Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Love Hate - Animatic

So, apologies for the lack of blog updates, but the past week has been dedicated to finishing (and starting) the animatic for Love Hate.

Today we had to present our animatics in front of our year, tutors and an industry professional (Morgan Francis - not Freeman as I accidently typed before - Co-Director at Spider Eye). After this the number of final projects going forth to production will be cut down to around 10 from the 16 that got through the pitching stage.

The animatic was made alone by yours truly and I'm pretty pleased with how it's turned out. I wasn't particularly keen on the first 'doorknob' section, but after a few people have each said this was their favourite bit, I've had my faith reassured in it. Not bad for six days of solid work. Even if it meant I didn't leave the house for a couple of days in a row. I swear when/if I get a job in inudstry I may forget what sunlight looks like!

Quite alot of people used Storyboard Pro to create their animatics, but since I have never used it and get easily distracted when I attempt to work in the studio... (it appears solitary confinement is the best way for me to get stuff done), I created it using a mash of all my program knowledge: Flash, Animate, After Effects and Premiere. A wise choice since these will be the programs I use to make the actual thing (if it gets picked...).

So, we shall find out by the end of the week which films are going through. If mine isn't picked I have my eye on a couple of other projects I'd love to help out on. But we shall see.

Alas, this doesn't mean the workload is over. Far from it. We have a deadline on friday for the pre-production deadline where we have to produce a bible of nearly all the pre-production work we have so far. Currently mine is about 55 pages (mainly because I've had to include the 30 pages of storyboards! To be honest I think I'll have to separate it into lots of separate parts to get the file size to fit the upload limit!).

Aaand, to finish up, here's a new and improved taster of the music, since I changed the soundtrack the visuals play to, I couldn't use this version since it wouldn't match up! Pretty pleased with how it's gone though:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

[Insert witty Pre-Production joke/pun here]

So, there's been quite alot of changes since I last updated, and it feels like time is fast slipping away, as it always does when a deadline is rapidly approaching and my timetables are looking more and more scarier...

After realising quite early on I wouldn't be able to accomplish everything I want to do for the piece on time, I asked Hugh Herbert to be my co-director. Hugh has helped to give the project a bit more of a boost to the (and I use the term loosely here...) 'narrative' of the piece, helping to come up with new sequences, something I was struggling with when sat on my own with the original ten page transcript of quotes.

After constructive feedback from my tutors, the structure of the project has also changed somewhat, instead of having the whole piece just continaully morph from one thing to the next, it's going to be more segmented - kind of like a little sketch show - with different scenarios in each bit. This should make for much more interesting viewing, giving me the oppurtunity play around with the pacing and timing as well. Hugh has also suggested tweaking the style slighty for each segment, so that the piece has the same kind of style throughout, but different variations and themes for individual love/hates, hopefully this too will make the piece more interesting than just "I love A, I hate B, etc...".

The frustrating thing about working with a soundlead piece is that it feels like I'm working backwards, normally you have the narrative idea, then storyboard/animatic from that and worry about the sound last. However, I'm having to figure out the order the soundclips are going in, which clip flows into which, can I use both the love/hate they say in the clip or just the one, how will it morph to the next one - if it does at all, and so on and so forth. Only once that's all sorted can storyboarding any visuals begin. This is why Hugh has been so helpful, just having someone to bounce ideas with makes the whole process much quicker and the visuals come along more naturally.

Trying to put voiceclips into a logical order:

Another problem that has arisen by working on a soundbased project is what to actually put into the animatic. I still want to go out and record more people so I can get the largest possible source of material to work with for the final film, which means there's no final narrative or soundtrack to work to yet. This poses a problem for my friend Rob, the music man, as I can't give him anything definitvie to work with. However, since we need to hand in a scratchtrack with our Animatics, to give a sense of what the final thing will be like, I put together a 3 & a half minute set of clips for him to work with, which is working well so far:

This again has affected what I am able to do for the animatic: after speaking to Derek and showing him the animatic script; he asked if it was going to be the same for the final film; after I said no, he suggested just making an animatic just for the clips I would like to use in the final film. This has made it much easier to figure out which clips I need to properly storyboard and work on (more schedules!.

I've started mocking up some parts of the animatic with my storyboards...

And have have also done one bit of the real animatic so far:

(Virtual cookies for you if you can tell which famous horror film that shot pays homage to...)

I'll post another update sometime later on this week focused more on the design-y side of things.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Once more unto the breach...

