An insanely large piece of document that will most likely have various pieces of reference and research missing in terms of links, book names, magazines and other such details. There’s around 12 pages of festivals, books, websites, and films written down from this module that aided in the design, implementation and creation of my final major project.
It is a mixture of reference and research that has mixed with previous modules due to their greater impact on my work in general, as well as things that always seem to come back around. If you’re ever interested in the actual links and other areas I have looked in to create my animation, then feel free to download the .pdf link above.
We had our final crit last week and it was great but also incredibly scary at the same time, although it was with just our other class mates it was scary to hear what they had to say. It was interesting to see how the other course mates would react to the work because no one had yet to fully see the work and it was good to know what they think about the style, composition and narrative.
Interestingly the feedback was good and it was great to see the whole course interested in each others work, taking the time to read each others briefs and really analysing the work. The whole course year feels as though it’s stepped up an entire level and was really exciting for me to see everyone elses work as well. But in terms of my feedback it was interesting to see what everyone would think as they have their own specialities even within our course, so it was good to see it from various perspectives.
Above is the sheet I had used for my feedback which I have scanned in with some good points to consider and change. I think the main issue with the timing of this presentation is that I have a larger project that I had anticipated so the animation isn’t all there. I know now that the animation will not be finished for the hand in, but I will be working on it for festivals and end of year show which will mean I want it finished by the end of this month.
I’ve come to be a little bit more relaxed with the whole thing since the presentation and know that what I have done hasn’t gone to waste, this is not just for the animation itself but all the research and time I’ve taken to build up all the work. The next thing to do with this is to take all this feedback, make some changes to the work I have so far and then finish the rest of the animation.
I was able to finally attended a Leeds All Animated meet up session over at the Adelphi. It was nice to see my friends of All Animated once again and get to see what they and others within All Animated are up too, with some new information and things to look at. Below is a scan of some of my notes on the night, perhaps they may not make sense but a lot of the night was spent looking at some lovely work and just sharing cool things.
I did get to show my most recent showreel and some of the work that has gone into the short animation so far, but of course there’s still lots to do. I did get some wonderful feedback on them and some great pointers. Something I didn’t realise until the night was the audience range and where I could actually send the animation once it’s complete. I never thought about sending it to Child specific film festivals and the breadth of different areas. Some of the notes include different places to send it off to as well as other areas to look into.
The main thing I wanted to see however was the reaction to the animation so far and the direction it’s heading in. I got some great feedback on that respect and both myself and Hannah were able to see and get to hear the thoughts on how it is going so far with the animating and imagery. We got some great feedback though and feels as though I need to be less harsh on myself when animating, even though I do know I need to learn a lot more.
I’ll be heading down to the next meeting and hopefully by the next one the animation will be done and we’ll be able to show the whole thing in all its glory.
I’ve mentioned a few times about animating within Photoshop but I haven’t yet spoken too much about the act of animating within Photoshop without any sort of detail. Although I have not used Photoshop for animating before this project, I decided to go on ahead and learn how to animate within it due to its image quality, style and ease of use with other Adobe software. It wasn’t learning a software all over again though due to the amount I use Photoshop already but it definitely taught me more about the software and opened up a whole load of other capabilities.
I had practiced using the animating side before and had a peek at it, but the content that people put up about animating within Photoshop was efficient and didn’t feel as if that was all was capable within the software. The majority of tutorials and other programs that look into animating within Photoshop, look at the timeline as a frame by frame image approach, using each layer as a separate frame. This of course does seem logical but time-consuming as well as confusing as I’d want to work at 24 frames per second. So with Annabeth I looked using the other form of timeline but instead of thinking with just layers, we looked at whether or not you could create a canvas with individual frames. We of course knew this could be possible because in the other timeline layout it gives you the frame number and general timeline bar. The workspace resembled the ones seen within Flash and other animating software, so by looking within layer options it became clear that you could alter and add to this. From there it all started off and we had found the video layer options.
