Thursday, 30 March 2017

Acting Session: Week 3 31/03/2017

The Training Wheels
 So in acting this week we elaborated upon some of the techniques we learned last week, however, this time we had to get across on a scale of one to ten how we felt (One being Sad/Down and Ten being High and Powerful).

Once the idea of High and Low roles had been established, we were the given random scenes where we were both given a high role and a low role. It's interesting to see how everyone adapted and improvised, and I'm certainly looking forward to next week.

The Wildcats vs Sharknado 5
Also, our group in the great game known as 'Cheesy Burger Keepy Uppey?' we have decided to name our group the wildcats, to show off our wild personalities. (We still have a better name.)

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

World Cinema, Film Review: Ethel & Ernest (2016) 29/03/2017

Figure 1: Ethel & Ernest
This film review will be focusing on the film 'Ethel and Ernest' (2016), this film follows the story of Ethel and Ernest. This film is based on the 1998 book Ethel and Ernest and is animated by the son of Ethel and Ernest, Raymon Briggs. The film is based on the real effects of WWII and before, showing what real British culture is and indulging in what some people would expect a 'Stereotypical Britsh Film' would look like. There are narrative elements in the film that like others films (Waltz with Bashir, Persepolis and Sita Sing the Blues) has its own little quirks.

The film was released in 2016, was directed by Roger Mainwood, was written and partially animated by Raymond Briggs and the film was produced by Camilla Deakin and Ruth Feilding. The film was originally a book written by Raymon Briggs himself, so he lived the life written in the book, he then turned the book into the film and even animated it. It's worth mentioning that Raymon Briggs is also the creator of the film called 'The Snowman' (1978), which is probably one of the most 'British' films you can see. Apart from the obvious art style, Raymon uses it's easy to see why this film could be seen as British, its settings, themes, topics, sound, and narrative all lead back to Older British culture.

Ethel and Ernest is simply put, delightful, with a compelling art style and strong storytelling this film is what could be considered stereotypical, but in a good way. Its easy to see how this film's art direction takes influence from Raymon's previous work, but newer, more modern techniques can be seen in here. "At times the movie threatens to melt into a pool of bulldog nostalgia, but it's rescued by a wealth of authentic social detail, especially as the young couple keep a stiff upper lip during World War II (in the darkest days of the Blitz, they sleep in a bed-sized metal cage to shield themselves from falling debris). Their boy Raymond comes of age in the swinging 60s, takes up art, and marries a woman with schizophrenia, developments that prompt Ethel and Ernest to wonder what it's all about before they disappear into the past they've so lovingly tended." (J.R.Jones. 2017)

Figure 2: Ethel and Ernest, WWII Bunker
So the film's narrative is based on the real events that occurred over 150 years ago, this includes Ethel and Ernest meeting up, Bombings, WWII and the growth of Raymond Briggs. Having the depictions of each event and not only seeing how Ethel and Ernest develop as characters but seeing the world around them change gives the film an authenticity which is very hard to come by in films. This is a story based off of what has actually happened, so the fact there is still a layer of truth underneath the layers of effects, paint and sound is quite astonishing.

The cast in the film have a very relatable tone to them, and the reason being is that they are like the viewer in every way and they carry a theme of respect. These characters are our 'Grandparents' so instantly we give the characters our respect because we would be where we are without them. Now whilst all of the British traditions in the film don't really exist today, we can still see what it was like. The music, food, and atmospheres of most scenes give's a humanizing element to the film's backdrops, we can easily see that everything is drawn, but seems real somehow.

Now the dark underlying topic for the film is the tragic story of all good things must come to an end. This is probably one pf the more disturbing parts of the film as it's not afraid to show you the harsh reality of death and its effects. We come to love and care about these characters, we've seen how they have gotten to where they are, their struggles, and their accomplishments. Towards the end of the film, however, we begin to realize that it's not just the end of the film, but the end of ethel and Ernest as well. We watch as they slowly begin to deteriorate, watch them die, what makes these sequences much more emotional are the art changes and the ending of the film.
For the whole film it is forgotten that this is a real story and not just some animation, so when you've been immersed inside of Raymond's world/memory when Ethel and Ernest die were hit with the cold reality of these were real people. Its the strongest storytelling element in the whole film and something that the film doesn't hold back for the viewer. We see how Earnest must learn to cope with the loss of his wife and the departure of his son. Then after Ernest dies we get to see a picture of the two together and whilst at the same time we feel sad we also feel happy, knowing that we got to be a part of their adventure.

