Friday, 10 October 2014

Character and Narrative

So my class had our first briefing into the new project today! We found out that this project will be based on learning Autodesk Maya to lip sync a rigged model to our own voices.

We will be taking a verse or chorus of song lyrics to record ourselves, but they can be said in any way that we wish. This ranges from screaming and shouting our lungs out to whispering or muttering, depending on which way we want to take this project.

This is the character I will be animating, called Moom (given to the whole class):

[insert screenshot]

He's an interesting looking character, who is easy enough to adjust and change features slightly (such as the teeth), so I'm looking forward to experimenting with it!

This character also needs at least 1 prop to assist in the performance, so I will need to take this into consideration when generating ideas.

So the first thing I need to do is start generating mind maps with different song lyrics and movements of Moom.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Using Audacity, I downloaded sounds from Youtube and and opened them up like this:

I then selected the part of the track I wanted to use, exported it and added it to my Photoshop timeline, positioning it in the right place.

I decided to use simple sound effects because I wanted to emphasise the action in the animation, and the sound effects help describe what's happening through the story.

The reason I didn't add imagery or specific sounds for the cloud was because I didn't want to narrow down the reasons why someone could be depressed. ChildLine are open to solving any issues, so I thought adding specific imagery and phrases would narrow that down, whereas now the audience can use their imagination and relate to the film in their own way.

After all of the improvements and applying audio, here is my final piece.

Overall, I think I've done well with this piece. The main point I would improve is the sound of the cloud. While I believe I made the right choice of the type of sound to use, I could have chosen a better crowd sound effect/smoke machine that go better together; Watching it back now, I wonder if it's easy to depict where the sound is coming from.
However, I'm happy with the movements and design of the animation, and I think it puts my point across well with the dramatic ending.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Improvements In My Animation

After receiving the feedback for my animation, I have taken on board some of the points made by my tutor and piers and made some changed to my film, such as:
The cloud. They suggested that although the movement of the lines are smooth and life-like, it should look more like a cloud. I acknowledged this and added another layer behind the cloud of a faded black/grey colour, to give the cloud a gassy feel.

The original
Final Cloud

It was also suggested that I add some imagery or text into the cloud at certain points to show that it's my characters thoughts, rather then just a cloud. This will imply to the audience what is wrong with my character; which will allow me to explore the issues that suicidal teenagers might be facing; giving my animation more context and reason behind it.
However after considering this, I decided the imagery would put too much in the image, so the viewer won't know where to look. I will use the audio as a tool to communicate why the cloud is there.

Another improvement suggested was to draw out the ChildLine logo at the end, or at least make it look neater. These were a couple of alternatives that I tried:

The logo taken from the internet, with a transparent background, so it could fit neatly on my black background.
My drawn out logo - which I traced from the original (above)
Out of these, I prefer the logo which I drew myself, because it gives the logo a sketched feel to it, which works well with the rest of my animation.
This version gives the logo a neater, painted look, which makes the logo slightly quirky but it's still faithful to the original design.

After watching my animation again after the final crit, I noticed that the walk cycle wasn't quite accurate. The feet was the main problem, I realised he was walking on his toes rather then through his heels, which was giving the animation a strange limp.

After I re-did the feet, the walk flows more smoothly.

Now that I've made these improvements to my campaign, I will find the audio to finish this piece off, and bring it to life.

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Final Crit

This is the video I presented to my class today:

The feedback I received was generally good, with a few suggestions to make it better:

They thought it was good that I had done further research after the interim crit to lead me to this outcome.
I need to find and add audio - I explained that I thought sound effects would be the best way to communicate what's happening
They suggested that I add noise representing the cloud; such as a lot of voices in a crowd shouting insults at him.
The cloud could contain images or words flashing up (to show that the cloud is his thoughts and worries following him) It should also look more like a cloud rather then squiggly lines.
I should make the ChildLine logo at the end neater or draw it myself to fit to the style of the animation.

