Wednesday, 1 December 2010

11 Second - Completed

Ah the pleasant moment of completion ^_^

I'm pleased with the overall, there are some things I would do better, and some things I would do differently. My method of choice certainly requires some more work, either that or I need to improve on a different method enough to use that instead.
The characters came out quite well, especially the Masked Aubergine in his close up shot, I really feel he moves and looks as good as he could have done in those frames. I feel my time management needs to improve a little, because even though I thought I was spreading the work evenly, it did end up being something of a rush to finish, not a panic rush, but a little more intense than would have been ideal.
I met no serious problems in production other than Flash's insistence on having the sound clip set to start instead of stream, which made it very hard to use until it finally let me change it. However, given all the past problems Flash has been known for presenting me with, I have to say that I was almost pleased to find that my only snag.

One of the things I was quite pleased with was the angry mob that rises from the hill behind Brickface, complete with torches and pitchforks. I realise this seems a little silly since there is a clearly lit city in the background of the animation, but somehow I felt that with the type of villains I chose, the overall silliness, and the general, unrealistic theme of the entire thing, that the traditional mob was the most appropriate to use.
Perhaps I went a little overboard on the glow coming from the mob, but I do rather like the overall effect it has, framing Brickface's almost insane reaction to the whole matter, it juxtaposes nicely with the shot of Masked Aubergine against the moon as well.

Overall, it was a fascinating project to work with, though this term has been very dissappointing for me in the sense that there has been no oppertunity to put our own sound to anything, and since sound is my primary interest, I hope that we get offered that chance soon.

The outcome of the 11 second project is, in the end, something I am reasonably happy with, but could improve on given practice and time ^_^

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Experimental Animation - Final.

The experimental animation project was an interesting one to approach, because it was largely open for us to interpret however we liked as individuals. There was a lot of discussion at first about possibly attempting a stop-motion film with proper models and backgrounds, because the technique interested everyone in the group. But after making the testing animation with Alphonse, it was quickly decided that it would take a very long time, and would be very difficult to make non-narrative and yet effective. It would also be quite hard to match it to the music effectively.
Therefore we also discussed and toyed with the possibility of a stop-motion of another kind, flat images formed by photographing a substance moving around on a surface, frame by frame, photographed and put together to the music later in the editing stages.
When we played with the rice, it made me realise that it would be the easier, and probably better outcomed choice to make. Which left us with a few decisions to make, what to draw with, and what music to put it to.

The Drones and Refrains of Death was the piece of music that I personally felt had more effect on my creativity than any of the others, and shortly after hearing the piece, an idea started to form in my mind.
Being an ex-film student, and a very long term lover of the horror genre, I just happenned to have rather a large supply of fake blood lying around... and the unsettling nature of the music seemed to demand an unsettling medium in which to draw to it. The two things just seemed more coincidence than it was appropriate to ignore, and the suggestion was quickly adopted by the goup.

'Filming' commenced shortly afterwards, with large glass chopping board, a LOT of newspaper to protect the floor, a Camera and Tripod, and quite a lot of strange objects which we planned to use to poke the blood around.

This stage largely went well, with the group working quickly, taking it in turns from animator, to camera operator, to suggestion maker. It took several days, and one problem we met in that time was that a batch of the fake blood kept drying out overnight despite numerous attempts to prevent it from doing so. Which left us with an entertaining period in the mornings, sitting 'warming up' the blood with sprayed water and paintrushes, trying to get it animateable again.

Another problem we found, was that the lines we made in the blood didn't appear that clearly on the images. I found a solution to that problem, unforutnately drawing in it with one's hands held the risk that it was very messy, and the fingertips tended to get dyed reddy orange quite quickly.

Finally though, with over 420 images, we decided it was enough to enter the editing process.

This task, assigned to myself, was a slow process of sorting the various folders of the different patters and images, and then putting them together in appropriate software. The hardest part of the process was persuading the images to match the music speed, but in the end that just took some persistence.

I'll put more detail about the editing into the full production report on the hard hand-in.

