A cute little girl named "Meline"


Hey Everyone !

                                            “[u]Meline[/u]” is the name of the character my girlfriend (Virginie) and I are working on. :o)
                                            We are working hard during our spare time (after work, in our evenings) to create our own short film called: [b]

MEET MELINE [/b][size=2]color=Orange[/color][/size]

                                            [b]Virginie GOYONS[/b] : Modeling, Texturing.
                                            [b]Sebastien LABAN[/b] : Skinning/Rigging, Animation, Lighting, Rendering, Compositing. 

WHAT THE MAKING OF MEET MELINE : a 12-minutes featurette with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, talks about the story, the characters and the environments, shot breakdowns and much more : the Art of making a short-film!

              [b]DOWNLOAD THE TRAILER ! :)[/b]
                 [color=White]DIRECT DOWNLOAD[/color]: [b]AVI [/b](30 MB), [b]MOV [/b](30 MB), [b]WMV [/b](15 MB)                          (Disabled - Site overloaded, use STREAMING)
                 [color=White]STREAMING [/color]: [b][YOUTUBE](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHx_E8KctdU)[/b], [b][DAILYMOTION](http://www.dailymotion.com/user/ssebastienn/video/x8sgmh_meet-meline-2009-la-bande-annonce_shortfilms)[/b], [b][VIMEO](http://www.vimeo.com/3872070)[/b].
                                            [b]Website[/b] : [www.meetmeline.com](http://www.meetmeline.com/)
                                            [b]Interview #1[/b] : [An Interview about "Meet Meline" !](http://inrojo.blogspot.com/2008/05/entrevista-con-sebastian-laban.html)
                                            [b]Interview #2[/b] : [Another interview about "Meet Meline"](http://zeb.3dvf.com/blog/en/index.php/post/2008/Interview-Meet-Meline)
       [b]Interview #3[/b] : [http://www.lyoncapitale.fr/index.php?menu=04&article=7640](http://www.lyoncapitale.fr/index.php?menu=04&article=7640) (VIDEO)
                                            [b]Facebook[/b] [b]:o)[/b] : [http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17836116455](http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17836116455) 
                                            We are using this thread as a blog.
                                            I’m hoping to have as many critics and comments as possible

so feel free to tell me what you like or don’t like. :slight_smile:

So today, we are releasing ! :slight_smile:


                             [b]-------------------------------------------- [/b][b]BLOG [/b] [b]-----------------------------------------------[/b]
                        [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 12 16 [/b][b]__________________________________[/b]
                        [b]Virginie and I spent our last Saturday, in Paris, for the Foley & Voice Recording Session for "Meet Meline"... And that was, without a doubt, one of our favorite Saturday Ever! :)[/b]
                              WHAT AN AMAZING DAY!!!
                         We took the train at 7:00am. Two hours later, we were in Paris, thinking and wishing "That would be great if she -- the voice -- was cute" or "Maybe there will be a big console with many buttons to tweak" etc... We were drawing in our mind how could be the perfect day!
                              Well, it was way beyond what Virginie and I could have dreamed of! :o)
                              [u]At 11:00am, we did the Voice Record[/u], with a cute little girl named “Mia”! Our Sound Designer, Cedric, was right: the way she was talking/acting/moving was how Meline could talk/act/move! :-)
                         As in all movie production, the studio is separated in 2 specific parts: The Soundproof Recording Booth where the sound is recorded and the Studio with the sound designer and her hardware system. We talk to each next room with a micro.
                         The First hour, our 10-years-old little Mia was alone in the soundproof room, with her big earphones on her head and huge microphone in front of her, she was a little shy, but acted well. For the Second hour, I asked the sound recorder (Yohan) if I could go in the booth and direct her, make her feel the character, and most of all de-stress her 


                         That’s quite a job, directing actors! I tried many things to get her comfortable by tickling her, making jokes or weird facial expression etc! :o)
                         So we made her do many nose breathing, mouth breathing, singing, swallowing, jumping/running/turning in front of the mic etc. Since there’s no dialogue in “Meet Meline”, we didn’t have to make her talk so the job was a little easier!
                              That took 2 hours! Two hours were Mia was as professional as possible, very concentrated! So [u]many thanks to Mia and her lovely parents![/u] :)
                         Pfiou!!! The morning was very intense! Yet, the sound designer told us that the afternoon would be as intense as the morning! 

