Sunday, March 18, 2007


Train pickups. About a dozen pickup shots of the train are under way. This is one of them under construction.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Setting up a mask. Exciting. But not as exciting as rocks.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Color correcting. 3am.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


From Inside is a blend of 3D, 2D, and 2 1/2D animation. There are also composited practical elements - smoke, fire, liquid, dirt.

The 3D animation is done with Maya, the rest with After Effects. All compositing is done with After Effects.

Most of the motion graphics work I did through the 90's was for music videos, commercials, and special effects. In 2004 I thought I'd try animating a short narrative with After Effects. The idea was to keep the artwork simple and see what I could do with the 3D space in After Effects. My intent was to do something that looked like cut-paper animated with a multiplane camera. It turned out to be even simpler than that. The shots had a little depth, but not much - more like panning & scanning flat artwork than 3D.

The film was called Nesting Grounds. It played at a number of festivals the year I finished it, but I don't think it was ever posted on-line. So here it is. I still like the story, but the animation is looking pretty thin to me now (difficult to resist fixing it up before posting it here). It's not cutting edge, it's not elaborate, but making it showed me that it was possible to tell a story by cutting up paintings and animating them within After Effects. It was also a nice reminder for me that it's possible to tell an engaging story with simple images and simple tools.

After finishing Nesting Grounds, I made a 1 minute 3D short. The Vacant Chair. This short was an excuse to learn some basic 3D modeling and to test using practical elements as textures on 3D models.

I wouldn't say the animation of From Inside bears much of a resemblance to Nesting Grounds and The Vacant Chair, but these two shorts were the first steps towards From Inside. For this reason, I thought it would be interesting to post them here.

Next post, I'll put up some shots illustrating how 2D, 3D and practical elements are blended for From inside.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


On the drawing table.

New artwork. Charcoal & pencil,... which will eventually be glazed and colored with oils. Same technique that was used for the original artwork from the graphic novel. Having reviewed the assembly edit, there are a few scenes that need to be shuffled or extended. This is for one of those scenes.

A few posts ago I said the From Inside film is a panel-for-panel adaptation of the graphic novel. Maybe that was an exaggeration. No... wait... it wasn't. The film is a plot-point for plot-point adaptation of the graphic novel.

In moving from printed page to film, though, some things have changed. A little. Some of the scenes from the book have been expanded in order to keep the film moving. For example, an entire scene from the book may have been a double page spread with text boxes spread over it. This works fine in a comic book, but in translating a scene such as this to film, I would add shots. Adding shots here and there has been necessary to make the film visually more exciting than staring at a single image with voice-over for two minutes. (Although... there is one scene like that...)

The biggest change I've noticed in moving the story from page to film is in the dialog. Film works best when it shows instead of tells. Comic books, however, can show and tell. For example, there is a scene in the From Inside graphic novel where the train has stopped for rain. In the comic book, the panels show the train stopped, passengers standing around in the rain, and the rain hitting the ground. The narrator's dialog reads something like: "The train has stopped for the danger of a wash-out. People are standing in the rain. They are getting wet. The rain is thick and brown, like mud falling from the sky. I listen to the rain tapping on the roof of the passenger car." The text in the comic helps give voice and character to the narrator, and it makes the reader pause on each panel. In comics, words help control the sense of time for a reader, and they describe things that a printed still image can't convey: sounds, textures, etc...

If that same dialog were used in the film, it would be terribly redundant. In the example above, the film - using time, motion, sound effects and music - conveys almost everything that was carried by text in the book.

So, in many instances, the dialog from the comic has been changed... or simply cut.