Thursday, 18 December 2008

Lost and found :)

I'm so excited about this so i thought i'd do a wee blog post. On christmas eve channel 4 are going to be showing an animated adaption of Oliver Jeffers childrens book 'Lost and Found' and it looks as though it will be just as beautiful as the book :D

Should be well worth taking half an hour out for :)
Merry christmas! x

Monday, 8 December 2008

Flip fest part 2- Ninja theory :)

After listening to how pixar's pipeline works, it was very interesting to hear the processes that 'Ninja theory' went through for game design as they explained their pipeline at the Flip fest. The group had designed a game called 'Heavenly sword' which was beautifully done and they also made some pre-game release films, which again i was quite impressed by.
Granted, for me Prince of Persia would of made my day, and i haven't played 'Heavenly Sword' so i was not as apprehensive or excited as i could of been, but non-the-less i persevered with listening and faining interest and here is what i found out...Designing games is damn hard!

So, the people we had talking to us were: Guy Midgley - lead animator, Stuart Adcock- Technical art director and Nina Kristensen - Co-funder.
And to be completely honest here the only one that made any sense was Guy, but that is irrelevant to the pipeline isn't it. This blog is NOT a bitch fest.
So first of all, what would need to be done are;
Style tests - these are a series of tests to determine how the character would move and to question the agility of the character.
Develop basic combat - When using fast combat, keep the poses at the end, even if the moves are fast.
Synchronised movements- Characters fighting together
Super style - Heavier fighting moves which are much more developed
Game play animations - Abit cinematic
Game Hero - A cinematic piece with gameplay involved. This needs to be built up too, 1st in blocks, 2nd rough cuts with basic characters and 3rd will be the final piece.
Shoot any acting like a movie

As you can probably tell, this pipeline isn't in as much detail as the Pixar one, but the same rules apply. Do research, look at real movement and make it is realistic as possible.

Here's the preview for Heavenly Sword. Now all thats left to do is for me to get a games console and not be dissapointed while i play it?

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Osbert Parker at the flip fest :)

Next up came Osbert Parker, who has some lovely work and ideas! He works using collage, found objects and pictures from books. I was really inspired by some of his more recent work such as 'Film noir' and 'Yours Truly' because he was taking alot of inspiration from old black and white films and working brilliantly with cut-out animation and live action filming. These films have a lovely experimental feel to them and it works beautifully.
These images are from 'Yours Truly';

The film is a
bout a character's burst through yesterday's emulsion to tell the conflicting story of Frank and Charlie who sacrifice their morals to find love as two worlds collide.
It 's made out from
16mm ‘in camera’ reconstructions of photo cut-outs and real objects in miniature environments.

Film Noir;

Film Noir is a mixed media animated adventure. Is created in-camera combining live action with animation, found objects with photo cut-outs that are weaved into a non linear narrative and manipulated into a dark story of romance and psychological tension that unfolds into a cinematic world never seen before.

Parker's Film noir is a pure extract of the best and most characteristic qualities of this classic genre in the history of cinema. This short reveals the genre's most typical methods (shooting, narration, acting) and applies its own creative code (animation, layering and overlapping of image fragments) in order to build a unique noir atmosphere and thrills.

A few points i picked up Parkers talk were these:
He prefers handmade animations- using found materials.
He uses his sketchbook for personal projects away from his clients work.
Look for accidents. :)
See's leaves and things on the floor and turns them into something else.
Influences- Painters such as Picasso. Max Hurst. David Lynch movies.
Makes collage 3D if it appears too flat.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Flip festival huh?

So, we went to the flip festival last week down in Wolverhampton!...unfortunately due to being extremely late i didn't make the Saturday, but i DID in fact make the Friday, which was of course the better of the two days anyway! ;) The weather was a tad dismal at the hour of 6am but it had become a beautiful sunny day by 9am. Completely irrelevant as we were inside all day! :)
First up was the open shorts, which were all quite good, a few more so then others but i have to admit it was the comedy ones that stood out to me most of all :) The first i would like to point out was a short called 'This way up' by Smith and Foulks

Good site for examples of their work.

