Sunday, 13 May 2012

Finishing Line

Deadline Day!

Overall I feel considering time and my abilities I have produced the best I can.  There are some scenes I wish I could redo but simply do not have the time.  I feel I have developed my animation skills further and although have had not had as much time as needed to go back and change some mistakes or improve some animations, either it be technical or acting wise, I am pleased with the progress I have made.  As even though this is my final film, I am still young to the industry and still have much to learn.  I have a much better understanding of colour theory and environment tones and depth use.  If I get a chance to work on another personal project I will take into consideration all the aspects needed, not just the character design and performance.  I recognise in a way my film’s ending is very cliché but also learnt is extremely hard to stay away from the film clichés and get your point across.  I also realised that I probably bit off a little bit more than I could chew for the sheer amount of work this film took.  But I wanted a challenge and although I would like to go back and change some animated shots or improve the movement in some parts I just wanted to make a good film I would be proud of, which considering this is my first film I am.


Compositing unknown error

Day before deadline, and technology is not my friend today. I have composited all the individual shots of my film have been exported at ha very high aspect. It toke almost three days and when I put together all the scenes and music the current computer I was on did not have a present setting for quicktime. So I exported it of a preset of H264 and made sure it was 25 fps, 1920x1080 and was square pixels. However when it exported it did play very nicely on a Windows player but on quicktime it was jumpy even though the frame rate was right. So as soon as I saw that the video was jumpy I went straight to another computer, linked up all the files again and tried to export but it just said unknown error. I tried to put the output in numerous locations but it made no difference. Then the uni closed, to I toke my wrong codec export file home and hopefully will get up very early and try again tomorrow morning.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Meeting the end...

Two days til deadline time,  compositing is going well and Alex has not only coloured some more frames for me but has also composited two shots to a standard I am most pleased with.

As my film will not be coloured in it, I am simply going to add all the completed frames and the cleaned up frames on top of the backgrounds.  Since all the backgrounds are complete I want to make sure they are all in the hand in film.  However since a majority of the backgrounds are dark I have had to have a purple outline around the lineart.  This means although the characters are still see through they are much more visible which is extremely important for the films incomplete readability. 

Still of purple in progress shot:

Name of film:

I am also having some last minute thoughts on the title of my film.  I am not ecstatic about 'pond', I think it's a bit boring.  However it is easy for file naming exchanges with helpers. 

However months ago my mum found an article on the study of dragonflies

The article titled 'Research into the visual communication of dragonflies, looked upon new research on how dragonflies communicate with each other through colour.  The research paper was named:  Odonata colour.  It was the word Odonata that appealed to me, the article went on to say that dragonflies communicate with each other through colour and light which the human eye can not see.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Compostiting Week

The final week and it's compostiting time with what footage I have so far of my film.  Most of my film is not coloured yet but I have some first years at the ready after their deadline is done which unfortunately does not give them time to complete any shots for my deadline but will be most helpful to ensure te film is complete for the grad show.  I have had various helpers with colouring and cleaning up my frames, but Alex is my only long term helper as everyone else have had to work on their own projects, and only been able to work on one or two shots.  Thus I have had to ask for help from different people each week. 

So far I have had three 3rd years, two 2nd years and two 1st years helping me, along with my brother completing two shots for me over the summer.  I only finished animating a week ago, so my schedule is later than expected but working at the studio from 9 til 9 I am working me best to get as much complete as possible with still maintaining a high standard of work.

I am currently working on a cintque computer which is perfect as I can composite and cut on layers on photoshop when needed.  It's perfect.  However one after effects film, the opening scene this week has been a problem, it has been terribly slow, and the helper to made the sequence failed to make the shot to a strandard I wanted, with the too many layers of clouds and slowing down the whole computer as a load of useless large files were clogging up the bin and therefore making editing impossible. It wasn't until I deleted this useless files that the composition began to respond.  But another hour wasted.

Dragonfly Animation

Originally I was going to do all my dragonfly animation on after effects but when looking at the dynamics and the different angles the dragonflies's body needed it seemed more problematic to do the movement on after effects than just doing it by hand.  All my tests of the dragonfly for my feasibility study were of it just going in a straight direction.  But there were some scenes where that wasn't the case, the dragonfly was changing direction and therefore different body angles were needed.  At the end I hand drew 10 scenes with the dragonfly only 3 require after effects.

