A moment in the sun Journals

Because every film needs a montage…

It’s been 9 to 15 October 2016 and I’ve got another 9 days until I leave for the Blender Conference. Despite losing half the week to gastroenteritis and a surprise migraine, I still managed to get another ten shots laid out. There’s one more sequence left to do with seven unfinished shots in it.

One particular shot is worrying me because it’s long, complicated, specific, action heavy and a bit story critical. It follows Pointy’s futile attempts to get a rock out of the ground. Its shot name is 03_A6_A.

In the previous shots, Pointy is a little annoyed and trying to switch off the hat so he doesn’t have to listen to Gronky having fun. In the shot after it, Pointy takes drastic measures to switch off the hat. I want to bridge those two parts of the story believably with Pointy losing his composure. The opening scene of the film shows that Pointy gets hurt because he doesn’t think things through, so if I tell the story right the audience has a sense of what’s coming and looks forward to it.

03_A6_A’s structure will be a quickfire montage of Pointy trying to get a stone out of the ground and hurting himself repeatedly. I draw my ideas as rough cartoons and this was idea #1:

There’s many ways that Pointy might try to get a stone out of the ground without success and they’re a good indicator of his current state of mind. If he’s calm, he might try to pull it out with his hands, lose his grip and punch himself. If he’s less calm, he might try kicking it out, then he hurts his foot and gets angry and tries something even more rash.

The sensible stuff goes at the beginning of the shot when he’s relatively calm and the sillier/weirder ideas happen towards the end. And as he goes through this he’s being driven nuts by the weird Gronky noises coming out of the hat. There’s a lot going on. 🙂

So once I’ve got enough good ideas for how Pointy can humiliate himself, I’ll put them in order and go through the usual pipeline – storyboards to refine the rough sketches, a “pitchamatic” to make sure the action is funny and flows well, a timed “flatmatic” (storyboards + soundtrack) with scratch dialogue to tune the pacing and finally a rough 3D version to flesh out the action. Hopefully by the end of that process I have a funny shot that advances the story and entertains the audience.

To stop myself stressing out about it too much, I’m telling myself this: even if it falls a bit flat, it’s just one shot and there’s plenty of other laughs later on. 🙂

Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you again next week! 🙂

A moment in the sun Journals Stuff I made

Right. 15 to 21 May 2016. Let’s do this. Sorry for today’s delay but I’ve been waiting for a storm to die down. 🙂

Last week was quiet. On Sunday, I tore through my to-do list for the 2D animatic like a thing possessed and knocked it on the head. This gave me a draft soundtrack and shot list which I was happy with, so it was time to kick off layout again. This means I get to play with the 3D versions of Gronky and.Pointy again too. Yaay!

The layout stage is for figuring out where to put the camera and where
the characters, props and scenery go in front of the camera. Basically I’m composing individual shots and making sure they flow nicely from one to the next while telling the story effectively.


Before I started working on shots, I created a template file to serve as a starting point for the majority of the shots. The screen is set up how I want it, there’s a render of the 2D animatic set as a background image with the soundtrack set up in the VSE, and all the assets are rigged and constrained and ready to animate.

In the template file, I’ve split up the assets like so:

  • Cameras and light on their own layer
  • Terrain on its own layer
  • Pointy and Gronky on their own respective layers with empties following Pointy’s head and Gronky’s hand
  • Pointy’s hat on its own layer parented to an empty which tracks Pointy’s head using location and rotation constraints
  • Gronky’s walkie talkie on its own layers parented to an empty which tracks Gronky’s hand through constraints
  • The plastic kangaroo on its own layer parented to an empty which doesn’t currently track anything

any given layout shot, I can just turn off any layers I don’t need and
get to work. Setting up the template took me a couple of hours but it’ll
save me a lot of repetition.


To start work on a shot, I set the start and end frames to the start and end of the shot in the 2D animatic – the animatic is visible as an overlay through the camera. I place the camera and assets to match the sketch, then I remake the 2D frames in 3D with a few extra bits like you can see above. The 2D version is of course just a starting point.

Once the shot is finished in rough, I boomsmash (playblast) it using OpenGL render, then drop it into the master edit over the 2D version.


I’ve got eighty shots to draft up and eleven of those are roughed and
in. The beginning has been slow going –
mainly fixing the assets and working around the usual health problems.
The current objective right now though is to have a first draft for
every single shot, then fix the problems in a refining pass.

So the movie’s pottering along. Not racing and not dead still or going backwards, but definitely moving forward! The more shots I do, the more I get back into the flow of it. I’m hoping to have layout all done by the end of June in time for a short winter break before I push ahead into animation. We’ll see!

