Status for November 1, 2001 through December 31, 2001.

12/31 - Ryan made another version of Medar 6.  Somehow it just keeps getting better and better!  Mark Whitbeck has been added to the Animator page.  He's a 3d artist and modeler and a Charter Member of the Movie Makers digital animation group.  He's currently working on digital special effects for several full-length features, including Space Specks.  I hope everyone has a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

12/27 - I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying the holidays!  I am still trying to rebuild the Speck Ship, just upgraded to PhotoShop 5.5 so that should make things easier.  My wife's father passed away right before Christmas so that has obviously affected my schedule but I still plan on having *something* modeled before the new year.  Ryan has sent me several types of files to try and import into Maya but nothing seems to be working other than the obj files (which don't have the textures applied).  He has sent me some more versions of Medar 6.  The one on the left was almost there and then we decided to break up the land masses more, and give it rings and a moon (on the right).  Isn't it FANTASTIC!!!  TERRIFIC job Ryan!  In case you haven't had the chance, don't forget to check out Wayne June's voice by clicking here (mp3) or here (wav), he sounds like the perfect announcer!

For those who like statistics, this web site is getting between 10 to 20 hits a day.  No, I don't get paid for hits (there's no advertising on my site) but I seem to like the hits anyway for some reason  :-)  Six months ago I got about 10 to 20 hits a month (and half of those were probably me :-)  ).  September 2001 was the busiest month (969 pages served), that's when the shooting started, and August (737 pages) was the second (that's when the casting call went out).  December is coming in third (691 pages) but there are a few more days left.

12/23 - I've played around with the Speck Ship that Ryan sent me and I'm pretty sure I can import it into my animation program using the models and textures he provided.  We need to work out some issues with Photoshop (he has a more advanced version than I do) but they appear to be minor.  I plan to do some serious modeling over the Holidays - get the satellite done and perhaps take another pass at texturing the Sick Bay scene now that I've upgraded my PC to a PIII/850.  Thommy is taking the Holidays off so I don't expect to hear from him until 2002.  Bo is busy as well so I don't expect anything from him this year either.  The following is a computer John made for the Admiral Morgan scene.  More information about John will be included in the Animators page shortly.

12/21 - Thommy has already completed his first attempt at a hyperwarp field.  I've included two snap shots of the animation below, but the full animation is absolutely fantastic!  Thommy says he's going to make it better.  How, I don't know, but if he says he will, I'm sure he will.  Ryan has already delivered the entire Speck ship model into my hands but I've been so busy trying to get my computers straightened out and getting ready for Xmas, that I haven't had time to convert them.  Ryan will also be providing me pictures and bios on the Movie Makers so we can include them on the Animators page.  Ryan and his team are primarily responsible for the background animations for the green screen shots.

12/16 - I forgot to mention that Ryan is a very talented individual with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and he lives in Minnesota.  He has completed several animations (check out his web site for links) and designed many spacecraft.  To the left below is his first, yes *first* attempt at a planet (which happens to be Medar 6)!  Unfortunately, it looks so much like Earth that I can hardly tell the difference!  We are going to make it a little different somehow.  To the right is Thommy's first attempt at the Rafi ship.  The spikes remind me of how my 14 year old son wants his hair.  :-)

12/11 - I got Thommy's info and put it on the Animator page.  Thommy is from Sweden, works as a web developer, and has a passion for spacecraft.  Ryan has another version of the Speck Ship ready!  Doesn't it look COOL!!!

12/10 - I added Ryan's picture and info to the Animator page.  The mug shot is just a joke.  At least I think it's a joke.  Yeah, I'm sure it's a joke.  But then ... they don't let inmates have computers, do they?

12/9 - In yet another turn of exciting events, I have managed to sign on several talented animators to the project.  I feel this part of the picture is so important that I've created an Animators page.  Check out Bo and his web site, he was a lead animator in "Final Fantasy, the Spirits Within"!  (Do NOT miss his demo reel while you're there, it is spectacular!).  I'll put up info on Ryan and Thommy as soon as they send it.  Yes, I put a picture of me on there just so I can be on the same web page as these guys, they are *really* talented!  Below is Ryan's first test render of the Speck ship.  Isn't it terrific!  I am now *very* optimistic about meeting my scheduled release date of July 1, 2002.

12/3 - HOORAY!!!  The last live action scenes have now been completed!  Tara did a fantastic job on the Rafi make-up and John and Danny gave great performances!  John had me in stitches on more than one occasion with his great expressions and terrific sinister laugh.  Danny was fun to work with and Janis (his wife) was a great help with the costumes.  In the upper left picture below we have a great close-up of Tara as she inspects the LCD screen on the camcorder to see how Danny looks on camera.  Thanks Tara!  (Surprise!  :-)  ).  I think Danny was getting ready to practice his sneer at the time.  He didn't have to sneer in the scene, but he liked practicing so we let him.  :-)  Upper right, Tara puts make up on Danny.  Lower left, Tara puts make up on John, and lower right shows us doing the last scene in the rec room against the green screen.

