Sunday, 1 March 2015

11 Second Club - March Competition

The sound clip for this month's 11 second club has been released today! The guidelines are the same every month, with the transcript up and free character rigs available to download from the website (a link to it highlighted 'resources') I should be able to get started on it fairly quickly.

The guidelines
The reason I want to compete in an 11 second club competition is to gain feedback on my work from a variety of backgrounds, as well as practicing lip syncing a character and extending my skills in either 2D or 3D animation.

The audio is already set, so I just have to create a scene and two characters towards the animation. I will analyse the downloadable sound clip to generate a vision in how the characters will look, to then decide which medium I think would be better to use. I have never animated two people interacting with each other before so this will be a good experience to try it out!


I have decided I would like to enter the Bingomation competition, where 'bingo meets animation'. It seems to generally host a very clean/motion-graphic style, which is evident in the animations on the website so far. It should be a fun one to try, using their colour scheme and style I feel I can produce at least one decent animation out of entering it.

The homepage of their Tumblr account

For this competition you have to create a 5 second loop involving a number between 1-90, which can relate to a famous bingo saying which are generally called out during the game to make the event more entertaining, such as "two fat ladies, 88". 

The guidelines for it are relatively straight forward:

With a downloadable font and colour scheme, these guidelines should be helpful in allowing me to keep to their standards and to create a series of decent pieces of work. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Collaborating Opportunity

Since my whole class has split into groups to make a documentary for this module, there are several opportunities to help out my classmates with parts that will take a long time or they'd want help with.

A group of three have approached me to see if I would like to assist with animating parts of their documentary. They know that this is my preferred part of the process and would like an extra pair of hands in the production of their idea, using their design work.

Their idea involves looking through the history of how cakes and other desserts used to be made in the form of a narrative, with a few set characters in conversation. They have found appropriate facts to include in their piece to class it as a documentary, and they seem to be well organised and set up to make this animation, so I would be happy to help with parts of the production!

Once they start producing it and have figured out what parts of their story they want help with, I will see if I can fit it into my schedule to help them out and gain more work for my showreel.

Inspiration for Gravity

Since I have the opportunity to create another short animation, I would like to try and make it using stop motion. This should give me a variety of work for my showreel and it's a good time for me to practice using media other than Photoshop.

My main inspiration for using stop motion are Aardman. Most of their films revolve around using this technique, all of which I enjoy. Recently the founder of Aardman, Peter Lord, created a kickstarter campaign to make another series involving their popular character, Morph.

These 3 episodes in particular have an interesting take on the shift in gravity, which have inspired some of my ideas for my loop de loop piece.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Pitch Boards

We have a session tomorrow to show off our ideas so far to get feedback from our fellow classmates and tutor. To be present the work and research, I created pitch boards, in a similar way to how I pitched my idea individually earlier in the year. I firstly made a boarder to go on each page, to present it nicely and show the viewers which brief we are undertaking.

The Boarder

The first board I put together was summarising all of the research we have undertaken so far, extracting pictures from our Pinterest account to summarise what inspired us in our final idea.
Pitch Board 1

The second board is to display Cara's character design, with variations in colour to gain feedback in what people think of the gnome and which design they think would work best with our idea.

Pitch Board 2

The target audience for the brief is 20-35 year olds, most of the people in my class are in their 20's so it will be interesting to see what they think.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Collaborating on a Music Video...

After being briefed into our task of making a documentary, 2 of my classmates are going to interpret facts about fruit and vegetables and have asked me to help them model and animate the final product!

They are intending to make a stop motion piece which involves a pop/rock band made up of anthropomorphised fruits and veg's to portray facts through song lyrics.

So far I haven't had much part in the process, other than offering my opinions on their work so far and input into the names of the 5 characters.

We haven't got a schedule for modelling or animating yet but after all of the pre production work is finished and presented in our pitch on the 27th February, we will work out how much involvement I will have in the process and what exactly I will be doing.

Friday, 20 February 2015

My Final Idea

In my documentary I have decided I would like to visually communicate the process of shipping food overseas to supermarkets in the UK, comparing it to local farmers markets and showing how the markets are so much better for our carbon footprint, our health and love of fresh food.

There are a lot of ways I could take this idea - there are so many different types of food that has a different process and packaging; but I thought narrowing it down to gathering meat from around the world would be best, because I believe this has the biggest impact on audiences due to the meat previously being living creatures, which a lot of people feel passionately about. 
I can include other foods in the backgrounds, such as fruit and veg, to show that it's not just meat that they store for lengthy periods of time.

