New IRTC anim topic (round ending 4/2006): Special Effects

General discussion about JPatch

Postby sascha » Sat Jan 21, 2006 10:58 am

The problem is that none of the renderers that JPatch supports really handles effects stuff like smoke and fire.

Of course they do, just not "out of the box". Both POV-Ray and RenderMan can render volumetric effects. Renderman also has point and curve primitives (could be used together with a particle system to simulate e.g. sparkles).
Fire is tricky. I think it's common to use 2D "sprites" of real flames and place them into the 3D scene - IIRC that's how they made the Balrog in Lord Of The Rings:
Image

Ships hanging by strings, puppets for monsters, etc.

Yes, like Ed Wood's films (he's come to late fame as the worst director ever - you have to see the films! There's also a film about Ed Wood directed by Tim Burton which is worth seeing). He had a lot of ufos on strings in "Plan 9 From Outer Space" and a puppet octopus-like monster in "Bride Of The Monster" - the motor was defect, so Bela Lugosi had to act like if the moster was moving - Ed Wood apparently thought that this would be convincing enough - funny stuff.

But again, I think it's best if the animation was about special effects (and not neccesarily features special effects). But I also like the idea of the bad special effects a lot :)
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Postby dcuny » Sat Jan 21, 2006 11:39 am

FIre is also typically done with particles, but set so they change color over time (so the outer part of the flame is a different color). They initially tried that with the Balrog in LOTR, but didn't like the effect. So they did a combination, where particles mapped to frame clips:
    For the monster Balrog, a cloud of smoke often hid such details. In fact, the 25-foot-tall brute seems to be composed entirely of the fire billowing out from deep, black crevices in his skin and the smoke that surrounds him. To create this fiery fiend, Gray Horsfield, environment department head, used sprites, which are little 2D cards, onto which the team put 100 to 150 frame clips of painted fire and film footage of fire. These cards were texture mapped onto particles, which were used to create an animated, general fire shape. "We've probably got 5000 images of fire organized into clips and categorized by the way the fire behaves," Horsfield says. "We want fire coming from different parts of the Balrog body to behave in different ways."
This is the same thing the did for getting the fur in Ice Age, and more recently Chicken Little.

It would be nice if you could add particles to JPatch (I need to enable z depth information in Inyo), but as you said, it should be a movie about FX...

Another thing I was thinking about was someone animating a character. like Kong climbing the Empire State Building, so you've got a CGI animating a traditional 3D character. There's not really a story there, though.

One of the problems is that I don't really like the idea of people thinking of the characters in the story as "characters", because it sort of ruins the entire effect.

I don't think the requirements say the FX have to be visual. So you could start out in total darkness, with only the soundtrack. You'd hear footsteps, the slam of a door... The scene would fade in on a radio FX guy using old-time sound FX equipment, with people reading their scripts in the background.

Of course, you said you wanted to avoid lipsync, if possible. :?
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Postby pndragon » Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:33 pm

So you could start out in total darkness, with only the soundtrack. You'd hear footsteps, the slam of a door... The scene would fade in on a radio FX guy using old-time sound FX equipment, with people reading their scripts in the background.

I like this one... except that you don't start in darkness, you focus the whole time on one of an old radio, like this one: Image
You hear:
"There's aliens up in Witchcreek, Martha! Run for your life!"
The sound of running footsteps. A slamming door. A car engine.
Then you fade to black... and fade back in on the radio studio peopled with with Martians, putting on a radio show.

--- Jim
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Postby dcuny » Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:20 pm

pndragon wrote:Then you fade to black... and fade back in on the radio studio peopled with with Martians, putting on a radio show.
Hehehehe.

That's exactly the punchline I was thinking of when I started reading your idea.

Mind you, it doesn't make any sense, but it is funny (and short). :P

A twist on that would be to have the radio people in your story be normal humans. Title the story something like "Sound FX", so people think that's the punch line.

Now return back to a shot of the people listening to the radio show, and one of the characters turns the channel with a comment about "What nonsense" and turns the channel to some other program, like a soap opera. "Let's listen to something realistic" they complain. Fade to a radio studio, where the tentacled Martians are putting on the show.
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Postby sascha » Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:22 pm

I like it!

Here's another one from the "parody on existing SFX" department:

It's a blend between "Hulk" and "Supersize Me" :) :

A man stands in a fast food restaurant and eats lots of burgers. After the last one he suddenly starts to choke and his head turns green. His belly starts growing and busts his shirt and trousers, the buttons fly into the air (like in Hulk when he turns into that green monster)...
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Postby dcuny » Sun Jan 22, 2006 1:28 pm

My gut feeling is:
  • Hulk: Lots of work on morphs. No fun. :(
  • Aliens: Oooh! Tentacled aliens! Cool! :)
Of course, rigging the aliens' tentacles could quite possibly be a real pain, too. It also ignores the radio version needs a lot more people, and lipsync... :?

But they've got tentacles!
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Postby squirrelhavoc » Fri Jan 27, 2006 12:56 am

The problem of the radio show is the audio effects, they are required for the story, but the IRTC doesnt count audio as part of the submission, even if it's there. But I'm really stumped on an idea

What renderer are you planning on using? Just my thought, but using Inyo would help promote JPatch, because even though they are seperate projects, they are integrated
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Postby dcuny » Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:41 am

A couple of ideas. I was thinking of an anecdote where, during the making of the original King Kong, one of the animators left a pair of pliers in the scene by accident. He solved the problem by slowly animating them out of the scene, animating them as if they were a snake of some sort.

