I’m working on a linear narrative animation of around 2 minutes for my minor project at RMIT AIM. The working title of the piece is The Greedy Caterpillar. Here is the script:
EXT. VINEYARD MISTY MORNING
Close-up of a grape leaf with a caterpillar egg on it. Titles fade in, the egg gives a little shake and then the top cracks open as the titles fade out. The oversized head of a caterpillar pokes out of the egg, thrashing about trying to get its bearings. The small caterpillar gets out of the egg and exits left.
As the caterpillar is exiting, the camera dollies up passing a bunch of grapes which send out shafts of light in the morning sun. Golden browns, warm colours. The camera stops on another grape leaf, the little caterpillar can be heard in the background. Credits fade in as the sounds of the caterpillar get closer.
CRUNCH, a big bite is taken out of the leaf with the credits on it, revealing the head of the caterpillar. It eats more of the leaf before leaving it half-finished and exiting to the right.
Caterpillar enters from the left and starts to eat another leaf. Cut to long shot of the vineyard with the Dragonfly sitting on a leaf drying its wings. Cut back to the caterpillar leaving the leaf half finished, exit right.
View from under a top-lit leaf. The shadow of the caterpillar can be seen chewing the leaf as it inches along. The caterpillar’s cut across the leaf causes a big chunk to float down towards the camera, creating a fade out as it lands on top of the camera.
Mid shot of the caterpillar, which is now fatter. The caterpillar enters the frame from left and travels along a branch. A grape leaf hanging from the branch above blocks the path but the caterpillar simply opens its mouth wide enough to swallow the whole leaf without slowing down at all. He exits to the right.
Cut to mid shot of the dragonfly. Hints of purples and violets can be seen in its body and the wings. Some drops of water can be seen on the wings.
Cut to close-up of caterpillar holding a leaf like a slice of watermelon and mechanically eating around it before losing interest, throwing the leaf over its shoulder and picking another. Cut to a closer view of the caterpillar’s head munching on the leaf.
A close-up view of the caterpillar’s fat legs moving along wipes the old shot and reveals a new shot of the caterpillar with it mouth wide open and dangling a great bunch of grapes in his gape roman-style. He greedily bites down on the bunch sending much of it flying around. Messy. Cut to extreme close-up of the caterpillar’s teeth biting down on another leaf. Fade out.
Long shot of the vineyard now devastated, broken vines, no leaves, monochrome, cold. Large menacing rain clouds in the sky. Pull back to reveal a mid-shot of the dragonfly. The only colours in the frame are from the purple and violet hints on the dragonfly.
Cut to extreme close-up of the dragonfly’s eye. A big shadow moves over the scene. A reflection of the now giant caterpillar can be seen in the dragonfly’s eye.
Up shot of the fat caterpillar towering over the grape leaf and the dragonfly. The caterpillar is about to pounce on the leaf when the dragonfly flies into the air. Super slow-motion, drops of water fly off the wings of the dragonfly and catch the colours of the light, the camera follows a drop as it falls towards the head of the caterpillar below.
The camera circles around the caterpillar as the drop hits him on the head and flows down to his eyes. The water pools in around the eyes and magnifies the caterpillar’s pupils.
Normal speed. The caterpillar blinks and its expression changes to one of shock. Blinks again. Over the shoulder shot, showing the devastation of the vineyard. Cut to a panning shot of the ruined vineyard.
Close-up of the caterpillar’s shocked face, he starts to scream in horror. He draws back while still screaming and then the screeching stops as he bites down on his own tail and starts to eat himself.
Cut to shot from above of the caterpillar eating itself, coiling tighter and tighter as the camera zooms in.
The image of the caterpillar fades to an orange red disk. The camera slowly pans down to show the sun shinning down on the earth. After a moment a bit of earth shakes and moves out of the way as a young vine shoots out of the ground and spreads out its tiny leaf.
I haven’t been posting much on the blog lately because there has been so much going on at school, it’s has been unbelievable, not really a moment to spare since I started the web portrait assignment.
I am the engine team leader for the collaborative project which has meant working from the start of the project so that we could tell the concept people what can and can not be done and then make prototypes of various elements in the game while the production team created all the assests and we have to carry on right through to the end. I am pretty impressed with my team they have been really great sacrificing their own time for the good the team.
