Final Major Project Evaluation

2D animation, Animation, Digital Art, Evaluation, Film, Final Major Project, U6_U12

I was given the task to create and follow my own brief for my final major project and I instantly jumped at the idea of creating an short animated film. Having just come out of animating a 3D game trailer, I was itching to go back to the good old 2D ways of animation. The common response I got from my peers when they heard about this was a lot of, “Animation? Again?” followed by a, “Of course it’s animation.”. Suffice to say, when I start animating I don’t really know how to stop.

 

Initial Concept and Development

I had a few ideas running through my mind when I began thinking of what sort of film I could animate. I also had a few questions too. What kind of film should I animate? What genres do I want it to be? What can I finish in just over a month? These questions kept bouncing around my head as I sat staring at the blank briefing sheet in front of me. I knew that I wanted to do one of two things – create a story with a serious tone and meaning, or create a lighthearted comedy skit. I knew that I didn’t want to dabble with things like spoken dialogue just yet as I would be struggling enough to get the essential scenes and movements organised and animated in time, let alone figure out how to animate lip-sincs and study the theatrics behind a character’s spoken performance. Just animating a short for my final project in less than two months was ambitious enough already. And besides, with the ideas that I had in mind I knew that dialogue wouldn’t be needed.

My first idea was to create a short, sci-fi action adventure film. The setting sprung from my previous project which was a 3D animated trailer for a sci-fi, puzzle and adventure platformer game. Since I had been playing around with a lot of 3D at the time, the thought of utilising a combination of both 2D an 3D animation crossed my mind several times. It wouldn’t be the entire story, just the climax or the main scenes – enough to more or less let the audience have an idea of the plot. However, after seeing that I only had experience in animating for as long as 30 seconds in the past, I figured that anything over two minutes of animation would probably ruin me with the 8 or so weeks that I had. Time constraints, as always, were the main concern on my mind throughout the whole project. As intricate and visually appealing the idea of a sci-fi story had on me and exciting as combining 2D and 3D animation together was, I knew that it would be on the verge of far too much new material and work to handle with what I was given. It could have worked for a quick and simple animation that lasted maybe 30 or 40 seconds, but not for two minute sci-fi, action heavy animation. I decided to save that idea for another time.

So this lead me to settle with the slightly less ambitious idea of creating just a simple comedy sketch animation that in the end went on for about 1 minute and 45 seconds. The premise of this idea was simple and straight-forward; a boy one day drops his lunch and chases after it as it suddenly springs to life and runs away. It was basic and plain, but it allowed me a lot more creative freedom and room to develop things which was a relief after having tried to handle the overly ambitious and slightly directionless idea that came before it. This story came about when I was really struggling with the sci-fi premise one night. It just wasn’t going anywhere and I was pulling at the strings to figure out a two-minute long narrative for it and I was beginning to lose interest in the idea altogether. I took a break and was then reminded that my brother would be staying with us later on in the week. I started wondering about the sorts of stories he’d end up telling me about his crazy university life like how he always did, and that eventually escalated to me trying to think of a funny story he’d tell me. I ended up with a run-away sushi roll. And that’s how it all started.

Research and Inspiration

After deciding to solely stick to the method of 2D animation, I quickly began research on various, already-existing animations within the cartoon industry for inspiration. I had a look at studios and people that I admired; particularly the new-age, independent and commission-based individuals. Ex-animation students with wonderfully diverse, characteristic and smooth animation styles have always been a huge inspiration to me as I liked to think that I would one day reach that point too. They weren’t Disney’s Nine Old Men (considered to be the first core animators and film makers of Disney) or Warner Bros. most notable creators – but they certainly had the potential to be some of the top, next-generation animators in the cartoon industry. I loved what they did and really wanted to try and emulate the quality of the thesis films they made at university-graduate level with my own final major project.

In terms of the setting, characters and story, I took inspiration from my personal life and started off with my brother. I decided to base my main character around him and have the setting take place in a town similar to the one I grew up in. The town was always famous to me for it’s sheer amount of diversity in the people, particularly with people from Asian backgrounds. Because of that, I grew up with friends and classmates from all over the world and thought it would be a great idea to incorporate people of different races into my animation and celebrate that variety of cultures with my characters. I also had a look at other similar stories to mine such as ‘The Runaway Pancake’ and loosely based my story off of that.

