Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Work for the Bristol Short Story Prize

The same day that we did a brief study of pixilation, we moved on to beginning our Bristol Short Story Prize  animations. We has a short discussion, then set about our roles. Jess and Ruby began work on the flashback stills, drawing them out on paper, and designing backgrounds, and I started the excruciating work of creating the run cycle (did I mention I am atrocious at these? I think I did.), which took me the best part of the rest of the day to take from initial sketch to almost final lineart. I am actually quite happy with the result (gif above), although it rendered a little odd and came out blue, that glitch will not apply in the animation, and if you ignore the slight jumpiness of the head, I am genuinely pleased with my end result here. Fixing of glitches, addition of facial features(?), colouring and background are additions to make next lesson.

Pixilation practice.

This lesson we had a brief lesson in pixilation. Pixilation is the technique of stop motion animation, in which the subject is live action people, moving very slowly, and being photographed in a frame-by-frame way, creating an abstract, eerie effect. We didn't have an awful lot of time to edit out imperfections or make a full length scrutinised video out of it, but this is a satisfactory test. I had issues climbing on to the wall for me and Ruby's wall-shot, but despite it's proof of my ridiculously poor upper body strength I liked that shot a lot, because the height difference and sudden switch of us creates an interesting effect.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


This lesson we had a brief presentation on how to use Stop Motion Pro V6.5, then were presented with plasticine and allowed to be 5 years old, creating our own strange plasticine creatures for our animations. We watched an episode of Trapdoor for inspiration, an old program that uses the media of claymation to make a series of shorts. I think their animation was done very well, and they used sound very much to their advantage. They did this by using voice acting and music / sfx to minimise the amount of movement necessary. Sadly we were just doing a brief skim-through of claymation, so I didn't have time to incorporate sound. Either way, we were working with our groups that we are in for the short story animation, so I was working with Ruby and Jess. Ruby made a little circular creature with long arms and a basketball hoop and ball, whereas Jess made a large blue monster with a wide body. I myself made a chihuahua-esque dog with a wire-jointed head and large eyes, along with a smaller blue counterpart dog that fits nicely on it's head. Making models without a clue how they are going to be used or how they will work together is always a risky move, but I find that in this nonsense type animation it was probably for the best, and it was in working out how they could work together that the plotline emerged. Perhaps being thrown in at the deep end of this type of thing is the best way to spark ideas and engage imagination. Ruby and Jess liked the idea of a ball game between their monsters, but I didn't think that this could incorporate my model very well, and I liked the idea of taking advantage of our workspace and using the computer (i've always been fond of the idea of the characters / monsters etc. coming out from the screen?), then I had the idea. I thought we could include both if it were to be the monsters playing the game, then a cut to the dog watching the screen, with the last frame of the ball-game animation full screen. (giving the effect that it is watching a tv show or film.) This is followed by the screen blacking out, sending the dog into a state of confusion, at which point the monsters appear from behind the computer ('coming out of the screen'), continuing their chase. At being left alone the dog's ears and tail droop (giving the sad effect with minimal movement), until baby-dog appears and climbs onto it's head, which makes the dog happy and it follows after the monsters. A simple idea, but an innovative insight into using claymation as a media for animation. I think we used it quite well, and if we weren't planning to do flash i'm sure we could have made a fun claymation. Sadly I think that, with the complex character design and vibrant colours / lines needed for our animation, flash is the only option. Despite this, this lesson was a valuable learning experience and I had fun.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Animation Topic Lesson 3

This lesson we were given our assignment brief, so we know what we are doing this term. We were told that we need to begin our short independent flash works, and were given a brainstorming sheet and some blank storyboards. Conflicted between a pop culture reference nobody would understand and a trippy, optical illusion incorporating short, I decided to save embarrassment and provide more of a challenging project by choosing the abstract option. I storyboarded it up roughly, to the degree I know exactly what i'm doing, researched some images I will use as backgrounds or incorporate otherwise into my short film, and then got to it. My flash skills are still a bit rusty but i'm definitely getting better. I started my animation with a look of some blinking eyes, and an expanding galaxy. The music I plan to use is either Garden (Hackman remix) or Rhinestone Eyes (Gorillaz). Either way I am looking forward to the end result.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Animation Review

