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.