Hello everybody, as you may know, I am a movie fanatic. Not only do I like watching movies, and writting stories for "soon-to-be-made" movies, but I also like to talk to people involved in movie making. Some time ago I discovered that Ian Hubert [also known on Renderosity as Mrdodobird] was working on a movie project titled ó Ideality.
It turned out that this was not his first movie project, which to me, made Ideality even more interesting. Ian is a storyteller, and he's also been using 3D software for some time now. Which makes for a powerful combination ... I give you Ian Hubert.
Tell us a little about yourself
Howdy! My name is Ian Hubert. Iím a senior in high school. At least, I will be once school starts. Wait Ö am I a senior merely from graduating from 11th grade? I donít know.
Iíve been making videos for probably 10 years now, give or take. Most of them were really dumb, but the fun dumb. It all kinda springs from a passion Iíve had for telling stories. I used to draw little comics, then progressed to flip books, then little stop-motion movies, and finally ended up making the good olí videos.
Now, in the olden days, I would cover a paper plate with aluminum foil and hold it in front of the camera and hope people would guess it was a spaceship from Mars. Eventually, however, that got kinda old. I mean, tin cans and foil can go a long way, but I was never the greatest model maker.
This led to my experimentation with computer graphics. My uncle had given me Bryce 3D for my tenth birthday, and I started experimenting with it. I eventually figured out to combine the computer graphics with the live action footage we shot with the camera. All just to help tell the stories.
What drove you to make Ideality?
The last movie I made took an entire year. Because of this, when I choose an idea for a movie, it has to be one that I think Iíll be excited about for a year. If not, Iíll lose interest and the movie will never be finished. That would irk a lot of people. Theyíd be like, ďHey man, I helped you make this movie, and then you just stop? LAME!Ē and Iíd be like, ďYeah. I amĒ. So I do, so I donít, and thus Iím not.
But why am I trying to make Ideality in particular? Well, as I already said, I think itís just a good olí fun story to tell. It embodies a lot of things I wish I could have done when I was younger, like fly and build giant robots and stuff. Iíve found that whenever an idea I have comes from a childhood experience, those are generally a lot more powerful and universal than ideas that spring up in brainstorming sessions.
But the biggest reason is really because itís fun. I know that sounds simplistic and stuff, but itís true. Especially when things go wrong. I mean, thereís nothing like getting twelve people in a far off wooden clearing in hot costumes on a summer day and realizing that you forgot the tape for the camera. ďHaha! Hey, you guys wanna hear something funny? Yeah ...Ē
I also liked it cause the idea dictated a lot of superfluous special effects, which I enjoy.
Could you explain the concept behind your movie?
Well, the basic idea isnít too complex; in fact, itís on the verge of clichť. A guy named Sword is dreaming, but he doesnít know heís dreaming, but see, the trick is that thereís this other guy, from real life, and he gets into the dream too. Heís trying to take it over, so Sword has to break through the barriers of reality and achieve lucidity, a state in which he can do anything he wants in the dream world.
The hard part is that dreams are such an overused concept that Nick LaFleur and I have had a hard time not accidentally ďstealing ideas.Ē So far, I think weíve done a pretty good job. Probably.
You mentioned you've created other movies. Can you tell us a little about some of them? What's your favorite project so far?
Ah! Yeah, Iíve done quite a few. As I said, most of them are kinda dumb, but the movies know theyíre dumb, so itís okay. Theyíre not trying to be something theyíre not, and the audience accepts that. Dang. I donít think that made any sense. Oh well. Carrying on Ö
I pretty much do three different types of projects. The first is video projects that I need to do, like, to get money or to help someone out, or to do for a school project or whatever. Those can sometimes be fun, but generally itís just something you gotta do. The second kind are projects I make just because I feel like it. Those are generally a bit more unique. The third category is a mixture of the first two; I make a movie for a school project crazy. Some teachers love Ďem ó others hate Ďem.
My favorite video I ever did, (excluding Ideality, which isnít done yet, so I canít even talk about it in the past tense yet) was probably a couple years ago. The plot was lame: An alien robot comes down from space and is befriended by some crazy youths, who eventually end up going up to the mother ship and saving Earth. See? Lame plot. But the characters were cool. The three main characters were good friends, so the chemistry and spontaneity in that movie was great. Itís fun just to watch them interact.
