Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Materials and Sculpting

After doing this, we took pictures of them, some with different contrasts of lighting. Please forgive my poor pictures!! i'm not talented at photography of any sort!... let alone being set loose with lighting props :(.. however, special care was taken, turning off the strong lamps stopped the models from melting :)

I found the animation clay easy enough to work with but took a lot of patience to try and smooth out when you accidently stabbed it with your nails... also it was a bit frustrating when colours started to mix slightly when they touched and moulded... Also, i used beads for the eyes, the holes stood for the pupils, not the most effective way but at least you can still kind of tell they're meant to be eyes. I knew i'd find it quite difficult to keep the head shapes and features consistent so i thought id start easy with a base round head shape and add on other dimensions, such as his cheeks, ears and nose with a round ball moulded onto the base.

Take a look at my very unattractive pig. Makes a change as people seem to think the only characters i design seem to be quite cute :p

Evil Piggy

"Grossed-Out"/Sarcastic Piggy

Pervy/Flirty Piggy

Monday, 25 January 2010

Stop Motion Experimental

Forget the stickfas men! we were finally free to do just about anything we wanted. Granted that it went under the theme of either:
  • Growth
  • Dance
  • Sea/Wildlife
  • Conflict
We decided on conflict i guess, since all the ideas we were throwing out were more on that subject. We started brainstorming and eventually came to an idea of the character customisation set of when you play on video games, such as The Sims, Mass Effects, Tekken (and any other masculine games... i don't knwo many as i just so happen to be a girl). But anyway, the idea was to have the menu on one side with catagories on the aspects of the character we could change i.e. gender, clothes, hair, weapons etc. and we'd be able to shuffle through all these things and be able to get everyone in it, via the pixelation method (i.e. using people in stop motion animations). The twist at the end (and where all the conflict was) is that the character the gamer had created, comes out of his cupboard to beat him to death. The gamer than keeps pressing his console button to change the weapon to make it less dangerous (i suppose) and eventually turns the console off to make the guy disappear.

Okay, so i know it's hard to get here, but you'll understand when you see it (which you will coz i dont have many of the tests...)

One of the Tests
As the title cleverly indicates, this is only one of the tests as i couldn't gain access to the others yet. This is basically the entire animation without any single/double frame editing and no music.

Final Shebang
We made the menu sign ourselves, i did the font, and then we all brought clothes, costumes and outfits in to dress up to make the changes seem more entertaining... After all this was done, i was in charge of music and editing, so i managed to cut down slow scenes to single frame certain movements, slow down others, find all the music and sound effects and sort it out all on Final Cut Pro.

I'm quite happy with the outcome, i guess anything i could change? the lighting was a bit awful when we were filming, as none of us are lighting experts and err yeah, i hope most of the sounds fit, but yeah, i think im happy enough :)

Filling you in...

Okay so basically i was stupid again (for a different reason this time), and shamelessly left my USB memory stick at home so it's been quite hard to get the video tests for projects to mine and back and forth- so i'll do my best since i'm still missing some.

Last Week's Project

Last week, we were given a stickfas plastic man, it came in a grid in a packet and basically just cut them (neatly) out, sand down the nobbley bits and stick them together :)... our task was to use our 5 (hopefully identical) stickfas men to create a replacement stop-motion walk cycle, which meant we had to brush up on some walking knowledge, finding out where the gravity lies when we walk, convey the change of the gravity between the legs and give the illusion of weight. The replacement animation meant we had all the men ready in their positions to replace in the set and it then looks like one lonely stickfas man!

Considering, we were given a stills camera rather than a would-have-been-very-much-appreciated film camera, we didn't have the advantage of onion skinning (being able to see the previous frame overlapping over the current).. so we literally took normal photos and tried our hardest to keep an eye on positioning and watched our tests by scrolling through the play-back button on the camera :) or importing them into iStopMotion afterwards.

Test 1
Several notes to take from this:
1) Yes, it looks goddamn awful
2) The lighting was so strong there was bleaching
3) The focus was inconsistent
4) The men hadn't been replaced in the exact place where the previous one was... giving the illusion of a kind of slidey circle moonwalk round... not quite the walk cycle we hoped.
5) Thank god it was just a test.

