Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Evaluation...

This project has been a great learning experience for me. I threw myself into grasping the basics of 4 different 2-D digital animation programmes, honing in on 2 favourites, before selecting the most appropriate software for the job. Knowing the fundamentals of a few of these programmes makes me feel prepared to take on any other new software that comes my way, from the more traditional- based like Toon Boom, to the more technical and temperamental that is Adobe Flash. So from this aspect of the learning experience, this was was an invaluable crash course.

Never before have I challenged myself to create an animation that was out of the 4:3 frame size ratio. As this was going to be a web banner, i opted for a rather friendly 900px x 400px. I really enjoyed working with a different canvas size, it allowed me to organise the action and design within a new frame limitation. I found this both refreshing and exciting as it meant I could think creatively in an alternative space. In some ways, I did find it easier. This was because I have never worked within these dimensions so all the entering and exiting that my characters were did was new and wasn't translated from old work- as this tends to happen when i work within the same 4:3 frame. Basically, I loved the new canvas. I could get creative without having to think "Oh, it HAS to be this shape BECAUSE it's going to be on a tv or computer screen". Well, yes, it is going to be on a screen but as a banner of any size I choose. Brilliant.

I'm fairly happy with the overall aesthetics of the animation. It managed to fulfill the kind of mood I was hoping to convey- a light, cheery and endearing animation. I was however, hoping for a more handmade feel (to relate to the handmade baking theme), which is where the idea for the cut out look came from, using collaged materials. The look this technique gave was totally what I was after. Unfortunately, with the annoying existance of time, it just wasn't going to happen. So therefore, if i had more time or if i was going to do this whole animation again, cut out collage would be the way to go. I'm actually pretty gutted I didn't have the time to learn how to achieve what I fully wanted at the end, but I did try and have a nod towards the look by using the smallest amount of collage in the background and in the cupcake at the end of the animation.

As I warmed to the programmes, I was able to introduce some new techniques into the animation, including rotoscoping and boiling- which I have never done before! It turned out to be a lot easier to do than I thought. Maximum effect for less effort- just what I wanted! Rotoscoping was a life saver for me as when it got to the point when I was using my reference video of a bowl skidding and copying from it- it was a nightmare to get the circular proportions right. Just when I thought "Wouldn't it be great to trace this like an image"- rotoscoping popped into my head! Although it felt a bit like a cheat's way out,  I was racing against time, the result was amazing and at the end of the day, I learnt something new so it couldn't be at all bad. Boiling was also something I've always wanted to look into as it always gives the animation a lively quality- which is something I definitely wanted more of in my film. Had I had the time and patience, I would have boiled my entire animation, to again, emphasise that handmade quality I wanted. But instead, I added a hint of this technique in the poof of the flour the butter makes when it jumps into the bowl. A short-lived showcase of my new technique, but nonetheless, I proudly included it in the animation.

Although I didn't get what I truely wanted, I did get what I ORIGINALLY wanted, which was a smooth, block-coloured Flashy animation with imprefect organic shapes making up the characters- influenced by Alex Dron (Fot and Angus). The characters turned out exactly as I had them in my head, and moved similar to my inspiration- Alex Dron's characters. But, there was a part of me that really wished they would move a LITTLE more or have more exaggerated movements, just something to give them a little bit of edge, since all they had were tiny little subtle movements that made them endearing- but it didn't really showcase any of my true animation knowledge of movement. Not that there would be much, as I'm not sure how many people in the world have knowledge of how an egg jumps or a bag of sugar runs!

The sound added a lot to the overall piece. It gave it life and mood. I opted for semi-realistic sounds but keeping it pretty believable. I wanted it to be cute but not novelty, so tried to stay away from those classic cartoon "BOING" and "WHOOSH" sounds- that kind of drive me insane. a little bit. Choosing the sounds allowed me to get creative as all the characters in my animation are inanimate so I had to use my imagination to figure out how everything would sound if any of them moved. Some of the characters don't really have sounds at all, such as the sugar and the egg. I didn't feel the lighter characters needed much sound, I intended to keep the sound as an enhancing factor for the animation, rather than shoving in a sound because SOMETHING is moving. Other small sounds had to be replaced by something that sounds similar i.e. butter falling in flour = book falling on a hard surface/ jumping whisk = dropping computer mouse. So for those, a little creativity was needed but nevertheless, it was fun to see how different sounds would effect the illusion of the weight or density of the characters.

Posting my animation as it went along onto Facebook was an amazing idea for receiving feedback from peers. It's always nice for people to see how you're doing and for fresh eyes to have a look and give their critiques and views on how to improve your work before the deadline! After posting, I got a few feedback comments, but not many, and most of them being small things, so I'm hoping that was a sign that I was going in the right direction.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the whole animation. It delivers exactly what I set out for it to do. It has a whimsical cuteness, not too long for an advert and it included the address for the blog being advertised (very important!). It wasn't too overcrowded or over-decorated, pretty simple, subtle and lighthearted movement and sound. I think the only thing I would change if I could, would be that it would in that collaged cut out style that I sooo wanted!! I really think this would have given it that original edge and that unique factor I desired so much. But besides that, I can't really complain and the feedback given was fairly solid.

Yay.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sound added... "woo!!"

I got really excited about the thought of adding sound to this particular animation- mostly because id have to use my imagination for some of the sounds.

I gathered most of the sounds from a trusted sound stock website and then customised and clipped the sound to suit what i wanted, as well as altering the pitch and volume of the sounds on Final Cut Pro... the only downside i experienced with using this programme is that it letterboxed my video (2 black bars to fill the excess frame space) and this wouldn't be particularly appropriate for a web banner but for the sake of exporting, it just had to do.

Anyway, some of the sounds i made myself, such as :

The Whisk- 
which i recorded my electric whisk (surprise, surprise)

Clang of the Whisk Entering- 
for this sound i wanted something more plasticy and mechanically sounding, as when i banged my whisk against a table, it just sounded like a gun shot!.. so in this instance i had to get more creative.. i tried several different sounds including:

-layering sound of a shaken egg timer with banging of the whisk on a table
-dropping a vaseline tin on a hollow cardboard box
-banging jewellery on a table

...but in the end i went with something as simple as dropping my computer mouse repeatedly (not very healthy for the mouse) but it was the nearest sound to what i wanted.

