Saturday, 30 May 2009

poster-it notes


The gradution show started last night and to decorate the corridor we all made a poster for our films. These were my post-it ideas. My favourite is the one with a close up of the character's faces with the title in the middle but I didn't have the time to set them up, light them and photograph them. These are the ones I managed to throw together last minute.



I went for the last one. It has the awhh factor, plus I think it's the one I can hang on my wall afterwards without getting sick of it.

Monday, 25 May 2009

mac and pc...can't we all just get along?

Finished the final cut today. Woo hoo. To celebrate I had a nice cup of tea.
I'm having compatability issues due to my lack off mac vs pc knowledge. It's a major frustration when everything is done but the accepted format for submission is .avi which my mac doesn't acknowledge. The mac vs pc adverts make it look like they just throw snide comments at each other...they should change the adverts to a UFC style cage fight, it would be a better representation of the lack of communication
A quick round-up of the last week. I spent Wednesday and Thursday filming the title and credits. Spelling words with string is not as easy as it might sound, and I spent about 5 hours stitching the copyright words, but it worked ok. There's a lot of flicker on the footage but it looks handmade and I don't mind it.
Friday I fiddled around in After Effects until I learned how to paint out the rigging, which I think looks alright but I'll reserve judgement until I see it on a projector. Friday afternoon Gareth came in to uni to record the banjo track. We spent about an hour and a half setting up and then working through the story to fit the music he'd already composed to the extended film. To be honest he did it all. I didn't need to give much input as I liked everything he did. It was interesting to watch his progress with each take.
Then until today I've been editing it all together. It's final running time is 2min52secs. Quite a bit longer than the original 90 seconds. I'm concerned with the image quality at the final export as I haven't compressed anything yet from the original HD image but the Quicktime movie looks a bit pixely. I can only put it down to the fact that I put a slight vignette on it. Also the volume is quieter than I'd expected, but the levels are right so I don't think I can do anything about that now.
Anyway, no time for a rest, on with the work for the degree show.

Monday, 18 May 2009

barry purves used my magnets

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Ta-da....the animation is finished. It clocks in at 2 minutes 25 seconds, a full minute longer that I planned for and unfortunately I think it shows towards the end. I had to rush and so lost the characters a bit and just did the movements that were most economical.
It's a relief to be on schedule though.
The puppets held up alright really considering the length of the shot they were in. It wasn't until I scrunched them both down on the floor that I struggled to get them upright again, so the final shot isn't as good as I had in mind. Also, the final shot is supposed to be them hugging, which they are capable of doing, but on camera it looked wrong. One was coming towards the lens and the other away so it ended up looking like one had a giant head. I just had them hold on to each other instead. The eyes started to fall out too because of the amount of holes made in the polystyrene, but I managed.
Barry Purves came to do a masterclass on Friday and saw my film in it's half finished state. He liked it and advised that I be careful to let the acting read, which was a major concern I had about a movement I had done the day before. It's where Lefty points at Righty and then tugs on her string, and I didn't let Righty's reaction to being pointed at settle and read enough, so I think the viewer loses the tugging action. Annoying too because if I had just taken one more frame I could've duplicated it and it would've been fine. Grrrr.

Friday, 15 May 2009

concrete floor + 20 hours of animating = foot pain

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So this is from today and yesterday, which were sort of continuous because I didn't go home. I have now experienced what it is like to sleep in the studio and be woken up by a cleaner emptying the bin.
Not fun but it was productive.
I spent 28 hours in the studio, 5 of which were sleeping, and shot 28 seconds. Some was of good quality, some was bad, and at one point in the early hours I became like Mr. Clumsy and kicked the camera tripod. It's at around the 11 second mark in the timelapse and it took my sleep deprived head an age to re-align it, I almost gave up and went home to bed.
As long as I continue to not fuss around with it, I'll have the rest of the animation shot by Monday. Then I can rest my poor aching feet.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

these are the good times people

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This is the work from Monday and Tuesday. It took a lot longer than it looks but I m not sure why because it's quite simple stuff. It could be because it didn't go very well, and the computer crashing caused me a 2 hour delay so stopped my animation flow. With 5 days left to shoot I'm starting to worry about finishing, especially since I won't get much done on Friday, due to Barry Purves visiting the uni, which would be stupid to miss, and the studios being closed at 5pm for the uni ball.
As I feared, I might have to rush some of it, but it's better to get it finished than to fuss and have it unfinished.
Good times.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

