For this unit we were asked to select a role and choose a R&D project. I chose Character Animation as my role and the project I chose was “2D and 3D”. I have always been interested in 2D animation and combining the workflow of 3D. For this project I researched into shaders and looked into textures. One of my main inspirations was Paper man. I wanted to merge 3D and 2D hand animation. I didn’t want the computer just to create the piece but for me to have artistic decisions. When working in 2D I wanted to add extra elements of character animation, overlapping hair over exaggerating further. I didn’t want it to look tacky I wanted to put my own flair into it. I did lots of different tests, rendering out maya vectors and outlines separately compositing them together, animating together. I ran out of the time to finish hand illustrating over at the end but I will continue this. I really thought how to develop and solved my own problems such as creating my own paper texture to capture motion of rig. I looked closely at other’s workflow who created similar work. They used 3D to animate the character and camera motion but took it into 2D by creating an illustration style. Overall I enjoyed looking into this progress as it is something I have always wanted to do since seeing Paper man. Unlike the in house software at Disney I had to work out a lot on my own to get to the end result.
Above is our final animation. You can now view it online Live at BBC Radio 4 at this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03vhn5x.
This was one of my first animation live briefs, because of this I was able to get some very valuable experience. For instance interacting with client feedback, pitching to clients and collaborating. I am overall really happy with our animation, there are things I would have improved if I had more time. I would have liked to spend time polishing off some of my shots adding more in betweens and spending more time adding more lighting. However we had a really short deadline andI am really happy with the end piece.
When we was first given this brief I considered working on my own however me and Alice felt as we are lucky to live together we could create something with each other. We started the process by looking through the scripts. As each script was 15 minutes long and there was around 7 it took us two hours to read it once. However we slowly narrowed down our inspiration of the wind witches. This folklore really spoke to us and we felt we could portray some beautiful illustrations. We both wanted to do frame by frame animation, for this we had to search for plug ins and also brushes. We brought some brushes online and found a very amazing plug in for Photoshop. One of the good things I felt about this project was the fact we had to get all the preproduction development out of the way quite early. As a lover for the this stage of production it was good to give my self a time limit so we could work on the creation of the piece.
Pitching and Feedback from Clients – Because we were working on a live brief we were giving the opportunity to pitch in front of the clients twice as well as getting feedback. I was nervous to pitch but when we were actually doing it I felt confident. We were able to practice the pitch and that made me feel better. The feedback we got was to sort out the ending music so it dosen’t stop so suddenly, luckily we realised our music was meant to last longer so it was a quick change. I realised they weren’t as scary as I thought.
Collaboration – This unit is dedicated to collaboration. I have been able to collaborate with Alice, James the “music man” and 2 sound students. Overall working with Alice has been really good it is the first time either of us worked together on an animation together. We really worked together well, feeding ideas of each other and sharing an equal amount of work. We were honest with things we wanted to change or improve as well as praising to each other. We hung lots of schedules to our wall and used pintrest to create visual inspiration. It was the first time I had ever worked with music or sound. We were lucky enough to be approached by two sound students who said they would both like to work on the animation. Further to the point they said whoever didn’t get chosen would still work on the sound so they could put it on there showreel. This meant me and Alice would have to send feedback to two separate sound students. In a way it was really good experience because we had to takes on our piece, but we had to right what we wanted to change and why. One of the sound students put us in contact with a music student at Ravensbourne. We set up a meeting with the music student and was able to discuss ideas. Me and Alice made the decision to send out info packs with visual inspiration, deadlines, moodboard and suggestions.
Above are some stills from the shots I worked on 🙂
Above are some screen shots from people retweeting our work. Again it was an amazing feeling to see people retweeting our animation! A lot of people interested in paganisim and folklore have been sharing our work which has been really fantastic to see!
Creative industries in the UK are worth £71 billion a year with an employee rate of 1.5 million. According to the WWW.GOV.UK the Animation industry generates £300m annually. This is animation made for: film, TV, commercial, websites, mobile phones and computer games. The demand for different content for animation is always expanding.
If we branch a little more into the animation industry now we can get an understanding of what it is like at this present time in reality. I looked on creative skillset which has really beautifully diagrams and illustrations. Something that interested me was the gender gap with 60% of men being in industry. This is a good rise for females hopefully this number will continue to rise.
“Performance animation focusses on facial/emotive/narrative animation. Push yourself to construct a strong performing piece, perhaps using existing dialogue/sound, multiple emotions with the same dialogue, different output performances (styles or performance).”
