Die Verwandlung/The Metamorphosis: A 3d animated short film

Become a member of the CGSociety

Connect, Share, and Learn with our Large Growing CG Art Community. It's Free!

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  11 November 2013
Second animatic:

This one uses the more detailed storyboards posted earlier. It clocks in at around 7:25 so it is a full 5 minutes shorter.

Anyway, here is the animatic:


I think I'm going to design the butcher next.

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 01:44 PM.
  11 November 2013

The butcher only appears for one sentence in the story

Quote: and when a butcher with a tray on his head came up to meet them and then with a proud bearing ascended the stairs high above them,

But it is memorable enough to include in the story if I am not cutting out other significant action. Anyway, here are some quick concepts I did for the butcher. I don't know if he is going to be a fat butcher or a skinny butcher, but I am leaning towards fat.

  11 November 2013
Lodgers settling down for a meal and a smoke and a violin song

Gregor hiding under the sofa because he is a freak

Gregor with an apple wound

Eat the cheese Gregor you stupid bug

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 05:48 PM.
  11 November 2013
I don't have the time or desire to scan any of this really, but if anyone wants to know what 7 years of pre-production looks like here is a stack of paper and a three ring binder:

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 11:12 PM.
  11 November 2013
The novella does not specify exactly where the tram ride takes place so I am considering having at least a part of it near the building where Kafka used to work which is now apparently a hotel:

After much consideration I am now almost sure that I am going to translate the novella on a shot by shot basis without cutting anything out. Even going as far to include possible flashbacks and montages in the 2nd and 3rd act. This may push the film into the 20+ minute mark, but I have worked too hard on this film to sacrifice in any way quality. As I have stated, my economic situation is entirely sustainable at the moment so I could potentially continue to live in my current situation for another 5 years or so without too much trouble. By then I would expect to complete this film, or at least have enough demo reel material to get a job. I could potentially complete this film in a matter of weeks or months instead of years, but like I said this film has represented a significant investment of my time and emotions so I am not prepared to sacrifice any quality unless absolutely necessary. Like I have said, my operating costs are 0 dollars as I am living with my parents and don't really do anything with my time except eat, sleep, and work on this film, so the only real obstacle is my ability to remain sane in my current situation.

Another thing to mention about this film is that the majority, in fact essentially all, of my work has been on conceptual development so I could potentially shelve this project for decade(s) and still not lose that much work due to industry technological advancement.

*edit* looking at the story again from the perspective of making this a 30+ minute short film or even a feature length film, requires a serious retooling of the storyboards, but it is not a task that is particularly daunting if broken into small pieces and done methodically. As I have previously demonstrated in this thread, this film can be done in 5-7 minutes without cutting much out. Redoing the storyboards with the aim of showing all instances of character development and at a pace that would make it a 30+ minute film is something that I am probably going to spend the next month or so working on. At some point during this process I will probably be able to determine my own limits in terms of workload and what length this film needs to be to accurately bring Kafka's vision to the animated art form.

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 08:39 AM.
  11 November 2013
sister checking on Gregor:

yep.... I reckon this here bug is dead.

dead you say?

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 04:12 AM.
  11 November 2013
This short will use the latest in rainbow generation technology:

Like I said, this is one of the few instances where something will be added to the short that was not in Kafka's original writing. The last part of the novella is a tram ride scene where Grete "stretches her young body". There is no mention of a rainbow, but it is sunny outside during the scene:

Quote: The car in which they were sitting by themselves was totally engulfed by the warm sun.

I figure that adding a rainbow as the last shot is something that Kafka would approve of and is well within his vision of the story. The advantage of using an author that has been dead for 130 years is that he can't sue me for copyright infringement and the work is in the public domain, the downside is that I can't consult with him on story issues like the rainbow.

