Wednesday, December 7, 2011

SS1- Reflection & Evaluation

Developing narrative based on adaptation
Learning Outcome: Personal interpretation
                             Skills & Experimentation

Purpose & Intent

With storytelling being one of my main areas of interest, I want to challenge my problem solving skills for the same where I can offer solutions to existing story lines. The project also gives me the opportunity to experiment and test out my technical skills in areas I wish to improve, primarily Flash, as I hope to use it for my upcoming project. By working out a series of animation tests from the story I plan to work on, not only will I improve on my animation skills but also help me plan out my production timing and therefore enable me to animate efficiently for my future projects. 

Target Audience
Story tellers and visualizers. By researching on various genres and interpretations of storytelling, I could explore and work out my own narrative strategies to develop my story.

Flash, particularly is my weapon of choice because I would personally like to see the scope of animation on it and moreover improve on my frame by frame animation skills.

A Flash animated trailer clip that condenses my adapted story well enough to manifest what the story will be about.

Action Plan
Storytelling and animation is the main area of focus with my priority towards skill sets. The reason I pick to do an adaptation is so that I don't focus excessively on a new storyline but make few alterations to it. Once the story adaptation is tweaked, I can then focus on improving on my animation skills in Flash by working on the trailer clip.

Learning Outcome
- The project will enable to offer solutions to narrative development.
- I will learn to work within sets of guidelines
- It will help me improve my animation skills and help work efficiently for my Major Project.


Looking back on the purpose of the project, I am evidently a case of 'I wish I had done this....I wish I hadn't done that....'. However, the blunders made in this project have really been more than beneficial on an educational front. 

In summary, the purpose of choosing an existing story for my project was essentially to avoid spending too much time developing a new one and therefore, concentrate on improving my animation skills. However in the midst of the project, I ultimately committed the error of focusing excessively on my 'adapted storyline', eventually neglecting a major portion of my animation.

Some of the noteworthy lessons for me include: 
Being clear on the objectives of the project (Making sure I DONT focus on story, when my focus was set on animation!)
Production efficiency based on given time span (How many seconds of animation is feasible with given time)
Focus on the 'process' in order to have a desirable output! (It's the journey that counts)


On a more critical note, the project has allowed me to fulfill my learning outcomes even if not to a hundred percent. The process of adapting a story enabled me to manipulate a narrative from different points of view. The overall scope of adaptation is vast as it can apply to any area of storytelling including plot, genre, character, time period etc. The task of tweaking the story allowed me to play with various narrative strategies and in turn develop my own methodologies. Working out the numerous thumbnails and playing with visual metaphors only added to my problem solving strategy. 

Moreover, considering the time factor for the project, I knew I did not want to over work on the character design for the story. By looking into the works of Lotte Reiniger's cut outs of shadow play and Michel Gagne's flash animated series of shadow planet, I was inspired into using shadow and silhouetted designs which I could simplify as per my requirement. This approach did save me from spending extra time on working out complex designs for my character. 

Michel Gagne
Lotte Reiniger

Despite having to halt mid way through the storyboarding process, I managed to fully create an exposition sequence for my adaptation of Harold & the Purple Crayon. It was imperative for me to give a backdrop to my character before adapting the rest of the original story. Therefore the outcome was an animatic giving an introduction to the event that led Harold to live a popular tale. 

PAUL WELLS was the only friend I had
Reading...reading...and more reading....Now I know how a screenwriter feels

I couldn't successfully produce a finished storyboard as I went overdue on that. Not only did I spend overtime on the story telling but I also lost time to animate my 10 second teaser clip. However, still aiming for my learning outcomes, I worked out some lines tests for my character which really gave me a good familiarization with frame by frame animation on Flash and it's efficiency in cases of strict deadlines. Perhaps if I were to work on a large scale production with limited time and one that focused heavily on narrative, I would opt for a more simplified technique of animating on flash like cut outs or motion tween. 

