Friday, 27 January 2017

Animation Production Process 2 001

The highly anticipated sequel to Animation Production Process.

Ideas Generation

My current first thoughts going into this project has been a ghost with legs. Yup.
I've also experimented with different shapes to see what may spring to mind.


One of the reasons I wanted to give this a try was to see how I could potentially utilise nCloth for the animation. Discovered some strange interactions as nCloth often does simple calculations in the viewport but given the chance to calculate in either render of playblast doesn't seem to clip through the object. Of course I'd have to adjust the attributes further to mimic the cloth I wish to use.

Next steps will be developing a story with this character and looking into different stylistic choices. The characters simplistic style allows me to convey personality through either the movement of the character and the style of which I create the character.

Animation Principles 2 002

Hand Pressing Button

As I tend to do I started with some experimental sketches of the hands I wanted to animate before creating my final layout and animation. Initially I started with more realistic hands, though I moved more towards cartoon hands as I felt a little more comfortable drawing them and I prefer the aesthetic.


In the creation of this animation I made some minor adjustments to the chart to compensate for one of my keys, however, the overall motion appears to be a little jerky in the upward flick on frame 15. I believe this is due to my misinterpretation of the motion making a very extreme middle motion with an attempt of follow through without any slow out/in. Due to how quickly the animation goes from frame 11 to 15 I perhaps should have created frame 15 to flow into frame 25.

Animation Principles 2 001

The highly anticipated sequel to Animation Principles.

Hand Closing Animation

This has been quite a fun experiment, really making me think more about the subtleties of movement rather than just the key positions. How something moves from A - B can have quite the impact on the emotion being conveyed.

Initially I wanted to make sure I was comfortable drawing hands. Strangely this felt more difficult than I remember, unsure if this was due to a dwindling in my drawing practice over Christmas or if I was being more critical of my own drawings.


I'm Back!


As far as I am aware, No.
It's been a while since my last post, had a pretty horrible couple of weeks with almost no energy or motivation to work. Getting back on track now and blog posts will be coming regularly again. I hope.

Animation Principles - is still continuing with weekly exercises, so there will be more of those.

High Noon - is currently still in production, will need some revising but all is good and I'll try and get more posts of that up soon!

Character Modelling - Been given some illustrations of characters to chose from for creating and rigging a character 3D for animation. I've also received confirmation that I can indeed model robbie rotten for this project if I so wish.

Narrative - Creating another storyboard animatic for a 2 minute short film in collaboration with Martha Webby

Visual Research - Started Colour Theory with traditional painting and introduction to digital painting and software.

Legs Project - This project is heavily pre-production developing a story for a short animation about a pair of legs. Will have some posts up soon with the current direction of animation with some Maya animation tests.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Squirrel Project 002


My first pass of the animation to get down the general movement and establish all my scenes as separate files. During some scenes I did start adding some squash and stretch but for the most part I kept my animation simple for this phase and ignoring the tail completely.

Lighting & Animation

Once I had the core of my animation done I then focused on the general lighting of the scene in the Environment Master. I wanted the animation to seem as though it is during a darker portion of the day, evening / night. After this I started to go through and animate squash and stretch along with the tail. I did a test render of my opening scene to see how the environment looked in motion. Due to time constraints I decided I would not spend too much time animating aspects that are barely visible. Such as the scene shot through the door window

During the animation process I came across some issues when using my controllers for the rig. When creating the squirrel I experimented with using Parent Constraints, they appeared to work correctly initially until I started keying my animation. As I didn't create a parent hierarchy for the NURBs curves I ran into some problems with keying them. The controllers also didn't appear to affect scale, making squash and stretch difficult if I had already keyed the controllers. As I am aware of the limits of my own rig I am able to work around them. I now know what to expect next time I work with parent constraints and NURBs controllers and will likely look for a method to solve the issue. As I had already started animating, changing the rig now would cause problems.