Quick Footsteps-
these footsteps were for the flour as it "gallops" off, and this was simply made my drumming my fingers against my desk

The Rest of the Sounds-
As i mentioned before, other sounds were gathered from a website.
But some weren't so easy to find.
For instance, typing in the search bar "butter falling on flour in a bowl" doesn't really yield much, or anything. So for this i used the sound of a book being dropped on a heavy surface, and a similar sound was used for the flour falling over (book dropped on soft surface).

As for the bowl spinning in at the beginning, i thought of using the sound of the reference video i originally rotoscoped this section from, but the bowl i used in the video was plastic and sounded too light, and i wanted more of a heavy sound. So i found the sound of a spinning ceramic bowl and edited it by deleting portions and shuffling it around to fit the movement of my animation.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the cute little "WOOO!!" that the butter does, no, it's not me. It was originally going to be a normal man saying woo which i would higher the pitch on, but i found this adorable sound of a 7 yr old boy saying a very half-hearted woo- which was AMAZING. And ive noticed that it's at THIS point when people watched my animation, that they smiled :)

The background music was collected from GarageBand, as i didn't want to get into all the copyright malarky. I just wanted some light, cheerful music that wouldn't drown out the sound and would compliment the whole thing.

screenshot of my use of Final Cut Pro

Have a look at the final animation avec the sound:




Saturday, 3 December 2011

Changes made...any amendments?

So i made the appropriate changes, and even added in a crude background... im still unsure about it- whether the background's too garish or the cake's too colourful at the end, im not quite sure!.. something's not right anyway... i might have to play around with this.

adding the bigger poof for the butter proved to be difficult, it looked a bit too overdone and i don't think it suited. I did however try it and i think i preferred the way it was, so reverted back to the original in this section.

i also tried exporting the video as an image sequence and put them all into photoshop to export as a final mov file- to rid of the glitches and have a proper frame size- and it worked better!! although the quality has much to be desired, it is only jpeg images, maybe the final i'll export as bitmaps..

(err... for some reason bloggers rejecting uploading the video file... bear with me)

1 hour later..
So i thought id fixed all my problems by animated the image sequence in photoshop to get rid of all the glitches but now it wont upload anywhere because of the file size. ACE!

Anyway, since that mishap, i have actually changed the animation AGAIN- this time changing the cake because the colours just werent working for me, i just made the cupcake colours compliment the background and lettering at the end to make it look more like a finishing image.



Oh, and i added a cherry drop at the end.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Just a check up

So this is basically the base animation completed- obviously it needs a few tweaks and also a background!! that will come in later once im happy with the entire animation.

Again, sorry about the glitches and the squished frame- hopefully you can get the idea. i've decided that when it comes to exporting the final animation, i'll do it frame by frame and put it together again in another programme as Flash tends to be tempremental.


Having looked at this test, i got some feedback and decided i would change some things, i asked housemates, the boyfriend and asked fellow students on the facebook group:



after this helpful load of feedback i decided i would change the following:
1) have the whisk squint his eyes when whisking
2) make the blogname at the end of the advert, more legible and bigger
3) change the positioning of the .blogspot.com 
4) lengthen the frames for the time the flour is on the floor
5) see if i could make a bigger poof for the butter
6) ADD IN THE BACKGROUND

Thursday, 24 November 2011

So far so good...

well good might be pushing my luck... there's still a lot more to do... and the pale pink background is only temporary. i intend to replace that with a real-life image- so research also needs to be done on that.

Have a look what ive done so far today- its very similar to my rough animation i did a couple of days ago but a bit more polished.. finer details are also yet to be added.


next, the flour and butter need to be added... im slightly terrified of doing the flour, i have to animate the sack falling over and im stil trying to figure out how to go about doing that...

i also apologise for the video being squished.. blogger seems to have a set frame size and mine's 900 x 400 px.

Character Designs (icing & cupcake)




The original plan was going to be that the piping bag pipes the blogname onto the cupcake- but as you can see, i totally forgot how effing long my blogname is!!... so the change of idea is that it'll pipe it at the bottom instead.. and then the .blogspot.com part will fade in at the bottom in regular text... i know it might tak a while to animate the icing but i think with a few shortcuts- the illusion will still be there ;)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cont'd...

I re-rotoscoped the bowl skidding in... this is a more polished version with colour and a face! this is nearer the look i'll be going for for my final animation.. the colour's quite flat but i think i like it like that... it was a nightmare copying over everything in Flash but it's done and this is what it looks like...



I also realised that ive forgotten to animate/character design for the cupcake (what the bowl turns into) and the writing icing (that writes my blog name on the cake)... whoops!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Character walks cont'd...

eggs can't walk... everyone knows that!..
eggs also can't bounce. But mine can!
Here's my little egg bouncing along in a rather exaggerated eggy fashion.

This was done by frame-by-frame animation, using just the egg and then adjusting rotation and adding in squash and stretch. I then changed it to a classic tween so that inbetweens were added for a smoother animation- and then did the same thing for the face.


This was the quickest walk cycle i've ever done- about 5 mins- yes i know it looks pretty crude but nonetheless it's pretty convincing. I think i'm getting used to all this walk cycle malarky.
Also, what i've noticed is that if i put a classic tween on any of the layers- it doesn't make the export stupid (i.e. know traces or random previous frames being left behind... see previous post for evidence of this)... well i just noticed that there's a little bit of it as soon as the butter walks off... annoyinggggg

Anyway, have a look at this weird butter walk..


Since i've realised that my exports look better with classic tweening, i think i might go back to the previous cycles i did for the flour and sugar and export them again and see if it makes a difference..

Sugar walk with tweening..


Flour walk with tweening..


Okay so it's not perfect.... just when i thought i found a solution... *sigh*.. well at least it all looks a lot smoother...