At one point during the project, I did go through a phase of thinking why is my project so boring? Clearly it was then I should have noted that I was going off track somewhere from my original brief. I learned now towards the end of the project, the reason why. However, all's not lost as I produced work that does relate to my learning outcomes and I'm hoping I take these lessons forward and produce something I am actually proud of.

SS1- Line tests

Initially, my aim was to produce either one of 2 versions of an animation. A 5 second clip depicting an action from my story or a 10-15 second trailer clip. However, given the time constraints, I reflected back upon one of my learning outcomes which was to improve on my animation skills. At this stage of the project, I didn't want to go back to working on my thumbnails and storyboard to perfect the story in order to create a trailer. Hence, it was best I stuck to micro projects like that of line tests which would allow me to explore frame by frame animation on Flash which isn't my strongest skill. Therefore, below are a few animation line tests I worked out on Flash comprising of basic movements just to familiarize myself with the production time on flash and overcome my fear of frame by frame! 

I created a basic walk cycle for my character which goes on 8 fps, to give it a more medium and cartoon like walk. Unfortunately couldn't work out a loop on this for some strange reason. 

Generally, a short legged character could work out a super fast run cycle on 6 frames and I decided to stay on a frame rate of 6. However, in the midst of my animation I somehow naturally inclined to exaggerating the legs to form stretches, which wasn't really the intention based on the structure of my character. The outcome was that of a very broken run with too much spacing. 

Clearly, the run of long legged characters works better on a higher frame rate of 8 and therefore, I changed it accordingly which gave me a much smoother output. Lesson learned, don't pull out an extra limb from the character while animating!!!

I decided to work on a piece of action from my adapted story where Harold is beginning
to draw a door with his crayon in order to escape from his room. The piece was particularly tricky in terms of getting the arc of the hand movement precise.

I have just added the basic contour structure of my character to the previous line test
to match the movement more precisely and maintain the accuracy of the body shape. This was relatively successful compared to the run cycle wherein I elongated the legs more than required.

A rather unsuccessful piece of line test where I was quickly trying to capture the
gesture of Harold scribbling on the wall. However, this was at the initial stage when my design 
for the character wasn't finalized.

SS1- Animatic (Story exposition)

Having worked on the series of thumbnails endlessly, I focused excessively on the opening sequences of my story which is the exposition of Harold's journey. The actual event that caused him to create his own world and run away from the real world. I really felt the need to give a backdrop to my adaptation else I wasn't keen on just simply recreating a children's book without an elaborate storyline. 

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish adapting the entire story except in bits. I have therefore stopped taking my storyboard forward hereon and will move onto tests on 'Flash. Reason being, I spent unnecessarily a major amount of my time perfecting the story when my main aim originally was to focus on animation tests in order to improve my skills on flash. Therefore, my animatic below is only the exposition portion of Harold's story before he runs away from home, using his purple crayon.

Exposition- Animatic from Roshni Kakad on Vimeo.

The story begins with establishing Harold as a mischievous child with his action of scribbling on the wall and is caught off guard when his mother witnesses the same. Evidently she sends him to his room indicating that he's grounded and not too happy about it. Fading into Harold'd room, he is drawing onto a sheet of paper which clearly is indicative of the after effect of his punishment where he isn't drawing on the wall. The purpose of drawing the bird is again a symbolic element which describes freedom. The freedom referred to here is Harold's wish to do as he pleases in his purple crayon scribbled world. Suddenly, when the drawing of the bird comes to life and flies out the window, it is that moment which gives him a reason to ponder over the possibilities of the magic crayon he holds.

The thumbnails below are sequences that follow after the initial exposition. They basically show Harold making another drawing of a dog to convince himself of the magical crayon which causes him to crumple the paper in angst as the dog protrudes out of the paper and barks at him. Being convinced, Harold contemplates an escape by drawing a door on his wall which then creaks open. It is thereon, that his journey of the purple crayon world begins.



