I want to thank you for being apart of this amazing journey to complete this 3D animated short. It was definitely a tough ride with many bumps, and challenging obstacles, but a journey I where I learned so much. This is an amazing, unforgettable experience.
I want to go a little bit more in depth with the people in the Special Thanks section of the credits because each and every one of you were a huge part in this production. All messages will be listed as in the credits of Unleashed:
You were one of my coolest instructors who helped me get into graduate school. I can’t thank you enough for the amount of knowledge you passed down to me. A lot of the techniques you taught me in 3D were used in this production, so I’m leaving where credit is needed. Thank you so much Anderson!
You were my mentor. You helped me get into graduate school. You didn’t sugar coat anything and pushed me to be the best I can be. You’ve taught me a crazy amount of knowledge about 2D/3D Animation throughout the years in my undergrad. And I’m pretty sure I used all of them. And no lie, I still hear you whistling Christmas songs as I work in 3dsMax. Haha, thanks a bunch Norm!
You were my Pre-Production professor when A Day with George was originally created. You then became my Advanced Project Advisor once I decided to take on this production more seriously. You gave me awesome critiques since the initial design of George in 2014, all the way to the final animation. I don’t think this animation would be as good without all of your help. Thank you so much Todd!
Midori Kitagawa You were the professor who gave me critiques on my digital portfolio, and taught me Motion Capture and the process of Procedural Animation in SideFX: Houdini. Although I didn’t quite use those programs in this specific production, I still used the techniques you taught in class. Hopefully one of these days, I can take on Motion Capture like you inspired me to do!
You were one of my professors that pushed me so hard, I can’t believe I made it through some of your classes (haha). But I wouldn’t be in graduate school or be as strong in (digital) concept art without your help. You passed down an amazing amount of knowledge in concept that it became my favorite part in the production pipeline. So, thank you!
You were one of the professors that helped me see art in a new perspective. You challenged me on how much more I can do with my skill sets. You pushed me to think outside the box and be more creative. And also pushed me to strive for goals that I have never really thought about until you mentioned it. And one day, I will have that art gallery you asked. Thank you John!
You helped me brainstorm the story line of George late in the night into the early hours of the morning. We always have worked together when it comes to creating short stories, and without your help, George wouldn’t be as cute. And of course it was your dogs and my dogs personalities who helped create George. You supported me and I can’t thank you enough!
My sister, Ruby
You are my sister that gave me all the support you could give. You listened to all of my stories on how stressed I’ve become because of graduate school. You helped me get through all of it. I feel there is not enough thanks I can give you, but I will push on and do what I do best because you believed in me from the day I decided to pursue art and animation. You were literally right behind me during all school orientations. I love your face, and thank you, thank you, thank you!
My parents, my extended family, and even my family in the far east. You guys all knew that I loved art from the beginning. All of you have supported me, near or far, and helped me get through what I thought was impossible in my life. And an extra special thanks to my parents for seeing that I have strength in what I do and supported my goals that I wanted to achieve. Without your help, I don’t think a good chunk of the graduate school experience wouldn’t of happened. So, thank you.
You simply taking the time to watch my animation, or even managed to read this blog, I thank you. I hope I can help inspire you in whatever your life goals may be. You are awesome!
Because I managed my time very well for this animation (not to gloat or anything haha!), I had a little bit of extra time to do a simple animation for the credit sequence. I always liked viewing credits if it’s something more than a scrolling wall of text. Plus, I didn’t have an extremely long list of people in my credits, so it wouldn’t take terribly long.
I drew out a few thumbnails to help flesh out the ideas I had. You can check them out below:
I tried showcase a little something of George that related to who was on screen in the credits. For example, I did the story, concept, and animation for this production. I drew George drawing with a papers everywhere around him because that’s how I remember the pre-production process of Unleashed this past year. My friend Fabian Fabro composed the music, so I drew George singing (Fun fact! He’s singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star‘). Although the Special Thanks panel of credits changed from the original rough, it helped me flesh out what I needed regardless. And lastly, the arrows along the edges of the thumbnails are the directions in which the text and/or George will be moving on screen.
I like having George around for the credits, showcasing his fun-loving attitude and his creativity. I also had the idea of having a simple motion graphic of fading in and out with the pictures. So I organized the needed layers in Photoshop. You can check out the line art progress below:
I was going to add the last minute effects, such as drop shadows in the text, in After Effects since I had some trouble importing modifiers and such from Photoshop. As for color, I was planning to keep everything unsaturated in contrast of the actual animation itself. I’ll work in greyscale, then overlay some color on top of it.