banjo music rocks

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Animated a lift today and it was easier than I thought it would be. I think the puppets took pity on me, came to life and held each other up. Unfortunately they weren't so helpful with the subtle movements that followed. Some days are just bad animation days where you just know you wouldn't get director approval. Lucky I am the director and I say it will do.
In more exciting news, I had first listen to the music written for the film from Gareth Bonello, a very talented and helpful musician. The feedback was that I love it and grin like a particularly amused cheshire cat on hearing it. I've edited it into the animatic and posted it below. I asked for a simple bit of banjo which would tell the story from the string's point of view. Gareth has got what I wanted completely and other than a little tweaking I'm more than happy with the storytelling. Once the filming is done he'll rewrite it to the animation and I will have an awesome score.
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Saturday, 9 May 2009

t plus one minute and counting

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Finally passed the minute mark. Today I animated Lefty being pulled down to the floor. It's the move I was most worried about getting right which is why it took so long to do. It wasn't that it took long to animate but I spent ages thinking about it, putting it off until I got up the courage to at least try.
After all that...it looks alright. I now have my next big obstacle due to the fall, some rigging that needs compositing out. I know the theory but not the practice, and the HD aspect scares me a bit, but it can't be that hard can it? Surely it's just a big pixel jigsaw where you're allowed to force the peices together.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

drunken monkey walking

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56 seconds completed.
In the original animatic that would be almost two thirds done. As it's going it looks more like half done, which is ok because today is half way through filming.
I held off on using the rig today to see how the walk would look without it. It looks a bit ridiculous from this angle but in profile it's not so bad. A bit shuffly and uneven but I can get away with it because of the puppet's shape. He has to hurry back on set in a bit though and I'll probably need a rig for that.
A problem I didn't notice 'till it was too late is that he's casting a shadow as he gets closer to the fill light, and then when he gets to the end of the set i take him off and the shadow dissapears. It's gonna annoy me but I can't afford to re-shoot it. Hopefully the audience will be watching Lefty and not notice the Houdini shadow.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

a day of three parts

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Only managed 2 seconds today. Partly because I spent 4 hours trying to edit what I have together for the project deadline, partly because I'm animating my first real walk (which I'm struggling with), and partly because everyone else's relief at finishing their films just brought me down.
I made the deadline with what I had, although I'm still not sure it's in 16:9, it kept on squashing it when I rendered it. In the end I'd spent enough time fussing and just handed it in. The walk is looking bad, very uneven as you can see in the video, and I may set up the rig tomorrow to try and salvage it which will of course take up more time than it should. And I have no-one to blame but myself for not being finished today like I should've been.
Extra focus is needed tomorrow to try and make up the seconds.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

shooting after the fade

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I spent some time this morning re-hanging the backdrop as for the rest of the shoot the shot is continuous. Hopefully it won't sag too much.
The poses of the puppets needed some fiddling with to try and make them look as if they are leaning on each other. Shot 8 seconds today which I'm quite happy with. I should've finished earlier and edited the footage into the animatic ready for the hand in tomorrow, but I felt like carrying on, so I'll have to do it in the morning.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

sunday is always a bank holiday

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The first section of the film is done. In the animatic it's 30 seconds. I've filmed 42 seconds.
I animated the two puppets being pulled together by the strings and then the string wrapping itself around them. To contradict my previous post I'm so far quite happy with the way the string is working.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

bright light, bright light

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I tried a new angle for the web cam but it hasn't been very successful.
Almost 6 seconds done today. I am on track to finishing off the first section of the film before Monday, which is a bank holiday, so the studios are closed. I can then begin the second part on Tuesday, so even if the camera falls over and the set fall down it won't matter.
The image is quite plain so I've been thinking about how to make it look a little more finished. So far I'm considering some sort of border around the edge, like a picture frame, maybe made of a tangle of wool or lace edges. I may not have the time, so perhaps just a simple vignette effect will work.

Friday, 1 May 2009

pinch, punch...no returns

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Another 5 seconds done. It was a slow day again but I think I found my animation groove today. I'm pleased with the quality of those 5 seconds. I remembered how to animate and so I enjoyed doing it a lot more. So far the string isn't causing any problems but it's still quite short at this point.
I was fussing with the camera this morning and managed to knock it. The onion skin tool on Stop Motion Pro was very useful for fixing it.