Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Aerial Dancing

I got a response from the advertising of my project; an email from a dancer based in Bristol who particularly admires the short films 'Thought of You' and 'Duet' that I included as inspirations in my description. She told me that a particular skill of hers is aerial dancing, with silk or with a hoop, which could be an option for me to animate.

I had never considered this type of dance as an option for my film, but now that it has been brought to light and after seeing examples of the positions and movements that can be achieved, I believe it is a beautiful art form.

Since Gemma has shown interest in my project, I will definitely consider this as a type of dance that I can animate - I'll see if she can send me any evidence of dance she has done so far and see if she is a person I can collaborate with.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Academic Poster

Just like in my other module COP 3, I am required to create an informative poster describing my project - except this time I will be sending it to 'the Dance Studio Leeds' to see if any student at their school is interested in choreographing a routine for me.

After receiving good feedback from my first academic poster for COP, I decided to create one with a similar layout for my idea proposal:

These first two versions of my poster turned out very text-heavy and bland; I wanted to get the information across, which I have done, but after receiving feedback from a few classmates I realised people might not notice it if it was pinned up on the wall. They suggested I change the font, make the images bigger, put less text, and make the title stand out more. 
I agreed with them, so decided to make the alterations, which lead me to create this:

This looks much better then my initial poster, because I removed the subheadings, and split the text up with bigger images. I tried to summarise what I want to say in fewer words as well, so that it doesn't sound like I'm over compensating for anything. 

I received much better feedback on this version, because I altered everything they suggested and the text makes sense, short and to the point. One point of improvement was altering the title - maybe changing the colour of it to make it stand out, which lead me to one final edit:

The Final Poster

I decided to use a shade of blue from the bottom image on my poster to edit the title colour, since it looks more colour coordinated and stands out slightly more. I also decided to change the colour of the contact details at the bottom of the page to make them stand out as well, and to make the page feel more symmetrical and finished. 

Overall I'm happy with the final result; it gets my point across well and will hopefully attract attention from the Dance Studio Leeds, as well as any other schools I potentially display this poster in, if it's needed. For now I will wait for responses, and start calling the dance schools if nobody gets back to me in a few days.

Emailing Dance Schools

In the end I decided I'd send an email with a brief description of what I want to get out if this project first, and then if no one responded within the week I'll start calling the dance schools.

I sent the email last night to 'the Northern Contemporary Dance School', 'Phoenix Dance Theatre' and 'the Dance Studio Leeds', and have so far received a response from the Dance Studio! It basically says that if I create a poster and send this to her, then she will display it on the noticeboards around the school and online.

It will be a good idea for me to complete this task and send her a poster, since having the information displayed with my contact details should hopefully gain more interest from the students, which is more likely to gain me some contacts. My new task for today is to complete this poster ready to send back to Katie Geddes by tonight/tomorrow morning.

My Email

An email from the Dance Studio Leeds

Friday, 29 January 2016

'Anatomy for the Artist'

Two years ago I picked up this book for a bargain, since it demonstrates a complete guide to human anatomy which I thought could become useful one day.

It's clear to see the structure of the human figure through this book, the illustrations of the bones, muscles and different aspects of the body are very informative and educational. Having an understanding of how the human body is structured is important to improving my drawing skills, since it should give me more knowledge into how my drawings should look, and what to improve in them.

I can continue referencing this book throughout the project, whenever I'm struggling to figure out how to improve my drawings I can flick through different sections of this book to learn how they should look.

Life Drawing Online

In order to develop my skills in drawing, I believe that doing life drawing exercises will be the best way to spend my time, since this looks specifically at the human body in different positions.

I recently found a website specifically designed to replicate a life drawing class <> ; the image below shows the page of the site which allows you to pick the gender of your model and if you want them to be clothed or not. Then it asks if you'd like it to be set up to replicate a real class (starting with quick poses, easing you into longer poses at the end), or if you want to take your time with each drawing.

Obviously this isn't the same as attending a real-life class, but it's still a decent alternative to allow me to practice drawing random poses.