So, Love Hate (I'm still not sure whether to refer to it as lovehate or LoveHate or Love Hate...), has been picked to go into the prelimary stages of production!

There were so many that the tutors wanted to put through, that sixteen projects have been asked to work up until the animatic stage. Where the projects will be reviewed on the strength of their stories and animatics which will be used to review and cut down the number of projects down to ten. I think this is a pretty good idea since some of the projects last year had already began to slip their original scheduling about this time.

So, speaking of scheduling, now that my fate has been determined, this week is all about organising. Something that, as sad as it is, I rather enjoy doing as it feels like you're actually getting somewhere, even if you have a bomb of stuff still to do, (something working on Barista taught me pretty early on). And after discovering today that there's just 28 weeks until the final projects are handed in, which, in theory, seems like a very long time, it's probably a good thing I get organised asap.

The animatic deadline is on December the 5th, just over three weeks away and requires are rough sound scratchtrack to accompany it, (some people, like Dan, whose project Fentil: Another Life has also been picked for production, are ahead of the game there as he prepped his animatic in time for the pitch). As mine is all about the sound I'm currently editing through all of my voiceclips: trying to link ones together where I can visualise the imagery of one flowing into the other; some are naturally linking together rather well, others - not so much. And meanwhile my friend Rob is busy making music, so I need to give him the final order asap. So far, so stressed.

To help me try and get organised, I've typed up transcripts of all the voice recordings I've done so far...

Transcript - All

This morning I created a proper schedule! (Scary). It'll probably be revised countless times, but it will serve for now. How much I'll stick to it though is another matter (I haven't been great at sticking to my plan of doing bi-weekly blog updates, but my blogging has always been sporadic, and it means I've posted more than I would've done, so it's not a negative in my book).

Here's my plan for my plan:

And the actual thing itself:

(I like making things colour co-ordinated, can you tell? The darker a colour is, the more important the task is, except green - that's in Rob's hands not mine - and orange is holidays!)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tomorrow is Judgement Day...

Well, the last week has been a pretty eventful one and been super busy all in the run up to the pitch on friday.

Since my last blog post I've created a whole load more of concept art and some test animations...

Kathy suggested I put together a visual research file of the things that had inspired me to create the concept art, some are more relevant now than others, but in the process of trying to get the look for my project, they all inspired me in some way.
Style Inspiration Bible

One of my own loves (which I'm told by my housemates is very weird...):

"I love watching the sun rise" Sequence:

Newer version of Birds (as it would be animated):

"I hate fish":

Sea animation test done in After Effects:

The fish I hand animated... It was super frustrating, because it took me two hours to scan in, only to discover that it didn't work... it's not great: the tail flops around all over the place, but I feel my timing has vastly improved since last year.

I think now, (well, all depending if my project is picked...) that any rough animation I do will be done in Flash or ToonBoom Animate and then, when I know the timing is correct, I'll draw the animation in graphite or whatever other medium I'm using for that section.

The fish and sea combined look a little something like this:

Ah, I'd almost forgotten to add this, a video of the rough soundtrack that my good friend Rob Allen has been working on for me, which I was contemplating playing it at the pitch, but I have collected many more voiceclips since sending him the (very) rough edit I put together for him to play around with. This is only a rough version done in Midi, put gives an inkling as to what the final thing could sound like, however I think I need to spread the soundclips out a bit more, it's really rather quick at the moment.


So, this is something I forgot to write on here earlier, but a couple of weeks ago I emailed six local primary schools asking if I would be allowed to come to the school and ask the children (and staff) the love/hate questions. I had two responses, one yes and one no.

Paula Ross, the deputy Head Marlborough School, was kind enough to invite me to the school on Thursday to record the students. The students were forewarned of my arrival in asssembly and many had already thought of things to say when I turned up at lunchtime. Paula's class separated into two groups and sat in a circle as I recorded them one by one, which worked really well, although the children who couldn't think of anything quite often said similar things (it turns out, alot of boys hate the colour purple...), Paula then led me around the rest of the school to interview smaller groups of children which provided a much larger range of responses and some absolute gems which I'm certain will go into the final film (if it gets picked). After interviewing the children, who ranged from 4-11, I asked the staff the same questions. The school was so helpful and accomdating, the whole thing was much easier to pull off than I expected thanks to Paula's organising. If the film gets put into Production, I'm going to keep in contact with the school and send them updates as progess (hopefully) continues, however it may not go anywhere, it's beyond my control now!

Which leads onto the deciding power...


