When I first received the Canon competition brief, I immediately began brainstorming ideas for each theme before choosing which theme to animate. I ended up choosing the theme of an experience in my home city that inspired me. In this case, I chose Kingston College because it was an ideal opportunity for me to expand and develop my creations and ideas using the resources and teaching that they provided. After having had recently gone through a rather isolated learning experience studying for my GCSEs at home, it was a good change for me to reconnect with a social, group-learning environment too. The other ideas for other themes included a short animation about a girl who receives a camera for her birthday from her family and travels the world with it on numerous vacations. This was heavily influenced by my own parents giving me a digital camera for my birthday a few years back. As much as I liked this story, I wanted to use the cameras to film inside of the college so I decided to drop that idea in favour of the first one.
Draw to Life’s initial idea was a short 30 second animation of animated characters parading though the college and interacting with various objects and doors as they pass through. I wanted to have the characters animated in different animation styles to add some dynamics and variety to the presentation and technique of the animation. I also wanted to demonstrate methods like 3D animation alongside 2D and stop-motion or cut-out that were taught to me during my time at the college. I had an idea to have a whole range of different characters moving within the college, from dragons and birds to robots and humans. It was a bit of a stretch, but it was a strong vision that I had in mind.
As the weeks went by and development of pre-production progressed, I had to cut out a lot from my idea as it was too ambitious to accomplish everything considering the time-frame that I was allowed. So instead of having a whole cast of characters marching through, I cut it down to just the one. This was a little unsatisfactory, but because I really wanted to animate frame-by-frame due to my love for hand-drawn animation, I had to allow a LOT of time for in-between the frames. If I had more time, then I would have definitely considered adding a 3D rendered robot or even just some fancy particles in to give the overall animation a bit more magic and punch.
I got a lot of visual inspiration from various cartoons that I was watching at the time such as Adventure Time and Steven Universe. I loved the simple yet dynamic art styles that those two shows encompassed, and knew that I had the skills capable of creating a simplistic art style for my own animation that would be feasible to animate within the time given. With this in mind, I then carried on to consider the more technical aspects of the brief such as utilising photography or real life film footage (seeing as Canon is a photography-based company,) and started thinking of ways to integrate that into my animation through programs like Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop. I decided to use the Adobe CC programs to create and compose my animation because those were the programs that I had both at home and at my college, allowing me to work on it wherever I was. I suppose for the 2D animation it would have been nice if I could have used other animating programs such as TVPaint Pro or ToonBoom Studio, but the college did not have those programs and I wasn’t as familiar with them as I was with the Adobe CC suite.
One problem that I encountered when compositing my animation together was placing my 2D animated frames behind objects such as doors in the real life footage. I searched up tutorials on YouTube and Google on ways to accurately and smoothly achieve this effect, but the methods that came up involved utilising a tracking camera and 3D environments in After Effects with smooth film footage; both of which I didn’t have nor could do. In the end, I had to manually cut out the areas where the animation was behind an object frame by frame, making it look a little dodgy – but passable. Had I known about this advanced technique beforehand, I would have shot my scenes more clearly and neatly and applied more time and energy into applying it.
The feedback that I got from my final film was overall incredibly positive. I had comments praising the effort and editing that had gone through drawing at roughly 24 frames per second and using Adobe After Effects for compositing, as well as numerous shares and likes from various social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress and deviantART). Overall I am quite pleased with how my animation came out seeing as it’s the longest animation I’ve ever animated and also the most technically demanding thus far.