Thursday, 8 January 2009

Evaluation

As I sit here at 2:00, on the morning of the due date I ask myself one simple question: why? Why am I still sat. Why have I sat here for the last 4 days of my life. My ass is numb. My fingers and back ache and I am still trying to sync the sound to the video properly. Well, I can tell you for why! Because this is important to me. And if there is one thing that I have learned from this project it is that dedication does eventually pay off with self-gratification. I am PROUD of myself. Not just for the last few days of work, but of the last month. I have worked on this project every spare minute and I thought about it twice as much. And even as I quickly break away to be disappointed by the latest render not syncing up (Which means another hours work) I know I will come back to this evaluation to write same thing: I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project.

The source material was great to work with because it is such a devilish poem. It feels like a warning, like an old nursery rhyme. I think I went into this project with one idea and my mind went in with the one that ended up coming out of it...and thank goodness because I liked my minds idea a lot more.

I had a lot of fun researching backgrounds and working my own style out of what I found, that has been a real inspiration for me. I think my backgrounds look great....even though the final ones aren't exactly what I wanted. I didn't want to do them in Flash because I didn't want the world around the cartoon character to look cartoony...I wanted it to seem like a cartoon character in the real world, the increase the boys innocence, but sadly...and this is what I intend to repeat a lot: I ran out of time.

The main problem I ran into with this project was that I set myself too much work to do. I didn't estimate the work load correctly and two things have happened. My research is skimpy and nowhere near as good as my last project and the piece ended up been double the original estimated length. Yes, I have created a three and half minute film in under a month and half and the quality is of a pretty decent standard....but it has cost me a lot of research. The development work is there no doubt about it. My blog pays diffidence to that. You can see the piece grow within my blog, you see it come to life. If you follow the entries, you don't even have to read all the garbage I ramble on about, just watch the pictures and the story tells itself. But where the effort really shows is in the final piece. It is the best animation I have made so far. I have worked so hard to get here and all I can hope now is that I get the mark that I have put all this effort in for.

My main grudge is that I didn't get to include a lot of ideas. I had to cut several scenes straight away due to time constraints, one of which had been in the designs since the first day I started drawing. My original storyboard is barely recognisable compared to the final piece...which I suppose is a sign of good development. Another thing I really wanted to do, was include textures in the piece. I have recently started experimenting with them and really like the results. I think I have found quite an individual style within that, one that I really look forward to bringing into my animation more in the future. The final thing I'd like to mention that I missed out is the special effects department. I wanted to have beams of light pouring through the trees and tiny flies buzzing around the place...little touches that would really have brought the wood to life...but they were the first thing to go. The important thing is that the ideas were there originally I suppose...still it is frustrating, because as good as my final piece is and as pleased as I am with it, the one in my head is just that little bit better. But I would have needed at least another month I think.

To conclude. This project has taught me a lot. It has taught me never to underestimate the task at hand and maybe more importantly, that hard work and dedication does pay off in the end. I am proud of this project, even though I know it isn't my best. I am probably more proud of this piece of work that I have ever been of anything else I have created, because I know I haven't skipped corners where I didn't have to. I put the graft in and I didn't skimp out of laziness.

Thursday

This has felt like the shortest week ever....I have been tucked away inside this little room working away on this piece and it is now 1:53 Friday morning and I am just putting out a test render. Today has been bleedin' awful. Flash continues to do my head in and as much as I love it I am so ready to move away from it. The problem with it is that I know it is a good program if you are willing to put the time in...its just its got no camera features, no sound features and no common sense...well CS3 hasn't at least, I am told there are some improvements in CS4.

Because I know the program so well, whenever something comes up or I am in a rush, I am forced back to it. My work rate is high with the program and that is a good thing....but today. Today I have had to try about 6 different programs. Programs for rendering, programs for sound, programs for editing and God knows I haven't enjoyed it. I even gave up after the first 3 hours....'Sod it, I'll just do it Flash.' But then Flash had one of its moments.... So After Effects.....not playing either....none of them wanted to make it easy for me. I know, I'll tag times from the video, put it together in a Soundtrack program and add it onto the video.... Didn't sync. Why is that animating and designing and planning the piece seems so easy in comparison to rendering the frigging thing out!?

