Wooden Production Journal #26

Danny Kneip | October 1, 2013 | 6 Comments

I continued to chip away at my animation but half way through September, I realized I needed to be thinking seriously about some special effects and, in terms of visually telling a story, I needed to try to climb outside the box a tad.

For about three seconds of the entire 12 minute animation, the Witch needs to transform herself from the Christmas Witch to the “Beautiful Enchantress”. I’ll have to use lots of glitter and magic and smoke to mask the transformation and, again, for 3 seconds (or 72 frames of 17,280) this is a taxing and overwhelming thing to do, especially since it wasn’t in the script, but I feel it is necessary to move the story along.

And then when the 3 seconds is up, she has to transform back into her ugly sweater as the magic wears off. I was going to have the dress “pop” and she would be wearing a coat of black beetles that would scatter away in flight, which is more “witchy” than “Christmassy” and I’ll have to weigh my options as I get closer to that.

I’m also trying to make this happen. 🙂

I also had to rethink the wooden boy-puppet after I drew some storyboards and began to prefer the sketches. That the arms would hang lower and be asymmetrical appealed to me. The design on his shirt is also due for an update as I think the original is too “professional” and couldn’t necessarily be done by a one-armed woodcarver. I need to think in simple terms.

Beyond these model designs, below are a few screen captures of various scenes in production. These are “print-screen” captures from within the actual 3d software, Blender, and provide a different look at the production.


Personally, I block first. I block character actions in a fairly loosey-goosey way, based on the timing of the dialogue. I then block in my camera movements and now I know exactly what’s going to be seen. Then any line of dialogue that’s on camera is lip synced and I can polish the blocking accordingly starting with key poses and animating around them keeping in mind the tone, timing and emotion of the spoken words. For a big project like this, I wouldn’t see the point of lip syncing first.

6 thoughts on “Wooden Production Journal #26

  1. Nick

    When you have footage to play with send it my way. I’d like to give some of these effects a shot 🙂

  2. Danny Kneip

    You bet! I’m going to focus on that scene this weekend and render out the movement and blocking in a png animated sequence and then send it your way!

    I’ve had to make two little bluebirds that come up out of nowhere holding up sashes attached to her dress, so that’s been an additional strain. I look forward to seeing what you can do with it! 🙂

  3. Danny Kneip

    I wish you could see what I see, which is these three characters in 3D space, being animated based on the ACTUAL “characters”! It’s really remarkable, the likeness.

    The hardest part has been compiling the best expressions and movements that we filmed and using those as reference. So much good stuff to choose from, I want to use it all!! 🙂 Maybe I’ll animate the “Wooden Blooper” dvd next? 😉

  4. Mark Mushakian

    Haha, if you want to animate that whole thing, you’re going to have to change your mind on having kids… because you’ll need them to carry on your vision and finish that monumental task after you’ve died 😉

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