This is will be the last and only update of credit sequence, so you’ll see it complete when the final animation is done! The end of this production is near!
With the final animation rendered and ready to go, I started syncing all of the sound effects into Unleashed. I personally have a huge sound library by downloading from free sound websites in the past couple of years, so I utilized what I already had. Which was awesome because that meant I didn’t have to go searching for more sounds, or recreating the sound with the sound equipment I don’t have.
The only downside of watching your animation over and over is that you start to notice all of the little details and minor mistakes that you originally didn’t notice in the first place. And since I did notice them, I decided to re-render a few region shots to overlay onto the original render. For example for one of my minor mistakes:
The left tree on the porch was rendered with a very jerky movement. I must of copied and pasted the key frames incorrectly without noticing. But it’s all fixed now with the tree on the right.
After doing a few last minute edits and adjustments in After Effects, I rendered the final animation and imported video, music, sound effects into Adobe Premiere Pro. I have done a good amount of video editing when I did Youtube and during internships. So video editing is another comfortable skill I enjoy doing.
Until something goes terribly wrong.
After I finished adding and editing all of the sound effects in the Premiere file, I saved it multiple times with different file names, and also transferred copies into my external hard drive. I called it a night.
The next morning, I opened up my file and ran into this:
I honestly started to panic. So I jumped to my other saved file; same error. I got out my external hard drive and opened those files; same error. I pull out ALL of the auto-saves in my computer; same error.
I just lost ALL of my progress for syncing the sound effects.
Okay. I am FULL ON panicking.
I opened a new project in Premiere & After Effects and tried importing the project, or even the sequences saved, and it gave me the Adobe Dynamic Link Error. All hope is starting fade. I’m going to have to do the sound effects again.
I started to do some frantic research on Google for these errors for one last move. I read through various forums and found that the Adobe Dynamic Link Error was more common than the corrupted Premiere file. But it was suggested to do what I have already done. So, I continued on.
It wasn’t until I noticed a few people on different forums mentioned this program called XML Wrench. It is a free to download tool for editing XML and related files. It can be used as an HTML editor or a CSS Editor and many more. There was one problem though:
I have little to no experience in coding or programming.
But I’m desperate. I need my file working again.
So I open up my corrupted premiere file, and I am greeted will a wall of code:
In a few of the forums, many users said to go to Tools > Check Well Formed. This feature goes through all the lines of code and checks if there are any errors for you. I crossed my fingers and boom. This popped up in my file:
Something was wrong in Line 1323 of my file. I take a look and…
…there’s a random space between ‘music’ and the underscore.
I quickly deleted the space, ran another Check Well Formed run, and everything was approved. No errors. I saved the file and took a huge breath as I tried to open my file back in Adobe Premiere.
MY FILE OPENED WITH ALL SOUND EFFECTS AND EDITS.
I literally raised my hands in the air and started crying (literally). This must of been the scariest obstacle I have run into with this animation. Hands down. I couldn’t believe my file got corrupted because OF A RANDOM SPACE.
Of course I saved everything multiple times, in multiple places. I also rendered the sound track so if anything like this happens again, I have the completed sound file so I can just import it without panicking.
Now that horrendous event is done, I had a little bit of extra time to do a little something for the credits. I’ll go more in depth with that in the next update.
After rendering the final animation (without any type of sound), I sent it to a good friend of mine, Fabian Fabro, to compose the music.
I asked him to just make the track sound cute, fun, and go with whatever he felt right while composing for Unleashed. I honestly do not have a strong musical bone in my body, so I gave him as much freedom as I could. And I was not disappointed!
You can listen to the Unleashed track right below:
I LOVE IT SO MUCH!
He synced the musical composition with the final animation and I couldn’t be happier! I started to see the animation finally coming together. You can check out Fabian’s sound cloud for more of his amazing work (here)!
After deciding the new title of my animation, Unleashed, it was time to finalize the title design for the title sequence.
I searched endlessly through webpages of free fonts that would portray the keywords of cute, fun, and playful. I found a few that would of worked, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted in a font. I placed them side by side (upper & lower case) to see what I was working with in comparison:
Title Font Study (01), rrgonzalez.com
Title Font Study (02), rrgonzalez.com
You can download each font below (all in order from above):
In the end, I really liked how playful and fun the DPCutie font looked in lowercase. It had this weird default spacing that I enjoyed because George is a weird, fun-loving dog. But as time went on, I decided to use the DPCutie font as a stencil/guide to create my own font for the title and credits.
