Cutscene Work


okay, scene ii for headgames is cut, printed, wrapped, in the can, and edited. wait, does in the can mean after editing? anyway, it’s in the vegas project. and in under an hour. maybe i’m getting good at this! or… maybe because it was a short scene with one animation per each actor. and an eyeblink. how tough is that? :X

TIP: you can re-time your entire cutscene. let’s say for example, you put together a really moving “tent scene” with swooping camera angles and precicely positioned actors that you nudged into place twenty times to keep the clipping to a minimum. but then you decide it would look more romantic if it were in slow motion.
     here’s how you do that, it is VERY easy:

  1. Zoom your timeline out so you can see all the animations and camera/actor keyframes, plus some buffer space where you want to stretch it out to.
  2. Marquee-select ALL the keyframes and animations.  (Mini-Tip: Break all the animations off at the end of the sequence and delete any pieces that are hanging over the end.)  All the tracks need to be open for this.  Ctrl-click any that you can’t grab in one swoop.
  3. Now hold the cursor over the edge of the selection, it will turn into a double arrow.  Click and drag the edge of the selection to squash and stretch it — just like grabbing the end handle of an animation.  Dragging right will slow everything down, etc.  And all the adjustment keyframes and camera moves will proportionally move along with the action.

Cool, huh? ;)

 

i also re-shot scene J, because i had forgot to give bannon’s stand-in npc the player remapping tag. normally, it doesn’t matter, but the npc has some horrid lip clipping that the pc doesn’t have. i’ll have to go back into his morph and fix the teeth/inner mouth to get rid of that.

now all that is left do do now is then end confrontation(s) (scene R), 2 sequences of zevran and leliana (scene Q), a couple sequences of bannon and morrigan (scene P), and scene G. G is a little problematic, because the scene i was making for G got re-structured as part of the second chorus. and now i’m not sure what visuals i should put in there. :/

oh well, i’m just hoping scene R isn’t going to take 3 weeks. am i going to do some more shots now, since that only took an hour…? uh…. what? and miss a day off? (yah, it’ll take 3 weeks :X )

 


Part One: Encampment of the Dalish Elves

Valorien is a Hunter with the Dalish Talrasha Clan. He and his partner Tamlen encountered some humans trespassing in their lands. After dispatching the interlopers, the Hunters went to investigate some underground ruins the humans had told them about. Within was a Tainted mirror. Drawn towards the magical device, Tamlen was unable to stop himself from touching it. There was an explosion of light, and then darkness.

Valorien was found unconscious in the forest by a wandering Grey Warden named Duncan. After two days of fever, Valorien has recovered enough to awaken, though he still remains Tainted. Tamlen is nowhere to be found.

The Grey Warden insisted on seeing the mirror, and Valorien took him to it. Duncan recognized the Taint, the same Taint that created Darkspawn, and insisted on destroying it.

 

Valorien approached the Keeper’s aravel, his mind heavy with thought. The Clan all behaved as if Tamlen were dead already, but he felt in his heart it could not be true. Guilt weighed onerously upon him. Tamlen could be lost, wandering, delusional with fever even as he had been. Worse, if he had somehow passed through the magical mirror… Valorien had allowed the outsider to destroy it. On the word of a shemlen! He did not trust this man who appeared at this time of misfortune, like a bad omen. And he did not like the idea of being weak and helpless, at the mercy of this outsider.

The heat of anger flared within his belly, then died away as the fever washed over him, leaving him feeling drained. He paused a moment to collect himself before stepping forward.

Marethari was an aged woman with silver hair. Lines of concern for her charges underlaid the delicate lines of her tattoo. With her was the human Grey Warden, his face dark with hair that the shemlen often wore. His expression was guarded, though his eyes watched Valorien with predatory attention.

Marethari asked, “How are you feeling, Valorien?”

“I am fine, Keeper.” He bowed respectfully to her. The shem, he ignored.

“You are not fine, but I see you are hale enough to travel,” she said. “Duncan has told me that the harbinger of this Taint has been destroyed with your help. But no sign of Your Bond Brother has been found.”