For this I hoped to create a performance piece focusing on facial animation, understanding what to ask riggers for when it comes to facial animation, how to create smooth animation with the face, work on lip sync, how to change emotion or emphasis with one piece of dialogue. Be playful. But understand how to utilise the graph editor in depth. Be able to push myself to make a strong piece. So maybe a really strong piece of music or dialogue as suggested in the brief.
Above is a tutorial I found on line which broke down the facial rigging, it actually shows the workflow for this also. I think if I did this project understanding facial rigging should really be mentioned. If I understand what to ask riggers when it comes to doing my character animation then I will be able to determine terms and the rigging lingo – which luckily we have already began to work on during the workshops.
I really love this scene from Tangled which uses facial animation to create that intimate moment between Flynn and Rapunzal. There is a real sense of emotion and you loose yourself in the beautiful animation which is seamlessly done. I like the idea of having conflicting emotions or a really hard emotion to convey. For instance when I was researching last term and identifying some nice references some of people’s work which focused on crying seemed hard to translate. Crying seems like a hard emotion.
Above you can see a facial animation which tested out a rigged face, I love this animation as I feel it could be really interesting to look in to create a series of faces for one character. I could develop a character or use an existing character or figure for instance lets say choosing someone like Boudica and creating a character facial tests. I think this could also help me further develop my character development skills which is important as a character animator. I also do like the aspect of facial rigging as well which could be another pathway for this topic if I chose this R & D project.
Looking at 2D and 3D
– Looking at how to make 3d look 2d, or give a certain look. My second idea is looking at 2D and 3D and how to utilise 3d. I hope to animate a very short scene about 1 or 2 seconds long and develop how to create a 2D appearance.
In the main scene, for example, there are 110 objects just on the table, and each one, as well as the characters and the rest of the assets, were digitally hand-painted, one by one.
The film has close to 50 shots. Since there was no client (in the traditional sense), there were no limitations or a client’s final ok, so as time went by, we came up with new ideas — and that meant changes to the film — and these affected the workflow.”
First, we animated to the Mad Hatter in 3D, because we have him rigged from the tea time 3D scenes. We also did a 3D particle simulation of the books (the ravens), and of course we animated the camera movements in 3D.
After this process, we drew up each frame with a 2D illustration style to integrate the Mad Hatter more into to the aesthetics of the world, where big eyes, books and 2D brushes live all together in a single scene.”
I have identified some animations which have inspired me for this piece. So the above is an animation short from a scene from Alice in Wonderland. There was a huge process behind it and a really useful interview. I tried to copy here some of the breakdown of the workflow. What I really admire is how the animation is all done in 3D and then has to go through a 2D workflow also. Also not just once but 2 times with different software. I think this could be a really nice way to work on this unit, looking at the diverse ways of creating this look which creates a way of manipulate the style of the output of the piece.
Above is another video which I came across when I was looking at Facial animating/Rigging. I really love the final output of this piece, the creator didn’t let out any secrets to how the style was created other than saying he was interested in creating the illusions. You can see in the comments how desired the look is. My guest is a shader with an outline shader. I want to try and work out how this look could be recreated.
Paper man is critically acclaimed for its beauty! As well as being ascetically beautiful to gaze upon it, it is the only Disney animation ever to win an oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 85th Academy awards. As well as winning an oscar it won for Best animated short at the Annie awards. I believe it was the technical style that really gained it the fan based. Above is a really nice breakdown video where the creators discuss how they went about creating the look. It is really interesting to see how they breakdown the process.
John Kahrs states that “those drawings were something I didn’t want to leave behind when we went into the final product of the computer animation. I thought, ‘Isn’t there a way we could bring drawings back into the final frames of animation?'” He wanted an extension of the preproduction drawings in the final creation.
The pipeline of Paperman used Meander a hybrid based drawing and animation system which artist were able to interact with.
“CG animation> Motion fields > Silhouette ribbons > Motion paper > Final lines and paint > Motion pasting > Motion betweening
“Final lines and paint – using Meander, final line artists drew key drawings on top of the CG renders, relying on two techniques to then compute the non-key drawings but preserve the temporal coherence of the final-line stage.”
The process again talks about drawing on top of the 3D animation.Below you can see the different layers of lines beginning with clocking out the main features, illustrating features, hair shading and hair lines.
Meander is a hybrid vector/raster-based drawing and animation system that gives artists an interactive way to craft the film, not just toon-shaded renders. “We didn’t want to do something where you send it off and the computer does something to it and the next morning it comes back and it’s done – we wanted something that spoke back to the artists,” notes Kahrs.
. “It leaves all the artistic decisions very much up to the hand-drawn animators. They are the ones that really finalize the expressive quality of the image.”