In the meantime, here is the low quality Mpeg of the movie, because Blogger will only upload the quicktimes if it is allowed to keep my computer hostage all night for upload. Which I won't allow it to do XP

Friday, 26 November 2010

11 Second - More Progress

Just thought I'd post up a rough render of the finished half of the 11 second! ^_^

Full thing should be done before too long!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Experimental Editing ^_^

Just a few snippits of what I'm editing in the Experimental Project! ^_^

^ Got my hands dyed orange for a week doing this bit D:

Thought I should put a little bit up as a sneak peek! ^_^

Sunday, 21 November 2010

11 Second - Progress

^_^ Just thought I'd pop on and post a few WIP images from the slowly but surely progressing 11 Second Project.

The Masked Aubergine has gone through some changes since you last saw him... but I'm pleased with this final design.

The background from the opening scene of the animation, moon loading error and all ^_^

Oh look... an angry mob... I wonder what they might possbily want.

More soon ^_^

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Expermiental Experiments! ^_^

We've been discussing various different opssible methods of making the experimental project, including a few different kinds of stopmotion, and animating in various grain/sand/liquid mediums. There's no final decisions yet, but here's a few things we played with!

I call him Alphonse! ^_^

No rice was harmed during the making of this video. However, one fly named Jeremy did meet with a sudden, newspaper related accident because he kept landing on the camera lens.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

11 Second - Basic Storyboard.

Yes, VERY basic, because I am a writer by nature, I prefer to do my planning with detailed notes for myself than storyboards. However, I thought it best that I at least do the simplest of simple ones ^_^

I know, it is not good, but my scanner refusing to scan it right didn't make things any better.

Allow me to detail the frames the way I prefer, with text.

Frame 1: The Masked Aubergine (MA from now on) stands awkwardly on a hilltop, holding the moon up with clear difficulty, and trying to stop it rolling back down the hill. In the background, the night sky has a dark void in it, where the moon should be, and within that dark void is an image loading error. Why? Simply because the dark shape looked completely wrong, and the loading error is simply a geek's joke... consider it my little way of trying to be funny.
Brickface stands at the bottom of the hill, pointing accusingly at the other Villain, glaring, and shouting "You stole it."
At this point, MA notices that Brickface is there for the first time and puts on an afraid look.

Frame 2:
MA defends himself with shifty eyes and a speedy response of 'I thought you put it there.' In the following silence, MA is pushed a ways down the hill awkwardly by the weight of the moon rolling.

Frame 3:
We go to a close-up of Brickface, with an extremely annoyed expression. "Why would I put it there?!" he demands, gesturing his bafflement with angry hand movements.

Frame 4:
Close up of MA instead now, who looks around as if seeking a desperate answer and then cautiously replies 'Kindness?'

Frame 5:
Close up of Brickface again, but now he posesses an insane looking rage-face, with bloodshot eyes, eyetwitch and strangler's hands. He then replies with anger: "KINDNESS?!"

Frame 6:
Brickface points at MA accusingly again, still with his insane face, and shouts 'You stole it.'
As he is saying this, an angry mob, complete with torches, pitchforks and angry fiery-glow begin to rise over the crest of the hill behind him.

Frame 7:
Brickface, now EVEN ANGRIER, and still poniting at him, looks to the side, as if to part of the mob, and proclaims with fury 'He STOLE it!'

It is presumed that Brickface does this partly to make it clear that he wasn't responsible, and partly in the hope that the mob will kill off his 'competition' the other villain. Also it is possible he is simply in a blind rage.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Concept Art - 11 Second.

Okay, so having obtained and pondered the November 11 second project clip, I have finally decided on an idea that I feel fits it with a reasonable amount of origionality to it.

The idea is this:
On the outskirts of some kind of city, two rather bad villains (Yes, cliche, pants-over-trousers, silly costumed, silly named villains) stand. One is pushing the moon (Yes, out of proportion, comedic moon) up a hill, looking rather pleased with himself. The second stands a
ways behind him, poiting accusingly.

The supposed story is that the two of them are in a rivalry over the city, but appear to have both had the same idea. The second one is sore about this and commences shouting accusingly, the other one immediately begins making nonsense excuses whilst still attempting to hold onto his prize. Finally ending with an angry mob approaching, and the second villain shoving all blame at the first, angry that he wasn't the one to get there first, and trying not to get lynched.

