Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Unit 7 & 8: Narrative & Character - Time Management (Part 2)

Hello Team!!,

Just thought I would get a draft of the time management scheme on here for all of us to marvel at. Remember none of this is iron clad... its just a rough outline so we have a little room in the end if we need it do redo things. There may be a small discussion we have tomorrow about some tasks at hand which we need to delegate which I have planned out to a certain degree.

Now I am fully aware of the production pipeline I (Stitch) handle everything and anything character based from the textures to the final rig. While the girls (Anita & Lydia) handle the environments and effects if any. We will be coming together for the animation tasks even if its working on scenes individually and delegating those. Post however is something we have yet to discuss here...

I figured the sound would not be such a domineering aspect but I know that I am handling the Art of stuff so I may have to break from some of the post tasks so I can get us a grade A production booklet something which doesn't happen in a day possibly 2-3 max. So it could be I break away towards the end of the compositing and editing phase... only to rejoin you (Ladies) for the sound phase and the final film effects (In AE).

Now that we are past weeks 1 - 5 I think we are doing well with still quite a bit of room for the odd malfunction (which inevitably always happens). Personally ill be happy if I'm not up all night on the last night before the Crit... I didn't plan for this kind of bleed last year so this year It would be nice to be a week or so ahead of schedule leaving room for screw ups. So far though I have to say I think we are doing great... and I'm feeling confident in our transition approaches also...

I would just like to reiterate the point that if theres anything any of you get stuck on or need advice on please get in touch with me... I may have a solution or w/e... even if something is just repeatedly kicking your butt.  We are a good team in the fact that we can be honest with each other that's something Ive appreciated from minute one... And I'm glad I got over my initial anger monkeys... I haven't turned green yet so I must be over it lol!

Now as things go forward we just have to stay ahead of the game... I know we are being pulled in about 30 different directions but never the less you are all doing an exceptional job. I have also arranged it so the weeks we are working on animation that I come in every day so we can get these stages sorted together. The same with composition but the days when I am working on the Art of I will probably be at home looking to knock it out as quick as possible and get moving with other things...

Okay ladies I hope this post has clarified a few things and put some minds at ease... I will take this moment to mention to you that we still have to be able to communicate to Alan just who Charles is... I still think our closest link is Oliver... Orphan boy. Never the less we need the influence map up just so Alan gets the picture here and maybe even a video if anybody has time to locate one... Just a little more research from each of us here...

Well I think that concludes this little update, not just for the world out there but for our little in house Smoke Stack Company ;). Btw!! I wanted to ask... Do any of you guys want a Smokestack T-Shirt? I was thinking of ordering them at some point... Please let me know & Ill order 3 but I will need to get money for it... I'm not rolling in cash over here lol I think it would be a laugh...

Anyway your call - Laters!!


Monday, 29 October 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Revised 3D Profiles for Model

Hello Everyone,

Just thought I would post this up, probably not needed but I will do it anyway because its a development step for our 3D Model. First I would just like to say that Smokestacks own Anita Gill knocked up this profile and its awesome. There were some slight revisions with alignment mainly on the side profile but I think now this is as accurate as I need for the model.

I did this mainly for my own piece of mind but it probably wouldn't be an issue how it was originally I just wanted the front and the side to match close as possible. I just added the lines on this draft so everyone can see that the profiles match where required. The key areas for me being the high divide of the chest the floor, the head and of course the groin.

This was one of my tasks for the weekend, the model was also one of them but sadly that was delayed due to other things. My entire Friday night consisted of trying to find the best way to transition into another scene. Something which I am now somewhat planned for but yeah it took its toll on my plan of Action... Then again things never work out... I always find the end is a bit of a rush lol.
There was also a slight issue with the arm but to be honest I think I'm just being overly fussy here as long as I can pull a half decent set of base hands from this everything should be fine. With any luck work flow this week should be pretty good as we gradually fall into Week 6.
Well that's this post concluded, again not really needed but in an attempt to be though rough I posted it on here never the less. I only corrected slight elements, this profile is one of the Triumphs of Anita :) Gotta love it!!
Okay, Ill catcha later...

