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Op. 100 "Kingdom" 3D Film

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NOTE: IF YOU ARE HAVING ISSUES PLAYING THE FILM- The large size is because of the resolution... if you don't want to watch the full res. here, you can watch the lower resolution on youtube (link at the bottom of the description).

-resubmitted due to some issues-
About the Film:
(Please do not judge this film compared to works with non-real-time 3D programs (Maya, Blender, 3DSMax, etc.), as it was made in a real-time (WYSIWYG) 3D program and thus had many limits regarding lighting, polygons, and general render quality that those programs do not have due to their nature.)

A few months ago, I reached my 100th audio submission to Newgrounds and created this rather long piece. Recently, I decided to sit down and try animating the imagery I had for each movement in 3D... after about five days of working long into the night, I finally reached the end of the project.

Do note that the film jumps around a bit to match the cinematic nature of the music as it is "inverse-scoring".

Each movement has its own character or idea to express- the first is the founding of this imaginary kingdom and its heritage of war. The second is a great leader (referred to in the film as "the general" who led the kingdom to glory and taught its people to fight. The third is a calm movement which marks the serene beauty of the land and architecture of the kingdom- it's castles, great galleries, calm seas. Finally, the last movement marks the end of all these things. If you look carefully, you will notice each of the three previous movements sees an end in this movement.

There's an awful lot of imagery and representation in this to go along with the film, so keep an eye out for symbols that appear again.

Animation done in iClone 5; editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4.

lower-resolution on youtube for folks with slower internet- http://www.youtube.com/wa tch?v=PVwIMrqtyPk

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While a lot of this looked pretty and the audio was nicely put. You had these awkward body movements happening that just made me cringe. Seriously, those shoulders crunched together and forward was just so irritating to me.

That is all.

samulis responds:

Sorry I don't use a 'real' 3D animation program or have any training in anatomy or human motion or animation. I was simply trying my best to match the atmosphere of the music with the atmosphere of the art more than create a perfect animation... I haven't really returned to animation in a long time simply because I know far too little about it to make a good work.

An opera in flash. Well, maybe not an opera, because they have words, but this is close!

Well, what needs to be said? It's fantastic, the piece conveys a lot of emotion and the gravity of how this piece unfolds is paced really well. I love that you focus more on the vistas, more than on the individual characters, involved within this play.

In some of the scenes, you panned over blurred foreground images to show a crisp background, which really looked fantastic. Would it be too much of a stretch to focus on the foreground and then when you can see the background, alter the focus to set the scene, as they used to in the movies?

Some issues did come to light, however - why is the king / leader in movement 1 not armed at all? Surely, if he were dressed for war, i.e. wearing a full suit of plate mail, then he would have a sword. If you watch historical films, you will see that the leader types give orders, by waving their sword about.

In movement 2, the door getting kicked in looked too formulated - it swings open, then falls very uniformly to the floor. Something like this needs to be addressed, as it would never fall like that in reality - have it come off one hinge first and crash to the floor in a more haphazard way.

In movement 3, the sunlight is at a steep angle, which is fine - the dropping light hits the floor, yet you have squares of what I can only perceive to be sunlight on the right hand wall, well above where these beams of light fall. This contradicts the physics that you've got, unless you have this set on a world with two suns, which is a bit of a leap, if I'm being picky (I am, but that's just how I write reviews)

While movement 4 was rather sad, it didn't feel long enough to give the impression of the fall - we just see the aftermath, rather than how someone actually fell. Perhaps this is just an issue with semantics, as opposed to a glaring error, that needs addressing.

Still, I really enjoyed it. I look forward to more of your work.

[Review Request Club]

samulis responds:

Hey Coop, thanks for the great review. :)

The king isn't armed because he's a non-standard character and giving him a sword to hold would take several minutes to do and I was trying to rush that shot as it was the last one of the first day and somewhere around 1:10 AM.

The door kick had to be keyframed in... and after I saw it, I agree, it looks terrible... but it has a comical and metaphorical side- that these little characters could kick down this big ass door.

Do note that there are additional windows right below the dome that are out of sight in those shots I believe... the "god-rays" are props and rather annoying to get in place at that... when I tried one on the windows above, it ended up looking poor. Although it isn't entirely accurate, it doesn't look so weird.

I decided to do movement 4 that way simply because iClone (the 3D program) can't handle more than say, 20 characters at a time... nor do I have props designed to break. Animating a large battle and things burning and breaking isn't really possible then, so I had to stick with ruins and little faded overlays of the past. My main inspiration for this was the opening to Age of Empires I where you have a battle and then you see ruins and they tell the story of the end of the battle through flashbacks.

