Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Little Piece of Heaven

Yesterday was a sad day for me. The drummer from my favourite band, Avenged Sevenfold died. At 28, it's far too young to be taken from this world. They were halfway through recording a new album and I was so stoked about the subsquent tour that would come with it where i'd finally get to see them. Sadly, even if they do tour, it won't be the same.

Jimmy "The Reverand Tholomew Plague" Owen Sullivan (aka The Rev) was quite possibly one of the most talented drummers on this earth and no other drummer could possibly fill the space he's now left in Avenged.

My favourite song, Little Piece of Heaven, was written by him, and has one of the most twisted concepts going. But it's fantastic, beautifully composed and has a brilliant animated video, which is why I'm posting it.

So, yeah, R.I.P. Rev x

Sunday, 13 December 2009

christmas

I'm home for Christmas and feeling as Scrooge-like as ever.

I wish I was back at Uni, or (dare I say it?) that we'd been set some work to do over Christmas. Inspiration has deserted me completely in recent months, and I would've liked it if I had something to try and get the creative juices flowing (although, had we been set an essay or something along those lines, I'm pretty sure that would've drained whatever inspiration is knocking about).

Anyway, I hope everyone has a nice Christmas, and if I don't update before then, I'll post some shit for you in January.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Bradford [2]

I’ve been meaning to get round to talking about Bradford again (like I promised a good while ago). I’ve hunted out some of my favourite films I saw on YouTube, and provided the links so you can have a cheeky peek at them (and either agree with me on how cool they are, or completely disagree).


The Professional Films

I have to say, if I’m brutally honest, I thought the quality of the student films were (dare I say it?) better than the professional ones. The Student ones have been proved much harder to find online, probably because they’re still owned by the Colleges that made them, two of the films I really liked (“Bruce” by Tom Judd & “I See What You’re Saying” dir. By Lottie White), came from the RCA but even though they’re mentioned on the website, there’s no link to see the films, which is a shame.


The Cat Piano
Directed by Eddie White & Ari Gibson (Australia/2009/8mins, 23secs)
I really loved the style of both this film and the one below, the story is a pretty strange one but engages your attention all the way through which some of the other professional films didn’t succeed in doing.


Lettin’ Go
Directed by Malika Whitaker (France/2008/5mins)
I love the style used for this, it almost looks like it has been drawn with spray paint and stencils, I also like the looseness to the story, I style can’t really figure out the ending and what has supposed to have happened to the male character.
Other films I really liked in this category were “French Roast” directed by Fabric O Joubert (France/2008/8mins, 15secs) and “Alma” directed by Rodrigo Blaas (Spain/2009/5mins, 2secs), both were done in 3D and are simply amazing animations. They both won awards, but sadly I couldn’t find videos for them.

Commercials
I love animated adverts so much, they make a nice break from the normal low budget adverts that are constantly repeated. I only saw this advert on TV a couple of times so was really pleased when it was featured at BAF (and won the Commercial award). It’s a clever combination of 2D and what must be Pixilation, I also love the song that goes with it, it fits really well, and you’ll see why:

Audi Unboxed


Panoramas


Photograph of Jesus
Directed by Laurie Hill (UK/2008/6mins, 40secs).
I really like this one (well, I like all of them which is why I’m writing about them), but I think this one is pretty clever, it uses Cutout and Collage with Pixilation which is something I’ve been really tempted to do myself at some point (who knows, I could try it out over Christmas...). It’s also a visual piece that goes with a spoken interview (like Creature Comforts).


Loof and Let Dime
Directed by Vereshchak Roman (Russia/2008/2mins, 31 secs).
This is similar to “Photograph of Jesus” in that it creates a visual to spoken words, but it couldn’t be more different. A lot of my fellow students disliked this film, but I thought, even though it wasn’t one of my favourites, it was worth talking about. It creates a visual to a nonsense repeated poem, even though the images it uses don’t have anything to do with the words being spoken, I love how the text travels around the screen, it reminds me of a similar thing on of my classmates did in foundation.

It’s been nice to be able to watch the videos again and write about them, I can’t believe Bradford was nearly a month ago! It’s not nice when you realise just how quickly time has slipped through your fingers!

Walk This Way... [sorry]

Once again, the reason for lack of updates is down to the epic FAIL of the internet connection at Glasney View. I wrote this update on the 3rd of December and have only just been able to upload it!