Figure 3: Just Ernest
So the narrative, despite being, of British origin, still holds characteristics of British culture, however, this is reinforced by ethel and earnests artistic style. The original art style, once again, is done by Raymon Briggs. His art style is very distinct in a sense that everything seems hand drawn and nothing really seems to have any 'smoke and mirrors' to hide his work with effects. So already there is a theme of authenticity in the drawings, whilst being influenced by obvious architecture, characters, and popular cultural influence. The way the film feels distinctly British however isn't something that is totally obvious, but it lies in its character design.

Comparing the designs of people in this film compared to people in Japanese Animation (Anime), they are both very distinct. The Japanese art style is very distinct and widespread, and whilst these designs can sometimes be simple they can be deep and have a lot of thought put into them, the art style is overused quite a bit, and has somewhat become a norm in animation. So when this British film doesn't use the widespread anime art style, it immediately can be recognized as something different, which is a huge advantage on the films distinctive.

However, despite the fact that the film is based off an original art style, the film's art style translates very well into modern day animation techniques. Something to note about some of Raymon's other work, like 'The Snowman' (1978),  whilst it still looked very impressive, it looked very rough and edgy. This isn't a criticism of the art style as it was something that is quite distinct, but in this digital rendition of the book it takes away the edginess and the roughness and replaces it with smooth and clean animation.

This goes really well with Raymon's original art style and almost seems like some old mixed with something new. In terms of understanding how this art style is 'British,' it's important where Raymon's original art style would have come from. The original art style is descendent of older English drawings back when Wacom Pads and Bamboo Pads didn't exist, so the only paper was allowed to be used. It's not incredibly clear how the older art style looks as good as it does in modern time, but it's still something that uses both old and new to create something special.

Figure 4: Ethel, Ernest, and Raymon
The final few bits to talk about are the sound and some more literal techniques used in the film. The noise in the film once again derives from british culture, however, the film also uses superb voice acting in the film, most notably the british accents. This might seem a little odd to have this mentioned, but there is a reason for it, if the whole fim was done with american characters then the film immediately becomes more American. The inclusion of older, cockney British accents gives the cast an older British quality which can resonate with a lot of its viewers.

Freytag's Pyramid is used in the film, but it's used in an odd way. The whole film is almost like a perfect equilateral triangle, we have the whole build-up in the film, but there isn't actually a climax, never a moment where the action really escalates or elevates, but is rather just a gradual incline and decline. From the start we knew ultimalty what the end was going to be and freytags prymid shows its versisility here. The is a human story, so if the film followed strictly freytag prymid it would probably lose some of its more humanizing qualities.

Long story short, this film is an honouring to Brigg's parents, showing that even over 150 years later how much of an impact they have had on the British people, giving them an animator who has created experiences for everyone to enjoy, which in a weird way shows how the older British culture still shines through in these modern times. This film is a tribute, an honest, delightful and heartfelt tribute, and not one that should be forgotten anytime soon. "Briggs honored his parents by playing up their chirpy stoicism, but theirs was a generation of vast change, which we witness overtaking them without their full understanding. The backdrop to this very English marriage – soot and grit and survival, and that base note of touching bafflement – means all the tears are earned." (T Robey. 2016)


Jones, J. (2017) Ethel & Ernest.
(Accessed on 29 March 2017)

Robey, T. (2016) Ethel & Ernest Review
(Accessed on 29 March 2017)

Image Bibliography

Figure 1: Ethel & Ernest

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Clay Works: Day One, 28/03/2017

Clay Head 1
So today we had to begin work on our clay head sculpture, after a small retweak to my ideas I decided to do Anakin Skywalker from the clone wars.
Star Wars Clone Wars: Anakin Skywalker
When we were working in clay before we were told it would have been similar and different to Maya. Working in Maya there are a lot of shortcuts that be taken to get the result you want, however, in clay, there aren't really any shortcuts. What is similar to Maya though however is the rule of the more time you would spend on this the better the final outcome will be.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Adaptation B: Post Pitch Feedback Reflection 24/03/2017

