Suggestions not explicit details

Last night as I was modeling some stuff with Zspheres in Zbrush... I got to finish a low poly/subD version of the figure I was making... it was 300 polys or something.... I liked it... but for some reason I didn't move on... I subdivided it... then added details then subdivided it again and again till it was like 3 million polys and I didn't like it anymore... I realized once I had gotten the basic form... the suggestion of what I was going for my inner artist was like ok cool move on... but my geek mind was like more polys because you CAN! Lets use all 8 gigs of RAM!!! (Steve Ballmer woo)

Thinking about high poly... high detail stuff hmmmm...

I HATE working with multimillion poly models in a makes everything so slow its NO FUN at all to animate...

BUT I came up with that solution to use low poly models with high res SPD maps right? YES but... those do take some time to render... I haven't done a test to see what a scene with a bunch of characters and objects with hardcore SPD maps and a bunch of lights will take to render... but I have an inkling it might take forEVER....

I was just watching trailers for some next gen games including Resident Evil 5 and the level of detail in them is NUTS!!!

As an artist you need to pick and choose your battles carefully... now if I make a 3d animated film in 2010/2011 it will be compared to whats in films and games at that time... and there's NO WAY I could make 2 hours of 3d animation at such a high level of detail in the time I'm giving myself ...NOR would I want too... its just how like photorealism doesn't interest me...

So as a lone animator what do you do? You pride yourself on giving the viewer something they can't get from those other thanGS... NO its NOT going to be "higher quality" I throw that out the window!!!! You are going to give them something extremely unique, exotic and sincere...

Sooooo once I throw the whole "super high detail" thing out the window what do I focus on? Suggestions... Wha?! A simple silhouette... done well can convey a lot more than any fancy character with a weak pose... So I focus on the basics... Minimalism... Its something I've been thinking about for a while after I did that Rabbit Junk promo... It was so fast and simple but I liked it... and everything was so low poly it was fun to do as well... also I find myself drawn to minimalist animations...

So I'm making this film with nothing but 3d primitives!!!!

Starring: CONE, Sphere, CUBE

^ ^ Not that minimalist... hmmmm lots more tests and thinking too do... If I used low poly models I could focus more on the movement of things which I enjoy...hmmmm....


  1. Great idea to boil your work down to simple, imaginative images. Those gaming dudes have rooms full of rendering computers and an army of people pumping away on models. And so many of them look exactly the same.

    Style is the key thing, I think. Individual style based on imagination and intelligence (and also on what you can afford). Stan Brakage lost his 16mm camera so went out and bought an 8mm one cheap. Spent the rest of his career working with 8mm off and on. Decided at one point to simply paint on the film to create images. It's possible that none of that would have happened if his camera hadn't been stolen and he had to improvise.

    It's all about how you overcome limitations using your creativity.

    And, frankly, the combination of 2d and 3d in WATS was one of the things I really enjoyed about it. Made the film stand out amidst all of the high-poly-look-the-same 3d shorts I'd been seeing.

    So, hell yeah! Get with the low poly stuff. If it allows you to match the speed of your crazy mind, then go for it.

  2. Mdot, you sir inspire me. Have I told you that before?

    Your blog has been so great to read. I can actually understand what you're saying unlike some people who want to use cryptic language. You get your point across in a rather inspiring way much like your movies.

    So dude, have you heard of Reboot? It was a kids show that was on long ago. It was one of the first of it's kind- 3D animated. As a kid who was interested in computers, I loved watching it. The 3D animation quality was simple and cartoony, and had some crazy characters in it that were simple yet unique. The storyline had a fantastic setting, inside the world of a computer.

    So like, just about every episode a giant purple glowing CUBE came smack down in the middle of the city (er... motherboard city? i dunno). Everytime this happened it was alert everyone "Warning Incoming Game"... it was a game that the "user" pops in the computer and the main characters had to jump in it and win, else the cube would destroy whatever it set down on...

    Yeah, doesn't make sense at all... but what I'm getting at is-
    THAT HUGE PURPLE CUBE SCARED THE CRAP OUTTA ME. Why? I mean... its just a cube. But dang! That thing was huge, ominous, and had a weird 90's texture on it. :| Thats why I love you man! You're a purple cube! ...

    wait. Wut?