This animation is really interestingly done, it differs from the usual pivot stick-figure animator type thing, and I loved the way that the people who were creating the animation were just there enough to appear as sort of ghosts, and to emphasise the point it was all hand-done, while still staying out of the way to allow for the animation to still take centre stage.
I think that generally the shot and angle changes, and use of music was very effective, but I get the feeling at times they used risky jumpy shots and just had a bit too much fun with the effects, slightly ruining the overall effect. I find that this is tolerable though, because this is an animation that plays to the strength of 'wow they actually did all that by hand, that is pretty darn impressive.'

Animation Topic - Session 2

Last lesson we began getting properly into the animation project, starting the day with some Flash work. I've used flash before, but i'd forgotten how to differentiate between when it is correct to use a shape tween and when I need a classic motion tween, etc. so this session was really useful catchup / memory jog, along with learning how to create a movie clip that works on it's own repetitive time-loop while still working on the main timescheme, pretty darned useful.
After we had concluded this, I got a chance to mess around with a Bamboo tablet before break, which turned out to be a disaster on my behalf. Apparently my tablet at home is far better calibrated and far less hyper-sensitive, meaning after god-knows how many years of me becoming accustomed to it's pen-to-paper-like attributes I am hilariously bad at using this one. I am considering finding the item number on my tablet, downloading the driver software to the school computer I use and bringing in my own tablet to work with, for fear I completely mess up the project with my un-calibrated mess of art I am capable of at best with those tablets.
Either way, after break we were introduced to the author of the story we are basing our animations on, Ian Burton. After some persistent questioning from Skye and some insightful responses, he moved on to discussing our ideas with us. I was a tad nervous about putting mine across, fearing perhaps that i'd interpreted it too far and taken away from the initial meaning of the short, but after a brief explanation of our idea and a whistle-stop tour of my character designs, he seemed to be pretty happy with the idea and took a shining to the Fangiyap design. I was actually really happy about this, possibly because i've worked with other people on my own ideas before in other contexts, and it's always a difficult and uncomfortable process, so I was proud to have done his story justice. (especially seeing as I enjoy the original story a lot myself.)
We managed to fit in some planning time, in which we decided upon our final section we are going to animate, the running scene. We also decided there would be a switch into hand-drawn pictures recorded shakily with a handheld camera and edited using Premiere Elements, to give the 'daydream' effect of Kow-one's fears chasing her as she flees the herd.

After lunch we had a professional animator, Sam Morrison, come in to talk to us. I was expecting tips on animation, some step-by-step walkthroughs or something of the like, but I was pleasantly surprised to find he actually had come to talk to us about different ways of angling things and using different cuts to create effect and set mood. It was a really useful talk, the movie clips were good and it helped me to think about something I had never really taken into consideration before. At the end we did a brief storyboarding task to end the day, using a specific genre and adapting a scene to fit it.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Run Cycles (Almost)

It has recently dawned on me that during this animation project, I am going to have to animate a run cycle. Given that fact that in my past endeavours into animation these were the one thing I could not do at all, and that in my recent artwork my anatomy has been pretty poor, I realised I should probably get some run-cycle practice done sometime. This is my practice run at doing a set of quick animated gifs of the cycle. The results were pretty shocking myself, but I practised making gifs out of a few frames, starting with a basic anatomical sketch (attemptedly):
Moving on to an improved sketch, with features roughly added in:
Which I drew a layer over each separate sketch layer to make a final lineart:
Which admittedly is pretty poor, so I thought, as the final product would have background and colour, perhaps fades to white or black could be used for dramatic / slowmotion effect, and if I were to use a backing track I could synchronise the music to the clip using these, so I tried making gifs with these transitions, being my final piece until I decide (if I ever want to return to these sketches) to add background and colour:
(Yes I really do need to work on this, i'm aware. Golly gee.)