Patron Newsletter Summary – August, 2015

Patron Newsletter cover for August 2015, featuring the 2040 Space Station

Cover for the Patron Newsletter, August 2015, shows the 2040-era Space Station which appears in “No Children in Space”.

We’ve published the Patron Newsletter for August, 2015. This is one of the best ones we’ve released, because it’s been a very active month for production. Chris Kuhn and Terry Hancock worked on the model for the 2040-era “Space Station Alpha”, as it appears in Part 2 of our Pilot story, “No Children in Space”.

Space Station Alpha 2040 with Segments Labeled

Render of “Space Station Alpha” (circa 2040), showing the major segments and affiliations.

We are now working primarily on modeling for Parts 2 and 3 of the Pilot, because the models for Part 1 are mostly complete (although there are still a few finishing touches to complete).

Production for Part 1, on the other hand, is moving primarily to issues of developing the right workflow for animating characters and making final revisions on rigging, scripts, and other features needed for animation to go smoothly. We are inventing our process as we go, so there’s a fair amount of experimentation and some false starts, but I think we’re getting close to a good process.

Still from Pre-viz Video

Still from animation pre-visualization included in this month’s Newsletter.

Keneisha Perry has been animating a lot of “Actions” (prepared animated behaviors for a character) for Georgiana Lerner, and doing some testing with both Georgiana and Hiromi. She’s also started developing the scene animation for the opening dialog between Georgiana and Hiromi on the train in Kazakhstan.

Also this month, we’ve been joined by Tina Backlund-Newton, who is also going to be involved in character animation. Tina is also from California State University at Chico, along with Keneisha Perry, Travis Souza, and Johnnie Wilson who have been working with us over the Summer. All three have also completed their internships with the maximum credit hours, and we are preparing to continue these into the Fall.

Towards the end of this month, I also investigated the capabilities of the “EdgeNode” package created by Bong Wee Kwong, better known online as “Light BWK”, who is particularly known for his contributions to Non-Photorealistic Rendering in Blender. The EdgeNode package provides an alternative approach to rendering “ink” lines in Blender NPR images and animation. Unlike Freestyle, EdgeNode does not have any knowledge of the 3D model itself. Instead, it relies on the “Z-Depth” and “Normals” output from Blender, after rendering.

Comparison of EdgeNode and Freestyle

Comparison of results from EdgeNode and Freestyle, on the same shot.

This has both advantages and disadvantages. Drawbacks include pixellation and aliasing issues, and a resulting “sketchy” appearance (although Light says he prefers this over the very smooth lines from Freestyle, which might seem more unnatural). The advantages include working correctly with edges that are rendered, but not clear from the topology — mainly the places where objects intersect, a major stumbling block for Freestyle rendering.

In this Newsletter, I explore this by rendering a single frame from the train station exterior, using various options to determine whether EdgeNode might be an improvement over Freestyle, or a way to augment it.

Of course, each of these topics is explored in more detail in the Patron Newsletter. You can SUBSCRIBE via PayPal on this site for a flat rate of $3/month (per newsletter) or sign up at the $20-per-episode level on our Patreon account (you will not be charged anything at this time — you’re instead agreeing to pay $20 when we release “No Children in Space – Part 1″), and the Newsletters are a free add-on.

Since this issue marks one year of newsletters released, we’re considering making either individual back issues or the whole year available in e-book formats for one-time purchase.  And there is one other way to get the newsletter, which is to join the production team and contribute your talents directly to producing Lunatics. There are a number of areas we could still use help on, ranging from Blender skills to audio production and recording to video compositing, color adjustment, and editing. Contact Terry Hancock if you’re interested ( “digitante at gmail dot com” ).