Above you can see another video which demonstrates combining 2D and 3D this is a really nice breakdown video. It shows how the creator, Pasa Mustafa created the animation in Maya, then the 2D in Flash and then proceeded by compositing into Nuke. I think what is really interesting is you can extend the animation further in the 2D workflow. I could create further overlap or extend emotion. This is something I am really considering doing.
I have decided to look into 2D and 3D animation. I will learn how to work 2d and 3d animation to create a more appealing animation. I will research further, choose a short animated clip I have created previously/animate a short 2 second clip. I will then develop tests to see the most appealing outcome. I want to explore merging 3D and hand-drawn animation.
This was a query another person had on a forum i liked the answer.
So what would work is rendering the animation in a certain way then drawing key points in the animation with vector lines then applying the in betweens. It would be tricky but it could work.
Here is what the process may be like in a nutshell, Render the animation with a color render+ vector blur, then do the line work (in AE or toon boom) then apply an Alpha Cut out render from the CG animation to keep a clean silhouette.
My problem is that I am rather new to the 3D world and I understand complex theories, but I have trouble executing them. So could anyone maybe explain to me how this could be done? I know that you can render an animation several times with multiple render styles and add them together for a combo effect, but again, I have trouble with the know how.. Is this called baking, or multipassing? See, I don’t know?
I can animate fine, I just need to get a better grip on 3D. Dont get me wrong, I know a decent amount and I can work my way around the programs, I just need help with specific things like this..
If anyone could guide me the right way and forgive my lack of common knowledge in the 3D world, I would be very thankful!
Thanks in advance!
Cel shading is certainly nothing new, and you can look into some of Maya’s non-photorealistic shaders (i.e. Toon shaders) and PaintEffects stroke techniques for an idea of how to achieve some out-of-the-box solutions. But these will certainly be primitive compared to Paperman. As the video you posted shows, they go far beyond simple cel-style shading and work with simulated paper textures, including texture displacement based on motion vectors, special smart line tweening, and so on. This moves beyond the realm of simply rendering and into analyzing and applying sophisticated processing to the shot in aid of rendering. All of that stuff is way beyond anything you’re likely to find in an off-the-shelf package… yet!”
To get the illusion of a 2D look I took some time to analyse 2D work. I love the hair overlap here. Especially because you can see the artist’s strokes. To achieve the look of 2D I want to really work hand craft the hair.
I wanted to explore lots of different ways of going about this, looking first at the tools that Maya offers. I had to change the textures, as I wanted the rig to look flate I changed all textures to surface shaders. I then worked with toon outline and shader to give it an outline.
So I have carried out several tests and really tried to dig in with the research, there is not many people who say how they did it so I need to work it out for myself.
I begun the workflow with animation. The role I chose for this unit was character animation therefore I took my time animating the face. As I am working with 2D and 3D I did a simple animation so I could spend a long time on the workflow. I began animating in stepped and edited the tangents after. The animation is 2 seconds and a half.
The way I thought the workflow could be would be geometry>Maya vector>Outline render>Motion vector> Composite>Clean up> Illustrate.
I wasn’t sure how I should go about doing the motion vector, I experimented with using a 2D vector pass.
However I was having some problems of trying to link up the paper texture. Why am I doing this? I don’t want to just dump some texture on top as it looks poorly done and just like there is a texture on top. I wanted the texture to be attached to the silhouette. This is something they did in Paperman but they used vector passes.
I tried to think around this problem, I came up with quickly texturing the rig and having an image plane of the texture so it blends.
As well as rendering out the paper textures I rendered out a Maya vector, paper texture and a bump map version of the paper just to experiment.
Fixing the texturing problem, so as I said above the paper texture isn’t working. Below you can see how the surface shader with the texture works perfectly. The problem I had however was when I tried to apply the texture to the arms it didn’t work, It dosen’t matter too much as when it is composited in It shouldn’t be obvious.
Here is how this ended up, it looks weird without any outlines but if you look closely it works so much better than my first attempt!
Another look at Toon outlines.
Now I have worked out how I will render out texture and fill I want to look at different ways to use an outline. I could use maya vector to render out outlines however when I did that the mesh of the face also were outline and no matter what I tried it didn’t go away. More than that the vector lines are really straight and look to perfect to be hand drawn that is why I wanted to take a look at toon outlines in Maya. You can see the different effects of maya vector below. There are several fill and outline properties in the render settings.
Using toon outline. I added the outline to my shape but in toon in Maya you can go a step further and choose a brush style. I scribbled out several lines to see what one could work the best. The cool thing about toon is you can learn these lines into geometry and later use them in the scene.
