“The Girl and the Fox” Online Trailer Debuts

It’s been a long month. We’ve now up to over 50 corrections made on “The Girl and the Fox” and we’ve still got several more to go before the year is up. But considering how far the aesthetic and quality of the film has progressed in the last 30 days, I felt it was finally time to share some of the finished footage with the world. So, as our holiday gift to fans everywhere, we would like to officially announce the release of the online trailer for the 2011 film “The Girl and the Fox.”

The trailer sticks mostly to Ilona, our protagonist, and the earlier parts of the film as she enters the forest. Only at the end does it offer a small glimpse of our supporting character, Baru the fox. Nearly half the film features Baru, actually, but to maintain an air of mystery and hide the progression of events throughout the film, we’ve omitted all his scenes. Still, this trailer shows a lot of whats been done with lighting, colors and particle systems, and how all the shots are beginning to work together.

The film will be finished in the first half of January, so even though it’s been a work in progress since September 2009, it will be a year 2011 film. This will bode well for its festival run, though, since it won’t already feel outdated with a late 2010 stamp. We plan on submitting it to all the previous festivals we ran “Duck Heart Teslacoil” through, plus a swath of other festivals we feel this film may also suit. Once it starts getting accepted, we’ll bring back the “Tour” tab on the website to list out all the film’s showings throughout the year. This one is not going online anytime soon, so hopefully people in every region will get a chance to see it on the big screen!

A Few Finishing Touches

Animators are perfectionists. Or, to put it more accurately, perfectionists often end up becoming animators. Just look at Robert Zemeckis. Even the largest Hollywood live-action budgets still cannot bend to the tiniest nuance of a dedicated director’s mind. But animation can. Animation gives us the (somewhat dangerous) ability to go back and endlessly tweak a piece of cinematic storytelling. This is the trap I have intentionally fallen into this month.

With six whole weeks between Fall and Winter quarters here at SCAD, I am utilizing the extra time to fix every irritating detail of “The Girl and the Fox” that has bugged me since the first “final” cut back in May. The goal is to polish up the entire film to be festival-ready by the start of the new year. And so far, things have been going along very well. I slated about 75 major corrections that were needed throughout the film, and as of yesterday we just passed 30 completed items. Some of them are so minor that no one will probably ever notice except myself (I doubt you’re going to care that there’s one less rock in the background of Shot 34), but each correction is one more step toward sanity for me.

First off, we also are going back and tweaking all the audio for the film. Our composer, Azniv Korkejian, has already graciously returned to the score and added a few small flourishes that we requested. We also have another sound guy working on some higher-quality drone frequencies, which is sort of the other half of the musical score. Finally, when SCAD opens back up during the first week on January, myself and our remaining audio team will re-sync the final sound mix with the new music and sound effects.

Other major changes you will notice are focused on lighting, color and animation. When we started this project, the total amount of cartoon shading experience I had was from the scattered color comics I have done over the past decade. But this was the first time my process had to be implemented in full motion, on an industrialized scale. To put it lightly, it was a learning experience. But after a lot of hours practicing and a lot of heavy thought put into color schemes, lighting charts and friend’s feedback, we’re now making things right.

Another major change you’ll notice are some seriously cool new particle effects and 3D lighting. I’ve taken the compositing process to a new level on this film, dynamically generating many of the character’s previously nonexistent shadows through 3D layers and lights. Granted, this was something we experimented with back on “Ara,” but in this case the 3D is always aimed at serving the 2D look of the film, while adding as much depth as possible. I create false three-dimensional ground planes that match the painted background, then cast diffused lights accross those surfaces to match the characters’ movements. It doesn’t work with every shot (some tricky shadows will still have to be done the old-fashioned way, by animating them frame-by-frame), but for many of the shots this process has been working great.

Of course, what would a Base14 film be without some sort of crazy effects animation? We had snow in the May version of TGTF, but it received nowhere near all the attention it deserved. No more. I’ve tossed out the old particle engine used for the old snow and replaced it with something ten times as powerful. Now we can simulate lumpy snow with gravity, wind, air resistance, depth of field and lighting falloff. And it’s all simulated in 3D space according to the camera I set up. We’re not stopping at snow storms, either. I’ve been looking into other effects like smoke, fog and vapor. It allows us to try out some really neat details like this:

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This is the sort of thing that keeps me excited about a project that we’ve been working on for so long! And I think in the end, it’s the little details like this that will allow “The Girl and the Fox” to really stand out. The month’s not over yet and we still have a lot of work to do, but rest assured come January, TGTF is going to start shipping out to festivals everywhere. Let’s hope it makes it into a few. :)

Our Greatest Export: Culture

While I spend the large majority of my time these days making animated films, Alysha has really been broadening her range of expertise. Why, just this morning she was featured on the Purdue University website as one of five “Purdue Culture Makers.” Wow!

