18/05/2016 – Chicago Betty

Tada! It’s done.

I’ve been focused on this mainly since my last blog, my mind was sort of boggled but I was also on a deadline to have this film finished by tomorrow for the show. I kept with the same colour scheme as I have been throughout the project, I’m sure I’ve fallen in love with it. Its also very diverse with shades and is easy for photoshop overlays that create the textures.

I think visually, not colour scheme wise, my main inspiration was the animation/cut scenes/cinematics of Alice: Madness Returns that I’d linked very early on in the project. It was replicated with the puppetry we had gone through with Kat in the aftereffects workshops. From what I remember of them too, they are also textured to look like paper. My main look was to re-create the dark lines and textures. The combination of the colours and the visual style are my best attempt to create something as awesome as Laurie Simmons Kaleidoscope house. I tried to be as accurate with Betty’s proportions to a humans, that wasn’t entirely possible with Photoshop and resizing the separate body parts but I do think overall the dolls (Betty and her friends) look similar to Simmons dressed up humans too – their faces are very round and big. I changed my mind in doing the collaged approach to animating like the 2 day workshop before – I think I just wanted her to be able to have more movement and different limb points for comical effect. I think she also looks more like a doll now too whereas photos were (obviously) more human like.

Throughout the film there are nods to 20’s culture, particularly in clothing style as well as patterns. I added things like the car and the radio because both things became more popular within this time frame and were a common part of family life. My other cultural reference was the fact that Betty and her friends were exactly the same just a different colour – I wanted to make fun of the fact a lot of people just replicated each other within culture. I’m not entirely sure if people will understand these references without context but I know that at least visually/aesthetically the film represents the 20’s.

I had intended to do a voiceover for the film – I still could as a test when re-fining my work before hand in. But after a tutorial with Leah last Thursday, she suggested I just do subtitles and use sound effects/music. I felt like this would be a better choice for me because who actually likes the sound of their own voice? no one.

I managed to pull myself together after the issues with technology. I sorted out my laptop and it began working properly with all the adobe stuff too. I think just by pure luck I managed to get everything right by sizing and image quality and the film turned out great – and most importantly not pixelated!

I had a look at old advertising too, a lot of them were so creepy! It re-affirmed that dolls were used as a trick, making girls expect to become these dolls in later life. All the dolls got a lot of compliments and were hyped up with jingles or poems etc. It also showed what companies were popular at that point in time, and I tried to include that within my advert. I could have worked on a brand more really, and would go over that if I were going to do this again.

I still have no idea how to lay out or present my research and things, I might just have to grab a folder and put loose bits inside and then just include all my sketchbooks and stuff. Hopefully when I start to do it pieces might fit together.


04.05.16 – Trying to make sense of it all now…

Now to try and cram a whole months of events into one blog, it will be long.

I’m now near enough a month behind on work because I’ve been going through a difficult period, so I’ve completely lost the flow and now have no idea what I’m doing. I really want to include my stuff at the Beaney though but I’m also willing to accept the fact that maybe I might just not have the time. However I’d be happy to just see everyone else’s work and help them talk about it to the public. I now have about 2 weeks to create my animation, have it edited and have sound too as well as an essay on top of that. What also doesn’t help is that I’m completely stuck in where to go next.

My initial starting point was to research, what I like to do is grab a notebook and just write about what I think is relevant. One topic can lead onto another, and Leah found it really interesting that I’d discovered that dollhouses were used as a teaching method to prepare young women for their future lives as mothers/housewives. This was in the victorian time period where it was popular for the wealthier children to play with a wealthier looking house so it represented their wealth as well as their everyday lives. What I like about this is that it has a deep cultural meaning and that’s a lot to play with. From then on I discovered an artist named Laurie Simmons, the majority of her work is based on photographs of different types of dolls as dollhouses, as well as making her human subjects represent dolls by dressing them up too. Here’s some of her work:

