Thursday, 4 June 2009

Hayle project info

Techniques: Maya and Flash animation; Photoshop, traditional graphics; compositing and effects in AfterEffects; live footage.

Inspiration: First year illustration festival in Falmouth, later lead to thinking about illustrative/flat/graphic style in animation, lead to 2d approach with 3d technology behind it.

My role: Producer, responsible for animation/production part, animation, but changed throughout the production.

Distinctive, strong graphic style, different approach, being experimental, is the obvious good things about “Slipways”. Animation sequences flow well starting from the pop-up Hayle scene. Sounds are just enough to make people occupied but not confused.

I was positively surprised by my teams’ problem solving skills, particularly coming up with alternative methods of animating when necessary. Willingness to work even when frustrated with some of the outcomes and to make necessary compromises are among the definite pluses. I also predicted that different strengths (when using software or making visual judgements) will combine well in this production. Also ability to meet as often as possible and to work hard.

The main weakness of the project is probably the pace. It starts quite slow at first (although it flows very well afterwards) . Awkward mistakes with compositing have been made due to the little time allowed for post-production. In addition the leading character in the animation is doesn’t look as old as we intended ( but as good as we could get with very limited footage resources).

The project gave me an opportunity to exchange the knowledge with other members of the group, to work with the people whose’ work I liked, to be able to produce something more advanced (to put on my show real) in shorter period of time. I have learned more approaches and techniques from the other team members, in some ways improved some of my original style ideas. High quality work at the very beginning (every member tried to work do their best) has set a standard to all our work.

One of the good surprises was that the scenes (which were done separately according to the original storyboard and then put together) unexpectedly came together in post-production, even though there was no smooth transition put in-between them as was planned earlier.

Our goals were slightly higher for the timing we had, time pressed on some minor details/effects that were left to do after the main animation and never got done.

However among the positive things there are new techniques that I learned from my team-members and joy of working in a team.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

the TAKE*

This morning we were looking into the ancient art of the TAKE*. After careful analysis of the Principles of Animation that we've covered so far we were able to produce this very rough piece of animation.

P.S The idea of a Nuclear Bear (and nuclear bears in general) as well as the second character kinda belongs to Jake. Go Nuclear Bears!!!!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

some more lifedrawings...

Just a few more of my drawings. Realised how many people ve posted already =)

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Ken Dolls strike again

...and so, after receiving the photographs, working a little on the tone (all of the pictures had to be toned down in order to "fit in" with the rest of the animation) and cutting the dolls up into pieces they came to look like this:
So the next stage was to animate from this position. Flash does have its pluses, its very easy to move pivot points around, but you would expect there to be some kind of perenting option wouldn't you? -Nope.
Animation itself was fairly simple and took relatively little time.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Hayle Project, pre-production

A lot of hassle happened when we were trying to decide what to use as a visual representation of "whites, Americans and blacks". There were a lot of different ideas including ginger-bread men but in the end everyone agreed to use Barbie (well, Ken) dolls. It was up to me to get some sort of visual sourse of these dolls which wasnt a copyright. (in all honesty the girls found usable pictures way before i did but they were from Flickr = not the best quality). So I asked my friend whom I know I can trust with photographs and she took a couple for me:

Since I decided from the very beginning not to use actual models in maya but instead just flat plains* animation had to be done in Flash (or at least it was one of the more convinient ways to do it). The photographs vere cut out with alpha-channels, cut again into manipulatable parts (hands, legs, heads, etc.) and then animated frame by frame. It helped me to give the animation that sort of "jerkiness" you find in Cravendeil's adverts. Then again, sometimes I had to apply "motion tween" which basically works out optimum inbetween frames to avoid too much jerkiness.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Voice picking and brainstorming for Hayle project.

Hamilton Hawkings was the choice.

And to be honest I know exactly why, no matter how much Sarah says she thought it was a swift pick without much consideration (or with some minor). First of all I had a feeling that an all-feminine group should not go with a female voice. Simply because it would be a double-female perspective if you will and I believe that animation should speak broader, from all angles, too all. Unfortunately I've seen others fall into that trap. Secondly because I was trying to avoid boring talk about everyday life and/or monotone narration. And third (perhaps this shouldn't really be addressed here) I had a gut feeling.

Later when the audio was chosen the real hard work kicked in. We had to brainstorm in order to produce a storyboard that would suit everyone. I myself went off and sketched all the obscurities that came into my mind while listening to the soundtrack over again hoping that some of them might turn out useful.

Here are the doodles
<--- <--- <---
As seen from the pictures, loads of different designs and weird interpretations of Hamilton's narrative came about. Obviously having racist issues in the script didn't exactly ease the task. I even thought of ways to represent "the black and the white" as vegetables or insects. Paper pop-ups and cut-out human figures were also considered.

The narrator as a stand-out character had to lip-sync (we didn't know how exactly at the time) and to stand out from the BG.
In my verson he had a cat mask (realistic) and an eldely person's body. Almost for no particular reason since the narrator talks openly to the audiences and doesn't have anything particularly secretive or embarrasing to say. Complicated and sensitive issues - yes. In other words there's no realson for a mask.