It may seem rather silly, but to me it seems a bit more origional than all the other ideas that came to me about the clip.

The two characters I have come up with for this shall be known as:

The Masked Aubergine

And Brickface

I realise they are both strange, sketchy and unrealistic, but in an animation where someone is stealing the moon... I think it could work.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Year 2, Term 1, Week 1.

So after a summer of travelling, drawing practice and more bad horror films than I would like to count, I have returned for another year.

And with the new year comes the first animation of the year.
The character model I made for this one, I have nicknamed 'The Serious Man' Because he looks very serious indeed, especially in his monochrome colours and box murdering ways.

The assignment was to have the character pick up a heavy box or object, and my origional plan for the box was decided to be a bad idea, so I went with something a little less silly and a little more morbid... however, watch this space, because my sillier, more amusing version will be uploaded as well when I get it finished!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Term 3, Week 6.

I'll be honest there isn't much to report this week XD I handed in animal firm, had a big cushion fight with three of my fellow animators, drank a whole lot of tea... oh and finally made friends with my Mechanical pencil... after having one sitting at the bottom of my drawer since the start of the course, I finally decided to give it a chance XD And look what the outcome was! I'm very pleased with it, which makes a nice change for me, it's a lot sharper than a lot of my character drawings as a result of me not having to sharpen my damn pencil every five minutes XD

For the rest of the time between now and final grades and such, I'll most likely be spending my time getting on with my personal writing projects, which have been somewhat neglected the last few weeks, I look forward to having some more time to dedicate to them for a while. I think i'm just going to enjoy being able to write and draw whatever I want for a while XD with no deadlines.

Also. Here is a rat... in fact... here is two rats. Why? Simply because my rats are awesome and I am lacking anything else to say.

Now I am off to doodle and watch Isolation, the Blob and possibly Creepozoids. Ahhh... how nice it is to have time to waste on horror films again :D

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Whatwhatwhat Production Report Entry ^_^

The whatwhatwhat project appealed to me right away, as an option that could really be interpreted in any way by the group, an almost completely blank canvas to work with. The first chance we’d had to really use our imaginations, and do whatever we thought was fitting with a reasonable amount of time to work with.

The actual concept for our group’s animation, I came up with whilst the project was actually being presented to us originally, and though I normally case aside initial ideas for being too simplistic and not well enough thought out, for a thirty second animation, this one seemed as though it could well work. Anything more complex would put serious strains on the allotted 30 second time, and risk rushing the production process, neither of which would be a desirable result at all. So I allowed the idea to stay, pondered it overnight and explained it to the group the next day in class. I was surprised to find the idea extremely well received, and in no time at all the group seemed to have adopted it without question and were pondering all the different variables… characters… settings… level of realism… method of creation.
Right from the start I had imagined it being a black and white hand drawn/flash animation of very simple design, and whilst what we got was black and white as hoped, it was far more complex and pleasing to the eye than my original idea had been.

We went over all the variables numerous times before settling on the idea of two hulking men, or chavs, as we referred to them at the time, since those are the most likely pair of people to meet in a street and not wish to give way to each other. Almost before I knew it, concept art was emerging, and the process got under way fast and smoothly, the storyboarding and animatic being done rapidly and effectively without too many problems at all, the pre-production phase was sadly the only one that seemed to go smoothly however, so the easy time was to be short lived. From the very early stages of production, we were hounded by delays and technical troubles, and the huge workload seemed to have fallen a little unevenly within the group. Fortunately nobody complained, all apparently deciding that if there was any trouble to be made over it, it could be done when time allowed for it and the project was over.

As time wore on still, I became progressively more impressed with the group’s ability to keep working grimly onwards as a team despite the mounting time shortage and workload, somehow coaching each other towards finishing, even when it really did seem hopeless.