I can show facts in various ways, such as being formed from clouds, paved on roads, stamped on stickers/boxes etc.

I wrote this script for my classmate Cara Lambert to put into a storyboard for me, with a couple of images to try and demonstrate what I mean:

Title lasting 4 seconds - set in the sky with the title of the documentary written there, to then pan down to the first scene.

First scene set on a farm with an outdoor pen for sheep - crop fields, farmers building, tractor etc. (New Zealand flag next to building?)
A truck full of sheep the main focus on the screen - The farmer has just finished loading them onto the truck (animation of him shutting the door of the truck) for it to drive off to the bottom right corner.

Cuts to a side view of the truck driving, seeing the sheep poking their heads between the wooden cracks. Drives along for _ seconds (fact on side of truck) - *the camera could move slowly along the side of the truck as it goes out of the screen to the right, to show the carbon emissions coming out of the funnel (could form a percentage?)

As the truck drives through a factory door, the camera zooms/pans out to view the food factory. The camera cuts to inside the factory with a view of conveyer belts in a row, moving boxes with various different animals/fruits and veg’s in - each box has an animal sticker on it to show what it is (and a fact about it). The boxes reach the end of the conveyer belt, out of holes in the wall and onto carts.

Cuts to cart reaching a harbour (long shot to see the whole scene) where a cargo ship is ready to go (NZ flag here?) Cuts to a close up of the ship as the cart drives onto it with the lamb, drives back off it empty.

Starts zooming out to see a series of boats lined up at the harbour with different country flags on (the original one the food we followed has a UK flag) - the camera zooms out further until eventually you see a map of the world, with different arrows representing each boat going to a different country (different colours?) (infographic type thing)

Once the boat reaches the UK, the camera zooms back in until the boat is in full view - you can see a couple of people waiting at the harbour for the cargo. The camera cuts to give the impression it’s inside a truck - looking towards the back door where boxes are being loaded in, you see a man lifting a box onto the floor and then shutting the truck door.

As the scene goes black for 2 seconds, it then cuts again to a view of a warehouse where all supermarket food is stored (could have a supermarket name at the entrance - e.g. ‘Tesco’s warehouse’) to see the truck driving towards it from the bottom left corner - cuts to inside the room where a cargo truck is transporting a few boxes (with the lambs in). Once they are put down, a calendar or clock with fade in/out flicking through to show that time has passed (state how long it’s being stored for).


Next scene shows a couple of hands grabbing a box, which he lifts - then cuts to a hand putting a packet of meat onto a supermarket aisle - the camera moves to the right slightly to show ‘British meat’.

Another hand appears, hovers over the imported meat, but ultimately picks up the British meat.

The camera cuts to a long shot of the entrance/exit of the supermarket (camera facing outside the shop) to see them walking out of the store; camera stays in the same position - as the customer walks off you can see a market in the distance.

Cuts to the marketplace, seeing stalls and healthy food sourced locally - kids happily picking out food and seeds ready to plant their own veg.

Ends on a shot like this one with the credits fading in/out with appropriate text (lasting approx 10 seconds at the most):


I altered it slightly after suggestions from Cara, to try and cut down my animation load slightly and make it flow better. Now I'm happier with the idea, I will find some facts to be contained in this animation and pass it on to be storyboarded!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Potential Business...

My design has been on Qwertee's website since 17th February, which I have advertised on my personal Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter profiles to get my work out there and make people aware that my work is available for voting.

On Facebook, my friend commented on the link I posted to the voting page, with a proposition of his friend potentially buying my designs so far and hiring me to make him more for his T shirt printing business!

The design we have been discussing

Talking on Facebook is an informal form of communication but knowing that someone is interested in my work is great! My friend is going to discuss the matter with the business owner and propose some form of business plan/freelance opportunity with me when they have decided what they want. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Finishing My One Piece Mock Up

After finishing my design, I had to put it onto the mock up T shirt and layout how it will look on the website. I knew I wanted to put my design on the background image, so that viewers can see the picture up close, so after a few tries I came up with this alteration:

The final background image
I decided this compared to the other positions because feedback I had received suggested to make the image line up at the bottom, so that there isn't much white space underneath the ocean.

