Hello and welcome to my development blog.
My name is Alex Murphy and I’m currently studying a Ba Honours in Animation.
So I’ll be posting University related work, as well as personnel work for experimentation and fun.
Hello and welcome to my development blog.
My name is Alex Murphy and I’m currently studying a Ba Honours in Animation.
So I’ll be posting University related work, as well as personnel work for experimentation and fun.
A colour test, trying to avoid using the colour black as an outline and using small amount of colours on Gretel, overall I have no clue what I’m doing, which is fun. I like the bench, I like the colours, same goes for the tree, so I got the colours for the setting but I’m not too fond of Gretel’s scheme, heck I may even re-design her (by the way she’s based off this drawing I did).
I should be really be focusing on the animation before I dwell on this too much but it’s a fun distraction (that and Unity).
My goodness, one month without a single update (well maybe longer). Apologies! Life and Deus Ex has kept me occupied but I intend to go back into the productive swing. But yeah, feels strange with University over, it was over before I knew it.
My university journey has ended, not sure what grade but it has come to the end, a long, difficult but amazing 3 years, I’ve learned a lot and I continue to keep learning. So what’s next? Well I got a job (at a game company) and currently trying to move which oddly has proven to be the most difficult, which honesty I thought it be the other way round. As for Page Turner I’ve been ironing out technical problems, such as sound errors, animation lags etc and will soon be going into animation mode. Been playing with Unity which I’ll be posting up some random crap later.
As for this blog I’ll still be posting work here, I prefer WordPress than any other blog, also I’ve spent 3 years building and adding content here, so why leave it to waste.
I’ll also at some point be in clean up mode where I’ll be removing very old work from this blog for the sake of clean up.
Oh and to prevent this post been too just badly written words, here’s a sketch of a Grumpy Gretel, she’ll be the star of the next animation concerning Page Turner. I aimed to have this rendered but I was experimenting with colours and turns out I’m still bad with colours!
My Role -
My role for this project was primary the team leader, I arranged meetings with the group, usually on a basis of once a week which we all agreed to, usually either Monday or Friday. Originally each meeting was written down but we later decided have them recorded so we don’t lose out on information. We decided to take turns with the recording. I also arranged meetings with the client, I usually have a discussion with the group, we then agreed on a set date and time, usually a Friday around 1, it worked best for us and the client.
From the brief the description i worked to and what the client wanted was: Showing the time effort it takes to create a piece of jewellery while having a hand craft look. At this point I decided to use Flash and Photoshop for the animation and texture process, use Flash for the animation and Photoshop for rotoscoping and applying textured look which I later experimented.
For ideas I was stuck at the start and we our group had 2 weeks to display our ideas to our client and I wanted a rendered storyboard to present, couple of ideas had a character and clock which usually cut towards and cut back but this idea didn’t sit well since it didn’t really convey the idea. As for references i turned to various film makers who’ve worked with craft makers and made short videos for them. And thus where my ideas came from.
From observing series of videos I started quickly drawing shots from various videos I’d observed then created my own. I drawn over 50 different shots and from these shots iw a sable to create the idea for which I thought was the most appropriate for the client. The idea is a time lapse of various shots of craftmen/women working on a product, in this case a ring.
Over the process the client directed us to sources such as band rings creations and even created a ring right in front of us so we could observed and take references which are present within the storyboards. I further researched into different rings and looked and researched the steps of making a ring so everything is accurate within the short animation. Over time the animation went from a short 10 second to a 30 second clip which I believed was ideal for their company and website, the brief stated to produce a piece of animation, something on the liens of sting but due to meetings with the client it slowly changed over the course in a 3o second piece which can be used for advertisements, branding, short intro to a video that they’ve msde etc, the video itself can be adjusted shortened or sped up, so the development continued throight but this basic idea been the basis.
For this project one of my main aims to have a rendered storyboard that was up to a reasonable quality – several colour tests, these are some examples, as well as adding and subtracting shots, this process continued into the animatic stages. Overall the client had a fair amount of content to pick from, however I quickly learned while working with the client, it’s best to have the animatic alongside these. These storyboards changed over the course of the project, mostly noticeable within the animatics, the process was mainly present to client and then make any adjustments if necessary, with these adjusted then the animatic becomes adjusted, this process continue is until this stage is finalized then I can then move onto animation.
