Another Brief Update!

Wow — things are really starting to move around here; momentum is a very good thing indeed! :) I wanted to post a quick update along with some cool images to give you all an idea of what’s cooking:

Last week I completed a whirlwind-trip to LA for a couple of highly productive soundtrack ‘spotting’ sessions with master composer Zain Effendi. Since the score is the one area of creating this film that I have to relinquish the most control of, the precious child I have to hand over to someone else to ‘raise’ (yeah, a little bit on the melodramatic side, I know … sue me), it has become an enormous matter of trust for me. Spread out over two days, these intensive sessions spent reviewing the animatic multiple times and discussing each scene and nuance in detail with Zain were absolutely critical. Our conversations delved into a wide array of related topics, and we both came away from the experience with a vastly improved sense of one another as creative partners and as friends.

Photo: Cat Mihos

We also had a chance to hang out with Rob King at his amazing facility, Green Street Studios (which you can see featured in The Recording Of Neil video). Rob (whom I’ve known for going on 8 years now) will be designing the sound for the film, a variegated task that includes mixing music, dubbing sound effects and recording performers. Weaving all of these elements together will produce the sonic tapestry for The Price, which in itself will be as responsible for helping to properly tell the story as any visual element.

Speaking of visuals, here are a couple of tests I thought you might find intriguing:

This frame is from an animation test utilizing the same base animation throughout a grove of 30 trees! Finding a way to create complex animations with a relatively small time/equipment footprint is a key goal for my Tech Director, Christian Perry.

He created these renders of the texture-mapped leaves from a red maple model, and it looks just like the ones from the massive tree that dominates the front yard of the Gaiman property. (While both images are made from the same model, the one on the right has translucency, allowing light to partially pass through and illuminate the geometry in a more complex way; although beautiful, it takes a lot more time and processing power to create.) While both seem photo-real, I am leaning towards the less realistic (yet more ‘illustrative’) look of the leaves from the animation test. To borrow/paraphrase from the genius of Pixar’s John Lassiter, I want the world of The Price to look believable, but not realistic (in a literal way); does that make sense?

And this is a quick test render of the preliminary build of the legendary front porch, where so much of our little story transpires (being modeled by extraordinary artist and good friend Todd Sheridan). I still cannot convey what it felt like to actually stand (and sit, and lay down upon) the wooden boards of that porch. Even the wood itself was striking — just look at the photo below!

Producer Extraordinaire Cat Mihos continues to help me connect the dots while monitoring our progress and investigating the film festival scene; in addition, she keeps me in the loop with exciting news from several developing projects (!!!) and even got me to sign a few of the 1-sheet posters from the Kickstarter campaign for promotional purposes. (For the record, I felt like a dork despite Cat’s admonishment to “get used to it!”)

Photo by: Cat Mihos

With everyone in town for the Sundance Film Festival this week,  my team is cranking hard to help me get all of the pieces together so I can push this beast over the finish line and be up in Park City this time next year!!! And here’s one last image that perfectly illustrates the length of the long road ahead that yet remains:

‘Nuff said, right? :) More soon …

About Xtopher

Director of The Price, and Owner/Creative Director of Silver Fish Creative, LLC.
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42 Responses to Another Brief Update!

  1. Awesome update Christopher! The renders look fantastic. Can’t wait to see more :)

  2. Jeff Salmon says:

    Excellent and exciting work Xtopher! You might want to put titles under the pics – I had to look several times at the images. (ie: the leaf pics are both renders but the porch is an image). Probably obvious to you…

    Anyway, fantastic stuff! Thanks for taking the time to share with us.


  3. Rosalind says:

    Those trees look amazing!

    That last snapshot of Neil’s hair is quite amusing – who would’ve thought his hair could be depicted to be even messier than usual?

    Looking forward to the next update!

  4. Ed White says:

    Definitely agree with your call…I like the more dramatic, slightly less real leaves far more :)

  5. Stephanie Harper says:

    Those renders are amazing! What great work you all are doing.
    The last photo is pretty funny, his nose definitely needs some tweaking. But the hair came out perfect!
    Keep it up, your team is smoking :)

    • Xtopher says:

      Yes, it’s fun to see how ‘whack’ the computer will do things unless you tell it otherwise (although getting it to behave can be a somewhat arduous process). :)

  6. Carole F says:

    The renders look fantastic! I can’t wait to see the finished product. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Marc Lisetto-Smith says:

    Wow. At frist I thought those renders were photos of leaves/tree that you were using as models, not the renders. All I have to say is, ‘wow’. That, and the hair looks funky. =)

  8. Marisa Birns says:

    Would love to own a house with such a porch!