Based on feedback from my last design, which I put on a light blue shirt, overall people said they wouldn't want to wear that colour, despite liking the design. So for this design I firstly compared the black and white shirts, because they are the most generic coloured shirts that are more likely to be bought.

Out of the two, I prefer the black, since it makes my design stand out more, whereas on the white the white waves and parts of the boat blend into the background, which I don't believe gives my work justice.

Despite deciding on going with the black shirt, I still feel that the small black flag on top of the ship blends into its background. I don't think this will matter too much since you can still see the pattern on the flag, but I want to give voters another option just incase.
This is why I put two shirts on my final mock up - despite it covering part of my background you can see how the design will look on both shirts - since I used another dark colour I believe the design looks just as good.

The final mock up
I have now submitted this image to Qwertee, to hopefully be published on their site within the next 2 days!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Colouring My Design

The first few colours were simple enough to pick and assign to different waves; I decided to start with establishing the bold colours, keeping in mind that 6 is the maximum variety of colours Qwertee will accept.

Initial Colours

I had already used 5 colours in this first image, so for the rest of the picture I had to use halftones (light and dark for both colours I used for the waves). This allowed me to have a bigger variety without exceeding the limit, and it managed to let me develop different shades that look good together, therefore giving the impression that every wave is a part of one ocean.


Once I had completed the half tones on the waves, I just had to finish off the ship and the monsters in the ocean. I used the light and dark shades of the red to get different tones while trying to keep to their original colours in the story. Despite the half tones being checkered, I think it works well, to add detail and texture to my image.

Now that the colouring is almost done, I will apply it to the t shirt on the mock up kit and see which best shows off my design.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

TSB Bank Advert

I have previously been deeply inspired by this piece of animation, and the series of advertisements to come after it:

I would like to create a smooth, informative animation with this type of camera panning, gradual development of buildings/civilisation and potentially style, depending which technique would best suit my final idea. It's smooth running animation would keep viewers interested and I could use this technique to describe how food is made, the history of how it was made, and suggest changes that need to be made to our eating habits or consumption of food; I could adapt any idea to portray it in this way.

For example I could use an idea along the lines of this animation below (presented to us during the briefing) of how farming started out peacefully and healthily for the animals, which then turned into cruelty as time has gone on, and hopefully encouraging the fact that free ranging animals are better.

This animation has more of a model/CG look, which gives it a softer, smoother and more appealing overall look in the layout. If I decide on the core subject my idea will be based on then I can decide what technique and style to use which will tie everything in together best.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

One Piece Design

After seeing my first design become a success, it's time to finish my second. I have decided to use another of my fine liner drawings from my moleskine because the style is interesting and enjoyable to make.

The ship in the illustration is from the popular anime series One Piece, which is the centre of this design. I think creating a rounded off boarder with the waves gives the design a finished look which will be suitable for a t shirt, whereas if I had left the waves cut off around the edges it would leave a clear box which doesn't look as appealing.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Applied Animation

Today I received my newest brief: 'Food for thought'. We have the option to work in groups, individually or co-operate with my classmates, using their strongest skills to assist and make up your work.

It will be a documentary piece, lasting between 1-2 minutes using any medium you wish, with the main focus being on applying everything I have learnt so far into a bigger project.

It sounds interesting; I have never made a documentary before, nor have I watched that many, but if I can think of a strong idea this project has the potential for me to do well. After the session I started generating ideas onto a mind map, allowing me to see more clearly how subjects relate to each other:

[Mind map]

I will take a few ideas that stand out to me and develop on them further.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Loop De Loop - Gravity

This month's theme for Loop De Loop sounds interesting - gravity seems to have an obvious link with a few principles of animation, such as squash and stretch; there are a lot of potentially fun ideas I could develop involving weight in objects and characters.

The rules for Loop De Loop are the same for every theme:

The deadline for this task is 11:30pm 22nd March, I will improve my time management over the course of the next 2 months to enter this competition!

Studio Brief 2 - Collaboration

Now that we have analysed a brief and put together pitch boards individually, we have the opportunity to collaborate with anyone from the animation, illustration or graphic design classes.

For this task me and a fellow classmate from my animation class decided we wanted to work together. I have known them for a while now and we have discussed what we would do if we had the chance to collaborate. Since she prefers to generate ideas and designs and I prefer the practical animating side of the process, we thought it wise to join up; especially since this is my first time collaborating on a full project with anyone, I feel comfortable working with someone I trust and I'm confident that we will both put our best efforts into this project.

