Saturday, 31 October 2009

Lecture Notes

I haven't been very good with blogging up what i thought, learnt and noted from all the previous lectures so I thought i'd do it quickly now before i go off to work on my sketchbook :P

Lecture 1 (15/10/09): From Pencil to Pixels
I have actually read a book with this exact title, it reminded me of this, basically showing animations through the ages, how it started, what used to be entertaining, the development of equipment, opportunity for new styles of drawing, how CGI started to make a name for itself and so on.

This video was similar. It showed us the beginning with silent animation such as Felix the Cat, and slowly when animation started to introduce sound and music, such as Steamboat Willie and some of the newer (back then) Mickey Mouse series. Showing us the progression and development through the animation world, the maker of Disney's Toy Story talked about how to animate anything inanimate- first, let the audience know which part would characterise as the head, such as the moving head of the Pixar lamp, he spoke of how when he first began, 3-D CGI was then not developed enough to be made a market for, until one of his shorts (about a baby and a wind up symbal toy) showed it could be the next big thing.

"Don't make it realistic, make it believable"

"Nothing in Animation comes for free"

"Animators are actors with pencils"

"Animators are children who have never grown up"

Lecture 2 (22/10/09): George Melies
Unfortunately i didn't make many notes, this wasn't because i wasn't paying attention, but the film was very lengthy and i tried to absorb as much as possible. This is what i could remember:
-Melies was an early french magician and film maker working with optical illusions
-Melies burnt his films, to which he later regretted and worked in his wife's sweet shop for the next 3 years until a sudden viewing of his work someone had found was being shown in a theatre.
-He found it difficult to locate the theatre and when he did, he burst through the white screen the film was shown on and improvised a speech.
-A friend introduced a camera to him that he may be able to use for animations but would not give him permission to use as it was for hospitals.
-After some trouble, he managed to track down a maker for such cameras from a man in England, and from there on, started to create his films.
-The camera was very loud when the reel was turned and he jokingly called it "the coffee grinder"
-He would paint all his background for his filming and film it outside where the light was then stronger. However, weather changes and clouds would alter the lighting.
-Melies then built his own studio which was in exact proportions with the theatre he would perform magic in. It had all the pulleys so that actors and props could be given the illusion to be flying or falling.
-A shed was built at the back so the camera would be able to stand and the stage would have more space.
-If he was filming an under-water feature, he would film through a fish tank.
-His butlers and helpers would act as the extras.
-He had a method when he would film a first section, and then reel back and re-film once the actor had moved to give the illusion someone had transformed, disappeared or a part of their body had moved.
-Obviously this was hard to do, to locate the exact point in the film where it would need to be refilmed, so he used his method of "Splicing" when he would cut the film and rejoin them to make the illusion more accurate.
-Everytime there is a white line across the top of the screen, this is when splicing has been done.

Lecture 3 (29-10-09): Sound Design for Wall-e
I found this lecture very interesting. It taught me how both sound and animation both work together to make characters seem even more real. Such a good example is shown in Disney's Wall-e, when practically the first 30-40 mins of the film has no dialogue, and the sounds created (by Ben Burtt, also sound designer for Star Wars) were entirely responsible for creating the mood and explain what was happening.

What was interesting to me was that most of the sounds created were from electronic control devices/instruments or man-made objects as apparently, real-life sounds were not nearly as realistic enough as ones created in the studio. Early Disney did a similar technique, where the instruments would be in the studio, all man made, such as running peas in a barrel against some nails to give the illusion of sound of rain. However, their sounds were more musical.

Physics and science underpin what sounds to use, but if it conflicts with the emotions. Then the emotions win over.

Here are some notes i took:

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