I don't have pictures of the Speck scenes because I only took a few with the little camcorder and they're buried in 3 hours of tape some where.  My son got made up as a Speck, and although Tara did a great job on him as well (you would never recognize him!), he turned out a lot darker on camera than I had anticipated.  (Video camcorders don't have the color range that film does).  In addition, another part of me says I should never show what the Specks look like.  Consequently, I think I will not show their faces in the final movie.

In other news, I hooked up over the Internet with Wayne June, a guy with a great announcer voice, click here for a sample.  I wrote up some lines for a trailer and he did the voice overs so I'll put up a trailer after I have some of the animation scenes done.  He also has a character voice and did the Speck lines for me.

11/26 - Did not get much done over Thanksgiving.  I played around alot with rending Medar 6 (solving the problems described on 11/19) and came to the painful decision that my little ole Pentium II 450 MHz just isn't going to hack it.  7 minutes 45 seconds to render a test frame whereas newer machines can do it in just over one minute.  Consequently, I spent most of the weekend trying to decide what new computer parts to buy: AMD versus Intel, Dual versus single CPU, etc.  If cost were no object the choice would be easy, however, cost is a significant factor.  I'm leaning towards a dual (two CPUs) AMD 1800+ since I can build one for about $1200, but I might wait until after Xmas hoping that prices will drop.  The good news is that my employer will give me an interest free loan to buy the PC.  In the meantime, I can still build animation models, I'll just wait to render them.  The make up arrived for the aliens so it looks like I'll finally finish up the live action shooting this weekend.

11/19 - I added a slightly different rendering of Medar 6 (the one on the right).  I think it looks more realistic.  I made the clouds smaller, smoothed the land masses and made them brown.  I'll probably play around with it more before I go final.  I'm trying to get some rendering hints from some Internet groups.

11/18 - Below is Medar6, I spent an entire week making (and shading and texturing) this model.  The continents are a bump map (so the land masses appear to rise up from the surface) and the clouds are on a separate layer so they cast shadows on the surface.  This may remind you of Earth because I got my colors from sampling pictures of Earth from space.  I didn't like Earth's land masses though, they look more brown than green.  The atmosphere is a fog effect that looks cool close up.  The major problem I haven't been able to solve is that in all of the pictures of Earth I have seen, the edges are lighter than the middle.  (I believe this has to do with the relectiveness of the atmosphere in that it becomes more reflective at oblique angles).  This also only shows up when you are very close to the planet (like in orbit).  I haven't been able to mimic the reflection properties in my animation program.  The other problem is that the clouds seen edge-wise are substantially brighter (these are the bright white spots around the edges.  I spent a lot of time on this model because 1) it is the first scene in the movie and first impressions are important, and 2) I have two other planets to make (Outpost 38 and Deneb 3).  To make those, all I have to do is make new bump and cloud maps and change the colors.

Medar 6 - first rendering

Medar 6 - second rendering

In other news, I ordered the materials for the make-up artist, Tara Manning.  The Rafi are going to have pointed ears and different eyebrows.  Not sure what we're going to do for the Specks, you'll probably have to watch the movie to find out.  The aliens are scheduled to be shot on 12/1 and 12/2.

11/13 - Spent most of the weekend trying to figure out bump mapping, I made a silly mistake by choosing ambient lighting (bump maps are not visible with ambient lighting) and it drove me crazy.  Anyway, below is a picture of Sick Bay.  I still need to do some tweaking with the lighting and the colors, it doesn't quite look realistic to me (needs some imperfections).  The bed with gold rings is the exam table (like an x-ray machine).  To the left is a bed, but the sheet is suppose to be white, not grey.  The blue panels are medical read-outs, but you can't read them in this image.  I will do the tweaking later, right now I'm concentrating on modeling.  I'd like to throw in a few medipods in the picture, but Chris did such a good job of building the medipod that I'm not sure I can make a computer model that's as good as the real thing.  Anyway, all the costumes have been received, a make-up artist has been contacted, and we are tentatively scheduled to shoot the last two live scenes on 12/1 and 12/2.

Sick Bay

11/5 - Finally got through to the costume company and the Rafi costumes should be here by Friday (the Spec costumes arrived a few weeks ago - I wore one for Halloween!  See pictures below).  Trying to arrange everyone's schedules for the last 2 scenes but we may not shoot until December since Thanksgiving is so close.  I've been running through the tutorials on the animation software and have started designing the first animation scene.  I chose an easy one to start - Sick Bay (no animation, just a background).  I'll post a picture as soon as I get it done which will hopefully be within a week or two.

For the Status from September 20 through October 31, 2001, click here.

For the Status from June 2001 through September 19, 2001 and lots of pictures, click here.

This page © 2001 by Richard Dunbar