Thursday, 3 December 2009

Final version of my experimental piece...


Production Report – ‘Experimental Animation’

After weeks of looking at all sorts of different, very unique, animation styles and techniques, I’ve finally got my experimental piece finished and am quite pleased with the results.
When starting this project, there were so many different techniques I wanted to try, and having a lot more time I probably would have given them all a go to see what I was most successful at and what turned out in the most interesting way.
I found it quite easy to choose the piece of music I wanted to use. After playing them all through a few times, I found ‘Ruta Diata’ to be the one I favoured and had the most ideas for. To me, this piece of music has quite an African, jungle-type sound and from it I immediately pictured dancing, figures, animals and different patterns and instantly the work of Erica Russell and the colours, style she uses came to mind.
To begin with however, I was determined that I wanted to use sand for my animation. This is quite an unusual technique that is being used more and more at the moment. I had seen quite a lot of this in the past including some live shows with people creating amazing images in sand, and this would have been something I’d love to create myself. I have also seen work made by Caroline Leaf which I found stunning and couldn’t believe it had been created using this technique.
However, after doing a few short test experiments with sand I found it really hard to create the right feel and speed for the piece of music I had chosen with the images being clear enough for an audience to understand. I wanted to keep my chosen piece of music and having created a dope sheet for it, thought I would try out a different technique where I could use different mediums and really focus on the accents in the music, fusing the movement and sound together.

So trusting my first instincts with the music, I looked further at work by Erica Russell and the way she creates figures, shapes, colours that move together and merge beautifully in perfect keep with the music. I decided this would be a good starting point and something to aim for as it would enable me to really focus on the sound and creating movement to it.
When talking through this idea, I was soon introduced to the work of Robert Breer and his quick, loose drawings animated to music, which are very experimental and appear almost as if he is letting his thoughts out onto the paper unplanned and completely free. I was also told of how Breer helped to inspire and loosen up the work of Joanna Quinn, an animator I admire greatly, which started me thinking how this project and experiment could really help my drawing skills and allow me to be really free and expressive with what I put down on the paper.
So after studying many short films by Robert Breer and being inspired by the work of Erica Russell I had finally found my method and the style I wanted to achieve.
My main aim for this project was, therefore, to create a really experimental and interesting piece that was extremely free, loose in the drawing, with no particular sequencing or composition. I was hoping that I could get it to work closely with the music, and include some of the techniques that Breer used to captivate his audience, which would also help me greatly to improve and loosen my drawing skills, in turn improving my 2D animation and design work.
Therefore, I surrounded myself with many different drawing materials and mediums and a massive pile of postcards as I listened to the piece of music over and over to get the feel of the sounds and images as I went. I found it really interesting working on a much smaller scale then I am used to, and without being able to see how your drawing is changing from one frame to the next as you can with animation paper, I found it very difficult to gauge any idea of how the movement was panning out and how each line was developing.
For much of the animation I kept the drawings to very basic lines, shapes, colours, just moving across the cards or transforming into whatever pictures popped into my head. Certain images I wanted to repeat and have as re-occurring images, or patterns throughout the piece, much like in Breer’s work, and I therefore took more time thinking about these particular images. I also kept a close eye on my dope sheet as I went, making sure I was aware of whereabouts the accents were in relation to what I was drawing.

After working my way through my postcard collection, making sure I had more than enough frames for editing, I filmed each frame in the rough sequence I drew them, output the movie and put it into Premier for editing and post-production. I was quite surprised at how well the initial drawings worked with the music and the timing of them. I re-arranged some of the images to repeat and show up over and over, and sometimes overlap. The idea of this was to create the captivating, flashing effect that Breer achieves so well in his work which really absorbs you into the movement and images.

Overall, I think the main strength of this project was the freeness and looseness I achieved in the drawings. I am usually very neat and rigid with my animation, and I think I really managed to loosen up what I was doing, particularly as I couldn’t really see frame to frame where I was moving objects to, and also because I wasn’t focusing on drawing anything in particular for the majority of the time. I also think that the timing of the animation works well with the music and generally the two go together and complement each other. Clearly, this isn’t my best drawing work and I can honestly say I spent very little time on each drawing and getting them to look good and right. However, I think this adds to the experimentation and helping to see for the future and in my design and 2D work how much looser and freer I can be and still achieve movement and a nice flow of the line.

