View Full Version : FXWars! QUEEN OF THE ROCKETMEN!: CGMagicman, FULL SEQUENCE Entry

10 October 2009, 12:01 PM
Hello ... I'm the newbiest noob you'll ever noob. Just wanted to throw my hat in with the big boys and watch you laugh at me. lol.

Actually, I started the thread here to begin my regular updates. A pleasure to meet you all and I can't wait to learn from each of you.

My full sequence will be my most ambitious attempt at animation ever (and quite frankly, I don't know how I'm going to get away with the idea I have) ... but you have to raise your own bar, right?

Basically a movie trailer theme. Pre-production, scans, storyboards, etc, etc will be posted as I go along here.

Until next time,


10 October 2009, 07:56 PM
You never know what you are capable of until you try so kudos to you for pushing yourself. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Good luck

10 October 2009, 11:28 PM
Yup all the best fella. This is my first comp too so well done for plucking up the courage.

Look forward to seeing your stuff mate.


10 October 2009, 09:33 PM
To StevieMac ( and Karabo, thank you so much for the encouragement. It is greatly appreciated.

So without further ado, let's get this party started.

As oposed to a trailer, it's going to be a 6 minute short that will task me in areas I need help in. I've recruited my sons to do a voice and some light animation assistance.

I work for Delta Airlines, 100% outside of the CG industry, so i have no other CG jobs to do and that may just be a good thing cause I'll need every bit of the few weeks we have.

Basically, the story is to showcase the style the challenge asked for, give a lot of information in a steady flow and end quick.

Over the past few days, the idea changed from a trailer because i was having too much fun with what i wanted to show.

So, the story begins with the 'Queen' (Sybil Venture) arriving to pick up fuel for her jet pack, get some water, ammo and then leaves to go back to the battle in the sky. Other jet pack henchmen attempt to thwart her. She kicks ass (briefly/quickly) and confronts the main bad guy (Governor Death) , leaving off with a cliffhanger mood typical of this era as well.

The film will be post with a 1950's news reel 'feel', brownish coloring and film scratches, poor camera focusing and so forth.

The film is called and 'episode' and I want the viewer to come into it in the middle of an overall storyline. So it's titled: CGSociety Challenge - Queen of the Rocketmen Episode 3: 6ix Minutes.

The short itself and the situation in the story revolve around six minutes.

I'm doing the voice of Governor Death and Fatman. One of my son's is doing the voice of Hatman. I want a British voice for Sybil so I'm putting the word out for a female to do her few lines.

Production Plan:

Storyboards were started days ago (prior to the script) and I'm reworking them for clarity cause you guys are gonna hate my chicken scratch.

The plan is to have base concept models of the core characters (Fatman, Hatman, Sybil, Governor Death and one Henchman) by Saturday night.

Don't any of you get any ideas in your head that I'm some ZBrush Phenom. I suck at it and I'm not a modeler by any account. I won't even insult you by trying to lie about that.

However, I'm a superb 'Poser' rehasher and model kit-basher and found successful methods of porting Poser Characters to 3DSMax after I've created what I wanted. The only time I use ZBrush is to make you THINK I used ZBrush ... look out for that come Saturday night when you see splendid clay rotations of a model and you'll be like ... Holy Swiss Cheese! This guy is great ... and I'll be like, Nah Chief ... I'm quite corny.

Next week, it's all about the other elements and tightening up the base models. That includes 'The Deckerland' Flying Deck, the jet pack and all the little extras in the story. Settings, etc.

Voices will be done by the end of the month.

I do temp work for a Publishing Company, Banks-Wright Publishing, and they let me post most of my work on their server for download here:

6ix Minutes Script (

Any download issues, let me know.

Third and last week of October: Rigging my ass off. This is when the tutorial DVD's from Gnomon start getting some wear and tear.

November: Animate, animate, animate.

Rendering will take place through Rebus Farm. I'm open to any other Render Farm suggestions, but they managed to do one sample job well (then got a boat load of upload errors for some reason). ( Why? Cause I'm a father with kids and I don't have the super deluxe PC or Mac you guys have right now. My system gets by, but this project is going to make the computer hurt a little.

