Artsy Rants

Nail Creek 3D Logo Revisited: Animation Time!

  • July 18, 2015

So, when we last saw our hero he was looking pretty toon but he wasn’t very mobile. Well, that’s about to change!

For his first adventure as a “living” character I decided he should revisit the original logo but with a little story leading up to the static image. First things first: let’s have him emerge from the water, Rambo style (but with a smile)!

That sequence presented a problem: he’s holding a glass of beer. How would that survive being submerged? Easy answer: it wasn’t! CGI and animation are magic already, so it was a no-brainer to have him work a little hocus pocus to fill that empty hand. The nail in his other hand made for a perfect magic wand; et voila:

Bonus content! Here’s a “Beer Cam” shot from when I was working a detail camera while tweaking the surfacing materials for the glass and the beer:

Beer Cam

Beer Cam

And this is the hot mess my computer screens look like when I’m hard at work:

What are all those squiggly lines for?

What are all those squiggly lines for?

The top left window is in “VPR” mode, which gives me a real-time always-refreshing render’s eye view of what the currently-active camera is seeing. Very useful to get real-time feedback when tweaking surface materials and lights. The other two are currently in perspective mode, which is the standard fly-around god’s-eye view. I use the lower left one mainly to zoom in for grabbing controllers and seeing stuff close in, while the larger window on the right gives me perspective for the whole scene. The inset window is actually from my second screen and is currently displaying the graph editor for the curves controlling the left wrist (of the hand holding the nail). Every object in motion has curves defining every translation, rotation and scaling change in three dimensions, and for those motions to occur as desired these curves often need lots of tweaking of the slopes as they enter and leave key frames. You still remember doing derivatives from school, right?

Today a friend remarked that the image looks just like a movie sound stage, to which I replied, “You bet!” This work requires set dressing, lighting and camera work comparable to what they do for live shoots; the main difference is my equipment is all virtual and I never have to deal with meat puppets going all diva on the director (me).

Spinland Studios, LLC is a high-tech branding and marketing studio in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York. We leverage the power and magic of 3D modeling and animation to take your company’s image places you can only imagine—for a lot less than you’d think. Defy conventional marketing and bring your brand to life! Visit for more information and examples—then hire us to boost your company’s marketing image into the 21st century!

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