Sunday, June 22, 2008

IAFILM heading for 3D Animation

There's an indie response to "Beowulf" in our future

We the current IAFILM film-makers have decided to adopt the "DAZ3D" 3D computer animation technology with its libraries of ready-made characters and concentrate for our new direction on how far we can push this. Over the last 3 years, we feel we have "cracked" low-budget high-definition greenscreen production with human actors only to hit the social and human problem of not being able to get enough actors interested in staying the course of low budget indie movies even short ones. Other indies are reporting the same experience - cruel when accessible technology finally enables our visions. BUT 3D is doing trickle-down to the likes of us. I had earlier said no to this partly because of what I perceived as the lonely isolated nature of the process. What we are finding now is that we have links to a pool of wonderful voice characterisation actors who we relate to well because many of them are 50+ years old like many of us. We are finding that the voice/sound production for these movies is great fun with most of the tedium and stress of human-actor-filming removed. Risk factors like fights and stunts involving enthusiastic non-professionals (and horses!) are also removed. Kinda radio plays with pix added. We can still get into some acting to give movement guides to the animators but we don't need elaborate setups and costuming. Acting sessions can be very free flowing and we can see rather than a loss of human acting dynamics and experience we may well find a freedom here to create in new ways.

DAZ Animation gives us lots of nice safety nets. An actor suddenly can not make it to filming? We can run with a stand-in and voice-record the missing actor later. Critical actor suddenly going overseas? Haul him/her in front of the mic with those others we can round up to feed lines and we can survive. Or replace much more easily with another actor. Our real people partners can do a Ray Winstone/Beowulf and play impossibly pretty-in-the-Hollywood-way humans and any kind of fantasy creature.

Who are DAZ3D? Refs:
DAZ Website:
The basic software toolkit "DAZ Studio" is a free download after registration.
It comes with a minimum set of "3D Models" = characters and clothes. You need to buy in extra "actors" and buy "morphs" for them to get a range of characters out of one model. Prices are reasonable, we can "cast" our next 10 minute movie for about US$100 which is well below what we would spend on such a project made by other means. This is not a rave review by any means - this looks to me very much like an emerging technology and at present we often need to tell ourselves to "keep it simple". DAZ Studio works well with bluescreen backgrounds processed later in the video editor and it does the basics of animation very easily - I especially like its "puppeteer" method. With some ingenuity of approach we seem to have here a kit for making the alternative no-budget indie response to "Beowulf".

Wikipedia article: