Sunday, June 17, 2007

Prelude

Well I was originally planning to wait until I released the next episode before I made another entry, but I keep getting requests for one despite answering questions in the comments (I don't have a forum). First off, Episode 4 is getting close to done, I plan to have it out in less than a week. It's an obvious step up production-wise from the others and so far I'm pretty pleased with how it's looking.

That said, working on this episode turned into somewhat of a negative experience for me. It feels like I'm wasting so much time setting up the scene, animating mundane things, and constantly working around the bugs and shortcomings of the Source engine. While I did have some help on this one, I didn't see the workload savings I was hoping for. This episode will span multiple maps and I invested at least a month in simply creating one of the maps. What it boiled down to mainly was that most people weren't able to spare the same kind of psychotic time devotion to this that I was, or that communication wasn't very good in that I would have to explain things in such detail or correct existing work that it would be faster to do it myself. Ultimately I think it's a safe estimate that I ended up doing about 95% of the work on this episode.

The reason I don't update more frequently is because I don't want dozens of updates and no progress to show for it. I'm becoming very frustrated with the production rate since mine is horrific. Machinima is supposedly a time-saving medium, but so far I'm not seeing any of it. For these reasons, after I release Episode 4, I'm going to put the series on hold until I find a better way of producing these. I'm convinced there are better techniques out there, since I think most machinima makers don't seem to have the same kinds of problems I do, which makes me think I must be doing something wrong. I'm going to explore different options after I finish this and I will probably have to learn new software in order to do so. Right now, the process is simply too time consuming for me to keep it up for much longer the way it is. As it is, in making the first 3 episodes, it was essentially a solid burn where I just sacrificed my free time in order to make it happen. To put it in perspective, I'm an avid movie fan and I've only watched 2 movies since I stated making this in October. While that's not a hardship or anything, it does discourage me from wanting to make more of these episodes. I feel like most of the time I spend on these episodes is the result of not having the right tools or resources for what I'm trying to do, so this is what I'm going to focus on in the future otherwise the work/production ratio will be too much for me to want to continue doing this in the future. The best analogy I can make is that I feel like I'm trying to cut down a forest with a hatchet and I want a chainsaw.

39 comments:

D.ex said...

It will all come out ok in the end. The idea is that you, the creator, feel comfortable with what you are intending to do. If it doesn't seem right to you, it probably will suck for us. Put it on hold if it's really necessary, but don't end it. You have a growing fanbase that believes in you and won't give up on the series. You rule, dude, and so does your series, your characters, ideas and your imagination. Don't forget about your fans, (being that now you have many) :) Good luck in the future, hope you get around your present "bug" :)

David said...

So the animation I did was less than 5% of the total work load?!
I knew you had a lot to do but not that much. If there is anything else I can help with just tell me. I'm on summer break now so I have plenty of free time.

Ross Scott said...

Yeah man, it's insane. The one large map alone sucked up a ton of a time. Also don't think I'm not grateful for the work that you did do. Even though I had to edit a few things afterwards, you still saved me a lot of time. That's the point, the time load on this is ridiculous right now, which says to me that my methods are flawed.

bllius said...

I don't think the methodology is flawed, it simply sounds like you are creating a lot of custom content, which is always difficult. Look at Bloodspell, or any new game, or heck, even Pixar's movies. Hopefully, it will be worth it in the end, especially if you can reuse some of that content (which means that maybe a series is the way to go).

Anonymous said...

hey ross.
Don't think that you are doing something wrong here which is slowing you down. as pretty much as a single person, you have produced machinima that is above par of those who have dozens of people doing the same or less amount of work(i'm looking at you, roosterteeth). This is the BEST stuff out there. you are an animator. you actually make it look like these people are speaking, like the objects were filmed in real life and digitized (such as the radio in Aliens). No matter how much you do or don't do, it is still the same. You are the BEST one out there.

Anonymous said...

Less talkin more rockin!

hlfan said...

i hope you didnt feel pressured to release the episodes too soon. i think that a lot of people wanted you to give a release date on the videos but things just dont get done like that. making these videos can eat up much time but that is how some things are. i hope you can find better ways of making CP in the future.

