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Jules' Jottings

Oh boy! Such a long wait for news!

Been working on the plot for the first film for the last year, and have finally got it more-or-less pinned down. Mark at Genre Tales - www.genretales.com - has been a huge help in getting this work done. Any changes will now come in the script-writing and storyboarding phase.

So now we're into serious preproduction. Here are some preproduction sketches of characters as creatures in the "TyHa'an" story. Lots more to follow!

Gil's Dad in Black

Gil's Dad, Goran, in the outfit he wears on his slave-freeing expeditions.

Gil's Mum in black

Gil's Mum in her slave-freeing outfit.

Staahl sketch

This is a Staahl, the TyHa'an equivalent of a horse. It's used by the more traditional Garns for herding Ga'atows (see below) and pulling wagons.

A Ga'atow: a herd animal used for meat and hide, much as cattle are on Earth.

Girappo sketch

This is a Girappo. At some 18 feet tall, it's a rather unpleasantly-natured creature who's dung is highly prized as a fertiliser for specialised crops. The dung has to be caught in mid air, or else it's useless. At his lowest point, Gil finds himself as a dung catcher in a cell aboard a Gath transport.


So excited to be able to share this with you! It's a two-minute section of the opening sequence of the "TyHa'an" feature film.


Been a bit slow putting this up - actually quite a long way ahead of this now, but I want to get a bit further before I show you any more. This is the first 30 seconds or so of the promo sequence for the feature film.

As well as further shots, I've been working on the background music, which adds quite a lot to the excitement of the scene. Still no sound effects yet.

Back at it with avengeance this week!


So here we are: the second shot from the forthcoming teaser for the feature film. It's coming together - albeit slowly!

Next shots are already under way.


Everything's now more-or-less ready to roll. Now rendering the opening shot of the little scene I'm going to use at the beginning of my crowd-funding campaign pitch. Going for a slightly edgy, desaturated, documentary look. Here's an early frame:

Shot 1 Early Image

More as it comes off the production line...


Well, it took a fortnight, but then it was VERY complicated!

Here are a few pictures of the Gath transport vessel that Gil flies his racer through during the demo sequence I'm preparing to animate.

The Gaths live in the asteroid field between the twin planets of Garn and Feth, and they make use of what they have available to them. This transport is built into a hollowed-out asteroid which makes it quite interesting!

The ship is huge, and, to make something look really big on screen, you have to put in lots of tiny detail, which is why the thing took such a long time to build. It's only going to be on screen for a matter of seconds, but it's got to give the right impression in that time.

If you want to see more detail in these pictures, just click on an image and you will be taken to a full-size render. Clicking the back arrow in your browser will return you to this page



It's amazing what can be done with just textures! Look at the access ladder and gantry on the right hand side of the picture above: it's the same colour maps as the rest of the vessel, but with transparency and bump maps applied to a simple tube and a stretched cube. Obviously it doesn't stand really close inspection, but it looks very convincing in this picture.

Love it!

The pictures below are of the cargo bay/hangar deck of the transport. This is the bit Gil flies his racer through.


Just have to build the asteroid field itself for the race and we'll be ready for the next stage. It's not going to be particularly difficult to make, but, as I'm building everything life-size to be sure it looks right and works properly, it's going to be a vast model! Everything's a challenge...

Please visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Come back soon for the next exciting instalment...


Happy 4th July to all my American friends!!

Clagg's (the baddie's) space racer is now finished. I went with red and black after all. It's bit slow to render because there's lots of shiny, reflective metal in it, and reflections are expensive. I think it's worth it though. It's a nice posh-looking ship.

I'm very pleased with the busy metal stuff down the middle section. All the really small detail is actually a texture - it's not there on the model. I used a thing called displacement mapping to make the lumps and bumps at render time. The texture itself is quite small and repeats a lot. You don't notice it too much because of the real geometry on top of it.

Love displacement mapping!

You may notice a couple of oddities. Clagg and Wheedle are not actually in their space suits. I put the suits into place to get the scale right for the ship. They will be there when the time comes.

Also, some of the ship's serial numbers are backwards. This is because I slightly cheated with the textures to save memory space and time (the backs of the external vanes have the same texture as the front). I don't think it will notice when the ship is whizzing about all over the screen.




The next thing might take a while. It's a massive transport vessel that gets in Gil's way as he takes a short cut to try to win the race. I'll post more as soon as I can : )

Please visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Come back soon for the next exciting instalment...


Clagg's sidekick/engineer Wheedle is done!

Here's a couple of pictures of him and Clagg before the first race.


Wheedle is the last main character from the little scene I'm doing for a teaser for the film. All part of the great game plan to get this feature made.