This was a great piece, and really stood out against alot of the other work, not only for its brilliant animation techniques but also because it had such a great sense of humour behind it, and I'm guessing its no coincidence it was by British directors.

Again, another British piece that stood out was one called 'Mister Gallagher’s Boat' by Chris Sievey & Brian Little. This featured a quite well known Frank Sidebottom and Cardboard Frank.
I found this my personal highlight of the open shorts, simply because the the humour really appealed to me and the style of animation was quite different. For example, one character that made me laugh so much was a man who carried a mirror around with him and refered to his reflection as another person! A key moment for me in this animation was when there was a birdseye veiw of the boat going down the canal and then it tunred into a pinball machine and propelled the boat down the canal.
I thought this was very creative and appealing! :) oh, and heres a little clip!

One short however which i really did not like was 'Milk teeth' by Tibor Banoczki.
Milk Teeth - film clip

The reason being that i thought the experimental aspect was taken too far and really just didn't work at all. They attempted to make a 'weird' animation and instead made one that not many people could understand or see the point of. The storyline wasn't at all gripping and it just didnt appeal to me at all.

There were alot of shorts, and this is just a brief overview of a few that stood out in my personal opinion. What i have learnt however through discussion with my peers afterwards, is that humour works best! :)

To be continued.....

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Shall we have a bit of a catch up? :)

Righty ho, short of listing artists i like, should i do that? I think i need to have a small catch up and just fill in a few gaps :)
Sooooo, last week one of the things that we did was to make our first wire models! The correct way to do this is to take a length of wire and twist it so its effectively doubled, the reason being that if you just use wire in single thickness, when you bend it for a characters movement, it decides it will bend back a small bit, and also depending on the thickness, it will probably snap. So the neatest and quickest way to do this was to thread it into a drill and drill it, so that it looks lovely and neat (this way was so much quicker then attempting it by hand) :)
My wire man it turns out didn't look too much like my character design unfortunately, so after a short animation session (and quite playful one) just to get a feel for our wire men and to see how the movement worked on camera we called it a day and i modelled my wire person into an extremely amusing dancing pose which i have included on my character sheet! And the video will be up here soon, promise, but in the meantime here is a photo.

The one on the left with the purple head is mine, and the normal looking one on the right is becky's. :)

And then...let me think, what else did we do? Last week we also discussed how the shape of a character is more important than the actual detail, and Neil proved this by handing us a sheet with blacked out characters on so you could jut see the shape and we identified nearly all of the characters.

SO the message is make the shape memorable and the detail simple!

NEXT post folks could well be the flip festival one, so hold onto your seats :)

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Susan young

This is an artist i am growing pretty fond of, so i thought I'd give her one of my blog entries and explore her work a little bit.
She's from a little place i like to call BELPER in derbyshire. :)
Which also happens to be my hometown, and one of the main reasons i like her is because not only through many years of hard work has she created her own style, but also because she seems to love colour just as much as i do.

Her favorite medium is apparently big thick brushes with black ink on, quite like Chinese calligraphy and i am currently trying to use bigger and thicker pens, and more blocks of colour in order to try and create similar effects, and the fact is that i am quite enjoying working with these things! They are not easier, which i thought they may of been due to the lack of detail they enforce but in fact harder because of this! :)

This is a beautiful hand drawn line animation, and i just love the way its so obviously ink and how there is smudged ink, blotted ink, lines and shapes all at once in many occasions!

The Bayeux tapestry

I am going to be looking at this mainly in my RVJ but here is an animated look at it and a few background facts that won't be included in my RVJ.
This 70 metre long tapestry was created to record how William the conqueror invaded England in 1066 with his Norman army.
It is also a very early example of just how unreliable historical sources can be, it is highly suspected this artwork was very one sided in its recording of the events and since there are no others to dispute this re-telling of the events we cannot know for sure exactly what happened.
What is very important here though is the power these images have, and they are 1,000 years old!

This is an animated version of the original, i think its effective because it barely alters it and that quite important with an artwork like this.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Pixar ey?

