Thursday, 28 October 2010

Another tutorial session

Despite the unfortunate events last week my health is back to normal and now raring to go, things in the tutorial session Monday went well, the project still looking good I pitched the developments as they stand, I went over the animatic which has been produced and explained what happens in specific area’s of the storyboard which may be unclear also some of the area’s that are in need for some improvement where discussed, there where a few question marks but nothing to major as these can be countered later. The ending of the poem was looking quite dull at first sight, some enhancements are needed, an aspect I can draw to was raised, a question to the movements of the monster as they emerge from the surroundings needs to be decided I’ll look to revisiting my animatic adding some indications of the creatures, I’m hoping this should boost your understand further. Looking back on the final scene using a technique such as focusing on one part of the environment and suddenly switching to another can really add to the appeal of the shot. At the moment the shot is static this could be something which could really enhance the overall look and feel of the end. The final note to the session was an implication which wasn’t very strong the ending to the animation. Something I could try is to have individual snap shot’s of the monsters in the room to conclude the sequence leaving a final memory of fright.

The meeting with Alan was also very constructive again just explained my whereabouts with the project the targeted tasks ect. The animatic was shown briefly along side the recorded footage, some interesting thoughts about this was brought up how the use of a moon light filter over my videos could really improve its aesthetics. The main discussion I wanted to have was to do with Maya, a few weeks back it was explained I could project an image sequence onto my modelled environment almost like a stencil on my light, this sequence would then portray the movements I’m looking for with my bear character, however complicated it may seem it was something that was done quite simply. As well as this more techniques where shown for example giving the projection variance therefore the shadow animation doesn’t have a crispness to it. Adding extra attributes to the camera changing things like the noise extremely useful in a scene in particular (when shadows enter the attic) and the colour of the projected shadow can be altered.

All these techniques need to be tried and tested enhancing the overall look. My moral for this project is high and hoping to maintain it throughout.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Minor Project: Animatic

It’s taken a while but the animatic is ready for viewing, I feel that you get a much clearer indication of what I’d like to achieve although there are a few minor mishaps with the animatic, some of the sound needs adjusting and the animation may be a bit cloudy in terms of what is actually happening, unless you have followed my progress up until now you may find this issue so I’ve prepared a summary of the events that occur in the animatic above.

Animatic summary

I start off with the title to the animation with a range of sound collected from source found on Google and various websites, the piece of poetry I’m transcribing in my view is a voyage of fear and so this is how the animation takes shape, it is described a bear (shadow) has come out of its ‘lair at the top of the stair’ this is exemplified as the dark form which jumps over the banister and races down stairs out of shot (captures audiences attention), it then begin to crawl back up the ‘stair’ (Nosferatu reference) bringing with it a plague of shadow which transforms whilst travelling up the stairs back into its ‘lair’ which in turn is the attic, this slams shut as the anticipation leads into the bedroom.

Followed by dark weary sounds and descriptive language from the narration we enter the room in which things come to life (cg) creaking noises, hound sounds, bones crunching an ambient sound of movement is shown, first the bird creature/monster is the first to come into sight from the cupboard it sits on the bed frame and fly’s off out of shot once noticed, next the hound demonstrates some fright with its red eyes and crawls out of the lower bed draw snarling hissing in the direction of the camera which walks out of the shot, then things starts to open/close questioning whether there are any other monsters lurking around in the room.

The ambition is to have direct connection with my targeted audience giving a sense of fright at night.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Storyboard Edit

Storyboard colour study.
Re-visited storyboard.

Tell Me It Isn’t!

Try not to stare
But tell me – that shadow there
With its head in the air
It isn’t a bear…
There isn’t a bear
Come out of its lair
At the top of the stair
Is there?

Take care how you speak,
But tell me, that creak,
It isn’t the creak of the freak
The flying freak
With the crooked beak
About from to sneak
Up from behind
IS it?

Tell me, that sound
Isn’t the sound of the hound
The red-eyed hound
Creeping around
Dribbling and crunching
The bones it found
About to leap with one bound
On my back! It isn’t, is it?

Tell me, that movement I saw
Behind the door
It wasn’t a paw
Wasn’t a claw
It wasn’t the beast
About to roar
And pounce and gnaw –

Yes, I know you told me before
But I’m still not sure
So, tell me once more.