Below are some options for the brush styles, there are a range of different brushes from watercolour and pencils. However doing several tests there were only a couple which I felt worked okay.
Changing the outline is simple you select the outline > Paint effects tab > Choose brush > Decide the one for you and click assign brush for outline selected.
Below are several of the Gifs I made from some of the brushes.
Marker Outline has a nice rough look.
Surface shader and the outline
The dark pencil was one of my favourites of the choices, I wanted to test how it could look with my rig so I rendered out motion texture again below.
Here it is with two different outlines, I like the pencil the best so I will now take it onto my animated rig.
Applying colour and outline with paper texture.
I want to render out outline and fill colour separately so I used a used background on the whole body so only the outlines are viewable.
You can see above how the brushes do look a little clumsy I turned the global scale down after seeing this.
Below you cans see the Maya Vector> Motion Texture > Toon pencil outlines and geometry merged.I love the output of this. HOWEVER when I render out the toon pencil outlines it is messy and animated a random geometry piece in. I decided to try to clean it up in Photoshop.
Above is a final gif, I am sad I didn’t get time to finish this but I really wanted to experiment and work things out for my self so I did lots of test. Hand animating frame by frame takes up quite a lot of time but the end result can be very beautiful.
Today was the first day with Josh. He broke down the brief so we could fully understand what we would be doing this term. We will be identifying a role to choose for a r & d project. For the rest of the lesson we were asked to research ideas for the role.
I designed and made my own Gantt chart. As I wanted to make it clear but also personal by adding deadline notices and workshop days etc. Above you can see how drastically clearer this schedule is. Using this Gantt I will be able to utilise this time and hopefully if I follow it meet the requirements for this unit.
The website above has a really nice simple explanation of the different Iks.
In maya there is 3 different types of IK you can choose.
SC – Single chain
Single chain can be chosen to create the motion of a characters limb. Using the single chain, means it will calculate any rotations in the joints applied in the IK Chain.
RP- Rotate plain
Rotate Plain can also be chosen to create the motion of a characters limb.
“The rotate plane solver is ideal for posing joint chains (such as arms and legs) that you want to stay in the same plane. For example, the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints of an arm driven by a rotate plane IK handle all stay within the same plane as the elbow rotates. The plane itself can be rotated from the shoulder joint by the pole vector.”
Spline handle can be used differently to create motion for curvy shapes/twisty characters. For instance spines, tails or snakes.
A parent is similar to a real parent, child relationship in the fact when a parent has a child it will always be the child of that parent no matter the future. (The relationship being the important aspect). A parent can be a child of another parent. Selection is different for the both too.
Child + Parent + P
A parent constraint creates a connection between assets to follow position, rotation and translation. The relationship of a parent constraint differs from a parent, imagine a parent constraint more like a parent figure such as a teacher or a boss. The child must follow the instructions, the relationship isn’t as important. Selection process differs from the parent by doing the following.
“Parent is selected first + shift-selecting the child + command (Constrain >> Parent).”
To further explain with the analogy from the above’s blog page, when using the parent the child is placed directly into the parent’s object hierarchy. The relationship is clearer. However when you use the parent constraint the child remains as a separate object. Like a separate citizen or student following a teachers instructions.
A Point constraint is used so that you can constrain one objects positions to another.
Orient constraint can be used as a way to keep objects aligned. Meaning it makes it easier to make multiple objects and having them orient at the same time. Orient constraint also allows you to control the rotation of objects and used in the joints for the rigging process.
Pole Vector Constraint – The last constraint we looked at during this workshop was pole vector constraint. Using this constraint allows you to point IK to an object. Point Constraints are a really good way to control the direction of a joint chain.
Above you can see some diagrams and drawings of the leg. Sanjen emphasised how important it was to make sure the joint was in the right place. The left image above shows how the hip and the knee go round in a sort of curve. Anatomy is really useful in order to create rigs that actually work well.
Demonstrating the spine abilities above. So rigging really determines the capabilities of movements. System of connections that twist or rotate, formed with hierarchy!
Above you can see the rig completed from the first workshop, the part I found most difficult was the arm and hand, just because it was the most fiddly bit. But overall it was simpler than what I thought!
Workshop 2 – Rigging continuation 28/04/16
After doing the initial rigging class we had this continuation workshop. We were able to look a little more into some of the tools we could use when rigging and how to make the rig clearer and easier to interact with when animating.