The PITCH. Both Kathy and Derek said that I should create some more concept art to show at the pitch, which made me think, why can't I explain my idea through concept art? So, to explain the process behind lovehate, I decided to do just that, have a corresponding picture to what I was saying.
My actual pitch was really quite short, my idea was very simple to explain, so it really didn't need long. I thought I'd try and keep it short and punchy, and the corrseponding pictures helped to do just that and even got a few laughs which was great (and intended I might add).
I was second to last in the pitching order, which made me mildly annoyed (I really wanted to just get the thing over with - I tend to get more nervous the longer that I have to wait to do something), it was probably better, as the rest of the third years relaxed around me, I felt alot calmer when it finally was my turn...
Lovehate Pitch

The presentation probably needs some explanation, so here's a small summary essentially of what I said:
- Everyone in this room has at least one thing they really love and one thing they really hate: it might be something completely unique to you, or something that you share with others. My current hate is standing in front of a room full of people and trying to explain my idea, something the other third years will share with me. I want to make these individual love and hates come to life on the screen. So the idea behind lovehate is quite simple:
- I will take a number of peolpe of different ages,
- Stick a microphone in front of their face,
- Ask them to tell me one thing they love,
- Ask them to tell me one thing they hate,
- Record their reply.
- Think about their reply.
- Visualise their idea.
- Storyboard the idea.
- Animate the idea, taking the last frame and morphing it...
- ...So that it becomes the first frame of the next sequence.
And then I showed the concept art of previous answers.

The panel (made up of 4 industry professionals), complimented me on my pitch and (I think) overall were fairly positive and quite liked the idea. I feel I got away quite lightly, quite a few people got some grilling from them and struggled to answer some of the trickier questions. I feel I did quite well, but I guess we shall see tomorrow when we discover which projects are going through to production. If my project hasn't been chosen, there's a multitude of other ideas I would love to be able to help out on. But then, if mine is chosen, that's a whole new fear altogether!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Concept Art [1]

So this week has mainly consisted of trying to transform my scribbly doodles into [hopefully] nice pieces of concept work.

First up, is the bacon:



I've also been spending a lot of time trying to come up with a logo and playing around with different typefaces, I know some people think it's silly to spend hours agonising over a typeface, but I feel that having the wrong font can break a project, or misrepresent it entirely.

I asked the good people of facebook to pick their favourites, and now it's just down to these two, (currently B is in the lead, but [ironically] I'm in love with the 'love' font in A). So, you could help by voting for your favourite in the comments...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Animation Test [1]

Probably the first of many...

Inspired by this drawing:

Combined the drawing with a bird cycle I animated roughly for practice last year.

Research/Concept Art

Thursday, 13 October 2011


So the past couple of days I've attempted to do a bit of animation based on the statements people emailed me/got through facebook.

One was 'I hate pennies', which I msyelf can identify with, I keep all my coppers in a little teapot in my room, so I decided to a bit of pixilation with them. Sadly I only had enough to make "I hate" and "pennies" separately, but for a little test, I thought it wasn't too bad.

Someone else said that they hated the Mac wheel of doom (aka, beachball of death/wheel of death/rainbow of doom...), so I thought the penny could turn into one. Done in Flash.

Aaaand today, I rented out a voice recorder from the Media Center, and with Dan as my back-up, went and accosted random people about campus who didn't look busy. I got quite a fe voiceclips, but I realise I will have to ask lots more people. Kathy is my mentor up until the pitch, and she suggested recording younger children, which will be a good idea since I got a lot of "I hate early mornings/lectures" and "I love drinking/getting drunk/beer". Oh you students.

So, here's a little mock-up of the kind of introduction I'd like to have... I'm thinking of calling "Love/Hate" (because I'm god awful with names), since it's quite a simple themed project...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Project Help

It would be really helpful if you could take less than five minutes to
help me with my project,

Could you please tell me,

A. One thing that you hate or really annoys you...


B. One thing you really enjoy or love.

You can email your answer to:

or you could always leave an anonymous comment here on blogger.

It would be much appreciated :)

Third Year Beginnings.

I was tempted to name this post "The Final Countdown" or something equally as corny, but nobody wants to start the year off with a terrible pun, (unless you're my Dad, then it's standard practice).

