View Full Version : Working non lineair

12 December 2004, 10:51 AM
I've been trying to create my own CG short for a while now. One thing keeps bugging me and I'm trying to figure out whether it's a good or a bad thing.

We all know the basic steps in creating any mini-movie. You gotta have a story, you need some interesting character(s), perhaps some plot-twists. From thereon you first do some conceptart work, before going to production and post (I'm cutting some corners here).

But what about rearranging these steps ? What happens to me a lot, is that I have a great concept idea, but no story yet. And I can't wait to transfer the concept to CG as soon as possible. Very often, the whole thing grinds to a halt. The concept looks nice in CG, but it's more or less pointless without a story. This sort of thing is killer on a one person production.

Does this mean, that following a lineair workflow is even more important, or even the only way to do it on a one man show ? When working in a team I can imagine that while someone is doing CG, someone else can work out the storyline, or even adapt it. This going back and forth happens a lot I guess. How the hell can you achieve that by you lonesome self ?

Or is it just my impatience and jumping to CG too fast ?

12 December 2004, 12:40 PM
The reasons for the "classic process" is to avois as much as possible to redo things. So you can to it your own way, only you must be ready to redo things from the beginning.

It's not uncommon to have more visual ideas than script ideas, especially for graphic artist. And my personal experience is that it's a dead end thing to try to artificially put a story on something when you aren't really inspired to do so.

What I usually do is that I keep two different threads of notes and sketches : graphic ideas, and story lines ideas. Whenever I think that 2 of them could match, I start the development process. But I would never force them. Like a date, you know, just put the 2 things together, and see if that works. If it doesn't, don't force it.

What for graphic ideas that didn't yet found a story line ? I do not want to get frustrated, so I jump to 3D whenever I feel like to. But not to make a film : I just do a small ride (if that was a landscape) or small animations (for characters), sorts of researchs. This sometimes leads to the apparition of script ideas, but not always. I have disks full of tests like that.


12 December 2004, 03:27 PM
If your idea for a story is derived (or going to be) from some graphic novelty rather than something that came up during the concept phase of a story in progress, I wouldn't bother going through the trouble of creating a short around this. Every film I've seen based on some sort of gimmick like fancy graphics or a slow motion fight fail in the narrative aspect.

That's not to say the story is the basis for each movie though. Many films are based on a character or a certain situation, rather than the eventual plot. Just check with yourself with what intentions you're making this short. If it's mainly the graphics, considering making just that and spend the rest of the time working on something you actually want to tell, rather than just show.

12 December 2004, 08:51 AM
i am not thinking that you are working no linear but more non complete..... an idea is just and idea untill it is fleshed out.... i have many stories and 'conversations i want to put in a story' but for the most part there has to be a story involved. or it is point less.

12 December 2004, 10:52 AM
Non complete is a term I would certainly use also. I simply have more experience on the graphic side than on the narrative. I was just wondering if trying to follow the textbook stepby step lineair method for creating a short-movie might be the best, especially when certain areas of that process are new to you.
The more you do it, the better you will get also applies here, but I feel like jumping around costs me a lot of time. But while jumping, it feels nice :) . It's after a while you are looking at some nice CG model, but it kinda gets boring the more you look at it, and you wish you had a story for it. And then I get brainlock.
I think it's so much easier when working in a team. Doing it all yourself is a lot harder. But I also believe that when you do get it done, it's more satisfying than teamwork (I think).

And I'm gonna try the 2 thread notes method for sure :D

12 December 2004, 09:41 AM
I use the technique that kachoudas uses. I have a large binder full of lined paper for shot and storyline ideas. I also carry around a small notebook for visual ideas and references. If I'm walking down the street and see some interesting architecture I take 5 min for a quick sketch. From here as I progress through the project I can look back and be inspired or use what I've put down already.

12 December 2004, 08:08 PM
Hi thx,

I hope this helps. I am also rather new to CG filmmaking, and I can relate to what you are going through. Sitting down and learning with all these great new tools is exciteing, but soon you want to find a mission for your madness. All I can say is keep those little tidbits of ideas and concepts handy and keep creating. I was also looking for a story to put into 3D, and found one in a stack of papers I wrote over 20 years ago! At the time I was focused on writing a short story - but my real love was for film, and at some point I put the project down, realizing that it would not work in a "live action" film and doing it in 3D back in 1983, well forget it....finally the tools have caught up with the concept and off I go again, a little greyer but no less enthused.