So the scene starts with an model dinosaur being animated: the animator moves the head, the arm and tail. Click, flash, one frame down. The animator makes another small set of adjustments to the dinosaur. Click, flash... Another frame exposed. The process accelerates, and the dinosaur slowly comes to life. It roars and shaked its head to find...

A coffee cup has been left in the scene. The dinosaur turns to the viewer, taking on the voice of the animator. "How long has that been there?" it asks - "One frame, one hundred frames?" It knocks the coffee cup out of the scene with its tail. "I'm calling it a day" storms the animator/dinosaur, and it storms off the set. Fade lights.

Another idea would have an an alien spaceship taken over by terrifying humans - actually, aliens in "human" costumes. Cut to a frightened alien watching the show on a television. He's being comforted by his parent "Don't worry", says the parent, "Those are just made up monsters, special effects. There's no such thing as humans." End.

I still like the radio idea a lot, but I don't know how well it fits the topic.
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Postby nine » Mon Jan 30, 2006 2:49 pm

Really interesting conversation!

Special Effect - 1937 Disney made one - Snowwhitte waking up! The prince kissing her. It was really a special effect - it was about love and death - emotions!

And they could begin to talk to each other using lip sync, Wow!

I believe this with special effects are something for the boys - it is about technic. It is just a competetion - bragging.

The real special effect is if you can get others emotions swinging usng 3D aniimation and sound. Disney did it some 70 years ago.

Have a look on Animation Master - there are the boys bragging about special effects - they have got it wrong I believe. Better a simple story - telling somethng - Content is King!!!

Why not something about World Trade Center?
World Trade Center number 7 - no plane hitting it - went down in the afternoon.
Have a look and understand this was some evil doing behind it from some insider:
http://www.wtc7.net/

Why not let Snowwhite become alive in today´s world?
It has to be about love - that is the thing binding us together.
Respect for other people. Silence! Being able to listen to the silence.
And then having something to say - with silence inside the message.
Silence - not moving - stillness - LOVE - that is the special effect inside the animation message - making it stand out in general terms - because all of us have this message inside us from the beginning to the end. That is the way to do something artistically - trying to keep show the stillniess inside the moving. The silence in the sounds. LOVE inside hate.

:shock:
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Postby squirrelhavoc » Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:28 pm

nine wrote:The real special effect is if you can get others emotions swinging usng 3D aniimation and sound. Disney did it some 70 years ago.


Musicians and playwrites have been doing that for centuries. But since we are in the age of computers, we are probably going to use computers to comply with the perceived notion of the topic, which is, of course, special effects.



About braging, you are braging about MACHIMA many times. Perhaps you should practice what you preach? Just a thought....






PS: To the moderators, sorry for my spiteful posts, but I'm getting a tad sick of this guy
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Postby sascha » Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:37 pm

PS: To the moderators, sorry for my spiteful posts, but I'm getting a tad sick of this guy


A wise man once said: "I thought I would jump in and give my psychological advice. If a trouble maker isn't getting the attention he is seeking, he will stop." :wink:
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Postby squirrelhavoc » Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:09 pm

Hehe yeah I really need to learn to pratice what I preach.

To go back on topic, have you thought of any more ideas for the animation, or have you decided on which idea you want to use? Or are you just too busy with your coding and real life? :)
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Postby sascha » Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:43 pm

Or are you just too busy with your coding and real life?

Yes, both of it :)
But I'm making progress with the timeline - I'll post a test-version soon...

I haven't yet decided how to go on with the IRTC entry. Perhaps I'll just finish the old animation, because most of the models are already there, and it's simple (no lip-syncing, no walking, etc.), so it's perfecly suited to test the new animation features...
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Postby dcuny » Mon Jan 30, 2006 10:00 pm

It's a tough topic, when you consider that computer animation is a special effect. :(

There are lots of interesting things, but on closer examination, they aren't really "special effects." For example, back in 1928 with Steamboat Willie, lipsync might have been considered a "special effect", but by 2006 no one even blinks.

What makes an old-school earthquake scene a special effect is the use of miniatures, matte paintings, and so on - "tricks" that were more than filming reality. By that measure, filming an explosion wouldn't really be a "special effect" as much as it is a "stunt".

But I think "special effects" have now become synonymous with something spectacular. By that token, filming an explosion could be considered a special effect. And it's more this second definition - one where you compose a scene with a real "wow" factor - that the IRTC is shooting for. However, I suspect that you could submit something that the average person wouldn't consider special, like a character with fur or feathers, and still have it considered a "special effect" because the judges would understand it to be a special effect.

So, by that token, adding bump mapping to Inyo might be considered a special effect. But I doubt it would wow any of the judges. :?

I don't doubt that Sascha could code up a clever POV-Ray macro and use that to good effect, but I think we all agree that it would be better if a clever story could be built around the idea of "special effects" instead.

Not that any of that gets us any further along. :roll:
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Postby nine » Tue Jan 31, 2006 2:55 am

Nice of you to answer! :D
Sure I know what is meant with special effects - but I have got kind of fed up with them. I believe it is about a technical game. I am hoping on using JPatch to say something about life and death - about love and hate - about .... story telling... for sure you can use special effects in story telling... but they have to be a part of the story... the story is that matters... not the effects....

Hope you got my point... I have seen you and Sascha discussing... this - telling a story - and that is nice!
:oops:
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