It has already been 29 months of production on "The Exigency II: Course of Action" It has been a time of tremendous learning opportunities, growth, and fun!
I knew hardly anything about Blender coming into this project. I did a couple tutorials online (including the famous donut from the Blender Guru) and a few others before diving head first into this movie. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface on what can be done with Blender, but it's a breath a fresh air to be away from Poser (for the most part).
So far, I have completed over 32 minutes of the film. In other words, I'm making good time (compared to the first film). I have a small team of artists that I reach out to on a somewhat regular basis to create characters, environments, Houdini simulations, and anything else that I either don't know how to do or don't want to do. My main focus is on the animation and editing (among the 1,000 other things).
The animation is coming together a lot faster for this movie because I now have my own motion capture suit. It that allows me to act out the motions rather than animating by hand. This workflow comes with it's own technical shortcomings, but those shortcomings are blown away by the time that it saves. I usually put the suit on early in the morning after I wake up, and I can have the motions mapped to the character and ready to render in a couple hours. By lunchtime, I can have 2 shots done... it's miraculous. It's absolutely incredible and is easily the best purchase that I've ever made.
One of the other best (and costly) tools to help speed the process is using a render farm instead of my local computer. The price ranges from $50 - $300 per month but it's a serious game changer. Right now, as I type this blog entry, the render farm is working in the background. My goal is to always be rendering (ABR). If I'm sleeping, vacationing, driving to the store, I want to make sure something is rendering. It doesn't always work out that way, but I do my best.
I have learned that I have to delegate where it makes sense. I can't afford a full 100 person team, but I feel like I have a system in place that is working as efficiently as it can without completely breaking the bank or making the same stupid mistake of spending 13 years on one project.
It's still not Pixar. We've graduated from PS1 graphics to PS2 or 3. Regardless, I feel like progress has been made while making things more efficient. If we can do things faster and better, what more could I want? The goal is not to win awards with 3D art, my goal is to tell a story, plain and simple. Some things will still be a bit 'funky' here and there, but nowhere near as distracting as what we saw in the first film.
As much as I enjoy working on this project and how far I've come, it gives me a ton of anxiety thinking of how much further there is to go. I could do this all day, every day, but other life things get in the way. Every dollar I invest in this, I second guess myself and I wonder if I'm just making a huge mistake. The first film made some money but nothing to write home about. Even if I multiplied the amount by 50, It would still be a total financial loss. Am I continuing on that same path with this next movie? Likely. But what else would I do with my time?
Overall, production is moving right along at a decent pace. I have also just wrapped the script for "The Exigency III" so there is an ending somewhere, but it's going to be a hell of a journey to get there. No matter what it takes, it will be done and released to the world one day and I can't wait to share the rest of the story.