The Life Drawing Website

After testing it out, I can safely say this is a reliable website; I tried the 'class mode' setting to last for 30 minutes - 10 poses in 30 seconds each, 4 poses lasting for 1 minute each, 2 poses for 5 minutes and 43 seconds and 1 pose for 11 minutes. Since I haven't practiced drawing for a while, this proved to be a good set up, since the 30 second poses warm you up to the next stages.

It felt a little easier to replicate the right positions once I got used to drawing again, here's my results:

The first 10 poses only lasted for 30 seconds; I'm not completely happy with them, on some the limbs are too wide or too thin in proportion to the rest of the body, but I think on most of them the line of action is at least slightly obvious.

I had a minute each to draw the next 4 poses; I tried to think about the line of action first and then work around that, which I think worked for some of them, but I have a habit of drawing a rough shape for the head first. This gives me an idea of where the rest of the body is going to sit, but unfortunately it stops me from focusing on the proportions as much. However this was only my first day in a while and I still mapped out the rough shapes I saw.

I ended up doing 4 poses for 5 minutes and 45 seconds because whilst in the process, there is an option to skip a pose, so once I had done a rough sketch of each I skipped them instead of waiting for the full 5 minutes. I am most pleased with the drawing on the bottom right of this page, because I got the line of action in place and correctly lined the feet with the rest of her body, since she is on the floor - at first I made the legs too long and the feet went off the edge of the page but I had time to correct this - it helped me to realise that the proportions in my drawings are very important. The drawing on the left didn't turn out as well, since one leg is supposed to be bent forwards while she leans on the other.

The last two 5 minute poses didn't turn out as well as I had hoped; poses with lying down and perspective are the most challenging for me, so I need to practice them a lot more. The bottom right was particularly difficult to draw, but looking back the perspective doesn't look too bad.

The final 11 minute pose proved to be difficult to draw, the cloth covering half of her body made working out the proportions confusing. However I think I got the body shape right, an improvement I would make is her right arm, I should have tried harder to make the forearm and hand smaller in size.

This has proven to be a good experience in establishing what I need to improve in my drawing skills; working on perspective and loosening up my drawings will be my priorities - for quick sketches I need to focus on the line of action rather than making the figure look particularly realistic. I have decided to try and do a 30 minute regularly throughout the project, to try and gradually improve my drawing and get used to doing it often, ready for when I animate my final piece.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

New Photoshop Brushes

Since I will be animating my final piece in Photoshop, I need to consider what type of brush textures I want to use. One of my classmates introduced me to these new brush textures available to download for free:

The one that seems the most appropriate to animate with for my idea is the 'Animators Pencil', since it looks sketchy and good for quick, expressive drawings.

I would like to download them all and experiment with each, and based on which theme I choose to build the routine with I can establish which brushes will be most appropriate to portray the right style.

Contacting Dance Schools...

In order to be able to bring my idea to life, I need an expert to choreograph a routine for me to reference from.

I started by researching what schools are located in leeds; I decided that collaborating with a student will be best, since they are learning and developing as well as me (which will hopefully mean they are more willing to volunteer for a variety of tasks), and this collaboration could even help them reach their curriculum. Here's a list of dance schools I could contact and their locations:

The ones that stand out to me the most are The Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Dance Studio Leeds, and Phoenix Dance Theatre.

I then drafted an email to work out what I want to say to the dance schools; initially I wanted to email each school, but I realise I will more likely get a direct answer from them if I call them over the phone instead. This will hopefully get the process moving faster so that I can be ready to fill out the final statement of intent ready for next week.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Animals Concept

My initial thoughts and ideas a few months ago involved a dance routine for humans, but including animals into the sequence.

A way that I could combine them smoothly is by looking at 'Harry Potter' as an example. One of the magic spells cast allows the user to produce a 'patronus' in the form of an animal. In this sequence, the animation of this spell has been done very smoothly and gives only the essence of each animal, giving the impression that it's a spirit; I feel I could combine this into a dance routine well, especially if I animate it in a sketchy style.

