Friday Animation Fun: Insert Coin
Watch two children’s imagination race away in this short animation and find out how it was created using 3ds Max, ZBrush, Photoshop and a bunch of third-party plugins
Insert Coin is a story about the playful nature of two children, Lucas and Theo, who imagine themselves as the drivers in a racing game. As they successfully reach higher levels, their vehicles become newer, much faster models, that is, until their money runs out…
The short was a final-year project created by four students – Alisson Thiébaut, Beucler Louis, Garcia Tunon Nicolas and Mathieu Tiger – of the Albert Jacquard School of Namur, Belgium.
The initial idea for the film came about during a warm summer afteroon. “We were thinking about scenarios,” says Louis. “The window was open and we heard children laughing, screaming and making noise with their bicycles on the stone pavement outside. We began to think of a story about two little boys running on a pavement, which lead us to the idea of a race.
“We had some graphical goals, we wanted to model a lot of different things and different environments so we thought our characters could travel in different worlds on vehicles that went faster and faster.”
Drawing inspiration from the greats
Both the set and character designs were carefully considered by the student team. “We looked at a bunch of great characters we found in animations from Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney,” says Thiébaut.
“I tried to figure out what made their characters special and appealing. So we defined a personality for each boy. Lucas, with brushed blond hair, is taller and more serious with his vintage glasses. His friend Theo is a smaller, bad boy with his purple reversed cap.”
With the film featuring many different environments, the team were able to have some fun with their designs. “We really wanted to enjoy making this short,” Nicolas. “The end-of-study work is the last chance you have to work in team on a really personal project. We wanted to have fun with things we like or liked when we were children.”
The quartet also wanted each of the sets to be unexpected. “We wanted to give a specific look for each environment and make each one of the them a big surprise,” explains Louis. “We looked at Bip-bip the Runner & Coyotte, we looked at Donkey Kong on Super NES, 101 Dalmatians and Star Wars, of course. We had a lot of other ideas: bobsleigh, planes, etc but selected the most aesthetically interesting.”
To create the multiple environments and assets, the student group used 3ds Max for modelling and animating, ZBrush for adding fine detail to the characters, V-Ray for rendering and Photoshop for final composition.
Alongside these applications, the team also made use of maxscript and third-party plugins such as Multi-Scatter, PEN-Attribute and BonyFace.
“I think BonyFace was one of the most useful scripts,” says Nicolas. “Rigging a face in 3ds Max has never been easier. The other greatest feature was our custom scripts. I developed two character UIs to quickly access every part of our character rigs, and I also created a script that setup the scene before rendering. It was a small script that would just hide and show specifics layers or apply a black material to specific objects. It saved us a lot of time and gave us peace of mind.”
Coping with millions of polys
Scripts and third-party plugins did not, however, provide the answer of how to cope with the film’s biggest hurdle. “Our scenes were really heavy, from 2 to 10 millions of polys for 3ds Max’s poor viewport,” says Nicolas.
“Our biggest technical challenge was to optimise our scenes, for which we used V-Ray proxies a lot. Sometimes we had to import the high-res model of ZBrush inside 3ds Max to avoid loosing details. We used camera mapping for some shots. For example, the grass of the first shot was too long to render for the animation and we had GI flicks. So we rendered a still image of the grass that we projected on the existing ground planes for the final animated render.”
After 15 months in production, the student group are pleased with the final film. “We had other projects at school while creating this one,” says Nicloas. “If given more time, we would’ve added more FX like fire or fog, and worked more on the animation. But I’m really happy that we didn’t cut anything, everything we wanted to put in this movie is there and we had a lot of fun creating it.”
Like this short?
Check out the selection of other awesome animations on our showcase page
Seen a short you think we should feature?
Let us know via the comments section below, on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll try to find out about it for you.
on Friday, March 2nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm under Shorts, Showcase.
You can subscribe to comments.
You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.
Tags: 3D animated short, 3D animation, Animated short, BonyFace, Friday Animation Fun, Insert Coin animation, student 3D animation