In order to be able to produce the quality of work that I was aiming for, I knew that I would need to have a strong understanding the basics of animation and really dig into the techniques. I started re-reading Richard Williams’s 1957, ‘The Animator’s Survival Kit‘ and really examined the fundamentals of key frames and in-betweening, as well as read up on the crucial elements of timing and spacing. I kept all of this in mind when I was animating later on and adjusted my work accordingly so that the animation was as correct as I could make it.

walkreference1

An excerpt from Richard Williams’s ‘The Animator’s Survival Kit’ (1957)

 

I looked online and found a website called The Flying Animator that had a load of free, essential resources for animators to use. They had storyboards in difference aspect ratios as well as exposure sheets. I was so delighted to find this, as a lot of other storyboards online were predominantly designed for film rather than animation. The storyboards here weren’t so over-complicated with dozens of fill-the-blanks specifics and unnecessary sections but were substantial enough for me to input the crucial information such as page number and animation title. I printed these out and put them to good use once I started pre-production on my animation.

Pre-Production

At first, I wanted to use my college sketchbook as the final sketchbook to present my development work in, but as it was taken in for marking at the time I didn’t have access to it. This led me to frolic around on plain paper and other sketchbooks that I had at home for a while until I came up with the idea of using a folder like how I used on for my previous film trailer brief to present my ideas in. That way, I could organise and rearrange my work however I pleased and add to it in any section I wanted to because I could shuffle and move the pages around. I thought this would be great for me if I needed to edit anything to make the thought process clearer and more understandable. It turned out to be really useful when I received feedback from my tutor and peers about my development work and what I could add and edit. Thanks to them, I added colour swatches and more character art into my sketchbook to help present the thought process behind the design more thoroughly as it was lacking in that before when I first showed it to them.

After I had more or less decided on the character designs, I moved onto the music and sound effects. After settling on creating a ‘silent’ film with no spoken-dialogue, I thought that animating to the music would be the most effective choice here. Combining the visuals to the sound would make the film more dynamic in it’s presentation – and for a sort of action-adventure skit, I thought this would be very suitable. I didn’t have the budget to commission a piece from a musician for my work and asking for an artist’s permission on a song was too risky and time consuming so I went for anything royalty free and under Creative Commons. As I was browsing around, it suddenly occurred to me that most old classical music was in the public domain. This struck the idea of using a very iconic and energetic piece like the William Tell Overture as the backing track to my animation as classical music was a big part of my childhood.

I used Audacity to edit all the sound and music as it is probably the best free audio editing software available. I cut down the music and also edited my collection of other sounds effects (from freesound.org) that I thought would be needed. The storyboard was especially useful in this case for helping me make choices of where to add extra audio.

Animation Production

Choosing which program to use to do that main animation in proved to be a bit of a challenge. I knew that I would definitely be using Adobe After Effects to do the compositing and editing in afterwards, but the actual frame-by-frame animation needed to be done in a separate software. I thought about using Photoshop again like I did last time I animated in 2D, but the animation function on that program was so incredibly basic and the ‘propagate to frame 1’ feature which automatically copied your current frame onto every other frame in the sequence was something I’d much rather not deal with again, especially when concerning the amount of frames I’d need to animate. I needed an actual animation program, something like Flash or TVPaint. In fact, I was very tempted to use those programs, but I was also concerned because I wasn’t familiar with them at all and was worried that learning a new program with the time that I had would be too difficult to handle.

It was around this time that the illustration program that I had been using for the past three or so years called Clip Studio Paint released it’s new animation feature in it’s latest update. When I saw this, I immediately had the urge to try it out and see what it was like. Clip Studio Paint is predominantly an illustration based program which has had previous expansions for comic and magazine publishing. However, this new update which included animation took me by surprise and to my delight, was far more competent than Photoshop’s animation. I was impressed to see professional animation studios in Japan use this software for their layout design and animation and knew that it would be perfect for what I wanted to create. Seeing as the program was so familiar to me, I knew that  would be able to get a lot done with this newly added feature. I really liked how customisable everything was, like how you could adjust the colour and opacity of the onion-skin settings. My only criticism would be that you couldn’t copy and edit an already existing frame without also editing the original frame. That would have been so helpful to me during the animation process and I wish there was a way to duplicate frames onto new frames and change them without changing the original…but other than that and the exporting, I couldn’t find any other faults with the program. You could use all of the previous functions as well as the animation functions at the same time – it felt more of an add-on rather than a different section of the program like Photoshop’s. Everything was integrated and it just made things so much easier to navigate and use. I was quite impressed.

