Pre/Selection movie progress status

by Browser [ICE]

(last update done on Sept-1st, 2007)

 

Introduction

For those that don't know what the movie Pre/Selection is about, it's a movie that tells the story of how the TSA marines came to war with the Kharaa aliens. It tells the initial encounter of both species. This movie and idea was originaly conceived by the GWFilms group. Initialy I wasn't part of this project and I wasn't part of theire group either. After seeing a 3d model of mine representing the TSA armory, I was asked to join this project and do the models. At first I was only supposed to do the models but was later asked to take charge of the whole thing. This was after a revised ressource management they had done for all their current projects. This is my first serious project as I have been modeling for only 2 years on a part time basis, so I am not an expert nor a beginner. I am an advanced beginner.

As many of you have heard about a dozen different movies based on the NS games, you have in time seen very often that most of them never see the day. Well I don't want to be one of them. I want to make this movie come true. It is a learning process for me and what better way to learn then to work on such a project. Doing this, not much news has been released about the movie nor about its current status. I want to change this without going against GW Films politics. So I will attempt to give you a progress status on what's going on with this movie and also inform you on the several problems or advancements I have been throught.

 

News (from recent to old)
 

Sept-1st, 2007

   

You would think that because you have changed your job situation that it would get better when in fact it is better but still in a bad situation. Ever since I moved to this other floor, at IBM, there this paranoya ambiance that I noticed where everyone is afraid to loose their job. The seniors do not even know if next year this departement will still exist. Because of this insecurity, I had started to look for something else and forgeting about geting my foot in IBM. It may look great from the inside but once you are inside, you just want to get out. To make it worst, 3 weeks ago, they announced that due to a merge of our departement with another one located in another building, there will be layoffs. I bugged my consulting agency for days until they told me that IBM said there is enough money for me until December-2007. But the problem is that I do not know what I will do and what happens after. I sincerly hope I will find something else more secure. Looking for an IT job in my specialisation is geting extreamly rare (been looking for 12 months).

So why am I saying all this instead of talking about the Pre/Selection movie status ? Well, I am the kind that when something is very wrong about my life, it consumes most of my thinking time and causes me to loose interest in doing any projects at all. I just play so I will not think about it (been playing MMO Ryzom for 3 months and it rocks !).

So until I have found a better more promising job, I am afraid that I will not work on any projects at all. I just do not feel the motivation to do it. Sorry guys !

 
 

March-14th, 2007

   

As of last week, my situation has changed at the office. I have moved to another floor and therefore doing other things. It is a bit closer to what I used to do (for almost 10 years) compared to my previous contract since July-2006. I am still on contract at IBM as a mainframe operator. I asked my agency to be moved there. It is part of my strategy to get a faster permanency. Where I was before last week, I had only a small possibility of permanency after only 2 years. Now, I increased my chances and once I am in, I can then move up again to try to reach something similar to what I used to do.

With my new tasks and new departement, my working hours have changed. I am now working on 12 hours shifts on a 4 weeks rotation schedule. I will be working 2 weeks with 4 days per week (one week day and one week night), one week with 72 hours and one week with 0 hours (in other words, I'm off on that week). Therefore, having more time, I am sort of geting back into that feeling where I want to see this movie project go through.

As a side note, remember that school where I sent an email to ask for volunteers to help me in this thing ? Well I never got a reply. Don't know if I should try again or simply forget.

In any case, I think I will be working back on this movie. I may not have the kind of job career I want with the same salary I used to have but at least I am a little more happy now.

 
 

December-11th, 2006

   

Well, its been almost 3 weeks that I sent my email for help at the most popular 3d school in my town (Montreal Canada) and I still didn't get any news. I re-sent it asking for news but got nothing. In the mean time, for the little time I have, I am working on it anyway but at a very slow pace. I am re-working the hands of the light soldier model because I didn't like it. I re-did the hand but now I need to apply a more realistic skin on them. I am also looking for a better quality face texture.

By the way, GWfilms has moved to a new domain. It is now called http://www.gwchannel.tv .

 
 

November-1st, 2006

   

I haven sent an email to a 3d school asking if there are any students that are willing to work on this movie to help me out. I sent the email about 2 days ago. I alone, cannot finish this movie within 12 months. I am eager to find out if I will get help, how many will answer and if they will stick to this project up until the end.

I'll keep you posted.