And he was right!

                              [u][b]At 3:00pm, we did the Foley Record[/b][/u], in a big studio, also in Paris! It was like the one we worked in in the morning, but 10 times bigger! It was watching a making of from Pixar, but only this time, it was for us! :o)
                              The studio is also cut in 2 distinct parts:
                         1- A small part (photo) with the sound designer (Cedric), the engineer (Tony), Virginie and I. That’s the place were we talk about the right sounds to use, the intention, listen the digitalized sounds or pre-mix what has been recorded in the other room. We test them with the video, we see if it works, then goo to the next step.
                         2- The Soundproof Recording Booth! That’s a room with many, many, many objects that will be used to recreate any sounds (in the world)! What a messy place! Tire tracks, old toys, chain, fridge, grass, gravel, feathers, fabrics, leather, rocks, sands, miscellaneous plastic/metallic/wooden objects, and even more objects that you don’t know what’s the use

Everything! It’s like my grand-father’s old barn!
And oh great! The action of “Meet Meline” takes place in an old barn! This time, it’s the sound effects engineer (Eric) that uses all these objects and there is a big white screen where “Meet Meline” is projected! And he really knows what to use, how to make a very specific sound, and at a very specific moment. And believe, if you don’t know it already, it’s not as easy as it looks! :stuck_out_tongue:

                              [u]That was amazing to see “Meet Meline” with sounds that really match all the movements and actions, and for the first time, on a big screen[/u]. For instance, I remember when Eric was doing what they call “Presence Sounds” which are sounds from clothes from the main character. He did it real time, as the short film was projected, with such a precision and concentration -- nobody talked -- the other sound guys were also concentrated in the sounds/image coherence

and that really was like Meline was alive in front of use! Virginie and I were almost in tears! That was so moving!

