10/03/16 – Animation week

Not long after my last entry I watched the animated film “The Book of Life”. I thought it touched on the subject of death really well as using culture as a way of describing how people cope with it as well as their beliefs. I love the art style anyway because it’s Mexican Catholic (not really a style but yeah), something I had worked with in the past.

… and obviously anything religious is good in my book.

On Monday we were separated into 2 groups. Will, Molly, Nina, Stephen and myself created a stop motion collaborative collage animation using the Dragon frame software that morning. We used very little drawings and mainly photographs, which highlighted what we enjoyed about the museum and defined what we were most interested in. Nothing makes sense still though, we don’t really know what the Beaney’s about or the relevance of all the exhibitions as an overall. I enjoyed this a lot more then the mural because it was a lot easier to showcase everything all at once as well as introduce more things without it looking jumbled (and a lot less terrifying to…). I’m impressed anyway because it’s something that moves! Although I wish we had worked more on a background or something because the whitespace is too much for me. What we found difficult about the mural was no one really spoke about an idea and we all just rolled with it, this time we did as well but maybe moving image is just a better way of making a collaboration work.

I posted a video of our video (Yeah I’m still bootlegging everything) onto Instagram and UCA were cool enough to put it onto their social media pages! Go us!

That afternoon we had another workshop on hand drawn animation with Andy in the animation studio. We were meant to morph one image into another, using 60 frames to create 5 seconds of footage. Overall I did 15! The images we were focusing on had to have some relation so I picked the two paintings in the Materials and Masters room (Kitty and the Man). Andy was super supportive and so knowledgeable, I’m happy with the overall outcome but still can’t decide if I enjoy the process or find it tedious.

I also kind of thought that it didn’t necessarily matter I hadn’t drawn anything because who’s to say I couldn’t work as I go or draw using collage or digitally. You sort of almost forget drawing isn’t just a physical act its just about creating imagery.

After visual theory on Tuesday I quickly ran down to the Beaney to take photos of the dolls. Like the muppet I am last time I just sort of looked at them and didn’t take any photos – the reason is unknown. A lot of them reminded me of my favourite of all title sequences – American Horror Story: Freakshow. Created by Kyle Cooper who has done the whole franchise as well as The Walking Dead and others, mainly films. The dolls white faces seemed to resemble that of Cooper’s – the sequence is also very heavy on the contextual references. For example actor Evan Peters plays ‘Jimmy The Lobster Boy’ who was a real person, had hands that resembled lobster claws, and the doll that appears next to Francis Conroy’s (Why her and not Peters I’m not sure?) name is a copy of the real lobster boy. Its a really interesting way of showing information out of context, but I guess only works if you know the info already? It could work for this project because I’m assuming those who will see our stuff at the Beaney would have seen the rest of the building right? According to Art of The Title.Com, the sequence is made of stop motion animation, CGI animation and film. The music is extremely enchanting too!

I did finally get the chance to do a few collages too! My first idea was to create a colour scheme, which I based on the art work for the Smashing Pumpkins I mentioned last week. I then used textures I’d photo copied before for past units and made my own brushes for distressing and such on photoshop. My aim was to make it look textured like McKean’s work but sometimes it was hard to maintain some textures whilst changing the colours and opacity and things. In the end I reverted back to my War Horse techinique, making my image black and white and then placing a colour mask over the top and changing the opacity.

At this point I was struggling to find time between uni and visiting my mum at the hospital, even struggling to find the time to shower.

I tried to illustrate the dolls as characters, just going by the vibes I felt for them and who I thought they’d be in my story. I hadn’t entirely made one up but you have to start somewhere. My illustrations just didn’t seem as sophisticated as my collages (from this unit and the last) in the end, so I left them. I think maybe a way of moving forward is to find other collage artists that are more contemporary and duplicate their style if it can easily be made into animations. I liked the stop motion/motion comic style of the opening sequence to Alice: Madness Returns because it reminded me a lot of the style from ‘A Trip to the Moon’ or ‘Mellon Collie’ because it was super theatrical and the two styles I’m comparing it too look like theatre sets. In a way ‘A Trip to the Moon’ is stop motion because some of it is animated by the moving of paper (I think?). All of these things relate to the vibe i’m imagining for my final outcome, not to say its final though. Also there’s this really great bit at the end of my favourite level for Alice, where the Walrus and the Carptenter brutally murder the stars in their show done in this style:

Isn’t it just gorgeous anyway? the dress Alice wears is the reason why I have this mega infatuation with the colours pastel pink and mint green. Also kind of mermaid-y which is my life really.