After drawing in Photoshop, and cleaning up in Illustrator, the final font was complete:
Once this was finished, I did some research on a variety of dog tags. Shapes, color, dimensions, you name it. So I came up with three different shapes I would like to try for the title design, rectangle, oval, and bone-shaped.
I felt the rectangular-shape looked too much like a license plate. And the dog bone seemed like I was pushing the dog theme a bit too far because the indication of a dog is in the paw print. Therefore, I decided to go with the oval-shaped dog tag. Simple and to the point!
I jumped back into Photoshop and started playing with color and gradients. I wanted to replicate a shiny, engraved dog tag. I was aiming for a cartoony style of the dog tag because of the stylized look of the overall animation. But luckily, I managed to work with various modifiers such as embossing, strokes, overlays, gradients, and drop shadows to reach the final design.
I had two layers of the final design: the dog tag and the key ring (for animation purposes). From there, I imported the Photoshop file into After Effects to begin animating. The only downside of this was the fact that the original file size of the Photoshop file was 11 x 8.5 in. at 300 dpi (which is roughly 3300 x 2550 px.). While my video size was 1280 x 720.. so my computer was crawling at the speed of snail because of the large file size. I could of reduced the size, but I decided against it because I wanted my title to appear as clear and crisp as possible with what I had. But luckily, it didn’t take dangerously long.
I was always told less is more, so I went with that theme and decided to animate the title sequence as if the dog tag “fell” on-screen and bounced a bit before settling in place. As long as I could pull off the principle of squashing and stretching with the dog tag, and use the follow-through principle with the key ring, it should turn out the way I imagined in my head. And of course it came out perfect!
I added a quick shine that flies across the dog tag for a little cherry on top. I felt like it would help for a minor transition from 2D animation to 3D animation. From here, I’ll be adding the title sequence into the final animation and work with scene transitions.
In the next post, I shall be updating on the music and sound effects! Please look forward to it!
Since the pre-production stages, I never really had a solid production title that really “stuck” with the events that happened to George. “A Day with George” was a subtitle, if you will, until an actual title came to mind.
But in the meantime, I began the rough sketch process of the title design. Before I began drawing out anything, I write out a few keywords that would help inspire me. More like, guidelines on what ideas I had in my head.
And like I mentioned before, I didn’t have a specific title yet. So I made a small list of different versions of the title to design. Because the more roughs you have, the more built your final product will be (at least I think so).
So the first round of title sketches was the default title I had, “A Day with George“:
I tried different types of font that would fall into my keywords and added little elements of who George was. I tried the really simple title design where the design just focuses on font, to where the design has some sort of element of a dog (paw prints, George’s bandana, etc). In the end, I didn’t quite like this title to begin with. So I kept sketching.
The next title I had was “George goes for a walk.” To be honest, I didn’t like this title at all because it was too long (hence there is only one sketch of it). BUT! It still wouldn’t hurt to try any design because, in this case, I ended up using the paw print element into the final title design. But before I get to the final design, I went through even more sketches.
Alright, so we have “George.” It’s straight to the point. It’s about him. But I felt that it was, lack of a better word, boring. It didn’t really have an action behind it to where the viewer has some sort of idea of what this short animation is about. The paw print and his silhouette helped that George is a dog, but ultimately, I gave up on this title pretty quickly.
“George’s Walk.” It’s shorter. How I wanted it. But not EXACTLY what I wanted. It still didn’t quite fit to who George was and how carefree he is. I was focusing too much on having George’s name in the title that it was taking away from everything else. It wasn’t until I drew out the underlining leash in the second design above. And that’s when the new title came to me.
And I said to myself, “Yup. That’s the title.”
Yes. I knew this was it. It was short, to the point, and a play on words. I think the best part of it all is that viewer can put the pieces together with the title design.
“Unleashed” + Leash + Paw Print + Dog Tag = Something about a dog.
I originally wanted to have the leash flying/swirling into the title, but I thought that was a bit too much, so I thought of something simpler. A dog tag. George doesn’t technically have one, but it works. And the dog tag design was really the only design that was a ‘closed’ design. It wasn’t just free text on screen, it had a border.
So ultimately, I went with the dog tag design (very last rough). In my heart I knew that was it, and I just had to clean it up in Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator.
My next update will consist of cleaning up and finalizing title sequence animation.
After compiling all the rendered scenes in one composition, I applied different effects in specific scenes such as rain, particles, and color correcting effects.
At first, I was going to approach the particle effects options in 3dsMax to create the most realistic rain. But then I thought, because my animation is stylized, I’m pretty sure I can pull off an overlayed video layer above my rendered scenes.