The workshop looked at the following:
SDK – Set driven keys
Skinning – Painting Weights
SDK – Set Driven Key
Set driven key is very useful when rigging and can help speed up the animating process for animators. The attribute controls another attribute using a driver and a driven. We do not need an FK for every element of the rig. Some other examples where we could use SDK is on a tail – wrap and unwrap. Another point to make is you can affect the way the SDK movement using a graph editor meaning as riggers we can drastically change how it moves this could be a nice conversation with animators as well. We do this action by doing the following:
Driver selected>Windows>Animation Editors>Graph Editors (Make sure SDS is located in channel box)
For instance look at the example we did in the workshop below. We added SDK on the index finger in order to make it curl the way we wanted it to. Instead of the animator going in one at a time animating the index joints using SDK will create a sort of hierarchy that controls one joint that the others will follow. It is different from parenting as you can edit the difference in values for joints.
Blend shapes are a very useful tool which can be very helpful to riggers. A blend shape essentially is a way of of making one mesh look like another, if they have the same topology and vectors. If the blend shapes are identical in vectors you can duplicate the original shape. Make sure these duplicates are well named.
For instance : GEO (for original shape) and BS, BS2 (Blend shape)
Making sure you are on Rigging menu go to deform>Blend shapes click the option box ensuring the local is ticked. Going to the channel box we can see under input, there is a new node which allows you to edit numbers and consequently mimics the two other blend shapes.
There is no limit to the amount of blend shapes you can have on maya. Meaning organisation is the real key to successfully working with blend shapes. You can carry out an organisation process by going to blend shape window.
Skinning and Painting weights
Refresher from last lesson* Sanjen forgot to mention how to reflect the joints from last lesson. This is done by reflecting them. Make sure the Rigging menu is on go to skeleton> mirror joints. A box will appear where you can write the degrees to reflex. And it will give you the option to rename the opposing side. you can search for “l” to replace with “R”. This is another reason why to include clear names.
Skinning or also known as binding is the process of binding the joints to the mesh. In order to speed up the process of binding naming joints appropriate will save you time.
For instance Sanjen named all his joints with _bn_ to identify which were to be bound.
A quick way of binding all the joints is to search *_bn_* in the top right area in the maya interface. The * means you are telling maya to select everything with _bn_ in its name and go to skin>bind skin.
When we are skinning we are telling the vertex of the mesh to be bound to the joint. To see the mesh go to wireframe mode *4*. Select joint then shift select flesh . Skin>Bind Skin> Options box. You can instruct the binding to follow joint hierarchy. Its important to test at every stage to ensure nothing goes wrong in the workflow.
If you want to change the influence on each joint you can paint skin weights. Maya on default will see which one is close to each other and dictates the influence.Painting the weight after binding gives the control back to you.
Skin>Paint skin weights. Looking in the tool settings will tell you the influence. This can be by colour or shading. Using colour you can see how the influence of the joint is determined. Blue – Not a lot, Red – a lot and white 100%. Another way of seeing the influence of the joint is to go to the component editor. Here it shows your the contribution form and the influence of joints written down.
Joint 1 Joint 2 Joint 3
0.002 0.439 0.400 = The joints full contribution is 1
In todays workshop, we were introduced to substance painter. A software which speeds up and textures sophistically. Some of the benefits to using substance painter is the fact you can create and reuse smart materials, masks and bake your maps!
This workshop was focused on Topoligy. But further than that it took a look at trouble shooting, identifying the problems and correcting them. I was a bit worried as to whether I could correct, but as Josh explained some of the principles I was able to understand how to fix the problems.
The last task we were each given a different model from the people next to us. I was given a bus. We were asked to write down all the problems you thought was wrong with it and to start correcting them.
Some of the problems I noticed:
Too many unnecessary edges– I simply Identified the edges to delete and tried to make the topology simpler.
A lot of random Vertex – I clicked on a face and it said 1 face 6 tris. I knew there was something wrong her so selecting the vertexes I realised there was loads of random vertexes. To correct this I selected the whole bus in vertex mode and backspace to delete any isolated Vertecs.
The wheels have been really overcomplicated considering they are just cyclinders.
There was a face dragged out near the wheel. I needed snap and merge the Vertex.
The other promblems which people from my bus group/Josh pointed out was:
There was information in the faces of the wheel if you pulled them out you could see.
There was a lot of history – Make sure it was cleared
Josh also pointed out that there was reversed normals.
Josh gave us a file as you can see above, it opens with default the Red wax so I change for white mat cap so that it is visible in the zBrush.
We discussed what was wrong with the model if we was to export it out. This being it has been painted, has no Uvs and a very high poly count at around 2.5 mil.
What have you noticed that is wrong with the model?