Things felt like they reached the peak of hopelessness when we realised the deadline suddenly seemed to have jumped a week closer, though it is totally unknown if it did or not. Then it was all to panic stations as we realised that it was possible that we didn’t physically have time to finish the entire thing on time for the deadline, there being simply such a huge amount left to do. Flash made the situation even worse by crashing every time we attempted to start putting things together in the studio. We had to improvise a way to do the project that was a lot more time consuming, but possible at least.

So having panicked for a little while and had to handle more technical problems, we managed to pull things together, produce one working computer to handle all the strain, and were finally able to get working in a definite progress-like direction after a frustratingly long time of running in circles like headless chickens.

We were lucky to be given a semi-extension for the project, because even after spending the entire weekend sitting working on nothing but the animation, with not enough sleep and too much panic, we barely got it finished… three hours before the final hand-in deadline. This was where my troubles began. Being post production, I was now handed a 1.36 GB file, to compress, edit, put sound to, and do an entire post production process on, in three hours, when the compression alone was set to take at least seven hours. Nobody was to blame for this, having witnessed the events leading up to it I can be sure of that. It was simply the way things happened. So I just had to work to get it done as quickly as possible, making reasonably good time with it, and finally getting to do the sound, which was the part I had been looking forward to all along. I would have liked to spend a lot more time tweaking it and finding more atmospherically matching sounds, at least several days would have been nice, but given the time I had, I don’t think the sound came out too badly. As a first official sound attempt that I’ve had the chance to work with on this course, I am pleased with it.

The credits and such were easily done and attached with the help of after effects, and then after rendering out all of the infernal TIFFS and mov files, it was off to the studio for a DVD burning… which once again the studio computers attempted to sabotage, almost succeeding too… technical errors following us to the end.

Overall though, having finished and handed it in, I feel that the project was a success, a lesson in both teamwork and the whole animating process. I cannot speak for the others of course, but I feel we worked very well as a group and I look forward to continuing to animate with these people over the rest of the course.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Term 3, Week 5.

Okay... so this week is when the shit hit the fan. The deadline seemed to shunt a week closer and we were FAR from being that close to done x_x We had to ask for an extension on friday... until monday... and even then after working solid on it all weekend, i wasn't handed the project to do post production on until three hours before the deadline on monday night. To be clear it was impossible for me to even do the compression of the file within that time XD let alone a full post production, and at 1.36GB for a 30 second file, it HAD to be compressed before i could work with it XD So... I did what i could, and had the damn thing done by midday on tuesday. It wasn't fun to be so rushed on the sound that i had wanted to take time to get really well done, but hey, you can't win them all, i did what i could with the time i was given and the final result was pretty nice overall ^_^

Sketchbook project made good progress in it's last short time now, i seem to have left behind all concept of realism with it, but i don't think that's such a bad thing... in fact i think it has surely improved the situation significantly.

Animal firm is coming into it's later stages now, getting profiles officially written up and drawings properly lined and such, pulling things into some kind of organisation.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Term 3, Week 4.

Things still seem to be progressing well with the what project, if a little slower than we planned, but there's no need to worry yet, I am hoping to have a week set aside to do the full post production process, but we'll have to see, a few days might suffice, I could do it in less but it would be rushed and not too great a quality because of rendering times. We'll have to see how things go ^_^

Sketchbook project seems to keep getting odder as time goes by, the pictures becoming slowly more random, but that's okay with me, I kinda like the progression of insanity that this project seems to be following.

Animal firm continues to make good progress, the concept becoming slowly more solid... and if you thought I was joking about an octopus in a wheelbarrow... I wasn't. His name is Steve... he wears a Toupee, Monocle and fake moustache. If you think I’m still joking, you're wrong, he is an actual character.

He's a lawyer.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Term 3, Week 3.

Good progress seems to be happening on the what project this week, things are moving mostly as planned, perhaps not perfectly, but the problems we have are 99% technology related... so that's kind of expected XD never ever rely on the computers to work when you need it most... because they will find a way to mess up on you... no matter how reliable they are normally. Am slowly putting a few sounds aside for a sound library, and am practicing with Soundbooth to make sure I know how it all works.

Sketchbook project is still going well, I got bored of only drawing things I had around the place and decided to go a bit loopier with it, I hope nobody minds, but one can only do so much of drawing the mundane over and over.

