First animation exercise: A water balloon rolling down stairs. Or better, a weird slug.
That is the definition of failed warm-up.
The idea of these exercises are getting us to think about animation, movement by itself. And also to give us the bases of animation in general (be it d@, stop frame...anything).
Even if it feels like a failed animation, the means to get there are also important knowledge and with this I wrapped the idea of timing.
Roll down weird slug, keep rolling
I took some of the characters of Percy Jackson and the Olympians book (that I recently read) and decided to design them and make animated head rotations to see how the designs and the style would work animated. Also as a practice to get use to TVPaint software setting myself a goal of making two characters a week in any free time I got between university projects.
Rough design of the characters from the book:
This can be the first time I've been animating human characters and not faceless puppets for animation practice. I was aiming to improve:
-Working myself around the shapes of characters I designed fir animation made me realize that the construction is essential to keep consistency, even in the details.
-Testing how the design is fit for purpose was a really important practice. Having to decide abandon details or solve curly hair.
-The face feature I found more difficult to keep in consistency were the eyebrows. Until I realized how the layers worked on TVPaint..
- It started taking me 3 hours getting satisfied(~ish) with the rotation and at the end I could work it in around 1 hour.
Organization as key to achieve...anything
Working on several different projects at the same time during my MA led me to the first and more important lesson: organization is vital. As I have noticed in my research, storyboard artists (and freelance artists in general) need to be perfectly organized to tackle all the challenges of a production and keep the pipeline flowing, but the concept goes further, since work needs to coexist with independent practice, study and the ordinary life. The ability to multitask is appreciated in this scenario, and it’s something the industry values greatly, but, at the heart of it, what counts is efficient scheduling, skill that I had to learn during the first months of the MA.
The time I spent getting to a workflow and learning how to prioritize aspects in a production or in my own projects was worth it, since now I know the way to perform more efficiently without stressing over getting things done.
I spent my first weeks understanding how I work, to be able to improve as much as possible in a short time. I kept a record of my work times next to a task list, to check the relation between what I had to do and what I was actually getting done.
Currently, my activities are divided in three categories: projects of the MA, skills development and academic research. My schedules are separated by project, each having a different set of requirements and timeframes. Also the general approach to each is different and it requires a specific adjustment in the development pipeline.
I personal use minimum 2 Schedules, Personal and Professional Practice Schedule
Refers to software training, practice in animation principles, life drawing, colour studies and speed painting. It also includes the MA lectures, industry scoping, readings about animation, composition, storytelling, and interviews with professional artists
Finding a way in in which I complete my goals was more efficient every week and that is how I developed this “weekly goal” schedule.
In this way I can see quickly the specific thing I am working on a week and determine their priority.
It also help me to see if I am overloading by having too many or too little tasks.
It is a personal way to maintaining each project running without feeling overwhelmed by it and that has been helping my practice since I started making it every week.
- Work smarter not harder, meaning that there are several resources online for scheduling from the web, from your phone...even from excel.
- Some use and only use the classic pen and paper on a notebook. But working on several projects even more if they are collective projects using online ways of planing is a probably a smart option, in my opinion,
- Excel is a perfect tool, only by the fact you can use tables that are already there, and that Drive from Google and Microsoft and probably more services have their version, that can be updates online.
By this moment I am fairly used to organizing important data in my online schedule, since I can adjust it and , overall, be more professional about important data.
Following a schedule also implies knowing when it requires certain flexibility to respond to the different problems that each project may have during their production.
I’ve always knew I was interested in narration through images, being this the center of my practice for many years. This is why my research into the animation world started from knowing what role in the immense pipeline intersection my innate interest in drawing belonged to.
My final decision of becoming a storyboard artist for animation came after a long process of first, to understand how things actually work in the animation industry; second, to explore the scope that the different positions in an animation crew have, so I could see in which one I could really feel satisfied; and third, to identify the type of projects I would like to be part of. But it is, as alway,s a decisions that should be made alongside practice considering that in a creative career is not only important to know the aspects of the work but also to have the experience of doing it.
My initial research led me to find information first hand, communicating with storyboard artist from around the world via email, about what is to be a storyboard artist in the industry. WIthout leaving aside other tools like books such as Levy, D.B. (2006) Your Career in Animation, and even more online resources like Creative Skillset (2016) Animation Job Roles (animation) and the pages of the same animation companies, they usually have no secrets about what they aspire to get from someone applying to any of the different roles in their studios.