I hate to end the blog on a sour note, but I am going to have to. No pictures today because I was working with sound...instead there is the final piece, which I will link you to as soon as I upload it to youtube. Anyway, onto the evaluation, where I will conclude everything....then I can get some sleep...actually, the render timer says I won't be sleeping for a while yet.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Wednesday

Tot up another 12 hours on the counter....that brings it to 36 hours altogether. S'goin well.

So, on Monday the piece was a series of moving stills or....just stills or just lines and squiggles. And by the end of the day half of it was moving around the place.

On Tuesday, it piece of was a piece of see-through moving image work...most of which I thought was...OK.

But today! Today it is a coloured, moving image piece that I think has serious potential! So far, it is only block colours with no shading, but it still looks great. I'm praying I don't have to pull an all night tomorrow to get all of the shading done, but it is probably quite likely. Still, I think it will be worth it and that is what is important....but there is the sound and documentation to do first, that is more important!

OK...so to the screenshots....O no wait! I have prepared a rather special treat for you. I have made a time lapse video of the last 12 hours worth of my life :D / :( ..... It is quite strange to condense all of your hard work and 12 hours of your life into 2 and half minutes worth of footage with a African tribe drumming session as a backing track.... Am I 'cool' yet?

video

"Hey, Dan! Where have you been for the last 12 hours....?"

So there you go. As you can see, there was a lot to color in, but when I got my head down and got cracking I got into. Having some back ground music helped...you can get through quite a lot of that stuff in 12 hours. I've had some right stuff on....Beatles, Duffy, Buen Chico, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd.....it has been fun because I don't listen to music when I animate...there is now point 'cause I'm concentrating so hard I don't hear it...and when the disc tray pops out after its finished it scares the crap out of me normally....and it drains CPU, which I have a limited amount of.

Anyway, enough jibba-jabba...Rock on towards the deadline and bring on the music!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Tuesday

Yep its Tuesday. Well, its Wednesday but this website runs on American time. I can officially say: I have finished the animation for Eligh's Dark Fable. Tomorrow, I am coloring the whole thing in...which doesn't sound like a lot, but that is 30 scenes and backgrounds, colouring every single drawing. The comes in at around 3 minutes...which is double what I originally anticipated. I think I got into a bit too much. It looks pretty good, I like it so far...I just wish I had more time to iron certain issues out and do more frames. A lot of it ended up been animated on 3's...especially the walks...but they don't suffer too much.

Thursday is reserved for doing the sound....which is going to be a chore! I don't really have a good program for doing the sound in and I really don't want to end up doing it in Flash....not at least until I have the soundtrack sorted and can import both the .swf and .wav into the same timeline and just lay them next to one another. Anyway, they are all thoughts for Thursday. Tomorrow is colouring, shading and special effects. Of which there are many... So I will leave you with screenshots of the work I have done today. Again, it is only a tiny sample of what I have done, but I am really, really, really, really tired now and need to get some sleep. I have done 24 hours worth of animation in 2 days and I am finally calling it in.


It's hard to pick out screenshots from today because it has either been walks...of which a screenshot only shows you one frame....or it has been stuff with detailed backgrounds like the one above, where you can't even see what I have drawn...

It's also getting to the point where I don't know what I've already shown you because I am so tired. I'm pretty sure I haven't posted this....it is just after the boy fails to catch the butterfly and loses his temper.


This is where the boy hears a strange sound from the woods.

This is what I'll be sorting out tomorrow. Making sure the you can clearly see the character and the lovely backgrounds. I think this one has some serious potential.

And then the it ends. Time constraints means I have had to remove the scene where the camera zooms out past trees and hills and things which is a real shame. I have replaced it with this long zooming shot though, which will look just as nice when it is all shaded and coloured.

I have also changed the ending. We no longer see a little girl, because it honestly looked like the hand had stolen the boy and put a wig and dress on him. When the girl run into shot after I had animated it all, it just looked wrong...it looked like a joke, so instead I went for a much more sinister and thought provoking ending, where the audience is left to make up their own mind about what has become of the boy.