Thanks to my storyboards, I was able to get a clear idea of what I wanted out of each scene, allowing me to have a good understand of how to create all the pans and layers for the scenes that needed it. With animation, it’s always trickier to animate things like pans and camera movements because you always need to draw the entire background to cover everywhere that the camera will move before you start animating. This, I’ve come to learn, often leads to very unusual canvas sizes in order to compensate for the camera not being static. As much as I really appreciated the fact that you could render and export your animation into an .avi movie file straight from Clip Studio Paint, I was disappointed that you couldn’t animate the camera to move around. This meant that any pans or more specific shots all had to be saved as stills frame-by-frame and put together to be edited in After Effects afterwards. This gave me a lot of grief when having to create folders upon folders of just animation stills to then import, cut down and animate in post production. But I got it to work in the end, so that was all that really mattered to me. If I ever gave feedback to CELYS (the developers of Clip Studio Paint,) on what to improve and add in future animation updates, it would be to firstly have the animation cells copy-able without effecting the original cell, and to be able to animate dynamic camera movements.

I spent three weeks solely working on all the backgrounds first before moving onto animating the key frames. Having a background to animate the characters onto works a lot better than trying to do it the other way round, as this way you are already given the solid ground to have your character step on and interact with. Try it the other way and you’ll likely find you’re character wobbling on nothing with a skewed and inaccurately drawn background added in later on. It was important to establish the perspective and angle of the scene before animating the rest. I spent the next five weeks just solid animating. It was a really crunch time, but to me that’s the fun part of animation.

Post Production

For the majority of the overall production process, I would immediately edit and composite scenes into After Effects after the animation was completed to save time and really speed up the post-production afterwards. Before the editing began, I was given a word of advice from my tutor to split the film into sections and edit them separately to avoid ending up with a huge file size that could slow down my work process and crash the program. I’m glad I listened to him, because even as I was finishing the final edits on the separate parts I could tell that After Effects was beginning to lag. Had that have been all in one, it would have been almost impossible for the program to run whilst trying to deal with the massive amounts of edits and frames. The file would have possibly fried my tablet and there was no way I was risking that. Splitting the film into more bite-size sections made the whole editing process much more manageable and less overwhelming to work with.

I then used Premier Pro to bring the four parts together and add the music and sounds in. Sorting out all the sound files and music choice earlier on really helped smooth out the post-editing process.

I rendered the final film and uploaded it onto YouTube and Vimeo and then proceeded to collapse onto the bed and sleep for 10 hours. It was 5:00AM.

End Of Year Show

At the End Of Year show at my college, all the classes had to present their work as part of their grading, but also as a send off for completing the course. I was given the equivalent of roughly two A3 pages of work to mount and display.

During the final weeks of my course, I had to print, cut and spray mount stills from my animation for the show as well as posters and turnarounds. I exported frames from After Effects and carefully resized my works for printing and set the colour profiles to CMYK. Since I had an inkjet printer at home, I did the majority of my printing there and then brought them into college to have them cut and spray-mounted onto foam board. I was shown how to use a scalpel safely and how to correctly spray-mount my work by my tutor, who then let me help others with their work.

However, I also wanted to take this chance to create a fun promotional poster for my animation and have that displayed too alongside the rest of my work. I wanted this piece to be properly printed at a specialised printer, so I did an online search for local printers. Unfortunately the prices for a lot of printers were quite expensive and the delivery times were all due after the show date. So I decided to go to Boots to use their on-day printing service. Having had previous experience with their printing service, I reckoned that they did the best job of delivering relatively cheap, quality prints in a short amount of time in the area. When I got my prints back, I was not disappointed.

The day of the show was incredibly busy, but in the end it was a lot of fun. In the morning, I was busy helping the class prepare for the show. As I had finished early, I helped my classmates cut and mount their pieces onto foam board and helped clean the room ready for the show in the evening. I had my animation playing on loop on one of the PCs and also had my work displayed on the MDF boards. I stayed throughout the majority of the show and received many comments of praise on my animation from teachers, children, parents and even other animation students. Overall it was a really positive experience and I’m glad I got to spend it with my colleagues and tutors. My brother came to congratulate me too. He seems to be quite pleased with sushi boy.

 

My final major project has taught me a whole variety of new skills – from time management and self-directing, to building on feedback and presentation – all whilst learning my ways around digital animation and new software. I think that I could have added some more frames in the animation to smooth out the movement out a little bit more, but considering everything that I’ve done it’s a miracle I’ve managed to get this much completed really.

