Monday, February 27, 2012

SS2- Finding a narrative style

As I'm trying to work on the narrative style for my film, I decided to look into various movie title sequences that use a single camera movement. Particularly in similar lines to a mis-en-scene with a combination of choppy animation rather than conventional crisp frame by frame. This is because I wanted to focus more on the art work aspect of my film rather than the animation. Therefore, I decided to look into approaches that could enhance my story using camera and fx animation to an extent, ensuring the story has pace.

What particularly appeals to me about this piece is of course the use of a combination of single camera movement and it's unique transitions using characters or elements to cut from one shot to another.

 After having dissected this piece, I am able to visualize another style of narration in the form of a Graphic Novel. A graphic novel with motion. Which led me to realize my research on narrative style doesn't stop here.

I then decided to find out if any graphic novels did exist in the form of animation. Instead I stumbled upon this which although may not be what I'm looking for, does give me a clearer picture of telling a story through still images. Like any conventional story, this trailer flows in a logical sequence giving us viewers an exposition of the graphic novel. What I need to keep in mind is, every visual must be strong enough that it doesn't require too much dialogue to spoon feed the events taking place in the story. 

It always helps talking to people specially from University. I had a talk about my project aim, with my tutor and a former student from my Uni. They suggested I look into motion comics which I had actually never heard of. And this one in particular really convinced me that I can create a graphic novel in motion. This video in particular is of a large scale production with a massive team. However, I can make my project achieve this with minimum animation and less complex scenes. At least now, I am assured that even a little suggestion of movement can make a still image look interesting.

As I am working with a group of Junior Animation students to help me with certain aspects of my project, I made sure to clearly explain to them with the help of my video references that what I am out to achieve. One of the students did a good job of actually finding this video which comes closest to what I want to achieve for my project. This piece comprises everything. Great visuals, colors, camera movement, subtle animation and narration. I now, have a vivid idea of what I need to do with the project and how to exploit my resources. 


On the basis of my thorough video research, I want to create a film in the style of a Graphic Novel using original score and voice narration to carry the story forward. The art work will comprise of still images with use of 3D camera in post production to create depth of field. In addition, my animation aspect will come into certain elements from my images. Particularly EFFECTS ANIMATION and Camera movement will be the medium to give pace to my story apart from the concept visuals and imagery. In the end, the final product may look like an animatic to some, however, the story genre and stylization will be in the form of a Graphic Novel.

SS2- Conceptual use of Shadows

As my concept comprises of the interaction between human and shadow, this music video is my primary reference for the same. The shadows are made to work in its own sync apart from it's human counterpart. And my concept co incidentally comes in similar line to this, wherein the shadows of my characters portray the human conscience.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

SS2- Micro Project: Green Screen & more Compositing

In the process of compositing, when working on a shot that requires green screen, it is imperative to have the background image/plain ready prior to lighting the subject on green screen. This is because essentially, the lighting of the subject has to match with the background lighting. Once the green screen footage and background are put onto the compositing software, additional adjustments can be made to the footage like depth of field, camera movement, extra lights, effects etc.


Over here, I demonstrate myself as the subject to be lit and added to a background. I have a basic 2 point lighting set up on either of my sides making sure that the highlight and shadows on my face sync with the provided background image of the 'Tokyo scene'.


The 'Tokyo' background that will replace the green screen.
The lighting set up around me fundamentally matches to
the lighting of this background. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

SS2- Rough Concept Doodle

Being at the earliest stage of conceptualizing my story, I doodled out a visual that would help me derive further inspiration for my story. Kept it simple, yet with a meaning behind it. 

The digital sketch depicts my caped crusader 'hero' who has been robbed off something of great value to him or rather who has been deceived by a devious antagonist.

The hands could represent 2 things: either his entrapment between his conscience and reality, or its just simply an evil force that is attempting to suppress him from his quest for revenge.

I intend to use a shadow character who's identity can be defined either through use of significant shapes:Eg: his cape and hood, or a color on his body. Similarly, the antagonist will have a distinct attribute in the form of a shape or color.

The colors are bold and loud. Hopefully with further concept art experimentation, I am striving to achieve the feel of a graphic novel.

SS2- Early Inspirations

An animated short I first watched back in 2007 during my diploma course in animation. I remember a showcase by a couple of people from Griffith Film School Australia, where 'Tarboy' was screened. And until today, this short is embedded in my mind for it's brilliant and original storyline, adrenalin pumping score and it's visual style.

This short consists of my primary thematic inspiration which I would like to incorporate in my final project. The theme mainly revolves around vengeance which is stimulated through deception. I am captivated by the idea of a surreal world of non organic beings which have powerful stories behind their existence and tragedy. I too hope to use an unusual genre of characters to tell my story which will be supported with an appropriate music score and strong visuals.

Tarboy is typically a hero's journey wherein a being made of tar holds the souls of millions of deceived robot slaves who are seeking revenge for their dreadful mishap. During his quest for revenge, 'Tarboy' faces and overcomes several obstacles his way until he encounters an even bigger force that knows his weakness which ultimately leads to Tarboy's death. However, at the point of anticipating the end of the story, there comes a twist where we discover that a part of Tarboy is still existent and still seeking his unfinished quest for vengeance....the end? 'Tarboy 2' is in the making....

SS2- Briefing to L5 students

Looking back in retrospect where I had helped a senior student of Animation with their final project last year, this time I get to seek help from my juniors in areas where I could use an extra helping hand. I prepared some basic slides stating simple objectives and briefing about my project in order to know what they would be getting involved into and what they can expect in terms of their role play. I have been fortunate and thankful to gather 3 students to give me their inputs for my concept, help out with storyboards and provide technical solutions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SS2- warming up..

