Abandoned Masterpiece: “Mine”
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“‘Mine’ is a word that was meant to be screamed.”
-BC Smith (1986-2008)
So began a short story called “Mine” written by my friend Travis.
Somehow, I got it into my head that this story, if properly executed, would make a great animated short film. A short film that I would write, produce, direct, animate, edit, and score. With my degree in Fiction Writing hot off the press, it’s no wonder that I thought I was qualified to make an animated short film. Worry not that I can’t draw to save my life, and know virtually nothing about animation. I was convinced that I could learn. And besides, it would be good for my resume.
Did I mention that this was going to be hybrid 3D/2D animation? No, I don’t know anything about 3D animation either. But I’ve spent most of my life teaching myself how to do things that are virtually impossible to learn on your own. And I’ve been somewhat successful. But I’ve got this little problem called biting off more than I can chew.
“Mine,” the short film, was eventually abandoned. I wish I could remember the exact moment when I decided that the 100+ man hours I’d put into this were all for naught. But I really can’t. I know it was long after I had discussions with an entertainment attorney re: properly optioning the short story from Travis. I know it was after I bought and looked through dozens of books on animation. It was after I forced my good friend Wade, a talented artist, to take the bus out to Chicago and help out with character designs, basic modeling, and concept art. It was after I built a computer from scratch to handle the graphics-intensive processes that making and rendering 3D visuals requires. It was also after I created–from memory–a 3D model of Rich’s Restaurant, the diner I used to frequent in high school, one of adozen “sets” I was going to “build” for this short film.
I vividly recall spending an entire day–probably between 6 and 8 hours–trying to get a set of 3D window blinds to cast a shadow on the rug in my virtual restaurant set. At the end of the day, after I’d tried everything, I discovered a checkbox in the animation software I was using. The checkbox said, “Cast Shadows.” That’s all it took.
This went on for months.
Whenever I decided to throw it all away, I regret the decision. Not because I was wrong. I was absolutely correct. But I still would so much love to see this movie made. I would love to see this thing–which I could imagine so vividly at the time–completed. But I won’t see it. Even now, it’s just too big. And it only kept growing.
Rendering a single image would exhaust my little home-made computer. Making the characters “walk” was hard enough. Making them “talk” was almost impossible. I tried using “lip-sync” technology. How did it look? “Lackluster” would be an enormous compliment. Watch the results on the next page.