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Autolog is a playful animated short about a car driving through a desert. After approaching a blocked road, the unseen driver decides to have some fun off-track. But this road block will not have been the only obstacle on the way…
Autolog is a fully animated and digitally produced movie. We went through all common steps of creating a movie: Concept, Storyboard, Design, Animatic and Production.
After the initial kick-off and idea generation, we scribbled a storyboard for every of our three main ideas.
When the storyboards were done, we also created Animatics based on our scribbles to get a feeling for cuts, timing, music and sound of our movies. At the same time we created styleframes to get an idea, how the finished production could look like.
Not until after we had ideas, storyboards, styleframes and animatics for three movies, we decided for the "Car in the desert" concept to take into production.
Instead of animating the car for every single scene manually, I built a custom car rig for Cinema 4D, which features stuff like driving along a track spline, physically (more or less) correct movement of the car body, automatic steering, automatic movement of the tires, drifts, and so on… It was a huge time saver while animating all the scenes.
There are a couple of car rigs for Cinema 4D available, but either they were quite expensive or based on Dynamics, which leads to an approach where you actually drive the car (like in a computer game) instead of animating it. That's why we decided to built a custom rig for this project. Please see the video for a quick demo.
If you are interested in using this car rig for your project, just shoot me a line!
Due to Global Illumination and using the Physical Render in Cinema 4D we had quite heavy render times already. That is why we chose to do Depth of Field and Motion Blur in post (which saved us at least 2/3 of render time) although especially the motion blur is of higher quality when rendered in 3D.
For the DoF we rendered out a depth pass and used Frischluft Lenscare which creates really beautiful out of focus effects. For the Motion Blur we used Pixel Motion Blur, which is a built in plugin inside of AfterEffects. Even though it mostly worked quite nice at a decent render time, it struggled for example with the spinning wheels of the car.
In the following video you can see quick breakdown of the post-processing:
The hand, winding up the car, was actually the only piece we filmed with a camera. Some pictures from the greenscreen room of our university:
Collaboration in a small 3D production
Although, we were just a team of three, all the collaboration overhead was quite challenging: Keep render settings consistent, make sure everyone is using the latest assets, roll out a small but important change on every scene of the project, dealing with the huge amount of render data – I don't wanna know how they do it in big 3D productions with hundred of people… xRefs, Dropbox and iCloud helped a lot though! For example we had a Numbers document in iCloud, with a spreadsheet for every scene, where we outlined the different shots, tracked the status and left notes for the other team members. Another one is our "render plan" where we kept track what timeframe we needed for the final renders to avoid rendering unnecessary frames.
I'd really like to learn more about some best practises and experiences for collaborating in a small team for projects like that! Hit me up :)