Android Flyby
February 18, 2011

 - Project Date:February 18, 2011

An independent, solitary robotic mascot ventures through a desolate landscape. We do not know where he is going. We do not know where he has been. But his encounter with a towering artifact expands our knowledge of himm... and ourselves.

Eh, whatever. Click through to see another Blender animation that got out of hand.
You should watch the video first. It's only a minute and a half long. It looks much better in the High Quality modes, 720p or higher.

Normally, this is where you get the usual complaint about Youtube. You know, overcompressed-this, and copyright-that. But not this time. They provide a free service hosting videos and it's a lot easier than rolling your own.

This was another one of those "got out of hand" projects. I had another Minimate rendering project in a half-done state and I needed a break. So I modeled the Android mascot. It's a simple model, but it has loads of character and begged to be animated. Since was it wasn't Minimate related I didn't post it here. In order to share it, I needed to work a Minimate in somehow. Having him fly around a giant Minimate seemed to be the cleanest solution.

As I tweaked the flight path, I thought he should have an establishing shot intro. Something that showed his flat, empty world. While simple, it still ended up adding an extra week and five hundred more frames. Meanwhile, the flight path kept getting longer and more complex. I seem to have a problem commiting to a concept and following through. There's always something to added that will make it 'better'. Feature creep exemplified.

The images are individual frames from the animation, converted to jpg. There's a bit of motion blur in them. I found it really smoothes out the animation at the expense of doubling the render time.

I didn't want to use someone else's music and have ads show up on the video. So I took the opportunity to learn another piece of open source software to create the soundtrack, Linux Multimedia Studio. Like Blender it's a feature packed, free program that takes a long time to master. I think my first attempt was halfway decent, but it's going to take practice. A lot of practice.

Early on I wasn't sure what i wanted the particles to look like. I really liked this emitting/ambient glow seen below, but the render times were staggering. Adding motion blur and ambient occlusion would have made it impossible to complete in a reasonable amount of time. There are server farms where you can pay to have a project rendered quickly, but I'm a trial-and-error kind of person. I'm sure that five minutes after I sent in the file, I'd notice something that I would want to change. Either that or I'd spend so much time refining it that it would never get done.

This was a nice diversion. I'm ready to get back to that 'halfway done' project and post it here. Aiming for early March.