By doubling the bazillions of peanut butter sandwiches that we eat we managed to pull of the production of Mac ‘n’ Cheese sequel.

If you’re a fan and just want to start watching it, here you go:

Check out the project: Mac ‘n’ Cheese Supermarket

To find out more about the production make sure to click on read more.

What’s new?

So basically Mac ‘n’ Cheese finished their game of the first film. We find them sitting at home, being friends and are trying to get their hands on some extra cash. The best thing you can do then is get a job at the supermarket.

In this film you’ll find a new character: The manager of the supermarket. Also tons of hidden jokes are to be found on the products in the store. Again the main focus was to get an intensive chase/trip going on and watch the film to find out how their pursuit will end this time.

The team

Instead of just being students we actually had a small sized company to pull this off. That meant we were forced to step up team-wise as well as technology-wise. So the main motto for the film became: Bigger. We got the full team of the first Mac ‘n’ Cheese back together (saying hey to Guido!) and we mixed in the interns at the time. As opposed to the student film we actually divided the labor more into tasks so we could actually assign them to a single person.

Here’s the full animation team (directors in bold):

Tom Hankins, Gijs van Kooten, Roy Nieterau
Sander Bultman, Anna Kriegl, Guido Puijk, Rutgher Jousma.

Of course we should also give a big shout-out to the production team and sound guys. Check out the full credits list on the project page!

Making a sequel on a student film

Everyone kept saying: Make a new one. Re-use the assets! Though it wasn’t as simple as just taking the characters as they were, we wanted to step up the quality of the rigs. We managed to pull off the first film just fine, yet over time the project folder structure became only managable by those that created it. This time we wanted something that was rock solid throughout.

Redesigning our workflow

New rigs

Basically we refurbished the rigs. The facial rig was the one that got the most polishing, actually a total redesign. We required a lot more control about the actual poses instead of building in a couple of main facial poses and hoping that would get us through the whole film.

Folder structure

There has been a lot of chatting in the industry about workflow and pipeline the last couple of years. We took that discussion as well and figured out what we would like most. On that we built or own pipeline and workflow that could stay as consistent as possible throughout this project (and future projects!)

For more information on the design I wrote out a brief explanation on the tech-art forum, check it out here: Colorbleed: Mac ‘n’ Cheese Supermarket & Mr Probz – I’m right here.

Automatisation (scripting!)

And of course there’s been the necessary demand for some automatisation along the way. During the student film most of the tools were written in MEL. As I got more familiar with Python along the way I actually threw out that library of tools and rewrote it from scratch. Initially it was a bit scary, but later on I realised I learnt so much in the meantime that a rewrite was well worth it. To keep it short I’m just naming some of the tools that I created for this project and the new workflow:

  • Publishing system:
    Easily saying “Hey, I finished this. You can use this latest version and it will always be in the correct spot!”
  • Display/Product filling scripts:
    Some utility tools to help filling the supermarket displays.
  • Particle Tangent Space Mesh:
    To convert the particles into a deformable surface and back into particle points.
  • Colorbleed Python Code library:
    Instead of having small scripts floating around everywhere I built a framework (first focused on Maya and Python that can keep expanding.
  • Colorbleed scripts menu:
    A menu framework allowing to easily add/update scripts so everyone has access to the latest tools. Contains a managable hierarchy in the scripts menu, so I could category short scripts/tools into scripts>modeling>simpleTool without any hassle.