I am sitting here on my front porch, grabbing a piece of time with the Mrs., Mindy.
I had been struggling the last few days on what to write and after depleting my
pool of thoughts over the last year or so on other technical articles I have come
to a new stage in my 'article writing career'. Writer's block! I explain my predicament
to my Mindy.
"Write about what inspires you." she says. Pure brilliance! Just like
What I am inspired by, as well as many others out there, are my kids (two girls)
and my wife. First off, they give me a greater reason to try my best, because
I love them and they have my credit cards. But then, they give me a direct link
to the newest craze, gadget, gimmick and/or twist, a window on the established
lead in the media entertainment and education world. THE TELEVISION!
Let me name a few, Rolly Polly Olly, Bear in the Big Blue House, Out of the Box,
Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues, The Wild Thornburry's, (a polite mention of)
Barny and Zabboo Mafoo. I don't get much of a chance to watch these, but when
I do, I am amazed at how Audrey (3 years old) engages herself in these shows.
I don't want to talk about what each show is about. I would rather mention how
some of them have effected my decision making over the last few weeks. One thing
I find intriguing is that most of these shows give the observer a significant
role in the show. Questions are asked of the observer and then time is given for
an answer. I now sit and watch my girl talk with Dora the Explorer about what
the colors are, in Spanish! Another great deal of inspiration is how these shows
allow the imagination run wild. Check out Rolly Polly Olly!!
Now, how does this play into my inspiration for the planetarium. At the moment,
I am being effected most by the show, Rolly Polly Olly. It matches best what we
are trying to accomplish in our current production, The Secret of the Cardboard
Rocket. In building the imagery and characters, I had been wrestling with making
our backyard scene look realistic, with 3D modeling. Or, making the main character
with hair whisps like Einstein. What was starting out as a multi textured, high
polygon, heavy duty volumetric, use the most expensive plug-in type production
quickly turned into a graceful, 2D cell animated look, by just simply paying attention
to what my kids where watching. They didn't care that the clouds looked like lumpy,
semi-melted marsh mellows. Or, that the lips of characters did not move in synch
with the dialogue. The imagination of a child is very forgiving. Ever hear of
With our current show production (Cardboard Rocket), we are at the stage of brainstorming.
We spend about 1 hour a day putting our ideas down on paper. We invest our time
with discussions about the allocation of hours necessary for the completion of
certain effects, versus its impact on a sequence. Lip synchronization for example.
It is a time consuming process, but a doable one that provides for the greatest
impact. But, after the character makes it first few seconds in the intro, the
character is established. When we are faced with a time crunch, every minute of
dialogue that is being done with the character is planned a budgeted for. Over
the past several weeks, I have turned to these Saturday morning cartoons for inspiration.
What is it that they do, that makes them successful? Simplify! Our character now
has an over grown, Einstein like moustache, that hides certain detail about the
lip movement. By hiding certain details of this motion I just cut my key framing
time down by about 20%. Our character has now been modeled with a back to its
head and hair that resembles a hard shell, or plastic wig. Prior to him having
a HEAD versus just a FACE, he was always going to be facing the audience, thus
adding time to the production by giving me more lip synchronizing and facial expression
work to do. Now we can turn his head around to hide that detail of his face, but
still include him in our scenes. The hair alone was a problem. By having poly-lines
(2-point polygons for each strand of hair) rendering time would have cost us a
great deal of CPU time. (20% of the production time for Final Fantasy was dedicated
to rendering the hair for the female character). One way to look at things when
doing this sort of work, it is sometimes what you DON'T do that makes it work.
All Skys! Again, my inspiration comes from Rolly Polly Olly. The modelers for
this show built an amazing house. You can tell that this house is truly a 3-dimensional
stage set. A camera can be taken anywhere around this 'set' and never have to
worry about rendering dead space. This idea also bleed over into our all sky 'set
design'. We have built these scenes in much of the same matter so that we can
have many points to choose from to get our camera angles. An establishing shot,
a close in or just a medium shot. So far, we have about 9 all skys sequences in
our show, but there will be about 40 physical all skys in total, different angles
of the same scene.
In conclusion, before you tell your children to shut off that television, why
not try to go and see what they are watching, or even doing. A lot can be learned
by just you watching the kids, watch their shows. Weather it is television or
video games or even how they read books, something will inspire you.