Also cut: a few wandering through the woods scenes, several key frames of animation - replaced by computer animation instead :( - the evil tree with hundreds of eyes (I was looking forward to animating that scene, it was one of my original sketches...) and the 'through the mist and fog' beginning. All gone due to time constraints....a real shame, but very little I can do about it. I will be lucky to get the animation, my project folder and evaluation done for Friday.....

Anyway...tomorrow: Full Colour shots!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Monday

So. I found out when my deadline is. It is Friday at 3pm. No later than. I estimate to finished my project and sort everything out I need another week and a half to two weeks. So, I am left with no choice but to.....stay up all night every night until Friday and get it all done!!! Woooot! I must be crazy! So, this blog is going to be pretty short because it is nearly 12 o clock and I need to keep going....

Progress is steady really, as it always is with animation. My patience is wearing sadly and I am having to cut corners that I would have quite happily have dawdled at, had a look around and maybe even a quick smoke whilst leaning against the corner itself and having a conversation with it, if I had the two weeks extra. But I don't, so instead I just chucked a quick 's'up' to the corner as I rounded it with a big old animated tween! There is one scene however I am particularly proud of...and that is the scene where the child jumps out and tries to snatch the butterfly, but misses. It looks great because of all the time and planning that went into it, I'm really pleased with it. So for this post I offer you a comparison of what it looked like yesterday and what it looks like today....and then after that there is a few more screenshots of the rest of the work I have done.

video

First the original. This was a test video embedded into a flash background. At the end of the video I drew the extra poses in with Flash. This was a good piece of planning work because it centered the shot for the action that would take place and it gives a good idea of what the finished shot will look like. It also allows you to concentrate on getting the poses of the character right because you are just re-drawing rather than making it up as you go along.

video

And this is the one that is ready to be coloured and put into the final piece. Each pose in this shot is really strong and a nice mixture of computer animation and traditional animation makes the movement nice and smooth, but modern at the same time. There are a few cheeky frames in there...with movement lines and multi-drawings but I deliberately applied them out of respect for a dead age of animation. One that I increasingly yearn for... I would love to go into depth about all the techniques and nuances of the scene...but I have an entire animation to animate, colour and do the sound for by Friday...so, moving on..

This is a good level to be animating at for college I think...this is what I want the rest of my work to look like. Good solid drawing and poses, with good lining and a decent amount of animation. I would prefer to FBF animate, but that just isn't possible with the deadlines and time lines that I am given for each piece of work....so I would like to work to this level minimum.

Here are few selected scenes. I have done so much work today it would be impossible to post everything...you can see it in the final animation.

The forest calls to him.

A little experiment with colour whilst I rested numb drawing hand. These are the 'scooby doo' colours I won't be using...

I never thought I would be someone who would enjoy background design...but I have drawn this one three times now and the third time I got it right. It looks great and when its coloured its going to be magic.

Again, some experimentation whilst I was resting. This looks OK...I especially like the colour of the boys tights. I'm hoping desperately that the boys change of appearance halfway through the piece isn't going to confuse everybody....and now I have no time to do questionnaires :( so I will just have to hope.


This is the shot of the boy coming across the shack. Originally, I wanted the shack to be very sharp, made of twigs and very, very scary....but I think the normality of this one makes it even scarier. It could be in your back garden and because it is so recognisable I think it evokes more confusion and fear...which is better.

OK. Back to it. I will make a post tomorrow with some more stuff if I get chance...but time is running away and I fear I will have to make significant cuts if I want to hit the deadline. I already have two good projects under my belt...but a third would seal the deal methinks!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Animaic finished!

Today I have worked diligently and completed the directors animaic. I must say, even seeing the whole piece together not completely animated and with no sound effects is quite exciting. I would definitely like to add some sound before showing anybody the piece and doing any questionnaires to make sure it all runs together OK....O yeah, I'm doing questionnaires by the way. I will be handing them out after 'forcing' people to watch the piece asking questions to make sure that people clearly understand what is happening. I think this is a sensible idea...but sadly, I will still be working towards the final piece at the same time...so I don't know if the feed back I get will even get used towards the final piece....I hope that it does however.

