Friday, 19 December 2014

Final Major Pre-Production: Alpha (Collab) Part 1 [Character Scene]

'Alpha' is a project that I will be co-directing and also working on as head of animation. 'Alpha' planned to be a short film acting as a cinematic game trailer. 

As head of animation, I was responsible for getting an animation team together and sorting out who was going to be responsible for what animation wise.  
The first thing to do was to cut a rough animatic/ previs together so we had the whole short planned out and I could start dividing shots between animators. This took a very long time, as there were many points we wanted to communicate to the audience but we also didnt want to ruin the pace of the shot or make it too long. We aimed for a minute and a half and we managed to get it almost exactly which I am very happy with. 

This is what the final version looks like: 

Luckily, everyone managed to get the shots they wanted or were happy with. Each person on the animation team needed this project for different reasons so I tired to tailor their shots accordingly to what would be most useful for them. If they are happy with what they have to do, hopefully they will enjoy their work much more and produce better work as a result. 

These are the shots that I will be animating. I chose one character and one creature one. I wanted the character one because these scene should have a lot of subtle acting in it and I want to get better at that. Especially because a lot of my other projects are very over the top. 
I chose the creature scene because I would really like to improve my creature acting skills as I have not had the chance to animate many animals. I am also yet to animate an non realistic animal. 
I am happy that these scenes are interesting yet each just contain the one character as I also want to make sure I have enough time to work with the others as head of animation. 

First I worked on the character scene. I did some research into the type of character I think she would be. It helped that I was provided initial character designs by the Director who will also be working as head of the art side.

I explored a few different ideas while still keeping the base movement the same. I wanted to explore different emotions she may be going through during this scene which would impact the subtle ways in which she would perform the action of bending down to look at the claw mark.

In the end i decided with the third as this claw mark is something they have never encountered before and  I think, being the more sensible one of the pair, she would realize the danger and be worried. 

I then went on to develop that idea and this was the result. I think timing is going to be very important in this scene. I want her to pause for a moment before she bends down and also pause throughout to show she in deep thought. 

I am really looking forward to animating this scene as I think its a chance to spend a nice amount of time on a relatively simple scene and also a chance to improve my subtle animation skills.  

Friday, 12 December 2014

Final Major Pre-Production: Dance Off (Collab) Part 2

This week I continued on with the pre prodcution with the 'Dance Off' project. I have quite a large amount of animation to do on this project, so it has taken a while to plan out all the shots. Luckily, all off my shots are one after the other so that has made things easier for me as I dont have to worry about the flow of the whole shot as much. 

Continuing on, Shot 16 is the male characters reaction shot to shot 15 (this is the shot where Ragina snaps her fingers and turns a spotlight on above our characters head) This is a very quick shot but a lot needs to come across in that time. I want to communicate his shock at this surprising event (as most people cannot turn lights on and off with the click of a finger) he also needs to look confused about whats happening and look worried about what could be following. 

I played with both a lot of body movement and just the facial expressions with this shot. However, I felt more body movement gave it life, and given how over the top he reacted in an earlier shot (shots 12-14) it would have been a change in character for him to suddenly not be as over dramatic. I chose the third as I felt it also communicated to the audience this is the second time she has barged in on him acting odd and he is now slightly concerned about her and her persistence.  

The next shot is Regina seductively walking towards the male. Me and the director had great fun filming video reference for this and looking at films such as Chicago for inspiration. We played around a fair amount with how she was going to walk towards him.

In the end we settled for the third. The first was very dance like and the second was quite silly and funny but I felt the last was still funny but more predatory too. She is coming to 'get him' in this shot and as well as seduction, I want to be able to convey the desire in her movements. 

The last shot I have for this project is a very long but hilarious one. Regina finally makes it to Alphonse and starts seducing him by dancing around and on him. We filmed reference for this shot pretty early on and my thumbnails are based from our reference for this shot. The reference filming came out so well none of the team really wanted to mess much with the shot, so I only tried two similar versions. 

Alphonse's movements will be very minimal in this scene, I want him to seem very stiff and awkward, not quite sure what to do with himself in this situation. On the other hand, Regina will be throwing herself all over the place. I think there is the opportunity to get some nice hip action in this scene and I also think the facial animation will be a lot of fun. 

I am really looking forward to working on this project. I think its going to be really fun and if anything, I will just be laughing watching my video reference back. Im hoping this project will really help me with body movement and mimed acting. Its a good opportunity to improve my facial expressions as they cant talk and also improve on some basic body mech as there is a lot of walking and shifting weight in the shots I have. This scene is very large but I am excited to take it on and make it funny and silly and it should be nice laugh on my reel. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Final Major Pre-Production: Dance Off (Collab) Part 1

Dance off is planned to be a short film set at a high school prom. The main character attempts to make his way across the dance floor while being ambushed by various girls trying to win him over by dance.

After a lot of decision making I was luckily given the shots I had initially had my eye on from the first pitch. At one point during the short, the main character (Alphonse) runs into a popular 'mean girl' type character (Regina). My shots include their encounter. 

After I had my shots given to me, I took the animatic given to me by the director and broke it up into my shots. 