In the midst of all this I had to find time to think about my minor project and the practice pitch which was today. Overall it went well but that could have been because everyone was so tried by the end of the session. The actual pitch will be on the 21st of May hopefully I will have to find some time in the middle of finishing the collaborative exercise to work on getting material together for the pitch.
Wow, talk about hectic! The last week has been a whirlwind but my web portrait is finally done. And it is good to see what everyone else has done too, but cann’t linger too long in this course it is start into a crash course in game design and the unreal games engine.
I spent some time in the last 2 days colouring in and adding music to the animation that I did for Animation Club theme “oil”. The music is from Rammstein.
The following is my response to Storytelling Exercise 3.
1. The Profile
- Who is the character?
- a failed (never really tried that hard) artist
- walks with crutches although he doesn’t need them
- constantly lying to make himself look good
- What does he feel?
- What does he think?
- “I am so clever, I’m going to trick this person…”
- “One day I will take over the world!”
- Everyone is there for my benefit
- What does he want?
- other people to worship him
- Lochlan wanted to be an artist when he was a kid but his father wanted him to be a politician and refused to buy him any brushes or paints. It all started in kindergarten where Sarah would do these beautiful drawings making Lochlan very jealous, one day he became so jealous that he stole one of Sarah’s drawings, crossed her name out and put his own name on it.
2. The location
INT CLOSED GALLERY. NIGHT
A great hall of a gallery at night with master paintings on the walls. The lights are low and the silence echos in the ears. The beam of a flash light momentarily cuts through the darkness.
3. The Observable characteristics/behaviours
- Big head
- Sneaky eyes
- A huge sharp, bent nose making look like a vulture
- Lean/haunted angular face
- Stooped posture
- Skinny useless legs
- Weak little arms
- Little bit of short curly hair on top of his head
- Carrying a torch
- Wearing a burglar’s mask
- Only uses crutches in the presence of other people
- Chain smoking
- Carrying an artists kit with him
- He is putting his name on the paintings
4. The Back story
Lochlan has broken into the gallery at night and is sneaking around with his torch light and his painting kit. It is not the first time he has done this, he waits for the guard to go downstairs then he starts on the paintings. He covers up the original artist’s name and then writes his own name on top. This all started in kindergarten when he took Sarah’s drawing and showed it to the teacher as his own. It has been one gallery after another since then, if only his father had allowed him to be a little kid and play as other kids do, things may be different now.
Here are some doodles of the character:
Here are are some character sketches I did for the weekly Animation Club theme, this week it was oil. No prizes for guessing where this is going… will post some animation in the next couple of days.
In today’s class with David Atkinson, we started by looking at Still life with aeroplanes by Lloyd, a trippy and marvelous film sitting somewhere inbetween the analogue and digital world.
- Find out what is important and leave out the rest
- Different parts of the body have different weights and travel at different rates
Eyes in Animation
We looked at the use of eyes in Lady and the Tramp to express emotions. Eyes can be used to bring a character alive and the blink is the cheapest animation you can have. If you have a character which doesnt move at all and just make it blink every now and then it will seem to be alive.
Eyese are important for story telling because it lets you get into the mind of the character, the eyes are the windows to the soul. Eyes can be used to illustrate thought. Thought -> Eyes -> Physical action. The first physical expression of a thought is shown in the eyes. Often the eyes can betray a character and reveal their true beliefs. Ask yoursekf how the eyes can heklp you in your animation?
Asymetrical eyse can create more interesting characters, in toy story we see very asymetrical blinking in Buzz’z eyes creating an even more bewildered look.
Eyes go with eyebrows and the two can be used to express so much, just look at Gromit for example, he doesn’t talk at all and expresses so much by his eyes and eyebrows.
When a character is thinking they start to look up or somewhere other than the person they are talking to as if disengaging and going in search of the bit of information that they are looking for.
Two frames are often sufficient for blinks. Blinks can be used for when the character is about to change the direction of their gaze or a head turn.
The eye line of the character can be used to anticipate the cut to the POV od the character, getting inside the character’s head. Or it can be an other the shoulder of the character shot.
Here is a little formula:
- Setup POV
- Show character’s POV
- Show reaction of character
Our guest for the Hunters and Gathers lunch was our own John Powers, who showed us a messmerising array of films which can not be so easily understood yet they leave you with a definite feeling.
The rest of the class was taken by Yeap who showed us some funky ways to grow plants inside after effects, very useful now with all the water restrictions.
