BIG NEWS: July 21, 2014
City of Rott 2 has been completed! With all new skills in story telling and screenwriting, F.Sudol proudly presents the brand new City of Rott 2 Trailer! The film clocks in at 85 minutes, and every line of dialog either has a purpose or most importantly, propels the plot forward.
OTHER NEWS: BLACKARRO.COM has moved here. More updates on the following older titles in the BlackArro Productions library:
You can find them on amazon.com for sale, including searches you can find:
“City of Rott” DVD
“Dead Fury” DVD
“Shock Invasion” DVD
“The Chicken ChopShop” DVD Cartoon Series (6 episodes)
“The FJS Company” Digital Download currently only
“Gnome in the Haunted Castle” DVD (2D and 3D on same disc)
MAKING OF CITY OF ROTT 2: PART I : As told by F.SUDOL
MAKING OF CITY OF ROTT 2 by F.SUDOL; July 2014
After creating The Chicken ChopShop Animated Series from 2003 to 2005, City of Rott by 2006, Dead Fury by 2008, Shock Invasion by 2011, Gnome in the Haunted Castle by 2012, I wanted to return to the story that involved zombies, so preparation for City of Rott 2 began in 2012 and was completed by 2014.
ENHANCED PLOT LINE COMPARED TO PRIOR EFFORTS:
While I had fun creating the first City of Rott about an old man exploring a Zombie infested city while on his search for shoes, the story was admittedly mindless like a zombie, wandering about as it progressed, switching off to unrelated characters who didn’t tie in strongly with Fred, the walker wielding old guy. For the sequel, a more intricate, meaningful plot was the goal.
At first, there were plans for City of Rott the animated series, but those plans were scrapped. Though I liked the idea of less pressure on the story line with an animated series, where each episode could focus on simpler plots every episode (and I had about 50 story ideas ready to develop), I soon realized the effort for one guy to create even a single episode at 30 minutes each, would take half a year at the least. “Why spend so much effort on a series that I might lose interest in after the fourth episode, since this stuff takes so long to create?” Instead, all efforts would be focused on one script rather than many small stories.
This time I was thorough with the screenplay and didn’t push forward until I went back to uncover and correct plot holes, while eliminating meaningless banter and pointless side quests; resulting in a much more focused and less annoying story to watch, depending on the audience of course.
Having learned much since previous efforts, City of Rott 2 includes improvements in screenwriting, plot development, character motivation and more. Every word must count, otherwise don’t have the character speak at all. And fewer, more potent words are better than many to get the point across. Each sentence must move the plot forward or contribute in some way. These new skills were mostly learned through writing almost twenty full length scripts and by studying established screenwriters (for new script writers, I recommend searching for William C. Martell’s website if available, Script Secrets Revealed at scriptsecrets.net).
CITY OF ROTT 2 CHARACTER DESIGN:
When the character creation process began (using Cheetah 3D computer animation software), there were two things that concerned me: Lip syncing and walk cycles. Because of limitations in my hardware and software, timing every single zombie walk and foot placement amid thousands in a movie was overwhelming to say the least. I could do it, but it’s honestly not much fun since the screen usually slowed up to a crawl with too many zombies or objects in the file. For lip syncing, it’s okay when it’s one of the main things you have to worry about like on the South Park Movie, but when you have an entire story to create in every aspect, it puts a damper on the fun, since lip syncing alone takes up 1/2 the time.
So I was actually about to give up on the whole project for a few days.
Lip syncing reminds me of Math, and I’m not a big fan of Math to begin with. You have to align every single phonetic sound to the word being spoke, then animate the mouths and render it to test the sync, then go back and animate the character’s body to the sync, then go back after rendering that to fix any oversights. Time consuming to say the least. Work ceased on the canceled animated series CITY OF ROTT after about 6 minutes worth of footage was completed. Though I liked some aspects of it, I was still disappointed that the software I was using was not designed to crank out tons of scenery and detail without weighing down the work window to an absolute crawl on my computer. That alone made me feel like giving up. Just the lip synced key frames alone slowed each animatic file down. Blender is a more powerful tool, but the work window and interactivity weren’t as intuitive as I would like, so the learning curve would take a long time to conquer.