Ambitious? Hell yeah! I can do it though.


10 October 2009, 01:01 AM
disregard...not meant to be posted

10 October 2009, 01:07 AM
The characters for the short are posted below. I used Hypershot to render quickly. No materials are set or accurate whatsoever. Materials will adhere to the rules set

Turns out, I am one page away from finishing the storyboards. I hope to add them here tomorrow.

Looking to bring on a selected Brtish female voice for Sybil by the end of October.

Characters from Top to Bottom:

Sybil Venture

Governor Death



Governor Death's Goons havent been started yet. But I figure, once I make one ... I've made them all. They'll all look the same.

So far very good, moving on schedule.

10 October 2009, 10:09 AM
Damn mate this is looking amazing loving the style, right up my street!
Did you model these from scratch? You work fast if you did mate well done.

Really looking forward to the rest. If you need a hand with anything give me a shout.


10 October 2009, 02:56 PM
Dude, I don't know how you came up with all these characters so fast but excellent work. Keep going.

10 October 2009, 03:25 PM
Thank you fella's for the compliments ... I mentioned in a previous posting that I am a Poser user ... it took awhile to get the characters just right, but Poser provides the characters, I just labor over finding the right clothing and reshaping the look to get them away from the usual V4/M3/M4 characters that come out the box (lol). The three characters you see there took the past two weeks to get right and they still arent textured right.

I do not, however, animate in Poser. It will all be 3DSMax and afterEffects really soon.

Next up, the last character (bad guy) and the vehicles. I need to have them rigged by the end of the month and time is running out.

I really appreciate the comments. I'm really trying to go for the gusto on this one.

10 October 2009, 03:30 PM
Poser or not, you are a machine, dude. Good work indeed. I can't wait to see what you put out next.

10 October 2009, 03:59 PM
It doesn't matter what you use if the final result is good then who cares.

Great job man keep up the good work!


10 October 2009, 08:45 AM
Script Update: Needed to add an extra line of dialogue for Governor Death to avoid unnecessary dead-air toward the end.

Script (

Also... Storyboards were finished (finally) and scanned into Toon Boom's Storyboard. It's a nice program and recommended IF you want to share your images online. Otherwise, I would have skipped that step and just managed well with my hard copies. I can see it could help with timing and a form of pre-visualizations, but I'm rather old school and you're lucky I'm not drawing on index cards.

Speaking of drawing, I suck at sketching so excuse my chicken scratch. They look terrible, but it's for my own use so I can gauge camera angles and see what I want to do instead of stumbling around for the right angle or elements later. (

The full storyboards can be downloaded below or click the image above:

Storyboards (

You'll need adobe Reader for both script and storyboards by the way.

Oh, least I not forget... The last character in the mix .... Governor Death's Henchmen

No texture whatsoever and you cant see a thing ... sorry. I'm rushing to meet my deadline for the week.

Meanwhile, I'm picking through some potential British Female Voices to play Sybil Venture who answered by casting call. I'm using to select. Below is a link of the choices I'm sorting through. I plan to settle on the one by the end of the month. British Female Voices (

Thanks for your comments on my work thus far. In regards to speed of doing things, unfortunately I don't work in the industry as you pros do so I don't have other work that takes up my time except the regular job and my kids. Once the kids go to bed, I'm in front of the computer into the wee hours.

Plus, I really want to accomplish 'something' and I don't want to put it down and then not come back to it (which has been past sins). I'm totally committed to seeing this through.

10 October 2009, 08:46 AM
It doesn't matter what you use if the final result is good then who cares.

Great job man keep up the good work!


I appreciate that, Steve. Thank you.

11 November 2009, 08:07 AM

just go trough your story board.
interesting story :D

look forward in the next update ;)

11 November 2009, 10:46 AM
Hi! Here's an update to the work and I admit it's slow going because of stupid rookie errors ... but I expected that coming in. A little frustrating, but I'm still leaps and bounds ahead of anything I've ever accomplished before, so you're witnessing me learning at a rapid pace.

