“Goodbye at the End of the World” Process Blog

The music video for “Goodbye at the End of the World” was a pretty major undertaking for me. It is a four-plus minute, computer animated music video about an alien invasion and a couple whose relationship is on the rocks, but who try to save the world. It was written, designed, animated, and rendered by me alone. I had never done anything like it before, so I wanted to run down the process behind the video and tip my hat to the individuals and sites that helped me eventually get the thing across the finish line.

When I set out, what I wanted to do was tell a story that allowed me to pay homage to the sci-fi, classic horror, and cult films that I love, and that have been a front-and-center influence on the band’s music. Initially, I had the notion that I might actually hand-draw a video in an attempt at something like the UPA style of animation that defines the look of 1950s animation for me. I figured it was contemporary with the great 50s sci-fi films, and it would feel like a natural fit.

I went away to a cabin in the mountains to watch old movies, drink beer in a styrofoam cup, and write the script

I went away to a cabin in the mountains to watch old movies, drink beer in a styrofoam cup, and write the script

Thing is, I’m a terrible draftsman, and I wasn’t able to even design characters that I liked. There was certainly no way I’d be able to hand-draw the thing. I have experience in motion graphics and a little bit of experience in 3D modeling programs, although never really with anything much more ambitious than flying text. I was able to design a pair of characters and some alien vehicles that I could live with, and then set to work trying to model them.

Concept Sketches

Concept sketches for the two characters and the alien walker

The modeling and animation were done in Cinema 4D. I had the help of Josh Johnson when it came to rigging the humans, because my first attempts at that were so disastrous that I knew I’d never get there in the time I had. I relied heavily on C4D Cafe for tutorials and insights available in their message boards. I watched a ton of videos on Vimeo (many from Greyscale Gorilla and EJ Hassenfratz) to learn about rigging, toon shading, and more.

The characters, aliens, some of the buildings, the streets, a number of props, and the interiors I mostly built from scratch. For the rest, I used some of the models that came in Cinema 4D, as well as models available at Turbosquid and Archive 3D, to which I usually made some kind of changes. I don’t feel too bad about using canned models, since I was working on my own and simply did not have the time to model everything from scratch.

I cannot thank the artists who made tutorial videos and contributed to these sites enough. I simply never would have been able to do this without their generosity.

Once all the sets and rigs were completed, I just got to animating. The entire project start-to-finish took about three months of late nights, usually starting work about 10 pm and wrapping up between 1 and 3 am. And then up again at 7 to go to work.

The finished video has over a dozen references to films and writers hidden (mostly) throughout. I think the video rewards careful viewing for that reason, and also because, particularly inside the museum, there are some set-dressing elements that help fill in the backstory to the aliens and why all of these events are happening in the first place.

Museum Kane Shot_0087

A still from inside the museum. Notice the crashed flying saucer on display. Keen-eyed viewers will notice a number of other things hidden in this shot, as well.

I’m quite proud of the finished video. Its technical shortcomings are certainly evident, but for a one-person production, I think that all-in-all, I punched well above my weight. I’m proud of it as a piece of storytelling, and for the fact that somehow, I feel like the characters came out empathetically.

Goodbye at the End Script

I had two of the walkers 3D printed at Shapeways. Because.

I had two of the walkers 3D printed at Shapeways. Because.

Horror Movies to Watch This October

It’s hard for me to believe that it was a year ago today that — without fully realizing what I was doing — I started work on the Sci-Fi Romance October EP. For those not familiar, every October I watch as many classic horror movies as I can cram into my eyeballs, and last year, over ten days I watched six movies, wrote a song about each, and recorded them on a nearly 30-year-old analogue four-track cassette recorder. We’re gearing up for the release of our next full-length album, so I won’t be spontaneously writing and recording songs this year, but I will be doing all the horror-movie-eyeball-cramming.

I wanted to share my planned list of movies, in case anybody else wanted to celebrate the annual return of the best month, and wasn’t sure what to watch.

In no particular order:

  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Wicker Man (which I have in a collectible wicker box!)
  • The Tomb of Ligeia
  • The Haunted Palace (billed as an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, this is actually one of the best H.P. Lovecraft adaptations out there)
  • House of Wax
  • The Invisible Man
  • The House on Haunted Hill
  • Twice-Told Tales
  • Cat People
  • Curse of the Demon
  • Burn Witch, Burn
  • Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein/Young Frankenstein
  • Black Sunday
  • Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

That’s about one every other day. Between rehearsals and…you know, life…I may be able to keep that pace up.

My list is maybe a little Vincent Price-heavy, if there can be such a thing, but I’m…hopeful…I’ll survive. What are some of your favorites? What will you be watching?