Sunday, 31 January 2016

@Phil Storytelling and Commission - Script to Screen - The Taxidermists Son - Script

Here is my first draft for my short animation.
A few things first: It's a working title, so suggestions would be appreciated. I didn't want to give anything away with it, but at the moment it seems possibly a little bland to me. 
Also, I like the idea of having no dialogue, only having sound effects (some personalised to each character) and character movement to get across messages, similar to the characters in the the game "Don't Starve". 
Further, I'm not sure if I've done my camera directions entirely properly (formatting wise) so advice/direction on that would be great too if I've got it wrong. 
Lastly, I'm not too sure if it's too long, yes it does have quite a few different scene changes, but this is to show the passing of time; the repetitive nights etc, and the scene cuts on page 3 I plan only to be a few seconds long each. 

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Animation and Character - Elegant Cactus - Planning

For my short animation assignment I was given the character of an elegant cactus. My initial thoughts were heavily influenced by Disney's 'Fantasia', in particular the walking animation of the mushrooms, and before I had decided the look of my cactus, and the dancing movements of the hippo ballerina, as I initially planned to use a much dumpier cactus.  

My cacti's silhouette mimics that of a woman in a dress, with a bud/flower for her "head" and a leaf growth on her torso acts as an arm. Originally I wasnt sure how the cactus would move, as having it in a pot would need hopping motion, which in itself is not very elegant, or the pot would have to have similar feet motion to that of the mushrooms in Fantasia. In the end I decided my cactus would up-root itself from the pot, the bottom leaf walking similar to the mushrooms of fantasia, and would have a few roots acting almost as a trail for the dress like shape of the plant.

Initial planning sketches for the elegant cactus assignment.

My initial plan for this animation was to have it dance along a conservatory windowsill, however after extensive searching, not being able to find a suitable windowsill and becoming afraid the animation would be too boring, I found myself looking at other rooms, trying to reflect elegance in the setting as well. I had found an assortment of images to use as background and after talking to Meg, we decided the below image would be the most successful because of the many areas present in the scene that my cactus could interact with, before exiting the shot and moving to a different scene. Originally the image had a brush in the pot the cactus is planted in at the start of the scene, which I photoshopped out to give the cactus an included feel to the scene.

Starting pose of cactus in the bathroom scene.
I chose this photo for the next setting as the colours are similar and it has a very cubic feel to it so the setting flows, plus the large front on window was perfect for the continuation of the cacti's dance, but I had to remove the hare ornament and wanted to lighten the image so it better matched the colour scheme from the first setting, so again photoshopped the image to work better for what I needed. 

Original 2nd scene image

Photoshopped 2nd scene image

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Character Design #4 - Designing an Environment

This week we were given the task of creating a setting/environment from a few words we were presented with. My words were "futuristic, crime-fighter's lab", and was directed to go far into the future. I quite enjoyed this task, though I think I definitely got a little carried away with creating the back story for my character and environment, and the drawings got a little shafted. 

Adobe Audition - Tutorial 3 - Creating own sounds

This week we were again given some sound clips to work with, and were also shown how to digitally create our own sounds in Audition. I used a mix of both to create this abstract sound clip, again quite alien and electronic, keeping with the theme of previous weeks. 

Cutting Edge - Film Review - The Birds, 1963.

Fig. 1

The 1963 film 'The Birds' is a classic Hitchcock production, packing numerable filmic devices into what is essentially a very basic plot, creating a timeless piece that is still enjoyable for audiences today. Fundamentally, The Birds is the story of the small town of Bodega Bay being attacked for some reason, that is never truly explained, by a large number of many species of birds, predominantly crows and gulls, resulting in an almost apocalyptic outcome. 

 Fig. 2

Fig. 3

However, what makes the film such a success, besides it's bizarre plot, are of course the many unmistakeable Hitchcock tropes that occur within the film, many echoing ones also used in his ever classic 1960 film "Psycho", although arguably the film is not as successful as the former in popularity. An instance of this is the disorienting and anxious effect created in the viewer through the sudden change in what appears to be the films initially established genre, in the case of both films taking an abrupt and unexpected dark turn a significant part of the way though the runtime. The Birds starts out appearing as a love story between the Another is the dramatic score, despite in this case being unlike Psycho in the sense that music was not used, Hitchcock however opting to use real bird sounds to create an immersive-if-eerie sound scape to accompany the unsettling scenes. Adam Scovell corroborates this with "Instead of relying on Herrmann’s music to heighten and embellish the drama and the horror, he uses Herrmann’s sense of dynamics to program in a constant gushing of strangely affecting diegetic sound." in his essay "Sounds of the Birds". (Scovell, 2014.)