This next walk cycle very nearly drove me insane- the whisk.
Not only did i have to animate the "walking" or "hopping" that it does, but i have to demonstrate the use of the buttons and the whisks turning. The buttons were originally going to pump up and down, but since i was stupid and lazy and forgot to create a long button to alternate with a short one (to give the illusion of the button going up and down) i just used what i had, so it kinda looks like it's blowing it's cap- a little like a kettle does when the water's boiled..

The whisks were difficult for me- i still don't know if im satisfied with this result. I basically just flicked the whisk on and off, alternating with an image that just looks like the whisk's rod. (did that make ANY sense?!).. Anyway, have a look.



Saturday, 19 November 2011

More walking...

just testing out how the sugar might walk with this new character design... it's quite simple since i wanted it to look quite quaint and handmade.. so the lack of smoothness, i find, can be easily forgiven.

However, i have been thinking about animating on Flash instead of Toon Boom, as i may be masking later to introduce the new textures in... i.e. all the collage that i was looking at in my previous post. But since i'll be using this programme... i've found that it makes everything look "Flashy" and a little less smooth... which probably isn't favourable for my "handmade" effect, but im hoping i can look at that finer details later..

Here's the test:
As you can see... it looks a little like he's sliding across as he's walking. this is due to the classic tween i've put on it so that he can move from one side to the other. a little too smooth for my liking.

Apologies for the weird tracing thing that happens.

And here's the flour... unfortunately for the way im animating, it's quite hard to show the weight of the character or make him walk in a "sacky" way... hmph..




Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Rough Idea...

I did this last week, it's still unfinished.

The original idea was that i was going to a small, rough animation so that i had somewhere appropriate to place my thoughts.. only because when i look at storyboards i find it hard to translate it onto the software... I'm more of a hands-on, let's get stuck in kinda gal (oo-err!).. ahem.

As i said, it's unfinished- i'm running out of time so i thought it was best i concentrated on the actual thing, rather than fannying around with rough ideas- since now, i pretty much know how things are gonna go. (except the butter, i'm still trying to figure out how the butter's going to be introduced).

It's all a bit mixed as well, last week i had no idea about character designs or whatever so i literally drew whatever. It's just to mark out how things are going to enter and exit and get a feel for the general pace of the animation.

Oh, and one last thing.
I know the flour enters and then suddenly disappears. He will be tripping over, making the flour go into the bowl, pick himself up and scurry off. But yeah, by then i had been working for a good 6-7 hours straight and nothing was working anymore.

Apologies and forgiveness.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Style Research

Since i experimenting with the different materials for my characters, i was interested in the aesthetics that it offered- which was a handmade and endearing feel which i quite enjoyed!

I thought it would be useful to have a gander at how illustrators that specialise in collaging materials to make their images, were able to make their work so dynamic using this method.


im totally in love with this image from "T is For Taxi", illustrated by Kate Slater. The mixed use of materials really offer that homemade quality so with the shadows, makes everything look more 3-D- as if you could reach out and touch the image. The skill of cutting out sections and layering papers ontop of eachother to create depth and texture (i.e. in the puddle) is really imaginative! as is the string connecting the leaves together to give the illusion of wind. Very cute.

This image was illustrated by Christiane Engel. Although the style is quite simplistic, it perfectly depicts the scene, by just the small trees in the distance, a few nuts on the floor and a little tuft of grass. Although minimalistic, the rest of the background is left to the imagination. The materials used don't seem to be as varied as Kate Slater's (previous picture) but the colour's chosen are appropriate for the content.

This was from a blog of a former student of university arts college bournemouth. I stumbled across her blog which can be seen here. Not only was it appropriate content for what i'm doing, but i love the fact she used more diverse materials other than paper, such as felt, found images and found textures to make her own objects (i.e. the hair). I love the fact some of the cakes are more detailed in stitching and decoration and some are just shapes- absolutely adorable. Again, it just feels like you can reach out and touch the image and feel all the little treats on the counter :) This image alone inspires me to one day make an animation with little bits of cute stitched felt!

i found this image on google images- im not aware of who created this piece. But again, loving the simple shapes and the simplicity. The natural colour palette really pulls the whole composition together.

Having looked at some of the research i've found, if i had time to make my animation collaged (which i wish i did), the most successful and dynamic ones for me, used more materials, and through the clever placing of materials, were able to convey and mood through simple shapes. The choice of colours are also important to set the tone and atmosphere of the image.

Character Designs

So i've been looking at Alex Dron's style and today, i attempted to adapt this to my characters...

First, i decided to try it out in my sketchbook- taking advantage of the cut-out taste that his style offers, i used found materials to create some characters. I also tried to keep to the rule of using organically cut out shapes as opposed to sketching the shapes and then cutting them out- instead i went straight into the paper with scissors or my hands so that it looked more handmade and fresh. I wouldn't usually post up pictures of stuff in my sketchbook onto my blog but i think the comparison would be quite nice:


Yeah... i don't suggest ever trying to cut out little itty bits of foil... bloomin nightmare!

After i did this, i thought i should probably, PROBABLY have a stab at doing what i was meant to be doing, and try to copy Alex Dron's style on something like Photoshop.. which i did. I noticed that he doesn't ever use any of the shape tools, he makes the shapes himself. I tried this out and really approve of this technique because it makes the characters look less forced and it gives them a little cheeky personality.

The only thing i did rebel on was creating a little shadow using the Burn Tool. I tried using the normal flat colour as he does but when i was painting away, i accidently used the burn tool and it looked quite cool. It added a bit of a 3-D twist to the whole 2-D look... I didn't get too carried away though, i didn't add highlights, it was only a bit of shadow so that you can still tell where the root of the influence came from.

So these are exactly the same character designs but digital:



I like how different medium adds their own thing to the characters personalities. The cut-out found materials technique is nice because it gives a handmade feel which is appropriate as the whole story is on homemade baking (all to do with making). The graphics style is also good since it would be easier to animate with and takes less time to create- and at the moment, time isn't really on my side, so although i like both styles, i may opt for the latter.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Style Searching

I've been looking for a style i like to inspire and influence my animation. So far i've been dithering in and out of my own style and i don't think it's as solid as i'd like... i think i'd feel more safe to have something to base the aesthetics on. I found this following animation on Cartoon Brew was animated by Alex Dron of Yukfoo Animation. I've seen some Fot and Angus animations before, once at last year's Flip Festival.