 
 

August-17th, 2006

   

As of Aug-14th, I have started working at IBM. It is a 12 months contract for an agency but at IBM. I am doing software installaton distribution to clients over the world, via Tivoli and SMS. The job is easy but has losts of manual and repetitive tasks to do. Some tasks have so many manual steps (ex: editing commands in a text file to copy/paste them on the command line) that they cause an increase in human errors. I have almost no responsabilities. My previous work was like 10-20 times more tasks, more decision taking and more reponsabilities. Also my salary is a bit below 50% of what I used to make. So it is kind of a low-blow and, eventualy, I am already finding this job to be boring. I am trying to find ways to turn this around by trying to improve the work quality by developing tools to increase speed and decrease human errors. With this, I am hoping to get noticed and therefore, change my situation.

Now about the movie, yes you guessed it. I haven't done anything. My working hours are not the usual kind. Day shift is 6:30 am to 3 PM, evening is 2:30 pm to 11 pm and night shift is 10:30 pm to 7 am. Yes, I am doing shift rotations and every 2 weeks. So this kind of schedule isn't project friendly. Thank god I am not working weekends but that will come. As soon as they start training me on other clients, I will. Each clients has its own way of us doing the work.

I will try to get back on this movie project but at this point, since its been what, 2 years now ? I don't know if I will ever get the chance to finish this thing.

 
 

May-27th, 2006

   

As 75% of my PC time is devoted to looking for a job (going through 1000 jobs/week via Internet) and the remaining 25% to gaiming (to get things off my mind), I have made no progress at all in this movie.

About 60 companies got my resume and only 2 replied back (one is a NO, the other is waiting on the client for 7 weeks). I have a chance at geting back to the company I worked before but there is a catch, I would have to move to about 1000km into anothe province (I'm in Canada). I don't know if they are paying for my relocation or not but I sure hope they do because I don't have the money for it.

In any case, once I have a decent job, I'm sure I'll be back on this movie. I DO NOT want to abandon it.

P.S. : for those that are wondering why its taking so long for me to find a job, its because my experience is on mainframe application support. This type of job is geting rare now because very few companies have it and because people doing this job usualy keep it for like 10-25 years so having an available spot doesn't come often. Also, 95% of all support jobs I see are for PCs (which I don't have experience for it).

 
 

April-12, 2006

   

Ok, now I know the majority of you won't be happy with this but I haven't had the opportunities to work on this movie for months. I have 2 problems at home :

1) PC availability problem : I won't go into details but it should be resolved in May-2006.

2) I lost my job on February-15th 2006 : I've done lots of research and consulting to prepare for the day I sent my resume to about 40 different companies. I sent them about 1 week ago and I already got 2 pre-interviews. Looks promising so far. So because of this, the majority of my free time is devoted to finding a job.

Hopefully, by May, I would have a job and have my PC all to myself.

I did small bits of work on the movie but almost nothing. I was just exploring ways of going high poly for everything. I thought I could just create 3d pannels of overthing and just put them together to make up the walls, ceiling and floors, but some parts would have to use modified copied versions of those 3d pannels. So its a bit more work to do. I would have to evaluate if I go ahead with this idea or stick with normal maping instead of bumpmaping.

I still want to do this movie but my main problem is having time to do so. Stay tuned...

 
 

October-2nd, 2005

   

Using those templates I created sure helps. I'm making more progress then before. It took me months to do one simple 5 seconds running animation. Now 6 seconds is taking about 2 days.

I am now currently working on the animation range of 30-56 seconds. That animation range involves having 3 models running and walking. The previous one which was 25-30 seconds was for one model having a running animation. It is with that last one that I started developing my own way of doing running animations.

I am mainly working on the weekends. My free time during weekdays is now filled with me going to the Nautilus Plus to loose wait and help control my cholesterol.

I haven't retouched that other wallpaper based on NS Steam.

 
 

September-19th, 2005

   

I finaly create a background template of a running cycle. I simply repeat it for how many steps I want. The template contains a left-right-left foot steping in a running cycle. With it, I made my model run for about 20 feet.

Now all I have to do is find out how to change this streight running path into a curved one. This is so my model turns at the same time it runs. Sounds easy ? Well its not. I am trying to do it by converting my freeform animation into a footstep one and then curved all the footsteps. This method has some problems so I have to work on it.

Some of you might say "Is that it ? You've done only a running cycle in 12 months ?". Well no. Prior to doing this, I :

  • had to tweak my models
  • re-do almost all the textures into higher quality (I didn't re-invent them, I just re-sized and improved quality)
  • did 2 other animations : model pressing a button to open a door, then walking to it and jumping from a 2nd floor to the non-working lift.
  • then I had to find a way to do the running cycle in a painless way. To do this, I had to play around with 3d max's several animation tools. I got fed up with them as they didn't achieved what I wanted. So I had to resort doing everything in freeform.
  • I've also played a bit with normal maping to see if it would increase quality look. I'm still working on this.
  • All this at a rate of about 5-10 hours per week (except summer where it was even less).

