Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Animate n. to depict oneself with exaggerated motions

Starting out this week I started back on animation. It has been a while since producing final shots so I was expecting it to take forever for me to get back into the swing of things, knowing where stuff is, how it works and more importantly how to do it. But surprisingly enough, I felt like it was kind of like riding a bike, you know how to do it, but you do a few practise laps before you’re confident again. I was asked to do the same scene as Oddne and Holly did: the mushroom scene, animating with the same character rigs, Bee Boy and Squirrely.

Over the three days I was working on the scene I found the first day just to be a ‘getting-back-into-it’ day, and most of what I did I scrapped and started over and over again. I figured that what I was trying to do was focussing solely on getting the poses right and as such threw timing ‘out of the window’ in a way. So knowing this I started late afternoon on the first ‘true grounding’ on “advancement.” Here I took the approach that the squirrel was jumping on two legs over the mushrooms, I managed to start and get a good base for some really nice tail movement. But in general I found that the squirrels animation in general was really stiff and seemed forced, not really flowing and cartoony as I‘d had in mind. I called it a day and would come in fresh on the Tuesday to try and tackle the problems.

I managed to get some stiffness out of the animation, but I decided to start again and maybe come back to it later. The next approach I used was to animate the squirrel jumping swiftly on all fours from mushroom to mushroom. Focussing on timing and posing I managed to get a really nice base to work from and put some lovely secondary tail movement in. However it did take me a long time to figure out how to pose the tail. I knew that the tail flows, following the path that the body takes and it seems as though the tail is always trying to catch up with the body. Having this in mind though, I still found it rather tricky to achieve, but after a while of fiddling about I sat and thought about it. If I just pose the tail to how the body would be in that place, then I thought I would get good results, and I think that that works.

The next stage after that was bringing in the Bee Boy rig and animating a fall, that I knew I would find really tricky to achieve. So I bought him in and keyed out the main poses getting the timing right too. However figuring out how to make him fall was tricky in itself, I could make each mushroom wobble in all directions with his weight, but if I were to do that it that way it may seem a bit odd if they all didn’t wobble like this only slightly for the squirrel. So I decided to make him slip on the mushroom because he’s so busy looking at the squirrel, its then too late when he looks down at the mushroom.

Overall I’m really quite happy with the outcome for about 8-10 hours work animating on this version. I just need to keep in mind that the tail movement flows with the body, so in essence it will always try to catch up with the body movement. For the Bee Boy rig I think I should look at maybe creating more dynamic poses, but what I’ve done, I think his animation fits well for his purpose: chasing and catching the creature (squirrel.) I still think it would need a little more tweaking if it were to be the final thing, but since its only test animation, I feel that it’s to a pretty good standard already. I just need to keep on practising, and if every shot is of better quality I should hopefully become a good, sound animator.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

And He Took Pride in the Grandest of Things

Onto the third week I have been carrying on with environments and general pre-production work. I have also started work on designing the interior of the cabin to a general brief of a grand room, something big, something that this pompous egotistical man would be proud of, and something to literally show off to his acquaintances and friends in high places. I browsed around the internet for images of grand rooms but this didn’t give me any rooms that had an overall feel of cosiness. So then I thought about anything that I had seen before, initially I thought of split levels and then I immediately thought of the TV programme Grand Designs, and remembered one episode that had a double level style room, and at one end of the room, stairs led up to a study/balcony style area. I thought that this would be a grand room indeed for a hunter of very high standards. Combining this idea with a Victorian style I knew I could create an impressive room.

These birds eye view sketches show the layout of many room styles. My favourite room is this one with a cosy living area surrounded by bookshelves and many odd items of antiquity with small spirally stairs leading up to his desk. However due to the blimp design and Simon not wanting to stretch it any more than is feasible, my double level room has had to be scrapped and I’ve gone back to the initial thought of a split level with a couple of steps leading to the hunter‘s desk and the window lending spectacular views. With this in mind I couldn’t create as grand a room as I could have hoped. Below shows my reworked cabin room.