FOT & AnguS EP4 from alex dron on Vimeo.

The style is quite striking as it reminds me of Cartoon Network back in the day, the characters have a flat, almost cut-out like style so it looks Flashy yet handmade at the same time. They use 2-D in a really imaginative way so that the cut outs don't look tacky when they move. The lighting is all set in the background so that it doesn't need to move with the characters- making the work load a lot easier. This is definitely a style i want to try and translate into my work and see if it's effective....

This is an New Zealand Vodafone advert by the same guy- loving the bright colours- they all go together and aren't garish... the smooth camera transitions and the fun character movement... i think i've found an animation crush!... and what i love is that they've been doing adverts as well (e.g. Vodafone, Cinebuzz, car adverts and some charities) which is what i'm doing in this project!! ACE!

 

Here's another advert Yukfoo have done, slightly different style but you can tell it's all very similar by the transitions. A more realistic 2-D approach. Reminds me of those safety demonstrations the cabin crew gives you on a plane before you take off.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Inspiration

Just doing some research to inspire me in terms of style, humour and effectiveness.

This following animation had my laughing, despite there being no dialogue, the story was simply told my personifying 2 inanimate objects. This pretty much relates in every way to what i'm doing since i too am trying to make inanimate objects enjoyable to watch.




Gumball Wars from Scott Thierauf on Vimeo.

This next one really reminds me of Ren and Stimpy- a cartoon i used to watch when i was younger. The humour is pretty much similar, and although the animation was pretty crude and Flashy, the expressions of the characters had me laughing all the way through :)
Not totally related to what i'm doing, other than animating food, but i liked it all the same.
 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Cupcake Tour

To get more bakery knowledge and see what the produce looks like for successful sweet businesses out there, i've decided to attack the heart of London. I've tried to make the most cost effective (keeping in Zone 1) and quickest route around... i'll need to settle on a day to go aswell... There were other bakeries but they were too far to reach and the others were quite happily close together.

So the idea is, is that i will drag a hungry housemate out with me to London where we will go on this cupcake tour, i will be recording my adventure with my camera, taking pictures of the establishments, and hopefully if they'll let me, take pictures of the cakes, sample a cake between us from all the bakeries (we're gonna be so fat!) and for my own interest, i'll be recording and noting down taste of the cakes and general experience.


I know it's a nightmare headache to read, but basically, i'll be following the squiggly red route around. All the text in opaque black writing are bakeries i won't be able to reach or are just branches of ones i'll already be visiting.

So if this all goes to plan, and if we're not dragging our feet, or get too fat, i'll be visiting NINE bakeries in total... 

Better get out the maternity pants.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Getting the ball rolling...

I'm just trying to find some job vacancies at the moment for any baking type job... it's hard to find specifically what i want since i'm really just interested in becoming a self-employed baker, one of those that makes cakes to order from home... so i dont really want to sweat away in a kitchen with all those stations, with an order for 60 million eclairs to be finished in half an hour. i thought i'd throw myself into a few training courses after uni- but for the sake of this module, i'm going to poke my nose into any successful business and hopefully get a few pieces of valuable advice out of them!

Fallen Angel Bakery
So far i've contacted Fallen Angel Bakery, based in Harbourne and Solihull. This bakery is interesting as it was opened up by a student whom studied a course at University College of Birmingham and went straight for the business and managed to do really well (very jealous)...

  That's a little screenshot there of the contact form on the site. (Just to prove I actually did it :P).. I'm now just waiting for a reply...

Here's what i said:

"Hi there,

I'm a 3rd year BCU student and an aspiring baker. I'm interested in gaining some experience or further knowledge in the field so that I can become a self-employed baker in the future.

I would fully appreciate any advice you would be able to offer me about successfully entering this industry, or any work experience available. I'm still an amateur baker so any help would be valuable to me :)

Thank you!"

Blue Door Bakery
Next, i was going to attack Blue Door Bakery, which is based in Worcestershire. Now, the interesting thing about this bakery is that not only do they sell cakes AND offer workshops on how to create and decorate different cupcakes, but actually offer a workshop on how to start your very own CUPCAKE BUSINESS (£125 should i invest?...) obviously, i dont just want to specialise in cupcakes, but im sure all the information is easily adaptable. I was going to contact them on advice on starting my own business, but i thought that might be just A BIT cheeky, considering they already run a class, and they might be able to tell that im sneaky pikey.

Here's a screenshot of the site:
(hmmm... maybe i could offer to redesign their website in return for advice)

I also left a comment on their blog, there was a post about what she wished she knew before starting a cake business- it hasnt scared me off. It was mainly about hand cream, comfy shoes and spreadsheets. She actually also mentioned that she was spending more time trying to figure out how to make a website- so maybe my bargain may be well received!! I did kind of slide that in the end of my comment... something like "as an animation student, i know how making websites can be. *wink wink nudge nudge*"

Well not quite that.



Honey 'n' Love Bakery
Also based in the Midlands, i've emailed this lady/bakery (i dont know if it's just one lady, the homepage seems to suggest so) with the same thing i said to the Fallen Angel Bakery... i'm thinking i should probably offer the same bargain of a new website for some work/advice:


Rotascoping revised

i found a way to rotascope my bowls on Toon Boom- this is better than using flash because it means the exported movie doesnt have any glitches with it. Also, thanks to the "reposition all drawings" tool in the programme, i was able to move all the frames and scale them down so i could draw in the rest of the bowl the camera cut off- so now you can see the whole bowl :)

Have a look: (i think i may prefer the rolling one now, as there's more character... we shall see)



Thursday, 3 November 2011

Bowling

So when i looked at my videos and tried to copy the movement of the bowl, freehand, it was insanely difficult, mainly because the perspective is constantly changing and it basically was a giant mess that messed up my brain and then my head exploded.