SS1- Comparisons

While working on the rough thumbnails, it was important for me to constantly keep track of the actual visuals from the story in order to take notes and make comparison between the original and my reconstructed version. Specially in the case of visual metaphors, it was actually quite fun to place the image side by side and see the difference.  

In this bit for instance: Harold originally draws a dragon which scares him. However, there is no interaction as such between the two and moreover the dragon wouldn't really be considered as a character from the story.

In my version, I take the scenario of a monster that Harold drew and is chased by it. Or even the case of Harold drawing a UFO which turns out to have an alien flying the craft. The depiction here could be that of perils of the outside world by encountering strangers.

Another key event from the original story is where Harold is trying to find his way home by drawing and climbing onto a mountain which doesn't have another side to it, causing him to fall mid air.

I replace the mountain with a staircase that leads to the direction of the moon. Reason being, in the backdrop of my story, Harold actually runs away from home by drawing a door with his purple crayon. It therefore, didn't make any sense to have a mountain, so a flight of steps was a better option to match with a door. That door then leads him to a blank space where he creates an ambience for himself by drawing the moon while the door shuts behind him. The reason why the door is placed at the top of the staircase is because of Harold's recollection of where the moon was exactly placed when he ran away from home. 

However, it's in this very sequence where Harold takes a fall originally.

 I decide to do the same but instead of having a mountain without another side to it, my staircase won't have another side to it. Hence when Harold passes through the door at the top of the staircase, he takes a tumble and falls mid air and loses his crayon.

In the original story, while falling, Harold manages to save himself by drawing a hot air balloon and landing to safety. However, I decide to use the technique of a match cut from Harold falling mid air to Harold falling off his bed, turning out that he just woke up from a bad dream. Rather than showing Harold solve his own problem, I decided to create the ending in a way that brings to him a sense of realization that he shouldn't have run away from home in the first place. At the same time, I didn't want the effect to be that of a sad ending. Therefore, as cliched as it may be, having him wake up from a nightmare was better than having an audience of kids cringe over Harold's misery of falling and having a fade out before he breaks his bones!

Certain shots, I've redesigned are done in a way to help those who have actually read the book, to draw reminders from the actual story wherein the elements have just been replaced, in attempt of trying to stay close to the story theme as much as possible.

When Harold actually remembers that his room window was always right around where the moon was, that visual only gave me a better reason to instead have Harold draw the door in my story. The same door which he took off from was the very same that he expected to lead him home. In a way, it all made sense to me as he draws the door from his room to escape and run away and searches for that very door he came from. I somehow didn't see any reason to have him fly a hot air balloon and discover a city with numerous buildings and suddenly hit with realization as to where his house was. I think he was better off with a punch from a nightmare to bring him to realization. Yes, I have been mean to my character! But he had to learn it the hard way!

SS1- Thumbnailing

My first attempt was to use a technique I came across in a chapter from a book in which Paul Wells states while doing a case study on Caroline Leaf's 'The Street'. In the case of adaptation, it involves drawing a meaning from the text, filtering it through a highly personalized creative consciousness and finally  redetermining the text which ultimately offers a perspective on dominant motifs, narrative events and affecting detail.

Therefore, to practically apply it, I decided to thumbnail sequences from the children's book 'Harold and the Purple Crayon making sure I referenced the animated short as well.
This was to help me have the original story in order before I reconstruct the story.


I then infused another interesting approach to my adaptation using 'Story Spline'. This was taught to us in class by our tutor and I knew then that this was the easiest way to initiate a fresh concept, especially for people like myself who have trouble putting events in a logical sequence. Even though the story spline may not be the final output, it gives a good kickstart to making ones imagination run wild with ideas. 

Having the skeletal structure in place, I knew then what I wanted to manipulate in terms of adapting. Adaptations can apply not just to the story line but it also to plots, characters, genre, time period etc. What I decided to play upon was visual metaphors from particular shots of the story. I was therefore not going to change the entire story but play around with elements within the story and most importantly, give a backdrop to my character which gave me some amount of freedom to play around with the story line.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SS1- Character devpt.

