Thursday, 18 November 2010

Third Animation Test

I made sure to stretch her body and head back out for the bounce in between the two landings, and added more squash to the second landing as well. The hair was especially tricky here as I had to carefully apply follow through in order to make sure the hair was always a few frames behind the body in movement, as hair always drags along behind due to being so much lighter. I also wanted to ensure that all the movement didn't suddenly stop the moment the body settled, as that would look horribly stiff and unrealistic, so I added the secondary animation of the face turning to the side so her nose and mouth isn't squished into the floor anymore. Overall I think all these components together make the sequence look quite effective, and its certainly feels a lot more fluid than anything else I've animated so far.

Second Animation Test

I went back and adjusted the arc of the hair as it trails behind her so it flows more smoothly, and made sure to add plenty of squash to the girl's head as she lands for the first time so she appears to be more rubbery like in Tex Avery's cartoons. I think it's vital for her to bounce a little after hitting the floor, otherwise the impact just seems far too static and lifeless. Anticipation is crucial in these instances, so I added an extra frame (it makes all the difference) to the first landind to really exaggerate the squash of the head as it drived into the floor. I also keyed in a few frames to plan out the second and final landing.

First Animation Test

I decided to begin with scene 26 of my storyboard since this is where the action truly starts and things get interesting with the girl's hair coming alive. I fear I may have been a little over ambitious planning out an entire short film for such a short project, and whith the deadline drawing ever closer I'm afraid I won't finish the entire animation in time. So for now I'm going to focus on the most important parts of my narrative; this being the fight scenes between the girl and her hair. The focus of my specialist study is character animation, so it is vital I concentrate on delivering convincing acting and fluid movement in order to achieve the goals set in my proposal. I would much rather hand in several well done scenes which are animated to the best of my ability and effectively demonstrate my learning outcomes than an entire film I've rushed and skimped on, cutting corners in order to save time. I'm not getting marked on cut corners, and cutting corners will not help me improve my skills as an animator. I intend to animate as much as I can in the time I have left, then have the rest of the storyboard as a cleaned up animatic in order to properly introduce the narrative.

I started by importing the necessary storyboard pannels into Flash to use as key frames, as this gets me started a lot faster and saves me having to try to draw out the exact same poses again from scratch. I then tried to work as loosely as possible, keeping my drawings rough and sketchy rather than getting hung up on my line art being perfectly pristine before making sure it works like I usually do. I chose to work in blue for this reason, as black feels too final to me and I'd be temped to clean up every frame before moving on. This way the movement feels far more fluid and I can make changes much easier without feeling like I've wasted my time, and I think my animation is benefiting from it.

Animated Hair References

As much as having long hair of my own is handy, it still doesn't make for the best reference when you're trying to animate hair doing something other than just falling down your back. I know animating long hair well is very difficult, and I find I can often judge just how big a budget for a production is just by how well they animate hair since that's usually one of the first things that gets skimped on when money gets tight. And no wonder, its a time consuming task! Below are some examples I've found of what I think think to be well animated long hair:

First up is the second ending theme to the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime, which showcases one of the best examples of hair flowing in the wind I've ever seen (and I've seen a of anime hair flowing in the wind). The clip in question is at 0:12-0:23, and I love how the animators have taken the time and effort to show all the individual strands blowing in such a convincing and diverse manner, varying the way they waft over her face each time rather that just animating it once and sticking it on a loop which is usually the trend in such instances. Naturally this is far too detailed for what I hope to achieve, but it still makes a great reference and really demonstrates the whip-like 'figure of eight' movement the strands follow as they ripple.

Skip to 1:02 for this one; the brief clip from the Kobato anime as she spins around to face the viewer. Yes its intensely sugary and in slow motion, but I actually find the slowness helps me read the movement better, especially since this whipping of the hair is very over exaggerated. Normal hair of that length would barely move from such a small turn, considering its weight. But regardless, exaggeration and fluidity is what I'm going for, and I feel this demonstrates both quite well, albeit rather hazily on the visual side.