I think one of the weaknesses of the project was perhaps the limited materials I used. I could have experimented even more, using paints, other utensils, mediums not related to usual artwork, really got my hands dirty and created marks and lines and animated them. Even though I wasn’t really thinking or planning a story or what I was doing with the lines, I still stuck to drawing shapes or blocks or lines with a pencil, when I could really have done something completely unusual. I could have even built up the materials, added layers to the cards, worked over tape, made it into a transforming collage with marks and lines, rather than keeping to the basics.

I do think I developed skills through completing this project. I was able to really experiment and do something with animation I’ve never tried before, which I think I did to a certain extent. The fact that it really did influence and help to loosen my drawings, which in turn helped towards my other projects also shows development. I found this method of working tricky, not being able to see clearly what I was doing, how it was going or how the movement was working, and not really planning the sequences, but just going for it, really made me loosen up and flow more with the lines.

However, I do feel now that I really could have pushed this project further. I should have used a much wider and more unusual range of mediums, and focused on planning all the different things I could use and work with, in place of the sequence that I would normally have planned out. I like the randomness of the images and roughness, but I can see they would have been instantly more captivating and interesting if I had really pushed the experimental side of the project. I think I should have focused on developing this more, rather then prioritising some other aspects of my work and getting them done. I also may have been able to develop the idea further if I had decided on my method right at the beginning of the project, rather than switch between ideas.

If I were to continue the project now, I think I would really work on developing the idea more before carrying out the experimental work. I saw the idea as a very free one, and I didn’t want to plan too much of what I was going to draw and animate, worried that I would lose some of the freedom of line and image that I was aiming to capture. However I can now see that instead of worrying about over planning the images and sequencing, I should have planned the materials and the way I would create the images. I would do the same experiment again, as I feel it really did help me improve my drawing skills, and loosen up my concepts of design and movement, however I would definitely use a much more varied approach and really push it to the experimental limits.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Nearly there with the experimental?...

Having drawn out alot of different sequeneces, movements, ideas and general lines and patterns moving around postcards, today I managed to finish the filming of them and put them together. I made the first two videos simply of all the different sequences that I drew out. Some were in a rough order, others just followed my train of thought and others were the main images that I knew where I wanted, either to start the animation such as the elephant, end it, or have as re-occouring images all through it.

Having made these two straight-through bits of film, I wasn't convinced how well my drawings would fit to the piece of music. I had a pretty good idea of how fast the music is and the beats of the music from the dope sheet I made a lot earlier and ideas of how I wanted the finished design to look. I also made sure that I drew out and filmed many more ideas then I needed, just because I knew I would end up taking some out, moving them around, repeating quite a few in different places,and also because I wasn't sure how well some of them would work as it was quite a fast, experimental way of working, I couldn't see clearly how the images would move around, how smooth it would be or if they would just look awful!

I therefore wanted lots as back up. Having put it on the computer and into Premier I then put the images with the music and started editing out the parts I didn't want or didn't look as effective as I thought, and repeating the main images I wanted to really show up. This is what I've got so far...


I'm actually quite pleased with it. I think the timing works quite well, a lot better then I was anticipanting when I was filming it, and the repeptitions I think work quite well. I think there are a few areas I would change and maybe a few of the images are a little rougher then I should have made them. However I got in all the main parts I wanted to show and ideas. I also want to add in a few different things before making a final copy which will hopefully get the transitions looking a bit nicer, such as a fade in/out of the scenes, in particular the one with the sun and the figure as I think this will show the two better rather then flick so quickly between them. So a little more editing to do before making the final copy...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Drawing project handed in!

Although we had to hand in our drawing projects today, this isn't really one that stops there. I have always found it really important to keep a sketchbook going throughout the year, just to get ideas down, develop things, and to practise and keep up drawing skills. This project really got me to focus on that and realise just how important it was and how it affected the other projects I am working on.

When starting this project I was finding it quite hard to draw things quickly and get the proportions of characters and figures correct without spending a long time on them, let alone get them to look like they were properly interacting with eachother. So my first few pages of drawing are all quite detailed and I spent quite a long time on them. I think it's clear however that as the project went on I soon got used to drawing people quickly and getting their shapes and line of movement down and just the necessary information needed to show what they were doing, or who they were talking to, or even just the way they were expressing themselves.