So, yes, third year, the beginning of the end and yet it feels like my University experience has just started... (Obviously this post already appears to be filled with clich├ęs and all that jazz). After a lovely (albeit very geeky, but not very productive) summer, I'm back and ready to work my ass off. Currently this has involved acquiring a large wall chart and marking all the important (and scary) hand-in dates for Final Major Projects & Dissertations, it also has days marked off for when I need to update my blog... The plan is to update it at least every other Tuesday, so we'll see how successful that is. Days are also marked off for when I need to attempt to do academic reading for said dissertation. For those of you who wonder exactly what a pile of dissertation research is looks like, it's currently a little something like this:

Rather intimidating, yes? Especially when I tell you that the yellow folder is filled with photocopies and printouts of essays and book chapters as well. Eep.

However, on a slightly better note, this term will be spent developing our ideas for final films ready to pitch (in front of all three years of Animation, the tutors and a panel of industry professionals... although perhaps this is just as intimidating as the dissertation) and, hopefully, get selected to be put into production.

After spending the first half of the summer fretting because I had a complete lack of any creative ideas, I had inspiration hit me while I was on a train (somehow trains appear to be good for my creativity, in the past I've had a couple of ideas for other projects suddenly come to me while train travelling). Being paranoid about the possibility of potentially having to stand on a six hour train journey (Falmouth really isn't the most easily accessible place), I always book a seat reservation. And someone, it doesn't matter how empty the carriage is, will always pick to sit in my seat. Always. It annoys me so much. And then I thought, well, why couldn't I make this into an animated film? Obviously not just about a train seat, but why not ask people about all the random little things that specifically annoy them or they really hate? I could run around with a sound recorder and ask people the same question (a la Creature Comforts), then take their responses and turn them into an animated sequence.

Everyone I ask will have different opinions, so I want to replicate that with a range of different animation styles. In my Foundation year for our first 'Time and Image' workshop we had to create two images of ourselves and animate from one to the other, then we had to take our last image and animate it to the next person's first, it was really effective and despite everyone having created very different images, the piece worked as a whole. Sadly, I do not have the original video of everyone's work, but I have the section that I created, which you can watch below. I want to do the same for this project, animate all the 'phrases' separately, then take the last frame from one and animate it to the first of the next. I also want the film to have a kind of spontaneous feel, like the 'Lightbulb Boy' animation I did at the end of last year, each bit was really different, but it all flowed together.

After telling Andy and Derek and a few of my classmates my idea, it was suggested that instead of doing just things people disliked, that I include their likes/loves. So, currently I am in the process of juggling between the ideas of creating two separate films, a "Love" film and a "Hate" film, or making a completely combined one.

My idea is a relatively simple one, but I feel that if it is picked, it will have a much higher chance of getting completed than an a 5 minute long scripted idea. Working so closely (well, practically as a third year myself - I even got a 'medal' for "Wannabe 3rd Year" in our 'award' ceremony at the end of term last year) on Barista, I know that even with the best intentions and time management, it is not always possible to get everything done in time. Hopefully, by having an idea that works in segments, even if a section is not working, it can be scrapped and work without it. Even if I only worked with two other people on the entire thing, if we created five 10 second segements each, that would equate to a two and a half minute film to hand in.

Some inspiration:

And I leave you with a screenshot of the fruits of about an hour's work on Maya achieved (I've attempted to make something in order for a little test sequence I'm planning...):

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Summer work...

As promised to Alex, I've been doing some more rough Barista stuff over the summer in an attempt to get the film finished. I've also followed Andy's suggestion about making the animation more puppet based, which actually works really well and has been far quicker than the previous scenes. Had I realised this earlier, we probably could've had alot more of the final scenes done in rough in time for the hand in, but as they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing! The puppet animation worked really well for Alice, I was able to easily add the subtle movement of her hips swaying and bag swinging.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Musical Lightbulb Boy

With the aid of my amazing school friend Rob Allen, who has just graduated with a degree in Creative Music Technology at Huddersfield University, Lightbulb Boy has music... This should be the first of many collaborations and hopefully one will happen over the summer before he starts a Masters at Birmingham Conservatoire.

Friday, 10 June 2011

End of Term! [Negociated Production Report/Animation Technologies/Pitch Project]

Today marks the end of Second Year! It's insanely scary to think that next year will be my last...

