02.26 Trickle

Well, there are two close-ups of a bleeding hand in Ebon, and I just finished the other one. At first I thought I was in for another grueling session of simulating flowing liquid using 3D geometry, but in the end I managed to pull it off with just an animated decal.

View movie: Shot 6

As you can see from the thumbnail, this is a fairly flat-looking shot, but that’s partly by design. In the final edit, it’s onscreen for less than two seconds—any excess visual complexity would make the shot harder to read.

I’ve decided to tackle the remaining shots in chronological order so that I can begin stringing them together into one long edit. In the meantime, feel free to imagine this shot immediately following the one in the last post.

11.11 Return to start

Two more shots done, two more checkboxes checked. (Shot 3 was left on the cutting room floor a while back.) Up until a few days ago, my mood regarding this pair of shots was just as gloomy as last time. I’d taken over a month to turn around a mere 15-second sequence, and shot 2, a tight closeup of a hand, looked awful. It highlighted numerous poor modeling and rigging choices made two years ago, and there was no way to fix them now—not without a complete rebuild of the hands.

Still, I did what I could, creating a new pose slider for the thumb, re-weighting the wrist and reworking the webbing between the fingers to fix an annoying pop on the pinky caused by a five-point patch. It was a slow process requiring countless test renders, but in the end the little changes made a big difference. The final result’s still pretty bland, as shots go, but that’s a welcome improvement over “wince-inducing.”

Shot 2

View movie: Shots 1-2 + 4

Shot 1 held few surprises animation-wise, just a lot of layers to deal with, but I did try to work the gradients and blooms in the compositing stage. This shot is probably among the best so far, coloring-wise.

I may try to do shot 6 next. Might as well hit all the dripping-liquid effects in one go.

10.07 Waterworks

I’ve decided to take a break from lipsyncing and turn my attention to the opening three shots, which will link up nicely with the previously posted shot 4. Nearly every remaining shot has some sort of quirk that makes it unusually difficult, and shot 1’s is water. Dripping, flowing water.

drip... drip... drip...

Whose idea was it to stick the camera two inches away from the faucet? Oh right, mine.

08.12 Shots 4-5: full res, full audio

Final version of the shot from the previous post. I’m glad I got the opportunity to work out some of the kinks in my workflow, but… man, six weeks?

Shots 4-5

Glass-is-half-empty view: At this rate, I won’t be done with this project until 2008.

Glass-is-half-full view: At 24 seconds, this pair of shots represents almost a quarter of the short’s total running time.

06.26 Good thing I added all those textures

For the first time, I’m doing some test renders at 1280×720, which is expected to be the screen resolution of the completed short. For optimal antialiasing, the foreground characters need to be rendered out at an even higher resolution—1920×1080!—then scaled to fit in post. I’ve been quite pleased with the results.


Shot-4_720p.jpg (or just click on the image)

For once, my obsessive attention to detail works in my favor. Having already retextured most of the models back in April, and having already fine-tuned my compositing workflow during the animatic stage, there wasn’t much left to do except render at a higher resolution than usual.

For those keeping track, this is more or less what the finished short is going to look like.

06.19 Cycling

A freelance project is currently taking up the bulk of my nights and weekends, leaving me with only intermittent chunks of time to work on the remaining shots. So, I’ve been trying to focus on smaller, less commitment-intensive tasks, like polishing some scenes from the screenplay and researching animation tutorials.

In an effort to keep the project from getting too delayed, I’ve decided to start reworking Ebon’s walk cycle, which affects portions of five different shots, making it the best bang for my buck right now. I’ll post a clip when I’ve got some progress made.

06.11 Ebon’s Eleven

So here it is, shot 11. As good as I can get it, given my current level of skill.


Times like this I wish I had more of a venue for this stuff. I toil alone for five weeks, show the finished shot to a couple of my friends, and go back to work. Feels unbalanced.

Anyway. Hope you enjoy the clip.

05.17 Progress marches on

So, I’ve added a checklist to the main blog page, where I can track the tasks remaining until the short is complete. As of this posting, the number is 26. On the one hand, it’s good to see it all laid out like that, to anticipate the gradual shortening of the list until nothing remains but the completed piece. On the other hand, 26 is a lot of tasks.

05.14 Don’t make me regret posting this clip

Don't make me regret sparing your life.

I’ve been working on this lipsync test for a few days now, but this is the first time I’ve managed to get it to look semi-not-embarrassing. Ebon still needs some blinks and other tweaking, but I think I can live with it. Now to tackle Monk’s half of the conversation—he’s looking a little stiff.

I originally chose to start my lipsync work with this line of dialog because it’s one of the shortest, but now that I’ve scrubbed through the entire piece a few times, I can see that this shot is where most of my “acting” revisions will need to be focused. The lipsync work generally only takes a couple of days—it’s the accompanying expressions and gestures that really tax my abilities as an animator.

Anyway, here’s the clip: lipsync_shot11-1.mov

04.18 This is why I’m not a 2D animator

To make a long story short, I had a request from a friend to do some character design work for Skulla, one of the characters from Ebon. Skulla doesn’t appear in the pilot, so this design isn’t technically part of the project, but my friend apparently has some sort of unspecified plan for her. So here she is.


It was my first time drawing with a tablet, so she came out pretty squiggly. I should probably go watch this again.


  • Sanguine Nation is the development blog of the Ebon animation project.
  • RSS feed




16 tasks remaining

shots 1-3
final animation
shots 4-5
final animation
shot 6
final animation
shots 7-10
final animation
shot 11
final animation
shots 12-13
final animation
shot 14
final animation
shot 15
final animation
shots 16-18
final animation
shot 19
final set modeling
final set texturing
final lighting
final camera
final cut
sound design
final mix
final render 720p
final compositing