Next to do is Clagg's racing ship. It'll be a lot smarter than Gil's, and a lot more aggressive-looking.

Looking forward to your thoughts! Just visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Come back soon for the next exciting instalment...


And there's more...

Found a couple of nice tricks to modify the Gil character into the next one.

Here are some pictures of Clagg, the reigning Twin Planets race champion. Not a nice guy: he isn't above stooping to sabotage to make sure he wins - not that he needs to do it at the beginning of the "TyHa'an" story, because Gil's home-made racer makes sure of that! But when Gil gets his top-of-the-range Gorton-Macer 71000 and threatens to win the championship, that's a different story.


I'm just making a little promo for the moment: part of the opening sequence of the film to use as a teaser for the main film. All part of the great game plan to get this feature (or TV series, who knows?) made.

So I only have one more character to build: Wheedle, Clagg's obsequious engineer and sidekick. May have him done by the end of the week.

As always, please let me know what you think! Just visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Come back soon for the next exciting instalment...


Slab makes his first appearance!

Here are a couple of pictures of Gil and his best friend and brilliant engineer, Slab, before the race they enter in their home-made space racer.

Once I've got the main character done, most of the rest are basically modifications of that one. So making Slab has been A LOT quicker: two-and-a-bit days altogether!

The reason Slab is sitting down is that he is paralised from the waist down (haven't worked out how that came about yet, but there'll be something interesting in the plot). Of course, as he's such a great engineer, Slab's wheelchair is something very special. I don't need to build it just yet, but it's going to be interesting coming up with something that has all the capabilities I want it to without being massively bulky : ).


Got to have a couple of days off doing nice things like accounts (goody!), but next week I'll be tackling one of several bad guys in "TyHa'an". He's the Feth racing champion, Clagg.

As always, please let me know what you think! Just visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Thank you again, one and all. Things are really moving on, now, so keep watching!


Texture painting: what a job!

Built Gil's home-made racer. That was the easy bit. Painting the textures, with all the scratches, wear and bumps, not to mention the seams and rivets: that was a big job. I'm rather glad the other racer in this scene is newer and posh-looking. Much less texture painting.

Here are some pictures of the craft. Imagine that Slab, Gil's best friend and brilliant engineer, has taken the front end of an old millitary scout ship, stuck a massive great engine on the back which he has taken from a much bigger vessel. He's then found various other parts like superchargers and stabilisers, and grafted them onto the engine. Quite a hotchpotch of bits, but it's fun to look at!

Gil's Racer 1
Gil's Racer 2
Gil's Racer 3

Moving on quite nicely now. I'll start making Slab next.

Let me know what you think! Just visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Thank you again, one and all - and watch this space!


Thought I'd have a change from the character work for a while.

In the opening sequence of the "TyHa'an" story, Gil and his best friend and engineer, Slab, lose yet another race in the Twin Planets Championship because their home-made racer breaks down in the final straight.

Since their racer is modified from an ordinary and rather old space craft, it has to look decidedly old and tatty. The cockpit, where Gil sits has to be the most detailed part of the ship, as it's always viewed close-up like Gil in these scenes. Here is the final textured cockpit.

I'm pleased with it. Hope you like it too!

If you're interested, I've put a little note in "Jules' Jottings" about those textures. Enjoy!


Great news!

Gil is now production-ready, resplendent in his beaten-up space suit. Notice the new pictures on the Home page and the "About TyHa'an" page.

Next thing is to start modifying him into his best friend and engineer, Slab. This will be a lot quicker to do because all the major work has been done on Gil. I "just" have to alter his shape, make a few tweaks and change the surface textures. All being well, in a couple of weeks or so...

Watch this space!


Things are moving forward:

Gil is now fully rigged and working. I made a little walk cycle test, but thought that would be a touch uninteresting on its own, so I put in a background, some sound effects and some music.

This is now Gil's first ever visit to the space race station in the asteroid field between his home planet, Garn and neighbouring Feth. He is a little in awe.

No other clothes for him yet, or a space suit, so he's shirtless. Maybe he's been watching "Guardians of the Galaxy" too often, and thinks he's Drax the Destroyer...

The colour's not great, but that has a lot to do with the h264 compression I have to use to make the files small enough to upload and still keep reasonable picture quality - it was 1.9GB uncompressed and would have taken about a week to put online!!

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Thank you everybody, as always!


What a long wait it has been to see some more progress! I got diverted onto some commercial projects (you can see a couple of them here and here). Still, now I've had some time to do a bit more work on the revised Gil, there is a little more to show.

First of all, the concensus of opinion seems to have been that the best colour for Gil's skin is brown, so brown he is. Thank you to everyone who sent in your opinions to the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page.

