During my 2nd semester at Truemax Academy in 2010 I made this short film togheter with my classmates Grant Musgrove, Peter Thomasen and Rene Juul Madsen. A metallic twist on the well known Pinocchio. Beside coming up with the main idea for our story, my tasks on this project was prop modelling, unwrapping, texturing & shading, animation, lighting, rendering and a bit of compositing. Our teacher back then, Darren Thomas, supported us throughout the whole production - and for that I am still very grateful! Working on this project was a great experience and also our very first 3D project as a team.
Featured in Troldspejlet
One day during class we got the exciting news that our little Pinocchio had made it into a popular danish tv show called Troldspejlet (The program is mainly about the latest movies, computer games, comics etc.). A few weeks earlier I saw that they were encouraging amateur animators to sumbit their work to be showcased in their tv show, whether it was made in 2D, 3D, stopmotion or something else. I was very proud of our project and I thought that we had nothing to lose and everything to win. So I submitted our stuff - and shortly after we got selected!
For all foreigners out there I think it is fair to mention, that Troldspejlet has existed since 1989 and is the third oldest tv show on danish television (only beaten by the Daily News and an old gardening show). The host of the show, Jakob Stegelmann, is likely to be alluded to as a superhero by alot of danes. I'm just saying that this day was a definite win!
In the beginning of our 2nd semester we were devided into three different teams by our teacher. Our first task was to find/pick a classical well known fairytale that we wanted to base our own story upon. It was a very tough challenge as everybody in the group was eager to execute their own ideas. When we realized how hard it was to decide on a project, we all agreed that we would have to take it to a vote (where nobody was allowed to vote for their own pitch/idea). It stood between Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (Renes pitch), Sleeping Beauty (Peters pitch), Beauty & The Beast (Grants pitch) and Pinocchio (my own pitch).
Gratifying for me we ended up deciding on Pinocchio. Although we had to change the story quite alot in order to make everyone on the team satisfied. We all collaborated and threw in ideas but even more important: we all learned alot about compromising.
After changing the script many times we finally got to a point where we were all satisfied. We had taken one main idea and molded it into something that everyone could vouch for. We brought it all into our storyboard where we decided on the general timing, the camera angles and the specific transitions between our different shots. We felt awesome and encouraged at this point, and everyone of us was eager to start with the "real" production.
Moodboards, assetlists and sketches. The next few weeks was all about pre-production and researching. We all made concept drawings for the workshop and our props, but Grant was the one we chose to make the conceptual drawings of our Pinocchio character. His clean sketches made the later transition from 2D into 3D a much easier task.
We went to a really big old train workshop in Copenhagen where we took alot of reference images for our props (several hundreds in fact). Peter had been working there before as an electrician, so it was no problem for us to get inside. Below are shown a few of ourpictures from that day - you might recognize some of them.
Getting alot of good reference early in the process was a very good decision we made. Not only did it help us visualize how our workshop should look like, it also made it easier for us to build 3D models in the right scale, so that all our models would fit into the same environment in the end. This was another important lesson of our 2nd semester: You're only as good as your reference.
When we finally got to the point of rendering we ran into several problems. The programs that we were using would crash 15 times a day, because the scenes we were working in got too complex for our schools old machines to handle. As we didn't really have any prior experience with 3D and the pipeline in general, we had not taken this issue into account. It was very frustrating, but luckily for us, our teacher Darren, gave us several tips and tricks on how to reduce rendertime and scene complexity. We had to split up our scenes so that every shot with the corresponding camera was placed in a 3D scene for itself. Then we removed every single prop from the workshop that was outside of the cameras point of view (before removing props we made sure that they would not be missed by shadows, reflections and refractions). In other words, we split the movie into several pieces and comped them all togheter in the end. Another important lesson was learned.