Okay.... can you believe I took over two weeks trying to get ONE shot to look good. My issue: grass. Plain and simple grass ... and skydoming or Dreamscape ...couldn't decide which gave me a better horizon. Add the trouble with making decent looking grass and I was held up for days.

This was the original opening shot but in the end, I couldn't stand it and went with different angles altogether. Even though I wanted a close up, the Grass was way too large and moved like eerie tentacles.

Also note the clouds are Afterburn ... but ignore it's use ... I'm just not going that way unless it's a close shot (see a later update).

I poured over every 'grass' making tutorial I could find, used various plugins and still couldn't be satisfied. I was close with this one (seen below) ... it's a VRay displacement trick that looked better in the tut than what I produced ... but I went with it for awhile until I realized the close ups (also seen in the image), looked like some sort of Play-dough. The further back it went, the better, but I was unpleased and hung on this for days.

In the end, I bought some Archmodel grass and got better results.

I'm also using Dreamscape. Not exactly happy with the horizon I wanted, but time is running out so I'm keeping it moving.

Next problems ...

More rookie errors ... Rigging and envelopes.

What I did to speed things along is set up all the shots (based on the storyboards) and placed all the essential objects in the scene and basic camera angles together and then double back to do each one after the other.

The issue is, whereas I thought my original rigging was tight ... it wasn't. By later shots, bodies are starting to screw up and keep in mind, I'm still trying to figure out how to create a facial rig for the minimum lip-syncing going on. So I'm back to square one with my rig and refitting them all for better envelopes and adding the minimal bones for a few phonemes.

I'm using CATrig's which have proven to be so useful to me in this rush environment (lol).

The main ship, The Deckerland, which our heroine concludes this short on, is coming along nicely. Actually, better than I thought. Just trying to figure out how to create better splines to attach the sails to the deck.

Basically, it's kitbashed from other models found along the net....except the deck. That's me (i'm so proud ... being sarcastic, folks. lol) ... the towers on the deck are from Dystopia blocks. I thought it would be cool that Governor Death would want to have a partial floating city.

The reason I didnt go with the supplied models is simply because I'm too new at this to screw up such fine artwork from the pros who would likely prefer to see their work handled by someone who knew what they were doing. So it made sense for me to just make my own.

Here's a couple of playblasts that don't really amount to anything much...

Shot_3 ( - the opening shot when the butterfly flies in and Jeep rolls past. Playblast will not show the butterfly getting squashed (i.e., disappearing).

shot_4 ( - I've discovered Vray Proxies! Helped a lot with the mounting grass objects in the scene.

shot_5 ( - another shot...more proxies

Yeah, it's a lot to do with under 30 days left ... and I do see the wisdom in gathering a team in the future ... and I know you guys must be saying ... man, this guy is crazy ... but tell me, how could I have learned ANY of this stuff if I just sat back and watched or joined a team with people moving at the speed of light. It's all hands on, do it right now, baptism of fire and I know more than I ... three weeks ago? That's pretty cool.

I need to do this solo for awhile so future challenges will be met with more experience ... the experience I'm gaining now ... and I can properly join a team and keep my end up.

If anyone has advice over the following topics, I'd be happily appreciative:

1) You know perspective thing is a mess. I want to use DOF with my camera work, but Dreamscape gets all blurred out. But if I go back to Sky domes, my results suck even worse. What's your point of view of creating a good sky, decent Depth of Field and keeping it all in order.

2) Better envelope/rigging workflow. Any advice? It just seems like no matter what I do something's out of place.

The voices are all done and I will be stringing them together for you to hear shortly.

I'll be back at the work tonight when I get back from work. Again, any advice would be appreciated.

Also, did you know Rebus Render Farm can't render most of my scenes because of the CATrig plugin! So I actually need to divide and composite shots in AfterEffects in order to speed up render time. Sucks for me, but I'm carrying on ....