Animal firm goes well, I have one picture I'm quite pleased with at the moment, that's the one on the right here. This is Krawk, possibly the most misunderstood creature in the series. Everyone thinks she's there to help... she's only there to eat the slugs in their gardens... I'm starting to think the town I have created is populated by idiots XD

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Term 3, Week 2.

This week we actually got started organising the whatwhatwhat project properly, assigning tasks/roles and coming up with a basic plan of when things needed to be done by. At this point it seems as though we shouldn't have a problem at all as long as we stick to the plan and make sure everyone does their bit. My bit is mostly post production, so for the first few weeks there is little I can do other than build a sound library that will apply to the protect, doodle some concept arty stuff for personal reference, and watch to see how everyone else's work takes shape. I think the roles that have been handed out work very well... the only problem I see is that nobody can decide on the falling object... the last list was in excess of thirty items long, and included batman, the tardis, Charlie the unicorn and a dead cow... this one could take a while to narrow down.

The sketchbook project is going well, bt i'm getting real bored of drawing nothing but objects XD they held my interest at first but i'm hoping to get a bit more surreal soon... that may not be the case but there's no harm in hoping ;)

Animal firm project is starting to take shape, but mostly in my mind at this point... the project seems as thought it may well come out extremely... unusual, since I am avoiding cliche as best as I can. Also... I am going to be using an octopus in a wheelbarrow.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Term 3, Week 1.

Start of a new term, after a month of recovering from the madness and strain of the last one. This week has led me to think that things will be not quite as mad as i initially thought they would be this term, us having only three projects, one group and two sketchbook, which are not unreasonably in length or quality. The options we were handed for the group project are both interesting, my love of creature feature horror made me really like the idea of the killer fly series intro. However, the what project immediately sparked my interest because it was so open and wonderfully flexible. The group decided almost right away to take on the Whatwhatwhat project because of those things, and the idea i came up with for it was received surprisingly well! As far as i can tell we are actually going to do with it!

Also this term i am taking an Adobe Dreamweaver course with the university because coding is a long term interest of mine, the first session of that was this week, and was most interesting indeed, advancing my current knowledge significantly. Since i already work for several websites and have designed them in close contact with the coder, i have a good base knowledge of these things already, and as such this dreamweaver course is to build on that and make coding a viable hobby for me.

That's all i can think of for this week... uhm... i'll upate with how things go for next week.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Storyboard Project

With this project, I have to admit I was somewhat guilty of neglecting it until the last minute, but I had prioritised the other projects too much, and with my health problems playing up from the strain of the other project work, and the death of a family pet looming over me, I was short on patience, energy, and the will to live by that point. If I had had the foresight to know how much work the projects would all take, I would have handled things significantly differently. But since none of us have that gift, my actions were perhaps not the best. I should have assigned more time to do this project, as it was, this reflected more than clearly in the work that I ended up handing in.

By the time I STARTED this assignment, my drawing arm was already crippled from my old friend RSI, brought on from the other projects all being done at once, so what I managed to do with it was nothing short of a miracle... I should have asked for an extension on it, but being as stubborn as I am regarding that sort of thing, I insisted I could do it.

On reflection, I would have only needed another 24 hours to pull the drawing up to a far better standard, and put adequate detail into the actual storyboard itself... make it properly extended and detailed, instead of the short and rapidly deteriorating in quality mess I handed in. But one can live and learn, and next time I have that many projects dropped on me, I shall plan my time A LOT more carefully, to pull up the standard of ALL of them to a reasonable point.

Friday, 19 March 2010

3D Bathroom Modelling Project

This project presented an interesting challenge for me, because i have never had a particular skill for modelling in Maya... well... put more truthfully, me and Maya have certain problems with each other. But we both had to get over those to do this.
I chose to model the bathroom i had done for my backgrounds project:

Mostly because it was a reasonably simple, clean cut room to work with... and i really thought that going for something more complicated than i knew how to do would end in disaster. I know bathrooms are a little boring, but on reflection it was a good choice for a first try, and the end result might have been a bit simplistic, but I was pleased with it.


