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.

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Animation Mood board

2D animation, Animation, Research, U3_U53

Here’s my animation mood board for my CANON animation. My inspirations came from various cartoon shows and student animators and artists. I really like the dynamics in character design for Steven Universe, as well as it’s stylish colour palette. I also liked the simplistic art style from Laura’s Star. Other independent artists/animators include Michelle Lam and Toniko Pantoja. Studying walk cycles was also major factor in helping create my animation.

animation_moodboard

Animation Analysis – Laura’s Star (2004)

2D animation, 3D, Animation, Research, U3_U53, U_5

Laura’s Star is an animated family feature film that was made in 2004 by Rothkirch Cartoon-Film in partnership with Warner Bros Entertainment and is based off of the book series by Klaus Baumgart. The film tells the tale of a young girl named Laura who comes across a fallen star in her new and unfamiliar home, and forms a special friendship with him as Laura tries to reunite the star with his home back in the sky.

Seeing as Laura’s Star was made only nine years after the first 3D animated feature film Toy Story (1995), it’s no surprise to see parts of this predominantly 2D animated film incorporate some 3D animation too.  The main characters such as Laura, her younger brother Tommy, her new neighbour Max and her little star are all digitally 2D animated. Although I am not particularly familiar with the animation programs they use in Berlin, software such as ToonBoom Studio and TVPaint Pro could have been a possibility. The original children’s books were all illustrated in a very simplistic and friendly art style with colourful watercolours to compliment it. Despite the fact that the studio was more well-known for its 2D animation back then, I think was also a good decision to keep the characters 2D animated because it ties in nicely with the charm of the original art. Many of the backgrounds throughout the film were very carefully water coloured and blend in beautifully with the animation. They were probably specially scanned in and edited on the computer in Photoshop before being saved as a .jpeg to be imported into the animation compositing.

However, some of the more novelty characters such as the robo-cat, the Sun and the Moon are animated in 3D, probably in a program of such as 3D Studio Max or Cinema4D. Judging by the simplicity of the 3D models themselves, I doubt that they were animated and created in Maya. However that could be a possibility seeing as Maya is very much industry standard. Other elements such as cars, doors and props are animated in 3D and you can tell. There was no way that Rothkirch was going to get away with seamlessly blending 2D and 3D animation together perfectly. But even with the smooth movement and contours of the 3D components occasionally standing out a little more than it should have (with it set to 24 fps), the masterfully smooth 2D animation certainly did not fall behind. Both techniques were applied effectively and appropriately throughout the film, and arguably might have added to the charm of the movie. The most noticeable part of the animation where you can see the difference would most definitely be the scene where Laura is conversing with the theatre Sun and Moon props. The faces on these drama props as they shine and float around Laura are most definitely 3D rendered. Having it placed right alongside Laura and Max’s facial expressions does give a bit of an odd feeling, but to be fair this scene is the only one where this issue between 3D and 2D animation is most prominent. The lighting effects in this special scene makes up for the contrast in animation aesthetics though, as the Sun and Moon radiate bright rays of sparkling light as they bring Laura’s star back to life. This would have been done in a program such as After Effects, using the CG Light Rays effect and colouring them.

One of the other related animation effects that’s worth mentioning in this movie are the shiny particles that (for the most part) are constantly emulating from Laura’s little star. I’m not sure exactly how they managed to create this effect, but it would probably be feasible to recreate in a software like After Effects using various layers to create a sense of depth. Either that or perhaps the star itself could have had an effect applied to it in a 3D program such as Cinema4D. However, in some cases the light particles interact with the characters and with themselves – so rather than generating a random animation for all of the particles, some of them must have been particularly animated to move in a certain way. This could have been done by using the stop-start positioning method in After Effects.

As a whole, Laura’s Star achieves a strong visual imagery for its production and conveys a good sense of visual communication and narrative through its varied approach to animation techniques. With its appropriate and mostly fitting combination of 2D and 3D animation mixed in with some enchanting stardust particles, it’s a lovely example of the animation of its time with a timeless children’s art style to boot.

Animation Timeline!

2D animation, Animation, Research, Stop-motion, U3_U53, U_5

Here’s my animation timeline for my Unit 5 Research. It highlights many of the most important events in animation history to date.

Animation Timeline

(On a side note, phenakistoscopes are crazy to look at. Like, seriously.)

“Draw To Life” CANON Animation

2D animation, Animation, Digital Art, Film, U3_U53

Here is my final 30 second animation for CANON! I used both real life film and hand drawn animation to create this, with roughly 24 frames per second. The programs I used were Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects.

I was given permission by the artist ‘OMFG’ to use her track in this animation.

“Draw To Life” Animation Storyboard

2D animation, Animation, U3_U53

Here’s my storyboard that I made in my sketchbook for my CANON animation!

SCAN_animation_storyboard_1 SCAN_animation_storyboard_2

Before I started my storyboard, I sorted out my music first (which was 30 seconds long) and listened to it as I created my storyboard so that I’d have a good idea of the timing of each shot.

Adobe Flash and Adobe After Effects – Animation tests

2D animation, Animation, U3_U53

The following are a some exercises I did practising basic animation in Adobe Flash and After Effects. I learnt how to tween and pin puppet-points onto exported Photoshop layers in Flash and practised using the various tools and timeline.

I used the matte painting that I created as a background for my animations. The first one is a walk cycle:

The second animation test is a plane flying across the sky. I animated the smoke in Flash and then animated the plane moving across the sky in After Effects.

I also animated a really basic snake wriggling across the screen. I used the puppet-pin tool to select the areas of the snake that I wanted to animate in Flash.

Photoshop – Matte Painting Background

2D animation, Animation, Digital Art, Editing, Photoshop, U3_U53

I learnt how to paint a background with the help of photo references and Photoshop. I used the basic tools such as the brush tool and eraser tool to paint most of the scene in. I also brought in textures and images from online and set their layers to Overlay and Multiply to help with giving the painting more realism. I also adjusted the overall tone of the painting by going to Hue/Saturation.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 14.38.25

matte painting exercise

Canon Competition – Ideas and Animation Treatment

Animation, Computer, Digital Art, Research, U3_U53

A short, 20-30 second video showing a montage of footage and animation from around my college. The montage should not show what the college is on it’s own, but rather present what the college can be when its students’ creativity and imagination come to play. It should be short and sweet, but also fun and inspiring. We start with a fade in into the establishing shot of a new and modern building. We see an animated cartoon character make their way through the revolving doors at the entrance. As they fill the cool, empty interior with colour and movement, the animated character walk through the barriers to the beat and rhythm of the music. Followed by a montage of different locations within the campus, we are carried along with the character’s animated parade through the college – interacting with the various displays as we pass by each corridor and room. As we enter the common area, we see a student sitting down by one of the tables, supposedly working. The character walks up behind the student before diving into the student’s open sketchbook page; revealing that they are in fact, a character drawn in the sketchbook. At the last beat, we get a glimpse of a wink from the character before cutting to the credits. The short will mainly be composed of a combination of real life camera footage and animation, with the animation on top of the filmed footage. Most shots will have a slow pan to indicate a progression in time and constant movement – nothing should be still. The overall appearance should be clean and modern, but colourful and bright. The animation will mostly be digitally done, with hand-drawn 2D character animation. Like a short music video, the visuals should dance to the music. Something catchy and fun, but unique and modern to play in line with the swing and mood of the video would be perfect. This video should be a great glimpse of what and how the college has inspired me to create and should convey a great sense of imagination and life in its ambiance and cinematography, leaving the viewers wanting to see more of where the animated journey can take them.