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:

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: and Charlie Minnion (who’s blog is here:

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