However I would have to give the concept meaning if I want to pull it off, for example choosing a specific animal such as a swan to represent the dancer wanting to fly away and have freedom, or two animals falling in love? I will think about this further as I develop the routine, and hopefully have some input from a potential collaboration dance partner.

Sketchy Style Animation

These three animations are the ones that inspired me to go through with my idea of animating a dance routine. They all share a similar sketchy, smoothly animated style that stretch the limits of the human body, while still portraying a sense of believability that draws the audience into the story.

'Thought of You' is the first example I saw of this style. Back in my first year of this course, I was introduced to this film by my classmate, and I have admired this form of animation ever since. This particular film demonstrates how a finished animation doesn't have to be completely detailed or colourful to look good; for example the sketching marks that Woodward used to structure the figures are kept in.
He's good at giving the impression of different materials - at going from a human body to a wing for example. The dragged out body parts emphasise the exaggeration in the movements.
It's a single camera shot throughout with no background, which lets the audience focus on the dance routine.
The music here is very important to the storytelling process, since there are lyrics, which in a way makes it easier to decipher what the story should be. In my work, I could either use a song with lyrics or without, and either collaborate with a musician to compose a piece for me or refer to a song that's already released. Before this I need to meet with a choreographer to figure out what the dancer(s) want to do as well.

The second example I admire is 'Duet' by Glen Keane. He is a famous Disney animator, which is visible in the style of the characters and body proportions. The use of a lighter pencil to illustrate the animation over a dark background stand out to me as something different from most other films of its kind.
Though this isn't purely a dance routine, there are elements of dancing as well as a well illustrated story running throughout the sequence, representing the life of two people who fall in love. The body language of the characters demonstrate the emotions of the characters really well.
I like how there's no obvious background, yet you can tell where the characters are in the space with the hints of trees and the perspective of the humans.
The music played in the background is very theatrical and assists with the portrayal of emotions.
This film demonstrates my need to refine my drawing skills; if I'm going to draw the human body then I need  to get it right, so practice is required on my part.

The third example, 'Nephtali', is a perfect demonstration of an animator collaborating with a dancer. The first half of the video is a film of them working together to develop the dance moves and ideas that Glen Keane wants to do. Animated in a similar style to 'Duet', Keane shows off his skills in drawing the human body form in a traditional style, working from his references and creating an emotional story out of sketches.

All of these films work particularly well using an unusual colour scheme, and animating in a sketchy style smoothly. While going forth with my ideas, I really want to consider all aspects of the animation, to discover what will make it a good film; so considering colour, lighting, backgrounds (or no backgrounds), and music, as well as my quality of animation, should all come together to make one beautifully animated sequence.

My next step in the process is to decide if I want my sequence to be recorded at one camera angle, have the characters move around in a space, or have the camera pan across the screen as the characters move, as well as getting in touch with a dance school to see if anyone would be interested in collaborating with me.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Extended Practice - My Idea

Since learning about what's expected of us in the biggest module of the course, I have been thinking about ideas for the past few months that will allow me to apply the skills I've learnt so far, as well as develop and learn new things. I decided I'd like to explore a different way of telling a story, expressing emotions using subtle elements of an animation, such as lighting, colour schemes, and music.

I was inspired to look at this angle by a few short films I have seen recently, such as Glen Keane's 'Duet' and Ryan Woodward's 'Thought of you', which is the sketchy, smoothly animated style I would like to try and replicate somehow. Initially I thought it would make the most sense to animate two dancers in a routine, but I could translate their movements into animals; It depends what kind of music I use and the choreography, but I thought it better to explore other options too.

After talking to my tutor about my ideas, she is willing to get me in contact with a dance school teacher she knows, who's students would like to work with an animator, so that I can work collaboratively with people who know how to dance and choreograph a piece. This combined with finding a musician who could compose a song for us, or finding a track we like, is really starting to bring this project together already.

Until then I will need to research into a broader range of animated dancing, such as from Norman McLaren, and experiment with a few ideas on how to tackle this brief until one particularly stands out.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

OUAN603 - Extended Practice

The final major project of the year is Extended Practice; worth 60 credits, it will be crucial to keep on top of the workload to do well in this project.