Wednesday introduced us to Nick Mortimer, who is a film maker and model animator. He’s going to be working with us for the next unit with his experience. I found his talk interesting when he began to describe the imaginary and talk about scenes/backdrops. I think as a personal aim for this unit I’d like to work a lot more on putting characters into a place. I’m very shy when it comes to backgrounds because I find perspectives really difficult to draw. I felt quite thankful that Nick’s workshop was about backgrounds so I could work on this. I was a bit silly and sort of (completely) ignored the brief where we were meant to create a 3D model to animate in. I decided to do mine digitally, mainly because I wanted to work on something relevant to me (eg. my colour schemes, time period etc). I sat down with a sketchbook at first and plotted out a story based on the ideas I already had; making the story about death, dolls etc. Originally I wanted to use the doll I’ve been using (in the collab collage animation and the one I painted on the mural last week) as my main character, and have her follow this angel of death round (based on another doll in the exhibit) and then witness it take one of her own. This seemed too obvious of a statement so I began again trying to think outside of the box. I decided this time round to think more of the place as that was what I was working on that project. I created a utopia, filled with iconography (my favourite, and also one of the dolls looked like angels), a perfect land where all the townsfolk get along and are one big community. Its always sunny, the buildings are replicas of those buildt in the 1920’s – accidentally thinking ‘A Trip to the Moon’ was a 20’s film, but is instead 1902 – but I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a difference anyway, the time frames aren’t too far apart. I was inspired by the way heaven is shown within art, the fictional place of Columbia from Bioshock Infinite, the map for LA Noire mainly for time frame. I wanted it to sort of look like a carnival too because those themes/looks are present in the looks of theatre and ‘A Trip to the Moon’ etc too. I wanted the place to look like this but include elements of the Materials and Masters room, eg. the mountains are made of minerals, there’s a selection of small glass trinkets in the cabinet next to the dolls shaped like animals, I thought they could serve the public giving out cotton candy and peanuts. That way we get to include elements of the room without making it too obvious and attaching it to story sort of like the sequence to Freakshow. Later on in the story once we’d fallen in love with this idealic scenery this rapture/apocalypse/blimps were going to cover the skies and just take the citizens and things. Sort of a metaphor for how death kind of snatches people at strange times. Although it wasn’t the beautiful, romatic explination of death i’d aimed for I felt it still represented how I felt about the subject. I made a test backround using images I could find on google and using my colour scheme. I was really proud of myself for making it because I had managed to remember quite a lot from the After effects lesson the week before. It wont let me upload it currently but here’s a still from it:

After this I created more collages, here they all are including the ones from Tuesday and some mood boards:

Today I was forced back into the wonderful world of After effects, we went over some things and learnt some new things too. What I was most excited for was how to use lighting to make things look like a stage. This was something commonly used within the animation for Alice and I thought once I’d learnt how to use this my work could look professional like this too. I’d also been looking at motion comics, and found this amazing one for The Walking Dead. What I think it most interesting about motion comics is you learn by looking at it, you can easily figure out where the anchor points are as well as what’s in what layer:


What I also find useful is below it has a video on how it was made, what parts of the comic book he used and how he combines it all together.

My animation today also fed into my ideas of motion comics, we were asked to create the stage and the little puppet for our Shakespeare fest animation. I loved moving is little legs and making him dance, once you get used to what you’re doing its really fun!

I think my next step is to find a new way of collaging! become inspired and use this within my work – and also finally do some work… obviously. I want to be able to create my characters in a style that doesn’t bore me, because with this being animation the likelihood of me continuously re-drawing these people will be high. If I cannot find a new source maybe I should look for some dolls similar to the ones in the exhibit in terms of shape. I think what I’m hating about drawing them is because they’re so baby faced and out of proportion its not as easy as drawing a real human like I’m used too. I could take photos and edit them on the computer, who knows?