The first session will involve analysing 3 briefs of your choice, just the same as the individual practice; by the end of the session we should have chosen a brief and written a contract as an agreement of roles within the project, to avoid conflict later. Me and my partner agreed we'd choose different briefs, so we have more to analyse and discuss. Here are the 3 I have chosen:


[breif here]

This looks to be an interesting brief; with the theme of 'Rule Britannia' I believe there is a lot of potential to either go with a traditionally British themed piece of work or put our own spin on the theme. It is the only brief on D&AD that bluntly mentions you can use animation, which appeals to me as an animator. The brief is very specific with it's target audience and what Vice wants included in the ident, which should make it easier to break down and research appropriately.


[breif here]

This brief is giving entries the chance to have their work exposed to the world in their new campaign. It wants to have a wide target audience and use technology to inspire and help girls to have an education, which sounds like a very good cause. It will give us the chance to create a variety of products to complete a campaign such as posters, logos and even animation, which could be a good opportunity for both of us to extent our practice and try different things.


[breif here]

The main reason I picked this brief over the others from the YCN competition was because it seems to have the most creative freedom in terms of characters and advertising. I wanted to compare the detail into the creative challenge with the briefs from D&AD, which I think will give me a better understanding about what contents a good brief has. I thought it could be a good opportunity to explore character design and animation in a different style then what I'm used to.

I will take these briefs into the lesson tomorrow and discuss these and the briefs my collaborative partner chooses to hopefully come to a decision that will make us both happy.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Final Mock Up

After trying two different coloured backgrounds, I decided to submit this mock up t-shirt design for Qwertee:

I am glad I chose the lighter shaded background, because despite it blending in with one of the colours, it still makes the whole image look brighter and looks more like the rest of the ocean compared to the darker colour.

I this this design works well on a T-shirt, compared to another form such as a poster, because of the quirky style and lack of text making it fan art rather than an advert.

After 15 hours of being published on the website and available for voting, it has received 77 votes so far! This proves that Stitch is a popular character and the unusual waves composed together in this way make it an interesting image that at least 77 people want on a T-shirt!

I will overlook how well this image does over the next few days before starting on my next image; I want to use this style again but with a different character or TV show as the main focus as I believe this layout has worked really well.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Qwertee Mock Ups

My final Stitch t-shirt design is almost ready to be submitted to Qwertee! I created a couple of mock up layouts with my design on a t-shirt and the background image, to show how it would appear on the website.

Qwertee provide you with a downloadable mock up kit with all the possible different coloured T-shirts they use, potential backgrounds for your T-shirt to be shown on, and the opportunity for you to put your creative spin on your design.

The default image on the mock up kit
After you have read through the guidelines appearing on the default image - seeing the guidelines where your image can be placed on the shirt - you can hide or delete the writing and put your design and background (if you wish) onto the Photoshop file.

Once I understood this, I uploaded my image onto this file, changed the colour of the T-shirt and moved it to the right hand side. I did this so I could fit a close up of my image in the background so that viewers can see a detailed version of the image. My main problem was deciding what colour to have my background; I knew I wanted to have it a shade of blue so the image doesn't look too different from the T-shirt, so I picked 2 shades from the T-shirt and tried them both out:

The lighter blue gives the image a brighter impression, but the darker blue allows you to see every colour more clearly. Despite this the darker blue is a much similar shade to the T-shirt, so it doesn't stand out as much as they are too similar. It's because of this I decided to use the lighter shade, the most important aspects of the image are the detailed version and seeing the T-shirt in a full layout; as long as both are visible and the T-shirt looks good then I am happy with the image.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Colouring Stitch...

Since I'm only allowed to use 6 colours within my design (on a lighter shaded T-shirt), I had to adjust certain aspects of my original plans.

For example I wanted to colour the frog in green, but I had already used 6 colours for the rest of the image, so to make it stand out slightly I used the halftone tool on Photoshop.

A problem I encountered with that tool is that the colour appears checkered. In the end I decided that pattern on the frog works well to make him stand out from the waves around him, and I have added little details to the waves too which help the whole image look good as a whole.

After I had decided this, I just had to choose between a lighter or darker shade for the frog's head. The original character has a green head and a lighter stomach, but I couldn't achieve the right shade of the stomach so had to improvise. I tried two shades for the head, a lighter and darker (as shown on the left) and decided the darker looks best.