                              WHAT AN AMAZING DAY!!! :)
                         I could tell you more but I don’t think that reflects the way that day really was! The thing is, all that was for our film, the film we’ve started creating in our bedroom, pitching ideas in the air. And now,[u] it reaches a point where 4 more really talented sounds people were completely involved![/u] They all wanted to create something that was good, that sounded good. When they were faced with a dilemma, they would talk about it, test something, and find a solution.
                              So really, sincerely, [u]Virginie and I want to thank Cedric, Yohan, Tony, and Eric for the incredible job they’ve done that Saturday![/u]
                         We have many other pictures and video clip, so we are sorry we can go further into details but we wanted to talk about that day before we go on vacations. We were really eager to share that wonderful experience as fast as possible!
                                        [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 11 17 [/b][b]__________________________________[/b]
                                        [b]The story of "Meet Meline" came up very naturally.[/b] At first, it wasn't supposed to be a short film. We just wanted to make a 20seconds clip. It was like a challenge to keep our skills sharp. So Virginie started to work on the character design for 1 month, we talked about it, change the hair, try new clothes, etc. When we were both happy of the character Design of our little girl (that wasn't even named Meline at the time) we started to think about something interesting and cute that she could do during the 20seconds clip. So we started thinking about the different location that she might be in. An environment made of Snow, or a landscape in a meadow? And when the barn came up, it was such an obvious location! We could see instantly our little girl in that old, dusty and made of wood environment! We were pitching ideas like crazy "She could be doing this!" or "Why not she climb that?" or "what if she takes that and get surprised!"! :D
                                         We had so many ideas that we started to write them on paper. I remember one thing that I really enjoyed doing: We started to mime the little girl in our bedroom. I was pitching "She could look down for a second, then she looks up, freaks out and starts running!" while physically doing what I was saying. Virginie, that was watching me -- with another point of view -- then took my place and said "What if instead of that action, she directly goes there!" What a great idea! ... So we went on like that for 2 weeks every evening trying to find a sequence that we were proud of! We had movies like Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro" or Pete Docter's "Monsters Inc" in our heads.
                                         Unfortunately what we had couldn't be done in a 20 seconds clip... and not even a 1 minute clip! We had already done some early character and sets design, the story was quite intense already; so we suggested something that would later take 2 whole year of our time! ... "Why not create a short film?" :p
                                         It was like in Robert ZEMEKIS "Forrest Gump" when Forrest starts to run for no particular reason and then go a little further, and then go a lot further, and so on and so on. :)
                                         So we continued to pitch ideas, but now, not only about the different actions that she could perform, but things like the direction of the film, the different ambiances between sequences, the character of Meline (that's the moment we started calling her "Meline"), and even sounds and music that could go with the complete film! :p
                                         So as you can see, like many things in life, it wasn't what we planned at the beginning... but we don't mind because what came up was a much better and fulfilling idea! :)
                                     [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 10 31       [/b][b]__________________________________[/b]
                                      As for the news about "Meet Meline", we've done [b]the third Test Screening[/b] last week! The Feedback are very good!!! :p
                                       We are still finishing/tweaking/retaking some stuff, working on certain things that came up during the different test screenings!
                                       Meantime, we are working on [b]the Marketing Assets[/b], like hires renders for prints, posters, artofs, and all that! :o)
                                       There's not need to tell you that after all the work we've done, it's such a fun step to do in the production of a movie! It's like the short film is getting a life of its own when it is printed on a paper! :p
                                      [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 07 13 __________________________________[/b]
                                      [b]CUT!!! THAT'S A WRAP!!![/b] :)
                                       No, I’m not kidding! “Principal Photography” :p of “Meet Meline” is now over! :o)
                                       Yyyaaa! :p
                                        Now, it’s Post-Production time which includes retakes of some animations & renders, compositing, sounds, music etc!!! and make each shot as readable as possible! :o)
                                        So even though Production is over, the Post-Production will ask a lot of effort too for the next 6 months!
                                      [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 07 04       [/b][b]__________________________________[/b]
                                   A little heads up to tell you that there's only [b]126 frames of character animation to go[/b]! :o)
                                        The biggest and most exhausting part is almost over! Then it will be the moments of retakes, tweaks, details of every shot!!! :o)
                                      [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 09 06       [/b][b]__________________________________[/b]
                                      [b]The name "Meline" comes from Virginie[/b]. She always liked that name. She told me about it in the very beginning of "Meet meline", and I say "why not, that's a nice name" :o) ... Six months ago, Virginie noticed that there is a strange link between the names of her 3 nieces (that are Melanie, Aurelie, Marine) and "Meline".
                                       Have you noticed? [b]ME[/b]LANIE + AURE[b]LI[/b]E + MARI[b]NE[/b] = [b]MELINE[/b] !!! :p
                                        Weird huh? :o) I guess there some Freud theory somewhere here... or that's just a coincidence (because if you put a number to each letters (A=1, B=2, etc...) and you multiply all the numbers by 10, minus cos(value.meline), you get 1588.2.... and 1588.2, translated in letters, is "WALL-E" ! Amazing hu? :o) )
                                  [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 06 06       [/b][b]__________________________________[/b]
                                  As for the real news, at the moment, [b]we are working on the biggest shot of "Meet meline"[/b]. It's not that there is many details, hair interacting with water, crowds and epique battles in it. No. It's just a very long take that last 62 seconds where we follow our little girl Meline (The second longuest shot is 45 seconds long and the third longuest shot last for 32 seconds). Animation. :)
                                   It's a very important shot and if we manage to put all our ideas in it, if we manage to place all the important keys that will support the story, this will be a fantastic shot that we will be very proud of as for the 25 other ones.:)
                                   Can't wait to show you! :p
                                   Another great thing is that almost all the modeling is done now! Yeee! :scream: What's missing are some minor details here and there that will be done after the first pass on the complete shortfilm. 
                                  [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 03 07       [/b][b]__________________________________
                                  [/b]In the Integration part, what I do is put every elements together (like Characters, Sets, Background, Fur, and other PaintFX stuff) 