Anonymous said...

your machinima compared to others is far superior. which is probably why it takes so long to complete. I congratulate you for your efforts and am a bit sad that you will be putting it on hold. I do enjoy your episodes but heck. I don't want you to miss out on transformers and other block buster movies this summer. Just take your time

Tori said...

Don't give up! The hold won't be so bad, because most of us will have summer break now. I hope you'll find a way to have more fun making the episodes then we have watching them ;)

Mike said...

I am sure everyone appreciates the work you are putting into this, and will be pleased with what you produce. Don't worry about silly things like posting and comments, we know you'll bring us something great in the end :D

Anonymous said...

Civil Protection are more better than red vs blue so alot of people are willing to to help hell i would help if i knew anything about source (but maybe doing the voices) anyways take ur time finding out how to make this easier and get more people to help u. i think the people from garry's mod can help u. i think their site is called Facepunch Studios (http://boredatschool.net/index.php?q=aHR0cDovL2ZvcnVtcy5mYWNlcHVuY2hzdHVkaW9zLmNvbQ%3D%3D)
or something they should know alot about source. hope that helps

Ross Scott said...

Wow, lot of responses.

D.ex: Don't worry, even though I've been getting kind of frustrated, the end result is looking killer, so the quality isn't suffering.

Bilius: I haven't gotten around to watching Bloodspell yet, but I know they have over a dozen episodes, so that's still substantial. Do you know how long the series took to make? As for Pixar, I'd hate to think that's where I'm headed, they have armies of people animating their movies as opposed to my limited means.

anonymous dude 1: Thanks, if you think it's good now, just wait until 4.

anonymous dude 2: That's another reason I don't update much.

hlfan: Don't worry, it's not being rushed, that's for damn sure, once I set a certain standard for myself I can only do it so fast.

anonymous dude 3: Thanks, I do have some ideas for efficiency, but it's still in the experimental phase. Also fyi, I intend to have Dave be a fan of Transformers also.

Tori: I'm not, which is why I'm trying to approach this differently so I don't burn out. Believe me, there are some episodes I REALLY want to make still.

mike: Well I only type these once my computer is choking on CPU cycles doing motion blur or compiling or something, so there's not too much wasted time

yet another anonymous dude: I'll see, I really do have an idea that could overhaul my efficiency, but I need to experiment first.

Big_Adam said...

What about asking the other Hl2 film makers for advice?

Better than learning for yourself the hard way.

Oh also Civil Protection is AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

i cant wait

i hope you enter this in some vid com

ANONYMUS DUDE 1 said...

To save some time it might be a good idea to use existing HL 2 maps or pull modded ones off of the net and fix any flaws in them. i don't know ifyou've done this but i thought it could help.

Anonymous said...

Wow I can't wait to see it ;)

Hopefully you will find a way to let your creativity roll like it should.

daredude said...

Hey Ross,
The work you are doing here is awesome, and like anonymous 1 said it is better than any of rooster teeth's work. Also from your description of the pressure you are under, if I was you, I probably would have quit by now. You are doing an awesome job and I believe I speak for a majority of you fans when I say that we have the patience to wait a year for each and every episode you make. That is how good you are.

StormTrooper said...

You've begun to develop a fanbase, as you can see. Worth of mouth is spreading. Keep up the good work, man. Power through the hard times, you'll be recognized more and more for your efforts.

Ross Scott said...

big adam: Most others that I've seen tend to be using Garry's Mod, and for Ep. 4 especially I'll be doing some things that simply aren't possible with it.

anonymous named dude 1: I do that for every episode. I'm certainly not a mapper even though I did way more than I thought possible for this episode, but really I'm borrowing Valve's material. Even Ep. 3 is a conversion of a canals level.

daredude: I don't think you speak for everyone when you say you have the patience for a year. The thing is, a lot of my time is lost to things that I think I can find faster methods to. Stuff like writing, voice acting, editing isn't going to get any faster, but that doesn't bother me.

