Ocean Odyssey In QuickTime 7.x (24.4 Meg)
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Ken Streeter and I (Skye Sweeney) are both software engineers living and working in southern New Hampshire. Neither of us fit the typical nerdy 'pocket protector' programmer, but we are both technically bent.
Starting right after the 2004 FLL season, Ken and I started planning the 2005 animation. Each year we have tried to improve one aspect of the animation. This year we elected to improve the audio and special effects. Towards this end we purchased a pair of good microphones (Bheringer B5) and a good digitizer (Edirol UA-25). Along with cables and stands this provided a great method for recording sound effects and voice.
In the past any special effects were done one frame at a time using PaintShopPro and PhotoShop. This year we approached Autodesk and received a copy of Combustion. Combustion is an amazing tool for video special effects. Without this tool, we would not have been able to create any of the ocean scenes.
In early summer, two events occurred that nearly forced us to cancel this movie. This first was my mother's hospitalization after a nasty accident. She spent two months in the hospital and several more in rehab before being released back home. The second was my own hospitalization after suffering a spontaneous lung collapse while visiting my mother in the hospital. I spent the next month recuperating rather than filming.
By fall, my condition and my mother's had sufficiently improved to return to filming. I was behind the 8-ball but worked to catch up. Not only did I have to film all the scenes, but I was doing the special effects post production work as well. I can't begin to imagine the number of hours spent learning Combustion.
What did fall through the cracks was a teaser. By the time we had enough footage, the season FLL season had started and there was no point.
Because some of the scenes are underwater and some are above and yet they all take place on the same mat, I needed to provide a visual clue. I went back to the fabric store and found a great bubble and cloud pattern. These I attached to foam board for the backdrops.
This year the bulk of the props were make from the new LEGO Ocean Odyssey designer Kit. This kit will be used by the junior FLL teams. I wanted therefore to use it so that those kids would be included as well.
Production this year was done primarily using the Adobe tools for Audio and video editing and the Autodesk tools for special effects. Using professional tools makes all the difference in the world. You can concentrate on the job and not be forced to concentrate on the limitations of the tools.
To give you an idea of the power of Combustion, consider the sinking ship scene. I had first contemplated actually disassembling the ship from the bottom up to make it sink. A few hours of testing quickly made me re-think. I elected to chromakey the scene instead. I filmed the background footage and then a still of the ship at the right angle against a greenscreen. I was then able to electronically sink the ship. The problem was that try as I might I could not keyframe the scene to have it sink in a realistic way. My solution was to film a 2 liter soda bottle sinking in my swimming pool. The bottle had a mast attached with high contrast dots. I was able to use this film and the tracker in Combustion to capture the motion. The motion data I was then able to apply to the ship for that nice look.
The first tournaments to use the movie were in Mexico, Canada, and the Maine on the November 19th weekend. These disks were sent direct by overnight service.
The voice of Nina is the same one I have used for the last two years. It belongs to a young lady that was on my original FLL team.
The voice of Dr. Justin Case is also the same as in the past two movies. It is that of Henry Castonguay, a science teacher in the Nashua New Hampshire school district.
The voice of Charlie is a horrible caricature using my voice. It sounds more like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets than a tuna. The voice of the archeological institute worker is my "command" voice. The voice of the helicopter pilot is that of my partner Ken Streeter.
For various reasons, Ken was not involved in the early movie editing. With about four weeks left he came on the job. To get him going, I gave him my hard drive to clone. We had anticipated this event and had each purchased SATA drives in removable caddies. I simply popped out my drive and gave it to him. A day later he gave it back. This is a fantastic way to share massive amounts of data between two collaborators.
By November 16, we had gone through numerous edit cycles and had a disk that was good enough to ship. This is exactly what we did for the three earliest state tournaments. By November 21, we had the last of the minor bugs removed and handed over the master disk to FIRST for reproduction and distribution.
This year the music was a J.S. Bach's Cello suite. This is a great piece of music that sets the mood for the shipwreck.
- The movie was made using stop motion animation. Each second of video was created by taking 15 slightly different pictures. Over 7,600 individual pictures had to be taken to make the 9 minute movie.
- A Sony DCR-HC85 MiniDV camcorder and Stop Motion Pro software were used to capture the pictures.
- The Adobe Premiere Pro video collection was used to edit the footage.
- Post production and special effects were done with Autodesk Combustion 4.0.
- Ocean scenes and sounds were filmed on Mount Dessert Island in Maine.
- Did you see the monkey in the video?
- Many of the sound effects were recorded from common objects, including the sound of bubbles made from a straw in water.
- Skye walked over 7 miles to and from the camera during filming.
- Ken lived on less than 4 hours of sleep a night during the final editing push.
- To simplify animation, 12 identical Nina and Dr. Case minifigs were used.
- The raw movie needed 18 Gigabytes of disk storage. The final DVD version was reduced to a ‘mere’ 580 meg.
- The blooper had to be animated just as carefully as regular scenes.
- Script writing started in early June. More than 18 revisions of the script were created before the final version.
- Filming started in August.
- The film was finished November 21, 2005.
- The movie was first shown at competitions in Mexico, Canada, and Maine the weekend before Thanksgiving. 30,000 people are expected to watch it during this season.
- You can see more LEGO movies and learn how to make them yourself by visiting www.brickfilms.com
Background courtesy of Fibblesnork
Copyright 2003-2006 Skye Sweeney; Last Updated on 2/16/2006