I also used the halftone pattern on Stitch's shadow on the surfboard and on the lighter shade in his mouth. Both of these worked better than the frog, particularly the lighter shade in the mouth, because it adds an interesting tone to the image and gives it a quirky look.

After applying these qualities to my piece, I think the overall image looks more detailed and full of life, which is how I want this design to look!

Monday, 26 January 2015

From Page to Photoshop

After deciding to develop my initial Stitch design, I had to transfer my drawing from my moleskine to Photoshop, so I can make the appropriate changes to turn it into a design.

Firstly I removed the line running down the centre and made the background the same colour, changing the contrast and levels to make the black and white clear and thicker. After this it was time to adjust it slightly so it could work on a T-shirt; I didn't change any of the lines but I thought adding a circle around the waves would give it the impression that he surfed through the circle. I think this addition makes my design look more interesting and completes it, since in the original I let it run to the edge of the page.

Original drawing
Final design
Now that I have my final layout, I can make the background transparent and add colour to it!

Loop De Loop Faces - Change of Plan

Since I can no longer submit my idea for 'faces' to Loop De Loop since the deadline has passed, I have decided to finish the animation regardless, since I want to practice and improve my skills, but just focus on getting the movement right rather than designing a face for it. The concept will still be there but due to me working on other projects I won't be able to fully finish this piece.

I have refined my storyboard and will go ahead with this final idea:


Even if not many people can see it I hope it helps me in my animation progression so I have improved for future films I make!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

My Final Piece

After many hours of animating and modelling, I have finally completed my idea:

Character & Narrative Final Piece from Alex Neild on Vimeo.

Overall I am happy with my work. I have learnt so much during the past few months about using 3D software and translating my ideas from a 2D to 3D platform.

I will take everything I have learnt on board to improve my work in the future!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

3D Modelling for Stop Motion

Due to the growing digital age, stop motion has had to compete with major 3D films that were being released around the same time. However recent stop-motion films such as 'Coraline', 'Paranorman' and 'The Boxtrolls' had a refined technique that makes good use of the modern technology which has been available during recent years.

The company behind these three films is Laika; founded in 2005, so far they have had great success with combining 3D modelling and stop motion. They create the facial expressions on a computer, which were then printed (the time it took varied with how big the face is) using their 3D printer, the printed facial panels were covered with a special white powder while in this process; After the white powder is brushed away the artist is left with a facial panel, in colour, which are then sanded, dripped in glue, tested and sprayed with a few clear coats. This is done with every single print in order to keep them consistent with each other.

Compared to 'Coraline', 'The Boxtrolls' characters have a lot more detail, such as rosy cheeks and more panels which allows more of the face to move; This shows that they are improving their work in all aspects, even within their current technology, which you can see below with the main character from each film:

Coraline's facial expressions
Norman's facial expressions (Paranorman)
Egg's facial expressions (Boxtrolls)

This process has helped stop motion practitioners achieve detailed designs that would have been hard to consistently re create had they gone through the process by hand. It has overall helped companies such as Laika make better quality films with subtle details that help audiences believe their stories.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

From 2D to 3D Animation

Traditional, hand drawn animation has been around for several decades now, through feature length film, cartoons, and short films being the main 3.

Disney have been one of the main contributes to the 2D animation industry. They created the first ever animated feature length film, Snow White (1937), which is an amazing feat in itself; With 54 feature length films to their name, they still continue to create films to this day.

Cinderella's transformation, a truly memorable moment in film

However, other animating techniques and companies have become just as popular, if not more so, than Disney.

Pixar are one of the biggest and well known animation companies in the world. Primarily based in computer generated imagery, they started out in 1986 making animated shorts for 9 years, where they demonstrated their skills to the world with a small taste of what was to come from their skilled animators.

Their first feature length film, Toy Story (1995), was an instant hit and gained them the popularity they deserve; It became the first feature length film to only use CGI throughout a whole hour and a half, which at the time excited and amazed their audience. This has since given a fresh variety of films for the world to watch, showing off technology that wouldn't have been possible during Disney's era.

Recent films such as the Toy Story franchise and Monsters Inc have shown how amazing Pixar are at creating a good story in beautiful environments (such as the image below), playing on the imagination of children and putting a new spin in storytelling. These stories were told brilliantly through the use of CGI, and would most likely have turned out very differently if they had been made with hand drawn imagery.