The next phase has been to do all the extra modelling needed to make his facial expressions and mouth positions. Further tweaks to the model to ensure that the mouth and brows worked properly and here we are. His head doesn't move yet - just his face - so it looks a little bit odd when he talks, but everything else seems to be working nicely.

Here is a little snippet of what Gil says when his space racer breaks down on the last lap of a race, just when he was winning - only I've added a little smile at the end to test a different expression, and make it look a bit like an audition piece. Please forgive my voice on him for the time being.

I'd love to hear what you think of this so far - as long as it's not Eric Morecambe's answer ; ) Just visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and leave a comment.

Thank you again, one and all!


Well, folks. Fairly major change coming up. In fact MAJOR, MAJOR change!!

Having spent years working with the Gil character as you see him on the Home Page, I've discovered that the hair is too expensive. I was test rendering his sister and found that the hair was causing a huge bottleneck.

Just removing the hair didn't look right, SO, I've taken the drastic step of re-designing the character altogether. There are similarities, of course, but he's also very different.

It's going to affect the look of the whole show (at least in my head), which is interesting.

The good thing is that I've been able to apply all the lessons learned in the first version of Gil to this new model, so that he should behave much better, with a lot less fiddling about.

And he renders in less than two minutes, compared with 26 minutes for Gil and his sister together with hair. As the Americans say. "You do the math".

I'm just not quite sure about the colour, so I've done a few samples, and I'd love to know what you think. The society on Garn is a bit like the wild west, but in Wyoming (anyone remember "The Virginian"?): cattle ranches and stuff, but fairly green landscape with lots of trees, as well as rocks, cliffs and mountains. Gil and his kind have to fit this environment, and the colour is rather important. He also just needs to look right!

There are four pictures to look at: blue, turquoise, green and brown. Please visit the "TyHa'an" FaceBook page and let me know which you think works the best. Oh! He will have a short on, of course; I just haven't got round to building that yet : )

Thank you so much one and all!

Gil2 Blue
Gil2 Turquoise
Gil2 Green
Gil2 Brown

Revamped the story line once more. Really excited about it. It has everything now - loads of action and real heart. The only drawback is that the opening sequence now requires 11 characters, rather than just a couple. So there's lots of work to do.

Starting today...


I've been contacted by a Chinese animation company called Original Force. They are one of the highest quality animation companies I've come across outside of the big few who make feature films. In fact, they made Dreamworks' TV spin off to "How to Train Your Dragon" - and it's almost as good as the movie.

They want to be involved in making "TyHa'an", and their excellent track record should give us some extra traction with potential broadcasters etc.

Do click the link above to see what these guys can do.

It will be interesting to see where this leads.


It's taken a while to get to it, but here is the video asking a certain actor to play Gil's voice. I've blurred out the actor's name, because I don't think it's fair to him to tell everyone who I'm approaching.

Hope you like it.


Red letter day! At last, Gil is ready for his opening scene. He's been sitting in the Girrow chamber for a couple of months now, and he's covered in dirt and green goop. His once smart hair is now grown out and in tangles. His smart clothes are ruined. He's pretty miserable. What a way to start his story!

Next, I have to make a short animation to try and get famous actors interested in doing the voices for the show. I'll post it when it's done.

Meanwhile, here's what Gil looks like today.

Poor Old Gill...

Received the script for the pilot. Still re-building the Gil character, though progress is good, if slow. Now using the latest versions of Maya (animation software) and RenderMan (rendering software) which allow significant improvements in speed, and one or two useful extra facilities which make things behave a bit better than they did.

Still pursuing further funding possibilities to enable me to finish the pilot.


Both the crowd funding campaigns are now closed. No joy there!

Great news from elsewhere: I now have enough funding to work on the pilot for the next few months. Watch this space for more updates.


Now using two crowd funding web sites to help raise the £20,000 ($34,000) needed to make the 10-minute pilot show. In case you're wondering why the cost appears to be even less, this figure takes into account funding promised from elsewhere! Please look at the campaign sites:


Change of plan! The development will now entail making a 10-minute pilot to show potential broadcasters and co-production partners what the series is really going to be like. As a result, the budget for development has been slashed to £25,000 ($39,500). This means that, with new investments coming in, we already have nearly 10% of the target.


Fundraising has started. We currently have around £2,000 ($3,200) pledged. It's a small dent in the £60,000 ($95,000) target, but it is a start.


The TyHa’an promo is now complete and available here or on YouTube. The TyHa’an web site is now up and running - as if you didn’t know : ) The campaign to find funding for the development part of the project will hopefully begin this weekend.