The biggest challenge with this one was definitely the shower, for apparently Maya and curved lines, do not like each other, so doing the back and side that curve around was not as simple as i thought it would be, it took so many tries and scrapped attempts in fact, that i had to cut out plans to model the toilet unit you see in the origional background image, because i simply hadn't left myself enough time. The rest of the thing was fairly easy, except figuring out how to make the walls transparent, that was very tricky, but i'm pleased with the outcome.

The rest of the bathroom in general i am quite pleased with, especially the showerhead and the cuboard, even though they too are simplistic compared to a lot of the work i have seen, for a begginner, i don't think i did too badly with them.
The sink texture is a bit of a fail, because it's far too reflective, and wasn't intended to be as such. But i suppose it looks kind of... modern style in design because of it, it's simply that it wasn't part of the origional plan to have it like that that makes it annoying to me.

In conclusion, it was a challenging project for me, probably the most challenging i have had to face yet, but the outcome wasn't a total disaster, so i'm pleased with it ^_^

The Ident Project.

I was very keen on the idea of the Ident project right from the start, because of the open nature of the assignment, it was pretty much able to be interpreted in any way. So after sorting out a partner to work with, we quickly went into the planning stages for the project.

Now, i had many, many very scattered possible ideas, but Scott fortunately had a much more organised, simple idea, which was basic enough to easily work and short enough to be applied to the allowed time of the animation.

Explosions are awesome... they are widely seen as something that is awesome in movies, and i think that was the basis for the project taking the path that it did. Based on adverts like this:

You see, explosions, are awesome. They are snappy, fast, eyecatching and generally very loud as well. Perfect for short advertisements because they make the viewer pay attention, if for a very short time... which was all we needed.

At this point i had to do an animatic... which presented me with a uniqely amusing question... how do you draw an animatic... on explosions? D: Apparently... like this:
Yes... with simple roundy lines and smoke XD i will be honest, it was the only way i could think of to do it!

Having decided that explosions was what we needed, we had to pick a method, and after a couple of failed test runs to see how we could make one of those in MAYA or hand animated, we quickly wrote those off as definitely bad ideas, and settled on using After Effects and make it into a compositing project.
That was when we had to get help, both being somewhat inexperienced with compositing and After effects, we called on Pete Felstead, who set us up with a couple of good tutorials and a copy of the compositors toolkit.

From there it consisted of much practice and attempting to put things together correctly, until we could finally start on the final peice.
Well... it took numerous fails and a lot of frustration before we could finally render out the final piece, having first composited appropriate footage together and then put sound and voice to it as well, which for me was the fun part i might add!

[Video to go here when it finally uploads ^_^]

The final peice was... shorter and sharper than expected. The sound of breaking glass does somewhat cancel out the first words of 'The Redroom... it's explosive' but they are audible under that. If we could have added just one second more to split them up and made the voice somewhat louder, it would have worked a lot better. I was pleased with it overall, though it could have used some small tweaks to make it work properly, and i think it's a rather good short, snappy starter for the Red Room... as long as the listener doesn't have the volume too high.

The Backgrounds Project

The background project presented me with a real test because drawing backgrounds has never really been my strong point... and that is to say, i am terrible at them. It's not something i have ever really chanelled my attention to, learning to draw figures and such instead of background-landscape themed things. But hey, always a chance to try something new eh.

Due to certain problems with two of my backgrounds
on the first attempt, i re-did them, and the three resulting backgrounds were tolerable, if somewhat simplistic a
nd not too great. But it was a learning curve so i'
m not completely unhappy with them.
Thanks to a hard drive corruption i no longer have the three origional backgrounds to upload, but the two re-done later ones i do have ^_^ The ones i am actually not unhappy with.

This pencil done background was really not easy for me, i had to largely trick myself into getting it started because the challenge of drawing a house is a little intimidating to someone who lacks confidence in their skills at drawing buildings. So i had to find something i was confident drawing to draw myself into starting this. The overly elaborate door was how i did this. I have been drawing tribal designs since before i was in college, and worked as a tattoo designer for several years in my later years of my a-levels as a result of that. Tribal is something i am extremely familiar with and comfortable drawing.

