The Reality of Ian Hubert's Ideality

deemarie · September 5, 2005 8:01 am

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 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 Message2397850.jpgHowdy! My name is Ian Hubert. Im a senior in high school. At least, I will be once school starts. Wait am I a senior merely from graduating from 11th grade? I dont know. Ive 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 Ive 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 ol 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 Ill be excited about for a year. If not, Ill lose interest and the movie will never be finished. That would irk a lot of people. Theyd be like, Hey man, I helped you make this movie, and then you just stop? LAME! and Id be like, Yeah. I am. So I do, so I dont, and thus Im not. But why am I trying to make Ideality in particular? Well, as I already said, I think its just a good ol 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. Ive 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 its fun. I know that sounds simplistic and stuff, but its true. Especially when things go wrong. I mean, theres 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. Haha! Hey, you guys wanna hear something funny? Yeah ... 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 isnt too complex; in fact, its on the verge of clich A guy named Sword is dreaming, but he doesnt know hes dreaming, but see, the trick is that theres this other guy, from real life, and he gets into the dream too. Hes 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 stealing ideas. So far, I think weve 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, Ive done quite a few. As I said, most of them are kinda dumb, but the movies know theyre dumb, so its okay. Theyre not trying to be something theyre not, and the audience accepts that. Dang. I dont think that made any sense. Oh well. Carrying on 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 its 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 em others hate em. My favorite video I ever did, (excluding Ideality, which isnt done yet, so I cant 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. Its 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 Im using Blender3D. That program blows my mind in so many ways. I mean, its free, and yet, its amazingly awesome. It was my first time to ever use a program that included Inverse Kinetics as a feature. I think its 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. Im lovin it so hard. Actually, I wasnt 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!). Im 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 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. Ive always been interested in dreams. Now, I know, I know, this isnt really unique. Lots of people are. Unnaturally so, but Ive always found the science of it fascinating.
You mentioned your weapon 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. Ive 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 ones heard of it. Its crazy. Its like, The Program that was Never Made. 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 didnt have to worry about checking all the boxes or anything like that. You just set auto-key and went. Yup. Those were good times. In my opinion, Blender is the best of the three. Of course, everythings relative, but it has the most features, and can do more than any other program Ive 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 robots 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). Im afraid the spider may have been slightly over presented. In all honesty, hes really not onscreen all that much. However, I think hes awesome. See, personally, Ive always wanted a giant Robotic Spider. I used to draw them like crazy when I was younger. It was almost an obsession. And now, its in the movie. So Im 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 Bones, 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 solved you get the idea. After two months we finished. Man. If it werent for Andy. Animating is actually really fun. Ive 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 its peak, and 2 frames for quick jaw biting, with another 3 for them opening. Stuff like that. Its 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 I love it! We try to film so that the robot is actually affecting the environment a bit. When possible and matching up the robots movements to those cues in the actual footage is challenging. I remember that during the off the record 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 whats going on. When were filming, it depends. I started out the movie co-directing with Nathan Oquist. Actually, Im gonna go back further to the idea. Id had the idea of the whole dream thing for a while, and so one day I presented it to Nathan. Wed just finished filming Echoes, and that had taken a year. In an effort to make a movie faster which weve failed at [laughter] we decided that not only would we create a shorter movie, but wed 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, Im fine with a long movie as long as its not dragging on, but it also meant a lot more work. Eventually, Nathan left for the Marines [though as I type this, hes having his ten-day break before he goes back for six months], so Nick LaFleur joined up. Hes awesome [Great visual person, awesome grasp of the story]. Its cool. I cant 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. Its 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, I have to leave in 15 minutes after arriving man. But FX wise Im not sure. Actually, to be honest, the hardest part of the Effects was coordinating. Again. Coordinating is hard. Some people are naturals at it Im not. Im too disorganized. I double-book myself a lot. Thats 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] Thats an awesome question actually, yes but only partly. See, this movies probably gonna end up takin more than a year to make. That means I have to keep my excitement up about the movie for that long, otherwise I dont really care about the movie anymore and Im just Doing it to get it over with. Thats 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. Ive found a way around it, though. Im 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 Im lucky, yeah. Thats what Im trying to balance right now. I mean, having a career in animation or cinematography would be awesome, but its 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? Thats really fun to be asked. Just that question its fun. Lets see dang, this is hard. How about 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. Thats pretty much it. Have a good life, everyone! Bake some cookies!
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Message2218649.jpgAnimation Alley is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Writer Sergio Rosa [nemirc].
September 5, 2005

Article Comments

deemarie ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 06 September 2005

I have a gut-feeling that Ian is on the brink of super stardom. It is very exciting for the Front Page News team to bask in the glow of his genius! Also, thank you Sergio for bringing Ian to Renderositys Front Page! Dee-Marie

RodsArt ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 06 September 2005

It was the beginning of 2003, I remember thinking, "Great Cinematic Eye". Hot Stuff Ian, Break a Leg!!

haloedrain ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 06 September 2005

Looks like it's gonna be awesome! I've done that paper-plate and tinfoil flying saucer thing too--after which we proceeded to cover the entire inside of the house with it to represent the inside of the saucer (boy, my friends mom was pretty ticked) CG is probably the better way to go ;)

Mrdodobird ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 06 September 2005

HAHA! Wish I could have seen it :)

orbital ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 07 September 2005

I fully expect you to make it big some day. Just follow your dreams!

jagill ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 07 September 2005

Great interview, Ian. I've used Blender and it's not the easiest program to master. Kudos for toughing it out. I'm off to check out your site now, and I'm telling my wife to bake some cookies! He he.

Gog ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 07 September 2005

Nice one Ian, you deserve the recognition.