It’s been a real learning curve and exercising point for me as an aspiring animator, but above all else it’s been a very valuable experience which I hope will help propel me forwards into the future.

 

 

Final Major Project Peer Evaluation

2D animation, Animation, Evaluation, Final Major Project, U6_U12

I shared my final major project with my classmates and received feedback and criticism on my work. We were told to give two comments on what we liked about each other’s work and two comments about what they could improve on.

My classmate’s two comments on what he thought he liked about my work were:

  1. The character movements were detailed, the drawings were accurate and the shading was spot on.
  2. The backgrounds gave you the sense of being in the actual area. Very professional.

And his two suggestions on what could have been improved on or added were:

  1. The start of the animation could have included some title narration or commentary to give the viewer a heads up on what was about to happen.
  2. The credits could have been broken down and slowed down a little more so that the audience could read who worked on it more clearly. Perhaps could have used a credit scroll?

I think his comments were valid and opened up some possibilities and improvements that I was not aware of before. Reflecting back on it now, the credits did zoom by quite quickly and I probably could have given some more time to focus on them without detracting too much from the main animation. I also thought about the opening too, and quite liked the idea of maybe having a sort of classic silent-film-esque opening title or intro. It could have added quite nicely to the comedic element of the animation, though I also understand that I intended on cutting straight to the action to make the viewer intrigued as to what was happening. I personally preferred to avoid any direct dialogue or communication with the viewer to focus more on what was happening in the scenes themselves, but this different approach to it could have worked out well too.

 

Final Major Project Interim Report

2D animation, Animation, Evaluation, Final Major Project, U6_U12

Overview:

  • Research completed
  • Initial development and character design completed
  • Backgrounds completed
  • Rough animation and key frames completed
  • Animation in progress

I have work extremely hard on this project so far and have completed a number of essential tasks since starting production on April 11th. It’s been very challenging and intensive, but I’ve learnt a lot over the past several weeks and have tried many methods of management and time-keeping. I am slightly concerned about the amount of work I still have left to do, but I believe that if I work hard enough I will be able to finish everything in due time. I have yet polish a couple of research posts and pre-production work, but even so I am still working on schedule and all I need to do now is just push this animation along.

 

App Design Evaluation

Adobe Illustrator CC, app design, Computer, design, Digital Art, Evaluation, mobile, U62_U63, User Interface Design

Designing an app was really interesting to me, as I had never worked in Illustrator before. Being able to learn how to create shapes and vector graphic art was really eye-opening and a whole different mindset to what I was previously used to. We were given a choice of three themes for our app: fitness, student cooking or weather. I chose to create a weather app based around cartoony characters to help children read the weather forecast and also understand the nature and science behind it too!

At first, I wasn’t sure of whether to base my app around cooking or the weather. I knew that the icon and aesthetics of weather apps was something that appealed to me more from a designer’s stand point, but at the same time I thought that creating funky food icons would also be really fun. So I brainstormed ideas and sketched out rough designs for both themes and eventually settled on creating a colourful weather app targeted towards children, teenagers and young adults. I wanted to do something character based because I knew that was a strength of mine when it came to creating and designing. Having colourful, personified characters is also very popular and appealing trend towards the younger demographic, as it makes subjects and themes more relatable and human. (literally!) Personification made things easier to understand whilst also being fun and imaginative.

After finalising my idea, I moved onto researching mobile apps and looking at their icons as well as analysing their navigation and how certain design choices were made to fit with whatever function the app focused on. For example, with photo editing apps obviously the main part of it is the photo itself, so that takes up the majority of the app display. With my weather app, the main focus is obviously the weather so the main information such as the day’s temperature is the largest feature on the screen. The mascots were the other main feature, so the two components share the homepage as main text and main image. I also looked at other aspects of app navigation and incorporated basic, yet effective principles from good UI designs. I learnt that the simpler the navigation, the better – and using the touchscreen to your advantage made your app feel more natural and smooth to use. I also observed some really poorly designed apps and made notes on what shouldn’t be done when designing an app. For icons, I looked at the use of symbols and basic vector graphics to give a clean, professional and simple look to your app icon and that squashing text onto a 120 x 120 dpi canvas was a bad idea. (Resizing text to such a tiny scale would make it impossible to read as well as make it look awfully clustered and blurred.) The various elements of app design that I researched really helped me gain a better understanding to my own app’s design.