Storyboard developments:

I am currently debating whether or not to include scenes of pre-transformation Gregor. There are various instances in the story that are not direct action, but character exposition that talk about Gregor's employment experiences. Originally I was going to just allude to these character exposition parts and not show them, but now I am strongly considering adding them in as scenes. I think I have a decent character style template so to speak, so developing new characters is not going to be a major obstacle. The main deciding factor of whether or not I am going to include these character exposition scenes is whether or not they add to the story, or in some way detract from Gregor's transformation to show him in his pre-transformed state. These are lines like:

Quote: If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I’d have quit ages ago. I would’ve gone to the boss and told him just what I think from the bottom of my heart. He would’ve fallen right off his desk! How weird it is to sit up at that desk and talk down to the employee from way up there. What’s more, the boss has trouble hearing, so the employee has to step up quite close to him.

The good thing is that these would be interesting visually to create, which would represent additional workload. However, as previously stated, the main deciding factor of whether or not to include these scenes is whether or not they add to the story and make it a better film. I can always just cut them out in post, but I don't like having to do that.

Environmental design:

As previously stated, the level of consistency and continuity in the environment is something that I am still working on. Which is why on the storyboards at the moment I am trying to stay away from designing individual shot composition, and focusing more on what story beats to add, and the approximate screen time for each one. I will get into individual shot selection and composition once I have a clearer idea of the length and pace of the film. The same goes for camera movements as well.

The lighting tests and images I have posted serve mainly as a way to get some simple ink down on paper so to speak and helping me to start understanding the whole conceptual gestalt of the film.

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 04:54 AM.
  11 November 2013
"Other travelling salesmen live like harem women. For instance, when I come back to the inn during the course of the morning to write up the necessary orders, these gentlemen are just sitting down to breakfast. If I were to try that with my boss, I’d be thrown out on the spot."

"He was the boss’s minion, without backbone and intelligence."

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 07:51 AM.
  11 November 2013

For the fat characters no need for fancy muscle systems, just a few bones for fat jiggles. Same simple bone setup as the ad hoc cloth systems. If this doesn't have the desired effects in the final film then I will consider learning/using muscle systems but they seem overly complicated to me and I am stubborn/old school like that.

Fat jiggle:



I don't know what I am going to do for textures in this short. I probably don't want to do photorealistic textures with bump maps/etc. but at the same time I don't want to use toon shaders, so I am going to have to find a middle ground between the two.

Facial rigs:

I personally don't like morph targets because they have a weird redundancy effect where they repeat the same motion over and over again giving a weird effect, so I am going to avoid using them if I can. I am going to try to experiment with using bone setups in the face when the time comes to rig the final models. Most likely I will investigate this matter further when the time comes.

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 08:59 AM.
  11 November 2013
Particle effects:

One of the scenes that I have been looking forward to animating is the scene where Gregor's mother opens a window sending newspapers flying everywhere. Then the father grabs a rolled up newspaper and with newspapers flying around in the background like John Woo doves, chases Gregor back into Gregor's room.

I plan on using video reference for all the animation but using video reference for this is going to be crucial because I can't find any good footage of newspapers flying everwhere so I'm going to have to set up a fan, put it on high, and tape it blowing a stack of newspapers everywhere.

A conceptual issue that this brings up is what to put on the newspapers since that brings up a whole slew of issues regarding the concept of the world that these characters inhabit. But I will figure that out when it becomes necessary to figure that out. There is also a shot of a photgraph of Gregor in a military uniform. I'm thinking about making him a warrant officer just because, not because it really fits with his character I just think it would be cool.


I have spent a significant amount of time researching furniture for this film. One of the reasons why is because since this film takes place inside the apartment of the characters, the furniture becomes and extension of the characters themselves. It shows their economic standing, their personal tastes, and everything other quality they have. If this film was to take place in a super market, then I would just research super markets and place the characters in one. Because it takes place in their home I have to take extra care in making sure that there is a consistent logic in the furniture with regards to their characters. In addition to being consistent with the story and backstory.

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 04:48 PM.
  11 November 2013
Promo poster:

Sensitive issues:

This film does not directly deal with the holocaust, but Kafka's three sisters died unfortunately at the hands of the Nazis between 1942 and 1944 with each being in their mid 50s at the time. Kafka's father died in 1931 and his mother in 1934, Kafka himself died of tuberculosis in 1924 so along with his parents he was spared some of the horrors of WW2. Although there were already darkening clouds of strong anti-semitism during and after WW1 (WW1 started in 1914) so Kafka was probably acutely aware of what was beginning to transpire. Kafka's friend Max Brod who was responsible for the publishing and preservation of much of Kafka's work was able to escape the holocaust by moving to Palestine in 1939. Kafka was the type of individual that had he survived until the takeover of Hitler, it would have been interesting to see what he would have done.

