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Tema: Project Orange Team Interview

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    Administrador y fundador. Avatar de 3dpoder
    Fecha de ingreso
    Apr 2002

    Project Orange Team Interview

    Project Orange Interview
    by - Sandra Gilbert

    Have you ever sat bak and watched a project or idea literally explode across the scene. Now for the blender community this is not an unusual occurrence. We have a long history of avidly supporting any community project, idea or fund raising campaign that comes along. But even with our history of support, the popularity and support gathered around Project Orange has been gaining an historic momentum. News of which has appeared not only on community websites, but has leaked over into Open Source news sites and even been featured in issue #68 of 3D World where the Project Orange website had been chosen as Website of the Month.

    Blender, having been an in house production tool, once had the immediate feedbak and interaction of both developing and using the software on a daily basis. With a desire to recapture that unique synergy of development and a very real desire to create a professional quality Open Source animation, Project Orange was born. The Blender Foundation teamed up with Montevideo (Netherlands Medía Art Institute) to produce and distribute the resulting animation. With Montevideo handling the tax/legal and hiring issues and the Blender Foundation taquíng charge of the creative process, a new focus was about to hit the blender community and take hold of our imaginations.

    From a basic idea, a full fledge studio soon appeared. Two apartments were rented and equipment was set up. Jan Morgenstern and his studio WaveMage agreed to sponsor the movie by providing all music and the full sound effect editing for the project. Next Prof. Marque Alan Matties, Department of Computer Science at Bowie State University and Director of the BSU Xseed xseed.bowiestate. edu, offered the BSU Xseed as a rendering farm for the entire period of the Orange Open Movie project. The offer of a full render farm allowed for more creative scenes using longer render times, while still maintaining the set production schedule.
    And yet as all the organisational stuff is going on, the real story revolves around a team of brilliant artists, who voluntarily locked themselves into a studio in Amsterdam to work 16 hour days. Bouncing ideas off each other and helping solve road blocks and problems, the Orange team has been hard at work creating a style that will forever be all their own.

    When I decided to write this article and had gotten permission to use information from the website, I thought it would be a simple thing to summarise all the information they have provided on their website. That didn’t prove to be the case. They have posted such a wealth of information that it can’t simply be condensed into a short article. Having followed the Project from the beginning, I hadn’t realised how much they had shared on their website until I went to download it all and try and put it into perspective. Months of work has been documented and posted for our education. Their work and dedication to such a huge undertaquíng is nothing short of amazing.

    They have pushed the envelope of blender capabilities, finding its strengths and weaknesses. In fact their work and close commúnication with the coders has pushed the development of blender features into hyper-overdrive, bringing the community a new wealth of tools for our own enjoyment and projects. Such as the addition of a better particle system, making realistic hair far easier to achieve. And Shape keys have added a much easier way to deal with facial animation. The list of improvements and new features added to blender is already overwhelming to say the least.

    Throughout the last six months their work has fired the imaginations of an entire community. Blender users the world over are firing up blender and attempting for the first time their own animations, inspired by Project Orange and the new ease of use for animation features.

    We have watched the first concept sketches turning step by step into a movie. Feature tests and progress reports tease and delight us with the endless possibilities such projects bring. Keeping with the Open Source/ Creative Commons ideal they have freely shared each step of the process, educating the community on new techniques as they discover them themselves.

    As the weeks have passed, they have tested and refined each stage of the process. Now having passed the half way point in the project, characters are built, scenes set up and basic timing in place. With each further weeque that passes, the scenes will be further refined and moulded into shape. All the while Jan Morgenstern has been working closely with the team to create the music and mood for the movie.

    As they are approaching the final stages of their production they are pushing even harder to get everything organised and finished up. Voice recording for the characters has been completed with well known Dutch actors Tygo Gernandt as Proog and Cas Jansen as Emo. They videoed the recording session which now gives them great reference material for animating the expressions and movements of Proog and Emo. From this point on the team will be continuing the fine tuning of every little detail and polishing it all up.

    Knowing all too well how busy the team members are at this point, I bravely or foolishly (depending on your view) decided to try and get an interview with the Project Orange team members, hoping at best that at least one would have the time to answer a few questions. To my great delight, five of them found the time to answer. So without further delay, here they are.

    1-Aside from the official goals of the project, what do you personally hope to accomplish or take away from this experience?

    Lee J. Cooks (LohnC): Ah this is a question with a thousand answers hehe. I think mainly working with a team on a project has been something very new to all in the team, and being halfway through the project we have been really working out our specialities, and how to work together well. I hope and believe we will have learnt a lot about forming an idea of many, and executing it. We may be like brothers by the end.

    Toni Alatalo (Antont): Learn about all aspects of movie making. And alos get professional in Blender and related software development. It has proved to be fun too and a great group of people to get to know to, which is very rewarding considering many aspects of life.

