Thursday, 6 September 2012

Final focused workshop

This lesson I finished editing the files into the correct order and length, and with that concluded the editing process. Here is the final product.

Animation focused workshop 3

Today we went straight to the art room, where we began our final day of animation. Ruby and Jess decided they had finished their frames, so they began scripting and recording the voice-over, while I made the final three scenes of the animation. While I exported the scenes as .swf files and gifs, they edited the soundscape together on audacity.

Once we had finished, we returned to our regular room and we began to transfer files between our computers, so that we all had copies of the vital files. When I had the soundscape and their drawings saved I opened adobe premiere elements and started editing them together, with sountrack and voiceover, into the final product.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Animation focused workshop 2

Today for the first few lessons Ruby was at an exam, and Jess was absent, so I got along with my animating jobs. I finished a piece in which the protagonist of the sequence's iris/pupil expands in shock, and the word 'JUMP' flashes across her eyes, as this is a vital portrayal of the panic Kow-one experiences at the thought of jump, a thing she has never learned before, flashing across her mind.
I am very pleased with the way that it turned out, actually, as eyes are not a strong point of drawing for me, and animating the inner iris was a challenge for sure.

After this I looked back on my plans for the sequence, and decided that either I would not include or I would do next week the close-up run-cycle I have planned, and so I began work on a cycle of Kow-one breathing deeply after stopping running (this will come after she reaches the wall, and just before the 'jump' eye scene.). This provided to be more difficult than expected, and I redid the colouring several times due to me not favoring the colour scheme, and had difficulty with the jaw line (I ended up looking up female jawlines for guidance), but the final scene which will only last a little while is satisfactory I suppose.

Finally, I decided on a way of putting all the aspects of our film together. Ruby and Jess have finished their scenes and Ruby photographed them, so I am exporting my flash work scenes as .swf files and importing them to Adobe Premiere Elements, so that I can loop / add effects with more ease and availability, plus it means I can add the music (I decided on the track today, one of my favorite songs from an album inspired by a webcomic, a haunting refrain that has the melancholy / dramatic effect I want to portray through the video, the part of the track I am going to use is from 00:47 onwards) and the voiceover (Ruby and Jess will record next week, the lines are almost directly from the story itsself.)
The weaknesses in the animation currently mainly lie in some minor glitches in the sequences (e.g the neck blotch seen on one frame in the gif above), and in the large gaps in the film left by the missing scenes I am yet to create, plus I need to work on the music syncing.

Music (it's pretty rad you should listen to it):

My plan for next week is to finish the last three or four scenes that I need to complete, and edit the voiceover, animation, hand-drawn pictures and music together into a final piece of work. It will be a challenge and it will be a lot of work, but I think we as a group can handle it.

Overall I am happy with how this project is progressing, as me and my group have taken something from a good piece of short literature and shaped it into something that is somewhat our own, and throughout the character designing, animating and editing, I have found that my ideas have been becoming more vivid in my mind, and I can see this becoming a decent piece of work. I am also pretty excited to have our work displayed in the Arnolfini, as it is a place I go to quite frequently and to have our work shown is an honour. As well as having my ideas become more prominent, I think that I have improved my flash skills greatly, as at the beginning of this project they were rusty as old heck and I was struggling with things as trivial as motion tweens, whereas now I feel a lot more confident with the software and am considering investing in saving up to buy it myself.

Animating focused workshop 1

This lesson after some brief brainstorming we were taken to the art room, where we were given everything on our animation tools shopping-list, and given independence to get on with our projects. Ruby and Jess set about sketching their hand-drawn flashback scenes, using a lightbox to trace over their last picture, then began to photograph them and put them into loops on flash (making a jittery, dreamlike / movement effect)
In the meantime I took my lineart through to a final coloured, shaded and fixed-up cycle, then started work on the background. I created a layer just below that of the colouring on the lines, and named it 'floor', this remains constant through the cycle and is plain grey to make things simpler. I then added, below 'floor' and another blank layer, a plain lighter grey for 'background'. After this I created a movie clip, in which there are several buildings, and added frames for smoke to rise and fall, and flames to flicker. I added this into the middle blank layer, named it 'buildings', and created a duplicate of the movie clip so that I could make a motion tween between the two, meaning it gives the appearance of them moving backwards (as Kow one runs). After finishing this I began some brief sketches for further frames, but as of yet have nothing to show for that.
Here is the final cycle:
((excuse the large size and poorly formatted gif, it's the best flash could do))

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.)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Animation review

As mentioned previously, in this post I am going to be reviewing an animation. Cyriak created his video, Cycles, using after effects. It uses continuous looping mixed with other animation clips to make an unsettling yet intriguing appeal. (as do all of his other pieces.) I think it is brilliant, the surrealism that messes with your mind while watching is great. It must take a heck of a lot of intelligence and talent to be able to manipulate a simple clip to make three minutes of seamless chaos. Making all the different parts work together in the loop must have taken many months, perhaps even a year.
I would assume the target audience for this and most of his other work, would be older teens upwards, especially those with darker minds or interest in technology/abstract work.