Here I have created a design that should fit into the boundaries of the inside of the blimp design, and more importantly the boundaries of the window, with the given dimensions. I have also put a focus on a huge stone fireplace which would be the main grand feature of the room, so I was thinking of either having it placed in the middle of the room, or have it taking up one of the lower corners. I think it would do well in the centre of the room, to show off how grand his room is and as a practical feature too, it would heat the room better with flames emanating from the middle.

I have also started to draw out many variations of the possible items and objects one could find in a room such as his. And making a list of and staring to think about items, such as tiffany lamps, books, maps, trinkets, plants, paintings, sofas which would be very similar to that of a chesterfield sofa, with matching club chairs and high backs.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

This place ... the tent, near the edge of the cliff... Hm, impressive.

For the duration of the past week I have worked on the pre-production side of things which has encompassed mainly concept sketches for the environments and plant life to be contained within our films world.

I think that I still need to push my ideas further though, and come up with more interesting drawings, because I feel some of them lack that unique alien-like feel to them. So through the next week I shall be focused on pushing my drawings further looking at more tropical plants, and writing odd ideas that could make a great plant. I have also worked on the creature design, by drawing many initial sketches of a cat-cross-weasel like creature. Although I have been working to a description of a cheeky, cute and a little unaware creature, I do feel like I have focused on too much of a basic, one-look kind of design, and all the sketches look quite similar. But overall I felt I’ve produced the work to Simon’s specification on what it should look like: a short muzzle, less fox-like than my initial quick sketches; a roundish like head; and big ears. The tail I feel though should hint at a bit of bushiness or a tip with a clump of fur like a lion.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

So it begins... on a fairly warm October day

At the start of another term we have been given a brief for our final year project which could be an animation based on an original script, an adaptation, a music video, a documentary, comedy, drama and may be produced in any form of digital animation. As well as portfolio builders such as character animations in 2D and/or 3D, or possibly building a creative portfolio showing concepts and designs. But first we had to propose an idea which would then become the base of the major project.

Having the basis of our team from last term Tom Dowler, Matt Luxton, Simon Acty, Matt Butler and Roy Nottage and myself, we were ready to start. Before heading back to start the new term Matt Luxton, Simon, Tom and myself sat down and talked about what we would be doing this year. We thought that we should step aside from the game idea and characters created from the last pitch project, because it was rather hard to come up with an original storyline, other than the generic capture and interrogation, as we’d already come up with back stories for the characters. In order to show the characters emotions and tell the story to the audience in the right way would require many more people and more time to produce this 7-8 minute short.

Having stepped away from this idea, we had a brainstorming session coming up with lots of ideas. Based in a steam-punk like environment we thought of three possible storylines: the first an escape, the second, the need to acquire something and the third, a hunt. I took these and developed them further over the next few days along with a few others. The first titled, an Escape to Freedom, is the story about a youth who so desperately needs to escape a world where curfews and strong laws choke those who live within the city walls. S/he finally stows away on an airship and once over a forest, jumps out into a world where s/he can smell, feel and touch the freedom.

The second idea titled, Acquiring the Key, is the story about a young person who is on the trail to find the key that will create an adventure, finally leading to the freedom of the people in an environment similar to the first story. So it will be a trailer showing the first few minutes as she is following a trail that will lead her to this key.

The third was the hunt idea, where a pompous, egotistical hunter is on the trail of finding a very rare creature. He brings along his apprentice, who is sabotaging his every attempt on this creatures capture because it is very, very cute.

We all decided to go for the last idea, as it is a very simple story to get across to audiences, especially for a short 3-4 minute piece. We will be creating a short 4 minute, 3-D animated film to hopefully show at many shows as well as on websites such as 3-D total. My role within this project will be to work on the concept art, and environment designs, also working on the animation later on in the project.