So i thought id make life a little easier.

I've never rotascoped in my life, but i knew it was possible on Flash. I (very proudly) announce that i actually taught myself how to rotascope- no tutorials, no articles, no nothing. Just using the prompts from Flash, i knew to convert my mp4 video files to flv files, imported them to the library, dragged onto the stage and SHAZZAM!! i could scrub through the video frame by frame and using a different layer, i could draw ontop ^_^ happy days.

I'm aware that using this method can distort the audio of the recorded file, but that's fine because i wasnt using sound.

So here are my 2 rotascoped bowls:



i apologise for the marks on the videos AGAIN- this is the reason i love toon boom and hate flash, because exports just don't work for me on that programme. Anyway, having looked at both of these little bowl entrances, i think i prefer the 2nd, as it would best suit the fast-paced animation i'm preparing to do.

Video referencing

Just as i was thinking of doing an animatic for my animation, i realised that the beginning of the animation is proving to be quite difficult, with the moment and also when i showed the storyboard to my friends, they said the gingerbread man pulling the bowl is a nice idea but it might be quite a slow start for a fast paced animation. Especially as my canvas would be about 500px by 250px, the gingerbread man would have to pull him quite a long way before the bowl is in the centre.

So! i thought maybe the bowl rolling or skidding in might be a more time efficient and appropriate option.

But wait!
How does a bowl skid??

Well, i'll show you how (i took many videos, but here are the best 3):

 
this was more of a "roll in and a wobbly settle"

 
similar to the first, "roll in and a sturdy settle"


a skid in (instead of a roll)

I think im going to animate both and then decide from the tests which is the most appropriate entrance for the bowl.



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Arghhh!!!!

I'm desperately trying to figure out how to make a web banner... it's already taken me 4 hours to figure out how to convert a swf file into a url so that i could use html to post it on my blog.

i found this video that was quite helpful:


The bad news is that this video teased me as he states there's a magic swf server that gives you 1GB of free space and err... it's not active anymore!!! HOORAY!! :'((((((

Anyway, ive actionscripted this banner so that when you click on it, it takes you to another website. Unfortunately this isn't working but i've gotten over the first hurdle... i'm going to carry on trecking through until i figure out how to do it T_T...

Just Browsing

...found some very useful stuff:

http://www.toonboom.com/products/animate/how-to/tipsandtricks/interactivity/

this article has detailed instructions how to collaborate Toon Boom and Adobe Flash, so that you can add interactivity to your animations by actionscripting if you prefer to animate in Toon Boom (which i now do!)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Sugar Rush

I was fretting today about whether i was worthy of animating anything considering my skills are pretty shabby... especially that im planning to animate inanimate objects (stuff i dont really have a reference for!) So i thought today, i'd have a stab at re-doing and improving my sugar walk test... enjoy!


Monday, 31 October 2011

Getting me in the mood...

for baking!.. Honest!



Just getting an idea of the kind of colour range, and what kind of cheery mood it should put you in...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

testy testy

just trying to roughly animate how a bag of sugar might walk... hmm...


Storyboard

I've been generating ideas for a design for this web banner. I've storyboarded one of my ideas.. it'll hopefully be quite fast paced and sickeningly merry, cheery and cute. Fast-paced so that it'll catch attention, and cute because it'll better suit the audience that appreciates cute cupcakes and treats..


So basically:

  1. gingerbread man enters pulling something on a string? tea towel? ribbon?
  2. he pulls in a mixing bowl
  3. bowl in centre
  4. things start to jump around and add ingredients to the bowl- sugar trots in and sprinkles in and exits
  5. egg rolls in, cracks on the side and opens
  6. net comes in and catches the shell (similar to slapstick hooked cane movement)
  7. butter comes in, jumps up and breaks into cubes
  8. cloud floats in and adds flower "flour"
  9. loud clunking is heard
  10. electric whisk clunks in
  11. electric whisk whisks everything
  12. POOF 
  13. bowl turns into cake
  14. piping bag/ writing icing ices name of blog onto cake

I know everything seems to be coming in from the left and exiting right, but i'd mix this up in the actual animation and speed it up so it's not so predictable and static.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

What makes a good banner ad??

I thought i'd do a bit of research on this before i started designing, since i don't really know where to start.
Here's what i've gathered so far:

  • Post banner ads on pages with related Web content -- the more related, the better.
  • Advertise a particular product or service in your banner, rather than your site generally.
  • If you do advertise a particular product or service, link the banner ad to that part of your Web site, rather than your home page.
  • Put banner ads at the top of the page, rather than farther down.
  • Use simple messages rather than complicated ones.
  • Use animated ads rather than static ones.
  • Your graphic content should pique visitor curiosity, without being too obscure.
  • Keep banner ad size small. If the page takes too long to load, a lot of visitors will go on to another page
  • A good banner advert should be visually appealing, attract interest, and be shown to an audience that is interested in what you have to offer.
  • some inspiring ideas for placement of web banners: http://sixrevisions.com/design-showcase-inspiration/banner-ads-examples/

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I miss life drawing

Just a little sketch using an online pose reference (40 mins- mechanical pencil 2B)

Oh, and i can't shade <:D


Case Study: Recent Successful Advertising Campaigns


Animation in adverts is increasingly becoming more popular as they allow companies to convey their desired message to the audience, whilst creating the right type of mood. Without animation being introduced, the creativity and the messages they extend to the public are limited, and the mood usually relies on how good the actors are.

As I will be creating my own web-based banner advert, it is necessary for me to research on current material that is available, concentrating on what makes them so successful, memorable and how the styles and overall aesthetic is appropriate to their target audience.