Animation topic 1

Today we began our new topic, animation. We were welcomed back to school by a brief discussion about the different types of animation (stop motion, CGI, flick-book, etc.) and how to define it. The definition we eventually settled on was ‘playing still images at a high speed to create the illusion of movement.’ – Which is a pretty accurate definition if you think about it.
After setting out the different types of animation, the obvious next step was to watch some for ourselves. We looked at a clip from a surrealist film in stop motion/clay animation, which was an interesting combination of live action frames crossing over with clay versions of the scene. I found it quite terrifying, actually, but it was useful and perhaps inspiring to see. Secondly we watched some stop-motion pez work to contrast. I’m a fan of their work, and find the quirky retro feel adds to the amazing talent that the animation clearly portrays. After that we watched some of Cyriak’s work, which I enjoyed, me being a fan of his dark-humoured, disturbing brilliance. I will elaborate on my opinions on it in my next post, but to say the least he has huge amounts of technological intelligence and talent in what he does. Finally we watched a clip of drawn-frame animation, an old quirky children’s show involving a cat. I found the way they managed to get the story across without huge amounts of movement and quite a few loops / stills was very impressive.
After this we were finally introduced to our project brief. This term we are going to be animating a piece inspired/based on a story from the anthology ‘Bristol short story prize’: The Bovine Histories.
I was at first sceptic of the story, as if the initial impression of the plotline is misspelt bovine creatures who talk and sing did not appeal to me in the slightest, but as the story progresses I find it is actually rather well written and the thoughts behind it show to be good, and it provoked an idea for the animation that I deemed to be suitable for bringing forward.
The story follows a day of Kow-one, a cow who remembers. It portrays the building of the friendship between her and the leader of the herd, the oldest, wisest, and keeper of the Kow Histories. It plays with the idea of ignorant bliss and hidden darkness. I found it to be very well done.
My idea for an animated interpretation of this story is what first came to mind after reading it.
I thought that animating singing, talking cows would be a little too Disney, cliché, ridiculous. It works as literature but as genuine imagery I don’t think I could do it justice without looking ridiculous. So, as a resolve, I decided to personify the characters.
My vision of this is that it is set in a post-apocalyptic-esque world, in which resources are scarce and humans are few. The cows are in captivation ruled by the stickman, but are not aware of their fate thanks to the fact that they were born after they could have possibly been told that their way life could be different, they live in blissful ignorance with hints of Stockholm syndrome. This is background information that will be subtly portrayed by the derelict scenes, the barbed wire fences, the bare brick walls, the grey skies for pathetic fallacy. The cows are a group of females, all wearing the same outfit of black trousers and a shirt with their number on. All of them have a number except Hathor. (she will either have a question mark or simply no design.) The stickman is an anonymous figure, wearing a trench-coat and holding a whip/cane type thing, his ‘stick’. The Fangiyap was never said to be a dog, so I re-designed it to be a fanged hybrid creature, with tiny pupils in small sunken eyes, and row after row of razor sharp teeth. It looks like a sort of hybrid between a dog, a cat and a hyena. Kow-one will have short hair and a young face, whereas Hathor will have long hair and a calm, wise, mysterious appeal. We are yet to decide on the section of the story we want to animate, but I think the best ideas yet are either the scene in which Kow-one runs away, and the scene where Hathor explains how the stickman kills and eats their kind.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Editing session 2

(Technically this is editing session 3, but last lesson I had no new footage to work with, so I spent it refining clips and finishing documents, so I didn't feel the need for a new blog post.)

This lesson we began with a group discussion, in which Sir claimed that some nostalgic pieces of media are the best in their field, and I suppose the point was that despite him thinking, in his words, the film is 'nostalgic but clearly shit', he managed to put across his point using persuasive language. It was pretty entertaining to hear my peer's responses to this, but the point still got through, and that led us into creating the press pack.

After writing a good 200 or so words on Censored, we moved on to analysing a movie poster, then (you guessed it) we created / completed our own. I have made two posters, one using my graphic art piece, the other using images from the film. This is the latter:

I was quite pleased with this, as it incorporated screen-shots in a very stylised and edited way, rather than simply screenshotting, captioning and then being finished.

