317 Days. Three hundred and seventeen days since our last post. Hard to imagine, considering that when we first began this blog our goal was to update you, the reader, about our journey for this film each month. Today its become an afterthought because honestly, we’re hitting our stride in accomplishing so much work and our excitement continues to grow in completing this project. Unfortunately we haven’t set the time aside to create more blogs, so we hope you understand. But let’s get to it and show you where we’re at as we begin 2018.
Mask creation, bow and arrow construction out of energy, explosions, portal animation and human eye vfx are just a few achievements that happened last year in our visual effects realm. We used a plethora of plug ins from third party companies like VideoCopilot, Red Giant, and Trapcode, along with incredible After Effect scripts from AEscripts.com. These additional tools not only achieved our desired effect, but it also helped us in the time it took to create it. It’s amazing on how far we have come since the beginning of our first post where we were thrilled that we created an exploding title. Now? Well, take a gander at the gallery below and you be the judge.
We feel comfortable openly admitting that this particular area has been lax as far as productivity goes. If anything, our appreciation and respect to the wizards at Industrial Light and Magic and Weta Digital has exponentially increased. We knew going into this great odyssey that 3D modeling would have the highest learning curve to conquer. We’re still learning and are in the thick of it, but we can look back on 2017 and be proud of the steps we achieved.
We’ve successfully created two 3D sets from scratch from two different programs: Autodesk Maya and Maxon’s Cinema 4D. The Coke and Pepsi of 3D graphics. Our first set is a 1920’s speakeasy with a stage and grand ballroom, of which we began creating back in 2015 (Log 19). The set was tackled in Maya and it was our first experience using the software doing 3D modeling work. Because of our “maiden voyage”, we experienced major pitfalls that gave us headaches and heartaches. However we stuck with it, created solutions, and ultimately achieved compositing one of the many scenes that needed a 3D set.
The next 3D set we created was in Cinema 4D, which we called a Power Grid. It is essentially a huge power supply unit inside of your computer. Using the knowledge and experience we gained from working on the previous set, we cut our time spent in half. Getting comfortable in understanding the pipeline in how these sets are created from start to finish has been the major key in helping us to achieve our goals. 2018 will pave the way for completing our largest set in the entire film: the Gauntlet Arena. A gladiatorial stadium seating amphitheater where almost one third of our film takes place.
Riding the momentum from last year’s successes in designing and animating Pixel’s Tower (Log 26), we began tackling the design for the multiple scoreboards that are displayed during the game/film. Our main inspiration came from professional basketball scoreboards in the 1980’s mixed with 80’s video game design layouts and color schemes. The two we focused on this year were the Agility Challenge scoreboard and the Gauntlet Arena scoreboard. After finalizing the Gauntlet Arena look, we took that and created a quick character introduction for our gladiators before they do battle.
Since the beginning stages of the film, we always knew that our characters needed a shield to protect themselves. However we didn’t know what that would look like, especially considering that the shield itself is created from energy, instead of metal or copper. So taking the overall design theme that we’ve already established, we created a hexagon shield that constructs from the character’s hand. We were very happy with our end result and after seeing it composited in our shots, we look forward seeing our characters in action.
Yes, we can’t believe we’re saying this, but “production” is on our list. When production wrapped back in 2013 (Log 12), we didn’t have a clear idea on how to shoot certain action scenes that were to take place. Instead, our main focus was to capture all of the scenes where you saw the actors’ faces, as opposed to those where a mask was worn. We completed that in 2013, but we were left with this immense question mark of “what to do” or “how to” go about completing the rest of the film.
In November 2017, we decided to take a risk and film the action scenes of an actor on green screen as oppose to our first option, all 3D character animation. Even though it limited our camera angles doing the green screen route, we chose this simply because of time: the time it would take to do character animation would have been astronomical! Plus we’re already six years deep in this project, we want to see it completed. In seven production days that spanned over two months, we’ve completed an additional 400 shots covering nineteen different scenes out of seventy two. What’s more impressive than that is the chance to officially say, “Principal photography is wrapped!” Time for a happy dance.
As we teased at the end of Log 26, composer Kyle Smith was brought on board to score the film. After numerous meetings and pitched concepts of song ideas, we can proudly announce that Kyle has completed the first 20 minutes of the film. We are THRILLED! Not only is Kyle an exceptional musician, but he’s bringing the film’s authenticity to a whole new level. We personally chose NOT to share some of the song concepts he created because honestly, we want to have some mystery left for you guys to actually watch the finished product. Take our word for it, it’s well worth the wait.
To close, 2017 was the first year we decided to solely focus our efforts on Gauntlet and to not partake in any other freelancing opportunities. Because of that decision, our progress has been incredible. It’s now to the point of asking ‘when is going to be completed’, instead of ‘how is it going to be completed’ or ‘will it ever be completed’. We’re very thankful on where we’re at going into 2018 and most importantly, the unconditional support from the cast, the crew and our family encouraging us to continue to go the distance.
Can’t wait to see what 2018 brings us!
“If there’s a resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies.”
– Katheryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Detroit)