“Tamlen yet lives,” the Hunter insisted. He knew it as surely has he himself still lived.

The human stirred and said quietly, “I am afraid that is most unlikely.”

“If I have survived, it is possible he has, as well.”

“You have barely survived,” Duncan argued. “And then only because I found you and brought you here to be tended by the healing magics of your Keeper.”

Valorien straightened slightly, as if preparing for an onslaught. His voice remained firm and level. “If he were dead, we should have easily found his body.”

“I know this is difficult for you to accept, but Tamlen is gone.”

Valorien’s steel blue eyes narrowed. Before the conflict could go any further, Marethari interrupted them. “Peace. Tamlen is lost to us, but there is a cure for you. Duncan knows a way to save you.”

The human looked at him steadily. “I can cure you of the taint, Valorien. If, in return, you agree to join the Grey Wardens.”

Before he could speak, Valorien had to make a conscious effort to unclench his teeth. “You offer me my life, only so that you may take it, in service to you?”

The Keeper said, “I have agreed to release you from your duties to the Clan that you may go.”

Valorien turned to her, his anger seething closer to the surface. “Then you have both bargained for my life without me,” he said coldly. Marethari looked away.

Duncan said, “The Darkspawn are arising in the south; they threaten all the peoples of this land. The Wardens are dangerously few; we need more like you, strong against the Taint.”

“I would see you live, lethallin,” Marethari said softly, pleading with her sad and wise eyes. She touched him lightly on the arm. “I ask you pledge yourself in service to the Wardens, for our sakes, and your own. But the choice is yours. Duncan has not invoked the right of conscription.”

“Apparently, he does not need to.” The Hunter moved back slightly, removing himself from the Keeper’s touch. “But very well. I pledge, upon my honor, to serve the Grey Wardens.”

Again Marethari had to drop her gaze, this time in sadness, for she could not save her clansman from this fate. Into the silence, Duncan spoke. “We are honored to have you, Valorien. We must leave for Ostagar as soon as possible.”

“May I at least say goodbye to my people?”

“Of course.”

Duncan watched the young elven Hunter go. “I am sorry it had to be this way.”

“He will serve you well, Duncan, no matter his personal feelings.”

“It is not his honor I worry about, but can he ever forgive me?”

 

 

They left, the Grey Warden and his charge, in silence. Elves are masters of silence, but Duncan could not help but feel accusation in it. At nightfall they made a simple camp. Finally, Duncan had to breach the wordlessness.

“Valorien… I know you may not believe this now, but I am truly sorry about what happened to you and your friend.”

The elf only stared at him with his steel blue eyes. Duncan looked away first. “It isn’t required that you like me,” he said. “I know what I did –what I said– seemed harsh, but I will not make apologies for it. I did what I had to do. Our need is dire, as you will see at Ostagar.” He looked up to meet that same unmitigated gaze. He had been telling himself these things on the road. They hadn’t made him feel any better, and neither had telling the elf. He would just have to live with the harsh truth that was his reality.

“How is it you are to be addressed?” the elf asked.

“I suppose it’s too much to ask to be simply called ‘Duncan,'” he replied with wry twist of his mouth.

“I presume the Grey Wardens have a hierarchy. Do you not have a title?”

“I am the Chief Grey Warden, but my only title is ‘Warden.’ ‘Chief Warden,’ I suppose, if there is any ambiguity. We don’t stand a lot on ceremony.” Duncan shrugged. “Is there anything you prefer to be called?”

“No.”

“Right.” Duncan decided pussyfooting around wasn’t going to get him anywhere. “When you’re done, clean up and settle in. I’ll take first watch.”

“As you wish.”

The Warden got up to stretch his legs and take in a little clear night air.

“Tell me about this cure you have promised me,” Valorien said at his back.

“The cure is in Ostagar. I cannot tell you more than that, now.” He turned back. “You’ll just have to trust me.”

Valorien said nothing to this, but went about tending his gear.

The elf did not break his maddening silence, except in the deep of the night, when his fever overcame him. Some Tainted dream took him, and he cried out in elvish. Duncan managed to get some of the Keeper’s medicine into him, and he finally quieted.