Thanks for reading and I hope I’ll see you again next week!


24 to 30 January 2016, your time has come.

I got another cortisone shot on Thursday for my subacromial bursitis and I’m resting my shoulder much more vigilantly this time. Learnt my lesson there.

I’ve been continuing with SculptJanuary throughout the week. Today’s sculpt topic is “Stone Troll” and today’s image is a base mesh I modelled so I don’t have to Blob or Snake Hook any extremities from a cube. Learnt my lesson there too!

All in all, SculptJanuary has been great. Over January I’ve racked up 70+ hours of challenging and educational practical experience. This last week has been the most educational week for SculptJanuary so far because of the Torso sculpt last Sunday. Even though my torso sculpt didn’t really turn out that well, doing an intensive review of the torso’s skeleton and muscles has helped my confidence a lot.

There’s been other benefits. Doing intensive daily work with only a couple of hours a day spare has helped to sharpen and streamline my approach. The sculpts often took me out of my creative comfort zone pretty hard, especially early in the month. I’ve cultivated the patience and mental vigilance required to stick with the approach of capturing all the big detail before working on smaller stuff. And working with a sense of urgency and learning how to use limited time to the best effect – that’s been a long time coming. And memorising the sculpting hotkeys, and knowing when to use which brush for what, and and and…

Of course there’s also been the sculptures themselves. It’s been fantastic doing more character design after being in story development with Gronky and Pointy so long. (How about that quoll earlier this week? That quoll was awesome. Was it as awesome as the chimera? Maybe even more awesome…)

The biggest disadvantage has been that it hasn’t left time for anything else, so there’s nothing to report on “A moment in the sun” this week. Also the intensive work on the tablet finally killed my Wacom stylus and I’ve been working on a little old Bamboo Fun until the new stylus arrives by post from over east. The Bamboo Fun has a smaller surface and a noticeably lower refresh rate but it’s better than nothing.

That’s it for this week. Comments are welcome as always. 🙂 Now I’m off to watch Caminandes 3 again!


So that idea I’ve been hoping to have, something I can turn into a short movie.. I had it. And I’m doing it.

The project is working-titled: “A Moment In The Sun”. These are the two main characters. In the script their names are Gronky and Pointy.

My production diary so far:

30 April

  • Came up with the nugget idea during a tea break at work and sketched down a big monster being yelled at by a smaller monster. The smaller monster is standing in the larger monster’s shadow and ranting “You’re blocking out the sun!” – this is the central idea. It is a small thing. It is perfect for a “junior” animated short.

1 May

  • Drawing the two characters and figuring out what they should look like.

2 May

  • Did a sketch of the musical soundtrack, or at least something like a musical soundtrack. Won’t use it. It’s rocking but I wanted something a bit more sedate.
  • Drew that nectarine dragon thing. Decided it wasn’t Gronky enough.
  • Successfully carried off a nifty rigging experiment, the significance of which I shall reveal in good time.

3 May

  • Drafted up a script. It was three pages long and really elaborate. Vowed not to produce that script because it was too elaborate. I just want to make a little film, damnit. Just a little one to begin with. Is that too much to ask for? Is it? IS IT??!?
  • Got sketching some more. Figured out that Pointy should look like an arrow. Also figured out that Gronky should have more of a hump.

4 May (today)

Sunday is my focussed creativity day, so it was all systems go!

  • Resisted the urge to model the characters. Modelled an infinite white backdrop instead. Yeah!
  • Wrote a simpler iteration of the previous day’s script that went for half a page. No gag at the end.
  • Split the script up into story beats and shoved the beats into a spreadsheet. (I believe this may be known as a “beat sheet” in the biz.) I ended up with 23 story beats, including an ending where [REDACTED]
  • Drew storyboards from the “beat sheet” using Krita – any given beat took anywhere between one and seven drawings to do.
  • Compiled a story reel in Blender with the storyboard drawings timed out.
  • Viewed the story reel. The ending was.. rubbish.
  • Rewrote the ending. The events leading up to the ending are a set-up and the ending is now a pay-off. Comedy!
  • Re-drew storyboards, recompiled story reel.

I ended up with about seventy storyboard drawings in the end, and timed out they add up to a movie that runs about 65 seconds (1560 frames) long. Works for me!

This is not a profound tale of profound significance through the ages. It is merely a light-hearted tale about a gentle giant and a one-eyed shadow-hating idiot.

Maybe the full working title should be “A moment in the sun between a gentle giant and a one-eyed shadow-hating bastard”. AMITSBAGGAAOESHI for short. Or in French: “Un moment au soleil entre un doux géant et un salopard borgne qui déteste les ombres.”