03/03/16 – Update

Its The Brothers Quay, the two animators I’m thinking of.

Although great use of dolls and small objects this is too dark for me. I know the subjects I’d mentioned before such as death… well just death, aren’t all that joyful; but the way they were shown in McKeans and Kato’s work made it not so disturbing but heartwarming. I tackled disturbing last unit, I think what I want to portray the Beaney as is somewhat surrealist. Not a lot of it makes sense in the way they present things (eg. you look in the information books but none of it’s in order of the numbers in the cabinets nor does it say much anyway) or in the order its presented, not a lot of it has relation to Canterbury I don’t think either, for example the explorers room with the Egyptian cat. Its just a collection of oddities – which surrealism as an art movement creates visually.

The part where the stop watch turns into guts/gross meat reminds me of the internet series “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” – its a series of short videos that follow 3 characters in “learning” about things such as creativity, love, technology, time and food. However the idea of the videos was to reflect the media’s effect on the mind of children. The art style replicates old fashioned children’s TV shows from say the 60’s to maybe even the early 90’s, and uses a host and a song to present the theme of the lesson. Take a look at the third one here:

I know it doesn’t necessarily relate to my ideas as such, but all of them include some animated part. Depending on what the video talks about the animated part is related or is done differently to the one before (for example the technology one is done wit CGI animation). I think the story of Michael is my favourite animated part of the series. The style is so simplistic, very medieval looking which reminds me a bit of the Beaney’s interior. I believe it’s done with paper, maybe not anymore but the layout is very much like stop motion – for example the first film they made of Watchmen with stop motion paper cuts. Extremely flat, flat colouring, 2D. This kind of style is present also in the opening for the game ‘Alice Madness Returns’ by American McGee. This is a lot more to the style I was thinking about:

This was the game that inspired me to do concept art all that time ago, I even have the concept art book. I also admired the games fake trailers and teaser trailers:

Much like The Brothers Quay, Alice is still very dark but amazingly animated. However I’m going to try and stay clear of the wonderland thing because its so cliché with anything odd and weird.

Interesting to have some examples though.


03/03/16 – New projects and stuff (also things)

The past few weeks have been…. *makes ehhhh? noise*

Last week I went to stay with my boyfriend in London, on the Monday and Wednesday night we saw our favourite band twice on their 15th anniversary tour. They were two very beautiful nights I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Along with my loves and excitement I also lost my Grandad, I feel lucky to have been away from home in a way because I know he would have rather I had fun instead of moping around. He was the funniest and always up for a laugh, even when he was really poorly, so that’s what I did. My mother was also placed into hospital before I left, since I’ve come home shes been out and back in again and is still there now. I feel like these need to be explained before I continue this weeks blog because as I’d mentioned before, it effects my mood (as well as time when it comes to hospital visits and things) and my relationship with my work sometimes.

However I did get a chance to go to the Beaney Saturday, you guys picked a really awful time for us to do a project based in Canterbury, where I wasn’t going to be! I managed to get holiday off work so I thought I’d use my spare time. I’m not a massive fan of location drawing, for some reason I research through looking, enjoying and taking photos that I can work with/into when I’m in a comfortable environment. I’m also sure that now I’m enjoying collage a lot more my brain functions in a way that appeals to photos and getting more from them. Here’s some of my favourite things I saw:

I really enjoyed the Garden Room which was the biggest collection of artworks by Thomas Sidney Cooper. His attention to detail and realism is something I admire, it feels like you’ve been zapped into another room. However my favourite room is the crafts room, I think it’s called something like Masters and Makers. There’s so many interesting things in there, I’ve seen it before but until you really look you don’t notice how much is really in there. I think my favourite things are the little trinkets, dolls and dolls houses as well as the religious looking items (obvs). I think I’d like to do my animation based on this room. Also what I’ve noticed is there’s a lot of items that look like characters and are based on people, around the whole of the Beaney not just that room, which could be useful if I were to animate a story of some sort.