In the morning, Valorien had no memory of the fever dreams.

 


Bannon & Zevran Do the Dragon Age II Demo

 

     The comments and opinions expressed herein are those of the imaginary characters, and are not necessarily those of the author. This article is for entertainment purposes only. Warning: May Contain SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Contains mild bad language.

Zevran: ::fires up the demo:: okay, first… we pick a character to be this hawke person. hang on… where are the elves!? what kind of cheap shem game is this!?

Bloodsong: this story is about a human family.

Bannon: oh, for–!

Zevran: humans, humans, always humans! i’m tired of all the stories being about humans! bloodsong, when are you going to write a story featuring ELVES for once! i mean a good one.

Bloodsong: as soon as i finish valorien’s story. which, technically, IS about an elf, you know.

B: well why isn’t there an elven champion?

Bloodsong: i’m sure there is, somewhere. maybe in dragon age iii.

B: ::sigh:: shems.

Z: all right, all right. so, we should have a male hawke, then we can romance all the chicks!

B: eeuw, he has a beard!

Z: you and your thing about beards!

B: get a girl hawke, since we’re going to be looking at her backside most of the time.

Z: good idea! you want a warrior? look at this huge sword she whips around!

B: why not a rogue?

Z: bah, we know how to do rogue moves.

B: then do a mage.

Z: gah! i have no idea how to do magic! oh wait…. ::he clicks on the rogue hawkes on the screen:: check out these gorgeous blades! ooh, i want one! i want TWO! ::drools::

B: okay, we’ll do a rogue. now get out of the way so i can play first.

Z: you’re not going first!

B: i always go first! whenever we read a book, i get chapter one.

Z: i gave you the odd numbered ones, because if they end on an odd number, that means you have to do more than me!

B: ::rolls eyes:: fine! that *also* means i get to play first!

Z: no, you don’t! i’m already sitting here. you can play when i die.

B: that won’t take long, soon as i smack you in the head as you’re trying to fight.

Bloodsong: oh stop fighting! you’re worse than a couple of children! play the blasted game!

 

(so eventually, ms hawke and bethany splash onto the screen, ready for action.)

B: oh wow, i didn’t know she had blue eyes.

Z: those are *seriously* blue. and who’s that sexy chick with her?

Bloodsong: that’s your sister.

Z: oh. darn. oooh, who is that handsome young man?

Bloodsong: that’d be your brother.

Z: oh. and… the *seriously* well-preserved buxom older woman?

Bloodsong: ::sigh:: that’d be your MOM.

Z: damn! who do i get to romance in this game?

Bloodsong: it’s just the demo. there IS no romance!

Z: ::sigh:: at least the hawke family has good genes, no?

B: ::facepalm:: just kill the darkspawn, wouldya?

Z: *you* do not appreciate proper buxomness, mister ‘i don’t care for huge cleavage.’

B: i told you, anatomy that looks like a buttcrack does not belong on that part of a woman!

Z: ::concentrates on playing the game:: wohoo, look at me go! ::bounces in his seat:: look at this move! ha-HAH! WHAM! sliced *right* in half!

B: look out… that’s definitely an ogre.

Z: ogre, schmogre. check out this fancy move!

B: mmmm, yeah, getting trampled? never would’ve seen *that* coming.

Z: ::cursing in antivan::

B: are you dead yet? is it my turn?

Z: no! …i do this…! and this…! and one of these! and WHACK! one dead ogre. HAHAHA! i am ridiculously awesome!

(on the screen, the heroes look up as a dragon on the cliff prepares to swoop down on them.)

Z: DRAGON!!!! okay, that’s your department! ::shoves the keyboard at bannon and hops out of the chair::

B: ::slips into the chair, ready to go, just as the action on the screen is cut off by some woman snapping “b*&sh#*$!”:: haha!

Z: what?

B: yeah, all those fancy moves you were doing. b#$*%&!

Z: ::smacks him, then grabs the keyboard:: give me that back, my turn isn’t over.

