3DTotal : Looking at your site www.monkeehub.com we can see a new project ‘Everloving’, Can you tell us some more about this? How did this one start? Plans for this etc. Laith :Everloving (www.everloving.co.uk) is a new personal project I started in January 2007. It’s a dark love story about a firefly and a prisoner who share some time together then separate. Like ‘Creep’ the piece is borne directly from and fuelled by personal experience and emotions. With ‘Creep’ I explored the depression and isolation of work and with this piece I want to explore similar areas of love. The version currently online is a preview/opener and the story will eventually unfold to be about 5 minutes in length.
The music is a Moby track I’ve always liked called ‘Everloving’ from his ‘Play’ album. When I got the idea for the short story I went through a lot of tracks before I settled on that one, but as soon as I heard it again I could see the story lining up almost perfectly beat for beat with the music. The name of the track also fit perfectly with my story so I adopted it for the piece. Because Everloving is a personal project it will have to be developed alongside other work so a completion date is fairly ambiguous at the moment. It is something I am very passionate about
finishing but it is the most ambitious
animation I’ve conceived to date and will take a lot of time, not to mention proper funding and support, to fully realise the story. Therein lies a fundamental conundrum of the direction I’ve found myself drifting towards
over 2006; wanting to create my own projects that invariably stem from purely creative and artistic motives but needing the time and money to achieve them. Working as a “commercial” freelancer is very fulfilling and creatively rewarding but ultimately it asks me to promote and design other people’s brands and work towards other people’s motives. My true desire (I appreciate how self indulgent this may sound) is to create projects that reflect my own perspective and feelings about life. So the hope is that one day I’ll be rich enough to work exclusively on my own self-indulgent narcissistic projects, before tail-spinning into a binge of drink and drugs that leaves me blind, bankrupt and on bail.
3DTotal : Can you tell us a bit about the process in creating the Everloving animation, software, techniques etc?
Laith : The style for Everloving was forged from literally hundreds of hours of experimenting. Despite the fact it’s been on my list of things to do for 400 years I’ve still not found time to properly learn any 3D software, so I had to find a way of creating a new, more solid and textured style for the piece. The basic process is as follows:
- The characters are built and animated in Flash, with solid flat colours for each body part.
- Each body part (head/body/legs/left arm/right arm etc...) is then exported as PNG sequences.
- The Sequences are then imported into After effects, put back together, and then a whole load of layering and effects applied to achieve a psuedo-solid look.
The characters are then compositioned into the prison room scenery, and the prison room is actually the only 3D element – static backdrops rendered from Max, and touched up in Photoshop. Finally, an amazing program called ‘Particle Illusion’ provides the sparkly jizz stuff. I want to marry Particle Illusion in a civil union. I call the whole process 23-D (twenty three dimensional). It’s not quite 2D and it’s not quite 3D and takes 23 days longer to do then either.
3DTotal : Do you have a dream project that you would like to work on? How about some
more music videos? Laith : There are so many dream projects for me that I’d need a coma to do them all. At the rate I’m going a coma is a distinct possibility. Music videos are definitely an area I want to work more in. For many years I’ve had the ambition to do an official Radiohead music video and they are still probably top of my list. Elliot Smith is an American artist I discovered in 2006 and I would love to create a video to one of his tracks. His music is very raw, very acoustic, very emotional and having commited suicide in 2003 he is now very dead – could make things a little tricky. The Strokes, Moby and Aphex Twin are also high on the list. I think I’d also really enjoy illustrating a children’s book and conveniently for this question that’s actually my current project. I’m just about to start work on a kids picture book called ‘If
Ihad a Ray-Gun’ for an American company. They will publish and market the book themselves and it should be out sometime this year. Go buy lots, yes.
3DTotal : Do you have piece of advice for our keen student readers?
Laith : If you want to succeed/get a good job it’s easy. All you have to do is work harder and longer than you ever thought possible. Until you cry in fact. Then some more. This is basically the only route to improving you skills and nurturing a talent. Then as your skill starts to grow so will your work and if you’re passionate about what you’re doing it will show and people will notice you. Design/animation/multimedia is a visual industry…so show people what you can do. Begin a portfolio/website as early as you can, and update it and work on personal projects to increase it. Even if you don’t think your work is at the level you desire if you’ve put in effort and are passionate about improving this will show. Finally…for the love of pearl stop sending me emails asking if I can send you the flash file for Creep or JCB. Forgive my lack of philanthropy but IM NOT JUST GONNA SEND YOU A 500 MB FLASH FILE I SPENT 30000 HOURS ON!!?!?