Clear Skies 3
On top of the motion capture system dropping into my lap, the nice people at CCP (those who created Eve Online) invited me over to Iceland for a tour and a chat. They love Clear Skies, and in order to goad me into making a third film, they gave me a version of Jessica – the in-house Eve graphics engine which they use to choreograph their own trailers.
Being able to put my own motion capture into the HalfLife 2 engine opened up a new world of acting. Being able to tightly choreograph the external shots opened up a new world of special effects and exterior shots. I had the big leap up I was looking for.
3 months after I finished CS2, my break was over – the script for CS3 went into production.
Almost two years later, I've finished the last in the trilogy that was never supposed to be a trilogy. I didn't anticipate it being this much work, it was only about a third of the way through the production that I realised I was producing about 2 minutes of footage per page of script. The script was forty pages long... I had created a monster, and my heart sunk when I realised how far I had to go.
I may have offloaded the set building and the lipsynching to other fabulous people, but I had brought onto myself the motion capture and the use of Jessica to create the exterior shot choreography. Both hard work and intensive things to do. But me being me, I stuck with it - I promised a third episode and I can't let everyone down. The last week of production was a crunch of six 15 hour days in a row, and it's been killing me to get it finished. But as ever, the end result is worth it.
The mocap and the 'live' camera style I used brought to life the acting, and allowed me to write things into the script that wouldn't have been possible without it. The same goes for the Jessica engine - the ability to choreograph the exterior shots allowed for more potent battle scenes and better storytelling. Our voice acting game was upped, I was better at directing by now, and I had the unbelievable bonus of Francis Capra and Ricky Grove contributing their talents to the projects. Switching to Vegas Pro allowed for much improved sound design and far better control over the editing process and post-production effects. Oh, and the story worked out okay as well, which is a relief!
This film forms a fitting end to the series. It was another leap up in what I could produce, I pushed myself and came through it intact, and I'm very happy with the end result. I'm also happy that, finally, I get my life back! Clear Skies is too big for one person any more, and there will not be a fourth one - my life has moved on and I can't dedicate this much time any more (and to be honest I don't really want to either). But don't be sad.
I always wanted to tell a story. And now I have.