    Lost my train of thought.

    Anyways, I totally agree man. Keep it simple, keep it to what you do best. I'm really excited to see HSM come together!

    Your future DVD buyer ~ Zax

  3. Super low poly models with with smooth animation would be crazy. Especially if you mixed in some crazy effects. I can just imagine a sword fight involving square limbs and motion blur... and it's awesome.

  4. Dude, you ARE low poly. I'm sorry, but in my personal opinion, that's where you belong. You're whole style is retro lo-fi, so it just makes sense.

    Lets think about hi poly, realistic stuff, not just from a super shiny nerd view, but in context with your work. The rabbit junk video for example. It works because of your low poly stuff. Replace the hammer fisted rabbit with a hi-poly Chris Redfield outta RE5, and all of a sudden the animations you gave it looks dumb.

    ...and not good dumb, I mean "omg wtf this is retarded" dumb.

    Your whole style is this weird madness that we can't get anywhere else. Your art takes us to a place that's totally unlike anything we've ever seen. Don't kill the euphoric world you create with high res super detailed geometry. Keep it simple. Easier for you, better for the project. And its want you really want to do anyways.

    My 2 cents at least.

  5. I remember you mentioning you wanted HSM to be more serious. But you dont need to sacrifice any style or humor to do so. You could have a dude wearing a pink sombrero tell a sad story about his relationship with his father. You would laugh at his hat or maybe envy him for it, but the emotions would still come through.
    WATS was silly but it had a lot of serious emotion too. The only thing I would say to improve on is give characters more expression - like on their face. Blue for example was the easiest to connect with, because she had dem big ol' anime eyes.

    BTW i made myself a tshirt with your logo on it all gigantic - im gonna go around to all my friends like a walking billboard! I'm loves you - Cant wait for HSM!

  6. Hopefully we'll be comparing your movie to "Ninja Scroll", "Wicked City", etc, rather than the latest 3d movie or game in 2010.

    I remember I bought the "We Are the Strange" dvd because the monsters in the trailer looked really cool... and they were mostly stop-motion.

    ZBrush is cool because it makes 3d sculpting more organic & intuitive,
    but super-photorealistic 3d is way less impressive than this -->

    So in conclusion, just make sure that the monsters look cool, and the poly-count won't matter.

  7. Dear M Dot and friends, I'll add my two cents (to these really great comments) by telling you guys about a book called from Shamus Culhane called "Animation:From Script to Screen". It is a totally useful practical book written by a Disney animator (before the 3D days). The part that I want to point out here is where he talks about the two sides of the brain and how the "rational, controlling" part of the brain will sabotage the "unconscious, creative" side by sidetracking it with technical problem solving (in those days it was more about "erasing, getting new paper or sharpening the pencil") but also about spending hours on some little detail or some angle or some other aspect of the drawing that wouldn't really add much to the film, but would totally cut the creative flow. Well, I have the feeling this is a similar situation, M Dot, you've spent weeks setting up a supermega workstation (of course necessary and for some people great fun!), now you've got lots of "talks and trips" a new version of C4D and Zbrush to learn... hmmmm, sounds like the creative side has been totally pushed out of the picture! As I already mentioned in my comment to the "Testing my Own principles" post, you did an awesome job with WATS and hopefully you won't get into that weird unconscious pressure mode that "this new film has to be a gazillion times mega cooler than WATS", because that will kill your creative guy inside! The pressure will be way too much to handle, and in the meantime the "control freak guy" will spend all of 2009 solving technical problems and giving presentations.... I can't believe your forcing yourself to work on the film during your trips, when you could be experiencing all those new environments and getting super inspired. You do have a super-duper-mega-workstation at home waiting for you...

  8. cubeecraft! Analog lowwww poly.... in paper!

  9. A little nerd imput here: You can model low poly in c4d and bring it into zbrush, subdivide, sculpt on the smoothed mesh then export the low poly with normal maps. Most current generation games use normal maps (for better or worse) because you can get a semi-hi-poly look without adding any polygons or using displacements. They're sort of like roided-out bump maps.

    That being said, I don't think you really need em. Normal maps are decidedly un-8bit.

    Oh and you should double check to see that c4d will render them... max and maya will but I've never used c4d.



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