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2020 Halloween Contest - Renderosity

With the theme of Costumes, Cauldrons & Concoctions, Renderosity 2020 Animation Halloween Contest received many great animation artworks. Congratulations to all the winners and everyone participated in the event. As the sponsor of the contest, Fox Renderfarm, the best render farm, is pleased to interview the second-place winner of the Animation Halloween Contest,Maynard Ellis, who is a long-time digital graphic artist and also an aspiring animator and game developer. Maynard’s award-winning work, Trick Or Treat, was animated with iClone 7, and the characters and environments were converted from Daz using CC3.

Trick or Treat - Maynard Ellis

“I had a great time making this and I am looking forward to doing more now I have worked out a good method for getting DAZ characters and environments into iClone,” said Maynard.

Here’s the interview between Maynard Ellis and Fox Renderfarm, in which you can find out how he made the animation.

Fox Renderfarm: Hi Maynard, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

Maynard: I have been involved with CG art for over 20 years, primarily as a hobby although I have been involved professionally as a graphic designer on many occasions. I first joined Renderosity in 2004 and always aspired to be a vendor on their store which never quite happened, but this strange year of lockdown has seen me renewing that interest and I have several products that I am working on that should be ready soon.

I have a broad range of skills that I have developed over the years and a real love for digital art and I am now spending time encouraging my teenage son to embrace some of this passion.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about being the 2nd place winner of Renderosity 2020 Animation Halloween Contest?

Maynard: There were unfortunately technical issues with this animation contest which I hope the team at Renderosity gets on top of in the future as I don't think everyone's entry was portrayed in the best light which may have affected the outcome. Having said that I was pleased to feature among the winners. A lot of work goes into animation and I am pleased to have received some recognition for the effort. The encouragement you get from doing well in contests like this definitely helps you to keep pushing yourself to create more and to learn more about your craft.

Fox Renderfarm: What is the inspiration for your work Trick Or Treat?

Maynard: I was inspired by the Halloween theme and the desire to tell a story with my entry. You should always be wary of knocking on the door to a witch’s house and always expect some form of trickery and the simple idea of a witch poisoning a child with her brew seemed to be something that I could achieve within the limited time I had available to put this entry together.

Fox Renderfarm: What’s the pipeline for the work?

Maynard: I created characters in Daz Studio. I focussed on a stylized look instead of going for realism.

I selected a pretty standard cottage environment in DS that suited the exterior of the witches house along with a bedroom interior scene.

Trick or Treat - Renderosity

I converted the characters and environments for use in iClone using Character Creator 3. CC3 does a great job bringing DS characters into iClone and preparing them for use as iAvatars.

I found that 3DXchange did not handle DS environments well enough and that the resulting iProps it created were not very usable for animations. After some online searching and trial and error I worked out a good way to bring environments into iClone via CC3 which kept every individual element separate and animatable which allowed me to easily animate both the door and the gate opening.

For the most part I used standard animation clips that came with iClone and some downloaded for free from Mixamo, however this was not enough for the full range of animation the story required and I had to hand animate a number of sequences using iClone animation tools.

The required sequences were crudely story boarded in a textual narrative leaving me to create a suitable animation for each clip listed in the storyboard.

My teenage son who has been using Premier for some of his high school projects cut the animated sequences together and created the sound FX, voices and background music. We did not fully agree on the soundtrack but I put him in charge of that and due to time constraints I was not able to make some changes that I would have made in a perfect world, however having said that some of the SFX he created were excellent and really helped make the whole project work.

Fox Renderfarm: Which part of this work are you most satisfied with and why?

Maynard: I think I am most happy with how both the characters and the environment transferred from DAZ to iClone. They looked good and animated well which was great. I was also very satisfied with the fact that I collaborated on this with my son who helped me plan the animation scenes required and he cut it all together for me in Premier and he provided the sounds.

Trick or Treat - Renderosity

Trick or Treat - Renderosity

Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

Maynard: There were many areas of difficulty that had to be overcome for this to work. I had to learn more about iClone than I knew and I had to get the characters and environments into iClone. The characters came in pretty easily with the tools iClone provided but the environment was more challenging and to get into iClone from DAZ keeping it looking great and also having the ability to animate things such as doors and gates etc. The traditional approach of using 3DXchange does not work as well as it should and I ended up taking a different approach using CC3 for both the characters and the environment.

Trick or Treat - Renderosity

Fox Renderfarm: How long have you studied CG production, can you introduce your learning method?

Maynard: I was a digital video editor back in the mid 1990's using sVHS and Hi8 tapes and digitising this footage to my PC. I also learnt a lot about digital design in the 90's which has held me in good stead as I moved into working with 3D to create art. I have not done a lot with animation, however I have created video and film based stop motion animations and in 2011 I did a few animations within DAZ Studio and one in particular one a contest held by DAZ. I have been self taught as an artist and love all aspects of digital art, film and photography and animation.

Blue - Young red haired farm boy © Maynard Ellis Blue - Young red haired farm boy © Maynard Ellis

Blue - Young red haired farm boy © Maynard Ellis

Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

Maynard: I used to be very focussed on trying to produce photo real 3D art images and later I switched my focus to creating 'art for your walls' which is much more satisfying for me. Regardless of what you create and how you create it, just focus on creating art you enjoy looking at and that is all that matters. Be kind to your fellow artists and understand that art is very subjective and the important thing is to never stop creating and to always enjoy what you create.

Morgan © Maynard Ellis Morgan © Maynard Ellis

Morgan © Maynard Ellis

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