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HUNTED BLOG

Slowing Down

Bailey Kalesti

Hey guys,

I just wanted to quickly update you on what's been going on with Hunted lately. Basically things are on slow burn, so updates will continue to be infrequent for a while longer.

Developing a movie is an extremely laborious endeavor. And even though Hunted is a short film, the time investment will be in the thousands of hours. A couple hundred hours have already been sunk into it, but the majority of the work is yet to be done.

The most important reason why I have slowed down its development is that it doesn't nor will it ever bring in any significant revenue. There's simply no way in hell that it will be profitable, let alone recoup the considerable costs that it will take to make. So, I will continue to chip away at it, but I simply must focus on more reliable revenue streams to make sure that food remains in my refrigerator.

Hunted is a considerable investment for me, and I plan to continue reaping the rewards of this endeavor (learning, etc.). However, I feel I must make ends meet for a while before I'm ready to take on this behemoth of a project. Hunted will help me in the long term, but it provides very little monetary value in the short term.

I still believe in the project and in the story. I really really want to bring it to light. It's just gonna take time to get there. Hopefully that makes sense.

Bailey

Model Detail

Bailey Kalesti

Looking into how much I want to stylize the foliage and natural elements. A more simplistic approach could serve the minimalism in the film, as well as be a bit easier to make. I know I don't want fully realistic trees, but the question is how much detail they should have. Below is a model exploration. It's just a clay render. The final version would be colored, with some texture...maybe.

Bailey

Radio Silence

Bailey Kalesti

Oh dear oh dear. Things have certainly been quiet here. I know that many of you have been asking about what's goin' on with Hunted, and the truth is that the last two months were crazy for me. However, I still feel bad for not updating sooner.

Hunted is on slow burn, but it's still Forma Pictures' primary original IP. I know that updates are sparse at times, but it's always on my mind. It can be tough to balance the immediate client pay with the long term investment of an original short which won't pay any bills. But as an investment, it could have other benefits. It's tough for me to know what to do. Trust me, the war is always raging on.

The other trouble is that Hunted is full of content that is a bit outside my wheelhouse at the moment. Characters art and animation are so difficult for me. I can fake it a bit, but the truth is that my brain simply isn't interested in becoming good at those things. I find myself most at home when I'm creating environments. That's why Hunted is full of environments. But the characters are still vital, so I'm looking for a character animator to help out.

Thanks for your continued interest in this project. More updates to come.

Bailey

Getting Hazy

Bailey Kalesti

Sorry about the lack of significant updates these past couple weeks. I recently had three client gigs going simultaneously. Right now I've just got one, but it's a doozy (in the best way). Bear with me! :P

Hazy view.

Hazy view.

Rock Research

Bailey Kalesti

Hi all, just a quick one today. This week I spent time working on....[drumroll]....rocks! Again, I'm just practicing and exploring. And while the pages and pages of rough sketches aren't much to write about, they did happen. Sketch research: yet another unsung part of the art process...

For the next few months I'm going to be juggling my time even more with another big client project which is going to last a couple months. During this time, I will continue to chip away at Hunted. The updates here aren't going to stop, but they'll probably be just as short as this one. On the upside, less reading! ;)

Bailey

Tree Studies

Bailey Kalesti

I studied trees this past week. Drawing principally from native Colorado flora, I've been trying to get better at understanding how they grow. And as a designer, I've been tinkering with ways to distill the shapes into simpler parts.

Colorado has a unique look, and much of this is thanks to the types of trees that cover its mountains. Aspen trees will definitely show up in this film, but pine trees will be bountiful. So I've been studying pine growth patterns. Colorado (at the altitude that this film is set) has ponderosa pines and lodgepole pines. These pines are big and tall, with almost sparse looking branch patterns. Most pine trees in Colorado don't look like Christmas trees.

Early development, especially during the research phase, includes a LOT of bad drawings. This is when artists are trying to wrap their minds around the problems. It's also a time for cheap experimentation. Cheap just means done quickly and not wasting time on a bad idea. Below are a couple scribbles from my sketchbook. It's not art, but it is part of the process. Take a look:

Rough drawings straight from the sketchbook. See? Don't be afraid to just get the vague idea across. The pine trees are just squiggles, but they read.

