Thursday, October 18, 2012

Steampunk Machinima: Development

We've decided what groups we'll be working in for the machinima cinematic project. Our group (Alex, Ryan and myself) is fairly well-balanced: we each have a speciality, but would also like to branch out to try all aspects of the project. So, we've so far come to the conclusion we'll each be working a little on the modelling, rigging and possibly animation stages.

For the concept work, after brainstorming all our ideas together and deciding roughly on what the characters will look like, Alex and I have taken one main character each to work on in more detail. I will also be working on rougher storyboards for him to refine and tidy up.

We had to choose one narrative theme "prompt" from which the general story of our 1-minute film would revolve around. These were "exchange", "stolen" and "surveillance". We swapped our initial ideas and settled on an "exchange" story which takes place in a steampunk-style world, and features a young female as the primary character and a giant, malfunctioning robot as the secondary character.

We decided fairly early on we'd like to work in a cartoon style reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Maker. A realistic or more detailed style would be a bit difficult to render well at our current skill level, and we thought that a bright, clean look like Wind Maker would be more suitable, as although it's simple it's still very effective.

Here are my initial sketches. I experimented with varying levels of stylisation - the top left shows a somewhat more Disney approach, inspired by Treasure Planet. We decided we preferred the character to be wearing a dress, so from there we tried different heights and body proportions. All-in-all we thought that the top right was closest to what we were looking for at this stage. My next steps will be drawing up some outfit/hair variations and a T-pose.

The robot has required a bit more time to finalise the design. We experimented with a more human-sized, female-looking robot, though we thought that if it was much bigger than the girl it would offer a more interesting visual contrast. Here were some of my sketches (Alex has taken the design further and is coming up with the finished concept). The main influences here included The Iron Giant and also the indie game Machinarium.

Machinarium in particular I think captures a rusty steampunk atmosphere which I think will be a great reference when we come to making textures and the environment.

That's all for now!

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