Composition & Readability

During one of the scenes of my animation I noticed some issues with reading the scene. My eyes began to focus on the tail of the character rather than the important aspect of the acorn floating out of his grasp. This is due to the tail falling onto the rule of thirds and the acorn being fairly central. Not wanting to lose the the animation I did on the tail I tried the acorn in the right third as opposed to the left. This appears to improve readability of the scene.

Rendering & Lighting

The final phase of creating my animation is to go through and render the scene. During this process I added custom lighting to each of the scenes that may require to do so as some areas such as inside the house appear dark with just the environment lighting. I used lighting to make some aspects more visible such as the acorn falling from the sky into the house.

With sound!

As I was adding sound I noticed my final scene breaks continuity both on the 180 degree rule and with the direction which the acorn is travelling into the sky.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Narrative 004

Story Design

To establish a grounds to fix some of the previous struggles I was having with character design i decided I would start with creating a cast of characters using shape language. I then used this cast to establish relationships between each of the character's their personalities and their motivations.

Doing this also helped boost my confidence in quickly sketching out my storyboards without concern of getting my characters right.

Using this cast I have created a story that is based in space. The three right most characters are a single unit team.
'Tiny Man' - is the muscle, rarely talks, always seems grumpy.
'Spectacles' - is the behind the scenes tactical character that comes across as socially awkward.
'Mr Dude' - this is the guy that drives the plot forward making most of the decisions, good and bad.

'Evil Mr Man' - is the leader of a large organisation and is currently holding Spectacles captive.
'Sekrit' - is a companion of Evil Mr Man, mostly silent, often keeping Evil Mr Man organised as he is incapable himself.
(If my shape language holds up, the characters respective images should be apparent)

Mr Dude and Tiny Man head out to save Spectacles from Evil Mr Man. Without the help of Spectacles their plan will surely fail. As they infiltrate the enemy base, in a manner that is far too easy but they're of course Mr Dude & Tiny Man are far too oblivious to notice, they fall into a trap.
Evil Mr Man enters the scene, laughing maniacally, "You really thought it would be THIS easy?"

The Narrative proceeds to the characters being locked up, re-united with Spectacles who is immensely annoyed at Mr Dude for getting himself and Tiny Man captured. Mr Dude as someone who can't take anything seriously bursts out laughing, Tiny Man grunts, as usual.

Evil Mr Man enters the room with Skrit, revealing his master plan and location of on-board treasure, as Mr Dude points out he revealed important information, Evil Mr .. EMM proceeds to clarify that he is indeed locked up and cannot do anything. Spectacles & Tiny Man look at one another and shrug.
Sekrit reminds EMM of his weekly appointment. As they leave, the cell unlocks, letting Mr Dude, Spectacles and Tiny Man out, Mr Dude has a smug look on his face, Tiny Man & Spectacles seem confused, Mr Dude refuses to explain.

As they proceed to escape they decide to look for the treasure on board the station. Spectacles insists that this is a bad idea, Mr Dude is persuasive and they go anyway. Falling into a second trap. EMM enters the room and gloats, talking about how stupid they are.

Sekrit turns on EMM, turns out shes the brains behind the whole operation and is allies with Mr Dude. Sekrit comes out of her disguise character. Tiny Man & Spectacles seem surprised as to what Mr Dude was capable of, or in fact, that he even had any other friends besides those two. They grab the treasure and leave.

Motivation : Rescuing Friend
Character Development : Secondary Characters gain respect for Mr Dude. Sekrit reveals her true character.


I tried to hold continuity & lead the viewers eye through the scene. There are some area where I feel this is not as strong. I also wanted to further push the size of Tiny Man so I included angles & scenes that really show how small he is. The scene where Mr Dude pats/strokes Tiny Man across the head depicts the carelessness & spontaneity of Mr Dude with Tiny Mans reaction giving a sense of acceptance with a slight sight of "Again" under the impression that he is always mocked.
I also made sure that a Mr Dude lead the scene, which helps show that Tiny Man is more of a sidekick.

