The virtual cast is set!

So I finished all 30 or so characters for the new film... they are all modelled, textured, rigged... all have auto lip sync setup and morphs ready to go... they are all ready to be animated! But I must thank my assistant/girlfriend for taking care of some of the repetitive work on the characters...

I thought I was going to be able to use the same morphs for all the character heads by setting them up on one head... then using morphs to switch the different heads and then using the jaw rigging/skinning/facial expression morphs that I had setup on the first completed head... it did work BUT it didn't produce nice/reliable facial expressions as some of the faces were so different from the base head...

So what I did was create a master face controller rig with all the user data sliders setup for the facial expressions... then I went through and created/exported all the morphs for each character and handed the files over to my lovely assistant... then she imported the morphs and linked them to the user data sliders I setup with Xpresso... and sent the files back to me...

Once all the auto lip sync/morphs were setup I just had to make some small checks on all the characters... making sure they were all on their own layers, with a separate layer for the head rig as it has a ton of expressions which slows down viewport speed... putting the head rig on its own layer allows it to be switched off when animating the characters body...

Looking at my calendar I see that this part was completed right on schedule which is always nice ^ ^

Now I'll move onto to building the sets and props... with this film I decided to keep it simple so the whole film takes place inside of a tiny village and the surrounding forest... there's three or four complicated set pieces but nothing too insane...

I'm going to give myself about a month to build/texture/light everything... then about a week or two to do render tests, make matte paintings, and do final checks before going into production with the New Year ^_^

There's no better way to usher in a new year than to go into production on a new animated feature film ^_^ A new dream to float inside of....

I hope to launch the Kickstarter for the film in a week or two as if I'm going to be able to hire voice actors I'll need some lead time to get them recorded before production begins...

Unlike with HSM you'll be able to see and learn a little about the characters and the world right from the get go as I'll show some of that stuff for the kickstarter campaign... if you have any ideas/recommendations about the campaign... like what I should offer as rewards etc please let me know!

The look of this film might surprise those of yall who have been with me for awhile... because in my opinion the look isn't very strange at all... well the monsters are ^_^ but the characters are pretty normal looking in my opinion... pretty standard 3d anime looking...

I literally wrote the whole 92 page script in 3 days... and from start to finish the characters took about 2 weeks... so with this I'm trying not to over think or over tweak... just tell a story that means something to me and have it be interesting and exciting...

If I am to meet my personal goal of releasing a new animated feature film every other year I'll have to do everything this fast... so far so good! (EVEN though the corsair SSD I just got to use as my boot drive freezes randomly 0_o) but yeh same PC I used to make HSM... the only new thing I got was the SSD.


  1. This is so exciting dude!!! I like villages and forests! And the tuff lookin leather dudes with the perfecto jackets on the bottom left!! hahaha

    1. Glad yer excited d00d! ^_^ Yeh I'm stoked to be able to realize a film in such a short time... no more 3+ year projects for me!

  2. when i saw the picture i was thinking "This looks a little toned down". When do we get to discover the title of this movie? or have we already and i'm just slow..?

    1. Yeh the character design is definitely not so strange BUT its not something I set out to do... I wrote the story then created character designs to match their personalities and the vibe of the story... and they turned out not so strange or scary looking...

      Once I decided to create "humans" with lip sync... I really only had three options... photo realistic humans... cute cartoony humans... or some uncanny valley freakshows... I chose the cute/cartoony look because I didn't want the look of the characters to take attention away from the story and by having everything APPEAR cute and nice its actually a part of the story so it all worked out ^_^

  3. I was thinking and had an idea. You do one movie a year or that is the goal, 1 every 1 1/2 years. I calculated that is approximately around 5 minutes a month. With that in mind I thought how great it would be for you to serialize the new movie.

    I think if you serialized it you'd keep and hold a larger audience. I'm sure a lot of us hang around because we invest in you as a creator. We like what you do, we want to do what you do and we like to see when you finished.

    But the general audience usually follows the end result. Some who have watched We Are the STrange and loved it may have stopped right there. It took you 3 years to make the next film and in that time I'm betting 90% of WATS audience didn't even know you made a movie. Out of sight out of mind. You did not leave the other 10% of our minds because we love to watch your progress as much as we like watching the movie. So we stay logged on to your website. But some folks just like watching movies. They don't care how they are made or by whom. And because of that you end up out of sight out of mind unless they stumble onto you again.

    Movie Viewer Type 1:
    "Oh hey that guy that made WATS made another movie, wow I wonder whatever happened to that dude"

    Movie Viewer Type 2: I can't wait till Heart STring Marionette for 3 years, watching this site for the updates.

    .....a better way to put it....Imagine in the 60s if a Spiderman comic came out only once a year, or a Batman or Superman comic only came out once a year....people would not have invested in it, out of site out of mind.

    think about Osama Tezuka, most of his stuff was serialized and later compiled into bigger books. He had constant contact with his fans. Keeping the relationship between not just him and the readers, but more importantly the characters and the readers.

    I think serializing the movie would keep the hardcore fans super happy seeing a 5 minute episode once a month. It will keep the more passive viewers who are mainly interested in the story and characters and not the process or creator coming back every month. It will just keep your worlds fresh in the minds.

    But that is just my opinion. I guess what I'm saying is that I want to see a series and would be ecstatic to see an Mdot cartoon once a month. Then when you are done, compile it and release it on DVD. I just think that would create a larger audience. Keep things fresh and flowing all the time.

  4. Hey i thought id say what types of kickstarter rewards, (as a fan) i know would be cool to have.
    Signed concept sketches for the film.
    KickStarter backer exclusive T-shirts n stuff of that nature.
    Signed copies of the script. (pretty much anything signed, even fun things like "A signed pair of Mdot's socks he wore during rendering time")
    I remember a while back you mentioned something about having the ability to possibly make HSM toys... little figures would super balls to get as a prize, too.


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