B: yes it is! ::yanks on the keyboard::

Bloodsong: if you guys break my ‘Very Old And Impossible To Find Anymore Keyboard WITHOUT Stupid Windoze Keys’ you are seriously grounded!

B: why don’t you get a new keyboard?

Bloodsong: they all have Stupid Windoze Keys! *I* only use keyboards without them! and zevran, don’t start! i got two words for you!!

Z: “chastity belt”?

Bloodsong: YES. *again*!

Z: ::sigh::

B: shush, it’s back to me now. wait, hold on… how come *you* get fancy sleek weapons, and all i get are plain little swords!?

Z: ::snickering:: mine are always bigger than yours.

B: where are all the fancy moves you had? i got gypped!

Z: ::mockingly: oh, shut up and kill the darkspawn.

B: ::grumbles: with my *one* move.

Bloodsong: level up and get another move.

B: oh, *two* moves. wo-hoo :he says drolly::

 

(bannon continues playing until the characters meet some new companions, a templar and a warrior woman defending him as he is wounded.)

B: she looks… dangerous. ::winces as the woman starts beating in the face of some hapless hurlock, then whacks its head off:: oh yeah, she’s yours.

Z: oh? i thought you liked blondes.

B: and *you* like dangerous! you can have her.

Z: no argument there. i like a nice, strong woman. …pick the flippant remark! pick the flippant remark!

B: what!?

Z: the purple one! chicks love that!

Bloodsong: ::rolls eyes::

B: chicks love flippant remarks? :he repeats incredulously:: it’s a wonder you had any success seducing anyone at all.

Z: it worked on YOU, didn’t it?

B: grr!

Z: it is a well-known fact that what women like *most* is a man who can make them laugh!

B: oh yeah, you’re funny.

Z: shaddap!

B: now you have to wonder…. how can a templar know, just by looking at someone, that they’re an apostate?

Z: look at how she is dressed! nobody in the circle wears *that*!

B: and how is he married? i thought they weren’t allowed to.

Z: wait, the one romanceable chick in the whole thing, and she’s married? GAH! ::slaps hand to forehead:: all these gorgeous, sexy men and women. they are doing this to torment me!

Bloodsong: oh yeah, that was in one of the developer meetings. “so we worked isabella into this thing, can we somehow get zevran into it, too?” “good lord, NO! make sure to keep him faaaaaaaaaaar away from THIS game!”

Z: oh, shut up!

B: wait, isabella is in it?

Z: i could have been in it! isabella could give me a lift to ferelden.

B: not with the Zevran ASAP mod.

Z: ::grumble::

B: no, you were in that filthy flophouse, waiting to meet with loghain.

Z: oh yes, a quaint little bed and breakfast (if you like bugs to eat) in your lovely home town of denerim. remind me to visit there again, sometime.

B: shaddap.

Z: it’s taking you forever to kill this ogre!

B: SOMEbody stole all the fancy ogre-killing moves!

Z: well, it wasn’t me. …DRAGON!!!

B: okay, that’s the signal it’s your turn again. ::gives up the controls::

Z: ::hops back into the seat:: are we dead? are we dead? ….HOOO! go dragon, smash those darkspawn! why didn’t we have this dragon in our party?

B: hang on, it’s…. *what* is THAT!?

Z: whoa. that is one *serious* hairdo.

B: she sounds like… oh, it can’t be!

Z: it’s flemeth’s… MUCH younger sister??!?

(on screen, the woman says: “some call me that. or flemeth. or that annoying old hag who talks to much.”)

Z: she didn’t look like that when you took me to see her.

B: man, she must be one hell of a shape-shifter. or these game developers take some *serious* artistic liberties.

Z: you sure i’m not in this game? a cameo appearance, perhaps? i’d like to see myself all buffed up and sexified by these game developers.

Bloodsong: according to TW, you’d look like a twiggy santa elf in a corset, with huge anime elf ears sticking out like airplane wings.

B: ::snicker::

Z: that can’t be right! i’m *sure* i’d look like legolas!

B: in your dreams.

Z: don’t you think i look like legolas?

B: no, dear, you’re *much* sexier than he is.