Finally I went to the Animation Club weakly meeting with my half finished film. I was the only entrant from my year which made me feel a bit of an outsider. The quality of the works was really amazing, I felt a little bit sheepish with my little half finished film but it was good to have a go. I will post some of my development drawings soon.
Matt Riley was taking us today and showing us that animation does not necessarily have to conform to narrative, t can be form driven, sound driven, mood driven etc. There are other ways of communicating than using character and plot. The computer has helped open up the media and now there are many different ways to go:
- Machina, 3D virtual worlds
- procedural/generated animation
We looked the work of the illustrator/animator Adrian Rose (http://www.jettisoncargo.com/) , whose initial design athough great as illustrations they did not translate well and were not practical for animation. In the end he went with animating a the silhouettes of some of his characters to a great music track with excellent results.
Here are some other artist’s works that we looked at:
- Michael Buckley, gestural animation
- Patricia Piccinni
- John Powers, time-based collage. Colour, space, shape instead of characters.
- http://www.lycettebros.com/ leading desginers. Visuals must say something else other than the sound, otherwise it’s just illustrated radio.
- Unreal tournament
- Clive Patterson, hand-animated and procedurally multiplied
- Here is another clip:
This week’s course notes: http://aim.adc.rmit.edu.au/kcawley/scr_sboard.html
- used to visualize/refine ideas
- to stream line production process and communicate with others
- provide description of physical environment of a sequence( set design/background)
- provide information about mood, lighting, editing
- may provide brief notation on dialogue/sfx within a shot or the transition between shots
- don’t show motion, actions within the frame or mocement of the camera
Camera to Subject relationships:
- Still subject, Still Camera
- Moving Subject, Still Camera
- Still Subject, Moving Camera
- Moving Subject, Moving Camera
In the Japanese Animation “Remembering yesterday” a still camera and a still subject is used to emphasise the little girls experience of eating a pineapple for the first time. Fasts cuts or a moving camera would make us miss the subtle reactions in her face as she bits down on piece of pineapple.
Another example of Japanese animation given where a group of teenage boys are watching one girl in particular play tennis. We see the girl moving a lot but the camera doesn’t move, helping establish that we are seeing things from the pov of the boys, always concentrating on the one girl and not the other player.
In Beauty and the Beast the opening scene sets the stage by moving a camera through the landscape, showing us where we are and then showing us the castle and so forth. The Subjects are still while the camera moves around andgive the audience clues and details which will be important in the story.
A very good example of a moving camera and moving subject is the chase scene in The Wrong Trousers. This type of relationship between the camera and the subject causes the audience the be put right in the middle of the action.
Camera movement dictates the revelation of information through time. The camera dictates the audiences POV.
Always ask yourself:
- Why am I viewing this actions from this POV?
- How am I being asked to feel about what I am viewing?
Because shot choice is never random (ok maybe in some student films!).
Where do you want to place the audience?
- in the midst of the action?
- in a position of privilege?
- passive observers?
- subjective participants?
Another example was East is East where the shyness of the character is emphasised by including a shot from the restricted view from inside the hood of the character’s parker jacket. In The Player the opening shot is 9 mins long with no cuts; the camera wonders around a big hollywood studio meeting different characters here and there and generally giving a voyeuristic feel to the audience while expressing the hectic pace of the studio and introducing us to the characters and preparing us for what’s about to happen.
Movement in Narrative
Movement also relates to how we move through/experience a narrative. The type of narrative dictates the type of movement.
- Time loose, jumping back and forth
- Real time, eg Tape, Russian Arc
- Serial telling
- Different perspective, eg Shortcuts, Crash, Rashamon, Melinda Melinda
- Branching narrative, repeating a choice, eg Groundhug Day
- Thematice non linear
- Interconnected stories through events or characters
Guest Speaker: Juan Serrano
2006 Graduate of the RMIT AIM course Juan Serrano talked to us about the making of his film. His was a very enjoyable and down to earth talk. Here are some of the advice that he gave us:
- Refine your script after you have got feedback from the staff and students, keep improving it. Just because the first pitch wen well doesn’t mean you should jump into animation straight away.
- Script is 50% of the piece, the animation is 25% and the sound is 25%. Treat them accordingly.
- Use your Minor project as a testing ground for your Major. In the Minor, try different techniques and software that you think you will use for your Major.
- The other people in the group are very important as it is their energy which will help you finish your project successfully