Mytho Logique

PRESENTATION

  

Mytho Logique is the short film I've co-directed with Amandine Aramini, Alexandre Belbari, Yannick Vincent and Jessica Ambron during our last year at ESMA. The pre-production went from september 2009 to january 2010, then production in itself from january to august 2010.

Since the beginning, we wanted our film to be a purely entertaining moment, smooth and dynamic, with a simple but coherent storyline which would give us to demonstrate how we love animation! I came up with the original idea of a mythological world and a young satyr as main character. After dozens of brainstorming and stupid ideas, we've chosen to use the notion of point-of-view to create situation comedy, which is the basic of the film development. Shortly after, we were asked by the school to make the film in stereoscopic 3D (for the first time at ESMA): as it was coherent with the point-of-view thing, we decided to accept the challenge.

Making this film was a really intense and deep experience. We've tried to do the best film we could, and to our surprise, on graduation day (september 9th, 2010) Mytho Logique won the first prize of jury (composed of people from DreamWorks Animation, Double Negative, The Mill, Framestore, MacGuff Line, Nwave Digital, Chez Eddy, Animation Workshop, Boolab, Kotok TV, La Fabrique, Ilion, Delapost, In Efecto, Moving Pictures Company, Ubisoft, Cube Creative...) We hope future spectators will enjoy watching our film as much as we enjoyed making it!


BREAKDOWN

Here is a complete commented list of what I've done on the film, following a relatively chronological order. [PDF]
 

Character design

I designed all the characters for the film. We worked in collaboration: I had my own ideas and I melted it with the suggestions of my teammates. The satyr design went through many directions, as it was a "basic" to define the whole film graphical style... After several design attempts that looked too "angular" for us, we finally decided to combine different influences: classical american cartoons, european comics and mangas.
The characters have their own influence, in terms of design and personality. Obviously we've been watching dozens of ancient and classical sculptures, paintings and artworks to immerse ourselves in mythology, but we mixed it with things that are 'nice' to us. For example, Zeus is a tribute to 'The Dude' in the film "The Big Lebowski"! Concerning Bibiche and the nymphs, we've tried to make them more "plant" and less "animal" (they are like human-flowers, with petals and lianas on their head instead of hair) and we wanted them to be "fleshy and sexy" (because we loved the curves of nymphs' classical look).
Later, character modeling added the missing dimension in the design: we tried to polish and sculpt the meshes until we get characters that looked beautiful to us, and consistent with recent standarts.

Storyboard

As I love drawing and narration, it was decided very early that I was going to storyboard the film. It's interesting to know that generally storyboards for ESMA films are quite simple and provide only the strictly-necessary informations about character position etc. For our film, I decided to push it as far as possible (compared to the timing we had), to have a storyboard that would include as much information as possible: proportions of the characters, camera focal/perspective, accurate placement of the scenery, camera movements ... I started drawing the board with pencil, then I ended up doing everything with the pen tablet.

Layout

With the board done, we had to transpose our storytelling into CG. The layout phase started by the stereo camera rigging (see next paragraph) then we started "layouting" - we splitted the film sequences between us 5. After this first phase, as I had drawn the board and knew better the shots' structures, I corrected the cameras and replaced the basic elements in each scene that my teammates had worked on.

Stereo camera rigging

Before "layouting" we've decided to make a special setup for our camera, a setup that would suit our needs and the film. Thus I built a camera rig which, in addition to the normal attributes of a camera, permitted us to:
       - manage stereoscopy (cameras' spacing & display of a plane which defines the
       - "level 0" in depth) ;
       - display the storyboard images directly through the camera (in transparency),
       - to stick very precisely to the composition of the board drawings.
Later we added other functions to the rig, such as a volume light connected to the camera (allowing us to render a manually-created depth of field) and adjustable black bars at the top & bottom of the frame (for the "It's Pegasus!" shot).