  9. Joe K says:

    As everyone else is saying, thanks for the updates. On a long-running project such as this one, one of the hesitations up front is “yeah, great ideas, but will they be sustained all the way through to release?” So far, so (very) good.

    As someone who has played with earlier generations of some of the technology, I’m always impressed at how far it has come — I remember SIGGRAPHs back when much of what you can now take for granted was unsolved problems.

    To give you an opportunity to plug: Are you still fundraising, and if so how would we “upgrade” our supporting category? (I’m a bit pinched right now, but after my cash-on-hand recovers from year-end donations I may be interested…)

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Joe (and yes, I remember the Alias/Wavefront days when they were separate companies and SG workstations were priced in the 30-60K range — literally nothing in CG animation came for free)!

      To answer your fundraising question, yes, donations are still being accepted via the PayPal button right here on the website. All of the same rewards offered during the Kickstarter campaign apply, so you can ‘upgrade’ anytime! Thanks again for your support and kind words!

  10. Adele says:

    Wow, so glad you guys are taking the time to make this so brilliant. You’ll defo need a behind The Scenes commentary on the DVD please!

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Adele; there will definitely be multiple featurettes on the BluRay/DVD for those of you who may be interested!

  11. Julio says:

    Great pictures! Looking forward to the final result.

  12. Cat Mihos says:

    As always, a learning experience with you, Director!
    Zain and Rob literally blew the doors off (ok, figuratively) while they showed us how the sounds deconstruct in a film…i can\’t stop thinking about it.
    I was jumping all around the treehouse yesterday morning as they announced the Oscar noms,
    no jinxing, but a girl can dream…
    love the leaves, the porch, so incredibly proud of you.

    will go now and finish my own blog—
    bravo, @Xtopher!

    • Xtopher says:

      We have a great team creating incredible content … and for the record, I think Oscar dreams are very good things indeed!!! Looking forward to your blog, partner!!! :)

  13. Saul says:

    I have to say life got in the way and I lost track of your kickstarter project, but Im so happy you got the funding and are busy creating something that looked so amazing. GL and hope it all works out fine.

  14. stacyhurt says:

    Love Lassiter’s comment. And The Boss’ hair is perfect! Hairline could use some tweaking but other than that it’s spot on!


    You go boyos!

  15. Sioux says:

    Still loving your trees! I don’t think I could make the call on which render to go for… although I can just imagine a fishy-on-a-string floating through the second more ethereal one (even though I guess that’s the more realistic one)… so I think you’ll be keeping it subliminally earthed, and ‘real’ with the first.
    Awesome sauce! Keep it up Xtopher!
    PS. Are you a Mac or PC?
    PPS… fyi, just popped to your forum and looks like the bots have sneaked in :(

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Sioux … for the kindly words as well as the heads-up on those pesky spambots!!! Grrrrrr…
      PS: PC (although I did have a nice email chat with Woz himself about some hardware issues!)

  16. Maia Jern says:

    Oh my goodness, I can hardly believe those maple leaves aren’t real, they’re gorgeous! <3

    • Xtopher says:

      I know! Mt man Christian can work wonders … and although gorgeous as you say, they are perhaps a tad too real for the look & feel I’m going for.

  17. Heather says:

    Fantastic images, and I completely agree about having the world believable vs realistic. Also, I hope you do get a bit more used to signing things, since if I ever meet you I’ll most likely want you to sign something!

  18. David P says:

    I just found out you were making The Price. It looks great. I am so excited, I think a little wee came out.

  19. Josh M says:

    Incredible! I can’t wait to watch this at Sundance this year!! I’m a Utah native and wish I had found out about this wonderful project before now so that I could have given money. I’m also submitting a short film 2 Hours to the festival this year. Keep working hard man I know it’s a mountain to climb.

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks so much Josh — and your trailer looks really intense! BTW, you can still donate by using the PayPal button here on the site, entitling you to the same rewards offered during the Kickstarter campaign!

  20. Annamarie says:

    I discovered your project (just now, in fact) while looking up “The Price” to recommend to one of my students. Neil Gaiman is my favorite author and “The Price ” is my all time favorite short story. I am so excited that you are making it into a movie! I’m just a fan, but from what I have seen of your work so far, it is a movie I would love to see in the theatre. Have you thought about bringing it to the Ashland Independent Film Festival (Ashland, OR) when it’s done? I’d love to be among the audience who gets to see it first! Please keep going! You have to finish it! Thank you!!!

    • Xtopher says:

      Thank you for your encouraging words; I will definitely take a look into the Ashland Festival! And yes, I will keep going … you can count on that!!! :)

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