I AM NIGHTMARE production diary #3

Cinema 4d Viewport (No textures, layer color mode)
Untouched render out of Cinema 4d (lens distortion post fx causing increased field of view compared to viewport image)
Composited render out of After Effects

So that's what a shot looks like as it moves through my pipeline- here's some screen caps from Cinema 4d and After Effects...

If you have any questions about any of this post them here or over on the podcast page and I'll answer them on a future episode of the podcast.

Since I don't have the final voice acting takes yet I'm working on shots like the above that don't have any dialogue and creating walk/run/idle cycles for all the characters.

Instead of waiting until I get to a shot for a particular character when they need to walk and creating it at that time- I'm creating cycles for all the characters ahead of time. I don't know how many walk/run cycles I've done but I still refer to these sheets by Richard Williams every time- I have them taped to the wall next to my workspace

I have a love/hate thing with these cycles- I hate to start them but I love to watch them once I've finished them ^_^

Once I create a single cycle of animation I convert them to motion clips so I can use them in other scenes on the same characters. I have about 36 more cycles to create- it should take me two or three days to finish them all.

I start serious production in about a week- as I've started slow with simple shots mixed in with testing and prep work like the walk/run cycle creation- once I start serious production I hope to animate all 1500-2000 shots in 6 months- that would be about 10 shots animated per day every day ^_^

It's a pretty crazy work rate but I feel a bit too relaxed and I need to throw some excitement into the mix! I love to challenge myself and this would be my biggest challenge so far as an animator/filmmaker.

Here's an image of another early completed shot of the Mayor and his Advisor

I used a model from Heart String Marionette as a center piece for the table- AND it does provide some subtext in this situation in I am Nightmare- the candles are also from HSM but I created a 3d flame replacing the real candle flame texture I used in HSM- my old candle flame was an image seQ with alpha that I filmed on my video camera- it looked nice BUT alpha's don't play well with visible/volumetric lights in C4d so I decided to use a 3d flame instead so I can go nuts with my visible/volumetric lights ^_^ 

The above frame took a little under a minute to render on my old i7 920 so render times are pretty fast- as you can see with the progress images at the top of my post I do a lot of the heavy style in After Effects- those renders are fast as well...

Contrary to what some people might think I do not and have NEVER used GI in any of my work- I don't use area lights or ambient occlusion either- all my lighting/rendering is done using spot and ambient lights and the standard render engine- I just three point lighting setups and careful use of visible and volumetric lights to get my images to look the way I want while rendering fast.

In the coming months I will release "M dot Strange's Atmosphere Pack" which will be a collection of project files, presets, stock footage and tutorials for Cinema 4d and After Effects- they will be things that I use on my own projects. A lot of people have asked me questions regarding the atmosphere I create in my images so I'm going to do my best to help people add more atmosphere to their projects. Right now I'm not sure how much I'll charge for it but it will be reasonable.

And as a final note thanks to the recent people who pre-ordered I AM NIGHTMARE! Your postcards are in the mail!


  1. Ah ma gad. This is looking amazing so far. I am seriously getting pumped for this film. Atmosphere pack sounds dope as shit.

  2. I love the Mayor and his Advisor! Yeah you're the king of creating atmosphere, that's for sure.

  3. Wow, that's quite a quota! I'm happy if I manage to finish twenty seconds of animation a week. Full time, that is.. Good idea about the Atmosphere Pack as well, your really good at that.

  4. Exciting stuff M Dot, I cant wait to get my hands on the atmosphere pack, An im loving this film journal so far.

  5. Those walk cycle sheets are handy.. I'm going to print those out and stick them on top of my monitor.

  6. I think it looks really good. The characters here are more well defined and recognized.

    I have few questions, do you render your film in hd1080 or hd720? What resolutions/size do film festivals accept? etc sundance?

    1. Thanks!

      I do my 3d renders at 1920x802 24fps because I like shooting in 2.39:1 ratio

      Bigger festivals like Sundance last time I checked want HD on HDCAM and SD on Betacam but that might have changed since I last looked.

  7. What timings do you use for your walk/run cycles? I've always done walks on 12's and runs on 8's...


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