Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Minor/Major Project: Mr Plimsolls Concept Art

Fig 1: Head Concept for Mr. Plimsolls

Fig 2: Body Concepts for Mr. Plimsolls

Here are some initial head and body concept art for Mr. Plimsolls in the style of the 1930's. I have decided to go down the route of the surreal cartoon style of early animation, influenced by the early Walt Disney and the Fleischer Studio cartoons. I decided upon this style because I like the appeal of the style and there is a lot more to work here then with my other style choice. Because the animation at the time was very experimental, it lead to very bizarre and, in a way, scary cartoon shorts and because of this I feel as though this style would fit with my theme of childhood bogeymen very well.

Feedback on this post would be most welcome.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Minor/Major Project: Bogeyman Research Assistance @Phil

For my project I am doing it about childhood bogeymen, inspired by my mum's childhood neighbor, nicknamed Mr. Plimsoll who scared her as a kid. I would like to gather a collection of various stories, detailing other peoples childhood bogeymen, to create a good archive of character concepts to have a well informed basis to form character designs from. The main things that I would like answered are things like:
  • Who were they to you? a neighbor, a family member, a teacher etc.
  • What they looked like (detailed description)? 
  • What were the things they did that scared you?

To provide some context as to what I am after here is a synopsis of my Mum's bogeyman, Mr.Plimsoll:

Mr. Plimsoll was an elderly old man who lived down the road from my mum's house as a child. He had a bald head, a hunched back and carried a canvas bag in one hand and a walking stick in the other. In summer he would wear a peaked cap, a stained white vest top, white shorts that went to his knees, brown calf length socks and a white pair of his namesake plimsolls.
My Mother and her Brothers would play "Knock Down Ginger" on the door of his bungalow, that had an overgrown garden. The house couldn't be seen from the outside because of a big bush that so thick that it engulfed the bungalow in its foliage.
He would leave the house early at 6:30, walking up and down the street at a ridiculously fast pace for a man his age. As he did so he would chuck his stick in the air yelling as he went. My mum suffered from nightmares about him, having dreams of him staring in at her through the window. He scared her so much that she spent the entire summer holidays one year indoors.

If you are able to provide you own childhood bogeymen please comment on this post with your stories, providing answers to the questions above. It would be a big help for me in gathering research onto this topic and with the creative process as well.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Minor/Major Project: Influence Maps

Fig 1: Examples include: Fleischer Studios Betty Boop, Popeye and Bimbo, Disney Studios Mick Mouse and the Silly Symphonies
As well as these Kingdom Hearts 2's "Timeless River" and Cuphead is also featured as modern examples

Fig 2: The Artists featured includes: Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, Kenshi Yonezu, Mikolaj Cielniak, Henry Patrick Raleigh, Shan Jiang
Game included: Machinarium

Some in depth style influences that I'm still deciding on for my project. I'm leaning more onto the early cartoon style of the 1930s because of its simplicity and surrealism. However I'd like to feature the Illustrative styles of the Victorian and Edwardian times in some way. Maybe as a style shift to make the bogeymen appear more monstrous? At this point I still planning out what i want to do and achieve for the characters and the project as a whole so I shall keep experimenting.

Maya Tutorial: Ambient Occlusion and Wire Frame made with Arnold

Fig 1: Ambient Occlusion on Model

Fig 2: Wireframe on Model

Achieving Ambient Occlusion and Wireframe Renders in Maya 2017 is so much easier to achieve with the renderer Arnold. Instead of going through a long process to get these renders in the old versions of Maya with Mental Ray, with Arnold the process has been greatly simplified.

(Model Provided by eat3D)

Friday, 29 September 2017

Year 3: Minor/Major Project: Stylistic Ideas

As a result of both by Initial Influences and the talk I had with Alan, I have decided on two distinctive style ideas that i would like to have for my project. As my Project is about Childhood Fears around people that can be classed as a "Bogeyman" I want to go down either the root of early animation or a more illustrative style.
Fig 1: An Example of a Rubber Hose Style Character- Minnie Mouse

Rubber Hose Animation started of in the 1920s and was a staple of American animation for good couple of decades. Famous examples of this style of animation includes early Disney work like Steamboat Willie (1928), and The Skeleton Dance (1929) as well as the works by the Fleischer Studios (maker of "Swing you Sinners" 1930 and Betty Boop) as well as Paramount Pictures. The first notable character associated with this new style of animation at the time was Felix the Cat, a character that would spawn a whole series of imitations including Mickey Mouse, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Bimbo the Dog. A key characteristic of this type of animation is the flexibility and surrealist nature of it. As this was a first time experience for animations, almost every action a character did was exaggerated in a way that could be perceived as accidental.

