„A narrative is a written, spoken or visual account of connected events. A narrative can best be understood in terms of the tradition of storytelling. A story can be factual or fictional. It can be conveyed through books, magazines, newspapers, comics, film, television, exhibition and the web. Designers have adopted the form of the story or narrative as an engaging and efficient method of sequencing information.”
„A sequence is the specific order in which a series of related events proceed. Designers consider the story that is to be told and make decisions regarding the order in which key information is to be seen or heard. A sequence of information may flow continuously or be punctuated with silence, noise, space or time. Clear segmentation of information that can be reconnected back to an overall concept allows an appreciation of the individual parts as well as the whole.”
(Tony Pritchard, 2009)
I have a lot of thoughts on my mind right now… It’s all about “Can I really learn these new things?”. Generally speaking, I like animation, but I haven’t really worked in this field before. Anyway, I’m a bit uncertain right now, but surely I’ll be more comfortable with this in the next few weeks.
Look at me! I’ve already started writing in my very first blog. In year one I used to keep my notes and research in a sketchbook. Always at hand. Now, looking at blogging from a different perspective, I realize that it’s an improvement from a sketchbook. Perhaps, useful ideas have been lost through too many pages. I think the blog will eliminate such kind of problems. It’s a different focus when you’re reconsidering notes, research, images etc. And another big advantage is that you can keep your working progress in a video format. Video never leaves any meticulous detail escape.
I’m already more relaxed. It will be fine. You have imagination, you have a good eye for graphic design… put them in motion!
So far, I cannot say that I have any particular type of animation that I like. So I will review two short animations, different techniques used, giving the best of my constructive criticism.
Javier Recio Gracia (2009)
Beyond the plot of the movie (by the way, it’s a drama “wrapped” in top quality humor), which caught my eye from the very beginning is the accuracy with which the scenes were created. Small details executed with great finesse (the moving old woman’s hair, the reflection of her face in the glass frame, the gouges of the gramophone disc, the adjustments of the folds of the pillow etc.). The second reason why the movie surprised me is the fast tempo in which some of the scenes are played (the fight between reaper and doctor, the chase for the “prize”), scenes which in real time only last 3 minutes, but it left me with a sensation that what I watched was much more.
Another forte of the movie I think is the soundtrack correlated with the facial expressions of the characters. It is as if you “read” the story, the dialogues, the unsatisfaction or satisfaction of the characters in actual words. Like subtitles embedded in your head.
Maciek Janicki (2013)
After watching a few animations, more or less exciting, I came across this superb movie. The simplicity yet its complexity is hard to overlook. All the small things give the impression of a titanic handmade work, almost impossible to accomplish.
Beyond the finesse of this project I liked another aspect quite a lot. Following the small car you feel time flowing naturally, as well as everything that appears on the sides is as if it’s a “rewind” of a destruction. It’s almost as I was watching a movie in “forward” and “rewind” at the same time. I’m not certain that I found the right words for what I felt, but for sure it’s a forte of the movie… At least in my opinion.
Character making I
Workshop day. The task was to make a character from a set of different materials. The process sounds easy but as the character shapes itself, it got harder to choose what materials to use to complete various of the body, how to shape it as a whole, what you are aiming to. The materials used were: plastic glasses, elastics, cardboard, clay, straws, and matches. Finally my character has personified into Eric: a young alien, estimately in his early 20’s, left his home planet Venus looking for new challenges. From what he told me when he arrived, Venus is a pretty rough place to live in. Terrible weather , bullies and nothing to do except hunt. His attitude shows me he has a warrior spirit. He doesn’t talk too much though. He is pretty grumpy and honest, the looks he gives me with one or both eyes make me… Brrrr!!! I don’t know how he will handle himself on Earth, but I won’t wait to see it. It’s not exactly the guy whom you want to be friends with, so I let him find his own away and give shape to another character, this time in hope for it to be a bit more pacifistic.
Character making II
Name: Mopsy / Age: around 15 years old / Gender: male / Date of birth: unknown / Height: 12 cm / Weight: 150g / Place of residence: London / Profession: freelancer / Likes: children / Dislikes: gadgets / Social media links: don’t like
Write a few lines about how would you describe yourself to others.
I’m a little shy, I love quiet and meditation. I like children, especially their honest nature. I want to meet new people every day, with which I can have long conversations, to know their thoughts and with whom I can share my knowledge with. I don’t like gadgets and overall technology which transforms people into solitary beings.
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring 5 things, what would it be?
a pen / paper / gramophone / a favorite record / a whiskey bottle
If you could have any job, other than the one you have now, what would it be and why?
A detective. I like to analyze little details which other people miss out and to surface the hidden truth.
What is the first thing that you do when you wake up and the last before you go to sleep.
In the morning I drink a cup of coffee. Before I go to sleep I smoke a cigarette and reflect upon the day which has just passed.
What makes you feel relaxed and what makes you really angry?
Talking with nice people makes me feel relaxed. People being sucked into the world of gadgets.
Tell us a bit about your best friend.
I don’t yet have one.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
To play pool but sometimes I forget the notion of time.
Memories from your childhood?
People were more friendly towards me, more available to be around me.
A week of joy
QUESTION FOR THE CREATOR: Now that you know your character better, write a paragraph about him and your experience of living with him.
