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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Trailers and Comfort Zones...

Break from Starship Ajax for a while to work on a couple of other projects. First up is a book trailer for 'Mole Hunt' by Paul Collins at Ford Street Publishing.
There seems to be some debate as to whether book trailers are a worthwhile marketing tool for the publishing industry see http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2010/01/26/book_trailers/ and http://io9.com/5461748/are-book-trailers-a-waste-of-time.
I have already done one book trailer about eighteen months ago for 'Gamers' Quest', a novel aimed at young teens written by local author and friend of mine, George Ivanoff.


Although by no means a 'massive' YouTube hit, the trailer gave George an added marketing tool and considering  the onus of promoting a book often falls on the shoulder of the author rather than the publisher these days, every little bit helps. There are a number of things that I would do differently if I were doing the trailer now, but I am pleased with what I produced at the time.
'Mole Hunt' is a young adult science fiction novel - puts me in my comfort zone for a start. However, seems I am not going to be allowed to stay there for too long. The initial plan was to animate pre-drawn artwork in After Effects, but the artwork ended up falling through. Foolish me suggested that it might be possible to produce the characters as 3D artwork using Poser - I was careful to stipulate using stills rather than full animation, but I had still set myself something of a uphill battle.
I'll be perfectly honest - character work in 3D has always been a black art to me. I am quite comfortable modeling and animating hardware - happy to do that until the cows come home - but character work is not my forte. 'Star Trek: Aurora' - an animated Star Trek series had shown me that Poser might be the way to go.  Poser ( and its rival Daz3D Studio) provide you with a library of 3D figures, clothing and props which you can mix, match, tweak and animate to your hearts content. 'Aurora' demonstrated that it is capable of some very good results - in the right hands.
Now I just need to find out if my hands are the 'right' hands.






Still some texture tweaks and adjustments needed but not looking too bad so far. It has proved to be another one of those infamous multiple pipelines jobs though. The figures are set up and posed in Poser, then ported over to Vue Xstream for rendering - the native render output from Poser is a little lacking for me. Vue is meant to be able to handle Poser files natively, but I was finding that they were not always translating properly. In the end, I am saving the files out in Collada format which seems to transfer over without glitches.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ajax - Work Continues...

All those plans of getting much CG work done over Easter proved to be a little over enthusiastic. That being said , a number of things did get done, mostly 'under the hood' so to speak. An excellent article over on http://greyscalegorilla.com about optimising Cinema 4D renders had me tinkering with the Ajax scenes and achieving marked improvements in the render times - this will prove invaluable when it comes to getting the animation rendering out of the door. I also managed to track down a few render errors that were giving me the irrits and get those corrected as well.
Robert asked for a set of high res orthos for publicity material - so here they are for all to see. Click to embiggen.






Also been playing with getting Bill 'Tallguy' Thomas' excellent D5 mesh out of Blender and over in to Cinema 4D. Memories of 'Star Trek: Of Gods and Men' - read the previous article to see what I mean. After finally getting my head around Blender's modifier stack and how it handles exporting sub-D models, I now have a working D5 in Cinema 4D, and very nice it looks too!