EXCITING NEWS. I have met/listened to a real life Pixar animator. ''Michal Makerewicz' How?' - You may gasp in wonder, but it is indeed possible, even from Birmingham. He came down to the Millenium point building and did a talk on 'Wall-e' the lastest of Pixar's animations. Would you like to find out what i picked up from this talk? Good, i shall begin then....(If not, just stop reading, its easy.)
The general upshot of it is that a hell of a lot of work work goes into these films, they take about 5 years to make, and Michal basically went into quite abit of detail about the processes the film must go through before we see it at the cinema...

Development- The team will work with the director to get a rough idea of the story, characters etc.
Story- The basic storyboard will be created, this will be thousands and thousands of sketches which will then be played on a screen so the director can get a feel for how the film might be. If the director likes it temporary music and sound will be added.
Art- This department deals with characters and all the research behind them. For 'Wall-e' they looked into the previously animated film 'Robots' but came to the conclusion that they wanted their robots to appear less human. The robots in 'Robots' even had eyebrows and were extremely similar to humans and this wasn't the look Pixar were after. So instead they focused their attention on machinery that existed and operated in the real world, they also went on location to tips for set research.
Set Dressing
Shading Dept
- Layout camara in computer.
Animation- LOTS AND LOTS OF RESEARCH. In order to be able to emote and bring characters to life! Some animators act in front of a mirror to see what their own expressions look like. Some use thumbnail sketches.
Fx (effects)
Lighting- Starts with colour scripts
Matte Painting

And so you can begin to understand how it takes 5 years to make one film. For Wall-e there were 130,000 frames rendered, 445 models made and 41 sets produced.
As you can imagine we then asked a range of questions about how we might present ourselves if we were interested in working at Pixar sometime in the future. This is just from my notes again.

Basically for you demo reel, keep it short and sweet, no longer then 4 mins really, use your best work first, use work/dialogue that means something to you in your work, have a range of work- physical, dialogue, subtle, out there, etc. Don't back it with techno music.
Its not just about polished animation, the ideas are important.

I got an autograph and doodle of eve too :)

Friday, 24 October 2008

Stop motion

So, last week in stop motion we began the secret art of model making :)

Below are the photos of what i did..basically we had a model a face from one of our simplified drawings and make it two times, with a different expression. This was very time consuming and even abit hard at times, hence why next time i would defiantly make my face less complicated then this, but despite the many obstacles that awaited, i triumphed and emerged with these photos :)

This one here is my favorite :) 'complete shock'

Basically, these are very rough looking, they looked okay in real life but under the camera they appear awfully messy, so i think next time i would spend more time making them appear 'finished' by smoothing them over abit more, and just spending abit more time on them perhaps.

I would of liked to of given the hair another looking at, and I'm not 100% on the second emotion of 'thoughtful' looks like postman pat wanting a kiss to me but maybe I'm wrong! Mind you, for my first ever attempt though i feel they aren't too bad at all and they made me laugh quite alot which is always good.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Wanna see some animation?

Check out this beast, a load of older work to load up still but hey, heres a dinosaur. :)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

hand drawn animation :)

So last Thursday we had our first painful experience of hand drawn animation (painful on my poor, weak wrist). And yet after drawing a simple figure for hours on end and then making about 5 seconds of animation that could of been majorly improved i felt extremely proud. It was mega time consuming and even a tad irritating, but i loved it!
I chose to use a face of someone i had drawn while out about at a cafe, which i then exaggerated (and even added abit of colour in my sketchbook too, check me out!)
So in order to do this hand drawn animation i had to make my figure alot simpler and in order to do this i removed the complicated 3/4 view and replaced that with a profile look at the face.
We were set a task of morphing the face into three different expressions, and then looping it back to the original drawing...As i say i found this WAS time consuming and quite challenging.
When i played back my test near the day of the day Neil suggested to me that perhaps it was too subtle, and that i should think about making a more sudden expression at the end. I did attempt this but i didn't have the time to finish hence why i feel it could of gone better - what i did was make the facial expression too different, too quickly (for my liking) and i just needed to do some in-between drawing perhaps to level it out..but, for my first attempt i was still quite proud!
I will upload some stuff asap, my computer is running on windows 2000 so it's not being as co-operative as it could be, naughty naughty.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Abit of canadian aniamtion is called for!

