Earth Shattering Pictures production thread

I'm working on several different projects at once.
The first is a 15 minute short sci-fi film called 'Metamorphosis'. I've done all of the principle photography for it and I am currently working on the portions that need to be animated. This project blends filmed footage with a lot of computer generated elements composited into it.
I'm about 50% done with it as of this date.
The second is a shorter 10 minute fantasy film called 'Fire Realm'. I'm doing this one almost entirely with computer generated assets. About the only real parts will be a few shots of me with the green screen. I'm planning on generating terrain/landscapes either in Vue 10.5 or Bryce. The characters will be mostly animated. I've even created an animated double of myself to use for stunts or shots where it's not practical for me to film it on the green screen.
I've just started this project as I wanted to wait until I could use Luxrender to render my animations for this project. But I've been practicing terrain generation in Vue 10.5 PLE to see if I can use it in my workflow to get the results I want.
Third is a comedic parody of the 'Man of Steel' trailer / Superman Returns. About 60% finished.
1. The teaser poster for Metamorphosis.
2. The animated version of myself
compared to non-animated me
Recently, I've upgraded my animation render engine to Luxrender, which handles light and surface textures in a much more realistic fashion. I've only just started with it the last couple of days, but I am encouraged by early results.
Here is a sample of the dragon I'll be using in Fire Realm without Luxrender:
And the same sample with Luxrender:
You can already see, the dragon looks much less cartoonish and plastic-like (I just did the animation and lip-sync in 15 minutes - the final product will have much better animation). So I'm hopeful this new render engine will allow me to increase the quality of my work, while speeding up render times since I'll be able to network computers together in a mini-render farm.
While the computer is busy rendering that, I'm writing a screenplay for a longer form sci-fi film that I've had kicking around in my head for some time.
I'm also editing a 470,000 word epic fantasy novel that I've already written. At a future point, there will be a series of short films that connect to that novel.
And I am also sketching out ideas for sample commercials I can shop around to local businesses in an attempt to get commissioned work and a couple ideas for short animated videos to bring in subscribers to my YouTube channel.


  • Looking pretty buff ES. 470,000 words!!! that's insane. Are you going to split it into multiple books?
  • Yeah, I hit the gym and workout a lot. :P
    No, it's all one book. I had actually written a sequel to that book about the same size, but looking back on it now, I'm really unhappy with large chunks of it. So I'm just going to do a complete rewrite after I finish the editing on the first book.
  • This week, I've been working on Fire Realm. I'm really excited to have luxrender in my workflow and to finally have it humming along (although not without difficulty). One of the main characters in Fire Realm is a fairie creature (wood sprite). Here's a look at what just came off of the render this afternoon.
    I'm very happy with how it's handling the textures and light so far.
    And the movie is going to have some very complicated visual fx challenges for me in hitfilm as well. I've already run a few tests in HitFilm and I can see it isn't going to be easy.
    I need to figure out a way to make a good melting effect. It needs to look like one layer is melting to reveal the layer below it. Still playing with some ideas for that.
  • Besides starting work on Fire Realm, I've also started working on a promotional video for Earth Shattering Pictures to use to try and round up some commissioned work. Here's a look at what's rendering right now. 3 guesses as to what kind of visual effects I'll be adding when I composite it together in HitFilm.
  • edited September 2012
    I am continuing to work on my promotional video this weekend.
    The robot is about to have a bad day.
    A combination of HitFilm and Video Copilot will be supplying a slow motion muzzle flash here. And then the camera will pan around as the bullets go past in slow motion and you see the robot take them to the face.
    Texturing has been more challenging than I had thought, especially getting a rifling pattern I was happy with on the bullets. Crazy Bump was an enormous help there after I went through making a dozen different iterations of bullets in Hexagon.
    Of course, after Friday's announcement, I'm wondering how the workflow would improve if I was using HitFilm2. 8-|
  • Here is a quick preview of where I am headed with this video.
