Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quick Flea Test

Jon and I shot a quick test to see if we could animate using a still camera, capturing JPEGs at a high resolution. We actually shot this as a 2K test which is rather extreme, but fun. The result was sharp and lovely, but obviously impractical for compositing (loads of memory needed).

This video is the compressed version, so the quality isn't as shiny. The puppet looks nice under the camera, but I don't like the range of movement in this 'proto-flea', so he will become the flea that ends up bridging the crevice. I'm working on giving the others more mobility.


Designing the cabin

Using Phil's initial concept art as a guideline, George stepped up and offered to build the cabin for a series of key scenes in the middle of the film.

He began by building a basic model of the dimesions using CG, and then after my approval, he put together a more finished version. This is instrumental in helping figure out how the actual cabin is going to look on set. The following video is made up from a series of his images.

The next stage is a cardboard mock-up. This will help me place it on the set, and figure out the best angles to shoot it at and how well the dimensions will work with the puppets - once all this is finalized, George will go ahead and build the final, wooden version.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Hello all,

Things slowed down briefly while I tried to complete some other projects - but now we can ramp up again.

I have placed an album over on FaceBook showing the progression of the mountain and fleas - figured that was a good way to get some immediate feedback.

George is making headway with the cabin, and Jon and I are about to run some tests with the camera - come and join us if you are free.

More updates as they happen,

cheers, Neil.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

ruff fog pass test

Hey every one
thought id post an environmental fog pass that i was working on today, if you have any comments, ideas, and/or a way you think the fog should look please do share.

More marvellous mountain.

Here are some shots of the mountain set in its semi-finished state. Just needs a coat of titanium white to get it looking crispy.

Jon diligently adds snow as a flea begins an impromptu ascent.

The final peak.

We had a great session with Tim Taylor (motion control guru from 'Coraline') on Saturday who taught us all we needed to know to get the camera up and running. We are going to shoot some test footage soon which I may actually cut into a rough version for timing purposes. We are also looking into replacing the current camera with a Nikon D90 with an 18-200 mm lens for a beautiful HD picture.

My next priority is to get the proto-fleas finished so that we can test them - and then I'll be calling for prop-makers once we have their scale nailed down.

Thanks everyone!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Creating a rough prototype--wind sounds, part 2

So I've edited a few tastes of the rough sketch for the particle sounds. There's a lot of background noise because it's a nice day outside, and I wanted to test the first run outside where I can let the particles scatter all over and make a nice mess for the squirrels to clean up!

Now that I've narrowed down possibilities, I can do some re-takes in a quieter environment.

Here's a few compressed samples:

Flax seed on cardboard with the U87 & 702T
Flax seed on tent with the H4 stereo mic/recorder
Sesame seed on tent with the H4 stereo mic/recorder
Sesame seed on cardboard with the U87 & 702T

Have a listen-- You'll have to imagine the results of an indoor session when the mic can be a little farther back from the surface.

I also still have to figure out a way to have a somewhat regular dispersal of the material onto the surface--dropping it from my hand is too irregular and risks clumping sounds. Any ideas? Unfortunately a fan makes too much noise. I'm thinking a funnel might work....

Creating the wind sounds

I've been working on the prototypes for the wind sound. I've got some straight samples of standard wind noises, but I wanted some detail particle sounds for snow/ice hitting the hikers. I think of the wind as broad brush strokes, and the particles as the details.

I set up my mics (see image 1). For this prototype run, I've got a Neumann U87, a Rode stereo mic (the NT4), an EV (RE50), an AKG perception 100, and a Sennheiser MD 421. And my built-in stereo mics on the Zoom H4, an amazing little portable recorder. I've got a few shockmounts, my recorders (the H4 and a Sound Devices 702T), my DPA windpac, and a few different pre-amps.

Phew! So then I set up my "foley pit" in my backyard. I've got some ideas of what to use for the sound, so I've got some surfaces (see image 2): glass, metal, wood, cardboard, a vinyl mat and a tent surface.

I've got a number of different "particles" to try: salt, large-grain sugar, ground flax seed and sesame seeds.

Stay tuned for the results! Once I get a good demo sound, I'll re-record in a quieter setting (dang squirrels, birds, and construction!)