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CGI Filmmaking

The making of Kaze, Ghost Warrior reviewed By Stephen Schleicher

For many aspiring animation filmmakers, there are hundreds of books on how to get the most out of your 3D application.  But not too many on creating a CGI film from start to finish, and even fewer that show you how to do it all by yourself, in the middle of no-where, with only the money you have saved.

Timothy Albee is a name most LightWave animators are familiar with.  He has worked in the industry as a writer, director, animator, concept artist, producer, and studio owner/executive. His credits include Walt Disney Feature Animation, Warner Brothers/Infogrammes, Babylon 5, and numerous commercials and video game titles.  He has authored animation books including ?LightWave 3D Character Animation, ?Fundamentals of Character Animation, and ?Essential LightWave 3D among others.  But it is in this book that Timothy sets aside the step by step of building and animating a 3D scene and gets to the nitty-gritty of how to make a CGI film.

In his latest work, ?CGI Filmmaking: The Creation of Ghost Warrior, Albee presents his account of the creation of his 22 minute independent all 3D film ?Kaze, Ghost Warrior.  Of course there are many other books out there that talk about how a film is made, but how many of the authors quit their job, take their savings, two computers, and moved to Alaska to do it with only a pack of dogs as companions?

And thats what makes this book shine above the others.  Part ?making-of, part ?art-of, and part ?how-to, ?CGI Filmmaking is a unique look at how one person can make an idea a reality.  Albee outlines everything required to make a film on your own.  From concept, storyboarding, defining style, scriptwriting, animating, editing, and finding distribution methods, it is all touched on here.  The book includes the complete script for the film, and then goes on to give scene breakdowns.  This is not only a great comparison for future script writers; it also demonstrates the importance of doing these steps to really understand what kind of animation will be required.

Not only does Albee go into detail about how to build a computer system to meet your exact needs, and what tools he recommends for aspiring filmmakers, he also goes in-depth on tips and tricks for recording your own soundtrack.  Being in Alaska, and on a limited budget, Albee finds creative solutions like turning your car/truck into a sound booth to record dialogue.  It is this kind of spirit that will really encourage those with the goal of creating their own indie animated feature.

While, the ?making-of portion of the book is very in-depth for a 300 page tome, even more fascinating are the small sides where the author talks about life in the wilds of Alaska.  One frightening story detailed an ice storm in the area that caused the river near by to flood its banks.  Albee describes how he had to wrap his computers in garbage bags, pack his dogs, and other gear in a truck to narrowly make it across the flooded road.  While the sides are revealing, they also provide valuable moral lessons.  In this case always keep backups of your work.

 My biggest complaint about this book is it is in black and white.  I guess in the last couple of years I have become spoiled on those publishers that release their works in glorious color.  I previously mentioned this is part ?art-of, and ?CGI Filmmaking is a book that screams for full color images.  The other unfortunate aspect of this book is it does not come with a CD to back up the images, nor does it come with a DVD of the complete 22 minute film.  For the cover price of $49.95, I would have thought it would have included one of these as a bonus.  However, on a positive note, you can purchase ?Kaze, Ghost Warrior on DVD (complete with a lot of extras including 3D scenes).  It will be shipping toward the end of June.

If you want to discover what kind of determination is needed to realize your dream, find out what kind of tools and skills you will need, and want to learn about the process of CGI filmmaking, then this is a must read book.

You can find out more about Kaze, Ghost Warrior and Timothy Albee at his site (


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (, where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at [email protected]

Related Keywords:Timothy Albee, Kaze, Ghost Warrior, filmmaking, lightwave, animation, 3d, cgi, independent, schleicher, alaska, book, review


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