After coming through with my initial research on how the animation industry works ,my idea of storyboard changed and I started to perceive the possibility of a professional development in this area. For being a storyboard artist in animation, generating clear images for the rest of the team to work from is a priority. For this reason, as Richard Williams says in his book The animator’s survival kit (Williams 2001, p. 23) “Drawing should become second nature, so that the animator can concentrate on the actual actions and the timing of them and give the performance life”.
I took video reference for makings believable limp and not make it look like an animation mistake, that can happen quite often with limps)
Video reference -> making the walk cycle a Loop -> add details
I made a quick sketch of any variation I could think for a corpse.
I choose the designs that where closer to what I was looking and more appealing.
I like the idea of this magic - spirit light inhabiting a corpse
For Animation: testing the pipeline
Thinking about the animation, how I had a deadline to submit it and that I could only work in photoshop I tested for a way to color while saving the major part of inconsistencies and to make no background.
Animation Clean up:
It is a long process, but the best way is to go by steps in all frames While doing it, I keep checking how is it looking without any background and also correcting things I find looking weird from the previous steps. (I think it could be more efficient with some adjusts from the beginning)
Screenshot of how I animate in photoshop.
The Key is having the correct actions in the keyboard and a lot of patience for keeping the layers organize
The Mask of the Necromancer
The mask is an artifact used to revive a corpse moving it by its bone; the mask generates and artificial breath of life that inhabits the
corpse until it falls apart or the mask is taken away.
Getting started with storyboards is not exactly easy, since there is not just one way to do storyboards.
They are made for the production you are in and they all change with the type of production.
That is why this is a great book to get into the technicality of storyboarding.
Bold, incredibly graphic with illustrated examples and to the point.
This is part of the content list:
TVPaint practice with walk cycles.
Getting used to new programs. TVPaint is really versatile but sometimes it makes it really difficult. So it is better to make repetitions.
Same story with walk cycles, and using some reference for them.
25 fps in ones
These are in two's
Now with some performance from Jim and Bee. (father and daughter).
Big changes in the Pokemon animated series in the new season and I again, was kind of divided between if it is good or if they are going for a more careless approach since with this series sometimes money overwrites anything else.
I am a big fan of the anime and I've been watching it for years, so I am pretty familiar on how pokemon has changed. For me it has been 14 years of watching the anime.
The last season was an incredible surprise, some episodes being so well crafted that you could see the long production they went through. And even if they repeat animation, they also did fantastic thing that I never saw before. With pokemon everything is difficult because one of the main reasons the series is still going is because it drains money of the fans. Money everywhere, game merchandising series special tv shows. For me it is a real transmedia series and somehow it does NOT make less of each opportunity even when more conservative people start arguing of the ruin of the series just for some new deign or because it is aimed for preteens and the characters reflect that.
I was asking myself this the other day, part of me enjoys the more personality in one of my all times faves: pikachu. But i also was concerned about the entire idea of they just changing for the sake of change.
Now that I know it is about 3D - 2D animation software upgrades and their real way to try to use this /in a series that each season has over 30 episodes/ it is amazing to know they are still going up and up.
"Try everything new. Once again, the other option is the worst option."
UPDATE: I watched the first 7 episodes in one go.
Lecture and Seminar to generate Ideas and the backbone of classic storytelling.
PROCESS FOR BRAINSTORMING
There is no such thing as an useless commentary or idea while brainstorming.
Looking for a concept that is
VISUAL - SIMPLE - EMOTIONAL
Launch of the Collaborative project between UWE and The Royal Academy of Music.
Abstract Animation Site Specific Installation Art
This is the best use for my last experience and add it to animation projects
"cats make you want to stay in" : my past installation art + animationproject
3 weeks project to make an hybrid 1 minute animation short between 3 people.
It must include DEATH
I did it.
At some point in my life all the stars aligned for me to go to the Warner Studios in London to see the Harry Potter Tour.
And it was so incredible magical!!
I am telling it not only as a life long fan of the wizarding world, but as an artist that want to spend her life working in the preproduction area of films and series and what not.
It is so endearing and amazing to be able to see all the behind stage work of a big franchise and all the world building in every single detail and showing that no desicion is made randomly.
Details that in the movie that may never make the screen and yet were there for the story to become real. Nothing is equal to enjoy the maquet and the maquet of the maquet and the maquet of the maquet of the maquet. And yes, there are such as many maquets as that.