We had to take the walk cycle a step further, by having to animate our own walks! We got filmed walking along: a normal walk and a silly one and were told we had to animate one (or both of them) in 2D and 3D. I chose to do my normal walk (my silly walk wasn’t silly at all, it was supposed to be a sad walk, but i’m a terrible actress – I did drama in Year 12 for one of my AS-levels but was cringe worthy awful when it came to the physical acting side of it!).



I actually found this task easier to do on Maya (SHOCK) than I did drawing it – but I think this is because I tried to get my figure looking as life-like (or at least as human-like and in proportion) as I could. I originally started with the head just being a bald circle but it looked very strange, especially when I decided to draw my trousers and shoes a bit of detail, so I added the hair and profile which were a bit of a nightmare trying to get looking right.



I did two versions of my 2D walk, but I prefer the rough version in blue pencil to the one with clean lines, the blue figure looks like it has more weight and character to it, so this was the one I submitted for marking. If you spot a face appear on the right hand side you’re not going mad! As it was only meant to be a rough version I practised drawing my profile on frame 5, so a face appears for the briefest second (well, one 24th of a second to factually correct, haha). I would’ve scrubbed it off but I quite liked it and didn’t get a chance to scan it before I shot it all on the line tester. I still need to shoot the other one!



We also had life drawing this week, and after a few weeks off from it I was quite rusty. This wasn’t helped by the fact we had a new model, so it was the first time I’d drawn a woman as well. I couldn’t get the proportions right for quite a while, I kept giving Jane a really small torso compared to her really long legs and large upper body, but I was quite pleased with the final drawing I did- I was even brave enough to attempt to draw her facial features! I’ll upload a post with lots of life drawing pictures at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Burt (but sadly no Ernie)

Burt and Ernie used to be my favourite characters on Sesame Street.

This Burt isn't quite the same, but he's still pretty cool.

Our task for 3D this week was to animate him walking along. To be honest I'm not too pleased with how it's come out, but I got really annoyed while trying to animate him because I kept clicking on one foot to animate it and it kept moving both of them. This went on for about half an hour and I've no idea what I did to make it do that. But I figured it out eventually and here's the result:

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Walk Cycles

Just a quick little update, I’m going to write some more about Bradford but wanted to put this little video up first. Our tasks this week are to do a 2D walk cycle and make a 3D character (Mr. Cubey has been upgraded to a sphere with bending legs called “Burt”) walk forwards. I haven’t had a go at messing about with Burt yet, but like to think that my 2D has come out pretty well for my first attempt. It probably helps that I nerded up the night before and drew up a plan for each frame.

As you can see from above I spent more time on getting the leg movement correct and only roughly mapping out the arms. I’m pretty pleased with the legs and the head, but the shoulder bobs around a bit too drastically for my liking. Video is shot at 12fps, and is 12 frames long anyway.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Bradford [1]

I got back from Bradford on Sunday night after what had been an EPIC couple of days. Some of the things I saw were totally inspiring, especially the Student films (dare I say, some were better than the professionals), when I eventually start to make films I have a lot to live up to. If I was to write about every individual film I saw, I’d be here well into the night, so I’ll just mention some of my favourites from the festival.

If you I was to recommend that you watch just one film from the festival, I’d have to tell you to that “Mary and Max” is the one to look out for. An Australian film directed by Adam Elliot, it’s an 80 minute “clayography” (clay + biography) stop-motion film that was something like 5 (or possibly 7, my memory is failing me here) years in the making. I don’t want to spoil the plot too much but it dealt with real, some quite heavy, issues that wouldn’t have been pulled off so well had it been a live action film, or even CGI. It’s got a real charm to it and you really built up a strong connection and a real sense of empathy for the two characters, Mary (who starts off as an 8-year-old, the film is set over a period of 20 years) and Max (A middle aged man who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and lives in New York), that other films tried to do but never managed to achieve it as easily as this film did. The film has a perfect balance of humour and seriousness, the subject matter is dark, but the characters deal with it in a way so that the film isn’t preachy or deliberately trying to raise your awareness of the issues.

I think that I must have really hard-boiled emotions, because despite the sad subject matter of “Mary and Max”, I didn’t cry then and I managed to not cry at “UP” either, although I had tears in my eyes, they did not spill over. I’m too hardcore for my own good. The story at the beginning of “UP” is really beautiful and the animation throughout the whole film is impeccable. What I’m going to say now will sound like I’m criticising it and I don’t mean for it to sound like that, it was a truly epic film, but the rest of “UP”’s storyline seems like it’s been designed to get the laughs and keep the children’s attention all the way through by adding random characters and gags. After the amazing storylines in “Coraline” and “Mary and Max”, (yes, I’m going to rave on and on about it. If you watch it then you’ll understand for why) - which didn’t have to have giant birds and dogs with funny “chipmunk” voices to engage its audience – it just seems like it’s been altered so that it ticks all the boxes other Pixar films have set, and it seems like Pixar have become too afraid to do anything really groundbreaking like they could’ve done.