Cinematography is quite exciting, though, I feel my weakest spot is the initial story development that needs more work. There's very little progression in the characters attitudes from start to finish.
Tiny Man starts out as a silent character who is predictably silent, also mimicked by his shape language, perhaps through development I could give him some minor lines that catch the other characters by surprise.

Mr Dude is the kind of character who doesn't necessarily speak of his past. in fact, it almost seems non-existent and no one really thinks to ask what he does in his personal time, with the introduction of Sekrit knowing Mr Dude I can either reveal his past or allude further to the type of character he is outside of business hours.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Narrative 003

Story Concept 2

Being that I thought the previous story was too ambitious or was leading to be too long I started another one, bringing the subject down to something simple. I created a story more around day to day life of an individual that would push extremities in their personality and how they feel.

The concept for this story was a woman who struggles socially and is often alone in isolation making a decision to go out of her way to go to an event that she found a poster for. To push the characters isolation, loneliness and workaholic I decided to use a match cut between her office and bedroom to show that both environments seclude the character from the rest of the world.
During the scene where the character turns up at the event I used a strong perspective to show the other characters getting along and the main character pushed into isolation amongst the others. Until of course, they begin to talk to her.

I wouldn't necessarily view this story as awful, but at the time I did. An aspect I struggled with outside of this was developing characters and environments to go with the story. Though I did do some experimentation with shape language.

Each time I created a new idea I would write down other films and short films that resemble similar narratives or concepts. The moral that I was going towards with this story was something along the lines of perception and doing things for yourself because you determine who you are and not other people. I was also considering a moral that would be related to karma and being rewarded for your actions.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Squirrel Project 001

Squirrel Concepts

Since some time has passed since my initial ideas for the squirrel animation I realised I wasn't quite 100% dedicated the the ideas I had created. I took into account that the original idea I had was perhaps a little too ambitious and had a minor affect on my mentality towards the project. Leading my to start drawing up more concept paintings in photoshop.

The reason I chose to paint out scenes instead of creating a storyboard was because I wasn't feeling confident in my drawings at the time of creating these images and preferred painting. Secondly I found creating tests of environments and seeing how I could build them into a story made the process easier to breakdown.

My final Idea in this piece depicts an acorn falling from the sky into a nearby shed/structure, the squirrel investigates and the acorn empowers the squirrel, depicted with a strong light source coming from the structure. At this point I wasn't entirely sure of what would happen next. My initial idea involved the shed bulging, light breaking from the cracks and eventually exploding to reveal a giant squirrel. Conceptually I liked this idea and gave me the opportunity to include some action in the sequence.

Setting up the Scenes for Animation.

Happy with the general direction I started to build a scene, using referencing to give me the ability to update and improve aspects of the scene individually from one another.

I started by getting in aspects that would affect the animation first with other objects for the environment being considered as polish. Though I had started the creation process and happy with my story, there was still something that wasn't quite motivating me to continue, though I did anyway.

Everything was working fine, however, once I referenced the scene into a separate file for animating a shot I encountered some trouble with the Animation Mentor Squirrel Rig. This is likely due to the complexity of the rig, meaning I hadn't much of an idea of what was breaking or how to fix the issue. Initially I noted the issue to being something to do with Referencing. Importing the squirrel wouldn't have been a problem as I have no reason to change the rig in its base form. I encountered the same issue. After a lot of research and nothing, trying different file types, saving and reopening  as .ma, .mb, I couldn't quite get the scenes working in a manner I was comfortable with.

I took a break, evaluated my options; Try and Fix AM Squirrel, use Squashy Box or Make my own Squirrel. I decided, make my own squirrel, rebuild the environment in a stylised manner that reflects upon my previous research and experimentation.

Creating my own Squirrel

I first started by looking at pictures of squirrels both real and cartoon to get a feel for what aspects of squirrels people exaggerate and identify with. First aspect I notice is of course the unique tail, present in almost all forms of squirrel depictions. Secondly we have the 2 front teeth and the acorn. Finally the last aspects I took into consideration are the chubby cheeks and the upright standing position with larger back legs, also taking note of the lighter patches on the body.