Over the course I made 3 animatics, the one above is the most recent the difference is the extra added shots like the polishing of the rings and fix’s in certain shots, to remain accurate. While building animatics I didn’t have a colour choice to begin with and I was still in the process of experimenting so i went the white and dark blue line look which is something I experimented with in the previous client work. In the end the client preferred this look which made my life easier when it came to the colour tests which I’m still learning colour theory and how colours work. Regardless I kept the style above so that I could just go straight into the animatic without the fear of the colour changing too drastically.
Render tests -
While working alongside the storyboards I made 1920 by 1080 render tests within Photoshop since this was going to be the main tool for rendering and I wanted to present to the client and reassure myself of the quality of the animation when using Photoshop. Theses are the series of tests I made.
The whole diea is to get a visual idea of how the animation will look, it also reassures the client so they know what to expect.
Animation Photoshop test -
However I soon ran into certain problems while using Photoshop, not so much using the tool but rather time it will take to render the whole animation which resulted in using Flash instead. The problem is takes tor render one piece of animation, the process for this project is, animate in Flash, then import the animation into Photoshop and rotoscope over the animation but applying the textured look, and colouring and then adding backgrounds, from early tests it was very quick to get the rendered look however rotoscoping took and then rendering and applying the textured look took too long to render 1 frame and this animation is 30 seconds long which is around 750 frames to render, I would never finish the project in time for hand ins.
this was the quick test and not too favorable in terms of animation, so changing animation tools was necessary to meet the deadline.
Final Product -
There is in fact 2 versions of the final product, one with the blur backgrounds and the other with a simple gradient, from the original storyboards I originally intended to have blur backgrounds. however due to the change of graphic type from raster to vector, I was worried they could potentially be a clash, so i created two to which the client could use. I also shortened the the whole animation to about 30 seconds, rather than 40 to 50 seconds with extra added content, I didn’t see the necessity of showing the whole process, I made early tests to see if I could squeeze extra shots by speeding up or making quicker cuts but, it just becomes confusing.
Prior to the submission myself and Abbie sent our proposal to ask for an extended deadline, with the extra time I aim to improve certain animations like the pliers bending the metal, it was difficult shot to animate, other adjustments is to add a more of a texture look to the animation. The animation wasn’t my final intention originally I was banking on been a more texture look with simple animation, so ideally I wanted the visuals to carry the piece however due to time constraints and using Photoshop for rendering which took vast amount of time to complete, the vector method seemed appropriate for this task and the client actually enjoyed the animatic style more than the colours tests I made so that helped in picking the style I already started with.
Overall this was a positive experience this was my first time I ever worked with a client and dealing with clients who have little knowledge of the process of making a piece of animation was an eye opener in terms of explanation, sometimes I was a little quick to explain and probably should go into more detail, a good example were the storyboards and the actual animation, storyboards I had to explain this small drawing of what it can look like on screen, they honestly though the storyboard, having the whole text and boxes was the animation and the process of animation itself and why it takes so long and why we need these processes. However this experience although positive and was able to finish product felt unfair for the client, personally this project was almost seen doomed to fail, although I finished the product, the quality is questionable, although the experience is necessary but the process of creating any animation piece has never really been completed and I believe that’s due to the overall year group, I’ve completed 2 projects over the 3 years I’ve been here and while I was working on this project it somewhat felt unfair to the client, luckily they’re not losing out, except time time which is important to businesses but no really impact on our lives or theirs but in the real world its not as easy and if anything it’s something for our group to think about.
Story - The story synopsis which I worked with is” Boy get’s kidnapped by a book, Chrosopher volger, writers journey as the structure, which is the modern take on the hero’s journey. This provided the structure, now i just need content. The basic idea was these 2 characters had to fix literature, so they jump into various stories and trying to find ‘faults’ in the world, and have to fix them. Kind alike a quantum leap mixed with never endign story. The next was what story do they need to fix.
In the end Rapunzel was chosen rather than using classic literature pieces, this was due to recognition, originally Beowulf was going to be the main story but due to difficulty in keeping it simple and no one ever read the book, Rapunzel been a fairy tale is very likely you’ve read it. Over the process the main characters act as a team and both require one another, otherwise they’ll fail, the antagonist was difficult, I imeediatly from the nstart didnt want a typical one villain with his plans been foiled, I ende dup aming the antaginist soiemthing that’s mpotentially different, so if I wanted to contiue with this project with a different scenario, the antagonist resulted in been the ‘bookworm’ which acts as a parasite to fictional characters, essentially I’ve built a universe that could go and on
Characters – Skillful huntmens process
Edmund – Average young adult, Paige, a book, Rapunzel. peasant/gypsy look, bookworm based on eye of horus and eye of providence and various other eye symbology from ‘Signs and symbol’ source book by Adele Nozedar, evil eye cursed objects.