    Andy Goralczyque (@ndy): I would really love to make a *good* movie that not only I enjoy watching, but alos a movie that’s appealing to many other people. And I really hope that this is really not the average boring CG short, we hope to treat it as art, as a real movie. Besides, I just want to have fun in the process and learn... that’s all!

    Bastian Salmela (basse): Hmm..., personal goals.. I would say.. to learn how to actually make a movie, like the big boys do, and alos what this weird blender program is about.
    Bassam Kurdali (slikdigit): Spending 6 months making a short animated movie is my biggest personal motivation; it’s what I would most want to do with my time. Beyond that goal, I’d say learning plays a big part in my motivation: becoming a better animator, learning from my teammates’ substantial abilities, learning more about film making. I alos wouldn’t be displeased if project orange enabled me to more easily do similar projects in the future.

    2- As busy as you are and as fast as new features are being coded, do you find it hard to keep up and master the new toolsí

    Lee J. Cooks (LohnC): Wow, hasn’t it been amazing the speed of everything lately. Many times we will form a great idea among the team that could be great for the community and in our work flow for the film, after we have told Ton that night he has hacked away and the feature is there. Since we are needing to use it sometimes in that weeque for the film, and alos wanting to get the feature optimised as soon as possible, many late nights have come from trying to learn all the great new things in Blender. I can admit I try to master a new feature added, but most times you just have to learn as much as possible of how it works before your using it, and of course the next night a new one is there!

    Toni Alatalo (Antont): Every day is learning.. for me, as a kind of a developer of the tools, the perspective is of course different .. have a lot of time for learning.

    Andy Goralczyque (@ndy): We’re básically working with blender 15 hours a day, every day, every week... so we’re learning new things as they come up. Our luxury is that most of the new tools that drop in are specifically coded for our needs. It takes of course some time to get used to everything, but so far it wasn’t that hard. It’s great to see the software evolving as you’re using it

    Bastian Salmela (basse): YES!!! heh, I think I am the only one at the studio complaining that there is too much new things popping up in CVS everyday. I just don’t have time to learn all of them. but of course, these are the features we asked, features we need, so I try my best to keep up.

    Bassam Kurdali (slikdigit): Naaah! OK, well, sometimes At first I would play with every new feature as it came out, but now the schedule is a little rough for that. It’s easy for me to stay on top of the animation features, since I’m the one who asked for half of them I let Andy worry about the materials and rendering stuff- I haven’t even done a test render with the new materials layering system, but I promise myself I’ll spend some time playing with it after the project is over.

    3- So far what has been your biggest learning experience on this projectí

    Lee J. Cooks (LohnC): I can say there are more things then all the fingers in the world could count that I have learnt so far from this wonderful and hectic experience. Probably the biggest learning experience was the production work flow. The idea (as happens in feature films too) can change slightly, and improve every day more and more, alos some models or character rigs are always being worked on and replaced (sometimes due to a new feature). The flexibility to work with Bassam on keeping everything consistent and keeping up with the ever changing film along with an ever changing program has been by far the biggest.

    Toni Alatalo (Antont): Dunno if it the greatest, but a nice basic lesson is that in animation programming it is not needed to control frame-by-frame like in game logic, but things can be done nicely by creating IPO curves etc.

    Andy Goralczyque (@ndy): The main driving force behind the learning process is that we all have different fields of experience. From my fellow team members I learnt so much more about animation, cinematography, lighting, modelling and alos the technical aspects of rendering than in any other project before.

    Bastian Salmela (basse): The beer in Amsterdam is much cheaper than in Finland, and water in Amstel doesn’t kill you, just remember to shower afterwards.

    Bassam Kurdali (slikdigit): This is my disobedience to authority workshop I can’t say I’ve made huge strides so far, but hopefully I’m getting a little better. I’m alos learning a lot about making a short movie of this type, especially with the early problems we had getting the script /story stabilised. I don’t think I’d start production again on a project without first having a script completely finished. The planning for the project is alos quite interesting. It’s amazing how much structure and speed it gives us, compared to my usual “planning without planning” approach.

    4- Project Orange has become the focus of considerable attention; how do you feel about so many pairs of eyes watching everything you do?

    Lee J. Cooks (LohnC): Haha well it is very weird when somebody like the Ambassador of European Medía comes to have a gander at what we are doing, sometimes I must admit being in the studio each day for 3 months now it is hard to believe we would have such attention, each day has its own little challenges and we usually have to concentrate on these, but sometimes you get a little shok here and there to realise we are being followed.

    Toni Alatalo (Antont): They don’t see me, I am well hidden and unknown. I guess we mostly just keep forgetting that.