He is often taciturn, gets angry quickly when he is near technology because he thinks that people have become reliant on it in a negative way. But in the moments in which he held conversations with me and various of my friends he was truly adorable. He can be funny when he is in the center of attention. To conclude, he is a valuable friend, capable to enrich your life, always willing to help to get past difficult moments. I think I will keep him for a while longer.
Creating the silhouette
Creating the silhouette, I used Adobe Photoshop and Corel Draw.
Making a storyboard
Once a concept or script is written for a film or animation, the next step is to make a storyboard. A storyboard visually tells the story of an animation panel by panel. That depicts the sequence of the key scenes (setting, dialogue and action) of a movie with pictures or sketches and text. It help to visualize the concept and in deciding whether or not to proceed with the final production. The finished movie may not always conform to all aspects of the storyboard, but they will document many of the early developments in the movie.
For this task and for the next phases of our project I was assigned to a team, formed of three people: me (of course!), Brandon and Patricia. At the first meeting as a group, we established a few technical details and drawing some ideas for the story which will come to life in a short video.
Making a video
Day has debuted very well. The weather was great for this month and it has given us a good mood. Already at the location, we have managed very quickly to prepare the necessary materials for the storyboard scenes. There were a few hours filled with humor and improvisation, in which we took turns in being directors, scenographers, cameramen. We hope that after the mounting of the video, we will have satisfaction of a thing well done.
A useful visit in the universe of comic-books. Forbidden Planet. Source of inspiration for a future cut-out.
Looking at the video now, I realize that many aspects in its making can be improved. From the narrative, to the technical details. It’s hard to consider everything in your first try. Especially, the character’s movement can be improved a lot which implicitly could be make the narrative clearer. In any case, it was a successful experiment which gave me a new perspective over animation.
The cut out
For the cut out animation, I modified the original storyboard to obtain more simplistic scenes, keeping in mind that in this type of animation we cannot use background or any other helpful things to show the narrative. Only the characters can be used. I think this animation it’s a good experiment in terms of how we can actually do our final animation. The process of making this animation was easy, but take a lot of time.
The cut out, second attempt
This animation was realized only by Patricia and me.
I tried to imagine a short story with a moral behind it. The film refers to respecting the PG signs, which are given often when watching a movie. PG stands for Parental Guidance. (This means a film is suitable for general viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.)
The final animation. Research
Keeping in mind previous experiments, feedback and the level of knowledge in After Effects, I decided to find inspiration in stop-motion and cut-out animation, creating a film, which based on the storyboard, to forge a link between reality and the world of animation. We focused on the type of animation which uses After Effects and animated characters. Wanting and the gaining of a touch of humor, I think the animation from “SpongeBob in Real Life” is appropriate to our desire. Funny and effective, is a perfect way to illustrate a story with moral which we chose to represent in the final movie.
In the last two movies, presented above, I tried to find the most appropriate effect for the final scene of the film in which we will use typography, which in my opinion should be a memorable one.
After Effects Practice
After a few hours of practice with Markos, I started to work on my own animation at a beginner’s level. I cannot say it’s a hard software to master, but it is definitely not easy and I need a lot of practice for the future. In any case I was overwrought when I finished the scenes assigned to me by my group. (Even if they’re not exactly professional, I am pleased I made the first step!)
Rated movies are not always for pleasure
Final Animation Feedback
“I’m relief that you have a final animation (…) The narrative works really well, the background works good with the characters. (…) I would get rid of the initial text, and the characters presentation can be shorter. The bubbles could be more animated, also the outline, it looks a bit outside the scene, it looks that it doesn’t belong to the animation because of the different ascetic (…) it needs more secondary movement for the robot. (…) The inside of the house looks different from the inside, looks that they are in a different place. (…) Some shots could have more time, (…) the discussion to choose the film could be more explored (…) the screen could shake a little bit when Spacefrog is getting out” – Alexandra
In general, we think that the project can be considered successful. The experiments from the first stage were a real help in finishing the ending movie.
Accomplishing the outdoor movie brought us a surplus in reconsidering technique and narration for the final movie. Certainly this film could be improved, especially in the technique of movement of the characters, but being pushed by time, we chose to allocate more time to finishing the final movie.
I am really happy that I used After Effects because from the start of the final animation I didn’t know a lot about it, but now I learned more about the program. The execution of the scenes in After Effects wasn’t very difficult but it certainly takes a lot of patience. The fact that the software gives you the possibility to use ”parenting layers” eases a lot the synchronizing of various characters parts’ movements. The rest relies on the precision in using the position, anchor point, scale. But everything is learned through practice. Using After Effects has not just been another software, but I feel like it is a more than necessary tool to achieve a pleasurable aesthetic in animation.
One aspect, we can say, didn’t work efficiently. The group of three, became quickly a group of two (after making the outdoor movie and the first cut-out): Patricia and Ovidiu. It is pretty hard to re-divide, in the middle of the project, tasks for three. Failure of the allocated responsibilities of the third member hanged quite a bit in obtaining a good quality for the final film. However, with all these, we can say that due to the capacity of reorganization and the desire to finish the movie, we got a pretty good result , even, in two, we found the time to remake the cut-out , which we are now pretty pleased with.
We think that presenting the situation fairly is just and represents, in essence, the appreciation of the work done, without it this project would have resulted in failure.