so that the setup of the scene is done and the the shot is ready to be render (And when there is a new version of the animation of the girl, for instance, I don ‘t have to setup the whole scene again, I just change the clip in the “Trax Editor” and everything will be setup properly.) :slight_smile:

                                   In the Pre-Editing part, I make a rough edit of the complete shortfilm, with testRender shots, final shots, and Previz footage. I also have a soundtrack, with basic sounds like footsteps, and other foley noises.
                                   The Pre-Rendering step is just some test renders. I use it as a sketch book for 3D elements. I can easily see what technology will work during the complete shortfilm, and what won’t. That step is also used to check what kind of layers the compositing will require.
                                   The 3D Layout step is a little more than a story-board. It’s the entire short-film in 3D, but with very lowres models of the characters and sets, and very simple animations. It’s there to validate the cameras, compositions, timing etc

                                  [b]_________________________________[/b][b] 2008 01 02       [/b][b]__________________________________[/b]
                                  As for a personnal message, I wanted to tell you that [b]I've been Directing and DOPing my first live Video Clip[/b] (wich is a clip for the company I'm working on) last week! :o)
                                  I hired a model, a studio, some lighting equipment and shot every thing with an HD Camera! 
                                  That was such a fun experience to do! From the very pre-production with the research, making some lighting plots etc, to the final compositing, and through directing the model and placing the physical lights and other setups! : AMAZING EXPERIENCE! :p :p :p
                                  I'll show you the final clip when it's over since I don't have the right to do that before :p
                                  As for how's [b]Meline [/b]doing : do you worry, we are still working really hard on it! we are begining to have some shot complete (still wip). We are hoping to finish the project by the end of... this year 2008 !!! :o)
                                  I wish you a Very [b]Happy New Year[/b], and lets hope Indi4 & Wall-E is going to turn good! :)
                                            [b]Sebastien LABAN[/b]




To download this animation : right-click on the image, then choose “Save Target as…” :o)

 [b]Sebastien LABAN[/b]



    ------------------------ THE FIRST POST OF THE PROJECT STARTS HERE ------------------------
    Here are more bigger images of the head. :p
    Again, [u]Don't hesite to paint over the pictures to show us details that should be fixed[/u].
    Let us know what you think! :o)
    Thanks! :o)
    [b]Sebastien LABAN[/b]


wow, she really is cute! Very well done! :thumbsup:
Good you posted screenshots with hair since that really ties her together.

The only crit I have is that I believe the eyes could be a little closer together.
And there’s a tiny detail on small children I find really cute; the inner corner of the eye is usually obscured by a tiny fold of skin. I’ll see if I can find an image to illustrate that point.



well, you know what? Scratch that about the eye-distance. I think it’s just that the back of the nose is a tad too thin :stuck_out_tongue:


Thanks Phillip for the c&c! :slight_smile:

When you say the back of the nose, did you mean the part of the nose between the eyes? Am I right?

  • When you see the girl from the top, that part has a “V” shape (almost a sharp edge).
    That bothers me :o)
  • Maybe it should have a “U” shape (that represents the bone under the skin)?
    Is that was you meant?

I feel I should do that :slight_smile:

Thanks for the advice!
Sebastien LABAN


exactly what I meant! :smiley:

keep it up and keep us posted.


She is very cute; well done! :thumbsup:


Thanks, Philip & M31 ! :slight_smile:
I’ll try fix that “u shape” things and other small things that will come to my mind.