After researching, I began drawing and designing and redesigning my app details until I reached the final design. I first drafted out a navigation map of my app and story-boarded the pages, fleshing out the layout and movement of the whole app. I did my best to keep it simple and straight forward as possible so that any children or young person would find it easy to use. This mindset continued onward into my character designs too. When I made my initial sketches for my characters I knew that they were a little too complex to recreate in a program like Illustrator that heavily relied on manipulating with basic primary shapes and lines. So I kept on redesigning the mascots until I got a result that was fun, but easier to recreate digitally later on. I researched designers called Brosmind in order to help me come up with a simple art style.

Once I had planned and designed all of my app elements in my sketchbook, I scanned them in and used those drawings as a base to work on in Adobe Illustrator. It took me several weeks to eventually come round and complete making all of the icons and characters and it was a huge learning curve. I went in knowing only the bare bones of the program, but persevered with it until I finally came out knowing it pretty much inside out. It took me a while to understand it’s unique creator mindest, as working with vector shapes and lines wasn’t something I was familiar with at all. But after mastering the pen tool and pathfinder function, creating my mascots became progressively easier.

After exporting the final mock ups of my app pages, I was introduced to the program Game Salad. I used this program to create a very basic interactive display of my app, importing all of the individual components into the program before then creating scenes and adding basic events and actions using the interface’s drag-and-drop-system. I couldn’t make things too advanced as I was limited with what the program would allow me to do without digging into expressions and specific coding. But I programmed enough to have the basic page navigation working and even have some elements rotating on scene!

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of this project and have learnt an awful lot about Adobe Illustrator and app design. The digital colours and simple Illustrator designs really helped flesh out the look of a simple, yet fun and interesting children’s weather app. In addition to the Game Salad programming demonstrating an example of how the final app would actually function, I think the overall project turned out really well in the end and I am very happy with the results I achieved.

Neo Noir Film Trailer Evaluation

Evaluation, Film, Film Studies, Film Trailer, Neo Noir, U66

For my film course, I was given a brief to create a Neo-Noir themed film trailer based on the game LA Noire in a group. I had the roles of the production manager, script supervisor, camera operator, audio editor and production designer as well as being the on-set stylist during the shoot. I created crucial preproduction assets such as storyboards and character designs, as well as recorded the ADR dubbing and create trailer graphics during post-production.

Initially I wasn’t that familiar with the film noir genre, but I had definitely heard about it and seen clips from iconic noir films before so it wasn’t completely unknown to me. I did some more research on it and had a look at various films from the genre such as The Third Man and L.A Confidential. I also studied the various characteristics of the noir genre and was really intrigued by it’s style and mood. I looked at both the tropes and low-budget filming techniques as well as the game L.A Noire which we were to base our trailer on.

Once our research was complete, my group started planning and developing scripts, storyboards and designs for our trailer. We bounced thoughts and suggestions back and forth between each other until the script was done and ready for storyboarding. I personally think that at this early stage, I should have definitely spoken up more about my ideas and thoughts. There was a slight lack of communication and I definitely feel like I could have perhaps contributed more with the development.

When we moved onto filming, we decided to film at Drew grandparents’ house as the interior was very fitting to what we were aiming to shoot in. But because of complications, we weren’t able to film as soon as we had liked to which led to major setbacks in our scheduling. The house itself was very decadent and really suited our trailer – but I still don’t think that it was worth enough to delay our project to such an extent.

When we arrived on-set for filming, we had a look around at all the rooms and starting thinking about exactly where and how we were going to shoot. At this point I was adamant about being more active in organising the group, especially since we were having guest actors to participate. So I created a Facebook event and herded everyone together to inform them about the day’s schedule and items to bring. I also created a Skype group to help relay the necessary information onto Michael, who did not have a Facebook. I was really pleased with my efforts and I remained active on social media to message everyone and make sure that we were all updated and knew what to bring.

Overall the filming itself was a good experience. I’ve had previous experience with filming before, so operating the camera and managing the on-set environment wasn’t new to me. I had a lot of fun helping Daniel and Jacob with the directing, as well as making sure everything behind the scenes was organised whilst the filming was happening. However, I feel like I should have been more active in my participation with the main filming. I might not have been the director, but in the end it was my group’s trailer and when our guest Jacob encouraged me to make more active decisions, I should have picked up on them instead of being passive about it and leaving it to my team mates to decide.

Once we had finished filming for that day, a lot of issues began to occur. We waited a week after the shoot to receive our footage because Jacob had no way of transferring 8GB of film footage online. When we finally received the SD card from Drew, I immediately copied it onto my USB stick to keep for editing. Everyone else had downloaded the footage onto their Mac PCs before giving it back to Drew, but then Daniel’s PC had to be wiped for repair and he no longer had access to the footage. So I helped him get the files for editing, which slightly set back my work progress for editing the music and sound.