I haven't done the wings like my test animation either, I simply hand drew them and smugged the pencil to give it a motion blur. In my line tests it worked very well.  The wings are also animated on a separate layer from the body as I am adding a colour overall effect to them so that they have the same colour as the light, to show they are from the same world, and it is much more visually interesting than just black wings. The only time the wings need detail is when the dragonfly is close up and not in flight.

Along with Alex animating the dragonfly in Scene5 shot1, which I was very pleased with, he is also cleaning up and colouring most of the dragonfly scenes.  He and Deb have been my most loyal and hard working helpers on the project and have come back with the best results.

Music and Film still

Me and my composer met today and had a chance to also meet with James and to show him the first complete track.  Most feedback was positive, and he liked the flow of the piano piece but the dragonfly part needed to to ease into the excitement than just spring out of nowhere. James also said the the dragonfly flute part wounded a little bit to "irish".  Overall my composer was pleased with the majority of positive feedback and agreed the dragonfly piece needed some work.

Film Still.
We also had to give in a film still for the poster to advertise the years grad show.  I thought this still would be the most appealing, and captures the curiosity of my creature.  I don't think I will advertise my film as a dark melancholy film, as at the end of the day that isn't the majority of my film and I do not want to mislead an audience before they even watch it.


Backgrounds complete

So far all my film's animation is complete, 95% is cleaned and alpha channeled, but only about 25% is coloured.  I have been put off from asking anyone else to composite for me since the last MA student who helped me took up more of my time than saving it.

Deb has now successfully complete all backgrounds.  She will get a high credit for the film as she not only experimented with colour, tone and depth for my film but literally coloured and shaded every single background.  Once all the backgrounds were complete some still need tweaked with lighting and continuity but Deb is currently working on other projects so will not be able to do any work for me until after the deadline.

With experimenting with some of the much earlier concepts of backgrounds Deb also helped with deciding what the final scene would look like.  I knew it had to stand out from the other backgrounds, but I didnt know how?  She produced these three images and I then showed them to the tutors and the third one got all the votes.  It still looked like it was in the same world, unlike the brown background which Leonie stated look like 'baby diarrhea', once again brown is not my friend.  I also knew that the burst of light was a very important factor as I didnt want the audience or the creature to know where she was going to add a sense of mystery to the end of the film.

Here are the three experiments Deb made: (drawn by me, toned and coloured by Deb)

Second: Photobucket
Third: Photobucket
None the less as part of the composting process I am adding the lighting to all the backgrounds needed.  It is essential for there to be light beams in the deadline edit, otherwise my film's structure will not make visual sense.  It does make a huge difference to the overall frame.  To make the lighting I used the pen tool to draw the outline and then fill it in with a gradient and added multiple layers of different sized light stripes.  I then added another layer for the little light speckles.  Ideally I would like the light and the specks to gently move but again with time restraints it will not me done by the final deadline but hopefully will have time before the grad show.

Here is a little before and after of the final scene before I apply the lighting effect.

After: Photobucket Before: Photobucket After: Photobucket

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Progress report

So far so good with the films progress. I have completed animating in total 28 shots, and have 27 left to animate. This last two weeks I have animated two of the hardest shots in my film that last a long time and also involve slow movements. Im trying to get my frames scanned on the weekend, animate in the day and do some clean up and alpha channeling in the evenings. Not many of my shots have been coloured yet, my aim is to get all the animation done by the rough draft deadline and a reasonable amount cleaned and coloured. Help wise I know I am going to need more assistance with colour if I am going to get my film complete in time, therefore after Easter I will ask some first years for help.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Texture Tests

I realised that with my backgrounds being all details and having some texture to them my creature looked really flat... which is a nightmare.  As I have no time to shade each individual frame I though giving her a texture will be the next best thing.  I did these four texture tests. I will do some market research and see what people think looks the best.

Texture 1
Texture 2
Texture 3
Texture 4

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Rough Colour Test

Useing toning when colour is very important to my film, but I still had not got a complete coloured frame with my creature in the background.  So here was some rough colour tests to see her in at different stages of light.

darkest Photobucket darker Photobucket light Photobucket lightest Photobucket I think for my dark scene I will go with the darkest test, for medium when the light enters the light and for the last scene the lightest. Though I will not know until those backgrounds are fully coloured

Friday, 17 February 2012

Dissertation Week

Animation wise my film is currently on a temporary hold, as I just want to blast through my dissertation so I won't be caught in the rush of finishing it on the week before deadline and worrying about getting it covered and bound in time.  I am currently doing quite well and have only conclusion let to finish and will send it off to be checked and HOPEFULLY it will be fully complete by the end of next week.