I have re-posted the poem I’m using to illustrate where the (audio)/literature takes place in the various shots. There are 2 main sections to the poem in which show the necessity for tracking with character animation.

The opening scene will display my bear character in a 2d style as this is where the shadow variation takes place, this will draw the viewers attention and increase the fascination of the transcription further. It will take around a 1 minute with a combination of 8 shots as the shadow animation of the bear disintegrate into the attic at the top of the stairs.

The rest of the poem will take place in the bedroom scene this has been filmed with some strong lighting so ready for tracking also adding the cg elements, which are 2 other characters mention in the poem. A bird (flying freak with the crooked beak) and hound (sound of the red-eyed hound creeping around).In the bedroom scene objects such as the wardrobe, draws open/close to exemplify the adjectives used in the poem the creatures emerge and disappear.

Filming Minor

Sunday was by far one of the toughest days of the of the minor so far, busy rushed off my feet from around 6pm to 12 midnight finishing of the implementation to the scenes, I began with the room, removed the door to make the camera more viable for filming, the positioning wasn’t any trouble as this was going to continue as a static shot, the movement with the scenes was going to be generated by the added cg elements these being the ‘monsters’(bear, bird, hound) .

I knew from my notes and storyboard the length of the room scene will be around two minutes so therefore I captured various shots ranging from the time limit, I played around with lighting to get the best possible outcome also adding luminous post it notes to optimize my chance of creating a good track(boujou).

Happy with the result in the room, moved onto the major area of filming which I aimed to be no more then one minute long, my stairs case for scene one. This was a very difficult challenge the idea was to casted some in depth shadows around the whole stair case in the night, I had in mind where my light sources where going to be positioned, 1. The garden light was going to be outside on my garage roof aiming into my house through the landing window. 2. The other light aided the lower floor casting shadows of the banister projected up. The positioning in itself was tricky not so much the lower light but the upper floor light, climbing up and down a ladder at night onto my roof in freezing cold conditions was not nice, however was worth it.

Again ready with the lights and scene set up I began filming, referring back to my storyboard constantly as it captured the movements and a reference to the shot angles, this was finished around 12pm.

Minor Project: Storyboard

Okay so here we have the storyboard very basic structure is shown, something I can work from in term of filming also has the indication of movement depicted by the arrows in the scene, at the moment I feel that more detail needs to be clarified so this will be a job for the animatic as it will give a more in depth suggestion using the element of audio and sounds.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Being a Director

This project is a whole new meaning in terms of its context although in the past the assignments I have produce required directing this particular project proposal I’m dealing with involves film footage, this in itself contains a whole new set of variations and thought processes, the techniques I must conquer need to be established before hand what I mean by this is the different kinds of shot types and a lot of decision making, whether I need a particular shot and substance for it. I know this will continue on to improve my capabilities for the future projects.

At the moment I’m getting to grips with the whole idea of filming reality, I’ve produced some footage which was where my learning curve began. Initialising the problems in the tutorial session to begin with. From this I went onto another filming spree instantly the recorded footage look better. The reason for this is because I understood what is required for the shot. Another aspect I can concentrate on is the aspect of timing which I have been generally been okay at… I think. In addition with the footage the contrast of lights and darks will be considered since the lights I’m going to be adding will be positioned accordance to the light sources. Taking this in account the storyboard and animatic should portray the footage/shots well.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Gregory Crewdson

I’ve just finished doing a bit of DIY taking down an outdoor garden light in which I’ll be using as a light source for my first scene in particular. As stressed before the footage of my stairs does not capture the kind of atmosphere I’m trying to portray, so some action has been taken and a crucial decision has been made to film at night this way I can form my own characteristics for the lights in the scene as well as have the back up form the moonlight.
I’ll be uploading some additional sketches with the storyboard to illustrate the plan of action with the lighting in scene one.
When thinking about the whole lighting scenario I can’t help but prefer back to an old artist used as inspiration in the first year American photographer Gregory Crewdson. Looking at the scenes that have been generated in the past really help push my idea that little bit further, in theses piece of art work we can verify some interesting shadows and the strong nature of depth partial caused by the light, some inspirational stuff here!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