Z: hah! i knew that!

Bloodsong: you just *have* to inflate his ego, don’t you?

B: shh, it’s just easier to live with him that way.

Z: shaddap! oh look, is that isabella!? ho HO! she has been working out!

B: i don’t remember her, um… “prow” being that prominent.

Z: ::too busy oogling to comment::

B: how’s she supposed to duel with that… i mean, wouldn’t she overbalance? and don’t those get in the way of her moving her arms?

Z: no! shush! she is fine! miiiiiiighty fine! …oh, and so bloodthirsty! i am in love!

B: oh, again. ::sounding bored::

(after some more fighting and running around… and selecting flippant comments here and there… isabella bids adieu, though she has a room if you want some ‘company’ later.)

Z: ahhhhhh, YES! count on isabella! ::rubs his hands together eagerly::

(and then the epilogue and end credits roll.)

Z: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!! ::thunks head on the keyboard::

Bloodsong: i told you. and don’t break that! ::gets out notepad:: so… what did you guys think of the demo?

Z: it was fun!

B: it wasn’t very realistic. the fighting, i mean. all that jumping around and poofing and chopping people into quarters?

Z: well, not realisitc. but fun!

B: the part where it took twenty minutes to stabbity-stabbity the ogre wasn’t that fun.

Z: that got a little tedious, i agree. that, and the party getting wiped out because you have only TWO health potions, and the heal spell takes forever to recharge.

B: the tactics against the ogre were interesting. and backstabbing is a little easier — now you just press a button; you don’t have to scoot around the guy.

Bloodsong: how about the story?

B: besides the fact there weren’t any elves in it?

Z: yeah, that sucked.

Bloodsong: yes, besides that!

Z: hard to say, really. i guess it depends on how the dwarf tells it. ::shrugs::

B: you probably like the b#$(%*& version better.

Z: hey! that version had the fancier moves! and the bigger, flashier blades!

Bloodsong: you know what i think…. i think it looks nice, and it is fun and all… but it is less realistic. more like a video game, you know? origins was more gritty and realistic. the characters in it were more alive.

Zevran: ::looks at Bannon::

Bannon: ::looks at Zevran, quirking a brow::

Zevran: well, we can always ask hawke his opinion. uh, her opinion… ::looks around:: hmm… how do you trigger a conversation with this guy? –girl. whatever.

Bloodsong: yeah…. i think i rest my case.

 

Cutscene Work

 

now that the zevran & rinna vignette is in the can, i can go back to working on headgames. this is my first music video with full custom cutscene machinima work. it’s… taking forever.

today i finished animating, shooting, and editing scene j. scene j is a ‘tent scene,’ which is a term i coigned because, uh, well, i don’t do ‘sex scenes.’ ::cough:: anyway, the poses i wanted to use don’t exist. instead, i built them up using a bunch of head poses, body poses, and arm poses. some judicious camera angles, figure rotations and positionings. oh, and don’t forget some canned facial animations. it took 2 hours.

it’s actually a little impressive… it doesn’t look like i pictured, but there’s a good shot of some full lip contact snogging. (that’s, you know, kissing.) that isn’t easy, you know. well… if you’ve ever tried to do it, you would, anyhow. :X then again, doing any type of 2-person interaction in the full game, trying to adjust for the different body types and sizes is probably a lot more of a nightmare.

 

anyhow, for anybody tuning in, here’s an outtake from today’s shoot. it’s just a still. my cutscene editor has been doing things like this lately… i don’t know why. fortunately, it’s only a temporary visual glitch.

I'm not even going to ask what the boys call THIS maneuver!