One of those days where you have absolutely no idea where your story is going....Doodling around poses and gestures related to my story theme just helps me warm up with small ideas that can be elaborated into more elaborate concept art.

Monday, February 13, 2012

SS2- Animated Concept Art

This example is relevant to the description of my project. Similar to this video, I am aiming to create a series of still images that are broken down into layers. The transitions between the images take place using a combination of a mis-en-scene along with regular cuts and fades. The images will be arranged in a logical sequence thereby narrating the story through visuals that are strong and clear, using different color schemes for each still depending on the intended mood. The primary reference point of this video is the effect of the camera from one image to another, with subtle animated movements.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SS2- Magic of Compositing

A stop motion commercial by Second Home Studios using the advanced techniques of motion control operation. In a large scale production with countless elements, it's important for every component to be broken down into layers in order to compose the scene with flexibility for each component. Certain elements in the scenes are even shot separately in order to layer them out in Post-Production and work on each component individually, creating finesse.

SS2- Micro Project: Compositing

To warm up my skills in Compositing, I decided to approach Matt, from my Uni's technical department who has sound knowledge on the technicalities of film making. My aim was to understand the practicality of using an ideal software for the technique of Compositing and understand which is demanding in the market of Animation and VFX. This in turn, would help me use the same for my final project. 


Amongst the softwares available, After Effects is the ideal pick not only because of it's user friendly interface but it's flexibility too. Having past experience using Apple Shake, no other new versions were released after it's first and therefore it's usage stats has almost died in the market. Nuke on the other hand has found it's niche in the market with it's flexibility and extensive tools, which also makes it more time consuming to learn in comparison to After Effects. Hence my pick is the latter.


Making use of the Uni's Editing Suite
Testing out Green Screen Removal and Compositing a
Live Action Footage onto it.

Background image of Tokyo that will replace the Green Screen.
(Non edited)

Live Action shot that is captured on Green Screen. Using After Effects, the screen will then be replaced with the Tokyo background, having this live action footage as the foreground. There is a very basic 2 point light set up around the boy. Additional lighting effects can be added onto the software itself.

The final composited video is more edited that what it actually looks.
The key essentials to have a well balanced image is
1) Color balance 2) Lighting 3) Depth of field

In addition to replacing the green screen with Tokyo background, the image has been intensely color corrected to give the billboard ambience effect on the live action footage on whom the lighting was decided before shooting, to match the electro lit background. In addition to the original lighting in the live action footage, an extra rim light has been placed behind the boy to prevent his hair from blending into the background which was originally dark. Also, the original sharpness of the billboards in the foreground have been blurred to give a good depth of field, preventing flatness of the image. The live action footage has also been reposition and slightly scaled to fit into the scene at an appropriate angle. I can play around a lot more with a single image like this one to achieve believability.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SS2- VFX behind the scenes

SS2- Difference b/w Beat Boards & Storyboards

Beat boards are distinct from storyboards. It represents a series of single drawings that depict a scene of the movie. It is similar to a children's book illustration wherein a single picture tells a complex story. It primarily serves as a guide for a director to pitch his story to the people involved in the making of the film. Beat boards can also be a form of art direction in which the shot is staged and given a color ambience with simple dabs and not necessarily detailed sketching.

Beat Boards/Color Scripts

Evidently, it represents the color scheme of the scenes in the film which can be
supported with variation in styles or colors
Sample- Beat board of last scene from 'Toy Story 3'
A painterly styled effect with finesse which can be seen from the brush style.

 The above image is a simple example of a storyboard which shows an intricate breakdown of actions taking place in a scene. The drawings will reflect the early ideas of what characters will look like, what the backgrounds and scenery will be some idea of dialogue, emotions ,and a general feel of the animation process.

PIXAR's Storyboarding Process with a comparison
between the pre visuals and the final output

Monday, February 6, 2012

SS2- Statement of Intent


My final project will establish myself as a Concept Artist and a Digital Matte Painter.
The aim of the project is to have a finished piece of an Animated Concept Art that comprises of my visual skill sets. The storyline will be inspired' by events and elements from William Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. This is to enable me in working out a meaningful story line using 'thematic inspiration' from the play. Therefore, my final narrative would be a more simplified storyline with new set of characters and environments that I will develop.

I will attempt to create a series of 2D conceptual imagery that will tell a story,
supported by camera movement and animated elements within each imagery to carry the narrative forward.

The final output will be an animatic of my concept art that will (hopefully!) convey a story in a logical sequence.


As a visualizer and digital matte artist, it is imperative to have a technical hands on 'Compositing' for a scene whether the elements are 2D, 3D or a combination with Live-Action. I will carry out a few tests on Adobe Aftereffects software to familiarize myself with the technique of compositing. This will eventually help me compose my visuals with the animated elements in those shots.

In additon, I will also test out suitable color schemes for my story by roughing out beat boards. Concept  Art DVD tutorials like that of the Gnomon Workshop will guide me in treating my project with a professional and an industry standard approach.

For further visual referencing, I will be looking into movie title sequences which incorporate motion graphics, dynamic camera works and editing patterns. I have chosen this technique in order to attempt placing my 2D concept visuals in an environement where I can create a dynamic depth of field, using Aftereffects.


My schedule is fairy designed in a way where I know my workshop days, festival days, breaks and other important events to be noted. Color coding the respective events will help keep track of any important upcoming events. Having this attached to my journal will enable me to keep track on a regular basis, ensuring I have my work in place.