Twinings tea advert has played around on the idea of how their product makes the users feel, with the idea that their tea makes the drinkers feel refreshed, relaxed and comfortable, hence opting for the slogan “Gets you back to you”. Emphasising and dragging out this emotion became the anchor point to the animation. It focuses on inviting the audience into the story of a woman struggling on an arduous journey to find herself. She is first found to be worried whilst rowing in windy conditions, then her journey is made much harder when she loses an oar. The boat carries her through the rough waves of which she has no control. Birds of sea foam carry her to calmer seas and the shore. She gets out and is greeted by herself with a cup of Twinings tea and at last, she is relaxed. The public will be able to relate to this story as the character is fictional, and many have experienced being stressed, which is easily relieved by a cup of tea. Playing on the idea of the emotion the product gives you is a clever aspect to play on, as it will also make the viewer want to possess the product and relive the feeling.


The style of the animation has been very effective in capturing the attention of their target audience- this being middle-aged and mature adults. It is done in 3-D, with a fresh yet muted colour palette and a watercolour aesthetic to offer a dream-like quality to the whole animation. It really appeals to viewers whom enjoy a finer tea, rather than your average “builders tea”. Being able to communicate and convey a message without any script is what makes this advert particularly sophisticated and effective.

Another successful advert is for the Toyota Yaris car. Their focus is on this new car design that is suited for the busy urban community, offering up-to-date functions and current technology. The series of these adverts compare the car to others that may think it is better than this new model. For example, this animation has an ordinary man, whom the public can relate to, in the new Yaris and he comes head to head with a successful looking businessman in a giant monster truck. The idea is that although the monster truck looks nice, it is totally unsuitable for everyday life, unlike the Toyota Yaris, that has the technology to nip in and out of tight parking spaces easily. Therefore, the seemingly ordinary guy in the practical looking Yaris, has the last laugh.


It has a very fresh and modern rotascoped style animation, with an urban vibe to add humour. The young actors in the animation emphasise that the new car is very current and “cool”, and with the lack of rotascoped adverts, this animation filled a gap and immediately grabs the audience’s attention of the product being perfect for anyone who enjoys new technology and a practical car, which is advertised throughout.

The catchy rap and beat of the music also plays a part of getting into the target audience’s head, meaning that this advert will be memorable, and even more so with the unique style the animation offers. 

Case Study Research

So before i start writing about my actual case study, i'm going to post up a few adverts using digital animation to get the ol' creative juices flowing before i start wid da 4mal lang. YA G3T WHA AM SYIN' BLUD?!!


A slight change of plan...

So i had a little chat with my tutor last friday... and after much confusion and misunderstanding, we'd both come to the decision that, Yes. Walk cycles and bouncing balls are all very boring. A bit too mundane. So we thought we'd go back to focusing more on the web side of animating, but still combining the 2 elements of web design animation and the more traditional digital animation.

So the new plan is: i'm going to design a web banner ad. In which, some elements may be made on different softwares and brought together to create one giant ad. The idea is that i'll be studying the use of all the softwares and deciding the best one for the job for certain assets.

Although the work i did last week is pretty useless, it was not all done in vain, as after all that playing around i did, i now know the basics of 4 programmes:
  • Adobe Flash
  • Adobe Edge
  • Toon Boom
  • Pencil
Better get designing then...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Balls, balls, balls...

I've been hard at work animating my first task- The Bouncing Ball

I used 3 softwares to create the same animation and noted down the process in which i did them as well as pros and cons. I will show all the screenshots i took in the programmes and then compare the final animations at the end of the post.


Flash
The first software i used was Flash, this being because i'm familiar with the programme and so it was a pretty standard process of creating all the shapes on the stage, and animating using a Classic Tween.


The blue line acted as my guide (the same as in my other animations) and the lines acted as the guides for inbetweens and the extremes. I was happy that all programmes had the essential onion skinning functions, as this mini project would have been near impossible to create a convincing bouncing ball without it. Using the classic tween technique meant that the inbetweens were automatically assumed and added in, and it was also just as easy to adjust them as necessary, resulting in a nice clean movement.

Toon Boom
This programme has really been a pleasure to get used to. Once i got round to how the functions and general display worked, it was quite straight-forward. I was even slapping my forehead in awe of some of the functions that were available on this programme that isn't on Flash. It really saves a lot of time and makes life a lot easier. I read an AMAZING blog that really well explained how Toon Boom works to an absolute beginner, which i owe a lot of credit to:


It has all the elements (or layers) along the bottom of the screen, and i've rearranged the workspace so that the cells for animating are highlighted on the bottom right. It was really easy to draw into this programme and animate it without redrawing. The useful table light function means that you don't have to turn a the other layers visibilities off to just view one layer, you can just select the layer and turn the table light off. Brilliant!

The camera view function also means you can animate your drawings without manipulating them or changing them accidently, and can scale the whole animation as if moving frames closer or further away from a camera in real life. 

Keyframing also automatically puts in "tweens" so you don't have to select a type of tween like in Flash, they are also easy to alter. I also noticed near finishing animating that the ball wasn't quite round enough, so i just went back to drawing view, made it rounder, and to my pleasure, found that it changed all the other frames to follow suit. Thank god i didn't have to change each frame individually!!

Pencil
This programme caused me so much grief. You cannot lock down layers on this so you can so easily accidently move keyframes!! Grr... I also find it seriously irritating that you MUST make the keyframe BEFORE you animate anything, otherwise it just doesnt do anything, and because i was so used to the other programmes where you just move something and it automatically creates the keyframe, it was annoying to move something and then realise you have to do it again, because you didnt make the keyframe yourself >:(


AND ANOTHER THING!! When i saved this file, it did the opposite of saving. Basically, i saved this file, then did something wrong, so i went to the file to reopen it to! start again, and instead, i got NotePad with a load of gobbledy-gook written in it. Useful! (Not!). So i opened it from the programme itself, to find that all my layers were still named but with NO KEYFRAMES and NO IMAGES. Again, VERY USEFUL. It erased all my frames (as you can see the keyframes at the bottom are grey, meaning they're empty and yellow when they contain something) so i couldnt edit it later. So this screenshot is actually ANOTHER one i did, because i had to do it again, and then i saved it, and the keyframes turned grey ("Oh crap, not again!" says me) so i took a picture before i lost it forever and exported it.