It definitely seemed to have an effect on everyone who saw it, so I must have used the right body language, colour scheme and words to get across the sad story.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Progress - The Second Half Of My Animation

I have made a lot of progress in the past few weeks;
This is part of my walk cycle, animated with the cloud that will be following the character:

I think I have executed the body language well, implying that my character is sad and plodding along slowly.
To give it a finished look, I added colour to the character, removed the circles on the knees and added clothes. I will need to add the facial features to complete the look.
I will also add a background, so that the viewers know where the character is walking.

Scene 5
Scene 6 is the character back in his room, stood as he gives a big sigh; the bump on his chest in the first photo is supposed to represent this.
Apart from that, the main action in this scene is the cloud floating above him, then moving off the right of the screen. The movement is consistent and flickery, which is the look I was going for.
Now I just need to add his eyes, which will hopefully show the sadness I'm trying to get across.

Scene 6
Scene 6
Scene 7 is the final part of the story - the suicide. To pull this off, I decided to have the cloud do the action, which represents the characters thoughts as his depression is tempting him towards committing suicide.
I think it moves quite well, and smoothly, as it twists around the rope.

Scene 7
Scene 7 - The cloud floats around through the noose and back to the top left of the screen

Scene 7 - The character fades out, representing the end of his life
 After the scene fades out, a series of texts will fade in and out of the screen:

A fact I found on their website
I thought it would be more believable if the viewers can see actual figures

I chose these words because I thought it was the simplest way to explain to viewers who may be going through this situation that they can talk to someone about their problems/worries, and that it doesn't have to end in suicide.
I thought a black background would represent death and how serious this situation is, and thought it would go nicely with the rest of my grey-scale animation.

Now that I have filled the 40 second limit, I can go back over my animation and add the final feature, change a few mistakes and have it ready for the Interim Crit on the 28th April.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Reference Material - Walk Cycle

To animate my walk cycle, I needed to look at how a sad walk cycle should look, so I found this:

Sad, Slow Walk Cycle from Lindsey Bunish on Vimeo.

Observing the body language, I can see the head and top half of the body are very weighed down, causing the legs and feet to stay close to the ground as they move.
There isn't a lot of difference in the height of the person throughout the movement, just a small bobbing action.
The back is arced, which is what is causing everything else to move in a lower position.
The foot flicks back slightly as one is lifted off the ground and moving forward into the next step, which suggests the toes stay glued to the ground as long as possible, suggesting the person is slightly reluctant to move.
The arms swing slowly in time with the legs, giving the whole body a slow momentum and allowing the audience to follow the pace more fluently.

After watching this video, I will take these points and try to apply them to my animation, to portray the fact that my character is sad/depressed.

Progress So Far...

After completing the backgrounds, I was able to start animating! Firstly, I drew in the keyframes on top of the backgrounds:

The first scene contains the alarm clock buzzing, signalling the start of the day. At first, I struggled to tackle the issue of how the alarm would be switched off (since it switching off by itself doesn't make sense) and fitting my character into the original frame I drew proved to be difficult.

My original visualisation of scene 1
I realised it would be better to emphasise the clock, so making it larger on the screen seemed to be the best idea; It also solves my issue of fitting my character into the picture, since now I can just have a close up of his hand hitting the clock.

Scene 1
Scene 2 proved to be easier to animate, since it only took a few frames to complete the arm action.

Scene 2
After doing this, I animated the cloud above his head. I visualised it moving quickly and moving at the same pace throughout the film, so I drew in a few frames and experimented with the speed at which it moves on the timeline. I ended up concluding that having it span across 3 frames (at 24 fps) had it moving at the best speed.

Scene 2 cloud timeline
It took me a while to get scene 3 right; I wanted it to look heavy and slow, as if he is reluctant to walk down the stairs. I thought the best way to do this was to exaggerate his actions; the first frame is the highest point during a sigh. I wanted to show that he is taking a really deep breath, so extending his chest was the more obvious way to do this.

Scene 3
After getting the exaggeration, I had to make him move. At first I thought putting in lots of steps would be the best way to slow him down - but that would mean using more frames.
Instead it was suggested to me by my classmate that I just put in a few steps that he plods down on heavily, and pause on every step.
This proved to make the action clearer and simpler, yet it looked better.