I was also given character profiles for both the characters I would be working on. With them, I went on and did my own research and looked at characters similar to the ones described for inspiration.

 First was shots 12-14 to plan. This is the two characters first encounter. Regina comes into shot and stops Alphonse in his tracks, she gestures for him to dance, he refuses and makes his way past her. She is not used to this rejection and storms after him .

In the end I chose the second as I feel it is dynamic and there are a lot of fun poses to play with.

The next, shot 15, is where Regina once again stops in front of Alphonse and snaps her fingers which causes the main lights to go out and a spotlight to appear over Alphonse.

I preferred the second as I felt it was more clean and sharp.

I have ended up with quite a lot of animation to do for this project, which Im looking forward to, but its going to be a lot of work. Im going to continue to work on my pre production for this project next week and hopefully have it all finished.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Final Major Pre-Production: Dialogue "you're not important" (Personal)

The first project that I started working on for my Final Major was my first of two dialogue pieces. I knew that I wanted to complete two dialogue pieces, one male and one female. I wanted them both to be very different, yet interesting for me to work on.
Previously I have never had the chance to animate a female dialogue piece so this was the one I was most excited to start. I also hadn't really done anything where the character was angry and getting very over emotional, so that was something I looked for when hunting for a sound clip. Eventually I found a clip I thought had nice timing and a good rhythm to it that would work well for animation. 
As soon as I eventually decided, I had to start building a character and a setting. For me, I find this important for when I come to referencing. I like to know how what kind of character I am trying to convey and that in turn will influence how they act in certain situations. 

After roughly planning out what situation my character would be in and the context for the animation, I did some research for inspiration. I looked at characters who were similar to how I wanted mine to be. I also looked at facial expressions I thought would work well for the character with the dialogue.

After research I threw out a few quick poses I thought may work, just to get a feel for what sort of movement I wanted.

I also explored a few options for the core emotion she would be driven by throughout the piece and what sort of gestures she may make depending on that emotion.

Although I wanted her to be mainly angry and frustrated throughout the dialogue, I didnt want that to be her only emotion. There is a lot of opportunity in the dialogue for many emotions, from a sad and contemplative pause while thinking to an outburst filled with rage. I explored some facial expressions she may hit and worked them into some poses too. 

After I was happy with the character and had a fairly solid idea of the sort of emotions and gestures I would like her to hit, it was time for thumbnailing.

I chose to work on the second animatic as I liked the change from her started much more calm and slightly upset to then bursting with anger and acting in quite an intimidating way.

I am really excited to start working on this dialogue piece. There is a lot of opportunity to push poses and facial expressions. Also, as I want to eventually get into character animation, this is exactly the type of thing I enjoy the most and want to improve my skills at. I can see myself spending the most time on this project when production time comes.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Final Major Project: Planning

The time has come to plan my final major project. My Final Major Project is a project or group of projects that I will work on over the last 16 weeks of my final year. They must add up to 80 seconds. We can choose what it is we work on and how many projects we choose to take on as long as at least 50% of the work is collaborative.

For me, this is the project that will give me the material for my final show reel before I graduate, so I bared that in mind when deciding what projects to work on.
My classmates had a chance to pitch any projects they had already planned and wanted to direct. This was an opportunity for the rest of us to make a decision on who we would like to work with and what projects would best suit us. I decided to choose my collaborative projects first and then fill in any gaps with personal projects so I have a well rounded show reel at the end of the year.

Collaborative Projects:
- Dance Off [20 seconds]
- Alpha [20 seconds]
- Tree Project [10 seconds]

'Dance Off' is a project I will be working as an animator on. It is planned to be a short film set at a high school prom. The main character attempts to make his way across the dance floor while being ambushed by various girls trying to win him over by dance.
I decided to work on this project as I think it will be a great opportunity to work on body mechanics and two character interaction. The short is planned to be very funny and cartoony, so it will also be an opportunity for me to try a more exaggerated animation style.

'Alpha' is a project that I will be co-directing and also working as head of animation. 'Alpha' planned to be a short film that works as an advertisement for a game. The main characters are a girl and her creature companion. The game would about the two of them exploring and hunting down these 'Alpha' creatures. The short follows them as they make their discovery of an Alpha for the first time.
I was drawn to this project because of the light hearted humor and the dynamic between the two characters. I think this is a good project as it gives me a chance to work on my non human character animation. This is also a much slower piece to 'Dance Off' so I will have a chance to work on more subtle animation.

The tree project is a artistic short I was asked to animate on. Its planned to be a very short piece of animation, where a tree-like creature walks to the top of a hill and releases spoors into the wind.
This will be fairly simple animation but I think is a good chance to work on a walk cycle for a large heavy creature. Also, this is planned to be a very technical artistic short, with wind dynamics moving grass and leaves and many particle effects with glowing spoors and fire flies. I think this will be something different to add to my show reel and make it pop.
As I want to get into character animation, I wanted to mainly work on characters for my personal project. I also intend to fill in any gaps in my collaborative projects with my personal. I want my show reel at the end of the year to fully represent who I want to be as an animator when I graduate. I also want to work on things that I know I will enjoy and things I havent had the opportunity try out. I want my personal projects to be fun but push me as an animator.

