Hello, my name is Stephan Rodriguez and I'm a a French 3D artist. I live in a very attractive and sunny town in the south of France called Montpellier with my wife and 2 children.
Since I began 3D bak in 2001 when I discovered Blender, my goal has always been to do some animation one day. At that time I was amazed by every 3D short film I could see but I never imagined I could do the same a few years later. I began like every other Blenderhead, reading every tutorial I could find on the web, asking questions on forums like Elysiun (the ancestor of Blenderartists) or a French forum called zoo-blender where I used to spend a lot of time.
I' de say it took me about 4 years to feel really comfortable with Blender, just enough to make some decent looking still pictures. I had learned to model, texture, light and was beginning to produce some very basic animation along with some particle and camera work.
In 2005, after learning some rigging/skinning stuff, I began to work on shapes (called rvk's at that time) for facial animation of my characters. T oday this is still the área that provides me the most pleasure. I love the way it gives life to characters and this is where the acting job begins.
So that year I produced my first short animation with a lipsync job to celebrate the 10th Blender anniversary. This was called "Happy Birthday Mr Blender" and is visible on my Youtube Channel.
Tony Mullen, the author of "Introducing Character Animation With Blender" even gave me the pleasure of including it on his DVD and I was very proud of this.
During all these years, I had a couple of story ideas running in my head.
Then in 2009, after improving my animation skills, I decided to step forward and lay down my story on paper. On February 2nd of 2009, my short animation project officially started.
"The Crown" tells the story of a young girl who has been revered as a Mini Miss in her town. What she doesn't know is that the crown on her head, found 50 years ago in the countryside, was actually lost by some distant visitors and they are here again today to take it bak ...
The short will be (hopefully) humorous, which is why I decided to model some toony and quite ugly characters, especially the young girl who is supposed to be pretty (she's a Beauty Miss).

The Crown-1.jpg

One of the first things to do besides modeling was the storyboard. This is a very important thing because you constantly refer to it to know what scene to do, what the shot will require in terms of animation, characters, set, props etc. I created a personal storyboard model that fit my needs which describes the action for each scene and shot, the camera moves and the effects (focal blur, particles, wind etc). The storyboard alos lets you know exactly what you have to model, what will be visible on screen and helps avoids useless modeling.

The Crown-2.jpg

Another tip when you undertake such a project, is to publish your work in progress ona website forum. This forces you to work as viewers asque you about your project when youhaven't been posting for a while! It alos helps keep your motivation intact when you hear good things about your work. A good and constructive criticism helps you to improve your skills and be aware of small defects on your pictures. Y ou wouldn't normally see these because you're constantly watching your own work.
Starting this project has required a huge amount of dedicated hard work for the last 2 years, but it was a good decision considering the pleasure it brought me as well as the opportunity to improve my skills in several áreas. Character animation is something I really want to pursue in the future.
I've made about 2min 50sec of film so far, with a target of 5 seconds of rendered footage by week, but I sometimes reach 7 or 8 seconds a week. If everything goes well I hope to finish the short in June of 2011. The sound design will come next and hopefully I'll be competing for the Suzanne Awards in October.

The Crown-3.jpg

Hope you'll enjoy watching my short film.