Unfortunately I missed the briefing, however the information is available online to see. After reading through it, it's clear that we have the opportunity to produce pretty much whatever we want, as long as it's discussed with the tutors beforehand and as the project develops.

I have two months to write and submit the rationale, which will outline my idea(s) and allow me to get confirmation on how doable my project is.

The statement of intent is the next major stage of the project, which will be a finalised version of the rationale to confirm who I will be collaborating with and how my animation will play out.

After this there will be space for me to get on with researching for and developing my animation, this will be where I continue testing different aspects of the film so that I can have an informed decision when choosing my style etc.

Along side the practical work, I should be documenting my progress, as well as research, onto this blog so that I can reflect on my progress and evaluate my reasoning for all aspects of the film.

The set up of the module will give me the opportunity to work on a major project and hopefully produce a decent animation, I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, 15 May 2015

My Time With The Applied Animation Module...

After 4 months, we have come to the end of this project; It has been an interesting experience with a lot of highs and lows. The lows mainly being the stress that came towards the end to try and get the final piece finished, which unfortunately took its toll on us all eventually.

It was good to be able to see how 2D and stop motion would merge, and a lot easier for me not to have to animate the faces as well as the bodies. I think because of the use of both mediums, we can use the animatic as a way to explain the performance without completely finishing the animation (since David's animatic has enough movement in it so it isn't boring), so the film still makes sense either way. This took some pressure off us to realise this, but it is still a shame we couldn't completely finish the sequence in the time period we have.

Apart from this I think we have all done well; having the stop motion and 2D animation in production at the same time made it easier to get more of the film done. I'm glad that the faces sit well on the characters - though they are very exaggerated, this makes the animation more interesting to watch.

I think at times towards the end of the project the communication wasn't that good; particularly whilst putting together the title sequence and credits since the fonts don't match, but overall we still managed to do well.

I was initially excited to carry out my first idea with the process of how supermarket's import meat, but ultimately I wanted to improve my skills as an animator so thought it better to focus on that instead. This is why I'm glad I dropped my first project - the classmates whom I had initially asked to help me with it didn't have much time to lend me a hand, so I would have had even more to do on my own.

Despite this I still didn't manage to finish the stop motion sequence for the music video; I did have a plan of action but fell ill in the last week so couldn't get as much done as I would have liked, which I am gutted about. However I still think the final piece looks good and is enjoyable to watch.

The parts that I have done for this final piece (as illustrated in my blog) are: the stop motion parts and the text in the introduction.

The Stop Motion

It's safe to say the part of the process I have enjoyed the most is animating the stop motion. This was my biggest assigned role from the start, and the part I wanted to experiment with and develop further.

In the end we managed to get 1 minutes worth of footage, which is about half of the full animation. The video below is an unedited version of the animation, David has edited this and looped parts of it to make it last longer, which works a lot better then the order I've put it in here.

Overall, I am happy with the animation I was able to produce; the main problem with it however - that a few people have pointed out - is the lighting. We used the florescent lights which constantly switch on and off about 50 times a second, normally used just to set up the stop motion pieces to then be switched off while animating. Apparently there are ways to fix this by either editing the photos or putting some sort of filter on so that the lighting looks to be on purpose, which we can always look into after the deadline.

Considering how stiff the models are, I feel that I have managed to move them fairly well; the characters were as I predicted earlier, stiff but manageable to manoeuvre. I think they were starting to take the strain towards the end, particularly the strawberry since she is the one who had to move the most; the drummer's arms or seating position weren't very stable but he could stretch further than the others; the lemon was hard to move but I only had to move his arms so I didn't have much trouble with him; the aubergine was the wrong proportion compared to his saxophone and couldn't move far so there were some issues there; and the orange's arms had a limited range but I think his motion works really well for this animation.
The animation is jagged in places but I can see as the sequence plays out, my animating improved. This in itself is an achievement for me, since my aim in every project is to improve my skills as an animator!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Editing the Title Sequence...

