Tools of the Trade: How Jamil Raham used the VR software Quill to pay tribute to the classic Syrian series.

In our "Tools Of The Trade" series, artists and filmmakers in the industry talk about the tools they have used on recent projects. [This time, Jamil Lahham, animation supervisor at Reelfx Montreal ("Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "Scoob."

Hardware owners can access an immersive "Rise and Shine When "Sah Al-Noom" was on the air, there were not many options for watching television in Syria: there were two channels that aired for 10 hours a day, and that was it. So we watched and rewatched "Sah Al-Noom" over and over again for years, and as children we sometimes preferred "Sah Al-Noom" to cartoons. But not only because we had few options, but because the show was funny and was a success for generations in the region. There were even sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. All of the show's characters were iconic and stood out for their looks, features, and speech. But unlike Laurel & Hardy and Mr. Bean, they were never animated. So revisiting Saha al-Noum was a natural and nostalgic choice for me. The final look of this project is the result of my heartfelt admiration for works like Alberto Mielgo's "Witness" and Bozo Barov's "Locals" and all the animated films of my childhood. Nevertheless, I deliberately avoided studying these influences in depth, and instead let them seep into my mind as I made the short films. I wanted the audience to feel my influences.

For a long time, my brother encouraged me to try this headset for exercise. According to him, it was a great tool for working out, but when I finally bought it, having heard of it years earlier through artists like Nick Ladd, Federico Brazier, and Goro Fujita, the first thing I did was install Quill.

The first application was very simple and confusing, especially for a heavy Maya user like myself. No viewport, no numerical parameters or predefined geometries, no keyboard ...... I kept asking myself, "What on earth am I doing here?" but the moment I drew my first squiggly stroke in 3D space, I knew this was going to be addictive.

You've heard the saying, "If you can draw it, you can animate it," and with Quill, you can animate it if you can draw it, in 3D, on camera, with the ability to draw light, while avoiding all the traditional pipeline principles required for a production of any size. can be done.

In other words, animators who draw/paint can now go from concept to animation in no time. Simply put, Quill has allowed me to become the one-man band I needed for this project and all future projects.

Generally speaking, I think Quill's steepest learning curve is getting past the simplified interface and controls, especially for artists coming from a PC programming environment. Nevertheless, with the right mindset and enthusiasm, the learning curve quickly flattens out. I remember in my early days, I spent hours mindlessly making random marks on my headset in order to learn shortcuts. It's an absolute thrill to see your drawing turn into 3D right before your eyes.

I would say that having a solid background in drawing is a must. another skill set that comes in handy in Quill is creative thinking/problem solving. quill is limited by design. it's not a matter of being able to draw in 3D, it's a matter of being able to draw in 3D. Quill is designed to merge traditional and CG animation in one virtual space, and while it offers many features, it lacks features that only fully traditional 3D software has. about how "terrible" and "limiting" Quill is to some people, I have read various negative reviews and opinions online, and my take is that "the tool is as limited as your imagination."

Like any sculpting program, Quill allows you to draw geometry with strokes of various profiles. I like to think of this as "digital clay," as there are no bones or traditional rigging systems in Quill, so every frame you see becomes its own sculpted/blended shape. This is something that all creators would covet.

On the technical side, Quill offers two ways to output a film:

Personally, I wanted to try to create both versions as an exercise for future projects, so I wanted to create a special I needed to come up with a setup.

I worked on this project for about six months, during which time the story changed three times. However, "Saha al-Noum" is a very personal work for me, and since I worked on it alone, my judgment on the state of the project was a bit harsh. It became, in some ways, the most difficult challenge. I had no partner artist who fully understood the original material and could give me valid feedback. The most satisfying moments were those when I had something worth sharing with my colleagues, and their reactions were truly pleasant. It feels good when a piece lands well.

I had two main goals in mind when working on this project:

After the story changed, I became very insecure and unsure about my work. I was looking for excuses to quit. Then every other week a small victory gave me hope and pushed me to finish the project. Now, with the finished short film, I am very happy and content. Looking back to when I started, I would never have thought I would be typing these sentences about the finished film and Quill. This has been a humbling and gratifying experience that I do not take for granted, and I can't wait to get started on my next project.