Another problem with the model is the fact there are three separate sub tools, we need to merge them. We do this by going to Subtool> Merge visible> New subtool.
The next step, we want to make the polycount low but keep all the detail. We do this by Decimation.
Pre current Predesimation > Zplugin and change the Percentage of k polys to 200k. Tgis will consequently put the poly count down! As you can see the count is no longer 2.5 million but instead 480k!
Photoshop is per pixel colour (per vertex colour) You need higher divisions to make nicer marks. When you take the model in Topogun in comparison All those vertexes all 2.5 millions are numbers we can assign a colour to each on. Maya will not read this.
Here is the interface of Topogun.
We load the file by File> Load Reference
Some hot keys to remember:
‘x’ – Symmetry , Orange dot shows it will snap to centre point, Right click determines draw tool or move tool , Cmd to say which point is the start and make a line round. The navigational system is the same as maya.
We begin the drawing process by right clicking, you switch from the drawing tool and the move tool by right clicking. With the symmetry on we defined the line. To clear the start line right click. You can then determine the start with Cmd. After recreating the line below it we can you use the bridge tool.
We are going to draw over the arm, using the tube tool. When you use the tool DO NOT MOVE THE CAMERA.
Click and drag over the arm, If I move the camera the lines will no longer line up So click and drag. Do it from the same direction, if you don’t do this you are telling topogon to start the order of the polygons the opposite way. Click drag, click drag and it will give you tubes around the arm. To confirm right click once. We have weird looking arm so the tool will not give it the shape that matches the curve. To correct this use we need to relax this. (Brush tool, relax).
If a point does get missed the hot key to add a point – Shift. Hold down shift and select.
Turn off include materials, it will do weird things. Connect maps to shaders, after baking process. If you continue to bake normal maps you will get truck loads of materials. World space – So maya can determine what space it is looking at. Filter size you want an element of blue so it dosen’t look rasturise put it on 1. Fill Texture seams will prevent you have black seams so it will fill the gap. Make sure its on surface normals otherwise you will come back with a weird map. Geometry normals have each edge and they split out. 12 gives you a bit of leave way so it can go 12 percent over and inside.
Above are some of the settings and why we chose these settings.
After baking the transfer map when we view our model in the viewport it has that original detail again.
This brief looks really exciting as it lets us work on a live brief which if chosen by the BBC will receive exposure on the BBC4 Radio website. I think choosing this brief will push me to work under a tight deadline, work with sound and music and work with such an established client as the BBC.
The scripts we were given were really beautiful and that was without visuals! As well as being a live brief has asked for us to work in collaboration. I did initially think of working independently but I came to the decision to work with Alice as this is something which we may consider doing after leaving uni. As well as working with Alice we will be hopefully be working with the Music student/s at Ravensbourne.
We took a lot of time reading through the scripts and digesting the information. We sat down for a while and worked through the sections we felt we could visualise the best. After much deliberation and several spider diagrams( They really do help!) We decided upon doing the storm script. In the script there is a passage which talks about a Wind witch. And this is where our idea has come from.
As you can see we spent a long time before we began drawing, choosing the idea. The narrative and story was the most important thing. We feel strongly that without a clear story it would not work. At this point we was stuck between two ideas for the storm script so we took the time to thumbnail between Samuel Coleridge and the Wind witches.
British Superstitions – Promoting British Folklore
Once we chose our script we did more research into the British folklore. The line from the script we were inspired by the line mentioned in the script above. I began to do some research of my own. Looking into British superstitions that have been passed down or recorded. I know that the BBC are very careful in ensuring all there information/Facts are correct. In order to represent the BBC I have made sure to note all sources and ensure that the sources are qualitative!
“With knot of one, my spell begun
With knot of two, my words speak true
With knot of three, I will it be
With knot of four, this power I store
With knot of five, this spell contrive
With knot of six, this spell I fix
With knot of seven, twixt earth and heaven
With knot of eight, is willed by fate
With knot of nine, these powers are mine
As I will so mote it be”
“Witches gave, or sometimes sold, these magic knots to sailors to help them experience safe voyages (see Ligature).The release of one knot brought a gentle, southwesterly wind; two knots, a strong north wind; and three knots, a tempest.”
Above you can see a poster from Boscastle at the witchcraft museum in Cornwall. On the right is a photograph of my sister at the same spot! You can see in the poster the witch handing over to the fisherman a rope with three knots. Showing the presence of this folklore in English folklore.
A little princess (1995) is absolutely stunning in cinematography but more than that it demonstrates a beautiful representation of weather. Each shot shows how weather can create a sense of atmosphere. How the wind pushes you forwards how snow can make you feel carefree. How rain can make you feel downtrodden and sun reminded us of freedom. I hope to be able to create shots that evoke such emotion.