Fig 2: Example of the Rubber Hose style of Animation

This is one of the styles of Animation that I like the style and it can give very odd and surreal results for my characters. I could focus on the key aspects of the designs for the characters and how to exaggerate their movements in a way that could be scary. There is also that aspect that old cartoons from that era in general has a certain creepy vibe to it just by how chaotic and surreal the animation can be at times and I'd like to achieve something similar.

Fig 3: Illustration by Edward Gorey
The other Style I'd like to go for is a more illustrative style by artists like Edward Gorey, who was an American Writer and Illustrated his works with pen and ink, depicting scenes from Victorian and Edwardian times in a unsettling way. His art style could fit into the category of gothic but there is a certain type of surrealist nature to his illustrations as well that has become a major influence in many artists nowadays, a big example being Director Tim Burton as well as the art direction in the film the Babadook (2014).

Fig 4: Example of the Gothic Illustrative style present in 2014's The Babadook
This is another style that I would like to explore as it as some horror roots to it which, in my opinion, fit the world of Mr. Plimsole very well. The style was commonly used in Victorian and Edwardian children books so there is a connection to the effect it has on child as well. I would have to go into more detail texture wise to achieve the ink on paper technique associated heavily in the style.

Maya Tutorial: Rigging 3 Part 2 & 3- Conditional Squash and Stretch & No Flip Pole Vector

Fig 1: Default Model in the Maya Viewport

Fig 2: Model Stretched out in Maya Viewport

Fig 3: Model out stretched with a twist at the knee in the Maya Viewport

Fig 4: Render of the Default Model

Fig 5: Render of the model with arm bent

Fig 6: Render of Model with arm Stretched

Fig 7: Render of Model with leg bent with no Twist in the IK

Fig 8: Render of Model with IK twisted at -35

For these two tutorial I decided to do them together as they both used the same rig. One was about conditional squash and stretch, using nodes to enable stretching for certain reasons as well as to a point. While I did follow the tutorial step by step for the arm I was able to do the leg almost entirely independent, only using the tutorial when I was confused about what parts should be point constrained and the full length of the leg.
The other tutorial dealt with the Pole Vector in the knee and how to stop it from flipping when the knee bends in certain ways, enabling for easier and simpler pose ability. Again this was a simple tutorial and I was able to understand how the method worked relatively fast although the way that the Twist Control and Offset still has me a little confused as to the maths behind it working.
Overall both tutorials were relatively easy for me to get my head around and could prove to be useful in my project for my characters.

Maya Tutorials: Rigging 3 Part 1- Basic Squash and Stretch & Volume Perservation

Fig 1: Toadstool at its default

Fig 2: Toadstool Stretched out

Fig 3: Toadstool Flattened

Fig 4: Toadstool in the Maya Viewport
This Tutorial dabbles in how to produce Squash and Stretch effects in Maya through nodes as well as dealing with volume control with the model as it performs the squash and stretch actions. At first I was a little worried about the use of nodes as it seemed a bit confusing to me but by surprise, I found it to be very simple and was able to get the tutorial done relatively fast.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Year 3: Minor/Major Project: Initial Influences

Fig 1: Initial Influences Map
Here are some initial influences that I would like to incorporate into my project. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Swing You Sinners are there as I would like to do something similar to certain parts of both animations. I would also like to have that early animation/ low poly feel to the characters as well as using textured 2-D elements to had a more collage and textured feel to the characters and environment designs.
However as I go trough this project, the influences may change or increase as it is early days at this moment of time.

Year 3: Minor/Major Project- Initial Idea and Concept

For this project I want to explore character design in much more detail then I did in Year 2, hopefully this would expand to animation reel/ animated short of the characters, fully textured and rigged. So my idea for the project was to take examples of people my family and friends feared in their childhoods, a sort of Bogeyman in a way, and make characters depicting them as monsters humanoids that play on those fears. This started by my mum telling me that the thing that scared her the most as a child was her neighbour who was nicknamed as Mr. Plimsole, who would stalk up and down the street and was the source of many of my mums nightmares as a kid.

