Friday, 18 December 2009

Disney Interactive Studios Internship

A great opportunity has been presented to me and the rest of my animation class, as well as to other students around the country, and that it is to become an intern at Disney Interactive Studios in Hammersmith, London for 12 months starting in the summer of 2010. This is such an exciting opportunity and I'm going to put 100% of my energy into making sure I get a spot as it is something that I really, really want to do.

As well as filling out an application form and sending it off with my CV and pieces of my best work, I also have to prepare some work for a special brief that has been handed to applicants. I've already started to prepare my application and sort through what I need to do before I submit it but there's still plenty of things that need to be done to give myself the best possible chances of winning a spot on the internship. This would be a fantastic learning experience for me and would give me the exact knowledge that i'm looking for to get a head start in the video game industry. I'm working hard to make sure everything turns out the way I want it to and I have my fingers crossed so hopefully I'll get a place. If I fail (seems highly likely), at least I can walk away with the knowledge that I tried my best, and learn from any mistakes I made along the way.

Wish me luck :)

Genius Party + Genius Party Beyond












'Genius Party' is an anthology of short animated films created by 'Studio 4C' who are responsible for The Animatrix, Tekkonkinkreet and Spriggan to name a few. 'Genius Party Beyond' is the sequel to 'Genius Party'. All together they make up 12 animated shorts which are all directed by different individuals. Each short is done in a different style which ranges from traditional anime style to incredibly surreal ones and more. The thing I like the most about this series is the visual variety, each movie has its own unique style which keeps things fresh and entertaining, this is important because a few of the movies are very difficult to understand. The thing I disliked is that because there is a variety of styles, I found a few which I didn't particularly like which put me of that individual video altogether. I would highly recommend these 2 short anthologies to anyone who feels uninspired because you are guaranteed to see something which gets your creative juices flowing. The average run-time for the shorts is 10-20 minutes each.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Music

One of the best ways to find new inspiration and ideas is to listen to music, I've been listening to some artists who I'd never heard of until a few days ago who are quite far away from the mainstream which everyone is familiar with. The first group I listened to are called 'School Of Seven Bells' which I found whilst going through my brothers i-tunes playlist. Their music has a very surreal dream-like quality to it; it feels very relaxing but also very upbeat at the same time.

The second group I listened to are called 'Metric' who I stumbled across on youtube. I found it hard to categorize this band, their music is a mix of indie, pop and something else I can't quite put my finger on, but even so, they are a good listen to on a slow day.

The third group are called 'Ladytron', many people commenting on the videos for 'School Of Seven bells' were recommending this group so I decided to give them a listen. I've only heard a few songs so far but they fail to disappoint.

One of the best songs I've heard in a long time is by 'The Cinematic Orchestra' which is called 'To Build A Home'. There's something about this song that gets my mind flowing with ideas and things I wouldn't usually think of, I found the song to be so amazing that I've even tried pimping it out to other people, but nobody seems to be that interested in it.




Art Books






One of the most striking things about the movie 'Tekkonkinkreet' is the highly detailed backgrounds and environments, they work especially well with the characters being flat coloured and almost two dimensional like paper cut outs. I found the art to be incredibly inspiring so ended up getting the art books for the movie a few months back. There are 2 art books, each one named after the main characters in the movie, Black and White. I've never been that interested in environmental and concept art, but I found these art books to be mind blowing; the fact that each image looks like a real world location, a place that actually exists, that is alive and breaths, rather than being a compulsory element to the story just to help support the characters, which is not the case here because the location "Treasure Town" is the biggest and most important character in the movie. Flicking through the books almost feels like flipping the pages of a tourist brochure, the locations are full of character really help drive the movie.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Tekkonkinkreet - Black & White




I was very surprised when I saw the film Tekkonkinkreet listed in Jareds email; it has been one of my favourite films since I saw it a couple of years back when I happened to buy it on a whim. Because I am very familiar with the film and many other works by the studio which made it (Studio 4c) I've decided to research on the manga 'Black And White' which Tekkonkinkreet was based on.

Black And White was written by Taiyo Matsumoto in 1993-1994 and follows the story of two street orphans named Black and White. White is the youngest of the
two and is very innocent in nature, he is also very incapable of doing the simplest of things such as getting dressed by himself even though he is 10 years old, he believes in keeping the peace and believes that God punishes people wi
th impure souls. Black, who appears to be 3-4 years older than white, is very street-wise and aggressive to anyone that opposes him, his personality seems to be the complete opposite of White in the sense that he is always in charge, getting in trouble and doesn't believe in God. Even though they are opposites, they can't live without each other, and in one scene White describes their relationship like this -

"When God made me, I think he made a mistake. I is missing lotsa screws in the heart. And Black too. He's missing lotsa screws too. Heart Screws. God made a mistake with Black too. But I has screws for the parts Black doesn't. I has them all."