These sheets were specifically designed for attracting voice actors, the model sheets are for myself. Voice acting auditions were held on online, vice acting guild and voice acting alliance, i got over 50 auditions and it was a matter of picking who fits who. While that was happening the storyboard and animatic was been produced, which went through various changes, while all this was going on I was also producing foley sounds, using the sound room to generatethe sound effects for the animation, in the end I’ve gotten a large sound library which can be bnrought cross to other pieces of work.
What really helped with he storyboard process was after watching video by Wheilm Reiss and he produced a video on how he approaches storyboard and giving tips on how to tackle storybaording, which greatly helped.
Bare in mind I’m only showing what I’ve animated up to, certain shots are animatics to not confuse the viewer too much.
This is what I’ve completed up to now, the animation sections were divided into 4 parts, Part A. B, C and D, I started animating this sections round the first week in February, each part would take an estimated 1 month to complete, each part been around 30 to 40 seconds long, the timing has been set, music was completed, story completed, I only needed to start animating and the whole of per-production is completed. My FMP can then begin production on the actual animation.
The process of how I tackled each animation isn’t new, the same process most animators use, the usual frame to frame and go ahead technique, just applied in their own special way. Each shot took an average between 7 to 12 hours to animate. My process been:
Key framed the main body movement, then add inbetweens and follow through animation, lip sync, then any second animation such as Edmund bag, Rapunzel Bookworm or Paige’s hair. After the first month animating I already started noticing that my current process is very slow and usually I tried to complete a piece of animation in one sitting and review the next day, one major slow down to this whole animation was Paige, the biggest time consuming elements of her design was her hair and her body. This was massive other-sight in the character stage which when designing characters for animation you have to constantly ask yourself if the design is working , does it have appeal and can you animate this character at 25 frames per second, I thought I could, which I can but it’s very slow. The worst is when she starts turning away from the camera or moves away and this becomes very time consuming, biggest issue is keeping her body consistent, otherwise you’ll get this horrible wobble effect. To fix her movement was to animate her in 3D, then rotoscope into 2D.
The process starts with making a simple rectangle body, I exported the UV maps into Photoshop, quickly drew on Paige’s face and hair strands so they will allow me to add extra animation after the rotoscope. I then create the simple motion in Maya, export the images into Flash, compile and I then begin removing frames, this simple movement in Maya takes 20 frames, which far too smooth and too technical, so i had to remove about 13 of the frames and left with about 7, which is enough for the whole motion and I then add the extra set of animation that is required, such as hair movement, eye blinking etc.
This was a solution to a difficult problem, however it didn’t fix the issue with the amount of time it takes to complete, so as the shots were been completed I was actively looking for other solutions.
Possibly one of the most wonderful technique for animation and something I often ignored, smears I’ve always associated with tom jerry cartoons or animation that is heavily exaggerated. I looked into the work of Paul Robertson and Jonathan Kim who’re senior/leading animators on various animation projects who both use smears but to the point where it’s hidden, the smears they apply in their work are somewhat hidden but general improve the overall quality of the animation. The same advice I received from both of the artists is that when animating, it’s key to try and use as least amount of frames but enough to get the right performance. Smears allows you to to cut cut don on frame massively while still having fluid, bouncy animation which adds to the overall work, also experimentation is fun and quick so you can get various performance, some work some don’t but luckily it doesn’t take 7 hours. SO it a great technique for testing animations and getting feedback from the work, overall it allowed me to speed the whole animation process up, sadly this was discovered towards the end of the project.