In film news, me and Deb are working well with the backgrounds, still getting the tones right and the colour will work much better on top.  Alex is helping me currently with the meeting the dragonfly scene and since I was not happy with my animation test I have given Alex the responsibility of experimenting on how the dragonfly will move on the close up scene.  I still plan on the dragon being animated by after effects when it is in flight.  I have also found some help from an MA student, Thanos to help me with clean up and colour, which I was worrying about a bit.  I have sent me new animatic with the extra scene to my composer and he should give me another rough draft in about two weeks.  So far so good.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

First animation linetests

This week I think was a good start, I've began the animating prcess of my film, a weeks worth of work had given me four shots, each a variety of shots and movements so it will be hard to tell if I will get the same amount of shot each week but I atleast plan to get the same amount of animation in seconds rather than shots.  I'm not wanting to have any other tutors seeing my film as I have put a stamp on changing the story any more or I will simply not get it finished, however I might see Leonie just to get her opinion on shot contruction, but nothing else. 

These are my first linetests for my film:

I don't think I will animate my film in order of scenes, I think I will just animate whatever scene/shot I feel like.  Some shots are gonna me more challenging than others so if I have atleast one long shot and perhaps three shorter shots I hopefully won't get too stressed and have a nice variety in the week.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Backgrounds Longshots Lineart

Over the last week and a bit I have concentrated on the layout of my backgrounds as there is no point in animating if I don't know where my character is going.  Therefore just to get rolling I first drew up all my long shot environments, that way there is less of a chance of continuity errors with the close ups.  They are all done with pencil and paper and will be scanned and then digitally coloured in Photoshop.  One technique James suggested was that I colour in black and white to get the tones and depth right and add the colour on top.  He showed me this video as an example.

These are my background thus far:













Me and Deb are giving this technique a go, and will see if it will work better than just colouring it straight off.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Animatic with extra scene

Added extra scene and gonna get feedback from Matt and friends soon to see if it marries well with the film and if it's work the extra few seconds of work to make the film's story and the creature leaving more powerful.

The extra scene does make the overall film 14 seconds longer but I think it's worth the extra effort if it gives the ending a greater impact.

Feedback with extra scene:
  • I had more crit about the music not fitting but my composer has not had time to come up with anything new yet but it is currently being produced.
  • In the animatic the timing is a bit off in some parts but I'm not worried about that too much and it will be fixed while I animate.
  • The angle with the hand might need to be tweeked as it's just not a very appealing angle.
  • Pablo brought up that the audience might think that's she's only leaving because her home is wrecked but I will make surer she is hesitant and fighting with the decision to to either stay or leave.
  • The character is now better understood.
  • Caroline liked the new scenes and the wind metaphor.

Background Assistance with Deb

I knew I would need help with not just the animation but the backgrounds, so I found Debourah, a second year animation student and she was excited to assist me in the colour concept. 

Deb will have to be heavily creditted as she is helping a lot more that I origanally thought but from looking at my timetable and the amount of work it is needed and much apprieciated.
So far I have drawn up some rough layouts for each long shot of the film and given them to Deb for colouring for her to experiment with different colours and shades.  One colour scheme I was sure about was that at night everything to be blue, and for the tree trunnks not to be brown or black.  I have to make sure that I have a variety of interesting colours such as greens, blues, purples, yellow and orange.

These are her colour tests so far with the night scene:

This is the first night test, work of Deb
This is the lighter version, work of Deb
This is the darker version, work of Deb

Colour Journey:
night/storm - dark blue, bit of purple
wake up - dark green bit of blue, poss purple
sees the light - light green bit of yellow
leaves pond - light green yellow and a bit of orange

Feedback Of Animatic

When presenting my animatic on Monday I got a variety of feedback. 