It clearly shows their dependency on each other and how Blacks personality is balanced out by Whites, its very yin and yang.

Matsumotos art style has many European influences, mainly French which derived from a trip to France he had in 1986. Although his work is manga, visually it doesnt represent what is traditionally associated with the medium and instead is an obscure blend of Japanese and French influences. It's been described as surreal which is totally understandable when you've had a read of the manga, the realistically proportioned yet unusually unreal appearances of the characters as well as the somewhat warped and odd-angled buildings give it a dream-like or nightmarish quality. This is also one of the things that sometimes bugs me, it reminds me of Tim Burton styled environments with the way structures unrealistically loom over the characters creating an opposing and threatening mood which sometimes annoys me. However the story telling is amazing and is very reminiscent of a gangster flick; Matsumoto is very good at building up characters and steadily pushing them forwards and advancing the story. Also the underlying themes which a softly addressed in the story are drawn from experiences in
his own life such as urban development, the idea of visiti
ng places you knew whilst growing up only to find them torn down or replaced by a set of appartments or offices, small personal elements like this really help to give the manga some life and soul and make it seem real.

Pi

For the first part of this research project I decided to watch the film 'Pi' (pronounced "pie") which was directed by Darren Aronofsky; there was no particular reason I chose this other than the fact that my older brother already has it on DVD and has continuously nagged at me to watch it, so I figured now would be as good a time as any other to do so.

The movie is about a man named Max Cohen (pictured below left) who is trying to decode the hidden numerical pattern in the Stock Market. The film is in black and white and has a slight grain effect in it. There is a clear contrast between the black and white which makes the image seem very powerful and sharp, its as if the lightness and gamma levels are permanently on high. The grain also gives the film an unreal feel to it, it reminded me of the matrix in how everything is made up of numbers which seems perfect to relate to this film in that sense. I found the film to be very interesting in its way of portraying life, and at the same time it seemed almost depressing that all the beauty in this world could be explained by numbers alone. I think that this is also why the film was shot in black and white because it helps eliminate any sense of beauty or normality and replaces it with a reality which is not quite normal and slightly unsettling.



CHRISTMAS PROJECT

Yo! for our christmas break we have been given an extra project which is to research work by artists, directors, photographers, musicians etc that we are not familiar with or even slightly knowledgeable about. The reason for his is to help us to expand our range when it comes to developing ideas, rather than sticking with what we know and are comfortable with. The project itself is not compulsory, but I feel it is important to broaden my knowledge and find influences in places I would never have thought to look before. So all the posts from this date onwards will be related to this research project.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Optimistic Scheduler - Evaluation

It turns out that I'm one of the dreaded optimistic schedulers, I enthusiastically plan out my work and give myself deadlines yet I never meet them, this has become clearly apparant during this project. My indecisivness at the start of this project was my ultimate downfall, I really spent too much time trying to decide what to do, and not only that, after I did figure out my ideas I ended up changing it again around the 3rd week of term. Every decision I made I felt was for the best but in the end turned out to cause many problems. The biggest problem I encountered whilst doing this project was a technical problem with my Macbook Pro which caused me to lose a lot of my work, this happened just under 2 weeks before the deadline. This set back did'nt actually bother me too much because I was quickly inspired to do my earlier ideas in a new style. The problem here was that I had very limited time to get the work done, especially alongside the Post Production project.

In the end I only managed to do 2 Idents, after my Mac messed up I was hoping that i might be able to get at least 3 idents made, but as I said before, I'm an optimistic scheduler and never seem to reach my targets. The idents themselves i felt were made to a satisfactory standard, Ifelt that thy are a bit too basic in their execution and seem a little too simple and don't include enough elements. I wish that I could start from the beginning of term again but this time know exactly what I wanted to do, then I woul've been able to animate the idents to a much higher standard instead of just changing the positions of layers in After Effects, I would also have been able to make at least 2-3 more idents than I already have.

I have to admit that I feel this project was a bit of a failure for me which is thanks to my bad decisions. The main lesson I learnt is to stick to my initial idea if it is within my capabilities and not to change it after a few weeks, also to keep my work backed up on an external hard drive is essential. As well as lessons about my work process, I also learnt many technical skills in After Effects about compositing different layers and footage which is very important for the post production process, especially in the 3rd year when we make our movies.

