Week 17: Picture This (3rd Minor Project)

4th January 2016 – This was the day that we began our 3rd minor project, titled ‘Picture This’, in which we were to create much more non-fictional piece than the previous projects. Initially I found this difficult, coming up with several ideas, only to learn that my favourite and most developed one was too fictional and so I would be unable to do it. Eventually, I settled on the idea of animating a TED talk, as I have always found these interesting, and fortunately found one that was relevant to the course: a talk by JJ Abrams on the withholding of information in films in order to keep the audience interested and in suspense, and this can be done in many ways, not just in suspenseful films such as horrors or thrillers. I also decided that because it was a more non-fictional piece, I would try stop motion, to give variation in my animation style, as well as the fact I believed it would work better with this kind of piece.

It was by about mid-way through the second week that I settled on this idea, and from there I drew out a storyboard, captured a test sequence with my phone camera, and started drawing out each of the resources I would use in my movie, and then in the final week (18th January), I began capturing the final project. Unfortunately, due to a lack of available equipment in my classroom at the time (most of the computers set up were already in use), I again had to capture the video with my camera. The two main problems with this were that the quality of the image was lower than originally planned, and that I was unable to see the previous frame easily (a function that would was available on the computers, using a software called ‘Dragonframe’). Despite all this I was somewhat happy with the final project, but have learnt through this experience that I much rather prefer using softwares such as flash as opposed to doing stop motion animation.

Week 14: Christmas – Storyboards and Essays

14th December 2015 – Over Christmas we had two main tasks to undertake. The first one was to create 3 storyboards, designed to help us to improve our drawing abilities. The first one was to be a vidual representation of recent events that took place in our lives, the second was to explre lighting and how it contributed to the mood or atmosphere of another recent event, and the third was to explore the part sound played in an event. For the first, I decided to draw out the adventure I had during a recent Zoroatrian party I went to for the longest night of the year, in which I snuck upstairs to talk to my girlfriend on the phone, and after realising nearly an hour had passed, I had to subtley rejoin the others without being noticed. The second was a deep and mushy monolgue about how some moments you wish would last forever, and yet others are gone all too quickly, but regardless, all are saved by memory. The final one was during my A level exams, and my panicking and struggling to answer the questions. All three of these storyboards can be seen below.

The second task was to complete an essay in which we were mean to look at two different practitioners and compare and contrast them, creating our own subject heading. For mine, I decided to compare the film directors Wes Anderson and Alfred Hitchcock, and my title was, ‘How two directors use the resources at their disposal to create two very different and unique styles’.  I found that directors have a number of tools at their disposal, such as shots and lighting, directing actors, and music usage, and their use of these is how they create a unique style to themselves, and obviously this would have been heavily influenced by those involved in each of their projects, and the genre of their films. Overall, it was an interesting topic to delve into, and using a variety of sources to aid me in my research, including books, journals, and their films themselves, I feel I learned a lot about filmaking.

Week 12: Sound perspective (2nd Minor Project)

30th November 2015  – This was the day we started our second mini project on ‘Sound Perspective’, wherein we were to use at least 3 of the sounds from a list given to us to create a short animation. As I completed my first one quite quickly (within  one day in fact) I decided to do a second small animation. For both, I tried to tackle two new technical effects I had not attempted before then; lip syncing, and heavy use of gradients. The first was a simple flash animation in black and white, and had a stickman walking outside, being struck by lightning, then saying ‘well, that was shocking’ (A terrible pun, I know). The second was much more serious, and started out with a couple shots of a city at night, rain falling, and thunder clapping. Then a hooded figure enters the scene, walks forward and stops. Red mist surrounds him from behind, and he turns to see a number of figures emerging from the mist. One of them stops and shrieks, and the video cuts to black.  In terms of the sounds I used, for the first, I chose the sound effects: a bell, weather (rain), and lightning, and for the second: a bell again (in the form of a bomb siren), rain and thunder again, war drums being hit rhythmically, water splashing in a puddle, and animal noises (which I used for the monster’s scream). A few frames from the two animations can be seen below.

While the first one was very sketchy, and the art style was simple, for the big, wideshots I tried to create, I first hand drew out the image simply, without adding any shading or colour, and then scanned it into the computer and drew over the lines on adobe flash, being sure to separate the correct sections into the right layers. I then added colour and shading to the scenes, before starting character animations (if any were part of that scene), and finally adding weather effects (rain or thunder in this case).

Feedback for both animations seemed positive, the only criticism to improve upon was tightening up the lip syncing to ensure the timing is perfect, but apart from that, my classmates found the first one funny as desired thanks to the timing and use of sound, and the second visually strong, with sound being used correctly to build up tension. So yes, overall I was pleased with the outcome. And that was our second project!