Sir Saynomore's Last Quest

I guess it didn't turn out too well for him. But who could predict giant Muppets?

Hash Animation:Master, Springboard, Cakewalk Pro Audio, Cool Edit, Premiere, Ray Dream Studio
January-February 2001
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As a promotion for their Animation:Master product, Hash Inc. sponsors a monthly image contest, and this month they introduced an animation contest as well. This month's theme required that you pick from a few character models that they provided, and from a bunch of walking or running styles, for which they provided reference sketches. Other than that and a ten-second time limit, you had complete creative freedom.

I had a whole lot of fun with it. And I won first place, among some terrific entries.

Here are some notes on the project, for interested animation geeks. More complete details and the Animation:Master project file are on the Hash site.

  • I had the idea at the outset of tying together the rhythm of the action (the monster's footsteps), the music, and the cuts, and this helped a lot -- I didn't have to figure out after the fact how to edit to the music.
  • The large rocks with the darker textures are by Alain Desrochers, from his wonderful Al's Archives collection. The mesas in the background in the third shot are a photograph from a Corel clip-art CD, placed on a layer.
  • I had originally intended to render the "shag" fur on the ShaggyPuppet model, and I had the render time. I ran some tests early on to make sure it was going to look good. Then I put the model into my choreography, scaled it up, animated... and when I went to do the final render, realized that shag doesn't scale. I fooled around a little with it, but couldn't get it to look right, and anyway I thought the model looked nice without it in the bright desert light, so I dropped it.
  • The camera jiggles when the monster stomps in the first shot were done with a little rig that the camera was constrained to. I basically moved the "handle" of the rig to position the camera, so that the rig's base moved smoothly through the shot, then applied a jiggle action to the rig's upper pieces at the right places. Kind of the reverse of a Steadicam.
  • I did the "shatter" effect on the opening title in Ray Dream Studio, then composited it in Premiere. Now that the new version of After Effects has a Shatter effect built-in, I'd probably use that instead (and I expect it would look less tacky).
  • The sound effects were mostly fabricated or recorded at home in Cool Edit: the monster's footsteps and the faint sound of the knight's feet kicking up sand were made from scratch out of generated noise; the knight's armor was my keys jingling, pitch-shifted down; the monster's roar (which doesn't come out well in the mix) was my cat's purr pitch-shifted down; the faint crunching of the knight when he's grabbed was aluminum foil pitch-shifted down; the monster's gulp was me gulping (all together now) pitch-shifted down, and the knight's breathing and yell were me with my head inside a cooking pot. The smashing sound at the beginning was one I had grabbed from a videotape a long time ago (you have to guess what the movie was).
  • I wrote and recorded the music to fit, after first deciding on a tempo to time the shots against. I used a classical guitar, an E-mu Proteus 1 synthesizer, and Cakewalk Pro Audio. I also composed the sound FX track in Cakewalk, because it provides a lot more control over volume curves than Premiere.
  • Some things I wanted to fix but didn't have time: the audio mix (needs more amplitude compression, foosteps probably too loud, can't hear roar), adding footprints and dust, and plants and rocks in the third shot to match the first.
Gobble.mov2.52 MB