I’ll update with some more Bradford bits later on :)

Friday, 6 November 2009

get bored and blog

So, next Tuesday, we’re heading to Bradford for the Animation Festival which looks, quite frankly, pretty freaking sweet. At the crack of 8 o’clock I will depart on a 10 hour mini-bus journey (ahmygawd) and hit Yorkshire in the evening time. Sadly we’re going to miss some gaming talks on the Tuesday which I know some people are pretty bummed out about, I think it’d be interesting to go along to them, but as I tend to be a watcher (or some might say logistics person) rather than a proper gamer (dual analog sticks are the bane of my life) I’m not completely devasted. However, I’ve been on a bit of a stop-motion kick this week and cannot wait to see Coraline in 3D for the second time and Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is also playing at the Festival. It’s going to be interesting to see how they’ve translated the book into a film, if I hadn’t left my copy of it at home I would’ve read it before going (or on the long bus ride there, depending how travel sick I feel). Before I head off to that though, I’m going to see “9” tomorrow at the cinema, so by this time next week I think my brain might have been liquefied and over stimulated by the sheer awesome-ness of all things animation.

I also wanted to show you what happens when you’re going through a phase of loving the stop-motion and decide to carve your Pumpkin on Halloween whilst watching “The Nightmare Before Christmas”:



Haha, me and my flatmates had fun creating our own Jack Skellington, I drew his outlines in marker-pen before we were brave enough to chop him up. I also drew some Jack & Sally fangirly pictures which I’m pretty proud of. If you’re interested, you can see them and some more of my personal, non-university work on my deviant art: http://insertcoolusername.deviantart.com/

snip snip... cut-out animaiton

This week we haven’t been set any 2D or 3D projects (sad times), but got to practise some of the Animation Techniques we’ve been learning with Derek. As our year group is so large (there’s about 40 of us) we’re split into two groups and get to practise every other week, this time it was my group’s turn to work on Cut-out & Collage and I worked with Olly Skillman-Wilson (who’s blog can be found here: http://olninyo.blogspot.com/) and Charlie Minnion (who’s blog is here: http://charlie1000.blogspot.com/).

The good thing about Cut-out animation is that you’re a bit more free to improvise as you go along, you don’t have to carefully plan beforehand (at least not just for a quick test like we did). We captured our Animation using the Rostrum camera and Stop Motion Pro software, the video below is (I think) at 12fps, we exported two final versions, one at 12 and another at 18, but the 12 allows you to see more of the details. As for the plot, we sort of made it up as we went along which is why it’s a bit crazy.



I drew the trees, stand-by skiers, the clouds and fire, Charlie created the little “Spartacus” character (who’s a kind of cross between a sheep and goat) and Olly created the crazy Penguin and Shark. We all took turns at moving the pieces around and being in control of the camera. We couldn’t stop laughing while we were making it, so hopefully you’ll find it funny too.

It’s not the first time I’ve tried to play around with the cut-out technique. I last tried it pretty early on in Foundation using another Rostrum camera and a hell of a lot of pieces of paper. My plan was originally to make a moving storyboard (hence all the crazy arrows) and then have the camera zoom in on certain bits, but as I only had two days I ended up just focusing in on certain “scenes” and didn’t make the large storyboard. Most of this was just made up as I went along as well, playing around under the camera will give you sudden inspiration and it’s a hell of a lot easier to go and cut-out another piece of paper than it is to go back and edit 40 hand-drawn frames! Anyway, it’s only short and it’s called “Pig” for (what become) very obvious reasons:

Monday, 2 November 2009

Friday, 30 October 2009

dire need to update...

2D
Some days are far more productive than others, and thankfully today was one of them! I drew out all my frames for the 2D Animation today (36 of them, I was really going for it), but didn’t manage to shoot them on the line tester yet, so there’s no video till I go back in tomorrow (which is Halloween – awesome! And also a Saturday, so hopefully the studio will be pretty quiet and I’ll get to use it). The 2D brief this week was to animate a big and a little Cubey, and an interaction between the two of them, using the new methods we’ve learnt this week: anticipation and overlap. I won’t give away what happens in it, I’ll post the video as soon as I remember too, but I’ve put up my scrappy little plan for it with this update.