For example looking at the concept art compared to the final look in Toy Story 3, the computer generated piece brings the room to life and has a realistic look to it, which helps the viewers to believe that the toys in the film could actually come to life; Whereas in the drawn version, the toys wouldn't look as alive as they do in the 3D world.
With 3D characters, Pixar have created the illusion that you can pick up one of the toys right out of the screen and it would feel just like any other toy a child has. I think this is a nice concept that has never properly been achieved before, and could explain why the film became so popular.

Toy Story 3 concept art
Toy Story 3 final render

Interestingly, Disney and Pixar became partners in 2006 and started releasing films together; Disney's name appears on films made by Pixar while Disney have started making CG features, such as Tangled and Frozen. This suggests that both companies saw the advantages of the others techniques and wanted to make the most of that.

So the question is does this make computer generated animation better than traditional techniques? I think both companies have inspired aspiring animators such as myself that anything can be possible, Pixar in particular took a big leap into the new technological world, despite having competitors of a different, well established technique, and proving to many that 3D animation is possible and fits in well with the digital world.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Changes Based on My Feedback

So after the feedback I got yesterday, I have made some changes to my animation.

Firstly I wanted to add more movement in my first scene. I wasn't sure how to do this, but one good part about it is the breath at the start, so I decided to keep that same movement, but put the arms in a slightly different position at the end and extend the head movement further to emphasise his tiredness.
Once this was in place, I felt the action through the rest of the sequence should have just as much movement, so thought a common action everybody does is scratch their head. It was difficult to make the arm and fingers move smoothly whilst scratching but I am relatively happy with the final result.

Most of my feedback said to add in more follow through action with the arms; which was my main focus for the second scene. The main problem with it originally was the left arm didn't move very much so the body looked quite stiff. As the arm swings back and forth I made sure the elbow and wrist overlapped the shoulder's action slightly.
Just before the third swing I wasn't sure how to move the left arm, because realistically it should swing in the opposite direction as the right arm, so the action wouldn't have looked right if I had moved it too early; so instead I made him clench his fist as it was still in the air, whilst the right arm was still swinging around his body.

For my third scene I also wanted his left arm to move more; so I put in an extra swing when he leans forward while saying "wax" and bent his elbow slightly in places. I think this adds more life to the character and makes him looser.
I also extended his lean forward and heightened him as he says "do the laundry", which emphasises those phrases and keeps him from looking stiff.

I put all three playblasts together into one video to see how they pann out.
I think overall the feedback I received makes my animation look better than it did before! I will re render each scene and add in a sound effect on the broom and cloth as he moves.

Animation and Live-Action Combined

The development of technology within the past 20 years has allowed filmmakers and animators to extend their skills in a variety of ways.

Despite the lack of technology in the 80's, filmmakers and animators came together to create the film 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' using robotic contraptions to move the props as the cartoon characters would, training the live action actors to be able to focus on certain points and react at the right times, and having skilled animators such as Richard Williams to work over the top of the film footage.

An example of the actor interacting with the cartoon

It was a big risk to take well known cartoon characters and adapt them to a live action environment, which ultimately worked out as successfully as the creators had hoped.

The technology that is used today by companies such as Double Negative would be able to achieve a similar look to this film, except it would be slightly cheaper to run and the characters could look more detailed. However in a way, it was more impressive that the filmmakers in the 80's to create a film this advanced for its time, due to their lack of modern technology, so they had to improvise and use tricks to merge both mediums.

After saying this, pretty much any idea can be brought to the screen now with the use of CGI, so there is a lot more potential in the future of film to apply those special effects and animated characters to anything.

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Simpsons

One of the longest running television shows to date is The Simpsons. It tells the many stories of a suburban family who run into problems or wreak havoc in their hometown of Springfield. Just looking at the picture below you can see their different personalities shining through.

A picture of the main family
All five family members are quite stereotypical; Homer, the man of the house, blunders his way through life trying to support his family. Marge is the mother who keeps the family together, she is empathetic and takes good care of her children and husband. Bart is the troublemaker of the class, he skateboards, pulls off a lot of pranks and gets himself into detention (as seen in the title sequence). Lisa is a bright eight year old who enjoys music and gets excellent grades - the classic "geek". Maggie is the baby of the family, she is unable to talk due to her age but she seems to have a good idea of what is happening.

Homer Simpson
The style of the characters designs are reflected throughout the whole of their universe, so they seem normal compared with the background characters. Saying this their designs in particular are unique; for example with Homer, he has a big round stomach, a grey area around his mouth and a few hairs on top of and around his head.

