Monday, 18 October 2010

Write a radio play

So let me tell you where I'm at with this project. I haven't really worked on it for about a week except to make the trailer. But, prior to this I'd been working very hard to put the audio track together.

It's occurred to me that creating an animation in Muvizu is much like writing a radio play. In other words if you can get the story to work with dialogue, music and sound effects then it will work in Muvizu. A great example of this is "Beware The Pie" ( Here we have a comedy drama that would work with sound alone so when it's finally animated in Muvizu it succeeds as an animation. Muvizu's a brilliant visual tool and it can bring scenes to life but don't rely on the visuals. Get the sound working first and everything else will click.

So that's what I've been doing with "Geraldo in Stockholm". My aim right now is to have an audio-mix to the stage where I can extract the dialogue and use it for lip-synching in Muvizu. So I've been cutting together the sound with particular attention to the dialogue. I find myself listening back with my eyes closed to see if everything's working without the visuals. Sound effects and music are secondary at this stage, maybe even tertiary. My sound mix has some music and effects placed but they're not essential. My plan is to add much of these in post-production.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Making the trailer

A teaser trailer's been made and posted on youTube and Muvizu. The forest chase scenes and the shed shot were made for the main movie so I simply grabbed them and cut it together with some audio in Adobe Premiere to make the trailer. The text screen at the end is a TGA file.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Before I get too involved in the nitty gritty I'd better explain my production approach or pipeline to making this Muvizu clip:

1. Idea, lots of thinking
2. Write script
3. Maybe do a storyboard
4. Gather all dialogue, music or third-party sound effects
5. Use Audacity (see link->) to make the sound mix for the animation. The sound mix is the entire animation but sound-only - like a radio play I suppose. I'll keep the sound mix but export the dialogue track for clean lip-synching.
6. Make all the shots I need in Muvizu. Render out AVI files
7. Assemble final cut in Adobe Premiere. Bring in the rest of the sound mix and make sure everything lines up
8. Tweak some shots, rework some stuff in Muvizu. More AVI files
9. Once I have a close-to-final cut of the movie I'll add any missing sound effects in Premiere.
10. Render final movie from Muvizu

Scripting thoughts

It's kind of weird writing the script for "Gerlado in Stockholm." It's all mostly monologue but putting the dialogue down on paper, however simple, always helps me to visualise the shots better. I tend to work in Acts, scenes and shots. Now, I've no idea what constitutes an "Act" but to me it's basically chunks.

So I've got my story split into four chunks: Pre-credits chunk, Shed interior, Interlude,Shed exterior and End Credits. I label these Acts/chunks as A, B, C, D and E. I've written a rough script but it's enabled me to start tagging the scenes and shots. So, in the pre-credits sequence I have shot A00 - Forest Chase, then A10 - Arrive at Shed. You'll notice that the shot numbering goes up in tens. This means I can insert shots if necessary later.

Acts is easy and shots is easy, but what defines a scene. Well, in Muvizu it's easy to think of a scene as a collection of 4 shots because you only can have 4 camera cuts in each Muvizu clip. When I'm script-writing I tend to gather dialogue or paragraphs into 4-shot groups and call them scenes. I'll then create a Muvizu set file and each set file will therefore contain one scene.

Here's a section of the script:

A: Pre-credits
Black screen. Fade in: “This was made by Barry Sheridan” Fade out
Crash cut. Camera following Geraldo as he runs through forest. Something unseen is chasing him. We can hear growls
Black screen. Fade in “It’s set in the Other World”
Crash cut. Geraldo running through forest
Black screen. Fade in “And it’s called, ‘Geraldo in Stockholm’
Start low in trees. Geraldo tears past from right to left and disappears into foliage again. Camer begins to rise. It clears the trees and shows a terribly bleak landscape. Camera rests with the shed in frame. Dramatic music
B: Shed Interior. All dialogue comes from (spoiler -removed)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Two excellent script writing tools

There's a great little script editor hidden on the Muvizu website. You have to log in, got to your profile and (down the left) you'll see CREATE A SCRIPT.

But I really like the bare-bones and rather retro text editor called DARKROOM. I've put a link to it on my links panel-->

Work begins

Yesterday I started work on the first shot using the August release of Muvizu. The shot involved a chase scene through a lot of foliage but it fell foul of a known Muvizu bug involving two animated cameras. So I moved onto the developers' build of Muvizu and, well to cut a long story short, it's kind of broken too. It's my fault that it's broken; something about the materials on the palm tree object not being right.

Why did I start on this shot? It does seem a bit premature when I've not posted any news about scripts or story. The chase shot I mention is completely distinct from the storyline. It's kind of a James Bond-esque pre-credits sequence, so it can be worked on in isolation.

Speaking of storylines, I have to go back on what I said earlier. This animation  does need a script and probably does need a storyboard of some sort. Geraldo and the Plan was incredibly difficult to manage, having 60+ shots, and I remember thinking, 'next time, I'll use a storyboard.' So, yeah, a storyboard for "Geraldo in Stockholm" will be necessary.

The storyboard is great for tracking shot numbers and allows me to be really efficient when it comes to modelling sets or picking camera angles. If an object aint in shot then it gets ignored. No point in modelling or animating something that wont be seen.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Starts with an idea

So, I've got a rough idea about the situation that Geraldo will find himself in for this movie. It's taken a while to come up with something I'm happy with. As always it started off too complicated but it's been whittled down to the basics: a couple of characters, an uncomfortable situation and a simple story. I probably wont write a script; I know these characters well. I can hear their dialogue already and I have a start, middle and end already thought out.

There was no singular inspiration for the animation. I can say with certainty that the following things have sparked an idea: A Buddy Holly song, a Tannoy system, an Alanis Morrisette track, a guy at a Ford garage and Ini Kamoze.