The entire series is about showing how smart and creative the students at Purdue can be, and of course Alysha was a perfect candidate for such a profile. In the article she discusses why she chose the Purdue Apparel Design program, what has inspired her during her education, her big senior collection due out this Spring and her ambitions for the future. She even gives a very nice plug for Base14, which includes a link to us right from the web page! That’s better publicity than I got during my four years in West Lafayette! Also, if you look closely at the main photo, Alysha is sporting the amazing ceramic ring she made of Baru from “The Girl and the Fox.” That’s proof of the symbiosis that Alysha and I have between our creative endeavors. As she says in the article: “His creativity inspires mine and vice versa.”

We’re always better together, sis! Congratulations on the write-up and keep that culture coming!

“Girl and Fox” Begins Its Festival Run (Sort Of)

As stated in a previous post, I am also serving as a blogger for the Voices of the Fest website for the 2010 Savannah Film Festival. We’re in the third day of the festival now and so far it’s been a huge delight talking to filmmakers, sending out tweets about events and writing articles about the day’s highlights. This was essentially my entire plan for this year’s festival, to act as a media representative who is both a student and a featured filmmaker alumnus. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I learned I would have to step up and play filmmaker again this year, at least for one day.

You have all followed the long development of “The Girl and the Fox” over the past year as we’ve worked tirelessly to get it ready for a festival run. And, to be honest, it’s still not ready. The SCADanimate screening was immensely helpful in showing us what the strengths and weaknesses were of the film in its current form, and I’m taking full advantage of that knowledge by working out a list of corrections and adjustments to the visuals, music and sound of the film before we start spending good money sending it to film festivals. This included the Savannah Film Festival! The plan was to hold on until the call for 2011 entries comes in Spring, and then TGTF can be a competition film next year. But The festival also has a block of non-competition films, strictly work of SCAD students, and apparently “The Girl and the Fox” has wound up in there this year.

So with that, I’d like to announce the second public screening of “The Girl and the Fox,” hopefully this time the Fall 2010 cut, with revised soundtrack and some visual adjustments. It will be happening as follows:

Savannah Film Fest 2010 SCAD Student Showcase (Featuring “The Girl and the Fox”)
– Tuesday, Nov 2nd at 11:30am – Lucas Theatre

I am told there will be an opportunity to have question and answer after the screening, so certainly if you’re in Savannah and want to see me say a few words about the film that consumed the last 14 months of my life, please stop on by! If you’re farther away, though, hold on to that ticket money. “The Girl and the Fox” will be coming to a festival near you eventually!

Base14 Shirts Have Arrived

Base14 logo tees are now up sale! That’s right, I’ve been reading your wish book again. This tee features the classic Base14 logo in white and orange on a yummy Hanes 50/50 cotton/poly blend shirt. Sizes available are Small-XL. See our size chart. There are limited quantities of these beauties so I suggest you take a hammer to that piggy bank and buy one. They’re only $10 so how can you possibly say no?

A big thanks to my beautiful model May. I really wish she would come to visit me more often.

“Base14 Logo Tee” Sold by PayPal

$10.00 USD


Savannah Film Festival 2010

As you all may be aware of by now, I love film festivals. I love the films, the people, the excitement… the prizes. There’s just so much to enjoy. So, it was an interesting dilemma I found myself in when I realized the Savannah Film Festival was coming up this Fall, and I don’t have any films in it! Last year we saw my film “Duck Heart Teslacoil” entertain the masses as part of the SFF student block, but this year “The Girl and the Fox” wasn’t ready before the submission deadline, leaving me with no all-access director’s pass. Refusing to give up the high life I enjoyed last year, I applied to serve as a student blogger for the Savannah Film Festival website, which would include another shiny all-access media pass for the entire week.

And bingo! I got the gig (hopefully thanks in part to my large amount of experience blogging here at Base14.) So for the next month, I’ll be churning out blog posts not only for Base14 but also the “Voices of the Fest” section of the SFF website. Go ahead and check out my first post published today!

I’ve also opened up my personal Twitter account with plans to use it as a stream of updates for my blog presence at the festival. This way people can know where I am and what I’m doing instantaneously throughout the week. So join up and follow along as I take you on a private tour of the entire festival! Should one helluva ride!

The Girl and the Fox Premiere, Take Two

SCADanimate 2010 Flyer

This Saturday is SCADanimate here in Savannah, and that means the new official premiere of “The Girl and the Fox”! I couldn’t be sure until I had seen a final programming list, but now that  I got my hands on a flyer for the event, we know “The Girl and the Fox” will be shown. So come one, come all. The version being shown has an all-new musical score by Azniv Korkejian and several visual corrections and clean-ups. Here’s the details:

When: Saturday, September 25th, 7:30pm
Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St. Savannah, GA
Why: Because animation is awesome.