Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Color Style Cont'd

So this is a kind of final iteration of what I am thinking for the coloring of the BG's in the real world. It is basically all gray and black, which turned out better than I thought it would. If this look gets a positive response I am going to move forward with it and color the rest of the BG's in a similar fashion. It is fairly simple to do and won't take long. Anyways here is the scene for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Color Tests

For this week the bulk of my time was spent working on color for the backgrounds. I finished up a couple new backgrounds from my schedule but I then spent the rest of the time trying to find colors that worked. I am still unsure whether or not I like these ones I am posting but they are the best of the lot so far and I have done too many to post them all. My main goal in class today will be to work through these and find out what works but any feedback online will also be helpful. The color scheme was pretty muted and on a couple the quality when exporting was not so great but they still give an idea of color look. I colored these in flash and played around with some masks on a couple. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Character Animation

So for these next couple videos I got bored of doing the Backgrounds and decided to work a little with the characters and how they would appear inside the letter. Each movie represents a different characters entrance onscreen as animations inside the letter. Each scene is a different character transforming into an animation after being sucked into the letter and transformed from pixelation. I am still working with the characters so that they correspond a bit more to their live counterparts but I will change that once I have the pixelation shot.

As for the characters themselves, I went with a more amorphous blob look that transforms into a fanciful representation. I wanted the characters to have a flow to them and their movements, really smooth and to seemingly appear from nothing. I like some of the transitions but I need to work on their movements once they form up and have them play more of their instruments. I think they turned out pretty well though and I am looking forward to continuing work on their movements.

Letter Flying Away From House

This is something I put together a couple weeks ago and is probably my favorite scene so far. I am really happy with how the flying animation turned out and I am still trying to incorporate this speed and action to other scenes where the letter is flying. After telling the letter where to go, this shot takes place as it flies away from the boys home and begins its journey. I still need to place the jpeg images of the letter in for the blocked out grey letter box acting as a placeholder. Any comments would be appreciated.

Continued BG Work

As I have still not yet shot my pixelation yet I have been continuing to work on Backgrounds. I have been really happy with the shots and how they are turning out. I have settled on a line quality and style for the BG's but am still working out color.

I have all but decided against the use of moving holds on the BG's because some are complex and it was brought to my attention that it would distract the viewer. Especially in the case where the letter was moving across the screen as it diminished that movement and its importance in the narrative.

Instead I have been working with limited colors: greys, blacks, and playing with opacity. I feel like the initial part of the narrative the world should be slightly dull and rely more on the line quality and simplicity to contrast with more color later. Fuller color will be used in the world within the letter and I think that will contrast nicely. I am also planning to have the pixelation to be in black and white and I will color treat the parts where the characters are holding the letter to have slight color in the pixelation as they hold it. I will put up some of the coloring tests tomorrow after class hopefully. For now have a look at some of these new BG's and see what is working or how they could be more dynamic.

More Letter Test Animation

For these couple shots I have been playing with the letter and how it moves. I am still playing with the wing speed and how the letter moves but I think that it is quietly developing. The first video is when the the boy first puts the letter into the envelope and the wings react by flapping as it comes to life. The red is meant to represent the characters hands as he places the paper into the envelope. That of course will be pixelation once I do my shoot. I still need to add a few in betweens to smooth the motion out a bit but the look is something I think works. Also I need to fix how the paper is put into the letter but I will do that later.

This second video shows a different angle of the letter hovering outside the window, awaiting instructions on where to go next. I will probably change the up and down motion as it flaps its wings to be a little more pronounced but other than that I am fairly happy with how it turned out. I took the png images of the letter out of Photoshop and placed them into the flash scene. Let me know what you think or any questions about the motion.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Here are some of the backgrounds I have been working on. I have decided to just work on the coloring of one BG to get my style set and leave the rest uncolored so I can get all the angles and shots to have correct composition. I am still playing with the idea of having a moving hold on the lines themselves but I still haven't achieved a result I am happy with. Once I get something that I like I will put it up. For these backgrounds I worked a lot with real photos I took. Some stuff was rotoscoped while other items were just drawn in. I really like the look so far but let me know if anything else could be added. The first is the establishing shot of the house where the main character lives. The second and fourth are shots inside the characters bedroom. The third shot is a BG where the letter will fly through on its journey to another band member.

Updated Letter Pixelation

This is a more refined version of how the letter pixelation will look in my thesis. I am still not 100% sure on the color scheme I am going with but I am pretty happy with this look. The only thing that will change is the sky as it will be totally filled in to the edges as it was brought up in class that the current look is distracting. I will re-export the movie sometime later with the sky edit but I wanted to put this up to show the new letter movement. I tried to add some depth by making the letter move into the frame and become smaller as it flys about. If there are any more suggestions for the letter or BG coloring feel free to post some comments.

Monday, September 22, 2008

BG with Letter Pixelation

This post is a little late coming but I would like to still get it up even if I have edited my BG. I presented this scene in class and got some very helpful feedback about how I might improve it. Basically the concerns were that it took away from the movement of the letter and was a little too plain. Still there are some nice things about it and I think it would be nice to keep a progression of where I am going with my work. So without further ado...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Motion test set against animated bg

Here is the video I mentioned in my post below. This is a test to see if I could have my characters all set in an animated world throughout the film and not deal with real backgrounds. Let me know if this is effective at all. This would not be the final look of the bg's but I was curious what people thought of kind of plane drawn backgrounds with limited color vs full color.

Execution of Film

Ok so I am having some difficulty in figuring out what exact road I should go to execute my film. Each time I come up with an idea or think I have things figured out a new problem seems to rear its head and sends me back to square one. It certainly is not helping any that my dc camcorder broke but I will be getting new equipment anyways. It has however limited my ability to do any more tests so I am going to present the ideas I have and hopefully get some feedback as to which one might work out the best.

At this point I do not think I have really outlined the plan for my film so I thought I would give a brief description of each method I have contemplated and tried and go from there.

Idea #1:
This first method is my original idea that I have really sort of veered off from over the summer. It was to have the main character at the beginning be pixelated by taking still photos with movement in between to create a kind of jerky animated motion. The backgrounds would be left as is or possibly changed in photoshop. This would mean that the character in the photos would have to be selected out so the changes to the bg wouldn't apply to the character. The other characters that enter the letter would be dealt with in the same way. Once inside the letter the characters would become more fanciful animated personages and at the end when the main character enters the letter he too would become an animated character and be in that world.

Problems: It is difficult to have to select out the characters in order to deal with the backgrounds alone. Also finding appropriate locations and getting all the proper clearances could take up too much time especially with me not having easy transportation.

Idea #2:
In the vein of the original idea just reversed so that the beginning world is all animated. Characters and animated in an animated environment until then enter the letter at which time they become real life people in some sort of still photo pixelation or manipulated photo characters like in the film Dear Fatty where I would take different poses of the characters and cut them out to use. This idea has been brought up recently but I think it could work.

Problems: Changes the meaning of the film somewhat going from animation to real life rather than the original idea of going real life to animation.

Idea #3:
I have a test video for this method that I will post after I get this outline of my strategy up but basically it is the same idea as number one with the pixelated character being selected out from the background. However the live person pixelation will be set in a animated world rather than set in the background from the photo. I am still uncertain about this but I will see what people think of the rough video I put up. Everything else will continue the same with all the other characters being dealt with the same way and being set in an animated world. Once the characters are inside the letter they will become animated themselves to fit in the world that they are living. Would eliminate having to find real backgrounds to photograph or record.

Problems: More drawn animation to do as every background will be animated. The still photo pixelation could be too harsh set against animated backgrounds and seem too out of place possibly.

So there are 3 ideas that I have kind of put together. There are tests for each that I have put up on here even if they are pretty rough they give an idea of each case I think. Basically there is a lot of different combinations that come up using these different methods. I think the main issues are taking still photos and using that as jerky pixelation or taking set poses of different characters and cutting those out to animate as separate body parts. The other is how to deal with backgrounds whether to have animated ones or keep the real life ones and change them. Let me know your feedback on these ideas or maybe even ones I have not thought of. I am just trying to find something I feel most comfortable with that people feel will work in this story as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Letter Movement Test

This is another test of setting the animated letter to a live action background. As before I do not think I will use this style of colored pencil on the background but I still am not sure what I will use. I just wanted to test how the animated letter would look set against live action footage. The letter will have more full animation in the film I just wanted to get an idea what it would look like and whether it would stand out. I am pretty happy with the way it works.

Test Style of Movie

This is a very rough outline that I worked on over the past week to get an idea of how I am going to create this film. This is by no means the final look but it was more for me to see how I would go about treating some of the footage I will be shooting. The background style will not be the sketchy style that I used now I don't think but I just wanted something to create a contrast to the live action look of the character.

The process I used when creating this was to shoot the footage on my DV Recorder. I then brought the footage into Adobe Premiere Pro and exported the footage as a targa image sequence which I then brought into Photoshop. From there I worked on the footage in Animation mode and created a duplicate layer to select the character out from the background. This is where I am unsure about the process as it was quite tedious to select myself from the background and I am wondering if there might be an easier way. After messing with filters on the background I exported the new image sequence to After Effects and exported the quicktime from there. I took out frames from the Animation to create a somewhat pixelated effect but it is not as dynamic as I would like.

Let me know what you think about this loop and whether or not it works. Any suggestions would be great on things I could do to improve this process and whatever else I can change.

Pixelation example from eric mciver on Vimeo.

Temp Music Files

Here are a few temporary music files that I have for my film courtesy of my brother who is working on creating a musical composition that will fit my film. None of these files is the exact file that I will be using but more of an initial template for music style. I am leaning toward the third file as the one I like most but it still has some issues. I am looking for a mellow alternative style of music and I like the direction so far that we are going with music.

There will be more musical queues in the later drafts that will go with the animatic/final animation as we keep working. Also for the music I am looking to have a much bigger finale to go with the films ending. Feel free to post comments on what you think of the different styles.

Music Example 1 for Thesis from eric mciver on Vimeo.

Music Example 2 for Thesis from eric mciver on Vimeo.

Music Example 3 for Thesis from eric mciver on Vimeo.

Thesis Animatic

Ok I finally have been able to get my videos uploaded. Here is my updated animatic. It was created mostly in flash and is still very rough but I think that most of the pacing is pretty accurate and the scenes are set. I took out the sound as I have some working temp music that I will put up to get an idea of the music style. Let me know what you think of this animatic and I will try to work out those issues that come up.

Updated Thesis Animatic from eric mciver on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Drawn Animated Character Ideas

These are a few of my early sketches for when the characters are inside the letter itself. The scans are a little hard to see but hopefully there is enough to make out. I wanted to go for a real folksy, upbeat vibe with them. I envision these characters as being very bouncy and animated but still kind of grounded with respect to being somewhat representational of their real life counterparts in the film. They would also be colored in outline but possibly fully color I am still playing with the idea. Like I said though they are early representations but feedback on any of them would be great.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Welcome To My Blog!

Hello and welcome to my blog.  As a senior animation student I am charged with creating a thesis film before graduation.  Now that I am finally back home in the good old US of A I thought it would be a good idea to get some of the few things I have done up on this blog before school.  I have tried to remain motivated in these summer months and though I have been away working I have luckily been able to keep pen and paper around to get down some ideas.

My initial goals for the summer were research and maybe a little development.  While research was somewhat hard to come by while I was away I turned to more of the development of characters and story since I could easily do that without a computer.  Transitions between scenes and character motivations have been some of the first ideas I have dealt with.  Along with that I have tried to get some temp music going as my piece will rely on it to set the mood.  Heavy production will soon begin as school is only a couple weeks away and I hope to at least knock out some more visual style now that I am back home at my workstation.

My film is more of a visual music style of piece if I had to classify it.  It is a blend of pixelation and hand drawn characters set to a alternative music piece I am having my brother's band develop.  I really like the story I have set I just am tinkering with the motivation of the characters as well as the final direction I would like the film to take.  I really believe the music will be a huge part of the piece and hopefully in the coming week I will have a temp music file to put up on this blog.

Anyways, that is about it for now.  Thanks for visiting and hopefully as you check back I will have more positive updates.