Unit 7: Narrative - Misdirection or is it?

Hello Everyone

Well I have spent the last few hours running tests for sound files on blog posts with the highly speculative topic of "Misdirection" a post some of you may have tried to click on to find it absent from the blog. Now I have either planned something entirely clever by creating a post called "Misdirection" which goes nowhere or I have something more elaborate and liken to a particular theme I wish to demonstrate to everyone...

Its option B in case you were wondering...

Now first let me explain what Misdirection is to those that do not know. It is actually a magicians tool. The Magician shows you something in one hand sparkly or captivating so that  you do not notice what he is doing with his other hand (in most cases the real trick or slight of hand).

Sergio Della Sala of "Tall Tales about the Mind and brain: Separating Fact from Fiction" observes:
"At the basis of every magic trick, for example, there is the ability of the performer in controlling the attention of the audience. This is what is usually termed "misdirection", and it consists essentially in directing the attention of the spectator towards non significant aspects of the performance, distracting it from the relevant ones..." (2007 : 36)
What this basically means in our case is we need to show our audience a character, a personality so fixating that they don't realise what is going on behind him... Something people will only notice with repeat viewings to let out that ever dignified "ahhh I get it!" For this I conducted a small experiment myself in my own home with people that I had at hand...

I did not tell them what I was doing or what they should be looking out for, I was vague, saying it was just a shape test and I wanted to know what they thought of it. I played the 10 second video once and got them to report to me what they saw... Which consisted of the primary research at the bottom of this post.

The video (shown above) was a crude rendering of 7 or so different shapes most of them the same. The camera however was not focusing on all of them... a bright red shiny blinn playing the role I envision for Charles. The grey shapes reflect objects in the environment. From showing these to my family people could not get past the red shape... why? because it sticks out... it is shiny... it is the focal point of the video. Is it because it morphs? Maybe... but for whatever reason we are inclined to pay more attention to the most visually stimulating object on screen...

This means that our background and props are in fact the relevant aspects of the performance . Charles even though he is shiny and pretty is not... Please watch the video yourselves and post feedback, tell me what you saw... who knows maybe you will notice something they didn't ;) But most importantly be honest here... you guys should be at an advantage if you have read this post... My family came in knowing nothing, as any unsuspecting audience should.

This fills me with comfort knowing that the ordinary person will not notice this the first time round, having to go back a second time to notice it which have been the exact conversations we have been in with Alan these past few weeks...

Primary Research - Misdirection

Subject 1 - Late 30s - Female



Subject 2 - Early Teens - Female



Subject 3 - Mid to Late 60s - Female



Subject 4 - Early 40s - Male



Subject 5 - Late 60s - Female



Well I think that concludes this little post which has been a nightmare in the making I don't mind saying. Whod have thought sound files would be such a nightmare to embed. Please take a run at the video and see if you notice anything about it the first watch. You will probably get it after subsequent watches but try and go in with an empty mind... You will be surprised what you may find out...

BTW. The research tapes have had talk of the Misdirection stripped from them so you are gonna have to figure this out yourselves :P

Tah tah!!


Environment Concept Art - Garden

Final Concept

The Process - perspective lines, blocking, using maya blocked out house for perspective, texture, colour, detail

Without Overlaying Texture

Final Concept

Environment Thumbnail Sketches/Digital

Below are a few quick digital sketches of the garden environment - trying to figure/sketch out the layout and space around the house, also considering what angles work and where the different elements should be placed.

The factory thumbnails became a bit of a struggle when I realised they had to be similar to the garden in terms of space and the composition of elements within scene. Below are several images portraying how I'm trying to master the blend of the two environments. 