Test 2
Okay, so we tried to correct all the previous problems we had.. but now, what we had was:
1) Lighting a bit too dark (will we ever get it right?!!)
2) Zoomed in the lens so we got more a profile angle to focus on the walk cycle... funny that, since this made the focus go completely off- nice and blurry!
3) It's giving a more convincing walk which is a nice change, but he looks a little like he's stomping and has heavy feet... too much weight?...
4) You get a nice glimpse of cheeky blu tac in most of the steps :p

Final Walk Cycle
My, my!! what an improvement! i hear you say!
We managed to focus the camera, get the lighting right and he looks like he's walking!!... very determined walking, i'll give you that, but walking nonetheless. The trick was, that in the previous test, he looked quite stompy and limpy- we found this was because of the midway between the walk cycle when one leg is straight and the other is almost right next to it... from the profile, it almost looked the man was standing up (not what we wanted)... so we remembered, animation is all about exaggerating. So we removed the mid-walk (meaning only 4 replacement stickfas men) and made his strides bolder- hence the determination in his little yellow body... and yes, i know you can still see the blu tac.. but i just think it adds a little humbleness to the whole thing :p

A Little Extra Something

After our little ordeal with the walk cycle, we weren't quite ready to call it a day, so we launched into a little funny happening using the stickfas man.
We has so many ideas of what to do with our little pride and joys (so much pride and joy that i've now broken mine trying to show him the sights of London)... we thought of breakdancing, YMCA, free-running and other things that i can't remember right now.

In the end, we settled for something that we'd all been inspired by in the past "Animation vs. Animator", and decided to do a short stop-motion response to the well-loved animation. [Click on the title to see it]... the basic idea was to get the stickfas man to fear our hands, almost as if in real life and we basically bully him, but with the little time we had left, we had to think on our feet and literally do something very quick.

Test 1
We managed to get him to look like he's shuffling backwards on his bum, nicely modelled for us by Joe... Gladly managed to get some weight in his shuffling, it really looks like he's icking himself up and his bum is err heavy. We also practised getting him to turn and crawl on his front to eventually be dragged away by Paul's hand... The turn was good but still quite slow, so we managed to single frame that in the final video... We also noticed Mr. Blu Tac made ANOTHER friggin guest appearance and since time was running low we had to plough on. blu tac or no blu tac.

Final Stickfas Story
Pretty much a development on the previous test and with the hand!... a nice little touch we thought would work were the nail marks... contrasting against the black background and an emphasis on the struggle. :)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Leaving it until last minute...

...probably not the best technique :(... but it was fun while it lasted but i thought it was probably about time that i blogged up the most memorable/my lectures.

I Met The Walrus

In 1969, a 14 year old boy managed to get his way into John Lennon's hotel and conduct an interview. Later in 2006-7, an animation was created using the dialogue. To me, after watching this animation, it was 5 minutes of pure genius. The video took the very literal meanings of the speech and composed illustrations of what they thought would be forming in the child's mind and way of thinking. Josh Raskin's focus was on the interview itself. "I just wanted to literally animate the words, unfurling in the way I imagined they would appear inside the head of a baffled 14-year-old boy interviewing his idol."

This was exactly the type of animation i usually enjoy, very illustrative, creative and a mix between text and visual. basically, it was just bloody awesome.

Spirited Away

I'm not going to lie, i've seen this film before, many times and it still blows me away every time i watch it, as does every other studio ghibli film on the shelf. I really admire the detail that goes into every frame, and every movement. They manage to capture very subtle but expressive emotions of humans but somehow manage to still animate them onscreen so they're easily picked up on, i also love how there's no limitations in their character designs, no matter how surreal. I noticed in this film that "Yubaba" the villian in the story, has an absolutely enormous head, about 3/4 the size of Sen's entire body, just to make the character look more frightening, gruesome but highly expressive. Absolutely packed with creativity, imagination and fantasy as studio ghibli is well known for, it really is pretty stunning... which is obviously no surprise sincr all they're other films are too :p

[more to come]