Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Airplane stories past and future

Having finished up some deadline work (well, just about, anyway), I'll take a moment to fill all in on what I alluded to in an earlier post.

Last Tuesday, Mark (director and DoP on Alex's short) came over to talk about a project we'd like to get off the ground - yes, an airplane picture. He is meeting a producer Friday and we thought that creating a little video would help express the emotion and excitement of the thing.

We would create mechanima - meaning we'd use a game, WarBirds, to generate the footage - but this wasn't going to be a run of the mill YouTube quickie. I wrote a script with some meaning to it. The game limits dialogue to voiceover, but I was able to build quite a bit of character in the few lines I allowed myself.

Mark had left town Friday, and I'm leaving town tomorrow, which limited the window in which to accomplish this.

There are two primary variables to filming in WarBirds: the technology of recording and the use of human pilots versus computer pilots.

I decided to run a test Friday night with human pilots. I don't have a digital camcorder, so doing it myself with AI wouldn't work. I had a player set to record the video for me on his camcorder, but he lost his DSL connection and could not.

I had to settle for ACMcam files, which record flights for later playback in the game. It sounds like a good idea, and lets you view the same flights from a variety of (camera) angles, but it's just too jerky to use in a pro pitch.

Our session, helpfully set up by IEN (the company that owns WarBirds) went for nought - other than lessons learned. I can program the game to fly our choreographed fights by itself and record those, but I can't figure out how to get it to operate properly within the game. I can run the results in the Mission Builder, but there's no sound there.

Regardless, we won't have anything for this Friday but the stills in this post. They do look cool. Grognards will be able to discern our subject from the photos alone; pasty-white writers will not.

The near future also holds airplanes for me. I fly down to Anaheim tomorrow morning to attend the IPMS USA 2007 convention (plastic scale models) and my book launch there.

Come by and say hi. (Directions and map here.) I should be at our booth most of the day Thursday through Saturday. Look for the Israelis in the red caps with winged-skull logo. Or just look for the short guy who looks exactly like the South Parkian image to the right.


Blogger Fun Joel said...

not familiar with the game (not being much of a gamer), but is it possible to export the footage to another format, and then overlay the sound separately?

August 22, 2007 2:37 PM  
Blogger Webs said...

Absolutely possible, but it's just that much more work.

August 22, 2007 5:34 PM  

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