After receiving feedback from David and Grace, we decided that changing the font would look better. After looking through the fonts available on Premiere again, I tested out a few over one of the characters (highlighting the word 'Manny'):

Fonts on Premiere

The Final Font
I am happy with the final font I chose; I think it looks a lot more professional then my previous choice, yet still quite bold. Despite this choice the white font doesn't stand out on the floor, which is only an issue with this character's shot, but it is still readable.

Another piece of feedback I got was that the text should be changed on the front of the curtain from "Introducing..." to "LCA Presents" or "Eating Healthy with Hi-Vit" (the film title) or something along those lines. My main issue with using the suggested line is that it isn't the Leeds College of Art who is presenting it, but rather the three of us who worked on it; and people might not understand the abbreviation of "LCA", especially children at whom this animation is aimed at.

Despite 'presents' sounding more professional than 'introducing', we would have to come up with a group name or simple way to introduce the show without leaving too much text to read. Using the song title could be a good idea but it will ruin the surprise of the band being behind the curtains. Either way I tried a few variations of text to go on the curtains:

Ultimately I still feel that using "Introducing" makes the most sense for this film, because it's introducing the stage with the band name on the back wall, as well as the characters, and my teammates reasoning for the other phrases are unexplained.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

RSA Animates... Documentary

This is a documentary style animation; since it's not necessarily factual but rather stating theories, but it's still portraying information in a time-lapse style. The hand drawing the images and text is keeping up with the narration, so the audience clearly knows what is being said and can see what the explanations mean with small diagrams.

In this particular animation, the narrator seems to waffle on about the theory of motivation, which is interesting to listen to but it runs for a bit too long. This way of portraying theories is the type of thing that is meant to make the audience think about what they have listened to more to build up their own theories on the subject; it would be a very good way to portray factual information as well since the pixilated hand could draw clear diagrams, charts and percentages in this efficient manner, whether it'd be interesting enough to watch or not is another matter.

60 Second Adventures in Economics

I found a series of short animations describing economics in an interesting way; these animations are narrated by David Mitchell, who explains a few dilemas the government have with taxing or where and when to spend money. It's an advertisement for the Open University to encourage people to study economics, so there has to be an entertainment factor to these short films.

The animation is stylised and simple black lines on cream background, so it doesn't take too much attention away from the narration, but assists in explaining what is being said. I think this is the right balance of imagery and information, because it's still entertaining despite it not being beautifully rendered or with realistic designs. The information is portrayed quite fast which could be hard to keep up with, but the animation does make it easier to understand; I think animation is the best way to portray information quickly, compared to a live action sequence for example, since I don't think a live action film would be able to flow so quickly.


As part of the pre production phase, Grace took on the job of making the DVD case and poster:

DVD Case
Overall I think they both look good and suit the same style; I particularly like the poster because of its vibrant colours and simple shapes. the DVD case is a nice colour but I'm not sure if it will appeal to our target audience, children aged roughly 10, purely because the colours in the background look a little bland, but at the same time this makes the characters stand out.

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Intro...

Unfortunately due to illness I haven't been able to do too much work over the weekend. However in order to ease myself back into animating, I thought I would get the title sequence done.

Initially I did the stop motion animation on this sequence, then sent it to David so that he could put the facial expressions on the characters, this is the combination of the two:

He purposefully left still images on each character as a gap to fit the name and occupation on; this turned out to be a good idea since it made it easier to cut the text in and out of the shot appropriately.

I decided completing this in Adobe Premiere would be the best way to develop my skills since I haven't used this software much and I can put into practice what my tutor taught the class about putting together a title sequence.

The editing box
After importing the sequence above, all I had to do was create new title layers and put each character's name into position. There are a number of fonts available for all users, but I chose 'TektonPro White 34', because it has a soft black outline which makes the text stand out and suit the image well.

Since each character we recorded is in the centre of the shot, it was difficult to determine where the text should go, because putting it all to one side close together made the text-less side look quite empty.

