My main role is a character animator. I am a keen storyteller, so I also would like to also explore story development. My bracketing is the pre-production, including: character design, storyboarding, concept art and animatics. I want to create a 2D animation created with Photoshop.
I really love creating characters that have life and depth to them. Playing around with individual and quirky behaviour. This unit will hopefully let me fully explore a character. I think that it is important for the audience to not only connect to an appealing character but also to give that character a life, give the character a soul. I am also a believer that the character should drive the story. One character would act in one way completely different to another therefore the events would change. Animation has always been a passion for me as I enjoy bringing characters to life.
For my FMP I will collaborate with a music student, and ask them to create a piece of music (instrumental) that I will create a character / narrative from. This is a way for me to step aside from the traditional practice of creating characters and to be more creative and experimental. It’s a chance to approach character development in a new way. I want to challenge myself by understanding how music can influence animation – I’m not really a music person although I do appreciate the impact it gives to animation. I want to create a character from the music. Personifying music, using a creative mind to study and understand the notes of music to apply to my work. This is a creative and challenging unit for me.I’m challenging my skills and reversing the workflow that animation and music work together in an intuitive way.
I will design the character and create concept work and story development. But my main outcome will be an animation with this character. Exploring the character performance. I am interested in narrative and storytelling so my piece will have a story behind it even if it is only 10 sec from each scene. I hope to create a 2D piece of animation that is around 40-60 seconds long in total. I want to work in 2D to improve my skills in the medium and to relate to more companies I like.
My aims for this unit:
- Develop my pre-production and story development roles (Including: Character designer, thumbnail/ storyboarding, concept artist and animatic)
- Animation roles (Including: tests and final animation, director) To develop my 2D animating skills needed to create a good polished animation. Consider timing and spacing and hitting the principles. I want to attempt some actions and interactions I have not yet attempted.
- I need to collaborate with a music person to create the piece I will base my animation on.
- I will collaborate with another animator (Victoria) to expand ideas.
- Time management to make sure I understand the workflow and the length of time I will need for each section.
- Collaborate on another project to develop my story development skills.
- Develop a well rounded character.
I am really challenging myself by giving trust to a music student to create the mood and or narrative of my piece. It’s very exciting to think that the music could have any possibilities and let me really use my creativity to attempt creating character from sound. I would like to develop my skills in animation – playing with animation timing and pacing less realistic and realistic. Playing around with the exaggeration and etc to push my current knowledge.
Work with music
One of my aims, and the main core of my brief was to work with a music student to create a piece of music that I will develop a character from. My first step to achieving this goal was to contact a music student. I contacted the music department in the first week of term 1 to locate a potential student to collaborate with. I got a reply from a third year student Eliza Daly. This process was a new opportunity to give music complete freedom to create music and play about. Early on I got the advice from a tutor that the music will never be as I expect – and this is true, when I received the music I found out I did have ideas about what I wanted it to be like and this was completely different. It really was a big challenge to rely on another person to create the tone of my animation. This was also quite liberating and exciting to have no control. Embracing and stepping away from my vision and using another part of the brain to be creative with Eliza’s lovely music. I worked with Eliza online – In a way it was good because I didn’t affect her creativity when designing the music. We did have a miscommunication with the length of time but this was easily rectified. We worked well together correcting and collaborating ideas.
I decided to learn more on music and it’s impact on characters in film and animation to gain a better insight on this topic which I currently have little knowledge of. I want to research more into my own brief and understand music to inform how I will create my own character when I received the music. On my blog, under the research tab, I have researched into key examples of music. I researched into ‘Leitmotifs’. A word that means a running theme in literature of music.In this case, how film uses music that is connected to a character or place (under research tab). In a way my idea is similar to a leitmotif, a piece of music that is supposed to embody my character. Another area that I explored was animating to a beat (Disney silly symphony research, under research tab of blog). I decided it was more important to reflect the character from the music that hitting certain notes. Aside from secondary research, in class we had lecture with the music and sound tutors that explained the ins and outs of music technically which let me learn more about working with music. I learnt how to communicate with terminology and how to interact with Eliza, the music student.