When you see it all together you get a feeling of the decissions made by several different artists: what is this world like to the people who make it happen visually.
The idea of having it all displayed for generations and long time fans to see it is fantastic in itself.
I want to name the next one, having the sketch with a little explanation and in front, the entire set. You can look at them both and admire them not only for the memories and the good times and making dreams true, but also as a marvelous piece of craftmanship and intense imaginative thinking.
Special Mention: the Graphic Design of the wizarding world. When you see it all it leaves a feeling of a specific time. Of a specific society, and also the influence of different artstyles from the early 20th century (perfect for a really slow and steady society that is also dragged in the modern world of muggle inventions, in my opinion)
I would go back any time, there is so much to look at, the people working in the tour make the experience really amazing and worthy.
AUDIO SYNC AND FRAME BY FRAME ANIMATION
CUT OUT TWEENING
Flash fills frames and using a path in flash for animation
AFTER EFFECTS PIPELINE
Composing, animating (animating with nods) and exporting.
TV PAINT INTRO AND ACTING EXSERCISE
TV paint as a digital software developed for traditional animators
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
Director: Travis Knight
Kubo and the Two Strings is the last stop motion feature film from LAIKA is set in feudal Japan and follows the story of Kubo a young boy who takes care of his mentally ill mother and raise money telling stories in a near village inspired by the adventures of his father, a disappeared samurai.
Laika Entertainment, with four feature films, has become in the last years one of the most renowned animation studios. Bringing together the traditional technique of stop-motion supported by CGI animation and unique style whit original stories, make of their films an alternative to the 3D aesthetic imposed by the big studios such as Pixar or Dreamworks. The narrative and strong aesthetical decisions make by the studio in their productions has now become their brand image.
Kubo is the first film directed by Travis Knight, president of Laika Entertainment and producer of their previous feature films: Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, all of them nominated to the Academy Award for best animated feature. This time, director Knight introduce us to the plot with naturalness and touches themes such as the effect of death, and significance of memory and legacy in an intense story about love and courage.
Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) is a young boy and a storyteller. He knows that his father was a brave samurai that died fighting against evil and his mother was able to rescue him from his own grandfather, the Moon King (voiced by Ralph Fiennes), who is a sadistic spirit who took the boy's eye as a new born in the hopes of blinding him. In her moments of lucidity her mother raised Kubo among myths about heroes and monsters, transmitting on his son the passion for telling stories. Also, she was the one that gave him magic. Kubo, as his mother, is capable of bringing to life paper and creating intricate origami figures with his shamisen, a three string traditional Japanese musical instrument.
But these myths are more than that, and upon knowing Kubo’s location, two powerful witches and supporters of the Moon King starts following him, and now he must run away and find an ancient magic armour if he is to defeat his grandfather. Kubo embarks in this adventure finding himself away from the comforts of his childhood aided by a monkey (voiced by Cherlize Therion) and a cursed half warrior, half beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) as his allies, and armed whit his magic shimasen and the knowledge of the old stories her mother told him growing up.
Packed with stunning scenery, this story also counts with one of Laika’s most important characteristics in his feature films: not shying away from the strange and slightly disturbing. The eccentricity and oneiric plays in Kubo’s favour allowing balancing suspense and dream logic with humour and sensitivity with one of the recurring themes in now days animated films such as Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea, overcoming loss and fear trough storytelling and how it helps to preserve our memories and hopes for the future.
And it is one of the most central pillars of Kubo, it is about being connected to the past trough storytelling and how it strengthens our view of the world. The need to hold into stories we know and how they transform our perspective and, at some point, being so fundamental they become part of ourselves and help us reflect in the world we know as much as broaden it. The power that Kubo imposes in his stories is the same power that storytelling has to make a change and influence the future and that knowing those tales is game-changer is a powerful realization.
One of the most prominently aspects of Laika is that they use a mixed media in their stop motion producing techniques; they have, since the making of Coraline, continually use the most recent technologies like 3D printing even managing through the years to collaborate with 3D printing companies to develop new software for the puppet and set making process. Also the study pushes stop motion animation to another edges in its production, to bring their stories to life managing to touch and intertwine the delicately hand-crafted settings with CGI. Resulting in the tactile physicality of the stop motion whit intricate and high passed action scenes and visual effects to reach the high stylized look of the film.