Alright then, so, as well as watching 'the secret adventures of tom thumb' last week we then did a very contrasting activity (to stop us all from committing suicide i do believe) which was that we watched some Canadian animation! :)

We watched three short cartoons all of which at a first glance seemed very uncomplicated and had a childish quality to them, and yet, when you actually pay attention to the story line and listen to a few of the jokes, it becomes apparent that these cartoons are a little deeper then what you first thought.
First of all came, 'The big snit' which is described as 'an offbeat parable about marriage, scrabble and nuclear war.' Richard Condie is renowned for his rich, zany and distinctive sense of humour, and this comes through incredibly clear in this short, for example, the couple argue because they are irritated by each others habits which consist of, the lady shaking her eyes, and the bloke sawing the sofa while watching 'sawing for teens' on the T.V!
Next came, 'The cat came back' another short but this time based on a children's song 'And the cat came back' which concerns a gentleman who can't get rid of the extremely cute but destructive yellow cat from his home. Again, extremely quirky and amusing ways to try and get rid of the cat are demonstrated making this another very amusing animation with quite dark undertones, after all, who wants to kill a cute Kittie?
Last of all we watched 'Special delivery' which is probably the best example of the darker undertones demonstrated in Canadian animation, this short used the idea of a narration which I'm a big fan of and it really added to this animation, mainly because the storyline was actually a tad complicated and through the narration we were able to know exactly what each character was thinking and this film really used that well, and actually played out small sequences of the characters thoughts.
The basic upshot of it was - 'The first big mistake Ralph makes is not clearing the snow from the front walk, and his life goes downhill from that point on. By the end of the story, the mailman has fatally slipped on his job, Alice, his wife, doesn't live there anymore, and Ralph resolves to stop worrying--about the body, his wife, and the front walk.' This short was full of humorous twists that i really enjoyed :)

Monday, 13 October 2008

righty ho folks

Now then, I'm hoping this will aid my RVJ and I'll keep it regularly updated, but please don't hold me to that! Lets just see how we get along shall we? :)

So, it's Monday the 13Th of October at about half 8.....

Last week we watched a curious animation by the name of 'The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb' as well as being decidedly dark and quite intense this was a great example of some key animation techniques; pixilation, stop motion and replacement animation.
Mainly, i loved the way the pixialtion had such a disturbing effect on the audience. It made the actors seem extremely unnatural and i quite enjoyed the way the facial expressions felt almost jagged after the frames were cut out of live action filming. (yet i have just read that this was achieved by taking lots and lots of pictures!! Could this be true?)
I think a very important aspect the Bolex Brothers used to make this more believable was the way the dialogue of the actors was very short and mainly consisted of grunts and groans.
It was an incredibly well thought out film, the soundtrack was suitably disturbing, the lighting was kept dark and grimy and the characters themselves were quite grotesque....My thoughts on it though was that it was just too long to keep my attention, i didn't enjoy the middle section with the swamp people as much as the first and last sections with the real actors. The fact is that it was originally designed as a ten minuet piece and perhaps it shouldn't of been pushed to just over an hour.
I did really enjoy the way the way that the men who took tom away seemed to have a secret agent feel about their characters, it really reminded me of the two mysterious men used in 'Belleville Rendez-vous' the reason being that in both films they play on the stereotypes, two big men, dressed in black, sunglasses etc! And i think this was really effective in this film, and the fact that we never found out who they were so they retained a very secretive air about them was quite important to this feel.
Link to trailer :)
After watching this film we had a class discussion and i think we were all bought up the same question, 'But what does it mean!?' and I'm quite sure this film has many hidden meanings to be teased out, some alot more apparent then others but one that I'm willing to settle on is that 'bad things happen to good people' because this is a common thing that alot of people think in life (especially when they are feeling a tad bitter!), and all of the good characters in film ended up dying. Yet Neil did say to us, that as animation students we shouldn't be asking 'what does it mean' we need to be asking 'how did they achieve that!?'
I think thats enough typing for today folks! And I'll be back tomorrow with more exciting things believe me. :)