Factory Thumbnail

Blending the Factory and Garden Concepts

Perspective Outline created by Phil Hosking

Basic Model taken into Photoshop to be worked upon to create the Factory Concept Art

Unit 7: Narrative - Shape Tests - Transition

Hello Everyone,

I spent all of Friday messing around with these transition tests just to find a way for them to work subtly on screen. There are probably more then this but to be honest I couldn't find any by searching terms "Object Merge" - etc. The one thing that was called up often was Blend Shape, it being suggested by Alan earlier in the week was the clincher so I decided to give it a punt... of course its not without its own problems.

I began testing briefly a few weeks earlier trying some post magic with object transition between a tea pot and a train. These were static 2D images that were to merge into each other. It was effective but again I couldn't see it working in 3D space without deforming or being inexplicably obvious. After this I put the attempt on stand still for a few weeks just thinking object switching would be the ideal way to go (i.e. an object is there, it leaves the shot when we see it again its something else.

Next came the post CC image test again done in AE much like the Image Wipe above. This just simply has a transition from one scene to another. Again not overly complicated but again I thought it was something I would notice. I mean an object being there and then it disappears only to reappear without a cut I would have thought it to be obvious unless delayed for a long duration so it subtly vanishes into nothingness...

Next the post Card wipe, I wasn't expecting much from this especially after the CC image which didn't exactly impress me much. However, I thought this looked pretty cool as you can adjust it to move parts at specific times. I may have been more impressed with the effect then its actual use in our short but never the less it could kind of work I guess... Still I think the blend shape option will probably be the best avenue for our transitions.

 Next CC Light wipe, to put it simply no way... too bright and just blatantly obvious the reason I put it up on here is it could work for the wish flower particularly. If we wanted to make it disappear or something... again just a suggestion but I thought I would post this up just to show I had looked into it. The majority of transitions in AE are simplistic if you want the more complicated ones you have to pay, and to be honest I tried demoing some and couldn't work them out... no tutorials.

Last but not least the Blend shape... the method Alan suggested to us and apparently there is something deep down that allows transition with materials meaning we can convert textures with this. Of course that is being dealt with by Lydia I did this test purely for my piece of mind. I will take this opportunity to mention something weird is going on with youtube and it has loaded about half of the video I made. This flat shape actually converted to 3 different shapes not 2 but never the less... I will also say the draw back with this blend shape method is the models need to have the same number of points and be converted into something else... so BEAR THAT IN MIND!

Well that concludes this little post, I kept this to basics using primitives I think working the transition in Production is the key lesson I have learnt here. Post production I just don't feel will do it subtle enough... in AE its all or nothing we couldn't do partials or serious delays. At least in Maya we can move objects around and alter them behind Charles when we move from point A to point B or impose a cut.

Take it easy people!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Poses & Expressions

Charles' Poses

Charles' Expression Sheet

Unit 7: Narrative - Charles' Development/ Final Turnarounds

Needing to make the character of Charles look younger, I quickly sketched the chosen head shape with slight variations of body shapes. The sketches are rough however, the purpose of the exercise was to put my ideas on paper. I then picked elements and sketched a number of ideas on Photoshop including eye designs.

Next, I took the third sketch and adjusted his body, adding colour and detail into the drawing. Below is a breakdown of each design:

1 - A different nose shape - more upturned however, this is often associated with higher classes. The face also looks too sharp/defined for a young boy. Considering eyelids.
2 - Softer face shape and comparing different eye colours.
3 - Even rounder face shape - makes his face look too chubby
4 - Adjusting face shape, changing eyes and removing eyelids
5 - Chosen character - Eyelids re-added and shape of face a little more defined

Final Turnarounds:
These are the final turnarounds for Stitch to start modelling the character. Technical adjustments may need to be made for the modelling process which I leave Stitch to make while working in Maya.

And finally, I have added colour versions of the character to show the colour scheme that will be used for his clothing, skin, hair etc.

Charles - Garden Colour Scheme and Outfit

Charles - Factory Colour Scheme and Outfit

Unit 7: Narrative - Character Design Development

After receiving feedback of my previous concept of Charles, I started working on making him look younger, in particular, working on his face shape. Silhouette 1 is the original face shape and the other three are the changes.