I also did some research on the real paper pop-up books since my house-mate at the time had a book on the topic. Hence you see these little squares on the page (something you pull in order for a cut-out to stand up) but we didn't include it in the final animation. It's a bit of a shame really. These things make the whole paper theme a little more sophisticated, like there's been a long hard thought put into it. :)

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Behind the Ident: ideas and thoughts

Randomly found this gorgeous picture of a lizard on the web:

however that's not where the character development first started. Here's a still from one of Aleksandr Tatarskiy's great shorts (together with now-famous Igor Kovalov) "Wings, legs and tails".  (cartoon is all about questioning which of the three is better- a bit like we did in the studio the other day*)

To me that lizard's face looks extremely expressive, although nothing like my character's. (p.s. I didnt actually look at that cartoon while I was making the ident, but I did recall it on the back of my mind somewhere)

And of course there were some concept art bits n bobs to get me started,

-Visualising the chewing

-thinking of the final look

-and the teeth, scene that was later cut out

* remember our discussions tails vs wings. according to the statistics girls go for the wings and cheeky boys prefer tails. I like cheeky boyz X

Thursday, 19 March 2009


The project is now officially finished.

Happy? Hm. 1/2 happy, a bit annoyed, quite satisfied with the fact that it's now over. (BEACH!!!! SUNTAN!!! SUNGLASSES!!!)
I used Flash for the whole piece so now the wacom is practically an extension of my hand. On the plus side it was quite simple to get the look I want.
Before I go into details, let me tell you all how ★ PROUD ★ i am for all of us...

I am proud for Simon Carter who almost lost his head rendering stuff out, for Sarah Crombie who reckoned she isn't computer literate yet managed to achieve something wonderful, for Tom Dowler who helped every confused soul put things right and composed some very nice music, for Emma who managed to keep both food supplies and work going (and some nice work it was!), for Matt Luxton who sat there modeling from the first day right to the last, for our angry German who managed to do some fecking awesome after effects work in 3 days, for Orla who despite all the doubts about her work has managed to impress the people from Chew TV, for each and every soul that spent days dwelling in the studio like some group of crazy hawaiian hoary bats..Last but never-ever least I am proud for Andy and Georg who strongly resisted temptations of the outside world to help their "kiddies". ★ i am proud, folks :)

As for myself...
Almost everything went according to plan. A few silly problems with "pencil tool" in flash were very easily sorted.
More time would have been helpful for adding shadows to the characters, but it's not necessary.
I was lucky to pick the right soundtrack from the beginning of my animation so that went well too.
The only real thing to complain about is actually the lack of challenge. The project was time-consuming all right, but it somehow lacked technical difficulties. so i promise myself to use Maya for my next project.

Whats been used?

Literally CS Flash for the whole animation, not even tester's been done on paper (as I thought I would do to start with) . It started off as testers of the head movement mainly (in Flash). As you can guess the head was the most complex/interesting part of my animation. This is when I first applied the personality I imagined the Lizard will have (duft yet playful, not concerned about the outside world too much, finding it hard to concentrate on thinking processes) .
I found the invironment part less important as firstly-> all the attention of the audiences should be on the mein character, second-> "sketchy" style of the whole thing doesn't require detailed artwork for the background (plus it saves time) . However there was a 'boil' on the BG, which basically means that it has been redrawn (and repainted) a couple of times.

The "logic" behind this...

Is very strange indeed. It "growed" from obscure thoughts that I had when we were given the brief. General human logic was not involved I'm afraid. Going with one of the first ideas was risky. Im having to confess that there was almost no research, no diagrams to help me think, to organise possible galore of concepts.
Now ideally I will not pick the first random idea that comes across simply for the sake of being a nerd person who knows better.
(Besides all this experience tells me its not the most artistic idea, its the one closest to what the employer is looking for.)

Suspecting my animation of being a bit too "obscure" and "weird" for the general audiences (from Chew TV's point of view). Intuition tells me that the pink pallet is confusing for the eye and not exactly the right choise. Off course you dont expect your tutors to tell you this...

General Pluses +

- Flows well. Has a good "beat" to it.

- Has an element of surprise/obscurity

- Nice general design
of characters ("style"?)

General Minuses -

- Some more work should have been done on the bit where camera zooms in on the opened mouth. Certainly another "boil", not "hold". It makes the animation look like a picture, something best to be avoided (unless you are making anime.)
- Apparently pixilated logo

Thursday, 19 February 2009

little something makes us smile :)

World of MAYA XXX

The Environment project.

Maya maya maya...

Decided to make a bathroom instead of a living room. In terms of natural lighting (read 'daylight') it's a big-big cheat, since there are no windows in my bathroom. Actually there was meant to be a window but to be frank It would be a whole lot harder to render correctly. (and secondly not enough time)

Felt inspired by an old sketch of mine.

And... speaking of modeling, surprisingly enjoyable process! Made my objects look pretty smooth and detailed which i'm quite pleased about. Also liked the idea of using curves and paths to create polygon objects etc.

However the lighting part of things got me a bit worried. I used an ambient light to bright up the inside of my little projector- to make it look natural as well as a spotlight to light up the whole scene. The problem here is that while the spotlight appears to be working fine the little annoying ambient thingy destroyed some of the shadows on the scene. (check out the vase on your left) Clearly I did not have time to fix these bits.

Moving on to the final render... Problem here is what i call 'the number 3 button'. Genius in smoothing sharp-edged objects into more organic looking forms. (by the way, does anyone know how to undo?) When I was modeling both plant and the big heart on the wall looked nice and round. When I rendered it all became sharp and nasty again.
(Apparently there's some 'smooth operator' in maya that helps to solve such cock-ups. But I didn't get that far)

Overall feeling... Definitely more pleased with it then annoyed :) And so far playing with maya makes me kinda happy) In a peculiar sort of way...


Sunday, 8 February 2009

Holl is back but not quite...

Tuesday-the-Snowday is the only happy memory from the last week I seem to have. Everything is going wrong for me at the moment! Everything.

But hey... at least I can say HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNY!!!*

...And my Totoro snowman is a likable thing)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Wednesday, 7 January 2009