I think that this is the main area I improved on over the duration of the project. I now feel I can show an interaction and conversation through drawing the characters, and I've also learnt a lot about what makes characters interact and that it's a lot to do with the body and stance, not just the facial features and expressions.

I feel as though this project has also helped with my character animation and loosening up my drawing, making the animation more fluid and relaxed rather then the really neat, exact drawings I was trying to use at the beginning of the project.

I will continue to keep a sketchbook and drawing different situations. I would quite like to focus on somethings that I missed out on when doing the conversations project. For example I never looked in detail at facial expressions and tonal drawings as we started to do in life drawing which I found really helped to draw the figure more accurately and focus on the muscles and way the body is structured rather than the outlines. In contrast to that I would also like to proactise more at getting a style of animated character designs together as we started to look at in some of the design lessons, for example really simple character faces and figures that would be really good to animate with.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

finished! - 11 second club


Above is the final version of my 11 second club project.

I really enjoyed this project and found it easy to give it a lot of attention and work on it as much as I could. I really wanted to get the character looking right and realistic. I found it really interesting and quite challenging working on this character, particularly getting the movement correct and looking good. I think this was partly because I was slightly out of practise putting in the basic principles, and also getting the weight right with such a large character.
When comparing my first few trials of this project to developments after having crits and talking to tutors, there is such a huge difference and it's so clear where the movement needed to be altered and aniticpation and overlap had to be added. I learnt just how important it is to keep developing work and re-doing parts, adding in frames to get it looking right. There are still some areas that could probably be exaggerated a little more, or worked on so that they look a little better, however I am quite pleased with the result that I've got from my first try at proper character animation.

I also learnt during this project just how important it is to have a clear dope sheet and everything as organised as possible. As I had many different frames in the animation (even though it's only 11 seconds) I made sure I put them into different lettered sections and each of these were labelled clearly on the dope sheet with each corresponding frame. By doing this I found it easy to follow what I was doing each time I made changes, added in frames here and there etc. I now realise why this is so important, particularly for the future and for major productions in studios so that everyone working on a scene can follow what is happening and which frames should be used at certain points.

I really enjoy doing the lip sync for characters. This was one of the main things I did for the Hayle project, and I did a similar thing for this project. I only used very basic mouth shapes and there are still some words that I'm not sure fit quite correctly, however I find that when you see your character talking after having given it crazy mouth shapes fitting to the sounds rather then the words, just instantly brings the character to life that little bit more, making it believable.
Having said that however, I did learn from doing the character animation that the body movement is the first and most important thing to get right as it gives the emotion and action, really explaining how the character is feeling, and without getting this correct first, the lipsync and and facial expression wont look anywhere near as good or convincing as the audience must be able to read the body language of the character instantly.

If I were to continue this project I would probably focus on the body language and getting every movement the character makes looking spot on and smoother. Putting in any squash and stretch and anticipation more accurately, make sure the character's size stays the same throughout, and working on extra animation such as movement in the characters clothing and background animation, adding in those extra details that really make it work.

Having had more time I would have also spent longer designing the character before starting the animation. I'm glad that I loosened up my drawing when working on this animation, however I would quite like to have designed a better character to work with, perhaps putting more detail into the body, clothing, hands after working out the movement, just to make him and his situation a bit more interesting and really finish off the drawing and design. I would also have made changes to the face, perhaps making it simpler and less cluttered. At the moment I think the face and body are quite contrasting as the body is so much simpler and larger, so this would definately be something I would work on.
I would also work on the background. I like how simple it is and think it works well to show the characters weight, however as I did them as another layer they are quite faint underneath the character. This does make the character stand out, however I think I should have put the lightbox behind when filming to get the backgrounds showing through a little better.

I found this project such a good way of practising many different things such as the principles of animation, as well as learning character design and more about movement, just generally getting to work on and develop a huge range of skills.

I am hoping to post it on the website as I'm quite intrigued to see what kind of feedback and suggestions it might get from other animators which could be really useful. I also hope to have a go at Decembers for more practise...a christmas project maybe...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nearly there?