An example of the text on one side
I am happy with the final shot since the text doesn't take too much away from the rest of the image, but still portrays the information and is evenly spread across the shot.

The final shot

I tried to use the same font size and similar layout for each character's introduction, the only other two I had to play around with more were 'Aubrey' and 'Symphony'. At first with Aubrey I kept the text in the same position as with the orange; however the text covers up part of the face which I don't think works very well.

It would have looked better if the text was closer to the edges but this would take it out of the 'text safe' zone of the frame, so I compromised with the positioning. However I still feel that the final shot works well, despite it looking slightly different from the others.

The final shot
Since there isn't enough space in the intro for a still shot of the strawberry, I decided to put some text on at the very end as she starts singing. Initially I wanted to put the text right next to her, like I did with the other characters, but something still didn't look right. If I had kept it where she was originally I would have had to keep the text smaller than on the other frames, so after trying some variations I thought the text in the top left corner looks better, since it's not overlapping any of the characters and it still makes sense as to who it's describing.

The final shot

Once I had put all of the text in I exported it as a test to send to Grace and David for feedback:

I'm happy with the overall video; I included the "introducing..." text on the curtain as a way to introduce the band on stage (with the band name in the background) and the close ups of each character following, which I think works well because it's not too hard to read and builds up an atmosphere.

I showed it to a couple of classmates who were with me at the time I had finished this and they both said it works well, so hopefully more people agree!

Title Sequence Inspiration

Since I'll be putting text on the introduction, I thought I'd look at some other sequences from TV shows that incorporate text into their footage.

The Mad Men theme uses silhouettes with text flashing aside the images to introduce the programme. In my opinion though the font is easy to read, it flashes in and out of shot too quickly; this is understandable to get all of the information in but at the same time you can't tell what it's saying. However the way everything sits in the frame looks good and works well as a sequence; I've never watched the show but there could be a reason that the text moves so fast.

The TV show 'Game of Thrones' is a recently massive hit, just starting it's 5th season. Their opening credits are very well animated, giving off an eery atmosphere; The font used works well with the rest of the imagery.

The third video I picked is 'George of the Jungle'. It's a show aimed at children, so the colours used are basic and bright, with a fun theme song to go with it. Though there are moments where the contrasting colours flash at you (which are hard to watch) the use of text is good; it's mainly due to the way characters interact with it, such as pushing it aside as they swing. The font used has very straight lines and is covered with a thick, black outline, which suit the overall look of the cartoon style well.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Final Crit

Since I wasn't there to present the developed animation yesterday (due to illness) I left it to David and Grace to get feedback from it.

We took on board some of the feedback we received previously; in the last couple of clips I started to move the stalks on the character's heads for example, which make the drummer more lively. Watching this shows me how well the animation's coming on; it's a shame that we don't have a lot of the animation to show so far but I'm hoping we'll be able to get a lot done this week. The animatic flows well and the animation fits in nicely to the right places.

Overall the comments sounded good based on a discussion I had with Grace and David; the main points were about summarising the facts we include in the animation so that they are easy to read and understand within the 5 seconds we have left for it, which we will discuss as a group when we are all back in uni.
Suggestions of sound effects such as a crowd screaming and the drummer's sticks when they are hit together were made, which I agree with and think it would bring the animation to life and make it feel slightly more realistic.
Since the first couple of audio tracks we had didn't work as well with the upbeat theme of the song, we decided to ask one of our classmates if she would sing for our video instead. Rebecca Wong's version of the song sounds nice and in tune, but the timing is slightly off. There are ways we can fix this though, if we re arrange some of the clips or loop them then we can make it work.
The lighting is still a problem to most people, we'll either have to find a way to make it feasible to keep or edit it out (which could potentially take too long) but we'll see what we can do.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Animating Each Character...

After animating for a few days I've started getting to know the character models better. So far they have proved to be difficult to manoeuvre, since they are quite stiff and crack fairly easily; however I am managing to get some movement out of them, as I experimented with a couple of sequences:

I found that the aubergine is slightly wonky and the arms aren't quite long enough to reach the saxophone, but if I stick his feat to the ground then he should have enough stability to lean forwards and back, which could be a way to animate the saxophone solo later on in the video.