Having decided to work further on image 2, I then began working on eye shapes to see which would be most appropriate for the character. During a group meeting, we all agreed that image 2 or 6 stood out.

The next stage was to put these various elements together. Using the silhouette and the sixth set of eyes from above, I began to create the concept below. The first image is the early stages of the painting. Both the second and third are variations of the completed version however, the eyes are slightly different in both. In addition, I've added a texture on top of the painting, as we plan to add a similar effect over the final animation.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Toy Influence Map

As we need to include a number of toys in the garden scene, I did some research regarding toys from around the 19th century, as seen in the influence map.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Character Concept - Charles Stage 2

Hello Everyone!

Coming in with a new update today although it has been 2 days in the making. Yesturday I got cracking with a sketch which ended up becomming a rather detailed sketch, then today I ended up bringing it into Flash to do a rather nice fluid bit of line work. From there I layed the sketch which the line and added my own shades and distinctive patterning to his clothes in particular.

The grease was created with a variety of grunge brushes from a pack that I have been adding to for the best part of 2 years... There are quite a few of them... Lol!

Anyway the 3 individual passes are above just to show the development I suppose. I'm still not entirely satisfied with the concept hence why I consider this a stage 2 piece. I will probably knock up a couple more before this Unit is over just to keep our concept art constantly guessing.

This is not reflective of our final character design it is just a piece of concept art to put across further development of the conceptual idea of Charles. Next I may consider changing the art style somewhat to do something kind of experiemental... keep your eyes peeled for that haha.

What kind of makes this lovely for us is we have 2 environments as opposed to 2 characters so It really allows me to fine tweak this little dood instead of jumping between a couple of characters.

Anyway I think thats me for now, at the very least they add to our concept folder and allow me to have a little more fun with some poses :)

Catcha Ladle!

Over & Out,

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Final Script - Ashen Bloom

Ashen Bloom Final Script

Unit 7: Narrative - Character Sketches - Charles Stage 1

Hey Everyone,

I kept meaning to post this up I just never got round to it but its better late then never. I actually knocked these sketches up the very first week of the Unit 7 brief. I never found the time to post but never the less I have them here now and they helped communicate my initial vision of what will become our fully realised animated star "Charles".

The images above show my initial thought and as things gradually moved forward the features began changing, moving from real to caricature. I like seeing this development in anything really makes me think where it began all the way back with page 1 idea a. Just quick throw away sketches, but even now there has been further creative influence from my partners Anita and Lydia :)

There has been soul searching within this brief and obviously lots of hits and misses when trying to fine tune an idea. We began with just an idea and then a discussion over adapting environments got our talks wandering further and further, since then its more or less been a back and forth between me and them and then a mini talk with our client (Alan) to discuss further details.

Having seen there vision I'm glad we are at a place where we can look back and see the journey already and only after 4 weeks. Lastly the image above here (Last Sketch) is something I drew in the train at the end of week 2. The eyes and weak chin were my key factors there was just something totally innocent about it.

I've never really drawn kid characters so it was nice to have a play with a few ideas even if it was brief. I will still be considering a couple of minor concepts which I will probably drive from sketches. I just don't like the line tools in Photoshop.

Anyway that concludes my little post on this matter, Anita has gotten our final turn arounds busted out so next week I should be in a place to begin the rigorous modelling process. which shouldn't take me much more then a week I wouldn't have thought.

Catcha Later,

Over & Out,

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Ashen Bloom Animatic

Hello Everyone,

Another update just waiting on the video to upload on my very slow connection and we are talking HD aspect ratio (1080P) for this video not that it matters much... Oh well. Anyway I thought I would get this typed up before hand so I could just copy the link in when I wake up and away we go something which I will probably do... so tired.

