Power of the Prologue 2: RWBY

Last week I posted about prologues and ways that they can be used to help enhance stories. I was referring to the first three episodes of Soul Eater and also Crest of the Stars. However, I completely blanked out on something I saw a while back, a trailer to the Black character in Roosterteeth’s RWBY project. Here are all of the characters prologues, in the order they were released.

I first heard of Roosterteeth when I was in college and a friend showed me the world of Red vs Blue. If your not familiar with that, thats a whole other rabbit hole you will have to look into, but you can start here.

Anyways, I believe it was at some point around season 4 or 5 that I caught up with Red vs Blue and admittedly kinda forgot about it, even though it was hilarious. It was probably around the time I was moving around. But one day I was on Anime News Network (ANN) and saw a trailer to the Black character in RWBY. When I was at Akon and met up with my composer, he told me that he went to the Roosterteeth panel to see the final character, Yellow, trailer revealed. I planned on going to the panel but the line was super long and there was no way I was going to get into the panel.

So post A-kon I recently decided to check out all of the RWBY trailers (as seen above). They all do we a very nice job of building up intrigue for each character. At the end of the Yellow trailer we see that the original Red character is her sister. In the Black trailer we see the character leave a guy behind. At the end of each trailer we are shown the silhouettes of the remaining characters that we know nothing about at certain points. We also get the released date of when we can expect the next video or unveiling of the world of these characters.

I felt compelled to show show these trailers because we are currently in the process of seeing the power of the prologue that Roosterteeth is utilizing as we approach the July date of yet another announcement or unveiling. I guess we will both have to stay tuned to see where this trip ends up. I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Production Update 49

Super busy week, so lets dive in and get up to speed on where things are at. First off, here is a link to a video I recently finished up. I talk about the freelance work I do but here is a chance to get to see some of it when I am not working on Cosmic Rage. That piece went live last week and it was one that I enjoyed working on very much since it had fun artwork.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQQjj3TOMTA&w=560&h=315]

So last week we left off with a large render for a scene in episode 1. Well, that render is finished and that shot is ready to be composited. If you follow Cosmic Rage on facebook, you saw that I was posting screenshots of the render progress throughout the week. I had a fun with some people asking me if it was done yet and how it was going.

While the render was finishing up, I also started drawing a layout of the next scene and the space that needs to be modeled and created. The next space that needs to be modeled is going to be the setting for many shots so we can use the same space for multiple backgrounds.

Onto the next item which is the prologue. I have the artwork all inked and colored for the prologue. I actually also had to jump back onto the character model sheets because I needed to create a color scheme for one of the characters.

I still have to do the new water tests for a couple of the shots which means I might experiment with a new technique on some of the shots. While those tests are rendering, I can create the 3D environment for the next scene in episode 1. The test will be static images to see if I like the newer versions better. Perhaps I will post some images side by side on the site and see what everyone else thinks when I get that far.

I wanted to get some of that stuff done this week but at the end of the week we had a pretty bad storm wreak havoc in the city and we had some clean up work to do. A giant storm system caused a lot of wind damage and we have been cleaning up our yard and helping out some neighbors and family.

IMG_2522^This was our neighbors trampoline wrapped around an electrical post. You can see some of the leaves and such in the streets from the wind. There were a lot of downed trees in the city and our clean up efforts are starting.

As for this week, I want to get to the render tests and get the audio of the prologue done as well. I do have some freelance work to complete this week as well so as always that is the main goal.

The Power of the Prologue

One of the titles I have been watching here and there is Soul Eater released by Funimation. Check out the trailer below if your looking for a fun title to watch.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTTCUzmHKvI&w=560&h=315]

Anyways, I’m not here today to write up a review on the series, that will come much later. What I wanted to talk about today, was the use prologues as the first 3 episodes of the series. In Soul Eater, there are characters that are reapers and characters that act as weapons for the reapers. In the first episode we look at reaper Maka and her death scythe Soul. We get a chance to see the interaction between the 2 characters and also learn a bit about the universe the story is set in. Soul has to eat 99 souls and the 100th soul he eats needs to be a witch for him to become a death scythe.

In the second episode we meet the team of Black Star and Tsubaki. Again we get a chance to see the dynamic between the two characters and learn about them as well.