3D
I’m actually managing to succeed (slightly) in getting Maya to do what I want. (This is probably because I’m choosing pretty simple things that I’ll actually have a chance at getting right). I prefer the 2D Cubey to the crazy 3D one, although it’s fun trying to get him into all these physically impossible positions that want to try to break (the “un-breakable”) Maya.



I like how broad our project briefs are too, by just being given a simple task (our project brief for 3D this week was described by Georg as having to “animate Cubey and a Ball”) it allows everyone to come up with their own ideas and makes everything unique (It also means that some of the class, *here’s looking at you Dan Emmerson* go off and create really crazy complex stuff in Maya that makes me want to cry because their skills are so epic).


Life Drawing
I haven’t spoken about life drawing at all, so I feel it’s time to break the silence on the subject! The human figure has always been my favourite thing to draw, simply because there are so many people around all the time (unless you’re hiding out in your room writing your blog updates). At school we drew a man called Nigel (who was given the affectionate original nickname of “Naked Nige”, was completely hairless and also looked a bit like my old I.T. teacher!), and now we have a man called David (he has no nickname as of yet... at least to my knowledge anyway). I’ve never drawn a female life model though, which is strange because (from my experience) when most people think or talk about life-drawing they tend to assume it’s with a female model and are always a little bit shocked when you say it’s with a man. Which is stupid really, as it’s a 50/50 chance anyway!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Jump to it...

I wrestled Maya. It was bitter and intense and there were heavy losses on both sides (well, loss of sanity on my side, not much on Maya’s). Everyone else seems to have been able to do pretty epic stuff with their Cubeys, making him do crazy acrobatics and jumping through fire rings (I kid you not). My Cubey, well he jumps, that’s we got told to do, that’s all he does do. And just that was a bitch to try and get right, so I’m glad I didn’t try to do anything crazy or fancy at this point in time. Hopefully in the future.

video

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

bouncy, bouncy, ooh such a good time...

I’ve had to give links to my videos because blogger has gone lame and not liked them for some strange reason.


2D

Our 2D project this week focused on using Squash and Stretch, and the time old classic of bouncing balls, personally I think mine’s a little slow, I probably should have shot it at 24fps instead of 12.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHI9R8FGMEY

We also had to animate a little character called “Cubey”, so we could not only practise the Squash and Stretch technique, but to practise with the Secondary Animation of his Antennae.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v2vbeX29WI

3D

It’s a miracle! I managed to do something on Maya (after much umming and ahhing and cursing at the screen), we had to animate two bouncing balls of different weights, so I did a normal(ish) one and a super bouncy one! It was pretty fun when I got the hang of it, but now we have to animate the Cubey character in 3D this week. Eep.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7CQbFRc3vs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPwrTkz5KCc

(kudos to you if you understood the boosh reference in the title)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

mutants...

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and in good old tradition, there’s nothing to do. But at Uni when you need to do something, like washing, everyone else needs to do it too, so there’s a massive queue. This is why I’ve stayed in from the rain and decided to do my Lecture Reading, and update (again).

So, our new project from Kathy/Derek combo is called “People Watching, with a twist”. The twist is that we have to draw people with animal heads. Only problem is, I find it pretty hard to try and draw an anatomically correct animal right off the top of my head, I don’t want to spend a long time on trying to draw a person’s body then giving them a really crappy cartoon-y head. I’ve only drawn two headless bodies so far, and it’s really odd, because when I draw I normally start with the head first, so just leaving a blank gap is really hard to do. I was originally thinking of just drawing animal heads separately and sticking them on over the top, but, last night I was reading “The Mighty Book of Boosh” (because it’s just an epic TV show) and it gave me a really simple, but great idea that I can’t believe I didn’t think of... Just draw over the top of the original head! At least this way I can at least draw the figure the way I normally would, it’s one of the only things I feel confident in drawing from scratch!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Kicking it Old School (well, old foundation, but it doesn't have the same ring to it...)

Today I’ve decided i’ll dump post some more old work of mine, so that you can see what I got up to last year and the sort of style I developed...

This one (Teapot), doesn’t really have an introduction or background story about it, the project was “Angles”, but I think it’s my favourite little animation from the year: it combines drawing, stop motion and [I think the term is] pixilation...