Just a thought. If you are looking for a story, don't kill yourself tying to write one. Steal one, thats what Hollywood does. Seriously, take a look at old books and short stories that may be in the public domain and see if you can adapt one to your characters.

or, decide what genere you want to work in, action, fantasy, si-fi, childrens and search the web for forums like this that are dedicated to short stories and writing. Post your character concepts there and see what happens. For as many CG artists without stories I bet there are just as many story tellers who don't have the visual graphic skills that you have.

And finally, don't get caught up in an either I work alone, or I need a "shrek" size team. Another partner or two can help to move a project along nicely.


12 December 2004, 11:46 PM

My recommendation is to put off touching your 3D program for as long as possible. Just look at the bigboys like Pixar or Dreamworks.. they'll do conceptual drawings after conceptual drawings until they have hundreds if not thousands. Then they'll storyboard and cut everything into a story reel taking up to 2-3 years. Surely, the character design (in maquette form) could be started and overlapped w/ these stages but so far, nothing major is started in CG quite yet. This all requires discipline.

One way to look at it is that your patience will be rewarded later. It's a battle between short term instant gratification of jumping prematurely into CG.. or looking at the big picture where your story will prevail over any visual gimmick. It's best to have both obviously, but look at South Park for example. They nail down the story, music, characterization... and if you get that just right, the rest is almost secondary. Most of the great lasting animated series all have this in common more or less (SouthPark, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Ren & Stimpy). Lastly, I'll just say that even for a lonewolf production, once you get into a shot-by-shot workflow, you will be multitasking and wearing many hats.. where it's very much back-and-forth. This is ok.. at least the blueprint is done and your just executing. Also be sure to leave room for serendipity.. happy accidents that tend to make the film better and also the grueling process more fun and unpredictable for the filmmaker.

g'luck! :thumbsup:

12 December 2004, 01:09 AM
ahhhh you're close to falling for the same trap many artists do, wanting to get to the fun stuff before you do the necessary steps. Please don't, instead if you hav ethings you don't want to do, if anything try something like the collaberative forum here on cgtalk. Storytelling is the key, how can you be a storyteller with no story? unless you just want it as a portfolio piece in which case it's fine.

12 December 2004, 02:00 AM
Non-linear is okay, as long as you don't create anything.

If you see yourself as being guided by your respective muse, you've got a fighting chance, and if the muse shares with you that your particular story or project will help the starving in Asia or New York, then you might get a little buzz from it too.

The muse can create it, but no matter how much CGTalk leads in this direction, avoid saying you're on top of things.

This year, I paid to participate in a local cine-club, where it's $100 to make a film a month according to themes we're given, and bring the DVD or whatever to a member's home at the end. That way, you can start with a model of Jude Law, and not get pissed when it looks like one of the beatles, and then you somehow make the other three, and you're wondering how the heck to get some closer and make it funny, and the muse says "They should have been in a Thunderbirds episode where they end terrorism instead of celebrate violence." And you go, "Heck, really?"

Did I finish it? Ha! But I did write a couple of alternate versions that were a little more doable.

YOU'RE PLAYING WITH DOLLS, unless you hadn't heard it before. Of course you can do a little mocking-up. I've noticed three problem areas when I've let myself be lead around: one, I get determined to prove something based on my genius opinion, and it takes five hours to get the cloud cover to work right, when I'll get an idea for a fix the next day that will take two minutes to implement -- ie, egotism, not following; and two, I sometimes mock up some really crude models just to tell myself I accomplished something by way of a quick render, ignoring the muse (I'm Christian, so there isn't a muse, but it's that idea); and three, I've got a deadline I have to respect, and that means that I'm/the muse is going to make a "back-up" short film in two days, instead of thirty, if it looks like I can't do the thirty-day one.

Making a two day film can be a trip.

Anyway, that's one approach. Enjoying yourself playing with dolls is completely valid.

Woody Allen sips weak tea, I think that that is the yoga thing where everything tastes good when you're doing righteous work. So, you sip your tea, and if what you're doing goes from bad to worse, you backtrack to when it tasted good.

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