Scene Alpha: Lunar Lullaby
Combined effort with a friend of creating a full scene in 3D with multiple shots and with audio. The scene was the teaser to the full movie that was the goal of a collaborative movie project TheProjectV1.
The scene starts from the point-of-view of a person in the countryside who has his mind set on watching a full solar eclipse, while Ave Maria is playing in the background. At the same time in India near the Taj Mahal, festivities have started celebrating the eclipse with fireworks. Suddenly, the sun breaks the darkness from the eclipse with Cradle of Filth music screaming in the background. The eclipse did not finish naturally, the moon is pierced. But by what or who?
(The slightly edited text below was written on September 23, 2001)
Because this was our first professional approach to making a scene, we did and still do not know the precise procedures to be followed. We simply grabbed a non-lined sheet of paper and drew, wrote, sketched and scribbled. The general idea was born.
We knew of course that all scenes are described in a script and storyboard. At that time I found in my possession a DVD movie.. The Matrix, and to my surprise it contained the entire script and storyboard. Inspired by this we wrote the script and sketched the storyboard.
Text: SCRIPT OF ALPHA01: LUNAR LULLABY Date: 1 January 2000 Published: ThePudge, Bosp ------------------------------------------------------- SETTING: Place: Taj Mahal (India), bushy hill Time of day: around noon, blue sky ------------------------------------------------------- Undefined character looks at the sky.. the sun is shining bright and the he tries to get a closer look at the sun and tries to keep his retina from burning by putting his hand in front of the sun. This however does not give a satisfying result, so he puts on his sunglasses. An almost complete solar eclipse is visible now. The filtered, incomplete, solar eclipse fades into a non-filtered complete solar eclipse. The corona shows itself around the blocked sun. The sky has darkened and stars pop up. The camera zooms out so the rest of the surroundings can be seen. This includes a mountain landscape and a temple resembling the Taj Mahal. Fireworks fairly light up the sky. Suddenly the bright sunlight appears again, way to soon, the eclipse has not ended yet. The light almost blinds the camera and lightens up the scenery. The main character, who had put off his glasses in order to watch the corona, puts his specs back on again. He has got a clear sight on the sun again and sees more than he wanted to see, because there.. in the middle of the moon.. is a large crack. The view fades to black and the person is left paralysed.
My Little Scenery
We made this looking up from the grass part, with the help of some of Maya Paint FX possibilities. It can produce a slab of grassy field, which looks realistic from a distance as well as upclose. It can also easily be made to move in the wind.
A Hand for Shelter
It was a coincidence that an early appreciator of TheProject, Octopuzzy, told me that he had made a model of a hand. Now it was up to me to do the animation part. I had to bone the hand. I have done this before in 3d Studio MAX but I hadn't really explored this in Maya. So this was an ideal practice for me. It turned out to be rather easy. Placing the bones and adjusting the weights and attracted polygons took an hour. Well I had to redo it 5 times, so I got the hang of it. After that I spend a large amount of time in studying my hand whilst doing a protecting pose and a put-on-sunglasses maneuver. It took a burned retina to get it right.
Spherical Moon Roundup
Ok, for a eclipse one needs a moon. I will surprise many people but the main model for the scenes with the moon was a sphere. There is not much more to say about the moon I made. The general sha-bang was to look at pics and avi's at the NASA and affiliates web site and just tweak the particle animation so that the eclipse would look a bit realistic.
Taj my Hall
For all you culture appreciators we added a little temple. It is widely known as the Taj Mahal. We weren't really original with the idea of using it. For instance, I rewatched Mars Attacks, in which the Taj Mahal gets scorched.. I also vaguely remember something in Independence Day and suddenly we found many models of the temple on the internet. Anyway, place the temple and just add some fireworks and the moon in the background et voilà. The major flash is a post-production in Shake.
The Sound of Music
Ok, now the scene looked pretty cool but it missed something. Well sound and music of course. One day I was looping scene alpha on my monitor. And we put on good old Ludwig's Avé Maria. For the latter part of the scene however the sugary music of Beethoven didn't really do it. Luckily I have a brother with a music taste in the other extreme. Cradle of Filth with their soothing track Malice Through The Looking Glass screamed to get into the movie. We edited the music with Syntrillium Cool Edit Pro 1.2, a simple yet complete multi-track wave-editor with a lot of FX included. A trained ear can for instance recognise a flanger, reverb and echo effect in Avé Maria. The allover effect was satisfying us.
This scene was my first real attempt into creating short movie. I learned about writing for screen and drawing storyboards. I learned boned animations in Maya and about Paint FX. I did a lot of research on watching hand movements and video footage from solar eclipses to create the animation. I spent quite some time tweaking the audio and editing the animated video material to increase tension. Also compositing scenes and adding effects like you would now in Adobe After Effects was new to me.
To me it was a milestone project because it was finally something that was finished and polished and done following a professional process.