This is how its looking at the moment and I think, or am hoping, that I'm pretty much there. Today I managed to add on the beginning and finish the last few sections. When playing it through altogether there were some bits that looked a bit strange and needed tweeking, for example a frame of lip sync slightly out of place and a head movement that jumped a bit too fast, however I now think it's working quite well.

Having made a few small changes as I was working, I can now sit and watch it through and find any parts that could be adjusted or easily improved just to finish it off completely.

I think the first sobbing part works well, and although its very exaggerated, with the sound it kind of fits and doesn't look out of place. However I don't know how obvious it is that the character is not moving in the same way for the second lot of sobbing. As this is the part where he is rolling over onto the sofa, I found it hard to incorporate movement to show sobbing in this as it almost looked as though he was bouncing whilst rolling. I did make his mouth move a little to suggest the sobbing was coming from him, but because of the movement this isn't very clear. The fact that he is moving during this time, I'm hoping takes the focus off of the sobbing.

I think the lipsync for the first section is working alright now as well. At first I wasn't sure if this was fitting quite correctly with the sound, however after putting in the sobbing scene the timing worked a little more easily and it was clearer where these frames needed to go.
The sit down is also more exaggerated, particularly as you can see the background more clearly (in a larger version then on here)and you can now see the sofa cushions squashing as he sits.

I'm pleased with the way the character says 'whipped cream' and I think it looks quite convincing, however I'm not so sure about the bit of speach before that, especially 'yesterday' and 'nine cans'. I did change a few of these frames to try and get it looking a little more realistic, but if I have time I may review them again and just see if I can get the sync a bit more accurate as this section is pretty close up.

I think the end finishes the piece quite well. The pan is faster which works better and the end scene is held long enough to see what is going on. I'm not sure about the whipped cream noise I have for the end, it sounds a little odd just coming in after the speech, so I may change that.

However...I think I'm very nearly there!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Today I wanted to get as much of the lip-sync part of the animation done as possible, so that I could test it with the sound and see if anything needed changing.
This is how it is looking so far...


I think that some of it works, and it is looking ok, however somethings don't look right, for example the timing is now all a little out, particularly with the movement of him rolling over. I think this is just due to the fact that I havn't put the holds in the right places and I havn't edited this version the same way that I did with my previous attempts. As the very beginning part isn't in it yet as well, it is hard to see the timing and exactly where it should start with the speech. When I put this part in hopefully the piece will time out better.
Looking at the lip-sync in particular, it seems to be working, however due to timing again a few frames are out, and I may need an extra frame where he says nine cans as you can really see him close his mouth, making it look as though he's not really talking.

So I will work on this again and try and get it looking a little better, as well as adding in the beginning scenes and ending.

Monday, 23 November 2009

beginning lip sync and tidying up...

Having had a crit this morning, smaller details that I could improve in the animation were pointed out, which was really helpful so I could change them straight away to get the character animation looking better before focusing on the lip sync and facial expressions. For example when the character sits down, to emphasize his size I made the sofa cushions dip and added in a few frames to show him sitting down heavily. However because he is such a huge character this could be exaggerated even more and I added in a few frames of the character further down on the sofa to really show his weight having an impression on it. There was also a frame in the arm point that shouldn't have been there which looked a little odd, and I made the pan faster to really get it whizzing into the past. In the final version I will have the end scene holding for longer then in this version so that you can see what is happening...


I then had a look at some lip syncing ideas in books and on the internet and drew out a few that I could use, changing them to fit to my characters face. I started the lip sync today and did the first small section before he sits down. I think this looks ok, but as its only very short its hard to see how correct and realistic it looks. It definitely doesn't look as though it fits at the end, however I think that's just because I held the end frame so I had enough frames to make a movie, and hopefully when the mouth and face movement continue with the sound it'll fit in alright.


Friday, 20 November 2009

My experimental....

For my experimental project I am taking a lot of my inspiration from the work of Robert Breer. When I was first shown some of his work I couldn't believe how such simle shapes and ideas came together to form this piece of art which really worked with the music and experimented with image and design. I found that he takes very simple forms like a line or mark on the page and transorms them, shrinks, moulds them into something completely different or other shapes and forms. I wondered if there was any form of structure to his work or is he just did as he felt and drew what ever came into his head or what ever happened as he drew on the cards or pages.
I decided to watch as many different examples of his work as I could to really get a feel of how I could create something similar and as loose and absorbing as this myself.