Skip to 0:43. More relevant to my interests this time, this short scene demonstrates Niche's (the girl I referenced for my character design some weeks earlier) hair sword in action, and for once they're animated very fluidly with great exaggerated perspective and weight. While its still obvious her swords are made of hair by how flexibly they move, they still have an appropriate density to them that shows they have a life of they're own and aren't merely strands being blown by the wind. That's the kind of balance I want to strike with by character's hair once it comes alive, as I don't want the hair to appear too soft and weak to do any damage, yet at the same time I don't want it to be too rigid as it will just appear stiff and unrealistic.

Pocahontas: were every other scene shows her hair billowing epically in the wind. Thankfully her hair is animated beautifully, as can be expected of Disney, and makes for a great reference for the follow-through and weight principles of animation which I'm trying by best to improve in my work.

A line test I found which was inspired by the Pocahontas style, this beautifully demonstrates hair whipping round as it follows a sharp head turn. I find studying it to be very useful, as I could clearly see how the hair follows an arc as it moves. A common factor I've noticed while watching well animated hair is that the strands seem to flow in figures of eight, the tips always flicking back the opposite way to the upper body of hair depending on the direction of movement. Hopefully studying these references will allow me to animate my character's hair convincingly.

Tex Avery

Tex Avery is well known as one of Wanrer Bros. most influencial animators, steering the house stryle away from Disney-esque animation and more towards flamboyant, vastly over exaggerated cartoons that could appeal to both children and adults alike. His cartoons are revered for their wit, irony, and sarcasm, a refreshing take on animated comedy that I feel could be of use to me as I work on animating my own character. Above is the 1955 cartoon "Chilly Willy: The Legend Of Rockabye Point" directed by Avery, one of my personal favourites of his, and is showcases how brilliantly simple yet well executed his gags are, so much so that that never cease to get old despite the entire six minute cartoon focusing on repeating the same instance over and over again. The way the gag is carried out becomes increasingly over the top each time to the point of being rediculous; the part being seeing the mightly polar bear being thwarted by the tiny penguin he tried so hard to keep away from his food.

While my narrative isn't intended to be pure gag-riddled comedy (I want to go for something more subtle and fluid to really push my technical skills), the exaggerated poses and use of comic timing in Avery's cartoons makes an excellent reference point, and I hope to utilise some of these principles in my own work.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Revised Animatic

My revised and final animatic, using scans from my revised storyboard. And now with the addition of sound! I took some of the sounds from my previous video references and recorded some extra sound effects specifically for certain parts in order to breathe more life into my character and to demonstrate how the story will flow more effectively. Overall I think the addition of the sound makes quite a big difference even though there's still some silence between the action scenes, and ripping sound from my video references also proves that I managed to time the action scenes correctly since the sound clips fitted their relative scenes perfectly.

Revised Storyboard

Here is my revised and final storyboard, having made the changes suggested to me from my tutorial last week. In order to give the ending more depth and meaning, thus making the viewer more likely to buy into the dream twist and accept it, I decided to have the girl's hair wrapped around her neck and mouth when she woke up. I often wake to find my own hair managed to tangle itself around my neck while I've been turning over in my sleep, so this is a perfectly plausible explanation which ties in to why she dreamt of her hair trying to strangle her. It also allows for a more dramatic were she trusts her hair away after waking, this time pulling it back from her mouth and gasping for breath like she was suffocating, even thought that clearly isn't the case. Such an intense reaction thanks to the peril she felt in the dream will be far more compelling to watch than her simply flinching away from her hair even after she's realised she's awake. This way her sudden fear shows the viewer that she's still coming round and can't quite distinguish dream from reality quite yet. I also added one final twist at the very end; having the hair hand raise into the shot over her shoulder as she looks at the calendar to show that it wasn't really all a dream after all. I think this is a much more fun, interesting, and creepy way to end things, as it will hopefully leave the audience questioning what is real and what isn't, and naturally, what will happen to the poor girl? I think such an open ending with no real conclusion or concrete evidence as to what the fate of the main character will be is far more entertaining and more likely to linger in someone's mind after the film has ended than the ending I had before, so I'm glad I've made these changes.

Lastly, I went back to the desk scenes and added stationary and paper to make it appear more cluttered and to take the emphasis away from the scissors. After showing this revision to my tutor again he says this addition fixes the problem perfectly and that the action of the character is much clearer to read.