Sunday, 11 December 2011

More Preparatory Work...

Another Background Visualisation

For my production bible, I decided to draw another background visualisation such as the one in a previous post showing Mollie in a classroom. In this one, I would purely focus on the background and instead of drawing everything in Photoshop, I would draw it in pencil first and then apply colour in Photoshop after scanning.

I set about drawing the background. I decided to work on watercolour paper as a precaution if I wasn't able to achieve the desired effect using Photoshop.

I scanned the piece in and made sure the image was lighter by adjusting the "Levels" control on Photoshop. Unfortunately, the left-hand side of the illustration did not scan well, and left a shadow impression. I tried to fix it using the clone brush tool as well as the eraser, though it did not help greatly. I know that for my final backgrounds I will have to adopt a better way of scanning, or to use a larger university scanner to make sure the image comes out at a higher quality.

However, I pursued with the test, and spent about 30 minutes colouring the frame in shades of purple. It did not quite achieve the level of "shadowing" I was hoping, (for this scene in the film will be mostly in shadow with only the light from the door on the floor really prevalent in the shot) but for now, I liked the dry brush setting and the impression of shadows particularly on the bags. I much prefer the pencil quality to that of the entirely Photoshopped visualisation shown in previous posts.

I will therefore be using this method to create all my backgrounds for my final film.

Extra Characters

My film requires a number of background characters, being set in a primary school. Classmates will be shown in the background in a few of the first scenes to show Mollie's isolation. The idea to draw the characters as my own friends came to me a few weeks ago, as posted before. So here are a few more pictures of more background characters who are influenced off more friends in real life!

 (The last one is me!)

As well as this, I quickly designed some ideas for the teacher and final child designs for the girl with the skipping rope who makes friends with Mollie, as well as the small girl who is seen in the end scene, alone and upset. For the latter, I will be going with the top right design, as the small bunches give her a younger and more innocent look which I hope will let the audience empathise with her.

Final Designs

Here are the final designs for Mollie and Babbit.

...and some quick new drawings of Babbit's new style...(mainly to get used to drawing his limbs in a simpler style):

...and some new sketches of Mollie too...

Birds Eye View of Mollie's Classroom

 I thought it was necessary to draw Mollie's classroom in this view to make sure staging for some scenes set in and outside of the classroom are accurate and won't suffer any continuity errors.


Second Animatic w/ Feedback - and Third Animatic!

The Second Animatic
After Matthew's feedback on my first animatic, I went back and changed a lot of my story to try and fit in the relationship build-up of Mollie and Babbit, which Matthew had said, "was not present" in the film. I understood completely where he was coming from, as in this first animatic, the amount of screen time with Mollie and Babbit together is very small, which, for a film about a friendship, seemed a massive flaw.

Babbit - Second Animatic [Rough] Vimeo Link

So I decided to change certain aspects. To begin with, I cut out the first shot of Mollie and Babbit together, as Matthew said he liked the meeting scene with Mollie and Babbit in the coatroom, and thought that would work well as the first introduction to Babbit for the audience as well. So I began instead with the shots of Mollie looking sad and isolated in school amongst her classmates.
 The biggest change I made, however, was to have another character who appeared in the first animatic, have a bigger part. The little girl with the skipping rope who wants to play with Mollie in the first animatic is seen earlier on in this second animatic when Mollie is playing with Babbit.
 The reason behind having the girl introduced earlier is to show the audience that when Mollie is seen wanting to go play with someone else who is not Babbit, then Babbit grows smaller. It happens earlier, just before we are introduced to the girl too, when Mollie and Babbit are in a scene in the playground. Mollie is drawing on the ground (with chalk) with Babbit - and the other children are doing the same but across the playground from where they are. When Mollie looks up and sees the other children, we see her looking like she wants to go and play with them. With a few angle changes, we then see Babbit suddenly a bit smaller, as Babbit is beginning to realise that Mollie is starting to grow up and become more independent and doesn't need him. Babbit growing smaller every time when Mollie is seen wanting to grow up was an idea that Matthew really wanted to see in my film, and this was how I went about producing that.