    Everything is still in really rough form and this is only a tiny piece of the much larger reel, but I had to stop and throw something together quickly (like 10 minutes to do it because I need to show a potential client my progress).
    But I also thought I'd throw it up here. I know it isn't very good yet, but that will be changing when I have more than 10 minutes to composite it!
  • I have a request to do some animation, for a well known Hollywood personage, that may lead to some commissioned work. A lot of 'if','possibly', and 'maybe' there, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway. I went without sleep last night to get the animation all setup and ready to render. The first scene from my show reel should finish rendering in a few hours and then I can begin rendering the requested scene.
    It takes place in an art museum (most of which is created digitally) and is very different from anything that I've done before. Aside from color grading and compositing, there shouldn't be much for me to do in HitFilm; No explosions, magical energy bursts, or gun fire. But there are some interesting camera angles and shots and a little Hitchcock-esque tension.
    Updated to luxrender 1.0 stable release. That means I can use outlier suppression in a queue without crashing the program. Yay! I am now getting higher quality renders.
    Here's a quick image of what's rendering now. About 17 minutes per frame.
    The only problem is now I want to go back and rerender other stuff to take advantage of the newer version of the render engine. :/
  • This weekend, I'll be rendering the first sequence on a potentially commissioned project.
    Also, I'm eager to get back to rendering on Fire Realm. I have more shots animated and ready to render there with the dragon. But I lacked a good environment for the dragon to inhabit. Fortunately, Vue was having a sale on their terrain modeling software and 1/3 off was too much for me to resist. So I broke down and bought a commercial license for it. I've been practicing on their personal learning edition, so I'm mostly ready to jump in and start rendering the first images that aren't covered with watermarks to be used for Fire Realm. Up until now, I've been using Bryce which, though free, has been very unwieldy and cartoony. I like Vue's GUI/workflow much better.
    My dragon will now have a world to inhabit (2 actually) and skies to fly through. I just ran a quick sample render to check the render speed and confirm everything is working.
    So now armed with the appropriate compositing / modeling / animation / terrain modeling software, I feel a little like Luke Skywalker when Yoda told him that he didn't require any more training. :P
    Very excited at what I've got cooking.
  • A sneak preview of a couple frames from 'Fire Realm'. This scene was 100% digital. The terrain was made and rendered in Vue and my digital doppelganger and dragon were rendered in Luxrender.
    And then later for close-up shots, I'll use some live footage of myself in front of the green screen:
    But since I don't have a 3 wall green screen with motion trackers, I can't really move the camera around. That's where having a digital doppelganger will come in really useful. I'll be able to get all the camera movement I want. So I'll have some nice rollercoaster type camera shots as the dragon is flying and diving downwards.
  • Really cool stuff ES pictures! The over the shoulder shot (or wing!) of you and the dragon is amazing- the texturing and the detail of the landscape is unbelievable. Good luck with that possible commission!

  • Really cool stuff ES pictures! The over the shoulder shot (or wing!) of you and the dragon is amazing- the texturing and the detail of the landscape is unbelievable. Good luck with that possible commission!

    Thanks, Mercian! I'm rendering different flight cycles and camera angles/movements, some shots of the dragon turning and speaking to him as they're flying, and then there's a rollercoaster style drop towards the ground where the dragon is corkscrewing towards the ground as I scream my head off. :))
    The really amazing stuff will hopefully be when it's all composited together into one scene with quick action cuts between the different scenes.
    I'm going to try and finish it up as fast as I can while maintaining good production values and submit it to the Geekie Awards for their short film catagory. (
    Vue has some awesome features. Basically, you can create a terrain model and then paint an ecosystem composed of 3D models onto the terrain. And once I have the terrain the way I want, I can take an HDR exported picture of it and put it into Luxrender to do IBL lighting of my model there. I really think I'll be able to step up production values a lot now.