I felt that we didn’t have enough clips to work with during editing despite getting most of the scenes in the storyboard filmed. I worried about having this issue at the start too, but I didn’t actively approach it with the group on the day we filmed which was another mistake on my part. In hindsight, I feel like my group heavily underestimated the amount of footage we would have needed for the trailer. I also felt that despite my efforts to encourage our group to communicate, I didn’t manage to respond soon enough to the group’s progress. One simple way I could have improved on this would have been to organise a group meeting at the start of every lesson and have everyone come round together to discuss what we were all going to work on and how the trailer was progressing overall. Then, near the end of the lesson, we could review our progress again and make any necessary critiques and changes to each other’s work. That way we would have better tracking on our work.

In the end, I know that our group worked incredibly hard to make up for the incidents that set us back. We communicated more when we hadn’t communicated enough, and did our very best to produce quality work with what we had. Overall, despite knowing that I could have done more personally, I am pleased with how my team mates and I have responded to this project. I’ve certainly learnt a lot, and I think that the final outcome was up to the standard that the brief had set out for us.

 

3D Animation Evaluation

3D, 3D Animation, 3D Design, Animation, Computer, Evaluation, U8_U52

3D animation has been something I’ve been meaning to try for the longest time. So as daunting as it was at first to receive this brief, I was also very excited as I really like working with Cinema 4D in the past and was very much on board with creating a short animated trailer.

I started out with thinking of ideas for the trailer, but it didn’t take me long to settle on one. I decided to animate a character that I had created for a game a while back originally called ‘Lightbulb Girl’. The idea for the game I had in mind was an adventure puzzle platformer with occassional high-speed platforming elements in. The player would play as Lumi and illuminate the levels as she went along, collecting white blocks to solve puzzles and reach checkpoints. The grand scale of the game was quite expansive actually – I had plans in mind for electricity circuit based levels and a whole cast of side characters with quests to complete. But, the task was to animate a trailer for a game, not make a game. And in the time I was given to make it all, I could only just about animate one character, let alone a whole game’s worth of characters!

I took the sketches that I drew previously and used that as my basis for developing the visuals of my game. I modified and simplified Lumi’s final character design to fit realistic standards and meet my rather basic modelling abilities. And even then, the task of modelling, rigging and weight painting was still rather hellish. I was taught how to rig basic objects and forms, but it was a real challenge to teach myself how to fully weight paint and animate a humanoid character. For example, I completely forgot to model Lumi in the tea-pose position originally so I had to go back and fix that once I realised that the weight painting wasn’t working! I spent the majority of my project doing just that actually which in hindsight was quite taxing and straining. But I persevered regardless and eventually after many all-nighters and hour-long tutorial marathons, I just about managed to rig the model. The weight painting was still rather abysmal, but it was good enough to animate with. It was rough spending an entire Friday night weight painting Lumi’s hips and legs, but it definitely paid off when I got round to animating her run cycle!

The animating itself was probably one of the most enjoyable parts of the project. As someone who loves to animate, finally having a rigged and working model to use was so relieving. Animating in 3D was a fairly new experience to me – I had done very basic 3D animations in the past with fairly simple camera movement, so moving onto something more advanced was exciting. Rotating the joints and key-framing them was a lot easier compared to hand drawn, 2D animation. I couldn’t nail too much detail in the movement, but I animated enough to get the flow that I wanted which was great. For example, I purposefully rigged her thumbs and fingers so that I could get the hand gestures that I wanted whereas if I really wanted to, I could have just left those joints out.

Editing the rendered scenes in After Effects was just a joy really. I’ve always like post editing, so when it came to creating the title credits for my trailer, I really stepped out with the radial fast blur effect. I was actually going to go even further and have blue smoke and shadows integrated in, but in the end I decided to leave those out in favour of the simplistic yet effective outcome of the radial fast blur and lens flare. It looked much cleaner and more suitable to the tone of the overall trailer, plus I didn’t have much time to drag out long, fancy effects (unfortunately.). The trailer lacked any explicit narration or text, keeping to the muted storytelling like how Journey‘s trailer did. This way, the trailer could communicate solely through the visuals (besides the ending credits,) and thus crossing borders and reaching out to anyone on a more international level.