I thought back to a prior 2010 project I worked on and still have about 5 minutes worth of footage of, and a lot of assets already created for: SOLE DESTRUCTOR ONE, a sci fi, Star Wars inspired movie, with humanoid characters that are the most realistic in form and design that I’ve created so far. The neat thing was, I didn’t give them mouths, but instead, they moved their face like Optimus Prime from the cartoon series does. Or like a Ninja wearing a mask. The masked mouth moves, but you just see the movement, not the actual formation of the mouth forming words. That was WAY more fun to do and much less time consuming. That project stalled because I became afraid there wouldn’t be an audience for a low budget sci fi film with low cost production values compared to a horror audience.
After that, my hope returned. But instead of a walking character, which is really a pain since I have to animate hundreds of zombies at once, and coordinate the main characters besides; maybe I could create a character that didn’t need to walk, but floated or slide across the ground, much like a Tank rolls or a wheel even.
What about something like a STAR WARS action figure? Specifically the ones from Generation 1 back in 1978?
The design of the figurines are pretty cute to be honest, with those simplistic little faces and the tiny ink spots for their eyes, almost like how a simple comic book character back in the day would be drawn. The face of the 1977 action figure, Luke Skywalker in his Dagobah Tan uniform, was all the inspiration I needed. With that, I imagined a simplistic character design in the sense that these are not real people, but action figures. And then I thought about the legs, and went one step further and imagined them as wooden puppets or those Stacking Nesting Dolls, that you can fit each inside one another as you pop the top half off of each character. And better yet, they don’t have legs to have to animate! Perfect. To me anyway. They made a video game with those Nesting Sculptures in it. I think it is called Stacking on PS3, though I never got to play it due to time and other things.
And that is how Fred Figiero’s brother, Harry, looks nothing like Fred from the first movie. It was intentional, since this is a whole different style. I was certain there would be those who will laugh at the design and think it’s a joke, and then there are those who can think outside the box of visual appeal and see that this was intentional for the sake of even getting the project completed, but also because it’s a design that can work if you think about it a certain way. Imagine these are Chess pieces that move on the chess board without moving a single leg; since they don’t have any. And wasn’t there a toy called the Weeble Wobbles or something like that? They don’t have legs, and that toy was pretty successful back in the day. I can probably think up a few more designs to support my decision, but will spare the details for now… I made a point to stress the “CHESS PIECE FORMAT” in the film’s intro logo and the trailer’s, so anyone opposed to the character design will see that it’s intentionally created that way.
HOW COMPUTER ANIMATION BECAME THE VISUAL STYLE OVER HAND DRAWN:
So the decision to go ahead with computer animation for City of Rott 2 was the result of thinking back to the tremendously tedious and time consuming process of using Image Ready (a tiny animation program within Photoshop 5.5). The animation was okay at best, and choppier than I would prefer, but it was all I could do since memory and storage on my computer back then in 2005 was a real limitation. With Image Ready, to make a long story short; you’d have to copy/paste every single new animation for each and every rotation required. So if Fred Figiero, the old Walker Fu Master, wanted to rotate his Walker upward, I’d have to create a separate layer for each rotation angle and keep that stored in the file, then link it together so everything stayed as one character.
I thought, “I could go with that process all over again, but it really wasn’t fun except for the action scenes. Isn’t there a better cut out style animation program out there?” Though I have Toon Boon Studio, I never really enjoyed the very unintuitive interface, but I did enjoy the Vector Graphic cel shading possible with it, which including zooming. Something not possible in Image Ready (unless for Shock Invasion I used Adobe After Effects for, which is also a very cumbersome program on the old computer). I started working on a Toon Boom Project, which was quickly scrapped after I realized the insane amount of effort it would entail to complete. Years instead of months. Just not worth it when staying committed to a single project is hard enough as it is, with so many other things to accomplish in this short life.
To the point then, I searched a few more cel animation and cut out/stop frame animation programs, but either they didn’t work with my computer specs or more expensive than I was willing to pay for. By this time, I had already begun work on GNOME IN THE HAUNTED CASTLE as a computer animation project, using Cheetah 3D, a computer animation software program that is very intuitive and very fun to work in, despite some severe slow down when you add too many objects; with only 4 GB RAM and a program made for “making objects” more than animating them all at once, like a video game engine could do.
With GNOME completed and the results to my liking, I decided to opt for computer animation for City of Rott.