The orange also has one leg longer than the other, but he is more stable on his feet; despite this the only movement we really need from him is strumming the guitar, which at first I thought would prove to hinder us as his hands are a lot bigger then the guitar. However I think the motion we have for him works well and gives the piece a humorous charm.

The lemon doesn't have to move much either, though his legs are higher and even. The arms seem to move together unless I hold one of them still, which could become a nuisance to animate with; the basic movements he makes seem to be a bit slow paced compared to the upbeat song, but the animation still works fairly well considering his role in the music video.

In the end we used the character model that David made as a test for the pepper - since this one is much skinnier and accurate to the original character design compared to the one Grace and I originally made. This model doesn't have an armature, so based on my experience with animating plasticine previously in the module 'Responsive', eventually the plasticine will break; however so far it has been holding up fairly well and has been enjoyable to animate; it is easier to stretch and twist his arms, which is good for when he needs to hit the drums.

I can see that the strawberry will be the hardest one to animate; her armature is quite stiff and Grace had to use two different types of clay to cover her body, which means it won't blend well together so it will be harder to fix the cracks caused by her movement. She is the only character who moves around the stage, which will prove to be a challenge (especially with her legs); however I have managed to manoeuvre her as smoothly as I can, which gives the piece a quirky feel to it.

I look forward to seeing what they look like with faces!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Change of Plans

Due to finishing off other modules, we have fallen behind schedule. Grace's original schedule stated that we start animating everything in the middle of April, but unfortunately I let other things get in the way of that.

However now that the work that was keeping us busy has been handed in, we can finally start animating on Monday! Grace has worked out that if we aim to take 300 pictures per day for 5 days a week then we can catch up and get the stop motion done in good time.

Hopefully if we keep to this new routine we can leave David enough time to animate over the top of it and put it all together into one piece.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Deciding on Roles

To organise ourselves, my collaborative partners and I decided upon roles during the post-production stage of the process; deciding this now allows us all to work together on a plan of action to make sure we finish everything in time for the deadline.

I will be doing the title sequence, which will be text on top of the curtains in the introduction. David will be creating the ending credits; if we have time me and Grace will animate the armature models to be included in these credits to add personality to their characters. Grace will be creating a poster to advertise our animation, which could potentially be translated onto a DVD case. We also found a first year student of our course who volunteered to sing the song; she overheard our conversation about finding someone to record the audio and seems happy to do it for us. This is a big help since we need to get this part done as soon as possible so that we can animate to it.

There are a lot more mini roles that need to be completed for the deadline as well, such as finding extra sound effects, but we will see who has the most time out of the three of us closer to the time to complete these tasks.

Setting up the Stage

Before starting the animation, we had to set up the lighting, camera and files on the computer for Dragonframe to automatically save to. We have been keeping the stage in the specialist blacked out room specifically dedicated to stop motion animation, which Grace has been working on gradually over the past month. Moving the stage was easy because all of the wood is attached together, and it fits in the filming booth quite well; however the lights provided in each booth are attached as one mechanism so we were unable to use all of them to light our set.

However we were able to detach one of them to hang over the top of our stage, since we felt it should be brightly lit up with the impression of special effects being used - just like a real concert. Despite this, even with the lights Grace acquired to line the top and bottom of the stage and the LED combined, the image still wasn't bright enough. In the end we used the generic light that hangs above every station and what is used to light up most rooms in the university. We believe this creates a good atmosphere and creates good shadows as well as makes the characters visible.

We decided using my own Canon DSLR 1100D camera and tripod would be best, since I can bring them to the set in the classroom whenever I'm planning to go in and we can get started quicker rather than going at certain times to book out the equipment every day. My camera usually takes good quality photos and we can export the animation we make into image sequences with the right image size so that David can go over it with the drawn animation.

Now that everything is in place and we have a folder dedicated to this project on the university computer, we can start animating!