Other devices employed by Hitchcock in "The Birds", which are also found commonly in his films, are motivated shots and filmic dramatic irony, where the viewer is shown something the character at that time is not aware of, creating tension in the viewer awaiting the all important moment of the big reveal/realisation. Arguably, if not the most iconic, but at least most suspenseful scene of "The Birds"  employs the aforementioned device of dramatic irony, when the main protagonist, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), is waiting outside the school, while the climbing frame behind her, unbeknown to her, is slowly filling with a large number of birds. (Figs 4 and 5). This sequence, coupled with the calm chanting of the school children from within the schoolhouse creates the bizarre and engagingly suspenseful scene, with the viewer almost wishing to scream out the Panto classic "they're behind you!" to warn her of the impending danger. 

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Further, the unexplained plot line and conclusion to the film leave it very open to interpretation, spreading interest and discussion of the meaning within the film, most common theories being the film is a comment on the irrational and jealous nature of the human female, drawing parallels between women and the spontaneously attacking birds throughout, most obviously through the attention to the leading character Melanie Daniels' hands with their perfectly manicured and pointed fingernails grasping at a multitude of items throughout the film (fig. 6) and even the peculiar way Tippi Hedren holds her hands in certain scenes, in particular when holding the cotton swab to a cut from one of the first bird attacks of the film (fig. 7)

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Additionally, Dave Kehr describes Hitchcock's birds as "emblems of sexual tension, divine retribution, meaningless chaos, metaphysical inversion, and aching human guilt, his (Hitchcock's) attacking birds acquire a metaphorical complexity and slipperiness." (Kehr, unknown). However, as Bosley Crowther states in his 1963 review of the production "whether or not it is intended that you should find significance in this film, it is sufficiently equipped with other elements to make the senses reel. Mr. Hitchcock, as is his fashion, has constructed it beautifully, so that the emotions are carefully worked up to the point where they can be slugged." (Crowther, 1963). I believe these quotes summarise the basic reason behind the successfulness of the film over such a time period; it can be seen to have a deeper meaning and to some this can be engaging, but for those who simply want to enjoy an odd horror film about a random attack on a town by large flocks of birds, it can be enjoyed this way too, giving the production a large viewer catchment area, so to speak. 


Fig 1 - The Birds Original Film Poster
Fig 2 -
Figs 3, 4 & 5 -
Fig 6 - Screenshot from
Fig 7 -


Crowther, B. 1963. Hitchcock's Feathered Friends Are Chilling [online] Available via:
Kehr, D. Unknown. The Birds [online] chicago Available via:
Scovell, A. 2014. Sounds of The Birds [online] Available via:

Storytelling and Commission - Script to Screen - Artistic Style & Character Design Influence Map

For this project I'm feeling quite a 'cute but creepy' vibe, as in, a story meant for kids but can also be enjoyed by those older, through the artistic style and plot twist macabre ending.  
I am drawing influences from a number of places that I feel have a particular art style and also score that would work well for my story.
These include: 
  • (film) Coraline 
  • (film) The Boxtrolls 
  • (game) Dont Starve 
  • (game) Little Inferno
  • The stories and illustrations of Tim Burton, with particular focus on The Meloncholy Death of Oyster Boy
  • Quentin Blake illustrations
  • Chris Riddell illustrations
  • David Firth (Fat Pie) animations
  • (TV show) Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids 

I'm feeling this animation should be quite stylised, and really like the effect created with 3D stop  motion animation in The Boxtrolls and Coraline, and the games Dont Starve and Little Inferno both have this almost disjointed effect to their characters, with the artwork often appearing to be made from pieces of paper/cardboard. 

Life Drawing - Robin

This week we had a new model, Robin. It was certainly a different experience working with him than it has been with any of the other models, heseemed much more enthusiastic to get involved with us and talk to us, and his poses were quite dramatic, often employing props, or pretending to use objects (musical instruments were a common theme). 