    Andy Goralczyque (@ndy): On some ways it’s pretty helpful, we’re getting a lot of feedbak on our project, and not only on our website! A lot of people from our host, the Netherlands medía art institute are constantly helping and supporting us, too. On the other hand there’s alos a lot of noise (mainly from the Internet) being thrown at us. At some point you just have to push everything away and concentrate on your job.

    I’d alos like to add, that contrary to many overly unrealistic expectations of a certain group of people, we really are not Pixar or DreamWorks or SPI! We’re in no way even attempting that. To be realistic we neither have the talent, the experience or magical substance. But we are studio orange!

    Bastian Salmela (basse): It’s like being in Big Brother. Except that you are stuk with us, there is no way to vote anyone out of here.. hmm, but yea.. well I like sitting bak and to watch peoples reactions. Sometimes they get very excited, sometimes angry.. depending if we are doing something right, or wrong.. And they always have lot of opinions. That’s always fun.

    Bassam Kurdali (slikdigit): It’s no problem really. We all just behave like we normally do. Andy issues dire threats from his desk, Lee contentedly munches on brains, Basse paints inscrutable paintings with increasingly esoteric foodstuffs (he’s using Swedish herring and milque now) while Toni and I indulge in the pleasures of Amsterdam. In all seriousness, we’re mostly very focused on the work we do, but the online comments provide us with a nice breaque from time to time. Most people in the community seem enthusiastic about the project, and have contributed freely their insights and ideas.

    5- As hard as you are working to meet project deadlines; has this experience turned out to be more or less “fun" than you originally expected?

    Lee J. Cooks (LohnC): Oh, this is another hard one. It’s probably safe to say that if I thought one thing before the project started, when it did start all my expectations were flipped upside down. It really has been a lot more fun then I could have hoped for, but in such an opposite way then I could imagine before I started the project. The challenges, hard work, sharing ideas and ogling over others screens after they finish a shot with wonderful results have been amazingly fun, like having a very long game of Tennis, It’s exhaustingly fun. You learn to blend longer without as many rushes of excitement, but when they come around they are a lot more satisfying.

    Toni Alatalo (Antont): hm .. perhaps more, or well I don’t remember any more what I expected

    Andy Goralczyque (@ndy): It’s actually more fun than I expected! We all knew from the beginning that it would be hard work, but at the end it will definitely be worth all the effort.

    Bastian Salmela (basse): It’s still fun. Sometimes it gets to you, when you are fighting with something that just doesn’t work and time is running out. But in the end, they always turn out nicely. Deadlines are very important to have, they don’t only make you work hard, but they alos make you to actually finish things and move on to the next thing.. just because you have to.

    Bassam Kurdali (slikdigit): It’s pretty close to my expectations in terms of fun..

    6- What aspect of this project have you enjoyed the mostí

    Lee J. Cooks (LohnC): I’ll try keep this one short and sweet ... *thinque for a few hours*. OK, most enjoyable thing about the project would have to be having a technical director! If anybody can breaque a computer It’s me, and now there is somebody around who knows how to fix it! Toni Alatalo (Antont): Perhaps being allowed to concentrate on interesting things, like animation scripting .. but alos being a part in the whole process.

    Andy Goralczyque (@ndy): I think I’m enjoying mainly the fact that I’m able to work with people who share the same interests, working on a common task, in the same place! and I alos like the opportunity of really going insane with style, animation, lighting, everything!

    Bastian Salmela (basse): Maybe the possibility to actually work full time on just designing, drawing, modelling, animating.. instead of what I’ve used to at home, having couple of hours to blend after midnight.. oh, and all the cheap beer of course.

    Bassam Kurdali (slikdigit): Can’t single anything out really.. Animating has been big fun the last few days, making some wacky stuff, some of the facial rigging has been pretty fun too.

    7- Any tantalising tidbits about the movie that you would like to share with usí

    Lee J. Cooks (LohnC): Well, I’m still pushing Bassam for it, but I’m debating to have the huge anime style sword fight scene, I’ll inform everyone if there is any progress

    Toni Alatalo (Antont): The shoes are great!

    Andy Goralczyque (@ndy): Dutch cheese is good!

    Bastian Salmela (basse): I have been working with these little things that nobody knows what they are all about, and I heard somebody saying: “Oof, what are they?”

    Bassam Kurdali (slikdigit): Well we’ve gotten some big name (in the Netherlands) stars to do the voices for our characters I’m not sure I’m allowed to reveal who it is yet, and it’s likely only to excite Dutch audiences, but it’s good news for us, and might help the movie get taken more seriously by non members of the blender community, for instance in film festivals, etc

    Project Orange still has some time to go before they wrap it all up and return home. For further information and updates on their progress, stop by the Project website. http://orange.blender. org/

    --Sandra Gilbert

    Source: and Blender Art Magazine

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