  • I haven't posted an update in a while. I took some time off to render something that didn't pan out. I'm currently modeling terrain in Vue and learning how to do motion tracking in Blender (thanks for the tutorial Spydurhank!) and also some Blender ocean simulation. Hopefully, I'll be able to combine the best elements of everything together into my film.
  • Currently, I'm continuing to work on 'Fire Realm'. I'm really excited about it and I think it's coming together nicely.
    'Metamorphosis' is on hold for a bit, until I get more comfortable working with the physics engine in Blender. There's a complicated VFX shot that's going to take some finesse in there.
    I have a script written for Halloween horror film. Most of it will be shot practically, with a relatively small amount of animation. The biggest hurdle is corralling actors. But I think I've got a cast now and I can shoot it next weekend (fingers crossed). Hopefully that leaves enough time to have it edited and animation/VFX added by Halloween (Hey, I'm an optimist). I tend to lean more sci-fi and fantasy than horror, but this is a horror/fantasy based partly on a 19th century short story and partly on a series of nightmares I had when I was 5 years old. Hopefully, it will all gel together and my pre-production efforts will pay off.
    Also, while doing the pre-production for that, I have some animation rendering that will hopefully lead to commissioned projects. Unfortunately, it's slow rendering (about 45 minutes per frame).
    So I finally had enough and bought another computer to help with some distributed rendering for animation. Like my current setup, it's a 3.5Ghz Hexacore system. But AMD/Radeon instead of Intel/NVIDIA. Hopefully, I'll be able to come close to cutting render times in half. The current sllllooooowwwwww rate is holding me back. I've got too many great ideas and projects to accomplish and the slow renders are eating my time. So hopefully, that will arrive at some point this week and I can start getting more done. :D
  • New computer came today.
    With just one computer rendering, a single frame took 45 minutes.
    Once I added the new computer in, the render time for the same frame dropped to 23 minutes. So about half of what it was and about where I'd hoped to be.
    I'm really excited/chuffed. I can now hopefully start doubling my productivity.
  • edited October 2012
    I had a rather disappointing week. The horror movie turned out to be fraught with problems. The weather screwed up all the outdoor scenes. My actress didn't have her lines even close to memorized, so instead of directing performance, I was devoting more time to feeding her lines. I went out of my way to juggle schedules and get everyone together at the same time. Half way through the shoot, my lead actress's mom calls me to tell me that my lead actress has cheerleading practice and had to leave immediately. Oops.
    So, I'm still going to try and finish the film, but it's going to take some creative camera shots since I don't think I can get my actors together again at the same time in the near future. And it's definitely not going to be done by Halloween. -sad face-
    I'm trying to stay positive though and think of the solution rather than concentrate on the problems. Animation is much simpler in this regard, since your actors are always sitting on your hard drive. hah
    Animation is going really well though. The second machine is up and running. I have it stashed away in the basement, so it should stay cool. And I just pipe the display up to my primary computer to control it remotely.
    Now, I'm just wishing I could add 5 more.
    I've also created a production journal at:
    I plan to use that to go more in-depth on stuff I'm working on and maybe as a place to put more tutorials and general movie making pontification.
    The first journal post is about Fire Realm and why fantasy is an important genre to me. It also has a few more tidbits about the plot of the movie.
  • It's been a while since I've updated, so I figured that now was a good time. I've got a lot of animation rendered and a lot more to do. I've been animating as fast as I can, but it's sometimes a slow and difficult process. Something as normal as walking down a set of stairs has been challenging to do as an animation, because if I don't get it exactly right then it will look fake. So I spend a lot of time animating and shooting reference video.
    I'm also playing around with HF2U trying different stuff out and making presets for stuff. I'm also continuing to practice terrain modeling in Vue. And I always try and spend a few hours a day writing.

    I see a lot of other hitfilmers are making use of the modeling importer and suddenly have a lot of helicopters popping up on the movie wall. But I was disappointed to see that my favorite helicopter wasn't there.