The final episode of their prologue is the team of Death the Kid and his two weapons Liz and Patty. We learn some of the perks of Death the Kid’s personality in this episode and see his weakness based on asymmetry.

Now some people may feel that prologues aren’t needed. Information in prologues could be integrated into a story, but on the flip side, by using a prologue, you can cut down on filler and recap segments. Another benefit of using a prologue, is that the story teller can tell a story and use a prologue to fill in some blanks as the story progresses.

For instance, I am toying around with the idea of utilizing prologues to flesh out more of the characters backstories before each episode. I haven’t committed to the idea yet, but I like the idea of being able to add additional information to the story and characters without having to dedicate an entire episode to it or by writing an extended paragraph.

You don’t see a lot of prologues for series these days, so it was great to watch a series and see them utilize essentially 3 prologues for each team of characters. I personally felt it was a great way to connect with a character before seeing how they interact with others and the decisions they will make in the universe of the story. Generally this type of episode, in anime series, tend to happen mid series or the later half. The series that tends to come to mind with this approach is Wolf’s Rain.

Another different series that uses prologues is the Crest of the Stars franchise, which would play a small prologue before each episode. Which is the approach I may take. Stay tuned for another update on Monday!

Production Update 48

It seems as if the summer is just flying by faster than usual.  I had a pretty solid week in terms of production outside of the freelance work I have been finishing up. As I am typing, I have the render going for the shot from episode 1. I had some issues with the bump map and anti-aliasing taking too long to render so I had to reduce the bump map to get it down to a reasonable size to render.

For those of you that don’t know what a bump map is, it is basically a gray scale texture that makes things appear 3D. So you can have a flat plane and apply a bump map to it to make the plane look like a brick without having to go into the plane and make all sorts of little imperfections.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 3.11.29 PM

*The above image is what the flat letters look like without any texture. 
Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 3.11.37 PM
*The bump map allows the texture on the letters to look like it has a metal texture to it. All of it is done with an image and I didn’t have to effect the letter fronts.

The render is the last thing that needs to be created for this shot, so once the render is done it will be some minor compositing work. I spent a little more time on tweaking the render settings to get it down in render time that I didn’t get a chance to touch the ocean shots I talked about last week.

I did however, get a chance to scan in the artwork for the prologue and get it inked. I just need to color and shade one piece and get them dropped into the prologue. I also have the audio downloaded, so that is another priority for this upcoming week.

Over the next few days, I have a couple freelance projects that should be starting up, but as they get started I will have some time to get more artwork done.

I also aim to start posting imagery to the Cosmic Rage Facebook page with some behind the scenes content. The reason I can’t do those kinds of things on this blog is because as of now it is a free blog so my space is limited for posting up new pictures. I don’t know how long the blog will exist on WordPress until it moves to a new home. I plan on having an interactive website which will also allow for a better viewing experience of the episodes once they are completed. Stay Tuned for more!

Con Recap: A-kon 2013 Dallas

I haven’t been to a con since Gen-Con 2004. Gen-Con 2004 was the last Dragonball GT card game tournament and the last con I went to. At the time I was about to transfer colleges and was finally ready to get back to school and pursue my B.S. and the end of the card game was all but imminent.

Fast forward to 2013 and I have already been thinking of taking Cosmic Rage to cons to promote the project. However, I had no idea what to expect at cons or Artist Alley for that matter. So after I discovered that Anime Detour in Minneapolis limits their tickets, I set my sights on the Lone Star state and what A-kon had to offer.

I visited some family at the time and also met up with one of my friends I traveled to Japan with. Thursday night we were planning on registering and watching the live action Rourouni Kenshin movie. However, the line for registration was long and we waited in line for 2.5 hours to get registered and get our badges. With badges in hand and the night getting late, we grabbed some pizza and prepared for the next day.

Friday rolled around, and the con was pretty busy. There was a fairly long line of people waiting to register and we heard rumors of people waiting in line for up to 5 hours. I went to a few panels on web comics, artist alley 101, digital coloring, and even kickstart campaigns. I met some really cool artists and got contact info from them as well. Here are a few links to their sites to check out.

