A dear friend and colleague of mine, Adam Rothstein, is directing a live action short film as part of his MFA body of work here at Texas A&M University. His film is called Rare Model and the script was written in collaboration with a friend of his, Cody Pearce.
You can read a draft of the script here: Rare Model Draft Script
Adam has spent months fund raising, developing the characters, casting, organizing a crew of concept artists and prop fabricators, and generally being more amazing than I could ever hope to be. I joined the project at first to advise on certain aspects of the story and script, and then later to do 3D animatics and pre-visualization for some of the more complex scenes. In particular, I had a major hand in developing the action scene at the end and I have spent the last semester developing layout animatics of this section of the film. The 3D animatics will eventually be used as reference when Adam starts principle photography next year, but for me they are great practice with layout in the computer animation world!
Because I have never had an opportunity to work on a major dialogue sequence, I started work on the scene immediately before the climactic fight scene. My 2D and 3D animatics pick up from act 3 with Daphne, our robotic heroine, trapped in the ship of the bounty hunter, Triton.
My 2D thumbnails were done in literally 2 hours on a whiteboard. The idea was to get them out as quickly as humanly possible. I didn’t want to spend any time iterating in 2D, where I knew my drawing skills would handicap me. Instead I chose to throw everything into Maya from the start and do all the iterating in 3D. The dialogue in the 2D animatic was taken from one of the table reads that Adam did early on. I used the dialogue mostly to get an idea of timing during the dialogue scenes.
The rig used in the animatics is the Morpheus Rig, which, aside from being a fantastic and well put together rig, comes with a lot of character customization tools, which makes it perfect for creating a diverse cast of characters while only using one standard rig. The Morpheus Rig is great for students working on their animation chops, and I was quickly able to tweak the controls of the rig and save out our 3 main characters: Daphne, Triton, and Daphne’s father, Kurt. Other than the characters and the exterior ship model (crafted by Mat Suarez), all of the props and lighting effects were done by me!
With each animatic I add more shots to the sequence and refine the shots that are already in the bag. In some cases entire sequences of shots are scrapped or re-imagined (hopefully for the better). Along the way I am also doing my best to refine the lighting, animation, and overall quality of the animatic. For layout animatics, things don’t usually need to be very refined, but the farther the layout artist goes with it, the less guess work the animators and other artists further down the pipeline have to do later on.
Here’s some of the concept art that has been produced by other members of Adam’s team. I used these pieces to help. I’m not done with the full animatic of the fight scene yet, but when I am, I hope that it will be a great help to Adam and his team. I can’t wait to see the final film when it’s complete!