For the animated short I would like to do a short in the vein of the introduction to Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton and the animated short Swing You Sinners by the Fleischer Brothers. 
Using my mum's example of her own childhood bogeyman, Mr. Plimsole based on how she played "Knock Down Ginger" with her brothers. I'd like to do a surrealist piece of Mr. Plimsole introducing the concept of "childhood bogeyman" through something like a song or voice over with a monologue or poem. There would be the two main characters, Mr.Plimpsole and my Mother as a child.
Another idea was to solely take a series of influences from members of my family and friends and create a bunch of caricatures of their childhood fears, and produce an animation reel showing performing different movements and actions.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Maya Tutorials: Jet Pack Jones Progress

Fig 1: Jetpack Jones' Head Model

Fig 2: Jetpack Jones' Body Model
To be honest I have had a hard time working up the patience to get this model done, I could say that I had other things going on in my personal life and with the other projects but I left Jetpack Jones to gather dust this past year. However as I was modelling Ludlow, I felt more positive about modelling characters in general but it was too late. I want to restart the model from the ground up over summer to gain the skills of learning how to rig with the ribbon spine and so that I am more in tune with modelling in general come third year.

Acting Lesson 3- 29/3/2016 Status

Fig 1: Lewis and Deanna going to the movies

Fig 2: Mark and Hannah as Guest and Waitress
So this week we dabbled in Status and how that effects body language. We did this first by doing an exercise where we would pick a card from ace to ten with ace being the low status and ten being the high. We were then asked to come into the room, sit in a chair and say our name, the manner of which we did that depending on the card we got. So people who got 5 and below acted more nervous and skittishly then people who got above 5 who acted confident and proud. Status isn't just an acting mechanic, its based on what happens in real life, but playing around with who has the higher status is a very interesting twist. A waitress getting the upper hand on her customer or a boss being push around by his employees. Status can lead to very interesting character dynamics just by switching up something generic into a more unique and funnier situation.

Mental Ray Part 5: Portal Lights

Fig 1: Before Portal Light

Fig 2: After Portal light
For this tutorial I had some issues with the physical sun and sky system when rendering however apart from that I was able to enable the portal light to light up the scene through final gather. I might go back in to play around with the samples a bit more for the shadows on the walls and increase the intensity of sun coming through the window, brightening up the scene a bit more.

Mental Ray 6: Mia Material X Shader

Fig 1: Balls without the Mia Material X Shader

Fig 2: Balls with the Mia Material X Shader
This tutorial helped in showcasing what the Mia Material X Shader can do. I was able to grasp this tutorial straight away with the only issue I had being my computer not being able to handle the duplications of the node so I had to copy them one by one, but the results of each of the presents are very interesting.

Acting Lesson 1-15/3/2017

Fig 1: Becky, Danielle and Toms First Scene
Fig 2: Becky, Danielle and Tom's Second Scene

Fig 3: Becky, Danielle and Tom's Final Scene

Fig 4: Almu, Aureo and Lewis' First Scene

Fig 5: Almu, Aureo and Lewis' Second Scene

Fig 6: Almu, Aureo and Lewis' Final Scene

For our first acting lesson we began with imagining one enough as clay ready to be moulded, this was to creative dynamic shapes that suited with the characters we were trying to convey, like lion tamer and harpist. Being about to show a characters personality through there pose alone is very useful in terms of animation as you can show the audience what your character is straight away. The final project after break was to develop a 3 piece storyline only through 3 sets of poses, they had to be clear, well thought out and presented with staging in mind. This, in my opinion, helped in not only using poses to get a message across but also helped in imagining staging when animating in Maya.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Global Animated Film Review: Israel- Waltz with Bashir

Fig 1: Waltz with Bashir Theatrical Poster

Waltz with Bashir is a 2008 Israeli animated documentary film, written and directed by Ari Folman. The film is from a personal experience of Folman who is trying to recover his lost memories of when he was a 19 year old soldier in 1983 during the Lebanon War. It features many other ex-soldiers who worked with Folman and gives their accounts of what happened in the war. The film was nominated for multiple awards included the Golden Globes and BAFTAS for Best Animation and Best Foreign Language Film, Waltz with Bashir also has a predominately positive rating from film critics and was in the top ten films of 2008 in multiple film critics lists including Ella Taylor in L.A. Weekly and Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment weekly. The film is permanently banned in Lebanon due to the film depicting a time in the countries history that was brutally violent and devastating, however there has been protests to allow the film to have limited screenings across the country.