My Final Piece has a lot more of a background story to it...
I wanted to try to explore more traditional methods of animation for my final project. So, I researched traditional animation techniques used in the industry, which led me into looking at traditional methods of presenting animations before the invention of television and the cinema. Traditional optical toys, such as Phenakistoscopes and Zoetropes (and not forgetting the humble flipbook) were the most popular gadgets of the day.
I set myself a test to make one of these machines and decided to make one of these machines myself and picked the ‘Mutoscope’, aka the “Penny Peep Show”. (I originally got the idea to make one after watching an episode of the television program “What the Victorians Did For Us”!) It was one of the more popular and longstanding machines, and had fairly simple mechanics behind it.
Sadly, I don’t have a video of the finished thing, but I do have one of it during construction (being modelled wonderfully by my Dad):



My final clips, put together for the Foundation end of year show, (some are rotoscoped some hand drawn) were displayed on both my Mutoscope and on a screen behind it:


Yeah, that’s it really for today (she says...) I might update later because at the moment I’m trying to create a banner for the bottom or top of the page. And please, don’t steal my work or try and claim it as their own, I realise most people wouldn’t, but the internet is full of people who do. Seriously, I worked my ass off on these things.

My oh Maya...

Unbelievably scary.

It’s going to be like trying to learn another language.



Bring it on.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

ceci n'est pas une chair...


I have a lot of friends who took psychology for their A-Levels and some of them have gone on to do it at University, so I know that I don’t understand it at all, all the terminology about Freud and the like goes completely over the top of my head. So I was a bit stumped on Tuesday when in my first Animation History & Theory lecture, about representation, it started off sounding very much like a psychology one.
Ann, our lecturer, picked up a chair and asked what it was. Clearly it’s a chair. Apparently it’s not. Or maybe it was, I can’t really remember, I got very confused and felt like I’d had my mind raped. The aim was, according to the notes I took, to “recognise the difference between the thing (the subject, referent), the concept (or signified) of that thing, and the sign or signifier that represents it”.
Even now I'm still not really sure how it relates to the things we watched, the only thing I could really think of to try and understand it though was Magritte’s “This is not a Pipe” picture.

(I don't know if that's the correct way to write it, I know no French except for the odd [swear]word.)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

a little introduction...

Now to bore you with a little background information about yours truly (remember the promise of pictures and shiny videos!)...

I’m a first year student at University College Falmouth studying a BA(Hons) in Digital Animation. Before this I did the standard Art Foundation course for a year, and before that I served my time in Sixth Form.



The first real introduction to Animation (not counting the healthy obsession with all things Disney I had growing up), was on my Foundation course. The third workshop I did was called “Time and Image”, our first project was to create two different self portraits of ourselves, not really animation-yin principle, until we were told that we had to find a way to get from the first picture to the second. Then to go from our second picture to the next person’s first, which has a pretty amazing result when there’s about 25 of you all doing the same thing with completely different pictures.


My tutor, Jack Southern, was primarily for Film & Fine Art students (though the degree he studied was actually in Sculpture, go figure), so the students who showed an interest in Animation were pretty much left to discover different animation techniques on our own and through trial and error. I loved it, it’s hard enough to try and get just one accurate drawing of something from real life, but to try and get enough so that you can make the object move is an entirely different task altogether. It’s the hardest thing to do, but certainly the most self-satisfying when you see it work.

I mainly took videos of things from real life that I wanted to study the movement of. Mainly this including the things I had close to hand, so lots of my early tests and drawings were done from studying my pets (mainly my cat and rabbits). I’d end up taking videos to slow them down and study, and taking enough frames so that the action would flow naturally (nowhere near to the industry standard 24fps, it was probably about 8 or 10) and using these pictures as a reference, I’d draw my own, or use them as a base to rotoscope over the top of.


I’ll probably post some more of my old foundation stuff at some point, the main focus is going to be on my new university orientated stuff, but I thought this’d be a nice little introduction.

OH HAI

So I’ve never done one of these blogs before, it’s a whole new experience for me.
University is also a brand new experience for me.
This is why these two things are going hand in hand.
(There’s also the small fact that I have to maintain a blog as a part of my assessment, but that’s just a minor technicality).

I’m going to try and keep these posts pretty short so as not to overload you, which is why there’s probably going to be several updates today with bite-sized bits of information about different things (with video links and pictures to bribe you into coming back), mainly to avoid really long monotonous posts, and because I don’t know if there’s a word count on these things.
Just so you know, I also wanted to call this blog something cool, but epically failed as usual to try and think of a good name. It was nearly called “Lice Animation” which sounds much more interesting but I clicked the wrong button. “Alice Animation” is a bit lame but it gets the point across. Alice is my name, and Animation is my game (apologies for the severe corniness).