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Bear Town: The Open Puppet Movie Project

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Buck-Beaver, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Hi all,

    I know the idea of collaborative videos and films - like the cool new "10 Second Club" people have started up - have been kicking around for quite awhile and I've been dying to put together a relatively ambitious "Open Puppet Movie Project". The idea behind an open movie is that the film is licensed under a Creative Commons License (meaning it can be freely distributed and often used in other works) and often the film's footage, files and other components are released as well so anyone who wants to can study them and use them however they want.

    The people at Blender are wrapping up a cool open movie called "Elephant's Dream" right now. Check the website to get a better idea of this concept.

    So after spending the past year working out the details and specifics, I've decided to take my Bear Town project and move it in to the Creative Commons domain as an experiment to see if it's possible to produce a really sophisticated, professional puppetry film using the open movie model.

    Basically, when it's done, the finished film would be released under a CC license along with all the project files (3D models, After Effects Tutorials, etc.). I even want to release the puppet patterns that are being used for people to learn from and improve on.

    If you're not familiar with Bear Town you may want to check out the two finished "test" episodes on CBC's ZeD web site:

    Bear Town Test Episode One: In TV We Trust
    Bear Town Test Episode Two: This Means War!

    These are pretty crude and not really representative of what I want the project to be, but they were a necessary step in the right direction. I've posted some of the concept art (which should give you a better idea of what the finished film would look like) on Flickr at http://flickr.com/photos/98612009@N00/sets/72057594071615199/

    I'm halfway done rebuilding the Bear Town web site to reflect all of these changes and there will be a lot more information available once that's done, including the story and script for anyone interested in getting involved. I've finished designs for almost all of the puppets and will get those posted online as soon as I have access to a scanner.

    Most of the development work/preproduction/post-production work is going to be done collaboratively online. Sine alot of the film will be done with green screen it's possible people could even puppeteer parts of the film in various locations against green screen and upload the video to be composited.

    The bulk of filming will either be done in Southern California or Canada, depending on where I'm living in 12 months (waiting to find out about that). Right now I am mostly focused on the development and preproduction end of things and will likely start sorting out production issues in 4-6 months.

    I can't stress enough that this is an experiment, I'm not aware of anything quite like this being attempted before. I'm not sure how it will all go, but it should be fun! If you're interested in lending a hand on a project like this, in the short term there's going to be a need for:

    - Storyboard Artists
    - Puppet builders
    - 2D & 3D Graphic Artists

    Questions & comments are most welcome.
  2. Iokitek

    Iokitek New Member

    That's quite an idea you have there Andrew :) Actually I think this is very doable. The only thing I'm wondering about though is that not everyone has the same camera. So what kind of camera would I need (atleast) if I'd want to be able to participate?

    I'm not saying yet that I would ;) But I guess the question will come up eventually anyway.

    The similar idea I had was to start something like a parody on American Idols with puppets. And have everyone send in their own submissions. But the different resolutions and videoformats would almost make it impossble to edit. It could be that I'm wrong though. I still don't know that much about these things.

    oh btw: I'm going to install Adobe Premiere Pro soon, wich I own. So if you need an extra editor just let me know :) I could use the practice anyway. I'd help you out with After Effects and Photoshop aswell. But alas... I don't own those.
  3. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Well, I think most of the production won't be shot individually by people. Like you say, that just creates too many problems with lighting, image quality, etc. I forgot to mention that I want this to be high def (although shot on HDV, which a lower-end version of high-def) but there's various ways of working around that if need be.

    I'd like to keep this as "open source" as possible, so it's always possible to use GIMP or Cinepaint - which are free, open source software - for some of the compositing and wire/rod removal work, but I've heard there are drawbacks to working with those.
  4. robinthecrow

    robinthecrow New Member

    Buck, sounds like a brilliant idea here. Open Source is quite interesting. I'd like to contribute to this project. Giving me to get my shoes in gear for puppet building and to dust off the camera for some recording.

    Media production is my game baby and I'm here to help.
  5. SurfPark

    SurfPark New Member

    I'm a graphic designer and would like to help with the logo and maybe more. I don't have much experience in video, but I can create non-moving visuals for you.

    Also, have you considered painting your rods green to become invisible? It would work as long as you don't overlap the rods on the puppet.
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Thanks for your interest guys! I am moving this weekend so it's a little crazy, but I hope to have the new Bear Town web site with more info up sometime next week.

    Surfpark - actually, yeah I'd like to paint out all the rods using Cinepaint, which is an open source program that's derived from GIMP (if you know GIMP). Cinepaint is bacially GIMP for film. I've done some test with this and it looks very good.
  7. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    A little more info...

    Well, the Bear Town web site is up and running again.

    As I mentioned earlier in the thread, what I really want to do is transform the project in to a collaboratively produced online project. This is a really large undertaking, the script is about 90 pages and requires a lot of puppets and CG work. I've spent over a year working just to get it to a point where it's ready to have other people involved.

    At the moment the project's in a development stage, which will probably last through the end of the year. Right now the priorities are:

    1. Complete a revised draft of the screenplay (more or less done).
    2. Complete designs for all of Bear Town's puppets/characters (almost done).
    3. Storyboard Bear Town's key sequences (not started yet).
    4. Begin construction of key puppet characters in the film (just beginning).
    5. Begin modelling key digital locations and sets required for the film (just beginning).

    For anyone interesting in getting involved, the areas that help are currently need in are:

    Storyboard Artists
    One or more storyboard artists with good drafting ability to help refine rough thumbnail sketches in to finished storyboards that artists working on CG shots will be able to use.

    Pattern Drafters
    One or more people are need to convert raw scans of puppet patterns in to finished .pdf files with instructions suitable for release to the public. This is probably thing that would most immeadately benefit people here; I want to start releasing some of the patterns soon but I don't have the time to put them together myself. All that's needed is someone who can trace and patterns and clean them up using Illustrator, Corel Draw or another vector-based drawing program. If you know InDesign and how to author PDF files for print and web distribution too that would be awesome, but it's not necessary.

    For more info see http://www.bear-town.com/about/contribute.htm or just ask me.

    I'm updating the project's blog again, which has moved here. I hope to be posting to it at least a couple

    I'll update this thread from time to time with major new developments and of course answer questions if anyone has any.
  8. Dwo shwoom

    Dwo shwoom Member

    have you thought of animatics, its like animation and storyboards put together, it could also be live actions and the actors\puppeteers\elements could work together in a short filming of a scene and the animaters\puppeteers could work off that to get a scense of whats going to happen in a scene they'll be doing. if you need any ideas come to me, I've had ideas for most things in my life, and I do it so well!

    dwo shwoom:D
  9. Dwo shwoom

    Dwo shwoom Member

  10. Dwo shwoom

    Dwo shwoom Member

    and although you already know blender, buck, i too reccomend it for animatics.

    edit: woo, so many posts!
  11. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Thanks for the suggestions Dwo. What I'm doing with storyboarding and rough animation is assembling it in to a storyreel. Eventually I'll be recording temporary audio tracks of the all dialogue, sound effects, etc. and then when things get to the production stage the actual shots will be cut in to the storyreel until it's totally replaced and the film is finished.

    Blender is being used for all the animation and most of the 3d digital matte painting in the film. Moho looks really interesting, thanks for suggesting that.


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