Friday, 23 May 2014

Masters Semester 2

Here is a summary (a bit of a long summary post but it's been a busy semester!) of my work from 3 modules in Semester 2 on the MSc Animation & Visualisation course, including links to blog posts for each project.

All blog posts for Semester 2 (including notes from meetings and tutorial/workshop notes) can be viewed HERE.

Going Live
All relevant Going Live blog posts on this blog can be viewed HERE.

Here is the final film:

Concerning Dragons from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

To begin the project, lots of research was carried out. I then produced moodboards to help the group with inspiration and reference for each aspect of the story that had been developed:

Next I contributed some character designs for the Eagle and Dragon characters:
Relevant blog post at: Going Live Character Design blog post

One character I took through the pipeline from concept to animation was the Tree-Hand.

Relevant blog post at: Going Live 3D Modeling blog post

Relevant blog post at: Going Live Rigging blog post

Relevant blog posts at: Going Live Animatic Work blog post and Going Live Character Animation blog post

This is the animation I did for Shot 1:

All Xray - Frame 257 to 565 from Lilly Durrant on Vimeo.

One of my other roles within the team was Production Manager.
Relevant blog post at: Going Live Production blog post

Once the film was completed, we all went through to Glasgow to present it to Axis Animation Studio.
Relevant blog post at: Going Live Final Film and Presentation blog post
Some of the slides from the PowerPoint presentation

Photo taken at Axis Animation by Phillip Vaughan

Advanced Production
All relevant blog posts for Advanced Production module can be viewed HERE.

One of the first things our group worked on at the start of the Semester was the story and storyboard. This involved a couple of story meetings and lots of post-its:

Photo taken by Kirti Goenka

I then took all of the post-its and put them together into a rough animatic. The story was then divided up between the team to draw out the shots more clearly, which I then updated the animatic. The story then went through some more changes and development. It was then my job to draw up the new storyboard and animatic. This was the most up-to-date 2D animatic I created:

One of the first parts of research was creating moodboards to explore style:
3D style
2D style

Capturing my own reference footage was useful research and can be used as reference when it comes to animating. I set up the same scenario as the story and filmed my own dog taking a biscuit into the garden:

Put a bird feeder in the garden - reference for the bird character

The dog character took the most work to get right, and involved multiple group meetings to discuss and draw out variations before getting to the final character design:
Dog character sketching
Sketching Dog faces
Dog character sketching - decided on a Jack Russell Terrier breed
Colour variations
Colour variations with jumpers
Color variations for Owner and Dog - the Dog is held by the Owner in 2 shots, therefore the dog's jumper could not clash or merge with the Owner's jumper.
I quickly did an edit with Concept Art that Sheng had created to test whether these colours would work in the environment that Sheng had designed.

Trying out a variety of hairstyles for the Owner character

Through research, I decided that the Linnet bird would be the best suited for the film. It is on the Red List for Conservation Concern and has a pop of bright pink/red to help it stand out in the Autumn/Winter environment:
Sketches and digital painting of Linnet Birds in different poses

These are some watercolour studies I did to explore how the watercolour-style of our film will look:
Watercolour plants
Watercolour studies
Watercolours of props in the film

This is the 3D animatic I created, using two rigs I downloaded (including the Malcolm character courtesy of - ). The initial environment was modeled by Sheng. The temporary bird was created by Giorgos. I am responsible for the layout, camera and animation in the 3D animatic. The 3D animatic will continue to be used into the production, swapping in more finalised assets, and re-editing the timing if the film needs shortened:

Through working on the 3D animatic, I learned how to set-up and use an animation picker. This is something I found very useful to use and will most likely incorporate into my animation workflow:

As the Director for this project, my role has been to help make creative decisions, overseeing the creation of designs in Pre-Production and review the progress of assets being created in Production. In order to communicate efficiently and gather notes discussed at team meetings and reviews, I produced documents such as the one below, detailing any adjustments that were needed:

I also worked with Kirti to help with the creation of a Shot List, as I realized that a Shot List would be very helpful with the creation of the 3D animatic and could be used throughout the production to keep track of the progress of each shot:
Working out how to divide the shots up for the Shot List

A page from the Shot List

Reflection On Practice
All relevant blog posts for Reflection On Practice Module can be viewed HERE.
The title of my research for this module was: 'How to create empathy for a cartoon dog - An investigation into the connection between an audience and animated dog characters.'
This relates back to my Programme Of Study and original goal for animating, which is to create believable and convincing character performances.

One of the first methods of research was to carry out a focus group. During this focus group I asked the participants questions relating to two video clips. First was Walt Disney’s Pluto – Bone Bandit (1948); the second was Walt Disney’s Bolt (2008). They both showed a cartoon dog hungry and searching for food. An interesting aspect I analysed was the different responses between dog owners and non-dog owners and how this had an effect on their empathy towards a cartoon dog.
Making notes and highlighting important points on the transcript.

I then investigated different techniques to create empathy for a cartoon dog that I can use for the dog character in my own film project 'Tug of Biscuit'. Here are a few of these techniques below:

From the focus group, it was clear that both dog expressions and human expressions are needed to create a believable performance. This helped me to add a new shot into the Tug of Biscuit storyboard, showing the dog stop to look around suspiciously for the bird, before deciding to dig a whole to hide the biscuit:
Three Storyboard panels I drew for Tug of Biscuit, with the new shot added in the middle

Incorporating realistic dog behaviour is important, therefore collecting reference video footage and doing observational drawings from life are ways to capture subtle mannerisms and movement that can be incorporated into final animation:
Observational drawings of my own dog

 Another technique to help with anthropomorphic characters is to draw a human's reaction to a similar situation, then draw the dog again but with the human expressions incorporated:
My own drawings showing a human’s reaction to their food being stolen by a bird.
My own drawings showing a dog’s reaction, merged with human expression, to their food being stolen by a bird.

All of these techniques and methods I can incorporate into my practice as an Animator, on a variety of projects.
Slides from the PowerPoint presentation for the Mock Conference

Life Drawing and Observational Drawing
Drawing and observing life is something I still value as an important skill in animation. I managed to find some time to attend some life drawing classes this semester. As there are two animals I will be animating in Tug of Biscuit, I went up to Camperdown Wildlife Park to do animal sketches. I've also using my own dog as a reference to draw from. Relevant blog posts at: Life Drawing and Observational Drawing.