The November 2013 Log (featuring Creative Blackout and new designs)

October was busy month ? Forget about it, November was worse.


  • 6 new character designs
  • some scripting
  • and a huge creative blackout

New Anthony Designs

After a complicated October month,  Anthony is back this time with 6 new designs for some of our movie characters. When working on characters, Anthony always sends me several drafts before I pick a final rough look. It might seem weird to have final and rough in the same line, but it’s how it works. You have to lock down the rough version of a design in order to move forward in the process.

Usually, I only show you the locked version of a character, but this time, I wanted to share with you the different versions I get from Anthony for a same character.


Here is the hero sidekick, Jean-René (yes, a lot of characters have weird vintage french first names). As you can see, Anthony designed him with and without a moustache (was it because he was participating in the movember thingy ? We will never know), and with several clothes style. Our characters are so fashionable.

You might wonder how Anthony knows about the characters to be able to give them birth ? Well, that’s my job. For every character, I write a character sheet. If you’ve never saw one before, here is my model:

JR Character SheetSorry, it’s in french (and that’s about the only thing in french behind the scenes. This is because Anthony and I are both french, and that those details are only needed for him right now). In case you wouldn’t be familiar with french, here are the information I try to write down for every character: age, physical shape, sex, size, nationality, hair style & color, significant other, hairyness, parents name, fashion style, kids, strength, education, good looking or not, religion, physical clue, spoken language & accent, ambitions, behavior, hobbies, qualities, success in his life, flaws and failures.

All this provides some ground information to make the character a unique human being inside our animated world. This not only helps Anthony to design the characters, but it also helps me define them properly, and thus, give them better line of dialogues in the screenplay. If you’re working on a book/game/movie/whatever, I really encourage you to use character sheets. You’ll turn a blunt character into a worthy one.

Now, let’s have a look at the other characters he brought to life this month:

Justin_V01s Jeremy_V01s

Sometimes, Anthony knows exactly what I might be wanting, and get the characters done in one shot:

design oneshots

As usual, he always add our hero as a reference so I can have a height clue and see if the design fits within our design guidelines.

Story Boring

Development on our update to our StoryBoarding script continued a bit this month, but we are a bit stalled. Several issues are plaguing the vision we have for the script, and the feature set for the next update. We’ve hit some big bugs in the way After Effects CC handles the script UI language because of a much needed under the hood general AE UI code revamp. If the Script UI works in most cases for scripts with simple UI, some kirk in the transition from the CS6 AE UI to the AE CC UI makes it impossible to build our Story Boarding UI as expected. The AE team is aware of the issue as we talked in length about it during the AE World Conference.

If you like technical details, the problem lies with the [‘fill’] attribute within a tabbed group. When in a docked Panel, the [‘fill’] is not properly executed, creating the UI elements at their smallest authorized size, to never be resized even when filled with content. This is working properly in CS6, but broken in CC. We cannot release a broken script of course, but more importantly, we cannot use a broken script (and we do use the scripts we develop for the movie funding).

Here is what the bug looks like, you gotta admit that there’s a lot of wasted space when UI elements aren’t sized properly.


For reference, it should look something like that:

Story Boarding v1.5 Preview

Much better, when you can actually see your content ;)

Anyway, while trying to workaround this bug, we stumbled onto other small UI bugs, so we’re a bit stuck right now. We’re crossing our fingers that they’ll be fixed in a next After Effects update. It would be easy to blame the AE team for these bugs, but the fact is that they are doing their best, and are focusing on more important issues. These bugs must be affecting less than 10-15 people on earth, and still, they are trying to iron them out, so full kudos to them.

The Creative Blackout

Meanwhile the sad truth is that it’s sometime a bit depressing. Because october and november have been really complicated months for me as I was severly hit by a creative blackout, not being able to let steam go from my creative brain to my script developing brain was really depressing. Much like when you have the feeling that everything around you is collapsing. Not being able to do anything turned me into an emotional rollcoaster guy. And it’s not easy to handle. And I HATE rollercoasters.

Not all was that bad, I wasn’t in a full #000000 mood of course. But not being able to work on my movie neither on the creative side, nor on the pipeline side was of course a real blow but I have a very supportive girlfriend, and a very cool job with an awesome team at Stupeflix to keep me motivated and above all happy. Plus, as I couldn’t work, I had to take some time to relax, and that meant an insanely large amount of BluRay watch, of GTA V and DeadRising 3 playing, and of course, a lot of reading on eclectic topics.

The Creative Burst

That had a very strong side effect. It refilled my creative tank, and now I’m all back as I was before. After two month of having the movie locked in my brain I can finally let it go out again. It is so painful to have your project stuck in your head, at a subpixel detail level but not being out to do something with it because you exhausted your brain. These days are over for now, and I’m back on track. I’m writing a more in depth article on how to handle Creative Blackout as it could be useful if you ever encounter it.

And because reading, watching and playing a lot reinvigorated my brain, it helped me have some perspective and a bigger picture of the state of the movie, and that’s a good thing. But it also gave me enough material to write a new book, nothing AE or movie related, to help keep that bigger picture and my creative brain fresh for the movie. With 3 weeks of vacation starting next saturday, we’ll see how this plan works out. Will I write a new book and publish it before january ? Will I finish the movie screenplay in the same time ? The answer in a month.

Have great fêtes de fin d’années and see you next year. Cheers.



Author: Yenaphe

2D animation enthusiast. South Park lover. Dark comedy lord. Slave to the bad joke gods. Writer & Director of Mythomen.


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