I’d say that compared to my previous animation brief, this one has had a lot more hurdles. Seeing as I wasn’t as comfortable animating in 3D than I was in 2D, this whole brief had a lot of challenges and issues to overcome. The two main ones being weight painting and rendering. I spent the majority of time doing at least one of the two to an arduous extent and I’m pretty sure the amount of all nighters spent doing working on those things has definitely not been healthy for me. Thankfully I managed to resolve them – I finally got used to weight painting effectively after struggling to familiarise myself with how the 3D polygons worked. And the rendering issues was solved once I finally found the ‘Do Not Sleep’ setting on my laptop – but even so, I’d say that it certainly wasn’t easy. Overall however, I am mighty pleased with the final outcome and to be honest, am quite shocked with how much I’ve achieved despite the setbacks.

As for how I worked safely at my station, I can confirm that there were no chainsaws or sharp objects nearby my desk and that food and drinks were kept under heavy surveillance at all times. (My laptop at home is on a levelled shelf separate to my desk to avoid any accidental water spillage. And I wasn’t allowed to eat in the college computer rooms, so my hygiene wasn’t sabotaged much.) I took breaks regularly and exercised my wrists often to avoid any pains or aches that could have negatively affected my work flow. I also stretched regularly to keep my back condition monitored. My desk is a hybrid-sitting and standing desk, so I can easily switch between the two positions to promote flexibility and good circulation. I shared the IT suite with my colleagues at college and offered available computers to anyone that needed it in the odd case that their one wouldn’t start up properly and also lent out the scanners and printers to those who needed it once I wasn’t using them.

‘The Gift of Dyslexia’ Book Sleeve Evaluation

Adobe Illustrator CC, Book Sleeve, design, Evaluation

For our Visual Studies class, we were given a brief to create a book sleeve design for a book called ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’ by Ronald D. Davis. I sat down and brainstormed ideas for the book sleeve, trying to stem visual interpretations from the meaning of the book title.

I looked at a couple of artists for my research to get inspiration from – Edward Ruscha and Dana Tanamachi. Both artists handled type and typography art in very unique and interesting ways. Edward Ruscha really demonstrated the possibilities of depth and dimension to letterforms, offering an intriguing perspective to how we see and interpret the meaning behind text. Dana Tanamachi is a more modern artist with a very energetic and fun illustrative style, carefully composing the layout of her words and playing with the decorative flow and nature of hand-written lettering. I really loved her style in particular and it reminded me of ribbon wrapping on gifts and presents, which connected to the idea of dyslexia being seen as a ‘gift’. That and coupled with Ruscha’s piece, ‘Self’ and ‘Optics’, I became rather attached to the idea of using either a handwritten or elaborate font to demonstrate the meaning behind the book’s title.

After I came up with the idea of an actual physical gift to use as wordplay, I thought about how it could be presented on the book sleeve. I considered the book being wrapped up like a present to give to the reader to give a positive impression on the book despite the general negative outlook on dyslexia. I also thought about perhaps having a photo of a wrapped up gift on the floor to present a scene to the viewer in an attempt to approach things a little more differently, but in the end I stuck with my original idea as I knew that it would be more doable for me to recreate in programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Plus, I think the intention behind the design was a lot more effective because it was showing the gift first-person to the reader, rather than in a more third-person perspective that the photograph would have, thus having less impact overall.

After thumbnail sketching my designs, I created my final design idea in my sketchbook. Then, I moved onto using Illustrator to finalise my design. Since I had a good grasp on the programs foundation skills, I applied them appropriately whilst applying type-fonts that I thought were the closest to my design sketch that I had beside me as reference. I knew it would be very difficult to exactly reproduce the ribbon-writing for ‘dyslexia’, especially in Illustrator – so I ended up substituting it with some handwritten font based around Dana Tanamachi’s work. It wasn’t as effective, and had I had more time I would have definitely gone into Photoshop to try and reproduce the ribbon-writing I originally had in mind.

I think that overall, I did quite sufficient research and preparation work, but I fell a bit weak on my final outcome. I didn’t save enough time to work on the end product, so I definitely think that next time I need to manage my time more realistically so that I can pace myself better. Although being immersed in research was really engaging for me, perhaps it was for too long in this case. Having said that, for what it was it still came out rather well! Some of the images I used were fells short on resolution a little, but generally I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I think adding the shadows to the design components in Illustrator really helped give dimension to the final piece.

design-02-01.png

My final book sleeve design.

 

CANON Animation Evaluation

2D animation, Animation, Evaluation, Research, U3_U53

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.