Pose 1 - 15/20mins. Had some issues with arm length/bend, and the thigh closest is too large, however feel quite pleased with torso/stomach area. Overall body proportion I feel I am improving with. 

Our next exercise was an assortment of poses, ranging from 30 seconds to around 3 minutes each. I didn't realise how many there were going to be so had a little issue with spacing, however some (below) I feel came out okay. 

Runners starting pose

standing and waving, holding bottle. 

Next we did the same excercagain, but with much shorted time between poses, varying between 10 seconds to a minute each one. I decided to use marker for these to take a bnreak from charcoal and chalk, and experiment with different media, and also as I knew with these poses due to the time restraints I would just have to go with instinctive mark making, and felt marker was perfect for this, as it is clear and bold. Below are some of what I feel were the more successful pose outcomes. 

Next we had a set of 3 poses where the left foot was kept in the same place, and hula hoop props were used. Around 5-10 minutes each pose. 

Final pose of the day, ~25 mins.  Back to my beloved chalk-and-charcoal-on-black. I did my usual trick of managing to make the head too small for the rest of the body, so that still needs work. Quite pleased with the contrast of this one though. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

@Phil Storytelling and Commission - Script to Screen - Post OGR Feedback - Story Tweaks

Following my OGR feedback these are the points I took:
  • Home furnishings element is 'too much'
  • Need to make it simpler/less convoluted
  • Need quicker conflict set up between father/son

New story idea -

The son of a taxidermy-animal collector finally has enough of his fathers' macabre hobby.

The discontented son of a taxidermy-animal collector whose only wish is to have a real, living, pet decides enough is enough when his father discovers the tray cat his son has been feeding is the final addition needed for his taxidermy cat collection.

Step Outline:
A taxidermist whose passion is collecting full "sets" of taxidermied "pets" is on the hunt for the final addition to complete his cat collection, a rare ginger and grey mix. 
(see macabre check-list, and inner view of house, taxidermy cats surround the fireplace, space for 1 more)
He is frantic, him and his begrudging apprentice son travelling all over town to different pet shops, looking for the perfect specimen, but no shop will sell to him, they know about his diabolical hobby. Meanwhile all the boy wants is to play with the pets. To his dismay he is shooed away by angry shop keeps. 
In a manic stroke of thought one night, the taxidermist takes to the pet cemetery, dragging his protesting son along. They argue, "this is sick" says the boy. The father is angry, yells at him to hold the candle up and steady, they cant be too bright or too loud, or they will be found out. They find nothing, the father becomes more irate. They go to different cemeteries each night. 
Meanwhile, the son finds a stray cat going through their bins. He tries to shoo it away in fear for it's life, but it is bedraggled and hungry, and friendly towards the boy. He feeds it scraps, the two bond, it becomes a daily routine.
The father becomes increasingly irate over not being able to find the missing piece for his prize collection. (More scenes of frenzied cemetery digging with the protesting boy holding the candle.) That is, until he sees a grey and ginger stray cat waiting by his own back door, as if by fate.The son comes home from school, grabs some scraps and heads to the back door. The cat isn't there. He hears a faint meow and hiss coming from upstairs.Bolting up the stairs and into his fathers attic studio, the boy sees red.Cut to black, and open on the boy in his bedroom, reading in bed with the (no longer) stray cat on his lap.Pan round, to see the boys father, in a twisted turn of fate, stuffed and taxidermied, now the one holding the candle for the boy.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Storytelling and Commission - Script to Screen - OGR #1

Character Design #3 - Prop Design for a Character and Anthropomorphising Objects

This week in Character Design our first task was to create props to accompany a character we were given at random. I was given this image of Disney's Aladdin's Jafar. 

Immediately I noticed the snake sceptre, and the oversized jewel ring, so tried to combine these designs into my own props as they compliment his character. 

Our next task was to anthropomorphise objects that would be found in a room, the room I was given was a library - so of course I started off with books. I also thought about furniture however, and still on the Disney theme thought of the giant library in the Beast's castle in Beauty and the Beast, and what sort of furniture was/could be in a room like that, drawings and notes. 

