My Current Work In Progress:
"DEATH OF A SNOWMAN"
As we cross yet another end to another year, I have been working non-stop and found little time to explore the creativity I once found so much time for. To me, that makes 2016 yet another failed year.
The good thing about this year, however, is one particular project that has encompassed all of the free time that I do happen to have.
The project is called "Death of a Snowman" authored by the amazing Daniel Guyton. I've had the pleasure working with Daniel as one of his first performers in his stageplay "Where's Julie?". Cast by Daniel as the part of 'Julie' in the sideshows at the Irene Ryan Competition in Altoona, Pennsylvania, mine and Daniel's history goes back many, many years ago when I was nominated for my stage performance in "The Glass Menagerie" while earning my first degree in Performing Arts to compete with other actors for theatrical awards. Sort of like a small time Golden Globes for college students. Not too many people know that I have that first degree or that I (was told) was also pretty skilled in it... It had a similar transparency as my artwork had back then. People that were affiliated with that stage of my life discovered I was pretty good with drawing and creating characters some time afterwards...
Before the start of social media explosion, while I had went on to enhance my visual arts skills by pursuing a degree in digital media and computer art, Daniel Guyton went on to develop an incredulous volume of work. He has a range that reaches all ages and identities while still upholding his ever quirky balance and peculiar sometimes unconventional outlook. His work "Where's Julie" is still preformed quite regularly around the country-- most probably around the globe, too. While we stayed in touch through facebook, Daniel had preceded to become a very active member in the playwright community, including a dramatic arts instructor, participating in the Writers Guild of America, and also as a member of the Board of Directors for Working Title Playwrights...
Daniel is currently involved in a fundraiser to help support local playwrights in his area. To learn more about the cause, you can link up HERE.
I am very honored to be a major part of "Death of a Snowman"'s first digital reproduction, spoken as both an artist, a patron of the arts, AND as another captivated audience member who has filled a seat to indulge in a number of his stage plays over these years since first meeting him...
Although still very premature, I share pieces of it now, because after the holiday it will taper off into the changing of seasons and be somewhat lost in fevers of spring. I am hopeful that 2017 will give me enough spare time to complete it for a properly timed line up the next holiday season.
So, first, before I explain my progress on this piece, let me wish you all a nice holiday season filled with everything you want, with peace and love, as well, and give my blessings for the New 2017 Year. A Good New Year to you all.
SNOWMAN PRACTICE RIG
Since last summer, in and between multiple days jobs at a time, I have been burning the midnight oil to create some professional developments on this project. While this process has taken tremendous efforts during general inabilities to live day to day (aka the sob story of every struggling artist) it has indeed come a long way that I am excited to show. I approached this proposal as if I were part of a preproduction team. That is one of my goals, anyways, so I found these creations to be most enjoyable.
The first part of my process was to open up the sketchbook and draw as many different designs of the two main characters as I could within as little amount of time and send them off for selection. I did some quick builds of the two main characters, however, to try to get myself aligned from a traditional to a 3D mentality. I was most content with the results of the snowman, and while he was not yet accurate to the initial 2D concept selected, I decided to make a practice rig on an unweighted / unskinned version of him in order to breakdown the types of controls I would eventually need for some of his animation:
While the rig still needs a lot adjustments, it was a fun quick little tasks to play around with. It is very breakable at the moment. I can't wait to put the real rig on the real character!
TEMPLATE SETS (First Versions)
I chose not to spend much additional time working with color or digital concepting yet, and instead decided to move on to researching and pulling reference to help start building some of the major sets.
CALL OUT SHEETS SAMPLES
After taking a mari class on CGSociety with Justin Holt a couple years back, I was inspired to develop a few templates that he would describe as a "Call Out Sheet":
These templates would include anything and everything relating to the character, object, or set to help demonstrate the direction of visuals in one united place... color palette, texture, reference imagery, anything to solidify the development.
ANIMATED PREVIEWS OF WIP SETS
Additionally, I figured getting a head start on building some of the sets would help me find a firm grasp of the of the schematic and spatial information I wanted for the storyboards. While it was tedious adding in some of the smaller details-- I figured the more inanimate objects floating around the more natural the set would look in the end...
And in the same sense, I chose to do the storyboards to become more acquainted with the characters-- their expressions, their body language, their physique from different angles. By the end of the design of the boards, which was drawn quite sloppily by hand, I had broken down a 15 Page Script to nearly 200 drawings and my flow to get accurate and confident line work down on paper had increased and cleaned up tremendously. It was quite an amazing experience for me. And it gave me a lot of courage to put it all together in an animatic once I had received the voiceover work.
My only regret is that I wish I could've had the chance to digitally render all of these drawings for the animatic... perhaps one day after it is all finished I will. For now, I placed the drawings in simple storyboard panels with its complimenting camera specifications:
PAGES 2 - 3
Any more research of how to build a shot list would be great (how to organize a sheet with the numbers of cameras needed in each set etc)! I looked, but wasn't really sure what was industry standard or not? So, I winged it in the panels...
But organizing the boards and camera direction into a pamphlet will greatly assist me as a quick 'go-to' item for the 3D versioning.
As far as the completed 2D animatic, we have decided to reserve showing the full animatic publicly at this point to uphold some of the story for the final release. Instead, I constructed a trailer with the very basics-- the 2D images from the storyboard with snippets of dialogue combined with very preliminary stages in 3D layout of the opening title sequence:
The trailer isn't much at the moment, but we are attempting to uphold some mystery for the piece to show the animatic in its entirety, for the viewers that haven't read the short or gone to see the show in it stage rendition.
My current stage of progress is at the start of building the 3D layout that will begin to replace the 2D footage. I hope that in this wintery season, I can share some more of this progress with you all. I can tell you I have a very long and difficult road ahead of me... but I will get to the finish line eventually and I hope to still have kept your interest it seeing the final product.
The support always helps carry me onward. I know I am taking on a lot and my hope is that the feedback on it is positive enough to move my journey as a professional artist further up the mountain so it's begins to become a downhill fully reinforced battle.
I know that the story "Death of a Snowman" is a beautiful one and an opportunity that I could not refuse. To be able to do more of this type of work in the future with such cleverly talented masterminds like Dan Guyton, would be a blessing.
So here's to an ambitious and prosperous 2017 year. This one will be better. Exhausting, most likely, but better. I can feel it. :-)
Happy holidays, all. Happy New Year.