Also,this is still a learning process. I am not a professional 3d animator. I haven't retouched my work in progress based on the Steam NS background.

 

 
 

September-5th, 2005

   

Woohoo, the heat wave is over !

We're back to normal climat and approaching automn. I can't work in heat wave conditions since I have no air conditioning.

After trying (again) to work with 3d max 7 animations tools to duplicate a freeform walking cycle, I have decided to create templates to use as background for the character's body. It represents one walking/running cycle and I simply duplicate this and lean it against the other one. Then I move the body parts over the template.

Having created so many different tools to help animators, it is disapointing that Discreet Logic planned them for continued animations. They are built for quick short animations. They are easier to use if the character doesn't move around (stands still). The sure way to do walking animations with several types of actions is to do it all in freeform (all manual). Copy/Pasting ranges of animations is hard to do. Using templates is a faster way.

I still haven't increased my available time to work on this movie. I have about 5-10 hours per week. I was hoping to get a bit of work done while on vacation but we had too many places to go to.

On a side note, I started another wallpaper based on the well known Steam background of NS. Always working on the same project tends to affect the moral so I started something else to boost moral. Its a work in progress so its not finished.

 
 

July-9th, 2005

   

It has been a slow progress since last time. Well sort of a non-existent progress.

We have been having heat waves here where the average maximum temperature was 30 degrees Celsius. I don't have air conditioning and when it's 30 outside, it's at least 35 inside. Needless to say that I cannot work in these conditions. I work a lot better when its 15. I like cold weather.

Also, I had to do a bit of overtime for the office as we were running late in our projects.

Today is a good 20 degrees and its noon so I thought it would be a good time to update my Pre/Selection movie status and start working a bit on this. I have a lot of catching up to do. I still can't remember where I was last time but know it involved something about trying to speed things up. Since each scene has individual animations per models, I was thinking about doing those individual animations into Biped files. By editing them separately, I was kind of hoping I could repeat the running/walking cycles instead of painly doing all of them by hand. This is a long process and at the speed I'm going, it's going to take for ever. So workarounds are in order. I created a simple walking animation Biped file but loading it up into my scene causes my model to reposition to the original coordinates of the model and not related to my current scene. I have a possible solution. That's what I will try now.

For those asking, yes I am still at the first 25 seconds. I haven't moved further. It is a learning process, with trial and errors. I'll let you know how it goes.

 
  May-1st, 2005
   

After several failed attempts to learn and use the several animation tools of my 3d max 7, I have come to the conlusion that it would be better to just do the whole thing in freeform mode (manual mode). This had been going on for months (remember I am part time on this). I found that besides freeform mode, all the other animation tools (ex: motion flow, footsteps) had problems when it came to combining them together. Most of the times it screwed the previous animation rigging. I didn't want to do small 10 seconds takes with animation tool-A then another 10 seconds with animation tool-B. I want to do the rigging for a whole scene which is about 2 mins. Off course since I am learning, this may change. As of a coincidence, I had asked questions on a 3d max forum and it turned out that the majority of animations use freeform mode instead of the other tools.

So what does this mean as an actual progress ?

Well with all the time I lost trying to figure out the right tool to use and an appropriate technic, I have managed so far to have about 25 seconds of movie done. Remember, the models are already done and this doesn't count for lighting. My current set is a well known NS map but withtout any textures at all to speed up on the draft renderings. Hopefully, now that I have goten rid of all the usless tools, I should have a more steadily progress.

 
  January-1st, 2005 (aproximated date)
   
Since this is a learning process for me, I have encountered many problems and had to figure out workarounds. This had for effect to slow down the progress of the movie. A conclusion was made between me and The Family God (GW Films movie director) to release the movie in small episodes. Since I am alone and learning to do every thing, doing the whole movie would take me 2 years before releasing it. I am only working on this on a part time average of 5-10 hours per weeks.
 
 

August-1st, 2004 (aproximated date)

   

After doing a revised ressource management on all their projects, GW Films offered me to be in charge of the whole Pre/Selection movie. My only task so far had been doing the models. I accepted this challenge. It was agreed that I would concentrate on making a middle scene out of the whole script to which it would best be seen as the introduction to this movie. The whole movie is somewhere between 15-30 minutes.