From here you can edit the frame options as well as of course creating a new ‘video layer’ which allows you to look at a piece of footage frame by frame. My personal guess is that this layer option would have been created for video footage and being able to do slight editing or any other image based work and looking at footage frame by frame, however what ever it was mainly for, it works very well with the principle of frame by frame animation. Now I knew how I could animate and knowing I could apply everything I’ve learnt within the last modules and dissertation into this animation, I could get on with trying to animate.
Of course this became a big issue and one thing I didn’t realise would be so easy to sort out. It took a few tests with Hannah, Annabeth and Sacha but we worked out simply not to mess with the timeline options for fps. If there was ever a change in frame rate, the frames would not work properly and this was turning out to be a real pain when trying to use other layer features like inserting a blank frame or duplicating. So we needed to find a way to get the canvas to 24 fps or something close, of course there isn’t an option for this that I know of yet. So we had to substitute and use the PAL layout which I could then change the screen size of.
PAL is a screen format and setting that is close enough to the layout I need to be able to later change the canvas size to fit HD format. The issue that was sorted out though was mainly looking at the fps. PAL setting is luckily 25 fps and although it is only one frame more, it is the closest I can get to the frame size I needed within the animation. From here I could animate just as would do within Flash or work with in terms of traditional practice of paper. I used each frame as if it was paper but utilised Photoshops helpful layer system and economically used the various layer options to help me animate more efficiently and in some cases more effectively.
At first I was simply animating the rough lines of the movement, something I had learnt to need to do a lot more of from advice from people such as Joanna Quinn and others, but this helped me get a rough idea of the movement and timing. From there I would then create more defined line but I still liked the rough animated feel to the work, the lines stayed but i took too long on the actual line work and animating still. I thought about my method and decided to take it even further back with general shapes and lines for the movement. I was then able to line everything up and work out all the animating aspect and focus on the movement. Once I had decided that was right I went in and tided up the animation and drew more cleaner line work and filled out the characters ready for Sacha to colour.
Even though the animating is all done within Photoshop, I still feel most comfortable with paper and a pen and this was more prominent when I was trying to test the movements or understand the shot. I always prefer to draw out something on paper before animating or doing any other work on it and I’ve been able to use quite a lot of scrap pieces of paper and notebooks to do so. An example of this is a scan of one of the pages in one of my sketchbooks where I’ve just jotted down notes and tried to break apart different movements. This is something I need to expand and build upon within my own time after the project and observe and learn other movements and try to exaggerate and animate them later.
Because I’ve simply just been animating away, I haven’t really had much chance to do anything else apart from organise the team, getting all the separate pieces of work and animate away on Photoshop. So I’ve been very careful with my files within this project with so many people as well as having so much work. I needed to make sure that I knew where everything is and what everything is, this would also help in the editing and post production work.
Above is a screenshot of just one of the folders within my project file, looking at one of the acts and then the separate parts within that one-act. Each shot is separated into one Photoshop file, similar to the layout within the storyboard, and coloured and animated within that one file to then have them come together in editing. This has made it a lot easier to play with the shots and make any changes necessary, it’s also been a lot easier to pass files to other team mates such as Sacha who has had to colour in the shots. Each shot within the act has its own separate number and name depending on where it fits and what is going on within the shot, and then when I export them they also have a separate folder for outline and colour. The reason for the two separate folders was at first for the change in line colour I had mentioned in an earlier post, but now it’s become a useful part of the editing process and I can later play with the colours and lighting of the characters a little bit more.
It was very important for me to have everything ready, organised and labelled within this project from the start and that goes from my folders, to the actual files themselves. When we started working within Photoshop I had asked the entire team to work on separate layers, so we could play with the depth and multiple layer effects, and make sure everything is labelled accordingly. It was a little slow to start but in the end we became very good at understanding each others habits with the files and using correcting naming orders. It became a lot more easier and more efficient when everything was clear and starting to come together.
Once I had the first Act sorted out, I could then pass it on to Danny who could then sync the tracks that he had already half made to the animation.
Although realistically this would be done the other way around apart from foley sounds, it felt to me as if I didn’t have all the time I wanted as well as not knowing what sort of music I was going for. Again I wanted Danny to bring something different to the table and he definitely has with this one. It was exciting to hear the sound with the footage and in time. Hopefully it won’t take Danny long to do the other ones but he had already pre-developed the music with all the beats, syncs and other sounds all stored already.