Second Ident

Here's my second ident, I was kinda disappointed with it to be honest. The pressure of deadlines was starting to get to me and things started to go wrong with the keyframes and such. Anyway, here it is. Stay tuned for my next post.
video

First Ident

So here's my first Ident, it's not got the final polish that I would've liked it to have, but the time constraints have meant that if I spend too much time on one piece, then I will not have the time to do any other idents, at least to a decent level of presentation. I will evaluate my work properly in a later post.
video

More Progress







Here's some more of my drawings that I did for my idents, the images here are a mixture of pics that I will be using for my 1st and 2nd idents. They are currently in there unprepared stage and don't represent the quality of what will be in the idents.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Quick Animation

My first ident is going to include a bit of traditional 2D animation, I thought the best way to do this would be in the application Toon Boom Studio Pro. The program itself is pretty easy to use and doesn't require a lot of time to learn. The animation I made for it is a lot more basic and unrefined than I would have initially liked to have included in my ident, but because of all the technical problems I've had and the lack of time I now have, I'll just have to make do with what I have.
video

The animation will be added into after effects and will be viewable through a window in a rocket ship. The thing I'm most concerned with is tracking the footage with the rocket ship, tracking is a technique i'm not overly familiar with in After Effects but I'm confident I can do it.

Progress





So here's some images that are gonna be in be 1st ident, they need to be put into Adobe Photoshop and prepared before they can be imported into Adobe After Effects for the final animation. The preparation includes, cropping the images, adjusting the gamma levels and brightness and contrast. The images themselves are basic in appearance which represents the childs notebook doodles which relates the educational programs run by the Science Museum.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Plane Pics






Howdy partner, so here's a few pics from my collection of research that i thought I'd share. They are of a variety of planes from different time periods, they are useful for me because one of my idents will explore the advancement of aircraft over the last century. One of the main exhibitions at the science museum is the 'Aviation Hall' which has a wide selection of aircraft from the beginning of their production all the way up to the last few years, the exhibition is very popular and gets a lot of foot traffic from people exiting the imax cinema. Anyways, the ident will literally show the planes evolving as they fly through the sky, however I wont have the time to do anything too advanced so there will be clouds that cover the parts where the plane changes into a more advanced one.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Slight Change + Bit of Research

So far for this project there has been many changes and I can assure you that this is the last one. My previous post said that I was going to attempt to learn flash and use it for my idents, however I have come to realise that it will not be as easy as that as I am failing to get to grips with the software, and with the hours ticking by to the deadline on Friday I've decided to do the animation in Photoshop because I am very comfortable using that program. The good thing about the style in which I'm animating means that I don't have to worry too much about correct proportions for the objects I draw because the whole idea of my idents is to represent the children who visit the science museum for educational school trips and such who would have messy notebooks filled with doodles and scribbles.

The most common subject people seem to associate with the Science Museum is the 'Space' exhibit which more often than not is considered the main attraction, there are many times when I myself mistakingly call the museum the Space Museum, but other exhibits also include 'Medicine and Biology', 'Transport', 'Environment', 'Engineering' and 'Communications and Computing' amongst many others. My idents will not be able to cover all of the exhibits on display at the museum so I will use the most recognisable ones because they are the ones people associate with the museums image. I'll do one ident which incorporates elements from each of the most popular exhibits and then a few idents focusing on a single exhibit each.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

What Needs To Be Done

Okay, first and foremost I have to say what I've learnt in the last few days, it's an incredibly important lesson and one that everyone should take note of, and that is to make sure you back up your work and files on an external hard drive or usb, otherwise if for some unknown reason your laptop decides to die on you, you will still at least have your work which can be completed on another computer. I unfortunately learnt this the hard way regardless of the fact we were constantly told to back up our work last year, at least I didn't lose my post production stuff, I gotta be thankful for that.

So here's what needs to be done to complete this project:
-I need a crash course in Adobe Flash (I never used it before)
-Need some storyboards and sketches
-Need to animate in Adobe Flash
-Hand in work before deadline

I reckon that I have just about enough time to pull his off before Friday 27 November if I work around 8-10 hours each day until then (i've been working these hours for the last week so I think I can handle it). I also don't have to do loads of research because I still have all the stuff from before I changed my idea a month ago.

Anyway, hopefully things will turn out ok and I'll update this blog later today with some sketches and storyboards, and if things go really well i may be able to start animating in Flash later tonight or sometime tomorrow morning. Wish me luck XD

Getting Frustrated!!

Yo, so this term things were starting to go well, it actually looked like I would finish my work the week before deadline (which is a 1st for me), but just like all good things, it came to an end. My Macbook Pro thought it would be funny to suddenly malfunction and mess everything up for me, basically the application 'Finder' is no longer working so I cant access my documents and folders, not only that, all the stuff I had on my desktop disappeared which included all my resources for this project which mainly consisted of archive footage of the 1st and 2nd world wars. The annoying thing is that it took just over a week to download that footage and I dont have time to re-download it, also i only managed to recover 1 file from this project which was an early After Effects test for my 1st Ident which is now pretty much useless.

