Monday, April 22nd, 2024 Posted by Jim Thacker

The making-of for Watermelon Girl charts a five-year labor of love

Animator and motion designer Remington Markham – aka SouthernShotty – has released a great making-of video for Watermelon Girl, his labor-of-love one-person animated short.

It explores how Markham created the 13-minute stop-motion-style short over five years, teaching himself to use Blender along the way, and charting his progress on YouTube.

As well as providing a glimpse at his production design, asset development and animation process, the video provides valuable insights into the realities of making an indie short.

An animated short five years in the making
Markham created the original character sketch for Watermelon Girl nearly 20 years ago, although he didn’t start working on the project seriously until 2019, following several false starts.

The short was created primarily in open-source 3D application Blender, which Markham – who had limited previous experience with the software – taught himself to use along the way, showing the results in video tutorials posted on his YouTube channel.

The assets developed for the short were released via Markham’s Patreon account, partly as a way of funding production, and partly as a way of keeping motivated.

Some are also now available free on Blender Market, including Stop-Mo, the Blender stop-motion animation plugin that Markham developed for the project.

Practical insights into production workflows in Blendern
In the making-of video, Markham charts his – initially haphazard – production design and script development process, talking candidly about the time he wasted early in production.

As the story came together, his workflow became more focused, and the second half of the video covers the choices he made about character design and rigging to reduce workload.

There are also useful practical details of the Blender training he found helpful, and the add-ons he found most time-saving, including rigging tool BoneDynamics Pro.

A glimpse into realities of indie animation
As well as Blender, Watermelon Girl was created using Substance 3D Designer and After Effects, and rendered on a single machine – albeit one with a high-end NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.

In total, Markham estimates that he spent over 10,000 hours on the project, including a two-year period with 19-hour days to fit the work in around his other responsibilities – as well as his commercial projects, his first child was born during the middle of production.

As a result, as well as being a glimpse behind the scenes of Watermelon Girl itself, the video is a fascinating insight into the realities of indie animation, and a practical guide to staying motivated when working on long personal projects like this one.

Follow SouthernShotty on YouTube or social media via his profile

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