Other issues with the aniamtion itself are the characters designs odd, Edmund most difficult been 2 heads. Other issues been who’s the reds head. so before the degree shoie certain locations have to be renderede or mad emore clear
After the animation is completed, it’s a matter of rendering. The backgrounds I had no trouble with, the characters, rendering, Edmund and Paige, I can again shot myself in the foot. In the first picture is example of how you render Paige, using the colour swatches, Paige, Edmund, Rapunzel, bookworm all have have their line art darker or lighter to their base colour, rather than the standard black line look, visually wise it looks nice, it worked well for the character sheet, downside is that it takes hours because it essentially rotoscoping and clean up, ideally it would be best to not use the same technique in the future or if I’m working on a smaller project. Another issue I had was colouring Paige and Edmund, oddly the colour hue kept shifting, so rendering can become hell. Oddly the backgrounds didn’t have that issue, no clue as to why the characters colours change.
Overall i aim to continue with this project way after University is completed, reason for my self, its a large project and put far too much time into ti and it would be just a waste to not complete it, I also intend to submit this into festivals.
This was a difficult drawing to render, couple of errors but something learned that is to retouch up on perspective drawings, this would of been completed quicker if it wasn’t for spotting all the problems, like drawing the table, chairs, the book case and adding all the little details, however it’s completed and my goodness Flash struggles to perform a simple tween for the 2 second pan shot. Overall it’s an okay render, I prefer the storage room but as large renders go, this feels okay, can be better however if was for less detail, otherwsie it wouldn’t lag as horrible as it does.
This is the first draft of my proposal:
Story Synopsis –
Edmund, a student who while browsing his local library comes across a book, happened to be alive and magical, captures and takes Edmund to an otherworld of literature, which the foundation itself faces a series of problems.
Note – story idea subjective to change.
The animation itself is intended to be a short film, with a narrative structure that has a start, middle and end.
The idea itself is rather open and allows me to pick and choose a series of content (primarily focusing on literature, thus stories can evolve itself around that).
The short film purpose is to introduce the primary protagonists (Edmund and Paige) and the problem they face.
As a limit the animation cannot exceed no longer than 2 minutes but that also doesn’t mean the animation need to be exactly 2 minutes long.
This structure will then allow me to not overcomplicate the story but rather get straight to the point.
The project will then allow me to create professional looking content without over complicating, this including adding not adding too many characters or having heavy dialogue, the purpose of this film is to show rather then tell.
The story idea is a re vamp from a previous project but for this project is intended to be pushed further and improved upon by adding new and remaking content (example been changing the character designs and potential tweaking of story).
Potential content although this is ONLY intended to be undertaken when the previous project is completed, is to create a series of small animation that can be imported into a game engine, also creating animation and 3D models that can be imported into a game engine.
2. Goals -
To further my knowledge of storytelling, keeping it simple and interesting enough to captivate viewers.
I want to further my knowledge on animation, focusing on acting and movement.
Also furthering my cinematography ability, short films focuses on careful planning, which will allow me to focus choosing correct shots, this telling a story more effectively.
Other goals include a more effective storyboard approach, as well as animatic; I very much like to improve on this area as much as I can.
For software, I’m very much interested in learning the software Toon Boom Animate, although I may jump to flash (purpose of say Animate is unavailable) this new tool will be a tool set for me to learn rather than sticking to flash.
5. Project Content -
The content will be 1 short film, which will be produce into a series of file types that are deemed suitable which include .MOV for video file websites (vimeo, youtube etc) and possible festivals.
The components I’ll be producing will be:
Function Requirements -
From a technical point I’ll be using my own computer to produce the animation, for video editing again my own computer and/or university machines.
However overtime it slowly changed which cna be seen on this blog and evaluation. The major changes are the lenght which went up to 3 minutes and 30 seconds, this was due to the story and content, if it was broken down any further then some confusion will be caused, although I would of preferred 2 minutes since its time limit I can work to, meaning I can handle most of the workload, although 2 minutes is still very demanding, however I have to keep pushing myself. The software changed due to the accessibility at my University, this was so that I could split the work load between myself at home and at University. However for most of the proposal I stuck to it, I have characters sheets which i wanted to experiment with and further, storyboards and animatic still felt weak but much better than my previous projects and seen a massive improvement in this area for my client work and without this project, my storyboard ability wouldn’t of improved as it would of done. Although this unit has finished my next proposal is to continue working on this until my degree show and afterwards because I’m potentially looking into submitting this into a festival piece and for personal reasons. Overall my proposal did;t change as much but only changed for reason I believe and did benefit the project. Overall I kept to it and will do until the project is finished.
The next render batch, tiem taken around 2 hours, the next step will be rendering the animation, the next step will be the actual animation. Not much to say but to just continue.