In the meantime, if other nice cgtalk users find something weird on the mesh, please let me know! :slight_smile:
(I won’t be able to post more images until Friday afternoon due to technical issues, but I’ll keep working on “Meline” on my laptop, so c&c are always welcome :slight_smile:

Cheers! :stuck_out_tongue:
Sebastien LABAN


Hey everyone! :o)

We’ve been working a little on the Dynamic on the Hair the week.
VIDEO : Hair_Test_01.avi (all the control curves in action)
VIDEO : Hair_Test_02.avi (paintEffects in-betweens)

  • The hair were done with “Maya Hair” and created with 8 different hair systems.
  • 204 control curves were created
  • The dynamic of the ribbons is done with 2 hair systems (one each) attaches to a couple of bones.

If you could check those 2 tests, I would love to hear what you think about it :o)
Next i’ll try to make a nice-looking shading to the hair… should be fun :o)

Thanks :stuck_out_tongue:

Sebastien LABAN


Wow, the ribbons look great. Would you mind explaining that setup in detail?
I never worked with maya hair, only with shave and a haircut…

The hair in your test looks good too, only it feels a bit too heavy and stiff.
I’d expect it to be less stiff towards the tips too…
Right now it looks like she used lots of hairspray :stuck_out_tongue:

Do you plan to use mental rays fast skin shader to render her? I feel it yields great result after a bit of tweaking…


Hey ! :o)

Here is how I dealt with the dynamic the Ribbons :

  1. I first modeled the thing.
  2. Then I set up bones along the short and tall ribbons.
  3. Again, I did the same thing curves (that follows the bones, that match the Ribbons) :stuck_out_tongue:
  4. I then set the curve to be dynamic (“Make Curve Dynamic” option)
  5. I attached an IK Spline Handle. (uncheck the “Auto Create Curve” option under the “IK Spline Handle” option window)
  6. and at last, in your follicleShape node, set Point Lock to Base :o)

and hop! :o) … hit the “play” button :slight_smile:

Sebastien LABAN


neat trick with the spline IK! :thumbsup:
and thanks for sharing


Yep :slight_smile:

I took it from the “Maya Help” under :
Dynamics & Simulation > Hair and Dynamic Curves > Samples & techniques for Hair > Sample Dynamic Curve scenarios.
The Maya Guy used that to rig and animate the tail of a butterfly :o)

Sebastien LABAN


I give another vote for cute. She is cute. However, she doesn’t look all that young. I’m not sure what age you are aiming for? Of course the age perception will change with the texture you put on her, too. Right now she looks 9-10 to me.


Hi Janthin! :o)

We are aiming for a 9/10 years old :slight_smile: (…probably a little younger)… anyway, not like a baby :stuck_out_tongue:
Do you have some feedback we could use to make her a little younger (and even cuter)? :o)

Sebastien LABAN


By the way Philip, about the hair.
I don’t really want to give them a too-much-CGI-look (a lots of dynamic, floating in the air with a constant wind turbulence on them… :stuck_out_tongue: ).
We don’t want to make them too light and stress that there’s dynamic on the hair. (i don’t know if i’m clear on this point :stuck_out_tongue: )
Do you still think the hair are too heavy?..

anyone? :slight_smile:

Sebastien LABAN



the hair is too stiff, it should lay more flat on her head if you’re going for realism. dynamics look cool though.


This looks TORRID. This is some awesome work, I would pay for you to be my teacher. Please tell me you have tutroials on your site? My french is rusty, sadly. :frowning:


:: stuh505 ::
Thanks for your feedback! I’ll try to make it less stiff then :stuck_out_tongue:

:: Kurosaki Ichigo ::
hihi :slight_smile: Glad you like it.
Though making tutorials is quite a task, a long one, I’ll try to explain what I’m doing and how I’m doing in as much as I can :slight_smile:

Thanks Guys for your helpful c&c ! :o)

Sebastien LABAN