The first of Breers work that I was introduced to was 'A man and his dog out for air'.
When first watching this video I literally took it as a load of lines floating around mixing, breaking, multiplying, aligning to create different images. However when I watched it again I found myself to be seeing images and finding more and more within the piece. I still can't decide if those things were put there or whether its just the brain searching for complete images. Now when I watch it I get glimpses of building, structures, letters, animals or people almost, feathers, and I find it amazing how very simple lines and very unstructured movement and drawing can represent all these different things. The only real clear image is the one at the very end of a man and his dog!

Having watched this one first I got the idea of a very experimental and quick way of working, that, with some idea of timing and music could create a really exciting piece of animation. However, I then went on and watched some more of Breers work that was a little more structured and I found even more mesmerising in the way it was filmed, its quick frames, almost shot in a completely random order but with re-occouring images that play on your mind throughout the piece.

For example in 'swiss army knife with rats and pigeons' there is a lot of changing shapes, blocks of colours and images that flash on screen over and over throughout the piece, however enlarged, overlapped, flipped, in a slightly diferent pose etc. There is quite a strong cubist link in the whole of the animation, including recognisable images, geometric shapes and blocks, symbols and lines. However there is much more colour then in the previous piece and very clear images imcluding some landscapes, people walking, portraits and even still images and photos.

I find Breers work to be about pretty much anything you want to show, or imply or anything you feel worked out onto the page. There is obviously a lot of meaning and symbolic references in his work and each animation and there is so much content and so many different ideas in each one.

From this...I want to create my own experimental piece working to the music that I have chosen and using a range of images, sequences, colours and moving shapes, combined with perhaps a few still images or images that the music reminds me of.
I'm hoping that this will enable me to losen up my drawing style and the way I think of ideas and images. To get some really rough lines and get them moving across the page and interacting with the sound without having to be a specific shape or formed into a neat character. Hopefully this will create a really interesting and different piece. I may also film the images I draw in a random order so that I get the flashing absorbing effect, particularly when the music is quite fast nearer the end of the piece I think this could work quite well.

To begin this experiment I thought it would be best to get down some images that could re-occour in the animation of what the music really represented to me. So, by listening to the music a fair few times over, I sketched out a lot of different images very quickly and roughly to get into the mood and the right mind frame to continue the animation. From these I then decided to choose the better few to have as images to work from, just as a starting block so I wasn't leaping into the drawings with no ideas of what to do.

Here are the results...

From here on, to make it really experimental I will have a range of drawing materials surrounding me, my dope sheet so I still have an undertsanding of the accents in the music and a pile of postcards to work my way through. Now hopefully, it will all come together...

Continuing conversations and life drawing...

I think I'm doing quite well keeping the 'conversations' drawing project going along side the other projects. I make sure that I do a few drawings most days either from photos, tv programmes or films or just sitting around with friends. The first few shown here are from the day we acted out a few different scenes in class and took photos to work from...

I think these went ok, but i did pretty much all of them quickly as very sketchy drawings and not very detailed. It helped to get the idea of proprtions and getting the characters to look like they were interacting from their stance and body language alone.

I then did a mixture of drawings from films and just observational drawings. Some of these I did quickly as the live action continued to get a very fast drawing of lines just indicating where the people are and who they are communicating with.
I also did a few with animals to show similarities between their stance and what makes it clear who/what they are interacting with. I found its very much due to the body language, but in particular it is clearer when the facial features are drawn in, or at least a cross making the head more 3D and it clearer which way the character is facing.

The drawings below are ones where I took more time in putting a little more detail in. Most of these are from photos I found or stills from DVDs. I think having drawn much quicker communicative drawings earlier, it helped to really get a feel for the body language and the importance of the way the characters are standing and positioned came across a little better in these then in some of my previous drawings.

I also did some using pets and animals to show the way owners interact with animals and also just how animals interact with eachother. I found this quite interesting as it is so similar to human behaviour with the way they hunch over something and look in such detail and interest at things in the environment.

