I started this project in 2013 (maybe 2012), but I only worked on it in short bursts once or twice a year.
By the start of December 2019 all I had a script written (probably done since 2013), Lt Morf’s lines recorded, the bridge interior mostly done, an incomplete captain character built and rigged in Moho, an incomplete captain character built and rigged in 3D (LightWave 3D), and some drawings and other bits and pieces. I didn’t have a plan on how or when I would complete this project or even if it’d 2D or 3D or maybe even VR.
No plans = no progress.
Late last year, I heard that some of the Adobe Character Animator (Ch) team would be in Portland, OR in January and they were seeing if any users wanted to meet up. I live and work between Seattle (where much of the Ch team is located) and Portland, so we set up a lunch meeting.
I had used Ch on some big projects at work (that most of the world will never see), and I hadn’t done a Ch project in a while, so I figured I could actually make my short, write some notes about the experience to provide feedback to the Ch team, and have something to show them when we meet up in a month.
I can’t say I worked around the clock on this project. Even with time off of work for the holidays, there were many days where little to nothing got done, but by Jan 7, I had something done enough to show off. There was much left to do, but the main edit was done and the characters were all talking. I showed the “Space Show” short to about 7 people on a laptop in a restaurant. They seemed to like it. 🙂
Once that initial self-imposed deadline passed, I took a little break from working on it. Then on Jan 15, the first Seattle Ch meetup was announced for Feb 12. I decided to try to show the short at that event, so that gave me a new deadline. Over the next month, I built and textured the exterior of the ship, animated the intro shot, adjusted the edit a little, made the floating communications thing, added some emotion artwork to the characters, animated the complicated sequences and more. Again, there were days where I did nothing on the project. When Feb 12 came around, I took the day off of work so I could finish the project before the meetup. I didn’t quite get the project done to the point I wanted, but I was able to show it to the crowd there.
Since that showing, I’ve rerendered all the bridge interiors, adding screens in the monitors and blinking lights. I went through each character and cleaned up the lip sync, I added more artwork to Lt. Morph, so his head can turn, and gave it it’s new name. I also found a list of potential animation ideas I had made way back in 2012. That list included the main gag of this episode and included a few possible names. I decided I liked my old “Star Meh” name better than my working title of “Space Show”. A friend of mine thought Star Meh fit the attitude of the captain, so I went with that.
So that’s the long story of how I took a project that was on the back burner for years and finished it in a few months and why there is a ‘special thanks to the Character Animator team’ in the credits. If not for those two meetings in January and February, this probably would not be done. I also thank my friends and family who have encouraged me through this process. Special thanks go to John Baunsgard for the encouragement and specific feedback.