Wednesday, 7 December 2011


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.


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 
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