Here be DragonsCreation of the World Map

This is the product of my personal project for school (which is an important part of the end of the MYP (Middle Years Programme)).
In this project you can choose to create almost anything on pretty much any topic, which can make it a very fun project if you chose right!

I made a movie about the history of the world map, but instead of creating an explanatory video I made an animation more “teasing” the topic, a bit in the style of a title sequence.

The title “Here be Dragons” refers to a phrase that was used historically to indicate unknown regions.

The First shot

A screenshot of the final fluid simulation, ready to start rendering

After doing the main part of my research I started creating the first shot, which I had developed in my mind during the research.
For this shot I used Blender, an open source 3d software. It was the first time I did a fluid simulation, so that was quite hard to get right, and then I had to simulate it using a macbook air. It took 7 1/2 hours.
I found the very detailed model of a Greek fishing boat on this website, and for animating the camera I used a camera crane rig, which worked really well.

A frame of the final render of the lines pass

The next thing I needed to do was rendering the shot. I wanted to use a line-drawing style rendering using Freestyle, but it seemed to take too long per frame to render, so I tried other methods like rendering it in a more “real” way (which failed), and processing greyscale renders in photoshop, but in the end the other techniques took just as long as the line-rendering, so I got back to that. I rendered the water, rock and ship separately and used multiple passes (lines, greyscale, silhouettes and depth) that would later be useful for recombining the elements and colouring.
The total render time was 4 days. The first two days I was only using my macbook air, but on the last two days I could also use another computer.

Storyboard, Animatic and Music

The animatic. The first shot is the greyscale render pass of the finished shot, the rest is the animtic timed to the music mix (which is also temporary).

While rendering I started thinking out the rest of the movie and drawing very rough storyboards, after which I made an even rougher version in after effects (the animatic), which I could use to time the piece to the music I then chose.
The soundtrack is a combination of different pieces of music. It starts off with “Sands of Time” (which was used in the first trailer for Tintin), but before the middle of that piece got too bombastic I had to transition to another piece of music. I chose to combine a guitar and an organ piece I both found on, and at the end transition back into the first piece.

The Well

A drawing of the well

Making the well animation turned out to take a lot longer than I expected. I had decided to use hand-drawn animation, but to make it a bit easier for myself I first animated the basic shape in 3d and then traced that frame-by-frame in photoshop. Still, for almost 8 seconds of animation, 12 frames per second, that was 95 drawings (with a lot of bricks). It took two full days.

The Triangulation Island

A screenshot of the triangulation island scene in Blender

Another interesting bit is the “triangulation island” at 2:28 . Because the shot needs to transition from 3d to a drawing I first had to recreate the landscape on the drawing in 3d and then project the drawing onto the landscape from the same angle the camera would be looking from at the end of the shot. Then (using a landscape generator) I made the island and connected that to the “bay area.” Next was doing the cloth simulation, which, after a lot of tweaking, turned out surprisingly well. Then I used the same crane rig I used for the first shot to make the swirling camera move around the island.

The colour of the first shot

Shooting the paint
The paint

From the start I already had the idea of colouring the waterfall using splashes of paint. I used black paint and water on soaked paper and just experimented a lot with it for a few hours. Then I found some usable bits and details and placed those over the waterfall. I could also use scans of the dried papers as background in some other parts of the movie. It was very hard to find the right blue colour. I had to retain the detail and contrast of the textures, but not make it look grey, and it also had to be not too green, and not too blue.