Rough drawings straight from the sketchbook. See? Don't be afraid to just get the vague idea across. The pine trees are just squiggles, but they read.

Sketching is massively useful. In a matter of seconds, I can see if an idea has potential or not. Hopefully this is interesting. Until next week!

Bailey

Two Is Company

Bailey Kalesti

I've got some cool news this week. A new artist has joined the Hunted project! He's going to be helping out with character concepts, and I couldn't be more excited! As soon as we have something ready to show, I'll be posting it here.

Characters are definitely not my forte, so I'm pretty pumped to have a seasoned character designer lending a hand on this. :D

In other news, I wrapped up version 2.1 of the animatic this week. I made quite a few changes in light of the feedback I got. I tweaked camera angles, screen direction issues, many of the cuts, as well as some important story beats. The whole second half of scene 7 had to be reevaluated. People just weren't clear on what was going on, and I had a time discrepancy to resolve. It's still not perfect, but it's closer now.

One thing I've been learning more about is how to navigate in and out of screen direction. Namely, how one goes about bridging scenes where screen direction has to change. For most of the film, characters travel from left to right. However, there are moments when I need to film on the other side of things. Most of my set building revolves around this function of the camera. How interiors are arranged, for instance, is largely dictated by camera needs. But what about when I have a cool design for a shot composition, but it goes against the 180 rule? Bridging these moments was tricky. Maybe I'm overthinking this? Maybe all that matters is that the audience understands the set, and never feel irked by a cut. I'm learning, though!

I also had fun doing a little world building and reference gathering. In order to get new artists up to speed, I finalized a visual guide and finished a character design document. I also spent some time pouring over reference photos for character inspiration. Reference gathering always gets me excited!

One of the many reference photos I gathered. This one is for Chloe. I like the intensity of it. Kudos if you know what film this is from.

One of the many reference photos I gathered. This one is for Chloe. I like the intensity of it. Kudos if you know what film this is from.

Bailey

Raising a Film

Bailey Kalesti

This past week I got some great feedback from the people I showed the film to. It was so cool to hear about what people were confused by and how they interpreted the film overall. To assist in this process, I set up a standardized survey so that I could gather information on key points that I felt were important to know.

On average, people seemed to be mildly interested in the film, which I was thrilled by. They were confused about some stuff, but it's a film that leans heavily on the visuals, so I was happy that I was able to convey as much as I did with the garbage gray layout designs. I was relieved that people had questions about the film, and I was also tickled that people didn't understand the world I built, so I spent the last week addressing ways to fix this.

Besides some good points on technical problems with the editing and layout, I was fascinated to read about how people interpreted what the protagonist was doing in the film. Each person said something a bit different, and it was SO eye opening to me as a storyteller.

I've heard hundreds of film interpretations in my life, but this was the first time I got to hear interpretations on a film that I made. It's enlightening to say the least. What was really cool about it was that each person came up with a different backstory for Chloe, the protagonist. It made me realize that the "official" backstory that I have doesn't mean a damn thing. The story will ultimately be different for each person, and it will reside solely in the mind of each viewer. That sounds like mumbo jumbo, but I'm beginning to believe it. My task will be to express as much of my vision as I can, but I can only do so much. Everybody approaches art differently and they see things filtered through their different life experiences.

Still, I'm enjoying this process largely because of how personal it is for me. Creating a film is a personal adventure, regardless of how many people are on the project. For so MANY hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years, a film is completely unknown to anyone but the creators. And during that time, the notion that it will one day exist in the public eye seems impossible.

Right now, Hunted is still mine. I made the first draft of the story on a hot summer afternoon almost a year ago. And since then some rather talented people have helped shape it, but I'm still the vision holder. And as its primary guardian, I feel an odd sense of parental love for it. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lump of confusion. But it's my lump of confusion. Obviously the challenge will be to make it good. :)

One day, however, it will no longer be mine. When it releases, for better or for worse, it will be its own thing. I won't be there to sit next to every viewer and explain what's going on in each scene. Hunted will have to do it all by itself. Like a toddler growing into a college-bound adult, Hunted will one day leave the nest and exist in the world...all by its lonesome.