What I have here are developmental stages of my character Harold for my adaptation of 'Harold and the Purple Crayon'. Based on my referencing and research, I have taken the direction of silhouettes and shadow in terms of stylization which is inspired by some of Michel Gagne's style from his work in 'Insanely twisted shadow puppets.'

These doodles that I have made are an exploration of contours in order to help me with the
 first stages of fleshing out a shape for my silhouetted character. I even attempted to give
my 'originally bald' character a hoodie, as you can see in the far right corner.

Over here, I've been trying to relate the shape of the character to
existing forms like that of a stretched carpet, a chess piece and a penguin.
(Sample below)

After narrowing down to a shape that is a morph between the stretched carpet
and a chess piece, I tried adding additional detail like that of the
feet and an opening for the eyes.
Though simplistic, I'm just trying to refine the
shape of the hands and feet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SS1- Silhouettes on Flash

As I am going to make my animation tests on Flash, the video I found below is that of Michel Gagne who is known for his work in renowned movies like that of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. The video is a compilation of his old independent animation shorts comprised of silhouettes and shadow puppets on Flash!

The animations incorporate the use of tweens and frame by frame which is ideal for my research as I too am attempting to work on Flash for my tests. In addition to that, the character designs are worth referencing in order understand how personalities are fleshed out from plain silhouettes.

It's amazing to see how traditional shadow puppetry derived from theatre has been catapulted to another level of medium like that of Flash.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SS1- Shadow Play/Silhouettes as a medium

For the adaptation that I have chosen to work on (Harold & the Purple Crayon), I am attempting to create a couple of animation tests based on a few shots from my storyboard. The effect I am aiming for in terms of design is that of silhouettes.

Below are a few videos that comprise of the use of shadow puppets in storytelling for theatre and animation. The relevant aspects to my research from these videos, is the design of the puppets itself with some being very intricate in details. I am focusing more on the contours of the cut outs and it's rigidity. What I hope to incorporate in my animation tests is more of a loose silhouette drawing rather than a cut out. However, these videos will help me understand the intricacies of the designs within the cut outs and how I could perhaps use it to a minimal extent in my design.

SS1- Chosen adaptation

Having researched on some of the best sellers list of Children's books, the one that appealed to me most was Crockett Johnson's 'Harold and the Purple Crayon'. This concept particularly would allow me to playfully manipulate some of the elements in the story and interpret it with my own set of motifs that convey a certain underlying message. The story also gives me the opportunity to experiment the use of certain narrative devices that I have particularly learned from 'Paul Wells' reading material.

The video below is the 'literal' word to word 1959 animated adaptation of the actual book, directed by David Piel.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

SS1- CASE STUDY: Duck Amuck

DIRECTOR: Chuck Jones
STORY: Michael Maltese

In a series of comical mishap, the character (Daffy Duck) is tormented by a seemingly sly but initially unidentified animator who constantly manipulates Daffy’s existence by changing his locations, physical appearance and voice. Daffy’s constant attempt to return the chaos back to normalcy only ends up with the animator to be excessive in literally interpreting Daffy’s demands and eventually ignore him.

Maltese very diligently incorporates animation elements from real life such as film strips, paint brush erasers and other components which communicates the storyline uniquely, through interactivity between the creation and the creator with the use of elements like a paint brush which keeps manipulating the character's(Daffy) environment, appearance and also a pencil eraser which the unseen animator uses to 
rub out the character at certain points.