How Disney represented the Wind.
Pocahontas and the wind.
Pocahontas is one of my favourite Disney films. The beauty in it is wonderful. If you look above you can see the artistry that went into the film. Also you may notice how each shot has the common theme of the wind. One of the challenges that I may need to overcome is representing the wind. How can you draw something which is invisible to the eye and needs to be felt to be believed in? Pocahontas hair really helps with the illusion of the wind as well as using leaves to create an illusion of the blustery day. The charcoal animation is so poignant and you feel like you are one with the wind.
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery day!
One of the terms for the brief is that we need to include text at some point. Below you can see how text has been included into the shot and really works! I really love how the character plays with it it really is playful and impacts the whole mood of the piece. The words aren’t really meant to be readable as there is a voiceover so it isn’t functional.
Another trick that has been used in the above example is weight. We can see how tiny piglet is swept away in the blustery winds where as Pooh is able to wrestle with it because well, pooh seems to eat one pot of honey to many… Weight is a very important principle when representing the wind.
Ponyo created by Studio Ghibli has beautiful examples of storm, the weather in the piece is so stunning. It evokes these familiarity to being in the same situation, being in a car and watching raindrops, being caught in the wind. I also used Ponyo to see how Ghibli tackled the sea. The top gif is spectacular and shows this enormity of the scene. These scenes really helped me to consider how I would animate the sea. The filmic language is magical and is something to be praised.
The 1973 Wickerman is a really good film that tackles pagan and folklore in a community. In this specific film you can see the eerie ness from the the subtle cues. There are some lovely impacting shots in this film. I don’t want the piece to be as sinister but I do like the understanding of this communities culture.
Poldark – BBC Inspiration
Poldark is a good reference point as it is set in Cornwall and based around the similar time to our piece. What is nice to see is how the camera angles were used without over powering the scene keeping it simple. Letting the scene breathe this is something I need to consider. It is a period drama which really uses the beautiful Landscapes to create cinematic shots which are a joy to watch. A lot of the shots are simple and focuses on the character and the interaction.
This was another BBC Programme which retells the story of Jamaica Inn which was set in Cornwall. There is a large amount of shipwrecks and cornwall referenced. If you look below you can see those british colour tones. There are some really lovely shots in this series, that are atmospheric. Like Poldark this period drama is set around the time we are making our animation so it is really good to see how others interpreted the time period. It was also really good to see the costumes.
Gif from 1992 Beatrix Potter animated series (Really good!)
I have always admired Eyvind Earle from his beautiful work on Sleeping beauty to his breathtaking landscape art. Me and Alice both agreed on using Earle as an inspiration for this piece. I like how there are elements of simplicity yet it is also dotted with intricate design in other aspects. The contrast works really well.
Above is another moodboard of styles which will inspired us when it comes to the animation. I want there to be a real dedication to making beautiful backgrounds and representing the weather in a poetic way.
Me and Alice also used Pintrest in order to “pin” our inspirations. We used a joint pinboard”. This means we can simply pin anything which strikes us, this in turn compiles into a giant board where we can refer back to. It really is a fantastic tool! You can see Vincent Van Gogh has been pinned quite a lot we both loved the fluidity of his painting.
Developing the Wind Witch
Chosen name: Moria
Another Pintrest board for some reference when designing the character, as you can see we used Poldark as some inspiration for clothing.
One of my personal inspirations was Kim Novak, specifically those powerful eyebrows!
Above are some concept sheets Alice created for the Character I used these when Animating to insure the character was consistent.
We tried to film and photograph ways in which the witch could move, we wanted her movements to be animal like and strong. Here you can see us trying to capture the poses we were able to sketch from these images after.
Me and Alice used Pintrest to collate ideas, after this we sketched out our ideas and then came together to work off and decide.
Above is a mixture of Alice and mine’s work, you can see how they all work together because we used the same inspirations and bounced of each other’s work.
Final Character Design
We decided on Alice’s character design, I helped decide the body shape but while Alice finished developing this character I did some background art. Below are some of the designs and thumbnails I created.
We wanted the animation to be set in Cornwall as this is one of the places the wind witches were mentioned when doing our research. We also felt there was a lot of celtic history and already existing magical atmosphere in Cornwall that it would be a perfect basis. Furthermore we are frequent visitors to Cornwall so we had a lot of images to use.
Above are all our photos that we have taken whilst in Cornwall. We used these in developing the backgrounds as well as other sources. I especially used them to note types of plants any rocks and colour tone.