Personal Projects:
- Dialogue #1 [10 seconds]
- Dialogue #1[10 seconds]
- Body Mechanics [10 seconds]

With the collaborative projects planned, I had a lot of mimed acting but no dialogue, so I decided to work on two different dialogue pieces. The plan is to have one male and one female as I would like the chance to use both the Mery and Malcolm rigs.
For one of my dialogue pieces I would like to work on something very emotional with quite I high intensity. I feel most of my collaborative work is fun and light hearted so I want to make sure I have something serious in my show reel too. It may end out sticking out a little in my show reel but its something I am desperate to have a go at.
To balance out the first dialogue, I would like something that is quite funny. Possibly a piece where I can play around with a lot of gestures and comedic timing. Of course, when it comes to finding a sound clip, it could all change.

Finally, I wanted to work on some more body mechanics. Although its not the main thing I would like to do, I feel its been very useful for me in the past and helps with timing and weight. Last year I really enjoyed working on my gymnastics project, so I think I will try something similar again this year, but perhaps more difficult. I would like to try to animate some free-running and parkour as I thunk it would be very challenging but fun. I would also really like to use the Stewart rig again, and I think it would be well suited for something like this.
Now everything is all planned, its onto pre-production!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Ident/ Sting Project: Animation Production

Here we have my animation progression for the ident/ sting project. 

First off, the first block:

I found posing the K character very hard for this piece. He has very unusual body proportions and his large head I found to be quite a challenge. I used my reference video mainly for timing with K as the model could not hit the poses I could. 


Smoothing this out was a lot of fun. I tried hard to get nice curved lines on K's movement. N was pretty idle throughout this piece so it was a good chance for me to practice that. I haven't really done idle animation before as there hasnt been much call for it in dialogue or mime pieces I have done in the past. It is something I would like to make sure I can do however as it is very important (especially for games) 

Final Render:

As acting TD I was responsible for the rendering of this piece. Im quite happy with how it turned out overall. It is not exactly as we originally planned but I am pleased with what we did in the time we had. If I were to go back I think I would have liked to make the animation with K a little more toony and really exaggerate the movements and the fall.    

Finally, we had to make a 'making of video' brace yourselves as there is my video reference in there which is not the prettiest. I think its a nice idea to have a making of video though, I think I will try to do this with some of my future projects. Its a nice way to round up a project.

Now Im back in to the swing of animating, I cant wait to start up my final major projects. We will have a lot of time on these and a lot of freedom so Im excited to see what projects our class creates. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

Ident/ Sting Project: Rigging

This is the first time I have rigged in a long while and I must say I was a little rusty. Once I got the hang of it though, I had a lot of fun! 
The best way to get better at rigging is to force yourself to rig four characters. That was quite the challenge but I am glad to say I am still alive at the other end. 
Here is the deformation test for the N character...

Although in the final animation we are not using all four characters, they were still modeled and I still rigged them so it would be a shame to not show anyone so here is the deformation tests for all of the four characters.

Even though they were not all used, at least I have four rigged characters to play with when I get a chance. It was also good to practice my rigging as its a skill I think will be handy to keep up with.

Now onto the animation!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Ident/ Sting Project: Pre-Production

For this project we had to create an ident or sting for a brand or tv channel. (something like the E4 stings) 
I worked as one half of a pair and together we brainstormed some ideas. Below are some quick thumbnails of a few of our favorites. 

In the end we decided on the second idea. We thought the characters would be really fun to design and there would be opportunity for some really nice toony animation. We are both fans of Nickelodeon and think we have a good idea as to what their stings are like. We want to make something cute and funny that is appropriate for kids so it fits with the channel it will be made for. 

Below are the final designs for the character drawn up by my partner. She will work as the artist for this project and I will work as the animator and rigger. 

We wanted them to look super cute but also have simple designs. I think they turned out really nice. 

As she was designing and modelling the characters, I worked on more thumbnails. We split it up into three parts; the entrance of the first three characters, the three characters waiting for the K and then the 'gag' of K entering. 

First part opetions (The entrance of the first three characters N, I and C)

Second part options (N, I and C waiting for the entrance of K)

Third part options (The entrance of K and the 'gag')

After we had all the options, I pieced them together into animatics to make five options for our final ident....

 After asking around out classmates to see which people preferred we decided to work on the option number two. I went onto develop this idea further and in greater detail and made thumbnails and an animatic of our final plan...

We were really happy with our final animatic above but unfortunately we came to realize that two people modelling, rigging and animating four characters was a little unrealistic.  
It was a shame as we had worked hard on all the characters and came to love them, but we would prefer to adapt our idea and get a good quality finished animation out of it then an unfinished version of our original plan. 
I adapted our idea so we just had the first and last character. This cut down on the animation immensely but the heart of our idea was still there.  

Over all it would have been nice to complete our original idea but I am still happy with the adapted version. Maybe one day I will go back and animate the full thing, but for now, I will do my best to make this version awesome. 

[Character designs by Natalie Knight, find her at...]