I got busy doing some post production from the files I had and started working the backgrounds and character animations within After Effects. I started just putting the separate image sequences into After Effects where I could then use the alpha channelled image sequences, putting them in at 24 fps and putting the background in.
At first I had put the colour and outlines within one image sequence and then put them into after effects with the background, but then there was a mutual decision to change the outline colour. At first I was going to keep the line colour blue in order to try to capture that hand drawn and rough feel that I like about the blue lined test in animations. This however looked unfinished to a lot of people, so myself and Hannah tested out some new colour lines and I decided to go back into the dark maroon colour we once had for the characters. This was easy to do of course because we already had them in separate layers and I could copy and paste the ‘effect’ onto the other layers.
Because of this and the frame cropping, I felt it would be easier to do all the shots within After Effects and edit it all together within Final Cut Pro. This of course was a bad idea with the size of the image sequences and the whole act 1 all together. Apart from Act 1 I began to change the layout of the shots and I have split up the After Effects files and only do any actual editing within Final Cut Pro.
Looking at backgrounds and art work, I forgot to blog one man who if I forgot completely, I would be absolutely disgusted with myself.
For those who don’t know who Maurice Noble is,
“Maurice Noble (May 1, 1911 – May 18, 2001) was an American animation background artist and layout designer whose contributions to the industry spanned more than 60 years. He was a long-time associate of animation director Chuck Jones, most notably at Warner Bros. in the 1950s. His work contributed to such cartoon classics as Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, What’s Opera, Doc?, and the Road Runner series.”
Noble was a man with an incredible skill and eye for composition, light, colour and line. Even though I do tend to go on about people such as Chuck Jones an awful lot, I do understand also that without people like Noble and Mel Blanc, he wouldn’t be what he is known as today. I have definitely found a new understanding and admiration for those teams that work together to create amazing beautiful pieces.
The one thing that I’ve really missed from this project is the amount of reference I could have used to create some of the animations. I found a few pieces of reference on good old YouTube and had already captured one or two pieces. I did get to re-use a lot of footage and the majority of the reference and observation I used was either acted out by myself whilst animating.
Of course there are masters of the art of reference and observation and non other than looking at the classic reference and observation footage of Disney’s classic films.
It’s clear that they knew how to utilize the reference that they could capture and watch and that this was a key point to animating. Something I must develop in my own time is looking at developing my own drawing skills and observation skills. This development of skill will be coming about from more outings and going to travel around to try to understanding and learn about movement. Something exciting to add to this is that I didn’t realise until Sacha had found out with myself and her younger sister about being able to get a ticket that allows you on the platform for only 20p. This could be quite useful in the future in the ability to use it as a means to get reference and study more movement as well as developing my drawing skills.
I don’t think I’ve ever used or learnt so much within Photoshop within such a short time. From animating within Photoshop to creating brushes to using swatches, the things I’ve learnt over the last few months within it have truly changed the way I work within Photoshop and the other Adobe packages. The majority of the things I’ve learnt however within Photoshop have not been from fancy magazines, although those are great, or a tonne of internet videos, although those too have come into play. The majority of the new things I’ve been learning from Photoshop is from my own experiments and things I’ve learnt from my team and other peers. It’s a great feeling being able show something you’ve just learnt to someone who is in the same boat as yourself and vise versa. I think this is the most exciting and fun part about working as a team aspect, I’ve learnt a lot from the rest of the team in a far shorter time than any other project and this also comes from not just the pool of talent but the difference in specialities and passions.
Some brushes I’ve been looking at and using that Liam and others have created for the animation.
Looking at various ways of exporting and understanding the differences. It was a whole new thing with the video side of Photoshop as I only realised you could animate within it not too long ago as with everything in my animating career thus far. The images below are of one of the shots being exported as a .png in order to use alpha channels and layers to play with the background and use it as a single layer cel.
I’ll surely be creating some videos on a later date on animating within Photoshop or at least what I have learnt so far and hopefully this will be able to spur on some people telling me what I have got wrong or right and share this information.