 

Zevran & Rinna Vignette

this happened because one day my buddy TW told me she was making a music video for her friend, who is a zevran fan, and she wanted some scenes from zevran’s past with rinna. now, TW didn’t *ask* me to do the scenes. and TW hasn’t even cracked open the toolset yet, let alone tried to start any cutscenes. (well, she’s busy.) at first i gave her ideas of in-game cutscenes she could use with her quick and dirty method of making cutscenes with whatever characters she wants. like vaughn’s scenes, where he’s being a jerk. slapping people around.

anyway, my brain started thinking up scenes for it. (perhaps i am not busy enough…!) and of course, the more my brain visualizes it, the more i have to go out and do it. so i said i’d do some scenes for TW to use in her video. they make a vignette, so i put them together into a short video.

there’s no sound, of course. it’s for a music video, anyway. but there is dialogue so the characters appear to be talking. then i started thinking, it might be nice to have a soundtrack for it. so i dumped the dragon age music with fsb extractor, and started playing with pieces in vegas. you can do some audio editing right in vegas — lowering volume on clips, boosting volume on tracks, and even the envelope editor to fine-tune the volume all along the track.

 

Zevran & Rinna Vignette

 

i spent three weeks doing the five scenes for it (six if you count me setting up zevran to do the title pose). scene five was the worst. finally, i slapped the animations into some semblance of the action i wanted and shot it, to see what i could do with it in the editing department. luckily, with splicing, re-framing, and re-timing, it worked out decenly enough. (the screen-obscuring gore didn’t hurt, either :X ).

 

Director’s Notes


 
Scene One: aka “Zevran and Rinna do the Assassin’s Creed style Rooftop Running.”
     i wanted to show Rinna as a Crow Assassin, as talented and lethal as Zevran, and able to keep up with him. and how well they work together. okay, the working together part isn’t shown, but you see them escaping together after taking out their latest mark. and, of course, laughing at the stupid shem guards.
     the part where rinna puts her hand on zevran’s leg as he sits down is the best part of the whole scene, i think. and it’s totally serendipitous, though i will cop to trying a few different arm poses to get it to do that. basically, i was trying to avoid zevran’s leg clipping her arm.

Special Effects:
     i also forgot to do the lighting before i shot this scene in the game, so it came out very dull. thank goodness for vegas and it’s brightness/contrast filter.
     one effect i did put into the cutscene was a camera shake as they land on the roof. i did that to try to hide the horrid landings and feet positioning, and i think it works well.

 
Scene Two: (the kissing scene)
     this was really simple: slap in two paired smooching/sex animations. i wanted to do something a bit more elaborate, but frankly, this comes across exceedingly well. it conveys a sense of tenderness and love, rather than lusty sex. not that i’m an expert, but TW agrees.

Special Effects:
     i put a negative intensity light on the shadow side, and punched up the in situ firelight with a yellow-orange light. which i also animated to flicker. this gives a strong high contrast.
      i wanted to do a vegas flash transition between the two animation sets, but it kept flashing through white, despite the coloration. so i just did a black transition.

 
Scene Three: The “Eyes that Gleam Like Justice”
     this was cheap and fast, i just plugged rinna into a cutscene i had made for bannon & zevran. i did zoom in a bit more on the eyes.

Special Effects:
     this scene transitions to the next with a collection of vegas blurs and distortions on it. i was trying to simulate a particular look/effect, but i’m not sure it was successful. if you think it looks like anything in particular, let me know.

 
Scene Four: The Betrayal
     this is actually the only scene where i used facefx studio, and only on zevran at the beginning. throughout this project, i have been using facial animations from the library to build certain looks. (Beerfish updated his animations listing spreadsheet and uncovered some more.) zevran and taliesen are using dialogue generated by the robot voice.

Special Effects:
     there’s actually nothing special in or on this scene.

 
Scene Five: The Confrontation (aka the scene with the impossibly difficult action)
     no, there aren’t any animations for grabbing someone and cutting their throat. the base of this action is the throat-slash gesture mixed with the interact low crouch. the mostly non-existant grabbing is facilitated with some left arm pose.
     there is also no animation for walking past someone, while turning your upper body towards them. or turning around behind them. this was the second most difficult animation set to put together — getting taliesen to walk around behind rinna.
     the third hardest was getting the crow to hop over and stand on its mark. well, you know what w. c. fields always says. :X

i’m not completely happy with the flyaway pullback on the ending. but that was the only animation they had for dead people lying on their backs.