 After the first "encounter" with the girl, it is more obvious that Babbit is smaller, and this is when the teacher comes in and takes Babbit away, as this was a scene I wanted to keep in. Thereafter, the film is pretty similar to the first, with a few extra scenes adjusted; i.e.: the time lapse scene in the middle, and the ending in a silhouette form.

Here are some rough thumbnails I worked on whilst developing these new scenarios. 

Feedback from James
 James did not like the second animatic as he felt that I had now made the film "too literal" in the sense that everything was explained too much and there was nothing left for the audience to uncover for themselves. He said that it lacked the subtlety of the first animatic, and that it would be best to go back and refine the first again, with a few ideas from this animatic, but mainly to keep the subtleties and explain the friendship between Mollie and Babbit in a few still illustration scenes with hardly any movement, instead of these drawn out and literal scenes shown in this second animatic.

I totally understood James' comments, as I didn't have a 'gut feeling' about this animatic, even as I was making it. I made it, trying to live up to Matthew's feedback, but obviously, I didn't want to completely lose the subtleties of the first, though unfortunately, I had. James' critique helped me re-look at my first animatic and spot points that could be improved on and altered. This critique session helped me really envision my film much more clearly, and I believe the changes I made to the animatic in the third version are definitely better executed and still retain the friendship of the characters and the heart of the story.

The Third Animatic
  So the main problem Matthew had to start with was the lack of screen time of Mollie and Babbit together. In the discussion with James, we both came up with the idea that the relationship moments with Babbit could appear between the first shots of Mollie on her own in the classroom. I would show Mollie alone at a table, sad and upset, and then the next shot, Mollie could be sat in the library cuddled up to Babbit reading a book. And as I had three scenarios of Mollie alone, I could easily intersperse three more scenarios of Mollie and Babbit together to show their relationship clearly in a montage.
  So I quickly went back with this feedback and drew up some new frames to put into the first animatic again. Thankfully, this did not take too long.
 I also chose a different piece of music to the one I used in the second version. The new animatic did not fit well with this previous piece, so I went back to a piece I had chosen a few weeks back which I had noted down as a possibility. Erik Satie's "Gymnopedie #1". I love the first phrase of the piece, the simple repeating chords really worked well with the first scenes, and thankfully, pretty much the entire piece of music fitted well, with some minor alterations at the end. I love how soft and emotional the track is, and I feel that it really helps the audience watching connect more with Mollie as a character to empathise with. I will be showing this piece to my composer to discuss ideas inspired by this music choice.

Here are some pages of drawings, thumbnails for shot development and new final shots for the third animatic:

Third Storyboard
Here is the storyboard for the third animatic:

I definitely feel this animatic has more weight and works better story-wise than the first and second. I will be showing this to my peer group on the 12th December after the Hand-In and hope to get some feedback on it. After this feedback, my next task will be to re-draw the entire animatic, adding more effects (with the aid of After Effects) to make a clearer and more detailed FINAL animatic for the second part of our Hand-In on the 16th January.

Here is the third animatic that I will be submitting as my final Rough animatic for my Hand-In deadline on 12th December:

Babbit - Third Animatic [Rough] Vimeo Link

Next Post: More Pre-Production Work.


Monday, 5 December 2011

Another Colour Scene Test - Production Schedule

Colour Scene Test

After the feedback discussed in the previous post, I decided I would simplify the colour scheme for the entire film. In the time we have, it just won't be achievable to fully colour all the backgrounds and character fully. I much prefer simple colour washes anyway, so shown above is another visualisation for a final shot for the film. I very much prefer this version to the coloured one (shown below). It has a more graphic impact, and gives the piece a nostalgic and child-like illustrative quality which I wanted to show.

The multiple-coloured version in comparison, I think, kills the detail and seems disjointed with the pastel colours for the background and the bold colours for the uniforms. I did like the blending to white effect present on the left-hand side of the image to give the impression of light. I used this in the purple version.
The purple version also took a lot less time to colour. Obviously, it is still a rough visualisation, and more time will be spent on the final image. I will continue to test different brushes, drawing methods and textures that can be used until I am satisfied with the result. Overall, the purple version looks better and is less time-consuming. I will show this to my tutors later this week to discuss it further. 