First time recordings

What you are seeing here is various recordings done in and around my home, there are the pieces of footage some for experimental purpose and exploration others are for certain reason such as tracking shots. In case you are wondering why some of the shots have small pieces of paper attached to areas of the scene this is simply for the tracking to be more legible for the software when tracking. These markers are okay however I’m going to try using luminous sticky notes instead.
Mixture of footage

This weeks tutorial session

Performing research in the previous week has improved the overall picture of my project from the blurry notion it held before, I was still slightly uncertain about aspect of the project but now things have changed and the outlook is brighter I took this tone in the tutorial sessions with tutor Phil and discussed some more important challenges I’ll be facing and the things I have been up to. From the list of things to do I expressed the main factors that need to be addressed before the intense designing phase.
Those are boujou tutorials from footage that has bee recorded (experimental task) familiarising myself with this process. The story board and animatic being the top priority, the addition of an animatic will express the idea to the next level, also giving a great chance to experiment with sounds. In the past I’ve created from scratch the making of document but now there’s and alternative solution something more convenient and professional. Despite the waiting period on the document/book this is the only bad point but the results are much greater. Recommended to all

I borrowed once again a HD camcorder from our university facilities and a tripod. Started gathering more footage of the environment needed for my work.
Today’s tutorial with Alan I brought up concern in relation to my room some recordings had been issued and it was noted that things didn’t seem right with the layout ,the sketch below was done by Alan to illustrate how the orientation of my room can be improved if altered, because I am emotional use to the room I need to start thinking in term of a film set appose to my emotional fixed attachment to the room, I’m going to need to make some adjustments to gather the full extent of what I would like to convey. This being doors/draws opening, distortion from wall and so on.

My illustration of the room as it stands.
Alan’s illustration a suggestion of change of the room.
Here is the shot and the best positioning of the room the arrows in the first illustration express the areas in which cg can be exposed and movements can enter the shot.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Shadow Animation

I’ve been looking at various shadow animations to get a feel of what can be accomplished as this will play an important part of my final idea, what I’d like to achieve is a type of dark motion trailing up my stairs which will cover the first scene of the poem I am transcribing.
Past student work

Limbo Video Game
Awarding winning game ‘limbo’ illustrates what can be achieved on the other hand, the main focus to my research has been mainly directed toward films but things can be noticed with modern industries as well as the past.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Jan Svankmajer

Jan Svankmajer - 'down in the cellar'

'One of the great Czech filmmakers, JAN SVANKMAJER was born in 1934 in Prague where he still lives. He trained at the Institute of Applied Arts from 1950 to 1954 and then at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts (Department of Puppetry). He soon became involved in the Theatre of Masks and the famous Black Theatre, before entering the Laterna Magika Puppet Theatre where he first encountered film. In 1970 he met his wife, the surrealist painter Eva Svankmajerova, and the late Vratislav Effenberger, the leading theoretician of the Czech Surrealist Group, which Svankmajer joined and of which he still remains a member.

Svankmajer made his first film in 1964 and for over thirty years has made some of the most memorable and unique animated films ever made, gaining a reputation as one of the world's foremost animators, and influencing filmmakers from Tim Burton to The Brothers Quay. His brilliant use of claymation reached its apotheosis with the stunning 1982 film DIMENSIONS OF DIALOGUE. In 1987 Svankmajer completed his first feature film, ALICE, a characteristically witty and subversive adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, and with the ensuing feature films FAUST, CONSPIRATORS OF PLEASURE and his newest film LITTLE OTIK (OTESANEK) Svankmajer has moved further away from his roots in animation towards live-action filmmaking, though his vision remains as strikingly surreal and uncannily inventive as ever.'

The most convincing piece of research found so far is by Jan Svankmajer he is well known for his weird a wild filmography, from full feature animation to shorts films, the short which is of particular interest to me is ‘down in the cellar’. It depicts an innocent young girl with typical child like characteristics blond pony tail hair in a dress holding her basket. The whole short has a strange use of sound an extremely harsh loud sounds are perceived opening of the film something else that draws your attention is the ambient noise, I feel that these sounds are designed to tap into the human senses giving the audience a feeling of unease adding to the disturbing content further also no additional music is played like the other 1900 full films.