11 November 2009, 02:35 PM
Hey buddy don't be so hard on yourself from what I've seen you've done some great stuff, I liked the butterfly animation & the shot. Ok you may have been a bit ambitious with the whole storyboard/anim but what are you going to do about it? You've got a problem so how are you going to fix it? Learn from you mistakes & adapt to what needs to be done to get the project in on time right! ;0)

I'm sure by the end of the deadline you will have something just as good as everyone else you just need to cut back on some stuff to get it finished. I think if you read the guidelines it's supposed to be a trailer not a short story so there's loads you can get away with!

1.I've never really used dreamscape but to be honest I'd get rid of it & make my own skydome from sphere & a texturemap. As for the DOF (depth of field) i'd just blur the skydome in post/AfterFX etc all the DOF will be used on the forground objects.
As for creating DOF theres a few ways but that depends on your software 3ds Max or Maya etc. With Max you can render using the Render elements tab & keep tweaking the DOF with your camera until you get a good gradient then in post tweak it there to get your desired effect.

2.Ok CAT I'm loving at the moment I could use Biped but there always seemed to be a probem further down the line. With CAT because all the bones are objects it can solve alot of problems later etc.
Envelope/rigging I'm guessing you mean the problems you've had after animating the characters into place. Well you can always tweak the skin modifier after animating on a per shot basis.

So if the guy in the jeep's elbow now has a pointed bit sticking out due to a bone/skin prob go to his
Skin modifier,
Edit evelopes,
Tick the Select vertices box.
Select the vertex you want to adjust.
Back in the skin modifier scroll down to the spanner icon click that & a rollout will appear.
In the roll out it will say what bones are effecting that vert so adjust the % of the bones thats making it stick out & that should fix your problem. you can even add bones to affect the selected vert!

If you don't get what I'm saying I'll try to explain it a bit better but give it a go. Just think you're not stuck once you've skinned your character you can adjust an probs per shot.

After going to the Rebus Render Farm website I did think what about plugins like dreamscape afterburn FumeFX none of that will render unless they install all the up to date software on every render node & pay for licences!

Well I hope that helps mate if you need more give me an email or something.


11 November 2009, 04:16 PM
Hey Buddy,

I'm at work and using the in-house PC to check your response. And I can't thank you enough.

Yeah, big ambitions (lol) ... but you're right. What am I going to do about it? Finish the job. Not quite sure how or where to trim, and I got so much invested in the whole process so I might as well carry through.

Go big or go home, as they say.

Much thanks on the advice on tweaking envelopes. I never thought (rookie of the year that I am) that I could tweak DURING the animation. I'm sitting here thinking if you don't get it right during the rigging process, I'm screwed. That bit of advice gave me a broader window to play with.

Skydome ... check. It'll like save me a great deal of render time as well.

Depth of Field work in post is something I should have thought about, but I'm so knee deep into Max, I'm thinking I have to do everything there. It pays to take a step back and realize what you can do in post.

It's about 11:15am Est over here and I get off in about four hours. I'll be back on the animation when I get in and try to powerhouse a few shots through the night.

My own worst critic.


11 November 2009, 06:01 PM
No worries mate glad to help out. ;0)

The envelopes thing I did the same for a while then you learn to just bodge stuff per shot to make it work. Like I said before as long as it looks good enough in the end who cares how you did it.

Sky domes I'm the same really I try a few different methods then usually end up using a sky dome anyway!

DOF it's really not worth wasting rendering time on something that can be tweaked in post but it does make a big difference in final shots I feel but you could always just use a blur in post if you layer your shot pieces or even use an After Effects camera.

Well keep going mate like you said 30 days isn't long so maybe write down the things that need sorting out most.

Good luck

12 December 2009, 07:04 PM
Well, I'm not going to make the deadline, but I'm still animating and working on it regardless. It's a personal ambition now and I'll post the finished work when it's completed.

Thanks a lot to Steve and everyone who gave advice. I've changed character direction for better, easier modeling and animation, thus disrupting the who shebang.

It's okay ... Its a great learning process and it's actually looking good. So sometime later into December, you'll get a sudden, random posting with the finished animation.



12 December 2009, 09:27 PM
As I said before happy to help & I'll really be looking forward to the final piece.

Great work mate. Keep in touch ;0)

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