More from tv/photos...

Generally I think I'm improving with the conversational drawing. I think my drawing has loosened up a bit and I'm definately getting used to drawing quickly and getting down only the information needed to know where/what the characters are suggesting.
I would however in this last week of the project really try out some different materials to draw on and with, to give each drawing different textures and feels and just be more experimental with it, as so far this is what I feel I'm lacking, particularly when looking through all the work I've done for this particular project.

Life Drawing...

Again this week after having a weeks break from life drawing it was good to get back into it, but it did take some warming up. I think my first few drawings aren't as good as some of the later ones, and I've found that I definately prefer the shorter poses where I can get the necessary information down on the page but don't go into too much detail. I found that I am able to get much more life and movement into these types of drawings rather then the longer ones where I draw the character quickly then tend to focus on the shading with the proportions not being quicte right. I therefore think with the longer poses I should work on getting the figure right before adding in the weight.

Below is am example of contour drawings where we did this for 10 minutes and drew without looking at the paper to get the idea of the shape and to make sure we were looking at the model in more detail and for more time then we were looking at our drawings. Therefore not very successful drawings, but it definately helped to get more of a idea of what I should be focusing on and the line and 3D shape of the figure.

My final page I was quite happy with and I used drawing pens which I hadn't used in life drawing before. I've decided that I quite like this medium as its fast, flows well and I feel I can outline the figure and get a line of movement quite sucessfully with it without being as sketchy and feathery in the line as I am with pencil.

It has sound...


Same thing again..only this time I managed to get the sound with it...

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Getting there...


I have now finished pretty much all of the drawing for the character animation. I have added in backgrounds. Most of these stay the same throughout the scenes, with just a few changes where the movement is really big and the gaps in the background would be noticeable. I also drew out a background for the added in scene in the kitchen to show how the character was when eating the whipped cream. I think the background work being pretty simple and don't take anything away from the character's movement. I actually think that in some of the scenes the background helps, for example where the character sits down. As you can see his height changing as he goes from standing to sitting and the sofa cushions being squashed, it helps to give the character more weight and makes the movement clearer. As I drew the background on different sheets of paper to use under multiple frames they aren't as clear as they could be, and particularly on here they are quite hard to see. Perhaps I could use a light behind the paper when filming, or I may just try drawing over the backgrounds in a thicker black ink to make them stand out more clearly behind the character.

I have also changed a few sections I was talking about before, such as part of the characters arm move when he points to make it flow a bit better and look smoother. However you can still see the size of the character changing, particularly the fact he gets much fatter when he sits down! It's still working well with the sound and fits to the speech (the clip above doesn't have the soundtrack to it as I could get it to work with the movie file). I think it looks much better with the anticipation and overlap and I've neatened up a few of the scenes that were really rough or where loads of lines could be seen where I was working out the movement.

I'm happy with the result so far,and I think the fact that you can see the numbers, some rough sketching and some of the paper n lines changing is quite nice as it shows it in its raw and most creative state. However think it will look better and more realistic with the facial expressions and lip sync which I can now start to work on and add into the scenes.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A bit more with sound...


I've now managed to get a few more bits filmed. Adding in the anticipation and overlap, you can now see what was missing from before and that it's already starting to look a little better. As I did this part quite roughly to get the timing correct and therefore spent less time on the drawing there are a few bits I need to clean up and work on. There are a few frames that jump a little due to the character being in a slightly different position on the page and colour changes. One particular one I notice is just before he is about to sit down, and also when he is lying down and moves his arm up, something doesn't look quite right there, I think because the length and size of his arm changes. I think the timing and animation however is working quite well now, and I am happy with how it works with the sound.
I also feel much more organised with my work for this project having broken down the speech into sections and again using my dope sheet to work from I have written down every frame and where it needs to be to fit in time with the speech. I therefore now have all my drawing in separate sections and feel like I can focus on them one by one to get each part looking right.
So now I have the basic movement the way I want it and fitted with the sound, I can go through and neaten up parts that are jumpy and drawn as quick lines rather then how the character should look, to make the whole thing look smoother. I then need to film it all at once using the same lighting as you can clearly see in the test above where I stopped and started filming. After this I can focus on the face and lip sync.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


I managed to get pretty much all of the drawing done for the overlap and anticipation in the piece, which is looking much better already. I've only tested the beginning parts and still some changes need to be made, for example neatening up areas, and when the character turns theres a slight jumpy bit inthe overlap which doesn't look quite right which I would liek to smooth out. I think when he sits down and flops himself over the arm of the chair is already looking much better and you can see the weight of the character more compared to the previous attempt. So I need to carry on and get it all filmed and working together, make sure all the animation principles are there and working and are timed correctly with the sound, then the animation should be pretty sorted. The next part after that to focus on is the facial expressions and lip sync!


