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“The Beast” is a limited scope, short animation project that is based on an original concept by Tom Musgrove (LetterRip to Blender folks).

The story is about an ugly little baby that causes some havoc at home. You can see the story reel (with completely horrific scratch sound track) below, allow you should really read the rest of this article before watching:

About 2.6 MB, Xvid MPEG-4 encoding, with MP3 sound, about 3 minutes long.

This just the action blocking, as the theme of the story is in the details that don’t come though in a reel like this. The whole point is that the baby is pretty ugly and is surrounded by choices of ugly/pretty. The toys, the dogs, etc. The set will be sprinkled with sets of objects that subtly (or not-so-subtly) display this dichotomy. There will be a choice between everything the baby sees except, of course, the mother. She’s cute/pretty, with nothing to balance her. If you listen carefully on the final sound track, you will hear her selling makeup to her friend on the phone.

The entire point is to get you ready for the mom to just lay into the little guy at the end, and because of how he looks and acts, you might want her to. I want to prejudice the viewer against the baby, if that’s possible. But in the end, she doesn’t punish him.

Why? Well, it’s obvious from the dialogue, but what you can’t tell from the crude storyboards are the details in the wall of pictures that give the full explanation. When you first see the Beast picture at the beginning, you naturally assume it’s the baby. The expanded shot of the picture wall at the end, though, shows a series of pictures with the baby picture progressing through stages of growth into the mother we just saw. The baby picture is one of her, not him.

Sappy? Maybe. But I’m a Dad, so what am I going to do? The real theme, though, is one of perception, and I hope to juxtapose the choices the baby makes, with the choice the mother makes, with what we think we know at the beginning and what we know at the end.

On the technical side, the story boards were drawn directly in ArtRage (w00t!) and assembled in Blender’s Sequence Editor using a couple of selection and Python tools I added to the Blender sources.

Enjoy!

Well, maybe not in your mailbox, but the truck load of skids of books went to the post office in the Netherlands on Monday. Reports have come in from people who have the book in their grubby little hands already. The word from the top is that people can expect five to eight business days for delivery outside of the immediate area.

Due to printing delays, the book now begins shipping on the 12th. Really, the anticipation is killing me.

Will it be everything I hoped? Will it suck rocks?

In the end, the only opinions that will really matter are the ones of the people who have paid their hard earned cash for it.

The Essential Blender, the book that I edited and co-wrote begins shipping on June 4th to customers who pre-ordered. At that time, the pre-order price goes back up to normal, and it’s a substantial discount. I have great hopes for the usefulness of the book, but only time will tell.

If you haven’t already seen it, you can check it out and place your pre-order at:

http://www.blender3d.org/e-shop/

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