Observing the picture, he isn't drawn with many straight lines (those next to his ear), which I believe is a tac tick to make his character look more appealing to the audience and represent his enjoyment of food and beer as he grows older.

This is the same with every member of the family; Marge's hair is blue and put up, which is unique and stands out compared to the background characters; Bart has a round stomach just like his dad, and with straight up spiky hair, suggesting his troublesome nature. Lisa and Maggie both have the same hair style, which suggests it runs through the families generic line, but Lisa's necklace shows that she has taken inspiration from her mother.

During the Simpsons episodes, the main characters come across a lot of fellow townspeople, who all have personalities in their own right and add some humour when it's needed.

There are subtle differences in the general designs of the town, such as all of the women have eye lashes, whereas the men don't, which is traditionally a feature that females take more care of. Apart from these, they have all been templated on the same visual style and colour scheme, which I believe works well for keeping their universe the same.

Feedback from my Final Crit

This is the film I presented in my final crit earlier today:

The feedback I got was mostly very good;

The grey objects on white background give my piece a tone that's quite bland and simple, which describes my character very well.
They also said the lip syncing was done quite well, and my voice acting for it also adds to the tone of the piece and compliments the characteristics of Moom.

Overall the class agreed it is a simple yet effective piece that was a great first attempt at using Maya!

A few points that I could improve are adding in overlapping and follow through actions - particularly in the arms - to loosen the character up a bit and give him more life.
I could also add in a sound effect as the cloth in the third scene is moving across the window, and turn up the volume slightly on my brush sound effects.

I can set aside some time within the next week to alter these points and make my animation even better!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Pink Panther

One interesting character that has been re-made over the years is Inspector Clouseau from the film series Pink Panther.

He is supposedly a helpful hand to the police, but his thriving confidence and clumsiness result in a series of blunders that distract and help the criminals to escape sooner than they could have. However despite these mishaps, he still manages to solve the case - eventually.

With every re make, animated or otherwise, he has been accessorised with a hat, moustache and suit, all of which assist with the portrayal of a man who is very confident with his work and his looks. This being said, it is his actions that speak loudest; his upright stance suggesting authority among everyone else, the way he handles artefacts shows how oblivious he can be sometimes, even his accent makes him sound slightly arrogant.

However it is these traits that make him an interesting character and enjoyable to watch, the audience asks themselves how can such a man become an inspector? And a good one at that.

Monsters University

How do you create a monster with a personality? Pixar answered this with their popular films 'Monsters Inc.' and 'Monsters University'. The first describes what happens on the other side of a cupboard door, visualising the theory that children see monsters in their room at night. And the second is a prequel to the first, telling the story of how the main characters got to their position in the first film.

In Monsters University, the artists had to alter their designs in order to make the prequel setting believable. It was set in the 80's, whereas Monsters Inc took place in the 90's, so it was interesting to see the subtle changes between films.

The character designs didn't change too much between the films, but "a hook" was added to the university students to make it obvious that it was the same monster but younger, such as Mike's retainer, and Sully's hairstyle/size.

Randal has an interesting character development, because at university he is wearing glasses which portray his originally nerdy personality, which kept the audience curious as to how he changed from a good student to the evil character in Monsters Inc.

Another way to keep it relatable to the audiences was to re create the stereotypical feel of the American university lifestyle with sororities and traditional campus grounds, but adapting everything to how the artists envisioned the monstrous world.

The background characters add to the atmosphere of the film; the designers created a few main types of monster to feature, then adapted each design to look slightly different, using a certain colour scheme and having a body structure for reference.

Every aspect of a film is important to telling a narrative, especially a prequel/sequel because the audience already has an idea of how it could look.

It's All Coming Together...

I've started animating on my second scene for my film 'When will my life begin?'!

I took 'test 2' as a trial run as a way for me to get used to moving Moom. I will make the first sweep arm movement start earlier so that Moom isn't standing still for too long, and the head/body will twist around more as the arm moves.

After evaluating what I did on the test above, I decided to start again and try to extend my movement further so it flows more naturally. I am a lot happier with the second trial I did because I added in a more natural twist in the upper body and foot as he turns around to sweep next to him. The left arm also swings behind him as he moves forward with the broom to try and emphasise that movement.

In my first scene I have now added head movements:

I think this looks better than my previous tests because it gives him more life, despite him being tired.

Now I will start rendering these scenes to watch them in high quality.