Fig: Dogs in Folman's dreams

Detailing the events of the Lebanon War, war veteran and the director of the film, Ari Folman, experiences recurring nightmares of dogs chasing him. He reaches out to his friend from the war and the two make the connection that there might be a connection between the nightmares Folman experiences to an early part of the Lebanon War. However due to the fact that Folman cannot recollect that period of his life, he goes out of his way to meet other war veterans to understand the effects that unfolded during the war. Throughout the film, he dreams of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre and through the help of numerous accounts of the events from the other veterans, and the Journalist, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ari is able to recover the lost memories of the gruesome events that took place in 1982.

Fig 2: War is the norm

The film took four years to make and is strange for a documentary as it is almost completely animated. Despite its appearance the film was made with 3D assets and Adobe Flash using cutouts, where each image was broken up into a number of pieces to allow for movement, instead of rotoscoping, where the animation is drawn over a live action piece of footage. The art style for the film was directed by David Polensky with the animation being directed by Yoni Goodman and features scenes drawn by various artists. The use parodied 1980's music to tell the events in Lebanon reflects the decade and tells the viewers of what happened without having to go through in detail exposition by having a familiar catchy tune. Despite the majority of the film being rendered in this animation style, the ending of the film shows real life footage of the aftermath of the massacre and Folman finally remembers the events leading up to the travesty that took place in 1982. This change from animation to live action lays down the fact that these events actually happened and aren't fictional in shocking detail.

Fig 3: Surreal moment of a Giant Woman climbing aboard ship

Overall the film details the events of the Sabre and Shatila Massacre, giving context to the Lebanon War and the lead up to the massacre. It does this through a compelling journey follow Folman trying to remember what happened. There is no sugarcoating, the film gives grim details of war and its effects on the soldiers who go to fight for their country. The veterans featured all have their fair share of psychological issues because of what happened in the war. The use of animation allowed for surreal moments and illustrate events in the Lebanon war through parody songs and exaggeration.

Fig 4: Folman's recurring dream of walking up shore to Lebanon

Animation in Israel in the year 1961, with the film Joseph and the Dreamer directed by Yoram Gross, but it is not a prominent method of film making in the country. Early Israeli productions were stop-motion animations with plasticine models, while more modern 2D animations use various 2D methods using flash and and some 3d animations are used too, as present in Waltz with Bashir. While Waltz with Bashir is probably the most well known animated film to come from Israel due to its plot revolving the countries recent history in such a thought provoking manner, the country also produced other films, both collaborating with other countries like France and Australia. One example, $9.99, an Australian film written and directed by Taiti Rosenthal with its screenplay by Etgar Keret, both Israelis.


Fig 1: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9f/Waltz_with_Bashir_Poster.jpg

Fig 2: https://i1.wp.com/whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/hdcaptures/bashir1.jpg

Fig 3:https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ae/50/84/ae5084cb4cb81ceb4cb1227734babe8c.jpg

Fig 4: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/--_yjqLqL3CQ/Utrooi6kcqI/AAAAAAAAFJc/yFDeuAAsLiw/s1600/Waltz+with+Bashir+(4).jpg

Mental Ray 2: Final Gather

Fig 1: Original Render
Fig 2: No Maya Light Present
Fig 3: Initial Final Gather
Fig 4: Final Gather with Minimal Settings for Accuracy and Point
Fig 5: Final Gather with Accuracy at 100

Fig 6: Map Visualiser Enabled
Fig 7: Added Directional Light
Fig 8: Material X Glow Node Added
This Tutorial went over the Final Gathering method in Mental Ray. It was quite an easy tutorial to understand and is a better way to produce more realistic lighting due to Final Gathering offering a Global Illumination to the object, enhancing it. The only big issue I had with this tutorial was getting the diagnose final gather option to work on the render viewer but the map visualiser worked so it seems like a slight issue that I can work around. Making Material_X into a glow node was a very simple process to turn the model into something that looks like Tron with its neon highlights. overall it was interesting to see the effects of the Final Gather and of its usefulness as well.