Second Animatic

This week I have also produced my second official animatic. After some feedback with Matthew, I re-storyboarded the film to include more scenes with Mollie and Babbit together to show their friendship more clearly. 

Again, with this storyboard, the drawings were roughly done, so the quality of some of the images in the animatic are very bad. As this deadline required a rough animatic with sound, I decided to keep it very rough for now, and will clean it up considerably for the detailed animatic deadline in January.

I used a piece of music by Liszt. "Consolations, S 172 - Lento Placido". The track fitted the mood of my film relatively well. It is a tad "grand" for the final film, but for the animatic it works, with some emotional beats fitting well. I cut the last section of the song using Premiere Pro very roughly so the ending of the song ended with the animatic too. The animatic is pretty much 3 minutes long exactly, so full animation is about 2 minutes, 50 seconds. There still may be some pacing issues, as Matthew told me to cut some scenes down as they were too long. I tried to do this, but I will show this to him and other tutors this week to see what they think.

Feedback on the second animatic from James:
I showed the new animatic to James earlier today, and unfortunately he found the new animatic way too literal. In the previous animatic, the moments between Mollie and Babbit and Mollie feeling shy and anxious were way more subtle than the new version. I wanted to take on Matthew's points, but I can absolutely see where I went wrong. I think I was panicing about the relationship with Mollie and Babbit coming across well, instead of trying to think of clever shots. I had changed a great deal, bringing the 'other classmate' into the story more, and making the story more literal. James reminded me that in film, things don't have to be completely literal, and that there could be much more subtle shots that indicate Mollie and Babbit's relationship that could speak a great deal more than literally explaining everything in unnecessary scenes. 
So unfortunately, I will have to abandon a lot of the newer elements I included in the new animatic and go back to the first version to refine and make clearer. It was unfortunate, especially as I spent a long time on Premier Pro to help the animatic flow clearly, but overall, I want my story to be subtle and sweet. I lost sight doing the new animatic, as I overlooked lots of moments in an attempt to keep to the points Matthew gave me. I perhaps went a little too far in the wrong direction! I will now refine the first animatic, with some parts of the second(!) to make sure I have a clear idea ready for the Christmas holidays.

Production Schedule

I also produced a Gantt Chart to pre-visualise the time I have in production for the film.

The red squares represent the week of final deadline. I included my dissertation in the 'Task' column too, as this is something I definitely need to schedule in too!! 

The final deadline for the film hand-in is the 14TH MAY. 
I have made sure that compositing and editing of my film will happen at the same time as my animation. I could set a weekly task to scan and put together my work from the week and put it into my animatic for timing/layout and composition checks. By doing this straight away, it will ensure I won't have anything outsandingly wrong or difficult to fix at a later stage in production.

Overall I want to be spending the most time focusing on the quality of my animation. I have highlighted the time to finish animating around the last week of April. This would give me enough time to then finish colouring and compositing everything together. This is my aim, though it is likely to change as and when I start!

Planning for Production

I will hopefully ask some second and first year animators to help me with the colouring of some of the frames too. As the colour scheme will now be very simplified, it will hopefully mean the colouring process won't take as long. I will test some more colour ideas and possibly time it and then try to calculate more accurately how long colouring will take. From last year, when I worked on Eva Wagner's film, I was able to see her own production schedule for her fully hand-drawn animated film, "Sun and Moon". I noted how efficient she was in organising her time, with daily aims in number of frames. She had started animating before most of the class, and everyone remarked on her dedication. From seeing her working method work so well, I will be aiming to do the same. I will stick to the schedule as tightly as possible. I want to be proud of my final film, and above all, I want it to be finished. Strict dedication to the schedule is the only way to fully realise this!!

I will produce another schedule that fully realises everyday goals. Eva worked every day for several months producing 60 frames a day. I will work out the 'math!' and post this as soon as possible, though it will most likely be similar, if not exactly the same to Eva's! 

All pre-production work is due in on Monday 12th December, so exactly a week! I'm positive I'll be able to hand this all in in time. It'll be great to "finish" the pre-production and move on to the actual production stage. I will be updating at least one or two more posts with pre-production work. Some more colour tests, etc. 

Aim for the week: Finish all necessary preparatory work ready for Hand-In on the 12th December!
Rework the animatic!