I just can't rate this badly because it's really well done, and there has been put so much time in this. I've seen art pieces from you of buildings that could be in this movie. I'm wondering: did you re-use some of your already made buildings for this? I can imagine that, otherwise it will probably have cost an incredible long time to make this.
I didn't even know it was possible to make movies out of the 3D program you use.

I think it's really good that you made everything in this video so realistic. I don't ever see videos like this pop up on the newgrounds flash portal, so bonus points for originality. You can maybe even start a collection of 3D videos, or at least something like a series.

Because it's so realistic, the less realistic things jump out. In my eyes, those "mistakes" or how you want to call them are what divides a cinema movie from a submission like this. For example, my attention is taken by that every grass plume is the same. If you could mirror a few of them, change the colour of a few of them or just choose bigger and other grass plumes it would look more like a field than randomly placed grass.
Another thing that caught my eye is that, although everything is three-dimensional, the armour of the knights does not stand out. I know it would be really hard, but if you are making close-ups of characters like the knights, it's nice if the closer up is from a more detailed (part of a) character.

Now I've given a harsh comment, let me make it up to you by saying that I did not find most of the movement odd. Although certain parts were a bit choppy like when the characters walked up the stairs, most of it was very realistic. Some of the animations were actually creative/funny, like the door who was kicked out of its hinges.

Another thing I find really well done is that the music fits the different movements. I'm really jealous that you can make great music, art and flash animations. It must be awesome. I can't even draw between lines most of the time...
I would recommend changing the music a bit more between the more dramatic parts and the parts where the fighting is more important. Although there is certainly a difference in the music, the fighting parts sound a bit too happy. If you could make music with a higher bpm in the fighting parts, or instead of orchestrated music a bit darker music it would fit more.

The last point of improvement I can think of is that you could make the story a bit more clear. Although I love that you put a story in your movie, I don't understand it at times.
You could implement characters, so the viewer has a favorite king/lady/prince to root for or something like that. It would also give more of a plot to your movies. I bet you can come up with something original.
Maybe you could even find someone to narrate it for you, or you could narrate it yourself. If you find someone else (if you would let the movie be narrated it at all), be sure to get someone with of those dark and serious voices. I always love those in movies like these.

Even though the majority of this review is critisism, don't take this as a negative review. The movie is awesome, but can be much more awesome in my opinion.
You really deserve at least 3.5 stars from every following review. Otherwise I will get angry. >:(

Review request club

samulis responds:

Hehe, thanks.

Because I inverse-scored this, the music was locked... I decided to leave it as-is and instead try to make the scenes fit the music as best as I could... although I could have put more space between movements.

If I get to making a video that isn't a music video, I'd absolutely love to add some more plot to it, but the main point of this was to simply express the emotions of the music.

Now that you mention the grass, I realize now that I could have used multiple grass "sprites" or used some better 2.5D grass I have... grass is tricky in a real-time program because you don't have the ability to have a super complex render so it literally MUST be sprites in some way or another.

I understand what you mean about the armor... I did fix up some of the template armor to make it more presentable, but I could have done more. Most of the pieces by Arteria3D were excellent (aside from being non-standard and thus uneditable in iClone) already so I went with them as-is.

When I played back the shot with the door falling open I thought "oh god, this is so cheesy!" but I liked it and didn't have time to fix the "ditto" men at arms (fixing the stairs would be a nightmare of keyframes... I think I'll just stick to ramps in future videos XD).

May of the models I use are made by very talented modelers such as Arteria3D (feel free to google them if you want)... I often use their work because it is both beautiful and in a great range poly-wise. What models I have made that worked for this are used readily- for example, the palace throne room you see in the general planning scene and the coronation is a build I did in sketchup and retextured for iclone about a year ago. In addition, I made and textured every single terrain mesh in the film. All characters are either Arteria3D or made by Reallusion, the company that published iClone.

I'm actually considering making more 3D videos with both music and eventually some short stories, mostly medieval and such, but it will be a fun experience and loads of great work.

Thanks for the review,

Hmm...I think I'll take my time with this review, so forgive me if this review seems really long.

Oh and before I start, as I'm writing this review the youtube link isn't working so you might want to look at it.