For example, see these, my largest tribal works, all done on A3 size, in
pen, each one made up of hundreds of small tribal patterns. Suffice to say they took a very long time.

These are just a couple of many many many more XD but i won't shove all those here since it would take all day.
As you can see though, tribal is something i am very familiar with, and as such, letting myself start with something tribal made it possible for me to build on it and turn it into a full picture.

Here we have the other background i still have, the one i based my 3D room model on, which is why it has more furniture than the 3D model XD because it's easier to draw these things than it is to model them.
Drawn by hand and then scanned in to be re-lined and coloured in photoshop, it's certainly not the best work i have done in photoshop... in fact compared to some of my more artistic peices this is actually bad. But the cuboard door handles are quite nice... that's about the only thing i like about the way this came out XD

Overall, the project wasn' t too bad for me, and i did have to make a swift learning curve about perspective as applied to rooms and furniture... but the final outcome of it wasn't too bad at all.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Flash Project.

Well this second term has been... troublesome, both on course and at home, but it seems now i am merely one day from the end of it all, and time has come to begin the big update which should have been week by week and ended up being put off until now.
As such i have deemed that the best way to 'blog up' the term, is to do it in five Project sections for the six projects. Live at 5, Flash lip-sync, 3D room model, Backgrounds, Storyboarding and finally the Ident. I am begginning all this with the flash project section, so i shall get right into it and stop beating about the bush.

This was a difficult project to do for me, being extremely inexperienced with flash and lacking the ability to draw well with the art tools it provides... i decided to sidestep this problem to start with by 1) designing a character model first on paper,
2) Putting it into photoshop, and colouring/line-arting it...
3) Rigging it's layers to work right there.
4) Then transferring it to Flash.

Well... let's start at the start.
Step 1:
This is the character's original design, pencil drawn very carefully, given the working name of Fabian... yes after my rat.

Step 2 & 3:
Yup, going good... Fabian is all lined, coloured and rigged, his arms, forearms, neck, eyebrows, eyes and mouth all designed carefully on separate layers, with carefully made joints so as not to make the gaps show when they were rotated or moved. Simple shaded with easy on the eyes colours and tones.

Step 4:
Oh now here is where we hit a problem... it seems i was misled when i was told that photoshop CS4 and Flash CS4 were compatible... it seems that what my source meant to say was... they are about as compatible as a square block and a round hole.
What happened to Fabian's carefully rigged face, his soft lined form and pleasant appearance... Flash happened to it.
No matter how much i consulted help over the matter, he was damaged beyond all repair, no matter how many ways i imported him or snuck him into flash... this was always the result.
So biting the bullet i set about trying to fix him, in flash... it did not go well, his eyes were unsaveable... the eye sockets had been fused to the eyes and therefore if the eyes were moved, the eye sockets retained an out of place, jagged line where they had once been... making them unmovable.
The rest was not too far gone, save for the fact i had spent so much time trying to fix him... that i was running very short on time for the actual animation. So i dropped the work on the model and began to lip sync like never before!
I used Nine total mouth models, which actually looked good when made with him in photoshop... but required some serious work to be even usable in flash. But i made do and moved on, completing the animation on time and having time to give him some interesting eyebrow animation in the vain hope of making up for the absent eye animation, making him look wooden and unreal.

Overall... i could have done a reasonable/good flash animation if Flash and Photoshop had played nice with each other, but it was a learning experience, and i took away from it an improved flash animation ability as well as respect for the art of lip syncing... and a no-tolerance resolve towards the myth of adobe's program compatibility... just another of the hard learned lessons on the long and animated road.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Live at 5 Project

My expectation for the live at 5 assignment was vastly different from what it ended up being. I was expecting an extremely hard time of it, given that we had only had two weeks of prior training with After Effects, and that is what we had been led to believe would be the most important tool in the assignment.

I was not confident about it at all, having barely learned how to make a news title strip correctly, and not knowing what other troubles we might have to face. More barely known software? Bad tempered broadcasting producers breathing down our necks?... suffice to say I was more than a little concerned about what would be thrown at us over the course of the day.