So the Pitch for Adaptation Part: B has come and gone, but there a few things I want to reflect on for the future. So after feedback from my pitch there are a couple things to take note of the first being is the way I actually presented the presentation.
I've done a fair amount of testing in regards to this animation, however, I didn't even mention any of these things in the presentation. Things like hard surface modeling, projection mapping and how the animation actually works. There is still a lot of work and Re-Working that needs to be done, but I do believe that what I now need to achieve is a lot more achievable that I had previously thought.

The thing is I had done a fair amount of work but didn't mention it. What I do know to still do is stick to my current art direction, the feedback I got for some of my choices artistically were quite nice! However there is still a lot of work to be done and I'm ready to tackle it head on.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Acting Session: Week 2 22/03/2017

I know it says Week 2, but unfortunately, I didn't have any sort of camera so I couldn't take any screenshots from last week.

In the acting classes, we have been learning about positioning and translating messages through means of action rather than words. It's interesting to see how certain messages can be translated because of the way the body moves or reacts to certain situations.

I can definitely see how these kinds of things can be applied to animation and the rules that can be applied to different kinds of animation. The twelve principles can also be applied to the way we act to an extent, so the emphasis on certain motions to portray either an action or a movement is super interesting to partake and observe.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

World Cinema, Film Review: Persepolis (2007) 21/03/2017

Figure 1: 'Persepolis' (2007) Poster

This film review will be focusing on the film 'Persepolis (2007)', this film follows the story of a young girl known as Satrapi. This story is based on the real events and effects of the time period in which the film is set (70's/80's), whilst all of the government corruption grows and festers this very innocent story of how a girl has to go about living her life is a simple story. However, through an interesting art style and clever animation, this film appears very human.

The film was made in 2007, was directed by Marjane Satrapi, was produced by Xavier Rigault and the music for the film was produced by Olivier Bernet. In 2007 this film was nominated for Academy Award for the best-animated feature, however, it lost to Pixars 'Ratatouui' (2007).

The theme of the whole film is very similar to waltz with Bashir, as the film is Iranian, but also French. It's interesting to note how deep and personal both of these stories are, and how the cultures they are base on seem to correlate to they are made. This story, for a single person, may seem a little long and can feel a little 'too personal' at times, however, it's the humanizing moments in the film and the minor details that are brought through in animation that make this film understandable and relatable. "It might seem that her story is too large for one 98-minute film, but "Persepolis" tells it carefully, lovingly and with great style. It is infinitely more interesting than the witless coming-of-age Western girls we meet in animated films; in spirit, in gumption, in heart, Marjane resembles someone like the heroine is "Juno" -- not that she is pregnant at 16, of course. While so many films about coming of age involve manufactured dilemmas, here is one about a woman who indeed does come of age, and magnificently." (R Ebert 2008)

Figure 2: Car Journey

So to jump in straight away, the entire story is based on the experience of a single human being. Following the story of this small little girl in this big diverse world and how she traverses it is the main heart of this story. Having small quirks in narrative and storytelling really sell the authenticity of the film. The actual contents of the film (And its contents at times can be quite dark) deal with serious issues such as discrimination, poverty, fear, sexism, and the list goes on. However, because of the contents of the film, these films don't seem to either offend or indoctrinate because we understand from the perspective of the viewer that is is very real, and the consequences of these events can be very real, and very harmful.

Another film that can be related to this film is the film 'Waltz with Bashir' (2008). Now the narrative of the both of these films are very different, and the way they are both told differ immensely. What is interesting to take note of however is the humanizing, and real elements of the films. Both films are centered around the events of people who went through traumatic experiences and had to come out the other side as stronger people. Both films express their undertones and situation from an artistic perspective which give the general undertone for the film depth.

Another film that is similar to this one is 'Sita Sings the Blues' (2009), now despite all of the difference between these two films, narratively and aesthetically once again they both share some similarities. The main similar it I seeing once again are the way the stories are told and the aesthetic theme. Both borrow animation techniques from one another and it's also not entirely impossible that one film may have potentially affected the other.