    So while I'm banging my head on the desk trying to get other stuff to animate properly, I've had another animation rendering in the background to rectify that. It's also giving me a chance to practice modeling a mesa and desert terrain in Vue.
    Bonus points if you can guess what my favorite helicopter is.
  • This is a quick test of my matchmoving pipeline. My goal here was to track the camera, get a good solve, and then get that data imported into Daz for animation. I then composited everything together in HitFilm.
    A little motion blur on the animation would better help sell the shot but I'm happy with how the camera solve came out.
  • Out of curiosity, what did you use for tracking?
    There's a bit of sliding/drifting, especially towards the end of the clip.
    Considering you composited in Hitfilm 2, you could've used the Optical Flow based Motion Blur.
  • edited December 2012
    Yeah, it's far from perfect camera solve. I tracked it in PFHoe, which will export data in .fbx. I then had to go through a rather convoluted process to get the data imported into Daz. I noticed the bit of drift right at the end, but I think that's because I was doing a simultaneous dolly/pan on the camera and it got confused. I was trying to get a good sense of what I could and could not do before I go out and shoot a scene for a real project and screw myself. So I tried a sudden tilt at the beginning, a dolly, and a pan. I figured those would be the most common things to watch out for when doing an actual production shoot.
    I didn't spend much time on the composite since I'm supposed to be working hard on a paid commission *guilty look* but the render finished and I had to do a quickie composite to see what it looked like. I'll give the Optical Flow a try later this week maybe.
  • I found your latest matchmove video very impressive, also I had forgotten all about Airwolf which I used to enjoy
  • edited December 2012
    Thanks. I was planning on doing an IronMan style HUD for the pilot as an updated take on Airwolf and a way to shoot without having any actual props. I have the initial takeoff sequence from inside the hollow mesa done. I made some desert terrain in Vue that I'm still tweaking the ecosystem on, but which is pretty much done. So whenever I have a chance, I'll render the desert fly-through sequence with a couple of F-16 Falcons in pursuit.
  • I've been working hard this week on an animated commercial. I got the video itself done in under a week. Now, I'm just waiting for word on what they want to do for the voice over. But the good news is that they like the video and I have permission to share the final result. So I'll be including some of it in my 2012 demo reel and I'll be able to show the finished video to other potential clients and post on this thread. :D
  • That's good news, hopefully we will get a chance to see it. Will be interesting to see your professional work.
  • edited January 2013
    Here it is. It's a 30 second TV/web advertising spot. The voice over is going to be redone before the final broadcast version is burned to disc, but the video itself is locked:
    The character is a custom morph I did. It's a caricature of the business owner.
  • I was trying out some fiber mesh fur this morning to see how it'd go. Here's a bear with 500k strands.
    It generated an 850 megabyte object file when I exported to luxrender.
    So it's a little too resource intensive for everyday rendering, but it's nice to have the option.
  • edited March 2013
    Nearly finished with one of the models I've been working on making. I did most of the modeling in Hexagon and then switched to Blender to add some accent pieces, lettering, and do the uv mapping and texturing.
    I just need to add some more accent pieces to the ticket booth, posters for the display cases, etc. and the exterior of the theater is finished.
  • edited March 2013
    I'm still working on many things at once.  But I'm getting close to completion on some of them.  But it seems like forever since I've actually posted any video here, so I decided to post this short piece in progress.
    I've finally started loading part of an animated short I've been working on into HitFilm and started adding VFX & foley.  Making use of some light flares & neon glow in this segment.
  • edited March 2013
    I tried editing my last post but it didn't work so well.  Forgot to change the blend mode on a layer before I uploaded and wasn't paying attention last night. 
    And a blog post about doing foley:
    Anyway, here's the video with the correct blend mode:
  • Many things that I need to accomplish today.  One of which is trying to determine how werewolf hair should look.

Sign in to comment