StormTrooper: Yeah, it's weird, I'm not used to having fans. I feel like I should be doing something with you people, like starting a cult, or hiring you as henchmen so I can take over the world. I guess you have to take these things one step at a time.

StormTrooper said...

If you'd like any help with Editing, I gave Final Cut 2, and Adobe After Effects, both current. I am a professional editor, having worked on numerous projects at film school and I just finished editing a commercial for Jagermeister. I work fast and have learned how to produce quality. A lot of my work is on myspace if you would like to check it out, you can see some of my early work.

WWW.Myspace.com/Metiphis

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this series, and have waited for a next episode for a long time.

I agree with Anonymous, that there is nothing wrong with the technique, but rather the amount of stuff that has to be done.What is done by a group of people is much harder to do alone.

I tried working with Source engine after seeing the movies and it is very hard. And I am partially familiar with other 3D software.

One software that I would recommend is program called Poser (7 is the newest) . It is made for sketch artists and simple animation, but I have seen some interesting short films done with it.

Poser has advantage of key frames and some additional poses that program can automatically switch.
It is pretty much a rug-doll program, but with ability to fill n missing frames, and it also has nice lighting and other controls.

I think you could export Souse characters to poser, and use it instead.

I am not advertising anything, and just want to see the series to leave on.

seizuretastic said...

Unfortunately, I have no relevant skills to offer you. So, all I've got is support. So here it is:
These videos are great. I always knew that Half-Life 2 had lots of potential for something like this and you're doing great. So keep it up. Just don't feel pressured to crank things out. Just keep it coming as you feel comfortable. Also, (you've probably already done this) but for custom items and maps, the garry's mod site is pretty helpful.

Ross Scott said...

Stormtrooper: Thanks, that could be useful for me in the future, you're the first person to offer that. Right now I don't need too much in the way of aftereffects since I'm going more for a cinematic approach rather than something like a music video, but I definitely have an episode idea where I would need AfterEffects knowledge (probably #6).

Anonymous dude: Yeah, Poser is one option I plan to look at after I'm done with 4.

Seizuretastic: Your name is cool.


Oh and for everybody reading this, Episode 4 is now completely filmed and all the video cuts/edits are done. What's left now is lighting and color tweaking, adding in sound effects (I have a LOT I need to do for this one, normally I try to do that in-game, but this is a special case) and adding in music from my composer when he ever gets done with it. I still have one song I took from another game soundtrack, but the rest will be original stuff by my music dude. You can see his site here:

http://www.8digitalmusic.com/

f12bwth said...

You are chopping through a forest with a hatchet because unlike most other machinimas you actually have have a forest. I guarantee 99% of all other machinimas don't built there own maps at all let alone build it for a month. What you need is an army of minions to do your bidding.

Have you approached any of the Main HL2 machinima sites for help? http://www.phwonline.com/ has a bunch of people with talent that could help you out with some time savers I am sure. If your desparate you could also try here http://festival.machinima.org/2006/index.html But you will have to search for any real talent.

Just remember that you and other machinima makers both make swords. You are the one month, one sword Hattori Hanzo and they are a giant metal stamping company and make 30,000 swords in a month. The difference is your sword, is a Hanzo. And thats the word.

GlatzoPatzo said...

Hi! I wish you the best and much success in finding a more productive way for producing your clips! I hope you find something better so that you can have more fun with it!!!

Nicadeamas said...

Hi there. Think it will show me with my google account but I'm not sure I got the password right.

Anyways, Nice job on everything, loved it sens I saw the 1st episode.

I dont know anything about face poser but I'm a good mapper, and unlike a lot of mappers I meet I can stick to it and do a good job.

If you need any other maps made you can send me an Eamil, (AJDotl@hotmail.com)
And I'll help you out with whatever mapping I can.
If you got Google talk, Yahoo, Msn, or steam chatt then that would be even better because we could get chatting on how to build the map. If infact there was a map to build. :-D

Keep up the good work. Sorry I could not have offerd my help before you spent a month makeing a map.

