Monday, 31 October 2011

This week - Mid-way 'Pecha Kucha' Presentation

This week we were asked to produce a 'Pecha Kucha' presentation to display all of our work so far in picture-form.

The Pecha Kucha presentation is a format used to simplify and condense a presentation. You must have 20 slides, and each slide must only show pictures or images. Each slide is 20 seconds in length (which you can apply on the Powerpoint programme) so in total, each person has 6 minutes 40 seconds to talk through everything.

The first half of my presentation showed all the work posted here on this blog, including inspiration.

This week I have been focusing on style + design, animation tests, story development and other points of inspiration.

Style and Design:
As stated in a previous post, I want to use the work of Sara Ogilvie's illustrations as inspiration for my final film both in colour and style. I made a few more drawings to try and decipher a style for the character, Mollie, as I have not found a definite way to draw her. I aim to try and get a final design done this week.

Here are some head designs. The main area of difficulty I am having is in the side profile. The forehead, nose and chin are proving difficult to balance out. I am also trying out different hair styles. The short 'bob' seems to be sticking, as I drew it naturally in the first draft storyboard. I have tried a slightly longer and limp style too. It makes her look more realistic and more sad, though I like the 'bob' as it reads; "innocence". The 'bob' also works well in shots with the back of Mollie's head. The hair stops above the jaw/cheek line, to give the silhouette of her full cheeks and slender neck. This relates to the Penny reference as noted in a previous post.

I also did a quick colour test in Photoshop. I drew the image (an idea for a new scenario for when Mollie first meets Babbit) in pencil, scanned it, then brought it into Photoshop. I followed a simple tutorial online on how to select the lines to colour. Then I simply coloured the lines in bright colours (following the purple outline theme seen in Ogilvie's 'Rhinos Don't Eat Pancakes!' ) as well as other colours for the clothes and background items. These colours are by no means "finalised" but give a small indication as to what my final film could potentially look like once fully animated and coloured. For example, the job of colouring all the clothes in different colours on Mollie was a little fiddly, and may have to be toned down for the final film.

I presented this illustration in the Pecha Kucha presentation. I stated that it was quick and rough, but Caroline said she actually liked it like that which was reassuring. Leonie also noted I should definitely keep the style of the characters loose and not stylised like in Ogilvie's illustrations. I will apply the feedback to my work this week.

Animation Tests:
I began to animate a walk cycle for Mollie and Babbit a few weeks ago using Adobe Flash and my wacom tablet. This was simply an exercise to loosen up (animating walk cycles have always threw me). After this I then tried to animate on paper. The first attempt was terrible! I am still refining the second one, though I think I will start again and draw the characters from a different angle. The problems are mainly with Mollie, as I want to make her walk in a sad, lonely and child-like manner. Here is a thumbnail step-by-step walk through of what I want the walk cycle to look like:

I want to have the skipping rope trailing behind her, with her arms swinging perhaps. Her head must be looking down at the ground and her steps have to be heavy and slow. I will make her hair bob up and down gently to show her age/innocence.
Once I have properly line-tested these prelimanry tests, as well as new ones, I will put them together as a video and upload on here.

Story Development:
At the start of this week, after James' feedback session, I was also trying to sort out new ideas for the storyboard. There are several elements to my film that need changing and altering, and I began to plan some more ideas on how I could do this.

In the feedback session with James, one of his suggestions was to bring an actual "class pet rabbit" into the story right at the start. This could give the audience something to ponder over, as when the big babbit is revealed, the audience would have the question of whether the big babbit is actually the pet rabbit, or if Babbit is imaginary, etc. I liked the idea that there was a pet rabbit that Mollie coudl be pictured with at the start of the film.
This lead to the feedback from James saying that my story needed 3 "moments" that show Mollie in a "dramatic" situation where she would get embarassed and upset. He said the first of these 3 moments needed to be the "most" dramatic, to show what it is Mollie is so upset about. So here are the sketches that show my development from this feedback:

The first 8 thumbnails shows a part of the first "moment". Mollie is having to stand up infront of her school/class and read aloud. She is uncomfortable and starts to feel upset and very anxious. This would cut to Mollie sitting beside a rabbit hutch in an empty classroom, head in her arms, sittng very still. It would then cut back to Mollie standing infront of people, trying to talk, and getting increasingly red and embarassed. Mollie could be walking to sit down after the speech and trip up over her shoelaces, causing even more embarassment... By cutting back and forth, it forms a "flashback" of the (morning's) events. It shows how upset Mollie is over how embarassed she was, and perhaps her frustration as well at being so shy. Mollie, in the scenes by the hutch, would move slowly, lethargically. When the audience sees her face , it will be obvious that Mollie had been crying, possibly her eyes would be still wet, a troubled and tired look on her face. She could have a carrot nearby, and attempts to push it towards the cage, in hope that the rabbit inside the hutch will nibble at it.
Then, suddenly, a teacher will startle Mollie, and tell her to go outside (it's break-time). This next image shows the following scene idea which I will explain underneath...

After being told to go outside by the teacher, Mollie gets up and walks out the classroom door. She looks outside at the children running around, laughing, playing. Then, looking behind her to check if the teacher was out of sight, Mollie quickly jumps into the next room where everyone hangs up their coats and bags. She closes the door quietly and climbs onto the bench underneath her coat and hides herself in it. The door is then suddenly opened, Mollie freezes. A long, large shadow from the open door is silhouetted across the floor. Mollie stares wide-eyed. Then two long ears pop up from where the head of the shadow is. Mollie is perplexed, she leans out of her hiding place slightly to look at the door. A nose appears, twitching. It's a rabbit's nose. Then Babbit hops into the room. Mollie is completely startled. The rabbit will then hop over to Mollie to interact... (This scene is shown in the colour test above)
I want to keep the theme of Mollie tying her shoelaces as a metaphor for growing up, so at this point, Babbit could try and help her tie her shoelaces, and Mollie could feed him some of her lunch (carrots, an apple, etc...) to form their friendship.

I will be re-drafting my first storyboard this week, to be ready for next week's seminar again. Once I have really started the post-it note storyboarding process again, will I then post about new story development ideas...

I have also found inspiration this week in the illustrations of Ernest H. Shepard. Most reknowned for his orignial illustrations for A. A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" books, Shepard's illustrations are beautifully executed and have such a refined sensitivity, it is hard to not admire the amazing draughtsmanship and grace of his drawings. The clarity of his illustrations, the actions of the characters and the little though process' can be read by young and old alike. This is what makes his illustrations so enjoyable to look at and analyse, and is an element I want to keep in mind and refer to in my own film.

The story of the real Christopher Robin is a fascinating one too, and has a real charm. By searching around, I foun a charming photograph of the real Christopher Robin with a Winnie-the-Pooh teddy bear. It was such a lovely image that I recreated it with my characters, Mollie and Babbit.

This week's plan is to finish an animation walk cycle test for Mollie/and Babbit. If possible, I will try colouring them. I want to get some final designs down for Mollie, and I will start to re-draft the storyboard.


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