An interesting thing to note is that allegedly Kafka's books were burned by the Nazis according to information posted on wikipedia and other sources. Which interests me a great deal because Kafka was largely unknown during his lifetime and only published a few stories in rather insignificant publications. If his work was indeed burnt, then it would actually mean something significant in my opinion because it would prove that the Nazis knew about Kafka and respected his work enough to destroy it.

Also, in the process of researching this film I discovered that Hitler had a family doctor that was Jewish by the name of Eduard Bloch, who was married to a woman with the last name Kafka. Bloch was apparently one of the few Jews that Hitler was outwardly nice to, the other being his driver. This doesn't really mean anything other than Kafka and his family were somewhat well connected in society, which means that Franz Kafka probably had an extremely clear view of many of the inner workings of society during the 20th century. Albert Einstein also attended the same school that Kafka did, albeit they were several years apart.

So, like I said, this film is not about the Holocaust or WW1/WW2 or any direct political matters. It is simply attempting to be a faithful translation of Kafka's literary vision to the animated art form. Although it does not shy away from indirect social criticism, it is really just meant to be a light hearted film about a guy who turns into a bug. Hopefully when complete it will do justice to Kafka's legacy.

It is interesting to note that on the day WW1 started Kafka wrote in his journal:

Quote: "Germany has declared war on Russia, swimming in the afternoon."

which explains all one really needs to know about Kafka's political and social views.

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 02:39 AM.
  11 November 2013
quick Act I storyboard:

As you can see I am trying to translate the novella in a more direct shot by shot basis than previously. Before I had the opening few paragraphs just be a shot of Gregor's bed then a quick knock on the walls/doors by his family. In this version there is a lot more shots and exposition. It might significantly increase overall time doing the film in this manner, but like I said I am not going to sacrifice quality to lessen the workload.

Gregor's occupation:

In the story Gregor is a traveling salesmen of cloth goods. This has represented a somewhat of an interesting issue with regards to concept and storyboarding. At first I was thinking about making this film about a cartoon character who's occupation it was to be a cartoon character like Road Runner or Bugs Bunny, who don't really have an occupation other than being cartoon characters because they inhabit a totally unrealistic world. I have since moved away from this concept and am thinking about having Gregor be a traveling salesmen in this story who turns into the bug that he does, instead of a "cartoon character" if that makes sense. This again is somewhat of an artistic personal statement in that I actually rather be creating abstract high concept weird art rather than making commercially marketable cartoons, but creating abstract high concept weird art is a significant gamble in my opinion and I don't feel like gambling with my life in such a way or spending most of my time going to wine and cheese parties in New York to politic gallery owners. Gregor's transformation represents my own personal story in this way that creating strange abstract CG animation that is abrasive to the audience is not really a reliable career path, so I am stuck making commercial art. This parallels Kafka's own life in that he really wanted to be a writer, but was stuck as a workman's comp lawyer because he needed to put food on the table. So I would like to think that me and Franz Kafka, although separated by nearly a century, a religion, an ocean/continent, and by a language have in the words of Pink Floyd perhaps "found the same old fears".

Last edited by PaulEMcLaughlin : 11 November 2013 at 07:48 AM.
  11 November 2013
More Act I storyboards:

These have turned the first few shots into what was just a shot of Gregor in bed that held for about 15 seconds, to an entire character exposition sequence showing pre-transformation Gregor in a variety of situations. I don't know if this has significantly increased the length of the film, but it has possibly increased the workload by a non insignificant amount. Oh well, like I said I am not going to sacrifice quality on this as I have worked for too long and invested too much to see it not be fully realized.

Thread Closed share thread

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Society of Digital Artists

Powered by vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2006,
Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Minimize Ads
Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 08:00 AM.

Powered by vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.