 
Special Effects:
     did you notice the thing about the lighting in scene five? it’s very subtle.
     the main effects in this scene are of course the VFX. the blood spray and the pool of blood. these are simply placed in the scene and triggered at the appropriate time. nothing special there. though thank goodness a spray of blood covers a lot of animational awkwardness.
     in addition, i used some vegas effects to hide a few flaws. the transition between zevran shoving rinna and taliesin grabbing her arm is rough. it doesn’t flow well. i tried applying the new blue earthquake filter to the grab for a camera shake effect, like the one in Scene One. however, that effect was way overboard, and it wouldn’t set itself to zero at the end of the clip, so there was a transitional jump it was creating there. instead, i faked a camera shake with vegas’ crop and frame. some slight rotations and size changes worked all right. it probably would have been best to use the Toolset’s camera shake, really. but i was lazy about re-shooting it.
     also, i used the crop/pan to zoom in on rinna’s face as taliesen is holding her. it crops out a lot of visual garbage, though it misses taliesen’s arm poking through her shoulder. it also works artistically — the original storyboard calls for rinna to reach out to zevran, beg him to save her. welllll… i couldn’t get her arms to do that from there. this cut and crop works as well, i think. especially since i cut in zevran’s refusal between that and taliesen cutting her. it has a strong impact.

 
Scene Zero: Title
     this was a quick cutscene to stick zevran in the party picker set, and grab one of the dialogue animations. oh, which i tweaked with the brow and mouth expressions. and head positions. the inset of rinna’s face is just swiped from Scene Three. again, the vegas pan/crop comes in handy.

Special Effects:
     to do a freeze frame in vegas, move the scrubber to the frame you want, then (in the preview window toolbar) save it to an image file. drop the image in where the action freezes.
     the effect on the freeze frame is a combination of sepia toning, desaturating, brightness/contrast, and some noise. the hole is punched in the top video layer (zevran on black background), and the underlying video layer was cropped and panned to be centered in the hole.

 

Cutscene Work

okay, scene 5 of the Z&R vignette got done — at least the blocking out of all the action/animations and camera positions. that took about 4 hours saturday. luckily, the bits after the difficult part were all easy, and i even got to mutter about being ‘JUST that (*#&$%ing good.’ i didn’t yell it, cuz i was too tired and beat up by the nearly impossible scene. and that doesn’t mean it’s ready to shoot. i have to go back and fix the lighting for one thing. and then smooth out all the animation wrinkles that crop up here and there. and no doubt i’ll probably drive myself nuts trying to fix the really horrendous part.

or, perhaps a LOT of camera shaking will take care of what a mess THAT is.

 
um, i was going to put a Tip in here, but now i’ve forgotten what it was.

 

Cutscene Work

scene 5 of the rinna vignette is bogged down in a sequence where two characters interact in a way that isn’t choreographed in the animation library. so, that means i have to cobble it together from a bunch of other unrelated animations. this is going to take a while, be a pain, and… yeah, i sense this sequence is going to be a lot of closeups and camera cuts.
 

Tip: when you play two animations at once, each is played at about half strength. so if you play a standing animation and a crouching animation, the character will do a half-crouch.

Tip: you can fine-tune (in a sort of sledge-hammer, ham-fisted way :X ) the positions of the arms in animations if you add an arm pose. these can be found by looking under *r_arm*, *l_arm*, and *po_2* (both arms). they’re not described in Beerfish’s animations listing, because there’s really nothing to describe — just different arm positions. you just have to try them all and see what works.

Tip: combined with certain animations, the arm poses can fold the arm unnaturally, and even stuff it up inside the body. not very handy, unless you find you need to hide an arm or hand in a shot. for example, in “Howe Hires Zevran,” Zevran’s legs’ stunt double had his hand sticking up above the edge of the table. i also used one to fold Leliana’s arm out of the way in a shot in “Headgames,” where I didn’t want her to put her arm around Bannon.

 

remember, you can fine tune the strength of the arm poses using the Weight parameter, and/or the squiggle editor.
and now, here’s an outtake showing the hazards of using arm poses when attempting to cut someone’s throat…. and completely missing :X