Lightbulb boy at 12fps (ignore the disgustingly pixelated thumbnail, the video doesn't look like that):

My Barista videos are still failing to upload to YouTube and Vimeo, despite me exporting them in a variety of different formats, I can't really understand why this is other than it must be something to do with the export settings from Animate. I plan to edit them all together using Premiere or After Effects when I'm next in the studio, hopefully then I'll finally be able to post them to my blog! Anyway, here's the production report:

Alice Negotiated Production Report

Animation Technologies presentations were also this week, I think I did alright, however I made notes to stop myself going off on a tangent but only remembered I had them about half way through my presentation... subsuquently I'd gone off rambling a little. Some people's presentations and essays were much more focused on the technical aspects and specifications of the technology, but mine was a on Digital Cameras and focused a little more about the effect, so I hope this was what Georg wanted... I've uploaded it here so you can have a little look if you wish:

Alice Nightingale - Animation Technologies Essay

Aaaaaaaaaand, finally, the pitch project. We had our presentations this morning and I think ours went pretty well... we even managed to keep Derek from asking any questions at the end! Our practising at Emily & Sasha's house till 11 last night paid off: Sasha and Paddy did a great job of presenting our idea to the audience while Insa and I held a screen that Emily held up cut-outs of our characters behind (think puppet show/punch and judy type thing)! Insa has the finished Design Bible, so I'm sure it'll be uploaded to her blog at some point soon, so I leave you with the teabag band The Herbals rockin' away...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lightbulb Boy

My paper animation works! It works better at 12fps, but this video export was a much better quality.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Negociated Brief

As the deadline looms for the negociated brief I've been struggling to get motivated to do as much work as should for my Barista scenes. I had a very helpful a tutorial with Andy on thursday, were we got talking about the sort of thing I would like to do if I wasn't working on Barista. Barista's style is neat and orderly and the strict style that Alex wants is very different to my own... as Andy said, I've been working on it since January and he suggested that I work on the scenes I said I would complete, but instead of working on new Barista scenes, to put aside one of the days left in the run up to the deadline to work on my own animation, and see what I come up with.

Lightbox, I missed you!

So, at half past ten on friday night (after battling with my Animation Technologies essay, which is taking forever, my brain is overloaded with information about Digital Cameras... it turns out there is such as a thing as too much research...) inspiration hit me and I decided to get out my lightbox and get drawing away without any particular plan. I continued to work on it for most of saturday and currently have roughly around 250 frames (which equates to 10 seconds of animation), until I shoot it on the linetester at uni, I have no idea what it actually looks like or wether the timing will work. But it's been very liberating and really fun to just go ahead and do something spotaneous, without a plan and just improvising along the way. I really want to continue working on it, but have to finish my Barista scenes and win my battle with the Animation Technologies essay first... So, watch this space.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Crew Assignment Production Report

Crew Assignment Production Report

Monday, 30 May 2011

Major Update: Crew Assignment/Negociated/Pitch projects...

So, it has literally been forever since I updated my blog, which deserves a slap on the wrists, but I have been crazy busy. The workload has now slowed - I only have 3 projects on the go, (Pitch Project, Negociated, Animation Technologies) as opposed to six (which included Dissertation Proposals and Crew Assignments Report) and working like a mad thing with Alex in order to get Barista sorted for the 3rd Year hand-in. Which we managed. Literally, just in time (security came along to kick everyone out at studio closing time and we were literally the only ones able to walk out), and the result can be shown below:

Barista (hand in draft) from Joleaf on Vimeo.

I'm continuing working on Barista for my Negociated brief, which means I will clean-up all the shots I worked on in the video above, and then get cracking on new ones after that. The hand-in is on the 8th, so I can tell I'm going to be working like crazy again. I've been exporting videos of my works in progress, however YouTube is having trouble with them: they'll upload, but not convert... I'm not sure if this is because they're exported from Animate and YouTube doesn't like it...

The only piece of written work remaining for this term (after handing in another set of literature reviews and film review - both of which I got damn good marks for - and a dissertation proposal, complete with massive bibliography) there's only the animation technologies essay to write: we have to research a technology that is/or can be used for animation, which for me, has been a real struggle to think of anything - I was always terrible at trying to invent made-up machines and gadgets as a child - but I came up with the idea of Digital Cameras and their now cheap and high quality avaliability... So I've got to find out a bit more and write it up in a nice essay format and presentation for the rest of our year D:

On a slightly funner presentaiton note, for the pitch project I'm working with Sasha, Insa, Emily and Paddy on creating ideas for a short animated series about the residents of a kitchen cuboard, the condiments, called "The Foodal System". Emily is in charge of creating script ideas and has posted some of the ideas on her blog already, here. Paddy and I have been working on lots of character design. I have been in charge of creating the all tea-bag rockband 'The Herbals', a bunch of hippy herbal teas...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Barista Work... Update

Well, well done blogger for putting them all in a crazy order. But I'm super busy with Barista stuff, so here's a few screen caps of works in progresses etc...