Character modeling: Nymphs

As lead character designer, I had my word to say as the characters were modelled by my teammates. Most notably, I modeled the face of the main nymph (Bibiche), her whole hairdressing (petals, etc) and added the final touch to her body (everyone in team worked on her body, at least one time!). Shortly after, using Bibiche's mesh, I've been modeling the other nymphs, making them a little more chubby and with a more cartoony face. Other models I've been working on are the satyr's hair and Zeus' face.

Character rigging: Nymphs

I made the whole setup for Bibiche and the nymphs. It's a "classic" setup, including nonetheless some functionalities Alex used for the satyr: curvable arms and legs, Ik spline handle for the spine/chest controler... I added bones and controlers to manipulate Bibiche's clothing, breasts and bottom. The overhead elements (eyelashes, petals, lianas, ear pistils) are dynamic, but the lianas and the petals that go to her forehead can be animated with a controller. Furthermore Bibiche's petals can open and close with a specific attribute. The other nymphs have a similar setup but we added a body blendshape to squash their bust.

Character FX: dynamics

As I had enjoyed working on the nymphs' dynamic parts, I made it on all the other characters! I only used a combination of bones, curves with Ik spline handles and hairsystems. It was very simple to use and allowed us to save a lot of time during animation.

Props modeling & rigging

I modeled the flower Satyr has in hand all along the film, and made its rigging. At the beginning we wanted to be able to manipulate manually each petals and the stem, but after some time we decided to make it fully dynamic (with an on/off switch for the stem).
I did also the modeling and rigging of the waterlilies, which are dynamic too (this time with a jiggle deformer).

Voice of the centaur

We needed a voice for the Centaur and had no precise idea of who should be doing it... We decided I would do it! Recording at the Studio des Aviateurs was fun ; it was a good and unusual experience I would do again with pleasure.

Animation

On our film, when animators had shots to animate, they had to animate all elements and characters in the shot (except for some rare shots).
       - Watch my animation demoreel here
       - Watch complete animation shots breakdown here
Concerning character animation: I animated Satyr in various acting & movement (all of his falls!) shots, Dionysos and the She-Centaur in most of their shots, Bibiche in 50% of her shots, and Zeus in all shots he appears in (except 2).
Sometimes I had to use specific techniques to have a particular effect ; for example when Satyr is going out of the water with a waterlily over the head I used a nCloth-driven waterlily, and when Satyr extricates the arms of Dionysos I used sculpt deformers on Dionysos' belly to improve the sensation of touch.

Lighting

I did the lighting for 66 shots of the film (on 118); especially the Bibiche sequence, the Dionysos sequence and the final sequence when Satyre goes back to Bibiche.
We used MentalRay as render engine, with final gathering for the whole film - it allowed us to nicely blend colors together and to get coherent self-shadows on objects (some kind of "occlusion" without having to render an occlusion pass).

Rendering

Yannick and I did rendering for the Bibiche sequence together. Then I rendered some shots from the She-Centaur sequence, some shots with the nymphs, the whole Dionysos sequence and the whole final sequence.
Because we had stereo 3D to deal with, we tried to reduce the number of render passes - since the beginning of the production we decided that we didn't want to spend hours and hours in compositing. Basically we would just render a beauty pass and a depth pass, but we ended up rendering also separate passes for FX, and RGB passes to improve color corrections and effects in compositing.

Compositing

Compositing on our film was quite light: we had littles passes to assemble. I was in charge of compositing on the Bibiche sequence, the whole nymphs and Dionysos sequences, and the whole final sequence.

Editing

From the first animatic (series of still images edited together and displayed in sequence, with rough dialogue and soundtrack) to the final cut, I did the film editing. I really enjoyed working on it! After finishing the film, I also edited the Making-of and the trailer.



MAIN SOFTWARES USED FOR MAKING MYTHO LOGIQUE
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk Mudbox, Eyeon Fusion, Subtitle Workshop, Motu Digital Performer

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