"The Radiator" WIP


For a little while now I’ve been meaning to do a short live-action, cg-integration short. I think I’ve finally mustered up the courage to do it, although only to a moderate degree since it will be my first project of the sort. The rough context is that our dorm has a very creepy basement, and in the laundry area has a rather disturbing room with a single radiator, for whatever reason spray-painted yellow. The point is to try making a “horror” short, so having the already inherently creepy basement is meant to be able to make up for some of my mistakes and oversights in building the needed atmosphere.

I mostly intend to make clever use of single and two point tracking for workarounds to full 3D motion tracking, since I’ve always had such troubles with it (I’m going through the training DVD now to hopefully get better…). The only real integration will be an abstract “Sheet metal figure”, so the primary challenge aside from tracking is getting realistic character animation. Adding content soon!

Here is the asset for the “sheet metal character”, modeled from drawing on a humanoid mesh I got from blendswap with the grease pencil

I was originally hoping to preserve the figure as a set of curves, controlled by an armaturing by extensive use of hooking. When I converted the grease pencil to curves there were just too many key-points to be worth simplifying it down to a “hookable” state. Hence, I just converted it to a mesh and did some rough weight painting, I might improve upon it later.

Below is a couple viewport renders with a brushed metal material.

I’ll be honest, I actually started working on this character previously for a different project that was halted. Since it wasn’t going to be a horror shot, the character doesn’t look too menacing, so I might make some further suggestions. Below is a simple walk cycle I did at that time of the character:

Facebook walk-cycle link

And for the curious, I actually uploaded a recording of me “drawing” my character:

Facebook drawing link

It’s fun to play with the grease pencil :slight_smile:

And one more update, and a key part of the production: The “animatic”.

Facebook link to sequencing animatic
Note: this is without actors or cg-integration, so nothing probably makes that much sense at this point. It’s mostly just for personal visualization.

Yeah, I was super lazy so instead of drawing it out I just did a one-take of the whole sketch, trying out camera angles and later the sequencing. For the curious, I already made some notes on this export for my future self, for when we do the proper filming. Again, addressed to myself so these might not all make sense without more context of the short and where I plan on putting in my sheet-metal character.

  • 0:06 make it slower moving, but not longer
  • 0:07 also slower, but indicate motion (turn in, and end very clearly going towards door)
  • 0:15 free-lensing!
  • 0:20 too many low angles, make this one higher up (or take both, to choose from)
  • 0:22 since first shot going into the room, really need to camera turn to show; perhaps make it one-shot.
  • 0:31 DEFINITELY obey the 180, reverse angle on door (pointing down other hallway), and linger on the one shot instead of the next one.
  • 0:37 more up towards ceiling, have it be a panning shot first pointing almost straight down as she rounds the corner, and then move to point down the hallway
  • 0:48 I think camera mapping would be best, to get a smooth camera.
  • 0:53 section down hallway in darkness flickers on… again, really need tripod still cam to do this
  • 0:59 only true slowmo, 720p shot; try to get mirror in order to do this!
  • 1:03 needs to be slower, and panning; OR if we are to not show all of character, then just keep knee level, focusing on Helen’s expression.
  • 1:05 DON’T BREAK THE 180! can’t have same angle on both sides of door, so take it from the other side (or reverse the previous)
  • 1:15 oh my, this will be interesting to composite… but would be epic :slight_smile:
  • 1:26 THIS should be style of opening shot, and then for this actual time-code make it more stationary/not 3D parallax, so manual tracking can be a fallback
  • 1:34 even though the “off” direction is clockwise, to the viewer a typical knob’s off direction is counter clockwise, so have that be the motion

Well, I’m about as consistent as it gets when it comes to updating WIP threads. Despite the silence and little “interruption” of working on Lotto Redshift, I’ve been making some progress on this short. I’m really hoping to finish it later this week, but we’ll see how that goes.

Linked above is the current “Previz”, though only about half of the scenes are setup with the cg character, and then there is still no compositing/color correction, or video degradation to make it all match. So far I’ve only had to do one full 3D motion tracking shot (not part of the previz below, but it is of the long walking shot at 1:07). All other places I either just hand placed or made some clever/unorthodox use of one or two 2D tracked points to map to camera motions. The story still won’t quite make sense, but it will become clear soon enough.

A lot of the work done up to this point was really just stabilization Shots like 0:05 and 0:27 look like they do thanks to After Effect’s Warp Stabilizer, but in a couple points like the first shot I used 2-point tracking in blender to stabilize some shake. I was really sad to see that motion blur for mesh deformations isn’t supported in cycles yet (it’s just for basic object transformations), and vector blur was giving some pretty strange results with some of my edges with depth of field. Thankfully, I can add some interpretive motion blur in other ways through AE, just a pity it can’t be done in blender right now.

Finally got to releasing! And yeah, not much updating happened towards the end of this project where the interesting stuff happened. Oh well.

[release thread]