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.


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