Scene 3
For scenes 4 & 5, I wanted to use the same character drawings for both scenes, because one background fades into the other:

Scenes 4 & 5 merged together
I realised after drawing my character in the right place between both scenes, the door was too low down, giving the impression that my character is very tall. So I selected and enlarged the door and windows of background 4 to make it look like this (underneath):

Scene 4 with the door enlarged
After this I added in him sighing, but timed it between the fading in-and-out of the two scenes, to make the animation flow better.

Overall, I think my animation is going well. After cutting out a few scenes from my original storyboard it has made it a lot easier to slow down the movements, which work better with the theme of the story.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ceramics Induction Part 3

We had the morning of the following week to finish off our models with the milliput and plasticine. I used this time to add more accessories and facial features to my character:

If I had more time, I would add eyeballs to the sockets, which is a simple process of rolling two small balls of milliput, poking a hole in each, leaving that to dry and then painting them.

Ceramics Induction Part 2

As part of the ceramics induction, we were given a task of creating 10 shapes representing the process of one shape transforming into another.

We could use any two shapes we preferred, as long as we use one colour and have the in betweens.
I decided to complete this task with two simple shapes, because I wanted to be able to see the transaction more clearly, which I thought would be more obvious with simpler shapes.

Ceramics Induction Part 1

Our class undertook an induction in the ceramics department as a 4 week mini project, which involved using a lot of plasticine!

Firstly, we had to design a character, so after drawing this out on paper and determining where the skeleton will be, we could start making the models.

The first task we had was to create the wire armatures (by folding a long piece of wire in half and clipping it in the drill to spin it around to make it stronger. At first it's hard to figure out how tight to spin them, because if it's too tight then it won't bend, and if it's not tight enough then it won't be very strong. Once I tried it a few times then it worked well.

Then I tried the slightly harder task of sawing a metal rod and using a hammer to bend it. I found this more difficult because it requires physical strength to get it done quickly. I eventually managed it and was able to move on the the armature making...

This required using the wires I had spun earlier and bending them into the shape of my design. I didn't enjoy this part as much because the wire didn't bend as easily as I thought it would, but after referencing from my drawing I was able to create a basic structure which was attached to the metal rod that I'd cut earlier (placed in a hole in a piece of wood).

Once the wire was complete I was able to start mixing some milliput (two
tubes of plasticine-like substance that harden when mixed together) which was used as the muscles of my armature, leaving the joints free to move.

After the milliput was placed, we had to leave them to set, and carry on with the process a week later. This started off with us putting plasters over the milliput, so that the plasticine we were about to apply would stick to the model.

I have photographed the process of applying the plasticine, seeing my character slowly develop over time. (Left hand side)

Overall I have enjoyed this process of making a model; Designing a
character and seeing it come to life over time is so rewarding, and experimenting with the different tools to develop textures was enjoyable. My favourite part was creating the accessories, such as the hair and hat, because they are the main aspects that have given my character a personality.

Drawing of my character

Armature with Milliput

Friday, 28 March 2014

Changing My Ideas...

After completing my walk cycle, I realised all of the actions would take longer then I had planned. This means that I won't be able to use every scene in my current storyboard, since I have a 40 second time limit.

So I reviewed my storyboard and decided which scenes to cut out, leaving this as my new final storyboard:

I think this will play out better overall, and should still get across the message that he is depressed and eventually suicidal.
My tutor said - during feedback for my interim crit - that I should consider including other characters (even in the background) who also have a black cloud over them, so signify their depression and show that others feel the same as you. However due to this cut I've had to make, I cannot fit in the time to show another character's cloud. Despite this I think the text at the end should represent this clearly enough, and now my animation focuses on one, clear problem.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Form, Flow & Force

The final task under our module for Visual Language is Form, Flow and Force. This involves getting into small groups and taking it in turns to pose and draw each other; to have at least 4 drawings for each task.
It was split into four different types of poses we had to capture:

Rhythm Is A Dancer
The first was to complete some form of walk cycle, holding each pose for 10 seconds, doing a series of 12 drawings per page.
The essence of the task was to get us to think about the shape of the body, not necessarily all the body parts, just the gist of what form the model is taking...

For all of these ones, I mistakenly tried to draw every limb of the body, which caused me to draw lots of jagged unsure lines, rather then one flowing movement.
However I think in this image in particular, if you look at the line created by the heads you can see the movement of my classmate in one flow.