Figure 3: Gas Masks

Now it has been established that the narrative of the film has been worked, written and developed very well. However despite the fact, the story is very good it would be nothing without its visuals, told mainly monochromatic 2D animations. The refined designs of the characters, props, and environment we get to visit, smaller details can be picked up upon much more easily. Facial animations are particularly well done as everything looks like it is meant to be there, and at not point do any of the facial animations look out of place. As for the use of monochromatic, it blends nicely with the overall mood of the film, a serious topic which deserves a serious art style. The art style would still obviously still need to retain some traits of characterisation and 'Artistic Quirks', but the level of these choices in design are refined very well.

There are a few scenes in the film which use color, however, the reason behind why there are only a few scenes could either have to do with the budget, or it could be symbolic. Having the color in the scenes which are taking place in the current time in the story gives the sense that everything else is a flashback, and interpreted as a series of events rather than a straight story.

The main praise of rthis filmhowever is that it's a personal story done right, the development of the film is pretty amazing. Sometimes personal stories can get a little too personal, literally focusing on a single person. With this film however it seems to balance itself very well, having enough screentime for our main character but also having segments that really make her world feel feasible and plausible. Not too personal, but real enough so that the film can be enjoyed. "Here is an adaptation so inspired, so simple and so frictionless in its transformation of the source material that it's almost a miracle. When I tell people it's a lo-fi animation, largely in black-and-white, about Iran, they put their heads in their hands and make a low groaning sound. But I've seen those same people bounce happily out of the cinema after seeing it as if they had had some sort of caffeine injection." (P Bradshaw, 2008)


Bradshaw, P. (2008) Persepolis.
(Accessed on 21 March 2017)

Ebert, R. (2008) Persepolis Movie Review & Film Summary (2008)
(Accessed on 21 March 2017)

Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'Persepolis' (2007) Poster

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Adaptation Part B: Visual References and Inspirations 09/03/2017

The idea that the whole scene blends seamlessly is very interesting. Giving the illusion that the whole animation would be one sequence rather than separate would be quite crucial.

Horizon is an amazing example of how projection mapping can give an impression of depth and scale. This should be used in the final animation, but this a cool use of this technique nonetheless.

Hors Champ uses colour and screen effects very effectively to give a sense of realism and believability, despite the art style of the animation.

The animation in Coil is very well done, some scenes use a large amount of animation, whilst some areas only need a small amount, but it's enough to emphasise an emotion.

Adaptation Part B: Development, Effects and Drawings 09/03/2017

Rough Knight Environment Concept

The effect should just be popped into the animation when it is all done, and this is just a small taste of what to expect. Turns out the pixel physics isn't as complicated as I originally thought.

Maya Tutorials: Max Maya Flip Animation 09/03/2017

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Final Attempt

I've tried to experiment with camera angle a little bit to see if I can't enhance the quality of the animation, this has kind of worked but I can even admit it does seem a little jarring towards the end. Hopefully, I will be able to try this again at a later date, and apart from a few bugs with this, I'm pretty happy with it.

I'll be pretty honest and say that this was surprisingly more difficult than I expected, and will definitely look to improve this skill as its something I know I can do well in and want to do well in.

Overall this took me just over 3/3.5 hours to create, and this was the first time I'ver also used a doppler sheet in my methods. Will definitely apply this technique again when I come across more animation tasks.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Adaptation B: Timeline Re-Work and Maya Experimentation 03/03/2017

So I've gone and re-worked this timeline I had, so now I can start posting my storyboards and environment designs.

Before I start producing all of my assets (And there will be a lot of them), I wanted to experiment with different technologies. Recently I have been messing around with ncloths and nconstrains and I've been able to get a good idea of how they work. With this technology, I could create things like ships, capes and maybe a couple ribbons.

I still need to keep final compositing in mind when creating this because I don't know how long these will take to render, or how long it will take to composite.

I've also been trying to get a theme down for my production and so far I'd like to think it looks pretty clean. My style is pretty minimalist already so I will have to see how I can build off of that and gain a couple more tricks under my belt.