Sunday, April 29, 2007


"On the 29th April Moscow was washed clean by a thunderstorm. The air was delightful: it mellowed the heart and made one want to start living again."
-- Mikhail Bulgakov, Black Snow. Translated by Michael Glenny.

Black Snow is a wonderful novel about the process of writing a play and having a theatre produce it. I've just re-read it and have enjoyed it more this time as I can relate the main character's thoughts about writing a play to the process of making and releasing an animated film ;o)

The smoking moose film is now composited. There are a few small compositing glitches, but I've gone ahead and created the uncompressed QuickTime movies and have started the "final" edit in Final Cut. I've also made a backup of the "final" scene files and rendered pictures, which is a relief because I was worried about losing months of rendered files if the disk had crashed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

so close and yet so far and where's Batty?

There are only a few more frames rendering and a few more to composite ... in the meantime the soundtrack is coming along. The moose's cough is better (using Sound Track Pro's EQ channel editor gives a much better result that trying to match pitch using the pitch editor) and I've added a bunch more subtle sound effects that add to the general atmosphere. I'll need to make a few adjustments for synchronization purposes to the music but I need to wait until after I've finished compositing because the compositor takes over the PC's CPU.

In anticipation of finishing the film, I've downloaded XSI 6.01! But I'm not installing it until I've finished the renders and composites. In theory you can run previous versions with the latest version on the same system, but I'm not taking any chances. I'm excited about using some of the new animation features to animate a few teasers for the film.

The title/credit design is still worrying me. Right now it is very basic and in the past I've always created much more creative titles. Hopefully I'll come up with something by the time I'm finished with everything else.

On another note, I went to the Red Bird Studio tonight where Stickey Hickee was showing off their artwork - they are a wonderful bunch of artists who draw comics. Really, really nice, heartwarming, art, even if Batty wasn't there.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

ah zoot alors

My test composites missed some errors and there was a transform problem on the fire in scene 3 -- I'm making the corrections now and will need to relaunch the composites. One of the errors (which I've encountered before as well) is caused by having different maximum sampling values on different passes -- I'm guessing that I didn't remember to boost the max sampling back up to 2 (luckily not all frames are affected, so I'm only re-rendering the frames that are affected).

Still the end is near ;o)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Rendering is DONE! Compositing NOW!

Whoo hoo. my smoking moose film is now compositing! Meanwhile I'm working on the soundtrack and credits.

I'm only wishing the animals I liked weren't so big. Here's a girl who turned a stuffed beaver into a computer ... hmm maybe I should say she re-stuffed a stuffed beaver with a computer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


ok "stupid" window is more like it. I lost the highlight for the second part of scene 3 -- if I get it to work, I lose the highlight on the canary OR the matte that's cutting out the sofa on the window highlight comes back. I'm not sure how I've done it, but I think I've gotten around it... although I had to add another canary highlight to make it work and I had to adjust the tiger highlight.

The other thing I fixed today was the Raccoon's cigarette smoke (exhale and rising) which looked strange in some frames when it appeared on top of the pizza box. At first I tried to use a painted vector shape to matte it out, and although I proudly got this working correctly (animated shapes and all), for some reason it messed up the smoke when it did appear outside the pizzabox -- it messed it up in a strange way -- it was darker and had black streaks in it. So I went back to my regular method of rendering a matte pass -- it didn't take too long and it's done.

I think this is it!

I have just launched what I hope is the last test composite of scene 3, the mega multi frame multi passes craziness. The window caused me the most problems. Interestly enough, the window was was inspired by the Polish 1982 Oscar winning short film called Tango by Zbigniew Rybczynski, where everything happened in one room and started with a ball coming through the window, followed by a boy. The film continued to show multiple layers and stories in that one room. Much like the moose film and yet so different too. I doubt anyone will see the inspiration. Anyhow I think I've got compositing of the window and the characters who go out of it working. There are still rendering and compositing "mistakes" but I am leaving them, I don't think there is anything drastic that will kill the film.

For the compositing tests, I am rendering every 24th frame at 1/4 of the resolution, so I suppose there could be a surprise when I render every frame at full resolution, but hopefully those surprises can be corrected in photoshop or fixed with a second composite.

In the meantime, I've also made good progress on a redesign of the smokingmoose website, it will go live when the film is finished and available on DVD. I will release a DVD containing only the moose film as soon as possible, but the idea has always been to release a DVD of a compilation of most of my animated films (I'll leave the bad ones off ;o). The compilation will take a little longer to produce, as I need to get the previous films digitized to uncompressed QuickTime movies.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fxtree: Composite node: Output Size Mode

After transforming effects to use through a composite node (over or math), you can easily crop to the background by setting the Output size node to Use Default Image on the Output tab.

I had been using the psd blend addon but have stopped using it as the "Place Output Image at Origin" is not working consistently and my attempts to use the Output Size Node parameter don't work with the psd blend node. This is unfortunate since the psd blend addon has more compositing options than the math composite (or perhaps they are just easier for me to use as I am used to photoshop).

As promised here is snapshot of the current state of scene 3's fxtree. It is crazy, but it is almost working! I'm having trouble matting some things, I've been attempting to reuse passes into the matte connection of composite nodes and while this is working in most cases, its not working for the fire. I'll need to render a matte for the tiger and canary for the frames when they are in front of the fire.