Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Pre or Post ... Pre!

Alright. So we're into week three and the big projects begin and this term we're given two options to chose from that we will be assessed on: either opting for pre-production or post-poduction.

The brief for Post-Production is to produce a 30 – 60 second piece that combines live action footage with hand drawn or digital element; working in small groups of 2+ capturing our own live footage, which is to be roughly storyboarded. For example this work could include aspects such as set-extension, green/blue screen footage, sky/object replacement and rig removal. So looking at the breakdown of movie scenes and advertisements for the visual effects would give a good idea of the stuff we'd be doing. The brief for the pre-production project incorporates elements of research, character and setting design and storyboarding. Working with five scripts from the revived Dr. Who, rather than dealing with the aliens and spaceships in the series, we will concentrate on the time travel aspect to allow opportunities for research into real places and costume design. By the end of this project we will end up with a pre-production bible for an animated Dr. Who episode for one of the scripts.

I have chosen to opt for pre-production, which is something I'm really interested in doing as a possible job. There is so much freedom in the design process, and how we interpret the scripts will be different and as unique as the last, since no two people have the same experiences, or even the same way they imagine how things appear to be. So this is a great opportunity to put my own take on how objects, costumes or scenes appear and should look from my imagination.

So far for this project I've created all of my design boards (A3 in photoshop) for the various areas I should be covering, which is: Pompeii's costumes; the ocean liner's architecture and props; Louis XV era architecture and costume; the Chino-planet props and; 1599 London's landscape. The hardest areas to research were the costumes for Pompeii and 1910-1920 ocean liner interiors (namely finding images for Titanic) this is due to the fact that these places have been destroyed and in ruins.

Clothes from ancient Pompeii will have decayed over the time in volcanic ash so there will be no hard evidence of their clothes. But as Pompeii is in Italy there is a fair chance that these clothes will be like those that were in Rome at that time; so as well as looking at surviving wall paintings in Pompeii for an idea of clothes, I looked into Roman togas and clothes as well. There is also not much surviving evidence for how the interiors of ocean liners looked, especially as it seems as though the script bases the setting on the Titanic so I looked at old photographs that have survived of the Titanic and other ships. In addition to this I looked into home interiors during 1900-1920 to get a good feel for how the architecture could be inside an ocean liner, but on a much bigger scale and of more grandeur (as most of the passengers on board would be the rich, and those who could just afford to travel across the seas). And this is how I overcame these problems.

Chino-Planet Props

As well as initial research I've also started a little bit of sketchbook on work for props, drawing my own designs and how I see these items after the research and reading the script.

Monday, 18 January 2010

The Animatic

Here's the 3 day collaboration project animatic:

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The finale of intensivness!

So it's the third and final day of our intensive project, and we've finished on time! It's been a long three days, and I don't think I've worked this hard for an extended period of time since the days of A-Level Art and looming deadlines. Today called for an early start, and as designer I was set the task of overseeing everyones character and props designs, and then going over them in my own hand, making sure there is a consistent style throughout the animatic; as well as changing them slightly to suit the idea of portraying them in 1950's-esque style and changing anything that didn't look right and in-keeping with the rest of the charaters. I also added a rather condensed colour palette to the characters, only having 2-3 colours and another tonal variation for the shadow, that is again still in-keeping with the way 1950's posters had colour on their characters, and giving depth of detail and they also work with the backgrounds in standing out; as well as injecting a small amount of style into the characters. Below i've included a few final images of what the characters look like on the animatic, I especially liked going over the wolf and creating the look of fur/hair. I had to do many poses of Timmy, as the storyboard called for different actions he was to move in across the scenes.

All in all I think this project went very well in the way it was directed and produced; Sarah and Tom organised us all well in giving us specific times in which to have completed, designs and finalizing designs; which I worked most times ahead of the schedule in producing the backgrounds, colouring them in, and also producing the characters (that were done over 3 and a half hours) quickly and efficiently so that the animators could work with them. As each character was done I would hand them over, so Harriet and Tom could start working out the animation according to the storyboard. In hindsight though, I should have started work on Timmy first as he does appear in nearly all the shots and we could probably have done a better job animating Timmy if I had, because he does look a little dead on the final product. However I do like the overall feel of our animatic, and love how it all came together and the way the characters moved across the scenes. In addition I think this has been an important project for us all in a way, to provide us with experience with working in groups again (having now learnt more about animation) which we all got on and worked as best we could. Also working with other people, (the writers) I think was important who had no idea about the way animation was produced and the limits of what the software could achieve within the 3 day time scale; as this will be the way in most cases how it is in the industry. Looking at other peoples animatics, I think a couple had a bit of an ambitious story in which to produce an animatic in such a short timescale, so I think it's important to maintain a strong link with the story idea and animation director to make sure it's just enough to be completed according to the timescale but not overly ambitious so it couldn't. Although I do feel that given an extra day or half day, specific for rendering, everyone could have produced excellent polished material as to how they wanted it.

