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!
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!