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Once Upon A Pixel...

Story time.

Since what was probably nearly a week ago now I've been angsting over the same things I was grappling with in summer. I was supposed to be prepared so this didn't happen, but I failed to base my initial idea on anything more than environmental or political ideas. My Frankenstein of a story I had neglected to give a heart, so when the feedback came that it needed to be cut down, without its complexity it would've been a husk. So me and Loz opted for the backup plan, to develop a second idea in double time. This back up idea was one I had suggested to Loz back when I was having a particularly despairing moment about Specimen Paisley and he reassured me we were onto something and shouldn't change tack (rightly so) and the context I had tacked on was just that- tacked on.

Early, Early Concept Art From Summer.
Coming back to it with no alternative has been an interesting and creatively harrowing experience, to resurrect that concept and try and grow something intriguing, symbolic, and evocative out of its literally fertile imagery and visual metaphor has not been easy. But we know this, all I ever seem to whine about now is my chronic inability to tell a story. Well, I have surfaced triumphant, or to something that creates a thoroughly convincing illusion of triumph. Or maybe its more proof of chronic inability, ultimately its for an audience to decide. I will present this new script with the single caveat that being a dialogue-less animated short the majority of storytelling is visual, therefore a script is not the ideal format for it, so use your imagination and think about it.

Kernel (Working Title) Script

There are a number of people who I owe a debt to for providing feedback and allowing me to bounce ideas of them whilst they tell me theirs, and I encourage you to do the same.

Meanwhile I'm transferring Noel's (now Leonard: cue confusion all round) uber detailed sculpt onto the original low polygon model in readiness for facial rigging. This process also required some better unwrapping than my shoddy job last year so that the displacement map (the texture that creates all the wrinkle and pore detail) was better distributed across the face. Where there was pixelly blotches before, around the nose and ears, there is now a smooth texture creating all the little blemishes I first sculpted. But until I got that point there were the glitch renders, which I love.
Nothing like spending 7 minutes waiting for a constructive preview of your work only to be shown what it looks like when Maya b*tch slaps Mental Ray in the face.
Also when downscaling the fur description from the 10:1 scale Mudbox sculpt Noel's beard went rogue with some spectacular results.
Note the fancy cinemscope aspect ratio.
Here the downscaling also meant I had to tone down the displacement maps alpha gain from 1.00 to 0.10 in order to avoid retarded results: pro tip for anyone experiencing the correct displacement at monstrous values.
Part Brain Coral, Part Clay Beast.
But of course if you press all the buttons for long enough then you eventually find the right one.
I win, at last.
This render breaks my heart a little bit, hopefully if I can inspire some sort of empathetic response in the audience it won't matter what symbolism I'm trying to convey because they'll care regardless.
Now back to storyboarding again, then animatic, then pitch, then production!

Pixel Propaganda

More fascinating stuff on the dynamic character AI in the Bioshock Infinite E3 Demo, this time narrated by Ken Levine and two other important members of the Irrational Games team.

A talk explaining the elaborate and fascinating lighting tech in Crysis 2.

This Extra Credits episode explains why the "it's just a game" argument doesn't hold up anymore, god I hate it when people say that.

Gamasutra interview the narrative designer and writer of Deus Ex: Human Evolution and at last I'm excited for this game a month too late, love me some behind the scenes narrative mechanics. Brilliant. Excuse any typos, it's 3:30am.