Sep 26, 2008


Two weeks to go; great...

But all is good! The project is well underway! The current stats are as follows!

20 Seconds Completed!
Total Of Eight Hours Of Work,
35 Shots,
5 Special Effect Shots,
5:10 To Render,
220Mbs Of Data!

And, yes, an actual image taken from production itself. It's the first special effects shot and it has three layers of film to produce the effect. It is also nativily 720p; HD awesome!

For now, that is all!

Sep 15, 2008

... Five Hours Later

Right, that took five hours to make... So, if we then apply that ratio of film to time, it will take over 1,000 hours to finish this one film.


But I'm not worried because here's the breakdown.
1 hour bugging. Finally discovered which hack was messing with the game and removed it. But then the program that allows you to make custom floors and wall in the game crashed so there was 30 minutes fixing that one up so I could produce the green screens required for this film.
1 hour building the set, which is still incomplete. Every single box/tile you see in that clip is an individual object that has to be placed in the game. The box towers that make up the wall have to be individually stacked on top of each other. This takes time.

Hour and a half Effect Testing. There was one important effect I had to test before I could even begin to make the film, you'll see this in later releases. The most time consuming thing here was that in order to make the effect, you need to constantly place and removed about 300 of the coloured tiles, one at a time. Since this effect will only last about half a second and I'll be using it about 15 times... Well, you can work out the rest.

And the last hour and a half was spent making the 3 seconds of film above! This was mostly caught up in editing, which is a slow processing since my computer doesn't like having the Sims 2 running in the background while also editing HD footage in Vegas 7. But it will just have to suffer. The updates will become much more frequent in the next few weeks.

Right, back to work!

Sep 14, 2008

nVidia, Hacks, and Librarians

What do the three things have in common?

If you said "Useful?" you're half right. They are all rather useful when they work. The other half of the answer is "They're all incredibly painful and irritating when they don't!"
Now, nVidia brought this upon itself. It started by releasing a buggy driver that from what I can determine had an issue with the Securom that EA Games uses for the Sims 2 Bon Voyage and FreeTime. What did this mean? Well, earlier you may remember a rant of mine where EA Games and nVidia started pointing fingers at each other before both deciding to blame Norton. As usual, everyone else in the world had it right.

It was nVidia's fault.

nVidia recently (or maybe not so recently, I have been boycotting nVidia drivers for some time half expecting the latest release to cause my computer to explode), a new driver set under a new name (GeForce rather than Forceware). After spending about twenty minutes downloading and installing these new drivers every single problem with Bon Voyage and FreeTime vanished. Granted, I had to spend five hours setting up restore points and checking to make sure the game didn't crash from "kernel memory leakage" but my test paid off. With the new drivers the installation of FreeTime and Bon Voyage went ahead fine and both expansions now run happily on my computer.

Right, so that solved one problem, but in turn produced another. During the last few months I decided to dedicate my entire project to Machinima production; however this requires a lot of custom content to get the look and feel in the game you may need for a certain project. So, that's why there weren't many updates, I was busy downloading 3 gigabytes of custom content for the game. As I'm sure you can understand, takes a lot of time on a buggy wireless connection that has an uncanny knack to disconnect second before the download is done.
Now, this brings us to the latest problem I'm now solving. Some of this custom content are hacks that directly edit important base game files. This was fine because I was downloading hacks that were completely compatible with the games I had installed, until nVidia came along and fixed my problem. Upon extensive testing I discovered that the game would crash and stop loading whenever you moved a Sim into their lot for the first time.

This means my latest task is to separate the hacks into little groups and start adding them to the game and checking in between each group whether the game still works. After that's done it will be all flowers and sunshine again and I can finally get to work on my project.

Which has changed once again...

This is where the librarians come in. I was going to be doing some actual film work with a camera and actors ect, but I've since been banned (not kidding) from borrowing anything from the library. This was because due to a misunderstanding (there was no freaking contract!) I borrowed out a camera for too long and due to a complete lack of organization on behalf of the library staff someone missed out filming something. I can't actually remember what the thing was but my mind has kept a vague idea that it was boring and future generations were probably spared some pain by my 'misdoings'. After been hunted down (in the art area of all places) I returned the camera. Then I received my student ID back with two post-it notes still stuck to it. The first said "Never loan another camera." But it was hard to read because it had been scribbled out and the second note had been stuck onto which read "Never loan ANYTHING!"

Beware the wrath of the librarian.

Still, I am now gunning the engines on another project which I am currently writing my proposal for. Teaser? Of course, it wouldn't be one of my posts without one.

Jun 11, 2008

Everything Looks Better In HD

True that.

That is why (after a suprisingly short time) I've managed to confiure the Sims 2 to run in a widescreen mode (that was easy it's a default setting) while also allowing me to record in 720p.
Well, almost.

As usual, the games had decided to remove some pixels from the recorded avi. This is due to my monitors default ratio 4:3. Because of that I have to run the game in windowed mode at 1280x720. This causes the recording software in the game to cut 16 pixels of the edge making the avi's resolution 1264x720.

After clicking one box in Sony Vegas (the editing software) I discovered that it quite happily stretches the footage to 720p without any odd distortion. This means that all my Sims 2 Machinima can be mastered in 720p. However, the final resolution on the DVD will remain at a default PAL 720x576. This is simply to help with compatability since HD content can be recorded to a standard DVD. It also means that any chroma-keying will less obvious due to down-sizing.

Time to move onto stage 3!

May 29, 2008

Oops! I Did It Again!

Oh, bugger!

Once again I've managed to get myself in a mess by not planning ahead (or planing ahead but not coming up with a contingency plan!). In my rush to create the 'Nude' preview I decided I couldn't be bothered callibrating the Sims 2 game to give me a 16:9 ratio (the 1024x576 resolution) and just stayed with the 4:3 (640x480).

I orginally passed on the 16:9 because it is an absolute pain to get the game to record in 16:9 when I'm using a 4:3 monitor, the game just hates it so it usually cuts a few pixel of the specified custom resolution, but only one side so, 1280x720 would become 1268x720 which is not 16:9.

I also passed on the 16:9 because I thought that since this was a tester, I would just come back and film it all again. That was until I discovered how well it works right now. So, my latest challenge is to manipulate the 4:3 footage in 16:9 without anyone noticing. It is at this point I'm glad these shots have a rather large white glow for a special effect 'cos this will help cover up any alising from resizing or stetching or moving the orginal footage.

My other challenge is to try and get the library to let me borrow a camera over the holidays!

May 19, 2008

Evidence Of Work...

Here is my proof that I've been using 43Things. I've highlighted (in green) some of the more obscure things people are doing in the world. I'll leave all moral judgements to you, but if I were an alien apecies looking into our culture before landing on our wonderful green Earth, I'd head straight back on home after viewing this.
Or bring out the nuclear weapons...

May 18, 2008

So, Who Is This Eve Chick?

Eve is the most important character out of all the storylines below. So, in order to get a grasp of how awsome she really is, here are two concept images from her storyline The Chronicles oF Eve. And yes, that lady in the (soon to be) white coat and skirt is Eve; once again doing her damnedness not to die. The image below that is a concept of the first story arc from CoE called Black Sister which explores the idea of what would change if humanity knew it was alone in the universe as the only sentient species. While this will not be made into any form of DP work this year, I posted them just so people could start to get a feel for this character.
And, concept art is important because it shows evidence of work. :P