Monday, 16 November 2009

How its looking all together so far...


Above is the sequence for the 11 second club so far with the end bit added in. After the crit today Im feeling quite confident in the movement itself and that the timing is working alright, however I can now see that it needs a lot more anticipation and overlap to really exaggerate the movements and the size of the character to make it look more realistic. For example the main things I need to work on are antcipation of the arm movements, anticipation when the character sits and moves on the sofa and to take out on the the laying positions on the sofa because it isn't necessary and will give me a little more time to focus on getting the anticipation and overlap into the other movements without everything being really rushed.
so..lots of small changes and neatening to be getting on with.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

experimental project...

So far, I'll be honest in saying, the experimental project has unfortunately got pushed to the background as I have been heavily focusing on the 11 second club as I am really enjoying the character design and character animation involved, and being able to draw so much!

When thinking of ideas for this I immediately thought about doing sand animation. I had seen quite a bit of it previously and watched many videos of people performing it live in shows and to audiences and it amazed me. I thought about trying this for my experimental piece as it would give me an opportunity to do so.
Earlier on I created a rough dope sheet, just so I knew where the accents in the music piece I chose were. I was going to do some tests using sand and just seeing what I could create using it, however so far I've been distracted drawing and filming my character animation instead and havn't really got anywhere with it other then finding images from sand animation that inspire me and drawing some images I would like to create...


I had a tutorial today and spoke to Andy about how I hadn't got far with the experimental project. It suddenly clicked that I'm obviously more keen to draw then I am experiment with other different materials. Andy showed me an experimental example by Robert Breer and talked about how Breer helped to loosen up the drawing and animating style of Joanna Quinn. I found this really interesting and it was the first time I'd thought of doing something so simple and free for an animation. However I think it could be a really interesting idea and experiment for this project.
Part of what my character animation lacked in the beginning stages were looseness of drawing and getting the motion before making everything really neat and looking like a character. By doing this experiment I will hopefully learn to make my drawing much looser and freer and see what comes from free drawing onto postcards with different lines, colours and materials.

Robert Breer film -

11 sec ending

Having got the timing together and working a little better, I realised I hadn't put as much thought into the end of the animation or how I would finish it off. When I was trying to come up with a bit of a different idea rather then just drawing a bin full of old cans of whip cream or pile of them on the floor, I thought maybe it would be good, if I have enough time, to almost do a flash back to the character and the position he was in the night before. So maybe have him n a mess on the floor eating his problems away!

Obviously this is going to take a little extra time on the end of the speech so I need to keep it pretty short, almost a still just to let the audience get the idea of having gone back to see him how he was and what he is talking about. I think this would work really well and bring the end in a little better. However I need to make sure that I get the animation of the main speaking part exactly how I want it before adding this on the end as the speach and acting takes priority in the project. I have drawn out the frames quickly and will add them on the end of the animatic to get the timing of this part right and to see how it works before drawing it out in a more finished way.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

11 sec club...

So...having had a bit of feedback on my work for the 11 second club so far, I realised there are a particular few things that I needed to change/work on/ think about a little more before I went any further with the animating.

As I wanted to make my character pretty huge, it may be quite a challenge to animate well and create a lot of movement, especially movement that is fitting for his size and exaggerates it.
So I did some better live filming with various people dressed up stuffed with pillows to use as reference. This did help as I could see straight away how their movements changed compared to when they just acted out the same scene normally.
I continued to draw and work on the character, making him a bit simpler and pretty much just a big round ball to animate with. So I did a few more character design pages and one to get the general look of the scene in which he will be placed.