The initial scene is established with Daffy enacting the role of a musketeer set up in the appropriate time period and location. However, before even progressing quarter way through the act, he is in the middle of nothing but a blank canvas. On requesting for a scenery to suit his part, the animator paints on a completely contrasting location to Daffy’s role which forces him to resort to a change in clothing and role play. It is thereon, that the character is constantly forced to adapt to locations that are unsuitable for the part he plays.The use of this comical tactic really tests one’s funny bone as it exposes the demanding yet unquestionably hilarious behavior of the character which remains unchanged till the very end of the story. Conventionally, one would expect the character arc to end in a state of ‘realization’ where he experiences a change;however in this short, the characters persistent demands and mishaps manage to successfully entertain throughout till the surprising climax.

Prior to the actual climax, there comes a point where the audience is made to anticipate the end of the story where it appears to be a curtain close. However, the character is proving to stop at nothing till his demands are fulfilled, just as much as the creator who is also as much determined to pester Daffy till he is at wit’s end; that would include messing up the film roll as well. From that point, the characters sanity is put to the ultimate test with constant obstructions and hurdles which includes a failed attempt of sucker punching his body double who is literally erased from the picture by the creator. These series of incidences only cause further anticipation from the audience who want to further witness the amount of blows the character can take.

A great attempt of manifesting the nature of the relation between the creator and the creation is in the part where Daffy’s attempt of landing on ground with a parachute is slyly erased and redrawn into an anvil by the animator. What highlights the relationship is the revelation towards the climax where the quick witted animator draws out a door around Daffy and shuts it. This camera shot then zooms out from the paper canvas to an animators desk behind which is seated none other that Daffy’s best friend/arch-rival.

Behind every comical misadventure in the short lies a very simple concept of fate. No matter what life throws at you, one should adapt or make amendments rather than complain about what nature has designed for you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SS1- Interpretations

I've been given suggestions to look into various 'unconventional narrative structures' which are not only confined to movies or shorts but several other mediums such as games etc. as well.

A short horror game, inspired by the older versions of 'Little Red Riding Hood', set in contemporary time. It comprises of 6 sisters of different ages and personalities who are instructed to stay on 'the path' to their grandmothers house which is set deep, within a forest. This work of art allows the player to live through the tale in different ways either by staying on the path or by diverting and straying into the forest.

A brilliant info graphics interpretation of 'Little Red Riding Hood' through use of Motion Graphics. This technique has been inspired by French motion graphics studio H5's  'R√∂yksopp- 'Remind Me.

A very artistic form of narrative. A single story involving 2 main protagonists, narrated from both their point of views in 2 different parts. This one is called Lucia which is narrated by the girl herself who concludes that she has been left in abandonment when there is actually 2 sides of the coin to the story (which is narrated by Luis in part 2).

Luis is the follow up of Lucia wherein, the story is narrated by the boy himself from his perspective revealing the real reason why Lucia never heard from him again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

SS1- Adaptation

After having a brief discussion with one of my tutors, as suggested by him, I decided to look into an animation which was created based on an existing story. This was to give me an idea on how I could go about perhaps storyboarding an entire narrative, then pick a key sequence from the story to animate up to 15-20 secs. This in turn, would save me some time by not over thinking on an original storyline thereby, giving me more time to practice on my animation.

A simplistic visual portrayal with the use of glass and ink animation that narrates a short story from an autobiography. The short has manifested itself as a great example for the excellent use of the classic narrative devices like that of 'Metamorphosis' and 'Condensation'.

Monday, October 3, 2011

'Lightning in a Bottle' earns Nomination

Lightning in a Bottle

Nominated for the 'Nice Monster Award',  I am truly grateful to have contributed to this project as the 'Background Artist'. This 2D flash animated short was created by Jennifer Padgett as her final graduate film . My contribution was made as a part of my Year 2 module in Animation where we help our seniors in a pre-production aspect of their final project. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SS1- Inspirational Concepts

As a concept, I would like to convey a rather simple message or a lesson through my narrative. Below are a few videos which to me personally have great impact with a simple storyline and message. 

For instance: If I had to break down a significant piece of action from this short for a mini animated sequence, I would cut it down by establishing the character very carefully handling his favorite kite, then being pulled off the ground by the wind, with an expression of cherish on his face which is suddenly wiped out when he let's go near the cliff.