Here is the free rain stock footage I used from Daniel Norris (Youtube):
And here’s the rain effect comparison:
On the left is the original render, and on the right is the overlayed video layer. I applied the Silhouette Luma modifier in After Effects so the black color would be absent above the render. I also scaled and rotated the rain to give off the effect of wind as well. This effect was applied to a few more scenes in the animation.
While watching the compiled animation, I noticed that a lot of my shots seemed very stagnant, especially in my environment shots. After watching a few movies, I noticed the effect of particles in various shots. I tested this out and I was amazed much of a difference there is.
Vegasaur.com provides free plugins and stock footage for everyone. I ran into their free particles stock footage and it was perfect for what I was going for. Here’s their sample of their particle effects:
And here’s the particle overlay comparison:
Although the particles are some-what visible, this was the visual I was going for. I don’t want to overpower various shots with particles, or get particle-happy if you will. But you’ll be able to see the particles in action when the animation is 100% complete!
Last but not least, I really like adding some sort of color correction or some sort of filter on top of my animations for the little cherry on top.
I came across a free After Effects Filter Presets Pack called Skylights. I found this a little while back and haven’t had a reason to use them until now. You can find the preset pack available for download here.
After changing up a few values in the presets and few other edits, here’s the comparison of the overall look of the “A Day with George” animation:
Because my animation features a really happy-go-lucky dog in this really colorful, saturated environment, I felt something bright and spring-like would fit the overall feel of “A Day with George.”
After applying the filter preset to the animation, I felt that my animation was ready to go. I rendered it and quickly sent it to Fabian Fabro, my music composer. He is currently working on the music score, and I can’t wait to hear it. I’ll update my blog once it’s ready to go!
In the mean time, I will be working on the Title Sequence and Credits. Rough drafts and sketches will be uploaded for you view pleasure soon!
After getting some feedback on my rendered scenes from my advisor, Todd Fechter, and a few of my peers, I spent the last few weeks re-animating and re-rendering. A few of them were re-rendered from minor glitches to full on re-animating.
I don’t want showcase any of animated the scenes just yet (sorry!), I’ll showcase my workflow in After Effects* (compiling, editing, etc).
*The latest version of After Effects was not loading for some reason. So I resorted to a previous version of After Effects. This wasn’t a problem at all, everything worked just fine.
First things first. NAME EVERY SINGLE FILE IN YOUR PRODUCTION. I honestly learned this simple fact the hard way back in my undergrad. So, all my rendered files are in their separate folders and are named by corresponding scenes. This way, I will not get mixed up with any of my scenes or even accidentally write over them.
From here, I imported all of my rendered scenes into a composition (MASTER_TEST) to figure out timing. I strictly referenced my timing from the animated rough draft (here). Although a lot of the timing was changed in during this editing process. This gave me the ideas of what needed to be re-rendered.
Next, I imported each scene into their own composition, just in case I had to edit any of the scenes separately. It may have been an extra step for some people, but I feel like I would have more control for special effects. With all of the scene compositions, I imported all of those into another composition (MASTER_COMPILE). Because I had the timing from the MASTER_TEST composition, it was easy to reflect that onto the MASTER_COMPILE composition.
In the last step of my process, I take the MASTER_COMPILE composition and import into a new composition (MASTER) so I can place last minute effects upon the whole video. As you can see in the picture above, I have various effects and a modified jpeg above the MASTER composition.
I will be going more in depth with the effects I used in this animation in the next blog post, so please look forward to that!
I’ve been doing some rough animations, rough renders, and final renders to get a better idea on how our main protagonist, George, and the secondary characters should move. And I can’t forget the movements of the environment (interior and exterior).
I also referenced my rough animation file for timing purposes. Because the rough animation was literally single rendered shots elongated to X amount of frames, I counted how long each frame was to adjust the frames in 3dsMax. A very timely task, but definitely helped me stay consistent.
I’ll go through the first couple of scenes and share the various trials I went through to achieve the overall look of the animation and where I want it be.
This scene was pretty simple. It’s a basic camera panning across the sky box/dome. I kept in mind that the main title sequence will be placed on top of this as a background, so I’ll probably add a blur effect when the title comes in.
Basic panning downwards to view the house. I didn’t quite notice until I rendered out the final animation, but 3dsMax slightly glitched and rendered the grass without the UVW map I applied to it. (And I also forgot to apply the moving plant animations…) So re-rendering is required!
In the previous meeting with my advisor, Todd Fechter, I originally had the camera panning across the three windows to view the interior of the house. But in the rough animation, there was so much panning that did make sense, so I adjusted it to where we would pan upwards to see George laying on the couch. Which works a lot better because we are focusing more the protagonist than the house, because you know… the house is just there.
