Posted by on Jan 11, 2007 | 9 comments

Hi guys!, for the short film “The Grandfather of Soul” I bring you three videos showing the making of the last shot.

First of all, I reccomend you to follow this link: to see the finalised short film , to avoid possible spoilers since I´m gonna be talking about the ending of the short.

———— Spoilers start here—————-

In this shot , “Maxwell ” the character who´s dancing at James Brown´s “I feel good” is reaching the end of his dancing frenesi. He kicks his legs in the air with the last notes of the song and the last kick destroys the old phonograph. He gasps and in the silence we hear some scary banging noise, the door opens making a creepy sound and his mother gets in the room.She gets really annoyed and with a severe gesture makes him go back to his room or something like that. Maxwell goes out of the room disappointed and before leaving , his mom slaps him in the head.

The first video you´ll see is the 2d blocking. I usually do this with flash and it allows me to preview timing, posing, and also the staging of my shot. In this case it was specially important the pace , and the momentum when the mother comes to the room , scaring the hell out of our character. It was also essential to rough out the staging, since the shot is wide and with no cuts , similar to a theatre stage, I needed to plan how to direct the audience´s attention from side to side of the screen.

In this second video you´ll see the 3d Blocking. Basically I copied the results of my 2d flash animation and posed the 3d character as close as possible to my sketches.Then the poses are put in the right frame , and also new additional poses were added, to give more “push” to the main poses, or also to create anticipations.I would say that here I have my “extreme” keyframes plus the “contact” keyframes. When I did this I also thought on having the character looking at the portrait of his mom a couple of times back and forth when he realises who´s behind the door. But later we thought it was too much and I toned it down. You´ll see that I used “stepped” tangents for this, that allows me to see only the poses I generate without the distraction of automatic interpolations. The hardest thing here was also to animate the phonograph splitting in pieces. I animated each piece individually , no simulation here, just wanted to keep it cartoony.

And this third video is the final shot, without rendering. Just the animation , and a fixed background.After converting the tangents to spline, and tweaking all the little parts , the director asked me for some extension in the shot, it was going to be a bit longer. He wanted more waiting time before the mother comes in. I also had to be really careful to not move the two characters at the same time, to keep the attention in one of them only, otherwise the audience could get confused, not knowing where to look. The moving holds where really hard to get right, without distracting too much. The interaction of the mother slapping the guy in the head was also pretty tricky to get right without the characters intersecting with each other.But in the end , after hundreds of previews , checks , etc etc , the shot was finally approved by the director!!.

I hope you enjoyed this mini “making of”!