I was of course looking forward to trying it but my apprehension about it far outweighed the excitement. I had spent many hours preparing for it, watching tutorials, messing with After Effects, trying to get the knowledge I might need up to standard for the assignment itself.

I was to be very pleasantly surprised.

The day started out at a relaxed pace, getting given the assignments plenty early by the broadcasting teams so we could get right to work on them. Initially I was a little concerned with my job of the weather map, because even though I was working alongside Charlie on it, I had never tried something like this before and wasn’t sure what was expected, not to mention not having quite as long as I would have liked to get it done.

I was therefore more than happy to be informed that I would be needing mostly Photoshop for the assignment, a piece of software I am not only confident with, but actively enjoy using. So after splitting the task, I began working on the map, not having time to draw up a background map of Cornwall itself, Pete Felstead suggested to us using a premade map as a basis, and after failing to get what was needed from Google earth, I got a perfect satellite image map from Flash Earth instead, with the place-names removed so it didn’t look crowded. Then I took another image of exactly the same map with the place names on it, and overlaid that on a separate layer at half transparency so I could pinpoint the places that were required to be labelled.

This provided to be a problem several times when certain place names turned out to be just a little too close to the edge of the map, or invisible on that scale of the map… it took at least four tries to get them all working right, and then they were carefully pinpointed and labelled with their names.

This in itself had taken a large amount of time, and with the added resizing of the names we had gone over the estimated time. Fortunately the broadcasting producer understood and offered us more time, allowing me to clean up the background and put a pleasant, darkened background image behind the map on the ‘blank’ side, so it wouldn’t just look black and dull for the presenter to stand in front of when the weather report was actually presented.

Finally Charlie brought over the icons to put onto the map and working together we got it all set up, despite several attempts by Photoshop to sabotage us by crashing, ready to go in two JPEG files, for the ‘tonight’ forecast and the ‘tomorrow’ forecast.


This was the finished article, by no means professional standard, but I don’t think it’s bad, and the opinions we got from the broadcasting team seemed to be that other than the lack of animation, which we simply did not have time for, it was good.

Given more training and another hour of time, we could have animated it, but I certainly think it was adequate for the job.

After helping the others wrap up and finish their assignments, there was a lapse in work to do for an hour or so before we got the requested graphics for The World Tonight, and because this had no time limit, the whole group seemed to enjoy this session a lot more, getting to grips with their personal task under a lot more peaceful conditions.

Personally I was reconstructing graphs in a way that allowed them to have transparent backgrounds and a small degree of animation. To my delight once again getting to use Photoshop, and my drawing tablet as well this time, before finally getting my hands on after effects to learn how to do a simple but wonderfully effective animation that made it look like the line on the graph was drawing itself onto the display. Achievable using only a separate layer for the data line and a square mask over it, just animating over it from left to right, to create the illusion of the line drawing itself.


This is one of the two graphs that I did for the task, obviously a static version of it, each layer carefully built up based exactly on the original image I was given.

Having finally animated something in the day, I was a lot more pleased with the outcome of that assignment, though I didn’t get to see it used.

The end of the day, going to the broadcasting rooms and watching the news be put together in front of us was the most rewarding part, and seeing the group all grinning with undeniable glee was also good.

I think the fact that I have barely mentioned the group means mostly a good thing, because there were no disagreements, no troubles, no problems, we each had a task that we were happy to do, and we helped each other out well where one knew something the others did not. As a group I think we got along brilliantly, but not so brilliantly that we just sat and talked… it was a perfect balance of working well and getting along and I can honestly say that it was one of the best group experiences I have had in a very long time… everyone pulled their weight and learned something about what they were doing… and from what I saw it was a really enjoyable day for all.

To conclude, it was a learning experience for me certainly, as I had no previous idea how things worked in news graphics departments. Now I know a tiny amount of what is faced by that section of the industry, and what a hard job they must have sometimes. Being aware of this has certainly given me a greater respect for what animators face in the real world, and I will certainly be taking this into account with the amount of work I will be doing in future in order to gain the skills I need to someday work effectively as a part of a studio.