Ross Scott said...

f12bwth: Ha ha, I like your counter analogy. I remember them making a big deal out of that in Kill Bill. With the mapping thing, believe me, I'm more than happy to use somebody else's map, including Valve's. The problem with this episode as you'll see is that I didn't know of any maps that fit the criteria I needed so there ended up being way more custom work than I hoped for. Believe me, I am NOT going to invest this much time in maps for future episodes. There are a ton of mappers better and faster than I am already and I'm hoping to get more help in the future with that.

Anyway, I've found it's a real dice toss with getting help, I'll see. The mappers you'll see in the credits definitely helped me, but time was such a commodity, that I had to keep blazing ahead without them a lot of the time because if I waited until they weren't busy this thing would never get done. Anyway, this next episode really will have some teeth to it. I think it holds it's own, as a machinima or otherwise.

GlatzoPatzo: Thanks, I have some ideas actually, I just don't want to announce them yet so I don't get people's hopes up if things don't work out how I'm hoping.

Nicadeamas: Sounds good man, I'll let you once I'm ready to tackle things again for the next episode. I've found that I'm going to need multiple mappers just so one person can help if another one is too busy. The next episode I have in mind probably won't require a mapper, but episodes down the line would definitely need custom work.

* * * * *
To everybody: I am DONE with the episode except for some of the background music of which I'm still waiting on my composer. I warned him well ahead of time this could be a time crunch and offered to keep extending the deadline provided he could get me some daily samples. I've been letting him know my status each day this week, yet it's been a couple days since I heard from him. For want of closure, I emailed him telling him he has 12 hours to RESPOND, otherwise I'm just going to grab soundtrack music like I did with the others. In which case, the episode will be up here in under 24 hours. I really hate dropping people like this because of time pressure, but this is exactly the sort of thing that stalled this episode in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame you at all, Ross. Machinima is a tough competition when it comes to production. Especially when you are working with the Source engine and Faceposer. However, This is the exact thing that I don't like about machinima. The producers ultimately get impatient and decide to look into getting other ways to make the machinima. Still, I hope you guys don't end up postponing the series forever like the FCT team did.
~Spartan117

Ross Scott said...

anonymous dude: Oh I have an idea that has some real potential for revitalizing my efforts, but I want to wait until I can reseach and experiment some more before I announce it. Call it a "secret weapon" if you want, though I don't yet know if it will work.


Everybody: My composer HAS contacted me, looks like there was a gap in communication. I'm going to be using some more soundtrack music it looks like, it's still up in the air if I'll have time for him to score parts of this episode. Please let me know what you guys would prefer:

A. Delay the episode a couple more days to get it scored.

B. Get it out ASAP using other soundtrack material like I did with 2 and 3

Anonymous said...

I really don't care how long I have to wait as long as you post it some time, so I vote A.

Nicadeamas said...

I'm for A.
I think it's worth the time to take the time to do a good job with the time needed. Hehe.

Under a week would be awsum though. :-D

Ross Scott said...

Alright, well for clarity, this is only the music we're talking about; even then, it's the ambient stuff for when they'll be talking. By ASAP I don't mean "half-assed", I'll still make sure the music fits well with the material.

Anonymous said...

I vote B. I like the Fallout music from the other episodes :)

ned said...

B! i want to see the episode!!!

Anonymous said...

I vote A. What's a few more days gonna kill us? besides, it's better to get it right then finish it too quickly.

Ross Scott said...

Well, despite the popular vote, I'm going to forgo the composed music and go with soundtracks. I'm just getting too impatient to keep putting this off, plus I'm such a soundtrack fiend, it doesn't take me long to find music that fits what I'm looking for. I'll put Episode 4 up here sometime today.

Otto said...

Ross, you're such an awesome guy. I am so excited, I can't wait. Best of luck to you.

Nicadeamas said...

.
ooo, refreshing every 5 minutes.
Hey what Time zone are you in?

Deividas said...

Hey ross will there be episode 5? cause than H-L 2 Ep 2 came out there could some new ideas :)