So, the animaic is finished...but I won't be posting it here. Instead...here are some screenshots of the work I have done today.


The hand comes flying out of the house after the door slowly creaks open. I am quite chuffed with the door animation, though it is mostly computer animated, I think it adds something to the piece...that is why I decided to leave it rather than animate it frame by frame...I look the cut out 2D look of it. I am also pleased with the way the hand looks.

The hand comes flying towards the boy. The middle of his hand spins around all the way through the shot pulling your eyes in. I am really pleased with how intimidating the hand is as it gently hovers in the air. There will be a long cloud of smoke behind it in the finished piece hopefully.


We see the boy become hypnotised by the hand.


And begin to beckon him. This piece of animation, with the hand waggling its finger is going to look great in the final piece...it already does in this early shot...not that you can see it from the above shot.

The boy then floats towards the hand. I opted to make him float for ease... Yes it is a cheap 'get out' method, but I have to animate the rest of the piece yet and that is going to take long enough.


He then floats inside the shack and disappears. Several seconds of silence follow before....


The boy flops out of the door in a desperate bid to get away. This is the last time we see the boy as his normal self, in full colour. I think this will be really effective to see the boy that we followed right from the beginning, the pure, good colourful boy been dragged into the darkness....far more effective than watching the pupil-less, soul-less boy been dragged away. Also, it will serve to remind the audience that the boy is innocent and the he has been corrupted by the forest and stolen away...the audience should feel sorry for the boy and hopefully a little scared.


The camera then pans out through the trees away from the shack. This shot is a very early test animation of the wanted effect...it is far from successful and may eventually be replaced with a long panning shot of the shack buried under a mountain of woods if I cannot get the desired effect.


The camera continues to zoom out to reveal the final shot. The focus shifts from foreground to background...you can see a slight blur on the foreground in this shot....and a butterfly flies past.


A little girl runs into shot chasing the butterfly and we hear a distant echoing scream. The girl turns to face the wood and the shot goes black. This is the end...and the cycle will continue forever.

If I get the time I want on this piece I feel it will be a masterpiece...otherwise I will have to hand in the animaic and knock-up a quick soundtrack, then finish it for my own personal gain. It will be quite disheartening if I don't get to count this towards my final mark, but this is definitely one of the most fun pieces I have worked on and after seeing the just the rough piece flow together today, I do feel a sense of pride....because I know the final piece will be even better!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

So much to do....

...so very little time!

So. I have been going for nearly two months on this project now...which sounds like a lot of time. But from conception to finished two and half minute cartoon, that really isn't that much time what-so-ever. I'm just hoping I get an extra week to get all my folder work together otherwise im gunna miss my deadline and be really gutted that I have worked so hard. I want this project to count towards this semesters marks is all.

I elected to use my background designs for demonstration rather than draw in temporary new ones. Not only does this mean that the preliminary work I did now served a purpose, it will be nice to output the whole thing as a rough animated version to look back on after I have completely finished the piece...the difference will highlight how much work has gone into this piece.


This shot won't be in the final piece so I have immortalised it here instead



I like this drawing...and the story behind it goes like this: when you are a young boy all alone in the woods and you crack a twig in the darkness...


It scares the living crap out of you!

And then you get angry at it. I just a read a chapter in The Illusion of Life about character building that states: "A characters true personality is realised by there reaction to the situation they are faced with..." Which means that my character is a tyrant!


Then something amazing happened. I realise I had drawn in all of my storyboard squares. So I re-read the poem with the completed ending and drew up a new storyboard with an ending tacked on.


It starts with this shot. The boy has just found the shack. He is quite amazed by it....


Then I realised I had neglected to draw the shack. So I designed one...and I thought: wow, I can draw perspective buildings reasonably well....I quite like this.


Then I moved onto this shot. It is the beginning of the end. As soon as all of the next storyboard is roughly animated in...it is time to begin the real work. Colouring and animating the entire piece. But if all of the new backgrounds look as good and detailed as this one...then I don't mind the graft!

Things are looking good. If I haven't to delay this project and put it in for next semesters work...I really, really don't mind because I think I might be on the verge of creating something fantastic that I might actually be proud of for once.

Maybe.