Cyanide and Happiness
Star Cross’d Destiny

I enjoyed each of the panels and learned from some talented web comic artists. I might have some more exciting news regarding this topic but I will have to keep it on the downlow for now.

In between all of the panels and checking out the artist alley and dealers rooms, I was able to take some pictures of some awesome cosplay outfits too. I will see if I can post them up to the facebook page. I even got Sonny Strait’s autograph on one of my old Krillin DBZ cards and Todd Haberkorn’s autograph on some DVDs of mine.

Friday night Exist Trace was performing live at the con, so I checked them out and it was quite the show. They quickly became one of my favorite bands just from the show they put on. I helped a friend out after the show get some autographs from the band at the booth. It was a pretty late night by the time we got back to the hotel.

Saturday morning we woke up and checked out the screening for Wolf Children, a new title from FUNImation.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns8PWyfEz60&w=560&h=315]

I went to a few more panels on scriptwriting, storytelling and digital art. Later on Saturday I actually met up with the composer on the Cosmic Rage project. We met online on a previous project and now we have become pretty good friends. We actually never thought we would meet up due to where we lived, but through the powers of Facebook, we discovered we were both at the con and met up.

We had a good conversation about our projects and the future of Cosmic Rage that lasted a couple of hours. I met up with my friend and we went to a comedy panel that night and returned to the hotel.

Sunday was a shorter day, we started off the day by attending the Aniplex panel. At the panel they played a trailer for Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack which is suppose to be a horror film they recently picked up.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZugt3fiBe0&w=560&h=315]

I personally am a little excited for this title because it looks fun and I am interested to see the use of CGI in the film also. After the Aniplex panel I roamed around the dealers room for a bit more picking up some goodies and art books (Samurai Champloo and Redline).

Overall the con was a great time. I am really hoping I am able to pick up production on Cosmic Rage a bit more and be able to have content in an Artist Alley next year. I met some new friends while waiting in lines for autographs from voice actors and Exist Trace and also met up with some acquaintances as well. The con was jam packed on Saturday and rumor has it they sold out badges, but I can’t confirm that. Looking forward to making it to A-kon next year if I am available.

Check out the Cosmic Rage facebook page for a photo gallery.

Production Update 47

Production Update time is here again! I made it back home, which means I now have access to my scanner, tablet and everything I need to get back to work on the prologue.
I am also getting over a cold as well, I think I am going to credit that to A-kon and the freezing convention, which I do need to update you all on this week. I skipped since I was sick and sleeping.

This past week I also was shown a really awesome ocean generating plug in for C4D, which means I may dive back into some of the shots of the prologue and update some of the water scenes to get a better look. I also received new audio tracks from the composer. So I can get a chance to plug them in and we should be set. The re-rendering of some of the water won’t effect the timing of the scenes so we are good to go there.

I was also able to get animating on the current shot I am working on for episode 1. I am rendering out a low resolution test animation as I type this. The reason for that is to make sure the timing, size and such are all going to fit into the scene so I can set up a larger render that is high resolution. I have been doing some test compositing and I am excited to see how the final shot turns out.

On schedule for this week is some more freelance work, I will be starting a new project this week. But I also want to wrap up the current shot for episode 1, and get all of the artwork for the prologue scanned in, inked and colored. Maybe I will be able to get to a water scene as well. I will also have my recap from my first A-kon up this week too!

Production Update 46

A-kon was a blast this past weekend. I was fortunate enough to see so many cool costumes, meet awesome people and learn from other artists. It was a fun 3 day event and I am already hoping I can make it back next year.

When we left off last week I was finishing up client work and suffering from what seems like semi-annual migraines. I’m not sure if the migraines are brought on by constantly being on a computer combined with contact lenses or what, but I rocked my glasses for a good week and my head feels a lot better. Anyways, I got some 3D work done on the shot I was previously working on. I have a little left before I can get it animated and rendered.

The coolest thing from A-kon was that I actually was able to meet up with the artist creating the audio tracks and sound effects for the prologue. Neither of us knew we were going to be there, but we found out through facebook we were both there and met up for a few hours and talked about our projects. It was a great time and I look forward to seeing what the two of us can create. I will be sharing more from A-kon this Thursday!