So here I am, on Saturday 21st November, 6 days from the deadline with pretty much nothing to show for 2 months worth of project time, and am I worried??? Not at all :)

I have luckily figured out an amazing plan of action which should ensure that I produce some competent looking work which meets the specifications of the brief within the next 6 days. Although for this to happen I'm gonna have to return back to my initial idea of doing idents for the Science Museum, the difference is this time I have thought of a brand new angle/style in which to represent the museum.

I have to thank the wonderful Emma Wyton for showing me the following video, otherwise I wouldn't know what to do at the current stage I'm at. The video is done in a style which I would like to replicate, the lined paper background can be used to give a notebook/educational feel to idents and simple animation done in flash can almost pass for doodles that would be done by a schoolkid, this relates to the museums theme of education. So heres the video which has inspired me not to give up on the project and to continue giving it all my effort.


Saturday, 14 November 2009

Colour

When I decided to make my idents for the Imperial War Museum the first thing that came into my head was the colour pallette I would use; I instantly knew that I wanted it to be very limited in colour so it would show some of the grittyness of previous wars. After doing some general research for the project I came across some propaganda posters from the 1st two world wars; the colours featured on them are a mixture of red, brown and yellow tones which at the time of making was all that was available to printers. After seeing the posters i decided that it would be cool for my idents to have a similar colour scheme which could be mixed with archive footage from the wars. I am also aware that the second poster below is an American one, however the colour is what is important here.






Thursday, 12 November 2009

???

whoa...long time no update!! so here's a quick rundown of whats happened in the last 2-3 weeks.

First off I decided that my initial idea of doing the idents for the Science Museum was no good for the sole reason of me not having the skills to pull off something that would truly represent what the museum is about. So instead I am now doing the Imperial War Museum, why? because I feel I will be able to create some competent looking idents for it, also I have a great interest in the military history of Great Britain so it will keep me interested in the work.

Secondly everything in my house that requires electricity to work had decided to mutiny against me and refuse to work; meaning that a very tempermental internet connection and a scanner that refuses to scan has started to impede my work progress, but not to worry, I will prevail!!

So now that things are getting sorted out and bits and pieces are now coming together, I will upload (within the next few days) the work i have done so far, that should give you all something to look forward to.
Until next time :)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Some TV idents...

Here's some examples of idents for TV, they are from Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel. I've also looked at many more but I don't want to fill this page up with videos that aren't mine.

Before I even start planning my idents I need to further research the Science Museum and its goals, the best way to do this is to visit the museum and experience what it has to offer first hand as well as speak to people who work there. I could also talk to other visitors as well and ask a few questions about their experience at the museum, a possible question could be "When thinking about the Science Museum, what is the first image that comes to mind?", this way I can see what topics and ideas people think of the most and then incorporate them into the idents because that will help represent the audiences visual identification of the museum.

Channel 4

Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel

Friday, 16 October 2009

And we're off....

After much deliberation I finally figured out which brief I'm going to work on and why. I decided to go with Brief B which is to make six 5 second idents for the National Gallery, however I felt the brief was not entirely to my liking as well as not entirely practical in what it was asking so I made a couple small changes. The first change was for the location I would be doing the idents for, I personally dont have much interest in the National gallery and thought it would be better to choose somewhere which would provide a more enjoyable work process for me, so after writing up a huge list of possible places including the Natural History Museum and the Imperial War Museum, I decided that the ideal choice would be the Science Museum. The second change was the time limit for the idents; 5 seconds is just not long enough to display a suitable amount of information about the museum itself and what it does, so I've decided that increasing the time limit to a maximum of 10 seconds will allow for more information to be presented to the audience.

I decided to work on Brief B because it allows for a lot of flexibility in the work and it doesn't rely on just one particular part of the production process but requires you to do it all which includes pre-production, production and post-production, this will mix the jobs up which I found very appealing because I usually get bored when I'm stuck doing one task for too long ; it gives the opportunity to try out a variety of different ideas and processes and basically explore my capabilities and find both my strengths and weaknesses. The project itself will require much use of After Effects which is one of the main reasons I chose this brief; after looking at many idents around the web and on TV it is clear that compositing is a major part of an idents production and is definitely something I want to explore in more depth, doing this brief will allow me to do that as I feel I am better suited to a role in post-production rather than any of the more common roles associated with animation such as modelling, animating or rigging.