Adobe Audition - Tutorial 2

In this tutorial we were once again given some sound clip files to work with, some the same as before and some new ones, including a short clip of as acapella song as well as instrument sounds. Again after introduction and instruction on how to do certain things we could play around with the settings and effects with these clips to see what we could create. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Animation and Character - Abstract animation of a taste - Caramel Coffee

Finally finished my caramel coffee animation! Had a lot of issues with trying to get the movement tween to work, but it is now at least, although I'm not sure if the caramel blob really works, might have to work back into this. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Adobe Premiere - Animatic from Big Fish Like for Like Storyboard

Today was our first introduction to Adobe Premiere, and we used our frames from our like for like storyboards to create an animatic of our chosen scene. Whenever introduced to new software I do feel quite daunted, but more often than not I soon see its nowhere near as complicated as I initially thought to create basic work with. I think the most challenging part of this was trying to get the timings on scene transitions correct.
Initially as my storyboard had multiple images on a page, I had to crop each one out and set the size to be 1920x1080px so it was the correct size for working on in Premiere.
We didn't create an animatic of the whole storyboard, and I would like to go back into my storyboard anyway and edit a few images to work better as an animatic, now I know what sort of thing I need to have for working in Premiere, as where some of the scenes are quite a few seconds long on, but I only have one or two images for them, you are left looking at a still image for a while, so it seems quite disjointed. Once the new drawings have been made to fill in the movement, I'm thinking I can use a fade/dissolve cut to transition between the drawings, to make the movement and scenes flow a lot better.
My animatic of 'Leaving Spectre'. (Version 1)
Clip from Big Fish - 'Leaving Spectre', for comparison.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Like For Like Storyboard - Big Fish - Leaving Spectre

For my like for like storyboard I chose the clip 'Leaving Spectre' from the 2003 film 'Big Fish' as this film has been one of my favorites since I first watched it not long after it came out.
I chose this scene particularly for the scene design, I always found Spectre to be one of the strangest settings of the film, but liked the symmetry of the town, plus I liked the camera work when dancing/spinning, simulating the perspective of the people dancing, thinking the multiple scene cuts in this part particularly would be good to storyboard.
However, I wasn't entirely sure how to go about creating the storyboard, initially I thought I would just draw a new frame each time there was a new scene, however some of the scenes in the clip I chose are quite a few seconds long, and contain characters moving over a distance/camera panning around and so on. In the end I just tried to capture the key elements of the clip.

Character Design #2 - Body Silhouettes and Character

Task 1 - Change body type/silhouette of given character - Wreck it Ralph 

Task 2 - Design x3 differing chararacters based on given genre/type  - Ninja. Think what and why.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Adobe Audition - Tutorial 1

Today was our first Adobe Audition tutorial, we were first shown the basics of the program, then given a file pack containing different animal sounds and a few clips of speech, as well as a sound and video file. We could take what we liked and manipulate and experiment, getting to know the basic controls and uses of the program. I created this odd sci-fi-esque short track, feeling quite confident about using the program, and Im excited to start putting together my soundscape! Initially the file was exported from Audition as a wave. file, for better quality, then the file was dragged into a media encoder, which rendered it out as an mp4 file so I was able to put it up on here. 

@Phil Storytelling and Commission - Script to Screen - Initial Plans and Ideas

Character - Taxidermist
Environment - Graveyard
Prop - Candle

Initial Plot Idea Scribbles

Overlying theme: Taxidermist is in need of more animals to preserve, heads to a pet cemetery. Candle flicker and wind howl trope as he digs. Back in his studio, as he's putting the carcasses into a fridge to be preserved, ghost of a cat pops up and darts out of the fridge, drawn to the playful flickering of a candle. Cat ghost/poltergeist creates havoc in the studio, moving around, knocking over pots, jars, playing with putting out the candle, walking over the taxidermist and causing chills etc. POSSIBLE First scene we open on the taxidermist dead/knocked out on the floor, dark room and flickering candle, eerie music. THEN cut to graveyard earlier scene. (later find out they tripped over something the cat moved) OR instead house/studio ablaze? Taxidermist in or out? Looking up exorcists?  Final scene will be taxidermist breaking point/knockout. 

Short: Taxidermist is haunted by the playful ghost of the cat he dug up from the pet cemetery.