We see things from the girls prospective, the camera is right up in her face which is out of the ordinary putting the audience closer to the action. The kind of recordings I have produced contains the aspect this film holds. I like how the film illustrates perfectly the range of what I’d like to achieve with my animation. At the end of the short the girl drops the potatoes back down the stairs into the cellar where she had collected them from and a cycle like approach occurs, perhaps this is something I could look into.

Key scenes with strong tones and contrast.

'A crafty alchemist, Svankmajer has pursued many styles: live action, clay modeling, puppets, traditional animation, stop-frame special effects and object collages, breathing life into vegetables, toys, rocks, and trees. An influence on filmmakers from Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam to the Brothers Quay (who made the short "The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer" in his honor), Svankmajer has never been completely comfortable with the label of animator: "For me, story comes before technique. I use animation only when I need it to bring alive certain objects through metamorphosis."

Metz The Judderman

Judder Man Scary Commercial

Putting aside the filmic research so far, my attention was draw to another material in which replicates almost a Nosferatu like mood about it, the Judderman suggests a creepy evil character in which is promoting an alcoholic drink ‘Melts’ to passing by travellers, the reason for the Judder prefers to the drinks coldness.

Reviewing the footage of the Judderman again I can see that the styles of the shots are more modern and almost an updated version of the previous films watched there is voice narration, colour and various camera trickery.
‘The advert was know for scaring children’
“Beware the Judderman my dear
when the moon is fat.
Sharp of tongue and spindle limbed he is
and cunning.
With sweetened talk of schnapps and Metz
and the deliciousness of Judders.
But schnapps though sweet, has teeth my dear
and sharpened ones at that.
Beware the Judderman my dear
when the moon is fat.”

Branding Project

Some inspiration and an influence into what I’m looking for.
Orignal sketch sheet

Logo design

This image is the start of the pipeline process to an end design logo and introduction sequence which will feature in the final animation, this sketch was done a while back on work experience at squint opera, just a quick doodle on the train, as I had the initial idea incorporating monsters in my project this sketch came to me randomly. Kept as it may have come in use in the future and has served its purpose for branding this project. Thinking back on the branding over past projects, the majority of them have been done with a 2d influence so therefore, I set out to take the next level and bring a 3D quality to it. Using Maya, Photoshop, Zbrush and AfterEffects.
Logo definition

Firstly the design wasn’t very clear in Photoshop I singled out the area’s I didn’t want to feature as part of the logo and simply stored two alpha images, these came in handy later on down the pipeline. By creating these it’s made things easier having a solid silhouette structure to help out with outlines of a model so for example if stuck with the original image and its difficult to identify the scope of the sketch in 3d then they can play a part in the process.  
Low res Maya modelling.
Once the design edits have been imported into Maya the modelling process began. I knew from the start I’d be using Zbrush although with little knowledge of the programme just word of mouth and watching tutorials the great effect that can be achieved, this is a nice tool for adding detail on lower resolution Maya models so this was the purpose for my next step, create low res model import into Zbrush and add details.

I spent many hours going through Zbrush tutorials picking up as much as I could so many sculpturing techniques where picked up not only this, other uses for Zbrush where established additionally.
In this image is the original model along with a high res model taken from Zbrush. You can see the detail and difference between the two.
Uv Layout
Normal map
As I was explaining before about Zbrush’s unique features one that I discovered on the Pixologic website and various other websites was the ability to create assets such as baking out textures, laying out UV’s efficiently and creating normal maps with high levels of detail in which work with. Now this process hasn’t only been about what I can achieve with the this small model for my logo but a stepping stone for much larger pieces of work like the characters I’ll be designing and modelling texture ect in this project.

Image based lighting test

The only thing left to do with this model was to texture it. Using Zbrush was the initial idea although in this case I had a texture in mind referring back to the influence at the foundation of the post a shiny realistic looking metallic metal was what I used. Now prepared for the next step I went in search for fonts to conclude my title curiosity of A quick render of the side view was generated just to capture the text, background and logo elements side by side and how they complimented each other.

Here are the final results as of yet composed in after effects, the quality isn’t the greatest due to conversion to allow my video to upload into YouTube. I have all the assets needed to create any changes I wish. I’m thinking about some implementations to the text and the logo head animation, so don’t regard these as the final compositions but you can see the general idea now.