Originally had the camera slightly off center of George when we pan towards him. But by good suggestion from my advisor, I centered the target of the camera and had it pan around George. This was a great improvement because we are officially introducing our protagonist without having to play with too many camera tricks. Simple is usually better in this case!
Here is the second shot of Scene 04. George perks up, looks over, and jumps off the couch. I liked how this short animation came out because in the previous shot, he’s very stagnant because he’s just waking up. But when he awakes, he’s his bouncy self, how I wanted to portray him.
This scene was a bit tricky. I had to have George jump/hop onto the edge of window sill, and because his rig isn’t the best, I had to really play with the controls to make it work. It could use a bit more adjusting, but I’ll make it work. I also slightly adjusted the camera, just from framing purposes. (And I remembered to animate the plants!)
Here is the second shot of Scene 05. Because of the previous shot of his back, I wanted to view him from the window to show his face and how excited he is to be awake, to be part of the world, and how simple life can be. (Something I personally tend to forget.) I love animating his face, so this scene was fun to do.
In this shot, we focus on the exterior of the house where we see the neighbor and his dog taking a normal walk down the sidewalk. It was a little weird animating the neighbor and the dog due to the fact that the sidewalk in not even/flat. But I liked how this shot came out. The shot still seems a little stagnant, even with the subtle plant animations, so I’m probably going to add a few particles flying in the air to give it more of an environment that is believable.
We go back to the same camera from Scene 05 and have George jump off the window sill. While I was rendering the final animation, 3dsMax glitched again and rendered without one of my lights from the living room, that’s why it seems so dark. So I have to re-render this scene as well.
Cut to a shot of a few items hanging, and we see George jump across the screen grabbing onto the leash. The motion blur I applied to render really helped because while I was doing the test renders, it just didn’t look right with out it. I have to adjust the piece of cloth those, it seems a bit too heavy when it moves.
Here was have George landing with the leash in his mouth. I feel that this scene needs a lot of adjustment because of the leash. The leash is rigged on a spline, so I animated the spline vertices for movement, but it still looks a bit messy. But George came out pretty well. I had to adjust a bit of his movement because he was bouncing like he had too much sugar in his bowl of food this morning. The owners footing was a bit awkward at first, but I’ll more than likely adjust that as well.
The door opens to have George look outside and his mouth drops in disbelief. He was a bit too bouncy in this shot as well, so I referenced the timing in the previous scene to match the frames. Not too much trouble with this shot though, it’s actually one of my favorites.
In the rough animation, there was some mad turbulence when the canoe was floating above the water. This was due to the values in the Flex Modifier on the geometric plane. I adjusted them, and now the canoe floats normally. I animated the Canoe Man paddling and the neighbor’s dog, I was wondering if it was going to break or crash 3dsMax because of the huge amount of memory it was taking (water takes up a huge amount of memory), but luckily my computer could handle it. Rain effects and additional water effects will be added in After Effects.
Cut back to the camera from Scene 10, and we see George’s reaction to the fact that he can’t walk outside even though it was literally shining brightly outside two seconds ago. The door slowly closes on him, and he slowly accepts that his walk will have to be delayed. I had to play with the camera here due to placement of the characters, but it came out well!
Scene 13 was actually omitted from the animation. I felt that this shot wasn’t really necessary and it kind of broke the flow that I originally wanted. So onto the next scene!
With another good suggestions from my advisor, I changed the camera angle for this shot. I tried to place the camera from Scene 04-01, but with the placement where George was on the couch, it didn’t quite fit. So I played a bit and found a medium shot of George’s back, and the view of the rain outside really showed in the simplest way why he was upset. I also had the camera pan upwards so we could see him walking sadly toward the couch.
A regular pan around the house. I plan to add the rain effects and additional water effects in After Effects. (AND I FORGOT TO APPLY THE PLANT ANIMATIONS IN THIS SCENE TOO.)
Here we have a Close/Medium Shot of George walking; he looks really happy as he finally get his walk outside. I tried to play a lot with his bounciness when he walks and I like how he came out. I have to check the lights in this scene as well, I think 3dsMax likes to glitch while rendering at times.
Final Scene! With another good camera adjustment suggestion from my advisor, I move the camera bit so when the quick zoom from the previous scene happens, the viewer doesn’t feel uncomfortable because the camera moved downwards. So this works out very well!
Apologies for not updating as much, but the final stretch is in full effect! I will be updating on the various trial and errors such as re-renders, editing, and effects.