During August I finally managed to just about finish the mountain of concept art required for Zehkiflorn. The sheer amount of time just to do the design work should probably serve as some kind of ominous warning about what I'm about to undertake, but I've plugged up all my sensory orifices with hopes and dreams long ago, so now all I can perceive is an eternal, hellish expanse of rainbows.
As I've probably mentioned, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to be a filmmaker, but what really swayed me toward animation was the limitless power it gives you to realize anything you can imagine. The last years of self-educated animation have made me realize just how vast that freedom is. In the past, if I were to animate something set in a city, I would just draw some normal buildings without much thought and have done with it. But why limit yourself? Animation makes you into a god. What a waste it is, to not fully explore that potential.
Once I started creating a new world, I couldn't stop, continuously adding details and coming up with new ideas as a result of those details. Harkening back to "Monarch", a big theme in Zehkiflorn is the obesity epidemic. There is currently a worrying trend to alter our surroundings to accommodate more personal mass, rather than to take any personal action to alter the source of the problem. And it got me thinking about what the world would look like if this greed set the standard by which our buildings were designed and built. I started designing doors that were obviously once door-shaped, but have been massively expanded to accommodate more girth. And then that got me thinking about how this would effect room layout, reducing corners and distances required to walk from one area to another. And then that inspired more design work to design buildings that were centered around colossal elevator mechanisms, which in turn created new scenarios and characters specific to these behemoth contraptions. And that set into motion designing thin shapes and hard corners out of all human made constructs, because these woefully out-of-touch humans would enjoy having their environment reflect and reaffirm their own pear-shaped image. Days later, I'm swimming in designs and notes about how this world looks and functions based on the addition of just one root detail.
There is always the fear of over-designing, but I'm really happy with how everything has turned out. It finally has 'that feel' to it, where I no longer feel like I'm spitting out scribbly moving doodles, but really making something with real depth to it. Something I feel really passionate about. And it really has to generate copious amounts of passion, because I have no idea how much enthusiasm this is going to require in order to finish. This all probably sounds a little alien (and potentially disastrous) compared to my normal fare, but just hang in there until the reveal trailer. There will be surprises for all the fans. All five. Anyway, production is go!
|Click here to see larger version so the difference is actually noticeable.|
Weeks and weeks of nonstop mental diarrhea is a bit exhausting and I've burned myself out a couple of times, so to give myself creative-off days, I started remastering my work in true 1080 HD. The original shorts on YouTube are mostly film ed with a cheap DV camera from a backlit, window mounted brace I made out of more index cards and tape. A few years back, I 'remastered' them in HD for Vimeo, but all that involved was filming the frames with a cheap HD camera off of a table with slightly improved lighting. This (final) time, I'm subjecting the frames to the same process I developed during Empire of Sock which involves scanning the frames and touching them up digitally, including digitally enhancing the colors (although I haven't really started that yet since I'm still in the black and white stuff). It's a really good time to get around to this, since some of the older frames are starting to yellow with age.
I'm already a little worried that The Five will riot, 1) because I might be coming off as a bit of a George Lucas and 2) the really early projects show maybe a little more detail than they should. That is to say, they look like absolute shit. This was nicely obscured early on by the fuzzy digital video quality, but you can't hide anything from the scanner. But I actually kind of like them like this. Seeing all the poorly-erased mistakes, smudging, and reference lines in there is kind of nostalgic. I'll try to keep the original low quality video files around for as long as possible on YouTube, but if you are (for whatever reason) really attached to them, download and archive them. Just another reminder: you can use KeepVid or a similar service to capture the YouTube ones, and the on-page links on my website to download the Vimeo versions. Get to it though if you're going to, because my work on Vimeo and NewGrounds is going fully HD starting today. In fact, my first three projects are live in HD right now!
NewGrounds set to 1080p actually looks better, especially in the first one. Vimeo is downgrading my videos again, despite me being a paying customer. Might have to switch off of that service soon.
The next time I see you will probably (hopefully) be for the release of everyone's favorite disappointment: Hitting Stuff at a Building! That is, if anyone even has Flash installed on their computers anymore. Speaking of which, I desperately need to throw together a new site design to act as a placeholder for the next year or so until we have time to make that crazy site redesign I keep foreshadowing. Freak out as hard as you like when everything suddenly looks different.