You said you began experimenting with Bryce, which is a big coincidence because that's also the one I started with. Currently, what is the main 3D software that you prefer for creating visual effects?
Currently Iím using Blender3D. That program blows my mind in so many ways. I mean, itís free, and yet, itís amazingly awesome. It was my first time to ever use a program that included Inverse Kinetics as a feature. I think itís called that, anyway. I just know what it does, not the lingo. The IK has made animation so much easier.
Instead of having the foot parented to the ankle, and the ankle to the calf and so on all the way to the body, and having to animate the body then key frame every joint so that the feet stay in the same place (well, almost stay in the same place), I can just key frame animate the body, and the feet stay in the same place by themselves. Iím loviní it so hard.
Actually, I wasnít able to figure out the IK by myself. I was amazingly fortunate in that I had a neighbor, Andy Rhodes, who was into Blender, and he showed me the ropes. He was the one who figured out most of the skeleton for the spider (which was tricky, as it had 5 legs. Ack!). Iím kinda glad I decided to do something crazy like a giant robotic spider as my first Blender project though. It was a great way to learn a lot without realizing that I was learning a lot.
That concept about the guy that is able to do anything he wants in the dream-world sounds extremely familiar to me (The One?). How did you come up with that concept? And the name (Sword)?
Heh. If I had a quarter for every time someone related something in one of our movies to The Matrix, I would have Ö probably $15.85 (assuming I already had a dime). Aye, it is similar in ways. Both people realize that their reality is false, and that they can pretty much do whatever they want.
Iíve always been interested in dreams. Now, I know, I know, this isnít really unique. Lots of people are. Unnaturally so, but Iíve always found the science of it fascinating.
You mentioned your ďweaponĒ of choice is Blender. and I've heard some good things about it (check out Project Orange: The First Open Movie by Nick Sorbin). Have you used any other app besides it? How does it compare to other tools out there?
Aye. Blender is indeed awesome. I never cease to be amazed at what it can do. But, yeah. Iíve used quite a few other 3d programs, as I said, I used Bryce for years, but the very first 3D package I ever used was Corel Motion 3d. No oneís heard of it. Itís crazy. Itís like, ďThe Program that was Never Made.Ē Which would be creepy.
It was a pretty simple program, but it taught me the basics of working in 3D, especially animation. It was such an easy program to learn and use, that it made animating easy. You didnít have to worry about checking all the boxes or anything like that. You just set ďauto-keyĒ and went. Yup. Those were good times.
In my opinion, Blender is the best of the three. Of course, everythingís relative, but it has the most features, and can do more than any other program Iíve ever used in regards to creating digital elements that will be composited with live action footage.
Now that you mention that spider robot. What's the role of that robot in the movie?
Ah! The robotís pretty much a minion. Alexander (the guy who can create anything simply by willing it) thinks giant robot spiders are awesome. Which, they are. So, he decided that for minions he would have giant robot spiders and the Iron Dagger (Black Clad Martial-Artists of Death, or Something).
Iím afraid the spider may have been slightly over presented. In all honesty, heís really not onscreen all that much. However, I think heís awesome.
See, personally, Iíve always wanted a giant Robotic Spider. I used to draw them like crazy when I was younger. It was almost an obsession. And now, itís in the movie. So Iím hyped.
Can you describe the process of building and animating the robot?
Phew. It was nuts, let me tell you. Making a five-legged mechanical spider is not really the easiest thing in the world. Especially since it was the first thing I ever attempted to make in Blender. As I say elsewhere, the only thing that saved me was Andy, the neighborhood computer genius from down the street. I made a robot leg, and a robot body, but I had No Idea how to attach the two. See, this was the first time I had ever worked with Inverse Kenetics, or ďBones,Ē or whatever, so I really had no idea what I was doing.