Monday we did a group review. I felt pretty stupid not having done much but I think the fact I wasn’t in Canterbury, had done projects on the Beaney before as well as things at home was a good enough reason. I felt like I wanted to see what everyone else enjoyed about to maybe inspired me too, and it did. We all then took part in the most ridiculous workshop of making a huge mural of the Beaney in black and white. I think this helped us all bring together our inner thoughts about the museum as well as its common themes and feelings. I think a lot of us saw it as dark or sinister:12803126_1018697501500522_2054655717494028268_n

I wouldn’t usually write about visual theory but this week had a relation to our work. Mark showed us several short animated films all unique but one stuck with me. The film is called La Maison en Petits Cubes (or: The House of Small Cubes), created by Kunio Kato. The story follows a man who has to keep building layers onto his house in a town that is being flooded, he drops his pipe down to the bottom layer and scuba dives to retrieve it, reliving the memories that took place on the floors below as he goes down. We discussed it and it seemed to say that the rising water was a metaphor for time, as well as it showing the loneliness of older people. As weird as it was the old man reminded me of my grandfather and felt comforting. To me it was making death beautiful, as this man was looking back on his life as well as nearing the end himself. The music, art style and pace all created a great atmosphere and emotive plot. It was just something I wanted to keep in mind for this unit.

After I tried to find some shorts of my own but they’re not as easy to find as I’d like. However I came across one, this one, called ‘Argine.’ What I liked about it was it was an animation without the animation – with the blackouts of each frame your imagination creates the movement. Its a traditional way of creating film I believe, I think one of the earliest versions of this is in Bob Godfrey’s Henry’s Cat (either UCA has his archives or he was a student there… or both?)


Wednesday we did a short two hour animation workshop teaching us about pixilation. Pixilation is a form of animation, works similar in the way to stop motion but involves something from the real world. However Maria and I hadn’t done any drawings from the week before but used our photographs, forgetting to include ourselves in our work, thus making it more stop motion. However we enjoyed it still and are super proud of the outcome – it moves, I think that’s all we cared about!

The whole day anyway was taken over by the fact we were getting lectured by DAVE MCKEAN!!! WHO ILLUSTRATED ARKHAM ASYLUM!!! WHAT!?!?! Anyway, McKean has done other things too such as: Hell blazer, The Wolves in The Walls (I think the name is?) and the illustrations for the book of Coraline. From what he was saying he doesn’t really have a selected medium he just works in whatever he thinks is suitable, just in the end all of it is put into Photoshop. I was really inspired by the look of his work, its very dark but also spiritual – reckon it would look great with the idea of dolls. What interested me a lot were his interpretive illustrations for ‘Slogs Dad’; the story is about a boy who loses his father and sees a man sitting on a park bench believing its him. Again the theme is death, but again shown romantically and beautifully. What I loved was that he decided to not take the text literally and re-write the story in his head. Maybe my animation can be interpretive like this? As well has replicating a deep and beautiful art style?

His work reminds me of two things, 1. animators, who I believe are brothers, with a similar puppet-y style, also very dark; which I came across when doing work experience (at UCA also!) that I’ve totally forgotten the name of! and 2. The album cover for the Smashing Pumpkins ‘Melon Coly and The Infinite Sadness’, which is one of my favourite album covers. It replicates the style of “La Voyage Dans La Lune” – a film from 1902. Both look like surreal theatre sets – which are pretty much perfect for animator-y purposes really. Its surrealist feel is so expressive of dreams and the strange, the odd, which is what the Beaney is filled with. I’m seriously inspired right now:

I created a Pinterest board of all of these examples and looking back on it now they all look so similar! What a great find!

Today we had a fun little venture into After Effects – it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to use. When our tutor Kat literally said it was Photoshop’s evil cousin it actually is! But when we got into it it brought into perspective the things we were trying to get our head around the day before with timing, duration, distance. After effects also makes things a lot easier in a way, you don’t have to animate the whole thing you can kind of just move stuff. It works in layers like Photoshop, it’s quite fun when you can do it right.

So although I’ve not done a lot of physical work, or even that much research really things are starting to pair up in my head and I think I’m inspired enough to start thinking about the future. My next task is to maybe do some surrealist illustrations of the things I enjoy in the Beaney, and also go back but take some more photos to continue with drawings. Maybe create some characters from what I see and what I learn. Think about time period and style, shapes. It’s going to be fun, I’m a lot more optimistic then I was. Now I need to sleep off this life exhaustion!