Promotional Flyers Brief: Evaluation and Comparison

3D Design, advertising, design, Digital Art, Evaluation, promotional flyers, Research, U34_U51

fantasy staff promotional flyer 3

What initially sparked my interest in creating a fantasy product to advertise about was simply the fact that I was given permission to create something that wasn’t necessarily real already. This made me really excited as to what I could possibly imagine and model to life in Cinema4D. I decided to go for something a little impossible, a little fantastical – so I took inspiration from various games and movies about what kind of item I wanted to model. I ended up choosing a magic staff because I could see that many staffs had the basic shape of an elongated cylinder integrated into its form and shape, which was something that I knew I could start off with and build upon in Cinema4D. I turned to various 3D models in some RPGs (Role Playing Games) such as Runescape, Maplestory and Final Fantasy. I loved the intricacy and detailing that went into the models and I wanted to emulate some of that in my product.

Initially I started brainstorming different designs for my fantasy staff in my sketchbook. I had a thorough browse online to get inspiration as to what intricacies I should make. I went from robust and symmetric designs with smooth metal or rough rock textures, to more organic and nature orientated designs with materials such as wood and crystals. In the end, I went for something more natural and fairy-like because I really wanted to make something whimsical with glowing elements to emphasise on the themes of magic and fantasy.

The final design came out fairly accurately. When I started building the staff in Cinema4D, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to completely recreate my sketches entirely with my then beginner level of 3D modelling. But thanks to the help and feedback I received from peers and mentors, I quickly learnt how to apply more advanced techniques to really nail the specific shapes and contours of my complex design. Because my final design has embodied many irregular curves and edges, I couldn’t really use most of the basic shapes to help apart from the starter capsule shape for the staff’s handle. Discovering how to sculpt in Cinema4D was a real lifesaver, and I could actually model every section of the staff precisely to give the impression of raw, unprocessed wood – which was exactly what I had in mind.

One of the things that I think I could have included would be to have one of my final designs have a person modelling with the staff. I think it would have been very interesting to see how I would have been able to composite the 3D image into the hand and how I would have Photoshopped it to look realistic. A lot of advertisements do this to show the functionality of the product, and it’s generally a great way of showing the practicality of the product.

However, promotional flyers with just a scenic background can also help say something about the product without having to necessarily demonstrate its use specifically. A good example would be almost any car advert out there. Cars are commonly 3D rendered and composited into photographic environments, so it was a relevant reference to have for this project in terms of the creation process. In this case, the BMW car brand has an exceptional number of excellent examples of 3D compositing.

advertising comparison option 5

This advert for the BMW X6 for example, uses some very skilled and dynamic editing on both the background photo and the car itself. It’s a little difficult to tell whether or not the car in this image is actually real or 3D modelled – but I think it’s safe to assume that it was likely 3D modelled by either a team of professional 3D modellers, or commissioned from a professional 3D modeller. Either way, the texturing and rendering on the vehicle is incredibly detailed and photo-realistic. From the number plate and rubber wheel textures, to the accurate lighting and reflections.

There are many similarities with this professional advert and my final project outcome. For example clear sans-serif, white text is used in both our promotional flyers. My one being a little more elaborate in terms of the title font and styling simply because it had to somehow suite the magical fantasy elements of my flyer; more so than looking modern and sleek like the BMW car. Our products advertised completely different products with different themes after all.

The product information on the car advert is more lacking than mine. I can only assume that the image of the product itself would be enough to entice the audience into being interested in the product. With the car being complemented by a high-definition background photograph – slightly edited to meet the grey colour scheme and cool, adventurous mood of the overall design – it certainly gives a very contrasting and exciting impact on the viewer.

With my design, the background is less definite and more blurry and vague due to the bokeh effect. Yet at the same time, it also complements the 3D staff very well as it helps bring the staff to the forefront and puts more focus on the products details. The bokeh particles also resemble the light particles on the staff, making it quite suitable.

The orientation of the two adverts are also both horizontal. But, for different reasons and effects. The BMW advert is landscape to show off the stunning scenic background, as well as the shiny car on the right. My one is horizontal to simply have a place for the text, as well as being able to get a good close-up view of the staff’s head. Both landscape displays are effective, but enhance the design in different ways.

In the end, I think that I did a decent job with this project and I am pleased with the outcome. My choices in design and planning were well-thought out and appropriate to the brief’s requirements. The final design is similar to that of a professional’s, yet could still do with perhaps some more different approaches and routes of exploration.