Well done everyone, rest up before the next big thing!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

At the close of day one, day two of this project started. At this point in time we are about 2 thirds of the way through, which is kinda scary because the animation hasn't started yet! Busy, busy day today. Our writers finalized the script mid to late morning with the animating director overseeing it making sure are the scenes are viable for production and cutting out any bits that are too ambitious for the timescale. The script had changed, but not drastically; some parts were simplified and some that were too adventurous to produce were cut. The cut scene was the axeman one, I think it would have taken a huge chunk out of our time limit to produce all the elements to it, and there were also many poses of the characters, so it would have taken a long time to create these which would mean less time animating. The scenes with the wolf, fairies and elves have been simplified to recreate well in the animatic.

As designer, I have worked on the main parts of the style today, background design, and an overall look in line with the directors vision and we decided that while the storyboard was in creation and to the finalizing stage, we would share the workload of producing the concept art; characters, props and finalizing these. The images below show the initial four sketches of the backgrounds and below those the final four backgrounds that will be used in the animatic.

I think that these designs have turned out rather well and fit the design aesthetic we all decided on, I'm especially pleased with the way the last two images turned out with simplistic detail of the stream and the larger elongated shot. Three of these sketches had to be changed to fit in with the new, revised script that have included panning shots and the position of the characters changed. The first finished image had incurred no changes, apart from added a few aesthetic tufts of grass as with the others. The second image had to be changed to have no valley, so that the elf can sit in a small clearing; the third image just had to be extended to pan over or cut to the shot with the baby in a cradle, and the fairies carrying it away. The last finalized image, had to be extended to just under twice its size, for the purpose of a panning shot for the introduction: a welcome to the enchanted forest.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

New term, new project, new timescales!

The beginning of a new term starts again, and with brings more work than ever before, but it's all exciting stuff. Today we start a 3 day intensive collaboration with the MA Professional Writing students, where we need to produce an animatic which should be in colour, and as professionally presented as possible with music and sound where needed. This will be for the National Union of Fairies, Sprites, Elves and Druids (NUFSED) (which its existence, I suppose, does seem questionable) These films are to be shown online and aimed at a range of different audiences, and in between 90 seconds and 2 minutes in length produced in groups of about 8.

Getting into our assigned groups, we had been given a genre in which to work with, and choosing any fairytale, or Aesops fable we need to re-write it to fit to the brief and the genre. We were given the genre 'information' to work with, and I think most peoples thoughts on this in our group, was the 1950's style of informative films released mainly in America about per diam events such as, 'The Dangerous Stranger' and 'Boys Beware,' to easily convey that information film feel. After deciding on this perspective for the animatic we split off into pairs and began to think about the possible situations from a fable or fairytale, we could produce an informative film to. We then relayed all our ideas such as a tag line like, 'Snow White was sedated for her own protection,' and titles like, 'How to maintain your Gingerbread house,' - (the evil woman from Hansel and Gretal), 'Guide to the perfect roast,' - (secret ingredient children) and 'How to age gracefully' - (taking a look at all the fairytale evil women, and how to spot sadistic tendencies in you) We then gave our professional writers themes to work on, that was popular among the group; the forest and people walking through it and the tag lines like the Snow White one.

After a few hours we all came together to see what the writers had produced, and to show them the ideas of what style we wanted our animatic would look like. This is the part where our director and producer took over to talk to the writers about their scripts, with any problems it posed to the animation whether or not there were too many scenes, it was too long, whether scenes were technically feasible, and the amount of characters that were possible to use for our timescale. Our writers came up with a rather lengthy script based on the tag line of Snow White being sedated for her own good, with lots of scenes and of course the seven dwarves. This script is a before and after situation, before Snow White was lovely, pretty and charming, and after she's the rebellious teenager, sneaking out to house parties, drinking lots of alcohol and taking many different drugs. The queen had to put a stop to this bad behaviour somehow and the only way of doing so was to sedate her and put her to rest. Given such a short timescale to work on this project, this idea wasn't the most executable with many scenarios, which would have called for many people, many backgrounds and many different limb movements.

The next script, however, was much more feasible to produce with an informative film, 'Welcome to the "Enchanted Forest" experience.' This follows four main creatures you're most likely to come across while walking through the enchanted forest: fairies, a wolf, the axeman and the elves. The fairies will only steal your babies if you leave them unattended and crying; the wolf may try to eat you but he has rubber teeth; the axeman is there to rescue you if a real wolf appears; and the elves will only attack you if you carry a copy of the Lord of the Rings. This is the idea we went with and started to think of our scenes, backgrounds, people, props and anything else that would need to be created to produce this script into the animatic.

I think today has been a new experience, and learning curve for what it's like to work in the industry, for example there has to be close contact between the script writers and animation director in order to produce a script that is possible to create within our time limit and style. For example the first script was too ambitious as it needed many characters and scenes and writers who are not familiar with the animation production and as to how much can be produced with certain timescales, need to be told what limits there are where on certain aspects such as character. However I do think that the animation director and producer, even though at an early stage, have risen to the challenges of getting a great vision for the animatic in collaboration with the writers well.