To reach my aim of working with music I needed to researched into how music can help build the character in film or animation. I came to realise that the impact of music is as important as cinematography and script. Music can generate feeling and atmosphere that’s hints at who that character is. Often the music is subtly placed to display power, fear, sadness, love, motivation and so much more. Identifying these emotions in music was important for later determining the notes and beats in my music. I didn’t value music until my research – all of this lead to impacting how I went about creating the character and examining the music. I learnt how I could work with the music in this this creative challenge to create a character from music.
- Develop a well rounded character
The principle of my brief is to create a character from a piece of music. To do this I am going to listen to piece of music and give the music a personality and design. After receiving my music I began the process of creating a character by translating the sound into imagery. I created moodboards of images that reminded me the tone of the music, nothing related to person or character but of any object or scene. I created diagrams from the beats of the music. I marked down whether the notes were soft (rounded shapes) or sharp, quick (more pointy shapes). If the sounds were deep I imagined squares or more flowy sounds being curved. Looking at the music in this way, let me be creative and approach character development in an entirely new way. I had to take the notes and instruments of the music and from this determine what sort of character this could be. For instance in my music there was a drumming sound for one section. I created a list of emotions or adjectives connected to this sound, such as determination, sturdy, mechanical, strong. I listed all of the different sounds which turned into the different elements of a personality. The music is slow-paced so my character was gentle and calm-natured. And because there was a lot of variety in the music this lead for a well rounded character.
I created my character before the story generation so that I was not biased to change the character to fit the story. This character would drive my piece. Another way that I created a well rounded character was to do a case study, learning her age, I felt the music was mature but it also sounded magical and immature as well. I gave her a list of both faults and virtues, so that she had a human range of characteristics.We all have faults. I filmed reference to explore my character personally, acting out her let me get into her mind set. I photographed poses to understand who she was too, how she would stand and hold herself.
Story development – Pre-production
Another step to the examining of the music and idea generation was feedback. Asking family and other students what they imagined when listening to the music. They felt the music had a similar vibe to what I was exploring and presented other ideas. I created spider diagrams with my own ideas and asked family to add what they felt. I highlighted my favourite to explore and to develop. I used a tool we learned last term of creating the arc of the story to whittle down the ideas that did not work. I collected moodboards of moments of the story or artwork. The music let me be creative but it also seemed to restrict me too. I felt like it had to be perfect, or I would get it wrong. I spent a little too long exploring so many different ideas, I later realised,in the end the music had to set a tone, but the final idea was really down to my interpretation.
I created lots of thumbnails of different before selecting an idea based on a chalk stream, inspired by The Water-babies. When I decided to do a water themed animation, I was worried about the difficulty of animating water effect. I stumbled across the English chalk streams in my research, which have crystal clear water filtered through chalk, unique to this part of the world. The water is clear so it meant less time worrying about reflections. I researched into impressionist painting by Egon Schiele, he shows a wobbly line for the distortion in the water. His lively work inspired me a lot and taught me to experiment and play with the water.
I want to develop how to come up with ideas. Gathering primary research helped me to get away from the screen and approach idea generation from outside. After I knew my piece was going to be set on a stream I went to a local chalk stream, visited ponds and went fishing. Going to look at nature inspires and let me take away an atmosphere. I wrote down small ideas to go with the environment for fun. I also practiced my environmental designs from drawing from photographs and outside. Me and Victoria had a day of drawing trees and inspecting the small details that are important to our own projects. I learnt about the creatures and species that live among the chalk streams and created ideas from their personalities. For the final layout of the scene I created the stream with maya blocking to visualise it in more detail.
