It looks better in wide shots, so it’s probably a scale thing.

BTW first go at a title/logo: Too corny or OK?

o wow, i love your work…and i love the logo thing for your movie, its cute…how long have you been working with blender??

Ha, cheers! About 3 years I’d say - I’ve never used any of 3D software though.

I’m thinking about asking for feedback on some of the animation, but then I don’t want to completely spoil the movie before it’s even out - I might post up one or two shots in OpenGL though.

Impeccable work. I think the logo looks great. Everything is coming along very nicely.

Wow, this is promising! I enjoyed mite allready, this looks even better! Where do you find the time for all of this! Amazing stuff man! I like the susie test alot. 5 stars and subscribed!

I’ve been plowing through the first scene since last week, and though it’s taking a long time, I’m quite happy with the quality so far. I’ve YouTube’d a short sequence to show what I’ve been doing:

Animation clip

It’s all in OpenGl, and might get tweaked a bit but it’s close to finished. Other than this, I’m going to hold back on other animation clips unless I really need advice, so I might leave it a bit before posting more up.

Thanks guys!

that looks wicked sweet dude…cant wait till the finished product ^.^

Looks really good, your characters are really well developed and modeled! Can’t wait till you finish.

Liked the last one, Mite. This is looking real good.

Looking fantastic. As for crits:

  • There appears to be an artifact on the eyelid when you open it too much as seen in attached image.
  • The 3rd shot is too short, so the cut to the next shot is a little jarring.
  • The hand of the scientist retracting looks a little strange. Instead of having his wrist bend back a little as he pulls back, have it relax.