I have incorporated the time lapse on the side of the video just for my own reference but I kinda like it so I kept it on there in the end. The video runs for exactly 1 minute and 30 seconds and I think it runs pretty well the transitions are quite nice in this video. I rolled certain cuts into cross fades as to not break the action a number of them will probably best be without cuts in future just seamless camera movement (as Alan told us).

I count roughly 10-12 direct cuts over the 30 panel animatic but again that will be a discussion we can have when it is on the pre-viz stage.

Well that's me... the video is still uploading so I will leave it doing that not far from 50% but I need to push up some of those Zs that everyone is telling me about. Hope everyone is sleeping well out there I will be joining you imminently.

By the way I'd just like to point out that the sound at this point is up in the air but I think it paints the picture accurately and even works to some degree.

Over & Out

Unit 7: Narrative - Ashen Bloom Storyboards - Draft to Final

Hello Everyone,

Thought I would get this up before I post the animatic which I will be cracking on with shortly. I figured it would be best to produce in a separate post and I wanted to elaborate a little on my process for this storyboard (a few new processes I don't usually do).

Everyone is aware of my time management process (something which can be a gift and a curse - it can create a snowball effect), I have incorporated this process into my storyboarding process something which I will be bringing in on Thursday to hopefully get the final go ahead from Alan.
Original Rough Draft

The image above shows my draft storyboard which I stuck to a mobile white board that I have with blue tack, sadly this one is not magnetic. Anyway I then laid out the basic story in a way that I thought it could work, this is where I added and subtracted un-needed elements. I still don't consider this to be final as there are still little issues to iron out and cuts to be considered but I think its a good manifestation of my vision for this project.

Basic Colour Pass

Next came a very basic Colour pass (shown above) which I do to punch out objects and identify some basic light sources. Everything has light and funnily enough everything usually boils down to red blue and yellow. Yellow being your background or above ground, red being your mid ground and blue being your foreground. Its basic colour hues but this really helped when Identifying the depth of each shot.
Final Basic Storyboard
After a few days of doing some rough painting over the top of my sketches I managed to produce the results above. They are not the best but they will do the job and convey the rough image in my head which was something I have wrestled with in the past. You can see a good correlation between the two scenes with the colour alone, there is a good transition between colour here. I'm quite happy with the layout here too and I found a decent font to project the tasks name "Ashen Bloom".

Printed Slides (Final Storyboard)

The images above are the final version printed on some nice photo paper, eventually broken into slides and placed out side by side. I did this because I wanted to see it and be able to show my creative partners the coloured projection. This will also allow us ease when cutting parts out or deciding against some decisions or breaking it down even more then it is now. It just allows us that freedom and I think that's important at this stage.

Final Draft (Laid Out)

Last but not least is the board itself now at its final stage (shown above), the images are not perfect but its a storyboard they are not meant to be. I just wanted to get this to a stage where we can finalise its direction and get this going with some real momentum. I wanted to get this step underway and now that its done I'm glad I took it to the level that I have. Its actually nice to see what I projected in my mind for a change... Usually I find this very difficult.
Well Now, that this post is complete I will be working the rest of the late evening on the animatic which I'm sure wont take too long. Kind of excited, it will be nice to see how it rolls together with some basic sound and movement.
Hope everyone enjoyed today a little gutted I wasn't there at least I got something productive done with the last few days :)
Wish me luck!
Over & Out, (take that phil :P)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Environment Thumbnail Sketches : Garden

In our final narrative we have two definitive locations – the countryside house garden view and the steel mill factory. I’ve been delegated the task of designing both. Through much group discussion, I have a clear idea in mind of how the first location (garden) is going to look, hence below are several thumbnails portraying my current thought process. I still need to draw a definitive house design, but the element of spacing and content within the garden is pretty much there. The thumbnails are very rough so in my next collection I hope to define my thoughts further. Thinking into house style and materials/textures Castle Combe came to mind, this will be taken into account in the final concept. In style terms we are planning to add a crosshatch texture onto both character and environment to add more ‘grit’ to it, as well as signify a unique style.