SS1- Initial Proposal

At the onset of this module which allows us to explore a specialist area of animation in depth, I know which direction to head towards. However, I am at a premature inceptive stage of planning my 'content'.

A few personal pointers jotted down while preparing myself for the module:
- Areas of Interest: Story telling, Illustration(Colors), Flash Animation

- Strengths: Illustration & Conceptualizing
- Areas to improve: Flash animation
- Reflection/Action plan: -To challenge narrative & frame by frame Flash animation.
                                 -Attempt to build confidence of my animation skills for SS2.
                                 -Work on a very short yet compelling teaser(30 sec).
                                 -If I carry out a series of animation tests, it won't challenge my narrative well. Hence I could rather have one short compelling piece of action that enables me to improve on my animation principles.

Monday, May 23, 2011

ADVENTURE- Style options

 Attempted to go for a more paint dab style for the grass where the strokes are evident and highly
contrasting. In addition I tried to incorporate the triple crisp shade for the grass which was Jens preference.
I'm not fully content about the softness and realistic effect of the cloud. It did not dramatize
the composition well enough for me. The grass tends to stand out more than the sky which
is not what I'm aiming for. 

 I took a chance to experiment with different brushes on photoshop and gave
a painterly style but with a decent amount of sharpness to the to the grassy patch which actually
 looks like damp grass. I made sure that I picked a brush that had jagged edges which would
help me achieve the effect of individual grass strands. I also
gladly managed to blend in blues with purples which was the key
to achieve the dramatic twilight sky. In case of the clouds, I gave it
some playful curves which actually resembles the thick locks of the little girl's hair.
 This was in order to maintain that consistency of style in a logical manner.
I too am personally happy this one.

SOLITUDE- My final piece

Clearly if I had more time in my hands, I would do a lot to improve this image by
giving more preference to the background just as much I gave to the foreground.  I'm happy with the sharp contrast and the use of softer and grey shades for the backdrop was intentional keeping in mind the focus area which is between the bird and the sun. I also chose to paint directly in black & white as it worked out as a good exercise in terms of imagining my own lighting mood from scratch. As a first attempt ever with a black & white digital painting, I am rather pleased to an extent. But yet again, I would surely do a lot to improve on the far background of the image where the mountains can have more shadows along it's surface and the ground can actually look more like a paddy field. I'm glad to have had the creative liberty by James to work on my visualization skills on this project.

ADVENTURE- Mood board & Color scheme

Jen was well prepared with evidence of the look and feel she was attempting to achieve. She handed out the referenced relevant to her imagery of her layout designs. This proved to help me deliver exactly what she wanted in terms of style and color palettes. In addition, she too gave me the creative liberty and it felt good to know she would trust my experimentation with colors. At the same time I tried to keep a set of guidelines for myself on the basis of the following references, ensuring I do not totally deviate from Jen's visualization. Hence, I tried to make sure I tried to do justice to her project.
When I asked about her target audience, she mentioned it is of a wide range and mainly my understanding is because of the heart warming, reminiscent and feel good factor of the story. In that case, I'm sure that includes kids as well. And who wouldn't love colors? I tried not to be scared of making dull stormy shades look pretty. Because this isn't a horror tale but an exciting adventure of a little girl. 
Moreover, the girl wears a bright yellow raincoat which stands out as a 'Flash software' work. Hence, Jen didn't appeal to the idea of painting a background that screamed 'Flash animation'! She had specified so from the first email we exchanged and I'm glad she opted for a more painterly effect as that's what I'm here for!!! :)
Jen's illustration for her website, which she provided to
me as she wanted to specify the dramatic effect of the sky. This helped
me understand that she wasn't looking for a conventional gloomy stormy night but something more into the twilight.

Online references provided by Jen where she talked about the triple shade of the grass and the color palette of the bottom most image.