I thought maybe she’d be quite interesting to look at for a reference, mainly for the structure of the face and body because drawing a babyfaced doll is a lot harder then drawing a regular looking human. Simmons also co-designed an amazing dollhouse called the Kaleidoscope House. It is by far my favourite house that I looked at and reminded me a lot of the video for “Disco 2000” by Pulp:


So once we’d decided I was going to replicate a time in history, much like dollhouses do, I had to pick a character. I was quite inspired by these two, or maybe I was still reeling off the 20’s thing I was working on before:

Using the base for the object based writing workshop I thought that she was a young mother named Betty, who’s resentful towards her life because she’s been forced to marry and look after her baby whilst her husband works. She’s the vice president of the young mothers society and likes to show off her wealth by dressing in expensive jewellery and holding meetings in her mansion.

After this point I took a look into 20’s culture and I discovered that in America it became a lot more popular for families to live in the city then on a farm. A lot of people were sheep and liked to dress the same and have the same interests. The nations wealth doubled and the younger generation appreciated the new urban living style a lot more then the older generations. Most importantly there was a rise in women drinking, smoking and being open with their sexuality – more commonly named flapper girls – and had the freedom to vote. A lot of what women were doing, or were stereotyped as doing was considered taboo, although the flapper girl we all hear of didn’t entirely exist. Technology also became popular, cars and the radio were more common for families to own. From this point on I named my character ‘Chicago Betty’ and her son ‘Charles’, my aim now is to create an advertisement for her as a franchise and her “Ideal” 20’s home. (Chicago Betty just came to me after thinking about that fake doll featured in the Simpsons, Malibu Stacey) I want it to be ironic, sort of making fun of the fact that dollhouses have this quite sexist back history. Basically anything we want Betty to do she will do the opposite.

Ive done a few character designs, I loosely drew a few items from the dolls cabinet in the Beaney and took shapes from them that I thought were heads. 13103460_1058256027544669_6764666328565837881_n

The ones outlined in green (A little hard to see, sorry!) are what I based some heads on. I’ve tried to insert the video of the process I used to make Charles but it’s not uploading for some reason.

However, I took part in a two day workshop last week and created a test run of the advert. It all went wrong, for some reason the video was pixilated on the big projector and adobe has completely ruined my house internet so nothing loads to me to add sound or edit it. I hope I can sort this all out by the end of the project and not get it wrong next time. Here’s some stills from it:

I just stole some images from google, edited them and directed them in photoshop, then I transferred them into Aftereffects. I’m still rolling with that Smashing Pumpkins/Trip to the Moon/Dave McKean inspired colour scheme, a lot of people complimented that when the film was shown. Although I had no sound, which was meant to be a voice over sort of like a JML advert for Betty, the others understood that the project was based on the dollhouse part of the Beaney. Even though I have created some other designs which are a lot more cartoony, I appreciate the photographs in a way because you can move them in only in specific ways as well as the facial expressions being the same always just like a doll.  I’m considering just carrying on with this because of the point above, as well as it looking a lot more mature and it being easy for the time frame I have. It’s something to think about anyway for now. I’m not sure if I’m just allowed to do that really, I haven’t done a lot of visual work but in a way I’m just happy with this. Maybe my next step is to just attempt to do the voice over test for this clip, get premiere running, maybe a hard drive and see where we go from there. However if I do it this way my film may only just run under a minute, which isn’t the requirement – maybe I can’t stretch it out?

In terms of the technological side of things I’ve been incredibly stressed, the pressure of everything not working for me at home (as well as me paying £16 a month just for the convenience of it being at home!) and my emotional state I get quite angry and frustrated. It hinders things really because I get quite upset after a while, I’m not sure if it’s because it’s really winding me up or if it’s grief on top of that. I just hope I can pull myself together now, and sort it out now all the harder parts of home life are done.

I think my next step is to look at advertising in general, for children’s toys and I’ve just thought after looking at the Kaleidoscope house – ikea adverts. Then maybe my idea of the advert can be more refined, have a stable structure.

I just want to apologise in advance for anything thats missing… and isn’t all that developed. I have no idea what’s been done now and what hasn’t. I’m just going to roll with it and see where we go from there.