On this programme, you cannot make an image and then play around with it further in the timeline to animate, you can only copy and paste it over and over and keep manipulating which is:

1) very time consuming 
and,
2) annoying because you have to remember to keyframe everytime before you press command+v to paste.
AND
3) you can't delete frames or keyframes in groups, you can only do them individually.
OH!
4) and you can't rotate anything.
NUMBER FIVE
5) you can't preview your animation
AND FURTHER MORE
6) you can only view onion skin in the frame directly before or after the frame you're on.

i really think this programme is for kids or serious beginners as there are hardly any tutorials and one i found was from a 9 year old, who said in his tutorial "... and here, you have a vector layer. I can't explain what a vector layer does, but all i know is that you do not want it. so get rid of it."

if you'd like evidence of this, here it is (at 00:56):


THANK GOD THIS PROGRAMME IS FREE. OHMYGODIHATEYOUSOMUCH.

So anyway here are the final animations of the bouncing balls (complete with hopefully, good timing and squash and stretch), here for comparing:

Flash

Toon Boom

Pencil

I think the Flash video looks too smooth and a bit too perfect. I prefer the Toon Boom one for this task, it has more character and was just a really easy programme to use :)

Day 2 of Hard Graft

For the second time, i've lugged my computer down to the kitchen for another day of hard work. Looking at my work schedule, i'm slightly lagging behind so today, i will be focusing on settling on the animations i'll be making on Flash, Toon Boom and Pencil. I'll then work out how to do them, and write down any pros or cons to my experience, so that later, when i write my report, it will be easier to compare all the programmes.

So far, i was thinking of:
  • A bouncing ball
  • A convincing walk cycle
  • A short (5 sec) frame-by-frame animation

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bouncing ball

Leaves much to be desired but at least i managed to do it in the end..


D'oh!!

I had no idea what was going on so i actually went onto the Toon Boom Support Forum to message a pro about my troubles.
Here's the proof of the interaction (i sound like a reet goon):


I wasn't on camera view. CAN YOU IMAGINE?!! I'm still new at this so i have no idea what camera view does but oh well- now i can carry on :)

Frustration

So i still havent figured out this keyframing problem so i had to leave a thread on the ToonBoom website asking for help. While i was waiting i decided to animate something quickly, so as not to waste time, i feel it captures my emotions for the past few hours quite well :)


3 hours later, a professional has replied to my plea. So i better read that now and see if it helps in any way.

A Slight Breakthrough...

Thanks to one very helpful blog, i finally managed to find out what i was doing wrong on Toon Boom when animating. I've been searching and searching over the past few days to find out what could possibly be the problem. I now understand that the exposure sheets act as the "graphics" would in flash and the layers are used to lengthen your animation. So this programme actually makes you "nest" all your animations. Useful!!

Here's the blog: http://animationcraft.blogspot.com/2007/04/good-place-to-start-part-1.html

First stage of playing around (it's supposed to be a stickman throwing a ball)... at least he moves:


adding inbetweens... (i know he has no weight but i just playing around at the moment)..


an armless man walking...



I've been trying to animate a bouncing ball but im having trouble setting keyframes on this bloody programme. I'm pretty sure im doing the right thing, ive been reading and rereading this tutorial and it still wont go right. keyframes arent being set and nothing is staying put... desperately searching for the solution...

Right. I've had my fun. Now for the work.

It only just hit me yesterday evening how much work i have to get done in such little time. So waking up early, i lugged my 28" mac downstairs to the massive kitchen table, along with the graphics tablet to set up the ultimate workstation. No more mister (miss) nice guy (lady). It's time to get a boot up my backside.

So, to start of this day of intense work, i thought i'd share my work plan... i know some of the dates have already planned, but you'll just have to trust it was being stored in my subconscious :P


Time to actually put this plan into action. Obviously, im aware i may not stick to this plan to the letter, but as long as everything gets done, i'm not too worried. More posts to come as i beaver away.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Comparing

So i recreated the pear in the big city on Flash. It was pretty easy animating the pear in a separate graphic and then popping it on the stage. I drew the leg poses for each stage of the walk cycle instead of using that dreaded bone tool i used last year...

so here's the result... my demented looking pear and his world.... why are there those stupid marks on the exported video?!! i always get these -_-'..


Saturday, 15 October 2011

studying with Toon Boom







http://www.toonboomtutorials.com/2007/create-a-basic-walk-cycle-with-toon-boom/

WHY IS THIS PROGRAMME NOT DOING WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO?!! ARGHHH!!111111

at least pencil knows what it's doing...


decided to play around with colour.... 


i have no idea why the background comes over the foreground (it is definitely below all the layers in the list..) but yeah.. its weird.. a little feel good  but i think i prefer the little black and white one i did before. it seems a little more handmade and endearing

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Learning how to use Pencil at 21 years old

Just watching some tutorials..



and doing some testing... excuse the crudeness and i know the second bounce looks like a rollercoaster but oh well..


The most annoying thing ive found using Pencil is that you can't choose how many keyframes you can onion skin through, you only have the choice of the keyframe immediately before or immediately after... so you basically have to guess where your inbetweens have to go, unless you draw a rough guide on another layer and draw ontop. However, i guess it's not a bad programme to get for free... oh!! and another annoyance is that you can't colour pick your colours, you can only use the given default colours or use a colour slider/mixer which i find a bit time consuming to use...

a walking baked bean

it's a bit of a primitive programme but easy enough to teach yourself how to use, but for anything detailed, i'd need to use a different software with more advanced controls.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Objectives

For Specialist Study 1- i have chosen the following objectives to focus on:



Since these objectives, they've been slightly changed so that i can produce the following:
  • learn how to use other 2-d digital animation software i.e. pencil, toon boom, flash, (adobe edge)
  • use the most appropriate programme to create an animation to go on the web, advertising my baking blog
These objectives will link nicely to my dissertation which will be based on the demise of 2-D animation in advertising as i'm exploring the uses of 2-D software and seeing if i can create an effective and likeable advertisement for my blog.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A little something new to me..