It was a difficult setup, because I kinda did everything all wrong. Andy spent, probably a hundred hours trying to figure out how to fix what I messed up. It was crazy. Every time we fixed one problem it opened up a different one, and after that one was solvedÖ you get the idea. After two months we finished. Man. If it werenít for AndyÖ.
Animating is actually really fun. Iíve kinda set up everything so that it works time wise as set on frame amounts. As in, 20 frames for a footstep at normal speed, at 7 frames the foot is at itís peak, and 2 frames for quick jaw biting, with another 3 for them opening. Stuff like that. Itís kinda fun.
Blender can import video footage as a background, so I just kinda set up the robot in front of the background so that it all lines up, then I animate. Pretty easy and fun Ö I love it! We try to film so that the robot is actually affecting the environment a bit. When possible and matching up the robotís movements to those cues in the actual footage is challenging.
I remember that during the ďoff the recordĒ conversation, you mentioned you take on different aspects of the production. What are your main tasks during the making of Ideality?
Well, it kinda depends on whatís going on. When weíre filming, it depends. I started out the movie co-directing with Nathan Oquist. Actually, Iím gonna go back further Ö to the idea. Iíd had the idea of the whole ďdream thingĒ for a while, and so one day I presented it to Nathan. Weíd just finished filming Echoes, and that had taken a year.
In an effort to make a movie faster ó which weíve failed at [laughter] ó we decided that not only would we create a shorter movie, but weíd also both play main characters, which, by coincidence, are rarely on the screen together. That meant that when one person was acting, the other could direct, and the other way around. It was really just gonna be a short movie.
Then we started writing the script, and it turned into a not so short movie. Which was cool, I mean, Iím fine with a long movie as long as itís not dragging on, but it also meant a lot more work.
Eventually, Nathan left for the Marines [though as I type this, heís having his ten-day break before he goes back for six months], so Nick LaFleur joined up. Heís awesome [Great visual person, awesome grasp of the story]. Itís cool. I canít praise him enough.
Currently, I personally am kinda producing, directing, acting, editing, lighting the sets, which I built, doing visual effects, and writing the script; but, not without a ton of help. Itís been awesome.
Besides the spider, what was the biggest challenge in the movie?
Well, Non-Effects wise it was probably just coordinating everything. I mean, people joining the Marines left and right, coordinating a huge filming event only to have a main character say, ďI have to leave in 15 minutesĒ after arriving Ö man.
But FX wiseÖ Iím not sure. Actually, to be honest, the hardest part of the Effects was coordinating. Again. Coordinating is hard. Some people are naturals at it Ö Iím not. Iím too disorganized. I double-book myself a lot. Thatís hard, but fun!
Yeah. The most difficult part is really the sheer mass of Effects in Ideality. Not all of them are complex. In fact, most are fairly simple, but there are more than a few scenes in which every single shot requires some additional digital element, like buildings in the background, a waterfall outside of a window, an airport sticking out of the side of a cliff, stuff like that.
Are you already trying to come up with another idea for a movie?
[laughter] Thatís an awesome question ó actually, yes ó but only partly. See, this movieís probably gonna end up takiní more than a year to make. That means I have to keep my excitement up about the movie for that long, otherwise I donítí really care about the movie anymore and Iím just ďDoing it to get it over with.Ē Thatís when stuff gets uninspired and dull. If I were to have a different idea already formulated, I would get more excited about it than the current project, and it would quickly make Ideality more discouraging, especially when compared to the future greatness of whatever is coming next.
Iíve found a way around it, though. Iím just kinda writing my next idea as a story. As if it were never even going to be made into a movie. This helps me keep the distinction clear.
Do you plan to pursue a career in animation or cinematography?
If Iím lucky, yeah. Thatís what Iím trying to balance right now. I mean, having a career in animation or cinematography would be awesome, but itís a really competitive field. So do I want to try for that, or do I want to go with something more secure?
Do you have any final words that you want to share with the readers?
Thatís really fun to be asked. Just that question ó itís fun. Letís see Ö dang, this is hard. How aboutÖ communication! One of the best things you can do before talking, is quickly check about how what you say will sound to the other person, or how it would sound if it were said to you. Thatís pretty much it. Have a good life, everyone! Bake some cookies!
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September 5, 2005