After break, we got stuck in to finishing our films. I had recorded the rest of the clips I needed, along-side some new ideas I could include in the film. We were using a new technique of work management, in which we  are set targets, either by ourselves, our peers or Mr Gove. My targets over the lesson were as follows:

Target for rest of lesson:
-          Finish difficult editing piece.
Mr Gove’s Target:
-          Adjust volume levels – focus on voiceover
Target until end of day:
-          Complete ending for film
-          Finish posters 

So following these I completed my film. We all exported our films, and after lunch we had a screening / feedback session. The general opinion was that my film is good, but that the ending needed work. I took on board the constructive criticism, and edited the end. This is my final version, posted as unlisted for the moment:

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Editing session 1

Today we began editing our films. This was my first time using Adobe Premiere Elements, so for the first half hour or so it was merely me playing around and getting to grips with the software, but once I had worked it out I  found it to be really useful software. I managed to edit the opening sequence perfectly in sync with what I had pictured in my mind on the first conception of the idea for my film, which I was very happy with, and following this I managed to edit 34 seconds of complete film, the only thing I need to add in to that 34s is the voiceover, which I can record at home then edit into my film later. Once I have made this and filmed two / three more scenes, I will have everything I need to finish my film.

I will be booking a camera tonight, so I can finally complete my footage, log my clips and finish the film.

I exported my film to an avi file, so I could share it on the school network to show the class, and to upload my draft to youtube. I added annotations on the video to give an idea of when the voiceover lines will be, and what they will say.

Today, I also learned that using the original HD camera files does not work with these computers, due to file encoding issues and problems with the school network, so before I could edit I had to change the video format to avi.

This is my film as of yet, with some things that need modification, no voiceover and a general (justified) sense that it is incomplete, but despite this, here it is:

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Presenting ideas to class

Last lesson we spent most of our time creating our presentations, and then in the last two lessons we presented them to the class. I wrote a script and created a powerpoint presentation, putting more emphasis on the oral side and keeping the powerpoint as support and background for my speech. I did not put any text on the powerpoint, as I find it rather tedious to read straight from it, when those watching could just as easily read it themselves.

My powerpoint was this:

View more PowerPoint from marlandk

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Pre-Production 3

This lesson we began by creating a detailed storyboard, using correct terminology for shot-types and transitions, of every shot we will use in our film, drawing accurate pictures to illustrate the placements in the scenes. After this, to conclude the pre-production section of our module, we filled out a form of the locations, actors, and filming schedule we will use for our film.

Now we have finished pre-production, we have to make a powerpoint and script to present to the class about our film and what it is about. I am also going to create a comic as a handout, as I am trying to get the higher grades in this assignment.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Pre-Production 2

This week we finally finished writing up our three different film ideas, then, deciding upon a sheer favourite, the one that creates the most clear imagery and that we can see scenes unfolding in our heads, and made a picture collage on photoshop, exploring imagery, fonts, locations and colours that we might incorporate into our film. Mine looked like this:

My film is, as you may be able to deduce from the picture, titled 'Censored', and follows a futuristic narrative in a creepy, slightly science fiction style.
Once we completed our pictures, we did our final write-ups of our films. This took a while, but was quite a satisfying literary vent of creativity.

Due to not having internet, and having little inspiration other than my film ideas, I drew a poster / promo-image style picture related to my film on Paint Shop Pro. Not sure if I like the outcome or not, but either way it is an outcome:


Pre-Production 1

Today we began our new assignment, looking through all of the tasks and coursework we are going to complete by the end of it, and writing our own brief summaries of this so we can get a basic idea of what we are doing.
After this we were given a worksheet with a list of shot types, e.g long shot, extreme long shot, closeup, extreme close up. We were issued cameras, and went outside to capture an example shot of each.
Once we'd finished our shot types, we made a brainstorm / ideas sheet for our Electric December films, and did a simple writeup / rough plan for each developed idea we had.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

My targets

This term my self-set  targets are firstly to attempt to extend my work, go that extra bit further in hopes of achieving my target grade of a distinction. I can do this by checking the assignment briefs (the section where it tells you what is needed to be done to achieve each level.) I will be able to review this target continuously, checking my work is meeting the standards, and the proof will be what ending grade I receive. My other target is to try to participate more in class discussions, being somewhat of an introvert and a socially inept, I could do with the boost to both my level and my social skills.

New progect

This term, as a part of the creative media BTEC, I will be creating a film for entry to the Electric December film competition. Over the time spent on creating a film, we will be documenting and creating many side projects, such as; pre-production, (individual work, in which we create our initial mind maps, plans and ideas as to what will happen in our films. Making many documents and other forms of documenting ideas.)  production, (In which we divide the roles in the creation of the film, create a log of what we are doing, a shooting schedule and transferring all of the footage we have filmed into one DVD to be handed in.) post production, (where we individually edit our films and document what we did as we do so, then finally create our final sequence DVD and upload our film to YouTube.) press pack, (where we create advertisement material for our films.) and finally evaluation (in which we collect feedback and evaluate and reflect upon the entire assignment.)
Although it sounds challenging, and the amount of work appears daunting, I am looking forward to this assignment, as it sounds like it will be an interesting yet challenging experience.