Going all the way back to 1914 we looked at the amazing work of Winsor McKay, it is unbelievable what he managed to do so long ago. Gertie looks very solid and it boggles the mind how McKay wouldd have animated these sequence without any cells, redrawing every frame!
A major asset of animation is Abstraction, the amplification of ideas through its simplification. What we want to say if filtered through the medium of animation before reaching the audience and the design approach used in the animation process is able to embue character.
Here are some examples of different designs in animation:
Rotoscope – direct reference to live action
Superman – still very figurative
Anime – figurative
Ren & Stimpy – very stylized to the point that it is hard to know what the animals are. This style gives so much room for wild and exaggerated animation.
Character Design can tell the audience alot about the character even before they start to move. The character design will determine what the character is ggoing to do and what their history is, you can feel this history in the look of the character.
There are endless possibilities in character design and stereotypes can be used to some extent to quickly get one with the story since short films do not have the luxury of taking time to establish the personality of a character.
In American animation the inididual is idolized, the cult of the individual. While in European animation we see the character being used more as symbols rather than individuals.
Two examples of character design looked at were: Jaffar from Disney’s Aladin and The Penguin from the Aardman’s The Wrong Trousers.
Jaffar has a very angular face which quickly stablishes his sinister intentions even before he lays his sleazy hands on Jasmine. In contrast The Penguin in The Wrong Trousers doesnt have an y expressive features at all but this down playing of the cliche bad-guy characteristics gives the audience room to fill in what they think the penguin will get up (with some help from sound and under lighting off course!).
It is important to know a character before starting to animate. Take a character that you know and ue this as a basis to start to emblish until you have a design for a character.
Model sheets are important so that things stay consistent. They help you to know your character and how that character works in terms of the actions in the film. Model sheets also have to make sure that the character is able to do the business that is required of it in the action.
It is good to boil down the character to an easily identifiable shape, one which is different from the shape of the other characters in the film, this will help the audience to understand which character is doing what.
There is a dance between Abstraction and Realism and films like the Incredibles try to push things as much as they can.
Mannerism and Habbits can say alot about how a character feels. Try to come up with interesting mannerisms for your character which will enhance communication with the audience.
After the “hunters and gathers” lunch with Al McInnes we looked at some short films where the sound played an important part. After the screeing we were divided into two groups, one group was taught by Jeremey about digital sampling of sound, technical terms such as frequency, amplitude and sampling rate. 44kHz and 16bit is probably the magic figures which we need to stick with for films, this is CD quality.
The importance of recording audio at a ‘good’ level was stressed as clipping and distortion could mean that the sound will not be suitable even if it was a goodd take from the actor. Everything is recorded at the same level and then things are adjusted in the mix. The AIFF and WAV are what we need to use because they are non-lossy formats, as opposed to MP3 which will lose its quality.
The groups then swapped, with Al teaching us about using the sound booth and the software Soundtrack. Various effects were created and we were taught how to clips things, loop them and get them in a ready state for looping. It is important to have the start and the end of a sound which is to be looped at level 0, thhis can be done adding a short fade/in at the start and a short fade/out at the end.
Since a lot of things can be done on the computer when recording things all we need to do is to make sure that the gain for that channel is such that we have a ‘good’ level (not to low and no clipping). Leaving the fader for the channel and the master fader on 0 is a good starting point, the gain of the channel can then be adjusted during a level test before a recording is made.