The nice option about Computer Animation is the fact you can use hand drawn TEXTURE MAPS for each and every object. Even better, computer animation allows you to move them as if you were moving clay figures or puppets. Only with a lot more precision and flexibility. I am interested in seeing where Unity (a video game program for independent developers) takes film animation and cutscenes for its games, but that looks like it’s still in the works. The program I have chosen to work on for now, Cheetah 3D, is very fun to work with, though because it’s an Editor program designed largely for creating objects, it tends to slow to a crawl if you try to add too many objects in one shot set up, and makes the animation process very slow and cumbersome if you don’t manage your assets correctly. Was I able to include everything I envisioned with City of Rott 2? Not everything, no. I wanted lots of dead shrubbery and plantlife sticking out of the asphalt roads and buildings, but whenever I put them into a scene, each frame rendering took 4 minutes instead of 1. With hundreds of thousands of frames at 30 frames per second, 85 minutes in length, you can imagine how 4 minutes was not going to be completed within a reasonable time, since my mind is usually looking forward to new ideas and each film has about a 1.5 year completion schedule.
CITY OF ROTT 2 was officially completed as of July 2014 after a lengthy rendering process that took close to four months to finish. Some grain filtering and bloom lighting was added afterwards in Final Cut Express to make the film more to my original visual goal.
City of Rott: Otherworld, which will go back to hand drawn stop frame style of City of Rott 1, only with more fluid animation thanks to a new tool, Anime Studio Pro 8, is now in early pre-production, though there is still more planning to do before it truly gets underway.
NEWS: March 2014: Big news! CITY OF ROTT 2 is nearly complete! Currently clocking in at a runtime of 84 minutes and tested successfully on a test run DVD output.
In celebration of completing City of Rott 2’s Pre Production, Production and most of all Post Production including balancing of the Audio Music, Voices and Sound FX (Final Rendering is still underway and may take another month or two, but everything else is finished), lots of New Movie Stills have been added in the City of Rott 2 Gallery, including all 6 COR2 Posters so far. Use the posters as screen savers or background art on your computer if you like, and if you’re a Fan, help spread the word that City of Rott 2 is being planned for Fall 2014, pending distribution. Thanks for the support. -FSudol, sole creator of CITY OF ROTT, CITY OF ROTT 2, Shock Invasion, Dead Fury, Gnome in the Haunted Castle, etc.
NEWS: December 2013: NEW DETAILS ON CITY OF ROTT 2. Officially, City of Rott The Animated Series has been canceled and replaced with a sequel movie, called City of Rott 2. The reasons behind this are mainly due to budget and especially time considerations.
City of Rott 2 is moving along in production much faster than before thanks to several adjustments in the design of the characters in particular, which allow for one animator to quickly generate much more animation.
This one will be a marked change from prior films regarding the story and dialog, thanks to some new skills in screenwriting, and the goal to create characters who work together instead of always at each others throats as in prior films, resulting in less grating characteriztions. The storyline also has been carefully considered, and rather than fully render out the movie as a final format, animatics are being created first, as a rough sketch to watch the movie first, and once satisfied, only then move ahead to final rendering.
SIGNIFICANT PRODUCTION TIME SAVED AS DESCRIBED BELOW:
Max, a main character, moves, talks and offers expressions as in the past, however, take note of the following adjustment: Unlike the preview presented in March 2013, The new character style is best described as “Chess Piece Format”, in that the character’s are inspired by chess pieces, walk as a chess piece moves, and are considered action figures more than breathing life forms. Even so, they can move their arms, heads, bend, jump, and so on. And still take injury like a living human or zombie would.
The tme saved by this step will cut off at least what would have been a year’s worth of additional production, which is a major benefit for such a small studio as this. It still animates well, it’s just a matter of how it will be accepted by the fans and the public audience. Hopefully, they’ll see the intent of the style portrayed.
As a result, more time can be spent on telling a better story without worrying about if it can be done in time or not, along with greater attention to the action scenes. The choice to focus on these elements took precedent over trying to manage every footstep and mouth movement that a larger studio would have plenty of resources to execute without a second thought. A preview of still screen shots will be posted shortly showcasing the newest look to City of Rott 2.
CITY OF ROTT 2: Planned as a feature length animated zombie horror, gore movie, in 2D. Blu Ray would be ideal as it’s being rendered in 1920×800 ratio, but to get it out to fans, DVD may be necessary if it boils down to it.
LATEST NEWS ON THE “CITY OF ROTT” MOVIES:
-Welcome to the new CITY OF ROTT.wordpress.com Website, showcasing all relating to CITY OF ROTT. More soon.
-City of Rott 2 continues to progress in development, for a tentative release date of Fall 2014, subject to change.
-City of Rott (2006) is no longer under license from Unearthed Films. A possible, updated Director’s Cut disc is being considered, but no plans are firm yet.