Above are some more photographs I took when I went to Bath. The colours from these photograph were more inspirations as well as the twisty looking trees. This gave me a first hand view of the distinctive English countryside.
Thumb nailing and Storyboarding
The story to me and Alice was always the most important aspect. We took a long time planning a simple but well paced story that had a beginning, middle and end. Below is the development of the different stories we came up with. We had the fact about the rope and the witch but we wanted to deliver in a way which was exciting to watch. We created around 15 different versions of the story, we experimented and took the time to pace the piece. We created sheets to print off and work on, one for storyboard and the second for concept.
After doing the storyboard we spent some time creating the animatic. At this stage we also got in contact with two sound students who both decided they would like to work with us. They said they would both work on the piece even if one wasn’t chosen. This meant we were essentially given updates and suggestions to two separate people. This really helped me organise my time and become constructive in my comments. It also got me thinking more about what to suggest to sound. As well as sound we worked with a music student at Ravensbourne. We had a meeting with and was able to input ideas as well as been given ideas. After this meeting we set up an info pack for all three students.
Me and Alice created these info packs after the pitch so that the sound people were aware of deadlines, briefs, technical specs, the animatic but also giving them visual reference so that they can be inspired. By doing this the sound and music would have everything they needed, this would hopefully avoid any misunderstanding.
On April 18th we had the pitch the BBC. In order to prepare for this we created a presentation which we showed the BBC at the BBC Old building. We created a slides presentation, showing some of the preproduction, the research, the market research and animatic. Below are some of the slides we presented.
After the pitch we handed out a rope tied into three celtic knots with a contact information to the BBC. This was Abigail’s tip and was really well received and definitely something I will continue to do whenever I pitch again.
After the preproduction stages we began to start some animation tests and bring the concepts to life. We divided out shots out as well to get the workflow going.
Me and Alice made the decision to use Photoshop to animate and After effects to composite. A lot of people were surprised we were going to use photoshop only to create the piece. But we really wanted to use the photoshop brushes. It was my first time animating in photoshop, so we had to learn the workflow.
Once getting the plug in we played about with some tests. How was we going to animate certain things? Was we going to illustrate backgrounds and animate on top or illustrate digitally. These were some of the questions we had to decide. In the end we decided to draw everything digitally.
After doing these tests me and Alice divided the shots. We did still help each other out at points, such as Alice illustrating a background and me helping colour in with her shots. But below were the main ones I worked on for the production.
Developing the storm
I decided to work on this shot first as I felt it needed to be powerful. I used my sketchbook to create several thumbnails and ideas for how I wanted this scene to look. These impacted the final design.
Below are some of the animation tests to consider how I was going to animate this massive storm after designing. The way the clouds moved and paced the scene was an important aspect to consider.
Developing the shipwreck scene
I had never animated a sea before, so to begin with I watched reference. I created the below concept art to figure how I was going to go about creating.
Developing the cliff scene
The BBC asked for one shot complete, so me and alice worked on this scene together. Below are three watercolour illustrations we made together. We played around witch colour and composition.
Here is the final shot, I really like this shot, I like the slight animation in the cloud and the rustling of the clothes which Fionn matched perfectly in sound.
Developing “the third” shot
Walking through the forest
We filmed reference of animal like walking at uni and we wanted to use this short to show her animal like tendency.
This shot was quite short, below you can see how I blocked out the shot.
I’m not happy with the shot, it is my least favourite I wish I had more time to work on this shot. But it was a really tight deadline and I am happy with it as a whole. (If I did have time this would be the shot I would rework. However it is one of the shortest shots so I had to make the decision to work on other shots that needed my attention.
I filmed reference for this shot and then sketched out the key poses. As I wanted the hand to be really quick almost out of the blue it didn’t have too many in-betweens. I did the rain to begin with, I wanted the rain to begin to stop at this point.
I neatened this up and added shadow and rain drops onto the hand. I wanted to add these little details to give the shot a bit more interest, because it didn’t really have much background apart from a moving clouds. I am happy with this shot overall.
The first shot would introduce the titles but was ultimatly a long camera track down the forest to reveal the witch from behind. This meant it needed to be interesting and a long illustration. Below is a sketch for the shot I created. You can see that it is a sort of L shape because the character gets up and walks through the forest. We was going to have the camera track again but when we played about with it it didn’t work that well with the pacing.
Below you can see the final storyboard with the finished shots for comparison. You can see that we kept to our storyboard and animatic. When we spoke to James the music man he told us when he worked with animation students previously they constantly changed the timing. Therefore we were determined to keep to our timing of the animatic and storyboard, which we did!