Maybe only I find this interesting, but it's easy for me to forget while I'm developing it. Honestly, I can only look at it for what it is at this very moment. And right now it's just a kid, and I'm doing what I can to teach it to be the best adult it can possibly be.

We'll see if my "parental" skills can even produce something worth seeing. Here's hoping!

No pressure, right? I've only poured more days into it than I can even count.

Bailey

Design Time

Bailey Kalesti

I've been exploring more of the visual feel for the last couple days. Not sure how much I've talked about this, but I want this film to have a strong sense of lighting. In fact, lighting is my number one priority for the visuals. I want there to be deep contrasts, early dawn moments, sunsets, campfire settings, long forest shadows, hazy lighting effects, leaf-filtered sunlight...all that. As a somewhat moody film with dark undertones, I think that lighting will serve it well.

Bailey

Second Pass

Bailey Kalesti

Woot!

The whole movie has finally gone through a 3D layout phase. Might be overkill, but I had to do it. There were 2D drawings that I understood pretty well, but when I recreated them in 3D, I inevitably learned things. Editing cameras made me address problems that I couldn't see with just 2D boards. I'm sure simple boards can work, but this process was good for me to find where my imagination was covering up issues.

Next I'm going to be showing the film to people who will give me brutal and valuable criticisms. I can't wait for it to be torn apart! It has to go through hell and back in order for it to have a chance of being good. Because, let's face it, it sucks right now. There are so many things that need love...editing, cinematography, design....it goes on.

Bailey

Layout - Nearly There

Bailey Kalesti

Layout continues. 75% of the film has now been blocked out in 3d with decent cinematography. I also re-boarded one last scene with rough drawings. Basically I produced a few dozen of these thumbs, then just played with them in the timeline. It's a travel sequence, so I was able to approach it differently. Worked out pretty well.

In other news, I did manage to spend some more time thinking about the characters, their motives, and formalizing their profiles (which included some reference gathering). It shan't be long before I'm knee deep in design. So much to do! I'm hoping that I can bring in some more artists. :D

For interest (and because I don't know what else to show), here are some reference pieces. I did most of my reference gathering a long time ago, but I figure people don't really talk about this part of the process very much. It's basically the point when an artist is studying and exploring ideas in the real world. Sometimes this is in the form of photos the artist takes or finds, and sometimes its with art (for some inspiration)...

I did not take this photo. But it's pretty, right?

I did not take this photo. But it's pretty, right?

I didn't take this one either, but I love the mood here. Bonus points if you can tell what this is from!

I didn't take this one either, but I love the mood here. Bonus points if you can tell what this is from!

This week I'm going to wrap on the last tricky scene, which has a lot of players, props, angles, and shifting cameras. It's at the gas station, which features interiors, exteriors, and looking through windows to view important actions. Layout, I'm finding, is like solving a puzzle that you haven't made yet. The complex scenes can really have a lot of inter-dependencies.

Bailey

Simple Cameras

Bailey Kalesti

Cinematography is hard. In this case I'm trying to pull off a scene that has more movement and action than the other scenes. It's been a fun learning experience, but also tough.

When it comes to action scenes, I think it's pretty easy to get it wrong. And while I know I'm not the most experienced camera operator, it doesn't stop me from having some strong opinions on the matter. Specifically that scenes, no matter how intense they are, should be clear and understandable. A pet peeve of mine is the overuse of the shaky-cam effect. It decreases one's ability to perceive what is happening. Yes, camera noise can work at times, but only when it aids the story or a moment. When it's used right, it feels right. But it's rare.

In Hunted, I've been forcing myself to design a shot and then do as little with the camera as I can get away with. For instance, there is a scene where Chloe (protagonist) stares at something that is off-screen. However, the camera remains stock still. It's often tempting for me to put a little zoom on it for a dynamic feel. But I'm experimenting with stripping things down to the essentials, like a graphic designer would remove unnecessary shapes for a minimalist feel. Simplicity is so hard to pull off. I often refer to it as having the audacity to create something vulnerable.