One of my objectives for this unit was to develop my pre-production knowledge. In order to develop I want to research into story development and the process of pre-production. I found a good blog that looked into depth on this subject and I learned the importance of how the story in presented (sevencamels.blogspot.co.uk). I also researched into colour theory a powerful tool in filmic language that can evoke different reactions. I looked at ‘analogous colour scheme’ (reference), colours that sit together on the colour wheel, they work to create a calm atmosphere in nature. The music for me was divided into three sections (it changed pacing) so I decided to change the colour palette and camera angles to evoke different emotions of the character and locations in my storyboard and concept creation.
The music dictated only the personality but the appearance uses a rounder face to show her softness, her body is more athletic and lean like a young teen. I wanted to create an experimental appearance. My character has a distinctive large nose. I wanted to avoid creating pretty characters but give personality through her strange appearance. However, I found it difficult to draw the character from different angles.one of the ways I progressed from this trouble was creating a 3D model of her out of clay to visualise how the nose would look from all different angles (I want to create a ‘solid shape’ of the face, an animation principle)
I researched into the different styles for the look of my piece of art that I like and created moodboards of this work. The art I collected was colourful and had a ‘quick’ sketch or painted feel. I really like the animation of Princess Kaguya (2013), the lines are sketchy and the colouring bleeds over the outlines. It gives the work it’s rawness and more movement than clean line. Considering the animation in the pre-production is important as it can save me time. I also liked the styles from Song of the Sea (2014) which uses traditional looking brushes and their experimentation with composition.
- I am still developing the 2D animating skills needed to create a good polished animation. I hope to develop these skills, understanding timing and spacing, and hitting the principles. I want to attempt some actions and interactions I have not yet attempted.
To improve my 2d character animation skills, I explored using some of the animation principles to finalise my work. Arcs is a principle that I used a lot in my animating. The human body naturally works on arcs. Especially when I was animating the swimming scene the arcs make it look less mechanical and more fluid. Another instance that I used an arc was with a flower in my scene that had no personality being an object, so using the arcs made the shot more interesting.
Another objective was to try animating a action I have not yet attempted. My research project was to research and develop a locomotive movements swimming sequence. I chose this as I knew it would be a challenge and I have never tried this before. I began by researching videos of swimmers underwater to understand the mechanics of the body and how it moves.. A video I particularly liked was of a young girl swimming underwater, I like this video because the girl is still learning to swimming ‘efficiently’ so her child like swimming has a lot of personality, it was awkward and lively – it was a good reference for thinking about how the character could come across through a locomotive scene. Movements between a character on land and in water are completely different. I wanted to understand why the movements are so different and how. I learnt the science that water is more dense than air their atoms are closer together than air particles so when an object goes throw the water (it hits more particles) and causes drag. I also learned that every muscle is used when swimming, which really challenged me.(Chueng, 2016) I spent a long time on this animation trying to polish it and make it move smoothly. Including using overlap and arcs.
Another source of reference was to refresh myself in the Animation Survival kit, (Williams, 2009), to learn the importance of in betweens, he points out this is where the character for the animation comes from. I wanted to consider timing and spacing because I feel in my previous animations doesn’t play with it enough. In the flower scene I tried to create a lively object to an otherwise boring prop. In order to create polished animation I created many small tests and experiments to identify what worked and what failed. It was easier for me to work roughly before beginning the animation as it was quicker. I created tests for the water, eels and tadpoles as well as my main shots. I considered pose to pose drawing, and created small gestures sketches to create the best and clearest actions. I like the realistic animation found in Ghibli it’s slow paced and captures the realism and small details of life, which are unimportant to the plot but create an atmosphere or develop the character.
My character plays a large part in the character animation. She is a soft and gentle character, like the slow paced music, her soft movements reflect this. I wanted her to well rounded and so taking into account exactly how she would react to each situation. In the swimming scene we see her kindness because she saves the egg from falling. She develops and changes like any person would, she is scared but the calms herself as it’s in her nature.
