"Toadroots" - Short Film WIP

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Old 05 May 2012   #1
"Toadroots" - Short Film WIP

Update*** Thanks to CGTALK for all your inspiration. I've finally posted the complete show, you may head over to the Finished Showcase thread or to the end of this thread. The following is the log of some of the making. Future hopes and good luck to all of you!***


The time has come -- I am finally posting my work that I've been toiling at in my spare time. Sharing with you, professionals, filmmakers, and enthusiasts will be another source for my motivation. Granted others here at CG talk have inspired me with their works-in-progress to get this started.

I am very excited to hear your thoughts and critique. Follow me along this bumpy ride, all for a 6-7 min. film:

Last edited by Narntson : 06 June 2015 at 06:50 AM. Reason: title card update
Old 05 May 2012   #2
I'll try posting character designs. In the meantime here is a short concept sketch -
Old 05 May 2012   #3
Still Life

Here is a full render of a cut-in shot I hope to one day use in the piece. Inspired from dutch still life paintings of grapes and insects crawling over old bowls, etc. I hope this provides an edifying nutritious meal to the character who eats a bite!

At the last moment I used an ambient occlusion layer to bring out the detail and am happy with the result.

Comments are welcome.
Old 05 May 2012   #4
Introduction of cast -

Here's a glimpse to the SAG card carrying members of my short!

1. Woolrich - The Hunchback

2. Shamba - The Witch

3. Leontoh - The Escape Artist

4. The Human Pincushion - Automaton

These concepts are to show the intermix of personalities to form a ramshackle world.
They will be joined with 2 more characters, but for now I will be able to post these and s'more snapshots soon. From my head to yours~ Any impressions? No pressure...
Old 05 May 2012   #5
This looks really nice. Looking forward to seeing the end result.
Software Used:
3D: Cinema 4D, MotionBuilder
Finished Work:
Old 05 May 2012   #6
Has Anyone Screened their Short

Thanks Francois! I will be posting more hopefully this week.

Meanwhile, here is a question for anyone who has previously screened their work at a film festival...

Were you happy with its projection? Were you happy or unhappy with they way it looked on the big screen, and would you have "lit" your work darker or brighter, in retrospect?

Just thinking about this, because this short may be dark in mood and would love to hear people's experiences or advice on what to do? I posted another thread but it got lost in the shuffle:


Last edited by Narntson : 08 August 2012 at 03:35 AM.
Old 05 May 2012   #7

Here is a wide shot of the scene that will take place inside the inner dwellings of a carnival wagon (in construction). They are not blood related but have a unique kinship.
Old 06 June 2012   #8
Wow, been pretty busy lately as a working dad. Without further ado, I thought I would post a light setup from the last post. It is super dense with spots, but I find the obsessive adding of lights/tweaking awesome despite my renders to take 45 min.+ This is because of rendering more than two characters with displacements, raytracing, etc.

I had then looked in an old folder and found an inspirational painting I tried to emulate, which is called Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio. I love how the bounce from the tablecloth and the man's white head dress balances the dark low key lighting. B.T.W. isn't it funny how they call it low key lighting when the key ratio is a lot "higher"...?

Last edited by Narntson : 06 June 2012 at 04:43 AM. Reason: Inserting link
Old 06 June 2012   #9

Here is the exterior of the carnival wagon for which the characters will dwell. Some of it, I may animate for articulation on the outside. But most of the story will take place within. I'm hoping spatially, the scale of it all will make sense to the average viewer upon cutting to the inside. We'll see. Part calliope steam driven, part wagon vintage, part train car.

Chalk mark me up for that "dark world" cliche people mention when talking about CG art and characters, et cetera.

But here's my spin or depth to that-- to contrast that dark world with a cozy safe haven for my characters' camaraderie.
Old 06 June 2012   #10
I dig it. It is like a cross between Richard Sala and The Resident's Bad Day on the Midway.

I would recommend simplifying your lighting setup drastically and trying some FG or GI.
Old 06 June 2012   #11

--Another Pre-lit Model of the wagon just after I textured it.

--And then laying it into the urban setting for the story. Many times I've watched Brownings "Freaks" and gotta say there are some awesome sets built in that movie. I've also been entranced by industrial loading docks & factory settings; every city has some train cars on rails somewhere, and where they came from and where they are going makes me wonder. Also maybe The Boxcar Children books have influenced me in some way as a young reader, I don't know.

Cameron: Thanks man, yeah those other artists are quite accomplished in their work and I get a kick out of their sensibility of style. Hoping this can stand up with its own quality too.
Old 07 July 2012   #12
Some trial 1st Character renders

Wireframe: Pre-smoothed rough mesh of protagonist "Leontoh" I had fun switching back and forth to smooth version to achieve a sinister type face.

Hair test render with Mental ray, trying to get a good result with hair shaders, looking into puppet shaders at this point.

Sketching on top of the bald head with wacom to see a possible style. It had to work with a top hat, so I had to see...
Old 08 August 2012   #13
More screen grabs as I finalized the main character look and design. The concentration was on main features. Here, the low mesh was rigged to joints, thus providing a lighter polygonal version to animate against the heavy scene.

With further smoothing, a more fleshy look is achieved; aided with displacement and bump maps combined with some SSS shading. I was looking forward to how he will animate.

Woochie bald cap (ha ha) and a t-pose. With all this work, I hope to God he's worth it.
Old 08 August 2012   #14
Wanting to post some set decoration for the boxcar; Here is a window I extruded and smoothed after being inspired by many elaborate homes built by some brave wood carvers.
Old 08 August 2012   #15

I want to utilize this better, but for now I just stuck above the outside door of the wagon... I lofted some cv curves and had fun making these nouveau decorations. It's an iron trellis fixture. I hope I can show it off in the lighting - maybe make it into a cool gobo.

Again, this is art dept stuff that will support the world type in my head. Here I've implemented a swiss folk chair and duplicated it 4x for each character to sit upon.
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