For the model I knew I wanted squash and stretch capabilities along with follow-through on the tail. Keeping that in mind, this is the design I came up with.

Exporting into Maya posed some issues when it came to rigging and deformation. I looked for methods to fix it, tried different export types nothing. Sometimes looking for a solution may take longer than knuckling down and cleaning the mesh manually. Luckily the mesh aligned to the grid when exported.


Manually Cleaned & Rigged.
This took a while to do, however, the character is the only asset that requires being clean & is also going to be present in each scene, making the process much more worth while. Weighting the tail was difficult, many different experimentation and iterations. I can however, come back and adjust the weights as I will be referencing into the master scene.

Maintaining the same style I moved on to creating the environment, nothing too complex and based upon my previous designs. In hindsight I could have used my previous floating island concept as it may have been easier to craft with voxels.

Main Tree

Background Trees


House Interior


I noticed that when going into the voxel program my initial instinct was to paint as if they're pixels, at a fairly high resolution. This didn't quite work out and would leave me with fairly large amount of voxels to clean up. I was essentially treating the program as if it was for sculpting. Though may have worked, it was much simpler to reduce my voxel count.

Narrative 002

Story Progression

Starting off with my initial story, I was heading in a sci-fi direction in a fairly 3rd world country building into a culture different from my own. This was perhaps a little ambitious if I'd like to get the details correct.

Nonetheless I went with the idea to see where it would take me. The general concept here is that the main character is a young Muslim girl in a rundown town with a father that used to run a robotics store. Tragedy ensues and the father goes missing / dies leaving the daughter and her love for robots lost in a town where robots are condemned because of what happened. Leading the girl to go into scrapyards to find parts to fuel her obsession with robots & engineering.

Due to analysing these early progression images at a later date I am seeing new ways I could add depth to the stories. Such I can see that the mysterious disappearance of her father relating potentially to the robot that the girl finds. The robot explaining what happened, why her father is missing and giving reason as to why it is not the robots fault. Leading to further conflict as the townsfolk refuse to listen, leading to an adventure and bonding between the robot and the girl on the search for her father.
Twist, maybe the robot is her father?

Through my learning process I found myself scrapping and re-thinking my story ideas each week, reviewing my story based upon the feedback that other students have received.

Though making many mistakes and disliking my stories feels as though I am not very good, I can definitely see how each mistake has lead me to better judgement. Sometimes establishing a mental list of what doesn't work is much shorter than that of what does.

To help with the story boarding process I initially started by writing up a shots list that I would use as a reference for creating the scenes.

Though this works in theory and helps with my organisation with shots, making sure there is little overlap, contradiction and allows me to keep track of continuity. I found this method very difficult, likely due to my little experience with creating scenes and continuity, this lead me to think of another method.

Narrative 001

Story Conception Method

This method of creating stories is both relatively fast and allows for very bizarre ideas to spring to mind. The method also makes it fairly simple to visualise and decide whether a story will work prior to putting in too much work.

Following on from this, I looked into more storytelling theories and rules that may be nice to use as guidelines. I came across Pixars guide to storytelling with 22 different suggestions, most of which are generalised and wouldn't intrude upon a story design.
I consider Narrative to be one of my weaker subjects currently, so finding this image gave me a lot of realisation in regards to what a story should be.

Animation Production Process 013


This is an exercise that involves taking a piece of content that I enjoy and breaking it down into a study. I chose to take a clip from Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Doing this exercise has definitely shown me that even when I think I see everything, there is much more in each shot than what is immediately obvious. I created the storyboard in flash as I knew I could then time the scenes to the original, though seems like an extra amount of work, really did help with understanding how quick each of the shots are and visualising how many frames that is. Genuinely surprised how many cuts happen in a 30 second period, though this is likely due to the scene being a build up to action & also the style of the director/film.

Pre-University 2D Animation Showreel

??/??? - 08/2016
Compiled some of my 2D Animations that I had done over the years before starting University. This will be nice to look back on to see how I've improved in the years to come and also gives me a method to show off some of the experimental practice animations locked away in my archives.