I don't know what possessed me to colour something today. i dont think ive ever had enough of an incentive to get off my arse and actually do it but i did! i found an old sketch i did a couple of months ago and had a go. It was amazingly good fun but i dont yet own a graphics tablet (gasp!!) so it was made quite a lot more difficult but i think it's okay considering it's my first try... her hand's a little too small, and im not sure her thigh's in the correct place and her skirt looks too flat. but hey ho. i'll know for next time.

3rd Year- Preparing for Dissertation.. ARGH!!!!

So the dreaded time has come when i have to come up with a subject to write about for my dissertation and also connect it to the work i'll be doing this year. After much (MUCH) stress, anger claws, screaming and looking like a helpless wreck infront of my boyfriend and my tutor, i've found something i may be slightly interested in looking at. Obviously i would have never come up with this idea without my tutor's help.

Recently Adobe Labs has introduced a preview for a new animation programme called Adobe Edge, meant to be Adobe Flash's successor. I've downloaded it and unfortunately the preview will expire in 88 days (dec 30th... oh well)... i thought i may look into this programme and compare to to flash and see whether it is that much easier to use and whether it will limit the use of Flash in the future (as come on, let's face it, Flash constantly PMSing).

Then, THEN! i thought to bulk out the research even more, i might throw in a bit about Toon Boom. This programme has also become popular as it has an interface that encourages the use of traditional animation learning techniques and so it therefore amazing for beginners. Although, it would be purely for animation and Adobe Edge is more for web design...

Anyhoo.
I've been playing around with both programmes and will continue to do so, as well as watching some tutorials to introduce me to some more of the new functions. Here are some i've been looking at that i reckon have been quite helpful:






Monday, 30 May 2011

Rap Revised

I reanimated my part of the rolo rap for the collaboration project. I think it syncs up better- it doesn't have the background yet either but hopefully once all the animators have put together their pieces, it'll flow nicely.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Some Doodlins

I had some spare time so i thought i'd do a bit of leisurely drawing... Maybe i'll colour them at some point...
(I used references from DeviantArt for the body positions and then recreated them in my own style)


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Target Audience Research

When i asked James what his target audience was he replied:

"well im not so sure if this suits the animation but the target audience is 11-20"

Err... right i don't know how many 20 year olds still watch cartoons besides my lovely self and my entire course. But still, i decided to look at what successful cartoons there are out there at the moment to suit this market. I reckon it's quite hard to ask 11 year olds what cartoons they like as they're usually at that stage when cartoons are "for losers"... Oh, woe is me. Well, i'm going to share what i think is amazing out there for this generation, and what i remember as being "TOTALLY FRIGGIN AWESOME" when i was 11. As you can probably tell, i was no average 11 year old girl.

I absolutely LOVED (and still do) Spongebob when i was a kid. It's absolutely hilarious and not just when i was younger, but i still find it amazing. Literally just based on the skill of the animators to portray emotion makes it heart achingly funny. I love how in this episode, kids are secretly taught about global warming when watching their favourite cartoon. The bright colours and funny characters attract the younger audience, whilst the jokes still tickle the humour of slightly older viewers.


I always thought Ed, Edd n Eddy was a pretty clever cartoon. It has a unique line boiling style which is a bit trippy and makes the characters look like their always moving. This is particularly attractive to hyper kids that can't stay still. What i always loved was that some of the colouring is completely off, like some kids tongue is blue and another guy's teeth are green and everyones got weird coloured skin; and i loved the fact the storyline is sooo crazy and all the stuff is off-scale. It really reminds you that when you were a child, everything that was weird was just accepted. Of course the roofs of the houses all cave in like soggy dilapidated books! Why wouldnt they be?!!

Another one i remember loving was Ren and Stimpy. So incredibly stupid and creepy but for some reason i loved it. Even though the colours are pretty muted and every episode went into gruesome detail, i couldn't help loving it and i know a fair few people my age that still love this animation.

Last one- Looney Toons. I'm wondering if I just love this because of nostalgia rather than it being amazing in 2011. You can't lose with Looney Toons- it's funny and makes you want to do half the things they do in the animation in real life. Either way, it's vintage, the colours are almost realistic to the references and it's timeless.

Sound Research III

http://vimeo.com/2858300- Wall-E Special Features Animation Sound Design

I decided to re-watch the video above to refresh my memory on how much work goes into putting sounds into an animation, choosing appropriate sounds and how much it can effect an animation not only visually but emotionally.

The palette of sound effects also alters the genre, mood and style of the animation. It's also a vital component in targeting the intended audience, so for a comedy for young children, the range of sounds would be light, happy, exaggerated and comical.. e.g: Tom and Jerry


Whereas an animation for adults would have a slightly different range of sound effects or hardly any e.g: Futurama

Sound Research II

Okay, so i've looked at similar animated cartoons, i thought it was time to look at old kung-fu/martial arts movies and see what sounds were used. I'd expect that the sounds used in live action combat would be less exaggerated and more realistic....

After watching this well known martial arts clip, i noticed there was just a simple background music to set the mood, and a lot of swooshes, whips and typical action sounds when punches and kicks were being thrown; along with grunts from the characters, the surrounding props being broken made more sound than they probably would in real life. This surprised me as i guess even in live action films, sounds will still be exaggerated so that the scene looks more interesting and dramatic.

In Bruce Lee's clip there's a slightly different approach to the sounds used. Granted yes it is in the 70's, so there are some comical sound effects (i.e. the bounce noise at 4:32-4:24) but it's still successful in capturing my attention. Again, all the sounds are exaggerated. However, there is minimal music in the combat scenes, just an opening sequence to set the tone and then only the sound effects are heard so that the audience's focus is solely on the fight.

This clip uses the same cheesey oriental music with typical chinese instruments. More exaggerated combat sound effects aswell.

A slightly modern take on a martial arts film, it has more of a cinematic feel with a mix of western and oriental instruments for the backing music, it also changes depending on what's going on in the scene, i.e. flutes start to play or drums beat when a character turns their head suddenly or if a fighter strikes. Otherwise, everything still stays pretty typical of a kung fu film.