This is not your average "making movie, need help" thread

Hi all Blenderheads, hope you are having a good day.

In our last year of school we must make a project regarding our education and so me and two of my friends decided to make an animated (short) movie. We plan to make it in Blender since we have to be able to work in school and the school can’t buy expensive software licenses just because of us :stuck_out_tongue:

Now you might think this IS your average “I need people who can do this and that, blah blah blah” thread but that is where it differs :stuck_out_tongue:

Instead of needing animators or modelers and etc, I need help from the ones of you who have worked on big projects and all that. I am the project leader of our team and the other two hardly know anything about Blender or 3D and have put all their trust onto me, as a project leader I have to make sure that everything goes according to plan. To do this I need some “tips&tricks” from you. Have you ever worked on a project like this? What are good things to think about, how did you do, why did you do it like that?

One of the things I need help with is the process of making an animated movie. If people could help me fill in the steps and the order of the steps then that would be greatly appreciated.

  1. Discuss what genre/story/style we want to do/have.
  2. Make a storyboard.
  3. Gather references.
  4. Draw concept art.
  5. Model & texture the environments and characters.
  6. Rig the characters/props.
  7. Animate the characters/environments.
  8. Do eventual physics simulations/other simulations.
  9. Set up lighting and double-check settings.
  10. Render.
  11. Composite.
  12. Call it done???

Another thing I would like to ask for is inspiration. We are just getting started setting up a schedule and still don’t really know what style we want to go for. I want to have some sources of inspiration to bring to my team when it is time to decide what we want to go for so if you got something like a CG trailer, animated CG short, full length CG movie, etc that reserved a spot in your heart, please post it here. For example I really enjoyed the visual style and animation of The Goon, other examples are the Final Fantasy: Advent Children (the first part), Final Fantasy Versus XIII cinematics, all of the WoW cinematics and the Warhammer cinematics.

Please help me expand the list :slight_smile: Thank you!

First things first, understand the collective ability of the team. Once you know this, you guy’s can then go about planning a style, for example if the three of you are pretty good at drawing, yet only you can model in 3D then you could go for a style which has 2D characters rendered in 3D environments. But the style will tie into everything else, so just evaluate the skills you have at hand for the moment.

You’ve pretty much got it for the work flow, although you’ll need to break them down further and allocate certain tasks to people, also you’ll need the Audio, and video editing, since compositing doesn’t produce the final result. I’d actually suggest getting a copy of Linux Mint, it’ll have 90%+ of the tools you need for the whole process, including the video, and audio editing software.

For inspiration don’t just look at other animated films, and not just high-end animated films either, look at anything and everything that inspires you, look at movies which you feel are very well executed, summarize the characters story arch’s in as few words as possible, by doing this you’ll understand what makes a story, and if it’s good, what makes an interesting story. If you have the spare change I’d recommend a book about story writing Ideas for the Animated Short.

I’m currently reading through the book and it’s a treasure trove of information, with some interesting thoughts from some of the guy’s at studios like Blur. Remember the story is the most important part of any animation, as I mentioned above you may find that you guy’s need to find a simple style in order to make the film achievable, having a great story will cover up for any issues in the animation etcetera, but having a bad story will drag down any short, regardless of quality.

Basically what I would do first, and you can do this from day one really, is to develop a story, not a full blown story, but an idea that will form the solid foundations for a story, this could be something as simple as a word, like ‘love’, or it could be a situation that a person is in and the emotions that they are dealing with. Tell each member of the team to think of words, or emotions, or situations that they’ve been in that they feel very strongly for, get together and start discussing ideas, taking down notes and just in general talk about each other’s lives and the things that inspire them, I know it may be a little hard to get a deep conversation flowing, but it’ll lead to a lot of good ideas for a short film.


Stage 001 - Story development

  • Initial idea
  • character backgrounds & development
  • story
  • Script
  • Storyboard

Stage 002- Pre-vis. & concepting

  • Character concepts
  • Enviroment & scene concepts
  • 2D or 3D pre-viz. (Usefull for figuring out camera angles, scene set-ups etcetera)

Stage 003a- Modeling

  • Character models (Main)
  • Character models (Secondary, if needed, i.e. for extras in scenes)
  • Prop libraries (Usefull for quickly buidling scenes)

Stage 003b- Materials & texturing

  • UV unwrapping & texturing
  • Material set-up (Including procedural materials)

Stage 004- Rigging

  • Main character rigging (It’s usually best to develop one character rig and use it for all of the characters, so try and make it flexible)
  • Any misc. rigs, for props etcetera

Stage 005- Scene set-up & and placements

  • Scene set-ups (This is where the prop libraries come in, you simply model the basic enviroment and bring in props to populate it, for example a bench, some trees and a lamp post for a shot of a park)

Stage 006- Place holder animation

  • You can either go straight to final animation, or animate the characters (simple movements) in the final scenes and use to further refine story/ scenes

Stage 007- Final animation

  • Simple, do the final run through for the scenes (Can take a long time!!)

Stage 008- Lighting

  • Character lighting (make use of light linking and grouping)
  • Environment lighting
  • effects & prop lighting (if needed)

Stage 009- Rendering

  • Render layer set up (Very important)
  • Final rendering (Maybe ask the school if you can use a few machines as a small render farm?)
  • Always render out as a sequence of high qaulity images, preferably 16-bit+ images, such as EXR

Stage 010- Compositing

  • This is where you make use of the render layers you set up previously
  • composite the scenes, by this I mean use the nodes, or whatever app you are using, to put in the FX, motion blur, depth of field, colour correction, compsite various render layers etcetera.

Stage 011- Audio

  • Use a rough cut of the composited shots start building up sound layers
  • Dialogue (if needed)
  • Folio (Ambient nouse, wind, rain etcetera)
  • Music
  • You should visit and build a library of sounds, you can also do this yourself as it’s a fairly simple process

Stage 012- Final editing

  • Bring in your shots and arrange them, bring in final audio, or audio elements and start to construct the film, this is the place where it all comes together, so spend some time on it
  • give it a final colour correction, add some credits, polish the sound, and I think, if I haven’t forgotten anything major, you should have an animated short film

Best of luck for the project - I was about to offer assistance but daniel488 did such a surperb job that my thunder is stolen.

Whoa, thanks guys, especially Daniel. I can’t thank you enough for this, it’s the best advice I have ever got in my entire life. Thank you so much :slight_smile: