Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Storyboards ago go!

Well... I haven't kept to my word once again! A blog post a month seems to be becoming a nasty habit :S But I have been doing work, I promise!

Since the pitch I have re-written my script what feels like a million times over, and I am finally happy with it... I think! Now that it's done I can visualise the story in my head which has really helped. Here's the script so far:

Nestling Plot Finished

Now that my script has been finalised, I've been able to crack on with the storyboards finally, hurrah! I think I went a bit overboard with them as they are far too detailed and took me yonks to complete! Also I had a dim moment and forgot you could use cameras in certain programmes to capture pans and movements in shot... so instead I drew out every camera movement. Ah well! I have sent the storyboards to my coursemate Andy Luck, who is helping me put the storyboards together to make up the animatic and is also collecting sounds because the animatic needs to have a scratch track. Here are my completed storyboards, and I will put the animatic on here as soon as possible. Toodle ooo!

Nestling storyboard

Monday, 7 November 2011

Long time, no blog!

My goodness, a lot has happened since the last time I posted, and once again I have failed to update my poor little blog (another slap on the wrist for me!)
Over the past few weeks we have all been frantically working on our final major project ideas and cobbling together some pre production work that would really sell our film concept.
Throughout this post I will show my progression starting from my initial story synopsis through to concept art, character design and... the scary pitch! (eeep!) For the first few weeks I stressed about getting the plot of my story perfect when I should have been focusing on putting together some pre-production images that would Here is the brief synopsis I wrote to give a brief overview of the story:

By Emily Stone

‘Nestling’ is a stop-motion animation set in a Cornish fishing village, where a young girl named Ivy lives. With a mother who has little time for her, and no friends in sight, Ivy is a lonely child... until she finds a seagull chick fallen from its nest, alone and vulnerable like herself. Delighted at the discovery of her new feathery friend, Ivy hides the chick in her bedroom away from her mother and the outside world. But as the gull grows bigger than expected, Ivy’s own morals are challenged when she realises it may be better off in the wild...

To start the pre-production ball rolling, I drew out some character designs of both the little girl Ivy and also the seagull (using the previous design of the seagull puppet I made previously)and scanned them into the computer. I then added tone and colour to them in photoshop, and cleaned up the messy edges to give them a cleaner look. I wanted Ivy to look small and vunerable next to the giant stature of the gull, as the seagull itself acts as a metaphor for how insignificant Ivy feels at that point in her life, so I gave her an unconfident awkward pose. Here are the initial scans and the finished colour images:

Once the initial character designs were completed, I could then start planning out how to make a puppet version of Ivy ready to show at the pitch, to show that I was able to follow my previous character plans. In order to keep the proportions and scale accurate, I drew up an armature plan that would be strong enough to support Ivy's childlike frame (her head is large in proportion to her body, making it tricky to balance. Once the armature was mapped out, I started constructing it using K&S brass metal tubing for the solid limbs, aluminium wire for the bending jointsand a combination of balsa wood and sculpted milliput for the head.

Once I had completed the basic armature, I then padded out the limbs using cut up pieces of kitchen foam and glue, and then started painting the skin tones and features onto the puppet. I wanted to closely follow my initial character designs, so I tried to capture the same illustrative style and colour palette shown in my designs earlier on in this post.

Once the painting was completed, I could then start making clothes for Ivy. I cut up old tops and fabrics into sections, then glued them together to make a teeny tiny dress and top to go underneath which once again mirrored the drawn designs. I then added finishing touches by giving Ivy dotty tights made from ribbons wound round her legs and a small piece of blue dotty ribbon round her neck for a scarf. I was really pleased with how the puppet turned out, because initially I wasn't sure if the drawn character design would work as a 3D model. But it turned out ok, phew!

Now that I had an idea of what the scale and proportions of the characters were like, I could then get cracking on some concept art using both hand-drawn images and also the puppets. To start off, I drew out some detailed fineliner 'snap shots' of certain events that occur in the plot to provide an insight into the story. The harbour image is in fact a set design example I drew up, to try and capture the cornish theme of the story, and the seagull sleeping on the bed was eventually used as my wow image. Here are my completed colour images:

To make the most out of the Ivy puppet, I thought it would be a good idea to put together some concept art that involved it. For the first image I took a picture of the puppet, cut it out in photoshop then super-imposed it into the harbour drawing shown above. Scale plays an important part in the story becauce I want to use specific camera angles to make Ivy appear tiny in shot (adding to her vunerability) which I hope is shown through this image:

For the next concept piece I built a basic mini-set which consisted of two painted cardboard walls with a door frame, and for this one I used the older seagull puppet I made a few weeks ago by showing it trying (and failing) to get through the door. I then scaled down an image of the Ivy puppet in a 'pushing' position, and super-imposed it behind the gull to make it look like she was trying help push it through the door but looking tiny next to the 'big' gull. I don't think this concept piece worked very well, because the background looks like it is just a painting rather than a 3D set. Here is the final image:

This next concept piece worked a bit better! To use up the remaining piece of milliput I had left, I sculpted and painted a little solid model of a baby seagull. I then drew out a basic fineliner image of a chipbox, coloured it in photoshop and then super-imposed a photograph of the model baby gull into the image to make it look like it was sitting inside the chip box. Here are a few photos of the seagull model I made,shown to scale against the Ivy puppet, and also the finished concept piece:

Once all the pre-production work had been completed, we then had to put it all together into a 'mini bible' that contained imagery that would really sell our idea, ready to be pitched. After sleepless nights and frantic practising, the build-up to the pitch drew to a close... last friday we actually pitched our final major projects in front of a huge audience (which included some industry proffessionals from well- known animation companies... eeep!)It was absolutely terrifying standing up and speaking in front of so many people! But luckily it went well on the day and I didn't jumble up my words (phew!) Here is the powerpoint I put together for my pitch:

Nestling Power Point PDF

Yesterday our tutor emailed us the results for the pitch, and I foud out mine has been picked... eeep! It's fantastic news but I dont have a clue where to start with it all, I better get cracking! I promise to keep my blog updated more regularly now, instead of doing one heuuge blog post a month :P

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Seagull Puppet!

Here's a little seagull puppet I made during the summer, woop! It looks a bit rough here and there and it needs a lot of tweaking, but I quite like the look of it and practise makes perfect :) I carved blocks of balsa wood for the basic head and body, and then used milliput to add the feather detail, beak and feet. To connect all of the limbs, I used twisted 1.5 aluminium wire and also twisted 1.0 wire to connect the two sections of feet to enable them to bend. Here are the results!

Final Major Project Idea

After umm-ing and ahh-ing about what idea to pitch for our final major project, and spending the whole summer stressing about cobbling together something spectacular, I have finally decided to go with something thats simple but sweet.

My idea is to make a short stop-motion film aimed at a younger audience, which tells the story of how a small girl rescues a vunerable seagull chick that has fallen from its nest. The main focus of the plot is on the strong bond of friendship that grows between these two characters, and highlights the emotions felt when the seagull grows too big to look after and has to be released back into the wild (I was also thinking of making the chick transforming into a giant seagull when fully grown, but it might be a bit far-fetched!)

To make the most of our rather lovely surroundings here in Falmouth, I would like the story to be set in a quaint fishing village in Cornwall, paying homage to typical Cornish scenery and hopefully capturing the charm of the South-West coast through detailed sets and quirky puppet characters.

Here are a few character and armature plans for the puppets, and a few concept drawings I did over the holidays (one of them is repeated from my last post.)

Summers Gone..

Well, the clouds and rain have comfortably settled themselves over falmouth which means summer is officially over... and it is now our third and final year in uni.. oh my. As always I have neglected my poor blog over the holidays and have spent these last few months working full-time to earn some well-needed monies (which was also a good excuse to completely avoid thinking about uni work.)

But now we have officially started our third year this week, and have realised how much work we have to do in an alarmingly-short amount of time. I am terrified. Here are some doodles I did over the summer!(I didn't completely neglect my sketchbook, sorry blog)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Animating the Puppet... Ooo eck!

I had a bit of a disaster with my puppet this week, as I was testing out the limbs (exactly what Ann told us not to do... I couldn't help it!) one of the arms snapped off at the shoulder and the wire connecting the thighs to the pelvis felt pretty loose. Stupidly I had glued her clothes together rather than making them detachable, so I had to cut them apart to get to the armature. I have now learnt a valuable lesson... don't use too much araldite glue, because it is a nightmare to prise off if you need to replace a limb on an armature! In the end I had to make new forearms because I couldn't pull the broken wire out of the old ones, and I also had to make new holes in the pelvis so that I could re-attatch the legs with a stronger piece of twisted wire. This resulted in the puppet looking rather bow-legged with extrememly masculine shoulders, which looked quite bizarre underneath the clothes that I had now repaired.

Once the puppet had been fixed, I brought her into uni and with our tutor Georg's help we set up a camera that was linked to a computer with the programme 'stop motion pro' installed on it, and positioned my puppet on the special stop-motion metal stage. The stage itself has hundreds of little holes all over it, which are used to secure puppets during animating so that they wont fall over. You can simply use strong magnets to get puppets upright, but Ann advised us to attach small nuts to both feet on the toes and the heel so that we could use tie-downs to really secure the puppet to the stage.

Once I had everything set up, I began to attempt animating my puppet doing really simple movements. At first I tried not to move her feet and focus on just the upper body movement. So I started by animating a simple wave, then I made the puppet blow a kiss and take a bow, and at the same time experimenting with the different eyes that I made for her to change expressions. When watching the animtion play back it looked so clunky and the timing was off, and me being naturally clumsy didn't help because I knocked the camera a few times which made the footage jump.

Once I had experimented with animating the upper body, I attempted to have a go at moving the puppets feet and legs (using the tie-down method made it difficult to achieve flowing movements because you have to keep unattatching each foot from the bolt and screw them back down in a new position.) I tried making her lean from one knee to the other with her hands on her hips to experiment with trying to represent a shift in weight, and then tried to make her do a little wiggle with her hips at the end. Both of these looked terrible when I played them back, because her movement is so clunky and jumpy and it isn't clear what she is doing (the part where she's meant to be wiggling her hips looks like she is suffering from a painful trapped nerve!) But although the animation looks pretty awful, I am Kind of happy with the results because I've never tried stop-motion before and I really enjoyed having a go at animating my little puppet! To make the most of the multiple eyes that I made for her, I then animated a close-up short scene where my puppet reads a little newspaper that I quickly made out of card, and animated her moving her head and eyes as she 'reads' the text and turns the page. I think this little animation is the most succesful because it doesn't involve complicated moves, and the eyes work really well as he puppet is reading. If I get time during this week before our deadline, I would like to have another go at animating my puppet again... though I'm not sure how much longer she will last, her legs and arms are feeling wobbly again! Here is the animation clip... please don't laugh too much :P

Monday, 30 May 2011

Puppet Galore

Well after a long (and rather gluey) few weeks my little puppet is nearly finished, woop! Admittedly she still looks a bit terriying, but she now has hair and her decency is covered with some clothes I made out of some old clothes, so shes not too bad :)

After I had finished constructing the main bits of the armature, I got to work fashioning some hands made out of aluminium wire which proved to be a lot trickier than anticipated! The hands had to made from one long piece of wire to prevent separate parts coming loose, and it was extremely fiddly trying to twist the individual fingers. But after many attempts, lots of tea and an excessive amount of cursing I managed to make something that looked like hands...ish. Once I had attatched the hands to the forearms using araldite glue, I spent some time sticking pieces of sponge to the wire areas that were not going to be covered by clothes and to pad out thinner areas of the puppet.

By this point the armature was fully constructed and ready to be painted. I started off by giving the body a thin coat of a flesh coloured paint, including a wash on the foam sections, and then painted on the mouth to make her look a bit more human. If I had more time on this project, I would have liked to make replacement mouths to give more freedom with her expressions. But the deadline is looming, so I have just stuck with replacement eyes and possibly replacement eyebrows.

For the hair, I cut lengths of a reddish-brown thin wool and stuck it on strand by strand over a couple of layers so it didn't look too thin. I even gave her a cheeky lil fridge to give her a bit of character. Im pretty pleased with the results, but I was a bit messy with the glue so it looks like she has a bit of a crusty scalp!

To make my puppet feel a little less embarressed, I made her some clothes by cutting sections out of some old clothes and glued them together to make a simple top and skirt. I made sure I didn't glue the clothes directly onto her just incase I wanted to change them, but so far they are looking ok! The next step is some socks and shoes, not sure how I'm going to do them but I could always paint some on... hmm, we shall see. Here are some piccies of the puppet, sorry there are so many, I've been a bit over-enthusiastic with my camera! :s