Like A Puppet On A String
This task was to practice "squash and stretch" or exaggerating the features; where some started out curled up in a ball and ending with their arms stretched out, or vice versa.
I think this was to practice capturing each stage in the process of movement, and thinking about which limbs are moving the most.

I think I was starting to get better at thinking about the general shape rather then the whole body in these; because my tutors advice was to draw just one or two lines rather then more!
I still think there's room for improvement, where I position the drawings on the page is important as well (even if I have to overlap my drawings)

Ah! Push It
These poses were held for slightly longer (5-10 minutes), with someone pushing or pulling something.
Here we were supposed to focus on where the weight of the body is centred, and what movement is required to push or pull an object.

I enjoyed having a longer period of time on these drawings, because it allowed me more time to decide what the figure should look like and time to change it if there were any mistakes.
Looking back on my drawings, I start to notice how some of them are slightly out of proportion, and I needed to think more about the positioning on the page since parts of the images were cut off.
However I think I've more accurately captured the shapes of the bodies within the time limit, but if I could go back over them I would try and add more weight to the required parts and possibly add colour.

Strike A Pose
The final task was to hold a pose for 20-30 minutes - preferably a comfortable one - so that the others can add more detail to the drawings.

Again with this pose, after finishing the drawings I started to notice that some aspects of the body are out of proportion (such as the head in the image above).
Despite this, I think I've managed to capture the general shape of my classmates, which become more proportioned gradually from the first to last drawings.
I would have experimented with different media, but I wasn't entirely confident with my drawing skills, so thought it would be best if I stuck to my most comfortable media - pencil.

Overall, I enjoyed the longer poses more, because it allowed me more time to think about the figure and positioning of the body, whereas the first two tasks required me to draw in a way that I'm not used to, so found it more challenging to draw expressive lines.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Ryan Larkin - Walking

I like this as an example of using life drawing within animation:

It looks at all different body types, using a range of media to capture the body in all different ways. In some of them, he really fills a 3D space with the movement of the person; whereas others are just walking from one side to the other of the screen, or walking on the same spot! It's interesting to see the different techniques he's tried, to find out which way of drawing is the easiest or works the best.
At the start you see a lot of still images, showing us the life drawings he has undertaken, perhaps in preparation for animating the walk cycles.
A lot of them are very abstract, which allows viewers to focus on the actual shape and poses they are pulling rather then the identity of the person.
I like that he zooms in on certain details, such as the feet, on some of the drawings as they're walking, showing where abouts the weight is being supported.

Sleeping Beauty Live Action

In the early stages of animation, the Disney company referenced a live model doing the actions of the main characters of the film. Here's an example of how animators would stand in different positions as the model dressed as sleeping beauty would perform the actions:

They fixate on one pose, then as she's continually moving they keep sketching, referencing her as she moves. This is an interesting way to work, since they are able to capture the movement of the dress and hair flowing through mid air, so this proved to be a much more effective way of capturing the right figure rather then if she was standing still.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Thought of You - Ryan Woodward

One of my fellow classmates showed our class this animation as part of another module:

It very much involves life drawing, and it's obvious in this film that Woodward did lots of life drawing and gathered references prior to making this, since the body shapes, proportions and movements seem so accurate.
The actual movements are very exaggerated and extending to their peak, which creates more dynamic and interesting shapes to draw.
I like how this is still only sketches, because it allows viewers to see how the body is actually built up. It's been improvised to exaggerate the movements, with water splashes, extended limbs and even wings! But all those components work well together to create the story.
The colour and texture of the background are very simple, yet it still feels as if the characters are in a 3D space, and the fact it isn't the traditional white makes it softer and easier to watch.
The music compliments the characters and dance routine very well, and even gives the piece a softer feel to it.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Final Visual Style

Before I can start my animation, I need to establish my overall visual style, and test how it will look; so I created these images extracted from my storyboard to test my vision in a variety of situations:

Building without brick lines
Building with brick lines

I think the grey scale works well for my idea, to represent the gloomy depression that my character feels. Having my main character coloured white is what will make him stand out compared to everything else.