Gray block out mesh of Chloe. Very simple stuff, but hopefully it delivers in the end.

Gray block out mesh of Chloe. Very simple stuff, but hopefully it delivers in the end.

Bailey

Finale Layout

Bailey Kalesti

This week saw a lot of work done on the finale. This is where our protagonist, Chloe, finds what she has been seeking. It's an important scene, and I feel like it's coming together fairly well. But, naturally, everything at this stage looks awful. Still, there are a few neat moments that I'm trying in earnest to pull off. Like how to keep the intensity of the segment going without sacrificing clarity. Some of my camera shots hold for a while; no quick cuts.

Here are a couple screenshots of what I've been up to. For those you don't know, layout looks awful as there is no real art in place. Its great purpose is to essentially lay the groundwork for the film.

Screenshot of my work set up. Can see rough animations and hierarchies here.

Screenshot of my work set up. Can see rough animations and hierarchies here.

Finale edits. Each piece is an animation chunk exported out from Max.

Finale edits. Each piece is an animation chunk exported out from Max.

I'm doing the proxy modeling, animation, and layout in 3ds Max. Then I'm importing captures into my timeline for editing. Even though I have the progression pretty well planned out, I'm still experimenting as I go. And sometimes my original ideas don't work as well as I hoped. So, I try different camera angles and stuff like that. It's a lot to keep track of. So many potential ways to go about this.

Different angles of an important piece of information. All work in progress.

Different angles of an important piece of information. All work in progress.

I will continue to do more layout this next week. Until Tuesday!

Bailey

Moving Forward

Bailey Kalesti

Well, after a good deal of analysis, Hunted is officially the new priority for Forma Pictures. If you read last Friday's update, you'll know what I'm talking about. Original IPs! :)

That said, I'm still going to be doing freelance work when I can. Remember! If you and I have worked together before, and you like my work and how I work, be sure to tell everyone about me! Word of mouth has brought me the best jobs so far. A couple of you have helped me in this regard already, and I heartily thank you. My stomach thanks you too, because groceries cost money.

Is it safe?

Is it safe?

This week I'm going to be taking a hard look at the layout and editing of the film, so I'll probably talk about that next Tuesday. Until then!

Bailey

The Debate

Bailey Kalesti

The past few days have been unusually soul-searchy. I've been examining and trajectorizing Forma Pictures overall, and a good deal of this has centered around Hunted and its future. Every hour counts, and it can be easy to second guess yourself. I'll go into this more on the main blog on Friday, but it is still relevant to Hunted.

It's relevant because Hunted is a mammoth project. At least for me, and at least at this point in my career. Ultimately I want to deliver something top notch that says something meaningful. That's what art is all about. But the fact remains that I need to make sure (to the best of my ability) that Hunted will contribute directly to the success of this business. Money, it turns out, is an unrelenting concern in this world. ;)

The question I've been debating (with all my mental ability) is whether to focus completely on Hunted, or whether to put it on slow burn for a while. The former will result in a much earlier release date, but there will be few updates (besides BTS content) coming from Forma Pictures during that time. The second option would enable me to release new, shorter content (still high quality) where there would be less risk in the outcome of each piece.

As of now, Forma Pictures has a small audience. Principally this is because it has not yet released original intellectual properties. So far it's mostly client work. But as we know, client work will never result in lasting success.

So, this has been the debate. Focus on Hunted now and release this IP when it's finally finished, or work on different IPs that can release sooner. I'm not even going to start on the monetization debate that's been roiling in my mind all week. But I will say that if I finally do make everything and it becomes successful, it will be sweet. Growing up poor, and working my way up step by step continues to be quite the journey!

As always, I'm trying to be transparent about this process. If you have ideas, comments, or anything else...comment below.

Bailey

Thinking

Bailey Kalesti

I've been thinking a lot about Hunted while I've been on vacation this week, but I haven't consolidated any ideas just yet. This is what I've got for now...

 
 

Bailey