  • Caroline and James suggested that it needed a metaphor alongside the creature's journey to show her growth, such as tadpols turning into frogs etc.  I wasn't sure where I would be able to fit this in and since it's added in last minute it might seemed like it's added in at the end... which it is and wouldn't flow with the film.
  • The music got a lot of bad critisim, I was expecting it thought as with my composer Jason Savory, I had not had a chance to meet him in person so he just produced something rough using my copyrighted piece as influence.  I have met with him since and given him a much better idea on what the music will sound like.
  • The dragonfly got quite possitive feedback.  The first and fourth wing tests were the most popular and the first and second movement tests also got the most votes.
  • Also with the dragonfly people suggested that it must glow and almost sparkle to make it more special for the audience, as although the creature has never seen a dragonfly before, the audience must believe that this dragonfly is unique and must see it as the creature sees it.
  • When seeing Matthew Gravelle he said that the end didn't have as much impact as there's no point in the film where it shows the creature is attatched to her pond and therefore her leaving it doesn't seem as much of an impact. 
  • When discussing this with friends they suggested that the storm would effectivly damage her pond and that it would be a good scene just to briefly show her cleaning up, this would show that she cares for the pond and hopefully the end would be more powerful.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Animation Tests

Over the holiday I also had to experiment with how the film will overall look in it's final stages of production.  This included movement, colour, layout and editting.  I tried to do the shot's that I knew would definatly not be cut from my film. 

My second test was just a rough little test of the rough colouring and layout of the creature moving within the environment. I think the blue tone works best, so for the night scene I will be using blue tones.  Some of the others either look visually unpleasing or just too floresent.

My second test was the enviroment test, which is the first shot of the film to establish the location and just to jump in to the dramatic atmosphere of the storm.  I also tested out the after effects rain simulartion and I think it works well and it doesn'y stand out too much, just marries which well with the environment.  I drew on paper the overall forest from the sky to the bottom of the forest, the imported it into after effects, cropped it into different layouts to add perspective when it moved and moved the image around to give the illusion of the camera moving.  I did not use the 3D camera so I am not sure if it will look any different or even better so I will have to experiment, also I will have to consider which is the faster way to edit.

My key test animation was just too see how the creature moves around the screen, I added a rough green background just to have a bit more of a feel to the shot.  I think with this scene I need to zoom in more to add a more intense connection between the creature and dragonfly.

My forth test is somthing I'm still not sure about, what the dragonfly is doing in the first time it is shown on screen.  I've looked at video reference and while they are sat on leaves etc they do not move much, somtimes a quick flick of the head,  a tail twitch or it's wings might flicker.  There was also footage of a dragonfly communicating through it's tail almost breathing in and out, it created a beautiful shine as the sun reflexs it's shiny skin. 
For thr first test I applied a 3D plain on ther dragonflies wings and rotated them to make it look liek the wings were slowly flapping.  My mum said this looks too mechanical and a friend said the 3D might not go with the reast of the film.
My second test I'm not fussed on, I think it makes the dragonfly look more dead than the last one.  Plus I don't like the angle I've drawn it at.
Overall I think if I keep the 3D wings but make it more sutble.  I also think I need to add a glow of some sort to to the dragonfly to make it more special.

Finally I then experimented with the different wings I could use.  I studied the way a dragonfly's wings operate during flight.  There are two sets of wings, when the front row go up the back row do the opposite etc.  So for eat test I created four separate wings, parented them to the body and moved them up and down to create a fast flapping movement. 
My favourite is the top left and bottom right,  I think the 3D wings don't work with flighing, it looks too much like a butterfly.  The other I think is too busy.

With the movement tests I experimented with the flow and speed of the dragonfly.  My favourite is the first one and second, I feel the rest either move to fast like a fly or too slow like a butterfly.  I think the quick zippy movements work well and creat a dragonfly character about it.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Reference Footage and Planning

Over the holidays after completing my final animatic I prepared to record my reference footage for all the scenes with the creature present.  I first drew up a shot break down on a word document by listing up each scenes and the shots within them along with what happens in each shot.  Overall my film has five scenes forty eight shots.

I filmed the animatic and my brother kindly assisted me by being my model/actor.  Which filming I noticed more continuity errors that I will fix while animating, such as when the creature reaches her hand out to the light and cuts to a close up of the hand, it's the wrong hand.


This week I will test some dragonfly animating,  I originally planed to hand animate it but since moving it digitally on premier pro I think animating it on after effects as well as playing with the motion blur will be more effective.  Before I start to animate my scenes I will do some background layout planning first, otherwise I am at the risk of proportion and angle errors and therefore wasting valuable time.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Shaded Animatic

For my final animatic hand it, I decided to shade it so that I knew if people would have a much better understanding of the theme of the light against the dark.  It also helps me define what areas need work and that the character will stand out from the background.

The soundtrack is a rough cut by Jason Savory, who at this moment seems the most likely candidate for being the composer for my film.  I found him over the holidays through the university music society and therefore will have to arrange a meeting with him when I return to Newport to discuss exactly what I want and to go through the key moments of the film.