Queenstown Memorial Animation

Hi, just a quick post between many other things to show off a bit of 3D animation done recently to visualize a 10m tall sculpture proposed for a Park in Queenstown, Tasmania.

Proposed to commemorate a disaster which claimed 43 miners lives in 1912.

For the 3D enthusiasts out there, all work was done in Lightwave 11, it was my first test of using the new instancing feature in that software. Compositing and polish in After Effects.

Animated Idents

I had the pleasure of doing a smattering of smaller animation jobs here and there over the last few months. These have been fun as often they call on a variety of skills and the whole project needs to be put together quickly, so you’re usually with it from start to finish.

The two Idents (essentially moving logos) in this post were produced at Blue Rocket Productions under the direction of David Gurney. David is fun to work with and has a spontaneity that can take projects in fun directions.

The first is for Tasmania’s government funding body for film Screen Tasmania.

The soundtrack in the Screen Tasmania Ident was produced by the talented Nicholas Storr.

The second animation is for The Australian Script Centre. There is no established audio for this one so I grabbed some music from freestockmusic.com/.

Both of these Idents were made using 3DS Max, After Effects and Photoshop.

Little Tip: I really like adding grain to the things I do but find the film grain in After Effects takes far too long to calculate. I’ve found making a grain loop created in Photoshop does the trick, simply overlaid on top of the footage in Multiply mode then adjusting the opacity to taste. For all I know this could be the oldest trick in the book!

The Long Beach: a short animated film

It’s about time I released this film into the wilds of the internet.

Made by the talented Mauricio Milne-Jones and myself in 2006 and based on a short story and script by Helen van Rooijen (good on ya Mum!).

The original short story had no dialogue in it and I wanted to keep it that way to reach a wider audience and allow the narrative to come from the actions of the characters. It seemed more elegant that way.

It’s definitely one to relax and watch with a glass of red, weighing in at almost 12 minutes it’s a long short! While it’s not ‘arty’ by any stretch of the imagination it does ask you to put things together a bit.

It did ok at festivals for a long sentimental film that asks the audience to think a bit, if it were a short punchy comedy it would have done much better!

A big thanks to everyone who contributed, Alicia, Duncan, Matt D, Grace, Nando, Nina, the use of facilities at Blue Rocket Productions (and you David G!). Plus some helpful advice from Adam.

For those to whom like to know these things, made using 3DS Max, Lightwave and a bunch of Adobe products!

Oh, and if you see this broadcast on TV in the USA, let me know, I’d love to know who the distributor is so I can kick their backsides!

Chinese Dragon spotted in the Mountains of Tasmania

Hi, just a quick post with a couple of frames from a test animation of the Chinese Dragon flying over Mt. Cameron in the North of Tasmania. The original photo was taken by Julie Martin who’s also running the project.

I was hoping to add some camera movement to the shot but time restrictions and tight framing of the original photo conspired to make it static except for a bit of camera shake as the dragon flies over. Instead I made sure the Dragon cast shadows on the mountain, a bit more important selling the shot.

I did have time to cut out and paint in some extra sky so I could make the clouds move, which for some reason I found really fun.. go figure. All the preparation work paid off as I turned the shot around in a day, nice.

So, animated in PMG Messiah, rendered in Lightwave and final processing in After Effects. Matte work in Photoshop.

Stay tuned, soon another episode of the adventures of Prehistoric TV Reconstruction Kitteh.

Creepy Forest colour fix…

Stef visited yesterday with footage from the film which is looking freaky in the way only short film can!

One thing we did notice was how saturated my forest is looking compared to the footage and setting in the film. So while it’s a fantasy element in the film itself, it needed a tweak to sit better with the footage.

As usual sucking the colour out meant a few other tweaks to the levels etc, and I thought the  difference was big enough for anyone curious to have another look.

I think it feels a bit less ‘friendly Disney forest’ now, hopefully it’ll give the right impression of menace in the film.

You may have noticed it’s been flipped horizontally. This is the old trick for taking another look at the composition, when painting in the real world you can look at your work through a mirror to get the same ‘fresh eyes’.

Creepy Forests our speciality..


My good friend Stef over at Bowwow Graphics is doing some animation as part of a short film.
He had his hands full doing the animation itself so he needed someone to paint a background for him, in this case a menacing forest. Stef liked what I’d done with the creepy forest images in my ‘Unhappy Tree Friends’ concepts and wanted a similar feel.

The only other considerations were that the trees would form a dark tunnel with patches of light and have enough detail to sustain a camera track which started in very close. As a result the painting has much more detail than I usually would have put in, and the values are a little static across the image instead of lightening so much in the distance. Here’s a bit of the image at its full resolution, there’s a fair bit of detail in there!

The film is still in production but as my painting doesn’t give anything away they’ve been kind enough to allow me to post it. I sent Stef a thumbnail(below), which was approved by the Director and gave Stef something to start using straight away in Flash.

Stef’s early animation test were looking great, there was something pretty freaky coming down the tunnel and….. well let’s just say I can’t wait to see the final result.

Unhappy Tree Friends

I was lucky enough to be invited to do some creature concept art for a very early development horror/dark comedy film with some quite original baddies based on plants.
My friend Stef had already done a pass on the idea which you can see over on his Bowwow graphics site here and he gave me the basic outline of what the film makers wanted.

I liked what he’d done, especially the weird hairy crawling guy, but decided to take a different approach.

I got a little scientific about it and talked to botanist friend(thanks Mark!) who suggested I take a look at native orchids. He then proceeded to show me all these very creepy looking flowers and stems, which looked quite spidery and not at all friendly.  I also asked him about plant movement to get an idea about how I might build something that needed to get around a bit….

I also drew some inspiration from some unexpected sources…see below.

Anyway, the client needed several versions for various reason for which I’ll remain vague in case the film gets made and the designs are used, so here are my three ‘unhappy tree friends’…

They’re really speed paints, I didn’t have much time to produce them in between other things but they were a lot of fun.

The last monster had an unusual source of inspiration in this image:

Click on the picture to find out what she’s all about for those of you who don’t know!

Many people find her beautiful, and I can see that, but I think the frame holding her set off the creepy alarm for me. Something about unnaturally long legs, almost spidery.

Matt