Okaaay let's start with the animation and the graphics...now undoubtedly they were very good, and that's not just because it was 3D. However, the style was very reminiscent of games like runescape, the settlers or something. If it was a game...I guess my eyes would be popping out of my head right now...but this is supposedly a film , and that's where the difference is. For starters, this might be nitpicking, but I was slightly disappointed with how clunky the movements of the characters were, and the dull, repetitive expressions stamped on their faces for the duration of the "film". Other moments of weakness relate to movement, such as that of the foliage and other things such as the fall of shadows in the scenery. The 3D environment also looked incredibly blotchy and lacking in that kind of fine contextual detail...This was easily seen in how some aspects of the scenery seemed disjointed from one another, such as the castle to the sand at the end, or the castle to the tress in the beginning (and credits) This is one of the reasons why I have begun to look at freelance 3D animations with a wary eye, because many artists who use this medium fall into the trap of forgetting those small details...which often are easily remembered in more "traditional" if you will style of animation. Now don't take what I said the wrong way...because clearly you have animation talent more than I ever will; I'm saying this because you should be able to compete more evenly with more "2D" animations...because your animation is that good...so I guess you should consider it fine that that's the only thing you have to worry about. Besides there is always room for improvement. So bottom line, make your films graphic wise look more like films and less like game cut-scenes!

Next thing, and where you score much better...the concept. I felt there was a real theme and plot driving the "film", and I liked how you said in your commentary how each movement had its own "character" to express, which it clearly did...and I also like how each of the movements were also neatly ended in the final movement...so despite those small pitfalls in your animation your ideas and aims were carried on very well. The notion of kingdom, glory and medieval honour, prowess and politics were strongly represented here, so good work on that. And the music was very good, it carried this idea, if not creating a very good atmosphere for the "film"...but the ending was a bit too upbeat in my opinion to correlate with the destruction, I mean you could have a crescendo in the finale, but that's where the music fell short for the "film"...now the last thing...and it may sound like I'm contradicting myself...but I shall say it...

While I was able to appreciate the ideas driving the "film", it still felt...lacking, and that is not only because of those little animation pitfalls. I understand the division in the movements, however they honestly felt too divided, made the "film" feel quite solidly divided, and thus less of a "film" and more of a preview of a bigger "film". If the movements were much longer, this notion could easily be overlooked...but clearly they weren't so the dis-juncture between the movements was more noticeable. I appreciate that you warned your audience about it...and while there can be jumps, I think you still should have tried to weave the movements together a bit more seamlessly...honestly the general and kingdom beauty bits, I struggled to correlate a connection between the two somewhat...

And I'm running out of characters so I'd better stop. And make a summary.

Your animation and plot behind your "film" was fantastic, and amazing, but I can't say brilliant. This is because you clearly set your benchmark rather high, and you fell short, for the reasons I listed up above. Just keep on working at it and I'm sure you will get there :)

samulis responds:

Hey, thanks for the great constructive feedback man!

one thing I should address is that the program I work with is real-time, meaning that it CAN'T handle things with more polygons than game-style graphics. However, I do see what you mean by adding what is referred to as "environment" props- things like bits of garbage, grunge, carts and items that were dropped or left behind, materials stacked for future constructions, etc. I tried to put a little in, but now I know I should aim for more. :)

The disconnectedness of the movements is an intention with the original piece- from a musical standpoint, the only connecting fabric in the piece is the tempo, 80 bpm, which is held (albeit when there are rallitandos/slow downs) throughout the piece, even the "fast" battle part.

Putting more effort into the animation is something I plan to do with the next project. Believable animation is rather difficult in the program I use, but with some facial animation and a bit more smoothness between animation tracks, it should look a bit more realistic.

Thanks for your time!

Okay, so first of all I really liked this and it deserves to be inhere!
This was really good and an interesting experience, and it actually reminded me of some really good RPG games!
But still there are a few things that need to be perfected, for example the camera movement in the beginning of the parts, it is a little to fast so it gets all blurred when you look at it, and some of the characters move a bit like robots, so that needs to be changed in the next thing you do! (Not that I would do anything better than you, in fact I wouldn't be able to do anything of this)
Well anyway, I am looking forward to your next preoject!

samulis responds:

Thanks for the feedback, man, I'm glad you liked it.

As I said with the review above yours, I do plan to work on animation a bit, I was just trying to get this piece done in a relatively short amount of time before summer break is over and didn't want to mull over keyframes for hours... in addition there are some content problems with animation, meaning that some of the characters can't be animated in the default way as they have a non-standard rig which makes any animation on their character rather difficult.

Credits & Info

4.04 / 5.00

Aug 28, 2012
9:21 PM EDT
Music Video