First approach, practice and understanding techniques for animation. Working with sound, different media and setting booths and cameras for stop frame techniques.
- Software: Stop Motion PRO (Eclipse)
SAND ON GLASS
Stop Motion Pro and Stop Motion Booth
Developing craft skills and working with audio
BOILING AND MORPHING (group project)
Traditional 2D Animation
LYPSYNC AND CUTOUT ANIMATION
Approaches to animation
Intro a Adobe Premier, video editing software.
I had to find the balance between working on all the aspects at the same time to develop my portfolio with a variety of skills and be a storyboard artist at the standard of the industry. And...I had to deal with the fact that I didn’t have the experience nor the knowledge of how the industry worked from the inside. This led to a lot of self doubt about the quality of the work I was making at the same time I was presenting it as final pieces.
Storyboard artist for Dreamworks Animation, Kris Pearn, points how his practice as storyboard artist for animation feature films is shaped by his ability to understand the animation process and how storyboarding is about solving problems before they happen in a more developed stage of production. He also mentions that storyboarding is the practice of “communicate with pictures as fast as you think”. (Peran, 2014) The skillset for a storyboard artist in different parts of the industries includes good draftsmanship and ability to adapt to a wide range of styles, animation principles, strong team-working and communication skills and be familiar with relevant graphics and editing software that nowadays it is Adobe After Effects and Photoshop, and half of the companies ask for specific software like Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and TV paint, as well as strong storytelling abilities shown through a portfolio and showreel.
I saw this interview Kris Pearn, storyboard artist. Interview by Rob Garrott. Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph, VFX, and Digital Art
The interview is not online anymore but it changed my perception on the actual job that I might be interested in. It was enlightening to see a storyboard artist do a storyboard and step by step how he developed it at the same time he was talking about being a storyboard artist and what it implies in a bigger production. I started to realize that even listening to what a storyboard artist does and his daily life process, really was something i could see myself pursuing as an artistic career.
22ND ENCOUNTERS SHORT FILM AND ANIMATION FESTIVAL
ANIMATION 5 - A LOOK INSIDE
A series of animations about medical psychological and emotional aspect of life (hence the title)
I went in without any expectation, and any background about the festival. The shorts were incredible diverse in technique, public, rhythm. Also the festival even gave a copy with the details of each short, which is a bless for future reference and people with short memory for names.
Some of the directors of the shorts were in that particular screening, and were presented before their short started.
- Referencing something as personal as an experience or as intangible as chemical reactions requires certain poetic of the image.
- The autobiographical nature of some of them, even with the voice in off give a personal feeling, like you are being told an anecdote by a friend. I can see why people look to tell this stories, share this kind of experiences some with humor and others just wanting to, maybe at some point, tell others what they wanted to be told while they were experiencing that.
- In a more personal note, it even bothered me how the rhythm of some where delicate, enough to highlight how intimate they where and yet make them entertain enough for an audience, where sided with harsher stories, not bad by themselves but they threw out of the groove.
Now I want to talk about a particular one: Here There by Alexander Stewart.
I consider myself on the more traditional narrative side, just as a preference and yet this one made me tear up a little. It starts just like notes on a sketchbook, detailed notes from a place, and with the time they start to un-draw themselves.
Memories from a place far away and it touched a personal point. Some time ago I read that, whit time, the memory, our memory, works by rounding out shapes, smoothing lines. That is how the round glasses you kind of remember some old teacher wearing were more likely cat-shaped. Memory tends to blur details, like saving storing space by simplifying shapes. And for someone who move from another country, is quite a point to make. By nature humans don't want to forget. I don't want to forget, specially not forget about my cat not when I am away, not after he dies.
Not knowing anything about the short and watching it was making the connections slowly in my head, surprise surprise, details start to fade, but also, the most heartbreaking part was when things started to get color, as a real effort to remember thing, and yet it was an amalgam of color the starting place at the end of the short, just leaving a feeling of some place that is distant and slightly unmemorable.
It still is a roller coaster of emotions that one animated short, and it let me thinking "of course it is, it touched my most recent and personal experience of moving from Colombia". But is this the way these other shorts, about postnatal depression and haunting ticking of time, feel to their particular sensibilities? Maybe this is the reason these personal experiences have to be shared
. (and we go back to the monsters reflection and the mirror)
Launch of the MA Animation programme by Chris Webster!