I also thought a little more about the movement of the character. As the speech is obviously limited to 11 seconds I found it was hard to get all the movement I wanted to into such a short space of time without him moving really fast as this wouldn't suit such a large character. Also if too much movement is put into 11 seconds it could just look rushed and you can't really see what is happening.

I then considered how the animation would look altogether and I realized that all the action happens in the same scene and it would be refreshing to maybe focus in on the characters face where I can really concentrate on the lip sync and facial expression. So I changed the camera angle to zoom in to a mid shot of the character.

So I story boarded out very roughly where I wanted the character and found it really helpful using my dope sheet to get the timing right. I also drew out the main key poses for the character.

Having done this I worked from the dope sheet and made an animatic to get the timing and movement I wanted right. I did this bit by bit, working on different scenes of movement, and making changes each time where necessary...

The result so far....


I think the way the scene goes together works quite well and the movement of him sitting down and laying on the sofa worked much better then I thought it would. I think I still need to work on these areas however and play around with the timing to emphasize the character's size and effort to move in such a way. The zoom in improves the flow of the scene and I will definitely keep this in. It also gives me a chance to do some lip sync. At the end the character points towards the empty cans/bin and I need to add this on the end...I may put this in between him pointing, and where he flops back down onto the arm of the sofa and it would join it in with the piece a little more, rather then adding it onto the end almost like an afterthought.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

character sheets and quick animatic

Initial character design ideas...

model sheet with likely poses...

quick sketches of how the movement/storyboard could go...

Above are character designs and rough storyboard for the 11 second sound clip we were given.
I also made an animatic roughly showing the movement and actions I would like the character to perform fitted with the sound. I used the dope sheet to fit the timing and luckily it matched up quite well. I am quite pleased with this result and with the inbeweens I think it could be quite sucessful. The only problem I think I may encounter is if there is too much movement in such a short amount of time. I may also edit it slightly so that towards the end the shot focuses in on the upper half of the character, so a mid shot, to focus on the lip synch and what he is saying. At the end I may also pan to show the empty cans of whipped cream or something similar to finish the scene as shown in the rough storyboard.


The 11 second club...

In our last lesson we heard the piece of sound from the 11 second club that we would be working with for the project. I have decided to do the one from this months competition - 'I'm living in a cocoon of horror, yesterday I ate 9 cans of aerosol whip cream...'
This is a really strange quote but I thought it could be pretty funny to animate. I immediately thought of perhaps doing a really huge character weeping about how he is stuck in this situation.
I wasn't sure whether I should look up where the original piece of sound came from, but I thought it could be quite nice to see how it had been acted out in real life footage. I found it was from a new program called 'Glee' and the line is from a scene where the actor just suddenly breaks down n his true depression that he was hiding comes out.
Although the acting is good and the facial expressions that the actor has for the scene are very expressive and dramatic, the body movements themselves aren't very exaggerated and to copy or use this for an animation just wouldn't work very well. So that I could get a better idea of the movements and general action I wanted for the sound clip I made a couple of videos to try and find out different ways that people would act to the sound. I tried to perform it myself, however I'm awful at acting and it just didn't turn out very successfully...


So I also tried to get a couple of my housemates to do it to try and get another persons ideas and perspectives on it...



...I dont think they'll mind me saying...they were pretty rubbish too..

With a final attempt I got a better representation of how I wanted it to look, particularly with the sitting an hand gestures...


so at least I had something to work from, or rough (very rough) ideas of how people might react to it.

I had a few ideas of how I wanted the piece to look, starting with the character ideas I did a few sketches, some rough ones and a couple more detailed. I looked at quite large characters that have been used recently in animations, in particular the people used in Wall-E.

The only problem I could find in having a character like this is that it may make it quite restrictive in terms of the movement and how exaggerated I can make it. I thought it might be quite nice having the character slumping down onto a sofa when he weeps, or even just leaning over onto something and crying into his arms. I might try and get someone to act out a little more realistically what I want to work from, however I will also draw out a very quick animatic and storyboard of ideas and what I want to happen in the scene and what it could look like.

I completed dope sheets for the sound clip so that I have a guide of the sound and when the character needs to be saying and expressing each word. From this I will now rough out a storyboard and animatic to try n fit to the sound and develop the character a little more to make a character or model sheet for.