To develop my storyboarding, I collaborated with Shadid for his fight animation. At first I was worried because I have never done a fight or action storyboard. I gathered reference from watching martial arts films. It was a very big challenge because I had to choreograph the fighting. It took alot longer than I suspected but it really pushed me to develop my abilities. I also worked on a project for a film student who was making a murder tv show. I had to create three murder scenes based of the Wizard of Oz like deaths. I researched into concept art and the use of colour like in the Wizard of Oz (1939) film. I didn’t like all the pieces that I created but each one used a different medium so I could play and develop my skills with concept art. Lastly, I created a small character design and concept art for Victoria animation. I explored colours of her night time scene as she was struggling and developed snail characters. I followed her brief and her magical word she created. We worked together throughout our projects suggestions ideas and advice.
One of my aims was to manage my time better. I created a better working style for myself and tried to aim at setting up proper working hours and having a day off on the weekend to recharge instead of burning out. I created weekly schedules, day to day tasks to balance the work out. Feedback was important to development of work. Unfortunately, these efforts were not enough.
My final submission for this unit was unfortunately unfinished. Although I worked hard throughout the project I believe that there were a few factors that contributed to this outcome. Each new stage took me longer than I had expected. I started a little later in the term than others because my project was based on creating a character / story from a piece of music created by a music student. I therefore needed to wait to receive final music on week three Consequently, my idea generation period started much later and continued into the second month. I found the idea generation very challenging. I wanted to challenge myself and be more creative but it meant I spent longer than intended deciding and developing the final character and then the story. I could have been faster with my decision, but the need to create work that reflected the music made me overthink and spend too long over it. During formative feedback for my story it was suggested there was too much action so I spent more time redesigning a new story over Easter to correct this. I also spent 2 – 3 weeks working on collaboration projects, which I let distract me from my own work. In the end only had around 6 weeks to animate.
I think I over estimated myself I had several characters, setting my piece of water which meant I had to do water effects, the character being small meant more full body and wide shots to capture these large characters with her and the large world. Lastly, I wanted to explore more locomotive actions, which were a lot harder as I was not as experienced in it. The swimming scene which was my research project took longer than I ever intended. It was the most difficult scene because every single limb is used when underwater. I spent a good chunk of my animation time working on this shot. The 2D animation process takes a long time especially as I spent time trying to polish and create smooth animation to develop my skills. I worked on shot by shot which meant I let the other shots slip unseen until it was too late. I’m still a beginner of 2D animator so everything took longer and challenged me constantly.
Overall, the reasons why I did not finish was down to spending too long on each section. Although I did not finish my animation for this submission I have learnt so much about locomotive animation, understanding how to create a swimming piece. This project really let me be creative and experimental to explore character development well because of the different tones of the music. I have been able to research into story development and music and the impact it has to shape a story. The chance to research into our chalk streams. I’ve collaborated with others to develop my concept skills. I was able to create polished and well thought out animation.This animation was challenging, I may not have finished it completely but it tested me everyday and it was a challenge that will have only made me grow. I am disappointed it was not finished but I have learnt so much and I hope to continue this piece ready for the degree show.
Williams, R. (2009). The animator’s survival kit. 1st ed. London: Faber and Faber.
Kennedy.D.Mark (2017) Temple of the Seven Golden Camels [online] Available at: Sevencamels.blogspot.co.uk [Accessed 29/05/2017]
Lackey, Richard (2015) 5 Common Film Color Schemes – Learning Cinematic Color Design [online] Avalible at: https://www.cinema5d.com/film-color-schemes-cinematic-color-design/ [Accessed 29/05/2017]
Louisa laurent. (2012). Carla Underwater 2. [Online Video]. 26 January 2012. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-qqTJq8Vbg. [Accessed: 16 May 2017].
Chueng, Trevor (2016) What causes objects to move slower in water than air? [Online] Avalible at: https://www.quora.com/What-causes-objects-to-move-slower-in-water-than-air [Accessed: 29/05/2017]