Space is the Animated Place – Reflection

A short reflection on what I have learnt during the project Space is the Animated Space and what I would do to improve my work if I had the chance.

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Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 14.52.41.pngI enjoyed this project as it allowed me to explore a new type of animation that is less controlled and more experimental. I was also able to play with materials and their properties which is something that I enjoy doing. I used a tablet on a tripod to film my animation which isn’t something that I had done before and I discovered that it has pros and cons. It was quite unstable which made some of the films jerky and not very smooth. I enjoyed the process of this animation and making things up as we go along. One scene which I think worked well was the scene where my monster eats a cactus, this was fairly improvised as we weren’t sure if it was going to work or if it would look effective but I the end I think that it worked really well.

I found working in a group to have its advantages and its disadvantages. It was interesting as we were all able to combine our ideas and our different skills in order to create the animation. This was really helpful at the beginning when we were discussing how the animation could start and how all our monsters and spirits could encounter each other. The disadvantages of working in a group became apparent when people were absent as this slowed the animation process as we weren’t able to discuss what we were going to do next and it became harder to animate all of the characters and film at the same time with fewer people.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 14.57.11Some of the things that I think could be improved in our animations are the framing and lighting in some shots. In the clip that we filmed of the spirits going up the stairs it was hard to include the larger monster in shot and to make the smaller spirits noticeable at the same time. We could have filmed close ups of the spirits travelling up the stairs with a better quality camera in order for them to be more clear, we could have then added this in in the editing process. I could have also filmed some close ups of my spirit for the scene where it escapes the sketchbook. This would have allowed me to show my character in more detail and to have more of a focus on it on the screen as toward the end of the sequence it travels to the edge of the frame where it is harder to see. I think that we would have done these things if we had had more time, but as this was a relatively short project we focused on filming the main narrative of our animation.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 15.00.07.pngI was already interested in animation but I think that this project has made me want to explore the idea of  sketchbook animation further and to experiment with the technique of using a tablet to animate as it is an easy, instant process that I think could work really well for short, relatively simple animations. I also like the idea of found animations, creating something from similar shapes and colours, linking them all together.

Space is the Animated Place – Making the Animation

The process of animating the different sequences that made up our collaborative film.

As a group we decided that the animation would start with all of our monsters and spirits leaving their sketchbooks. We all filmed this part independently with the idea of bringing each separate origin together at the end.

I started by roughly storyboarding an idea for how my spirit would come alive in the sketchbook and then leave it.

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I filmed my beginning piece on my desk in the illustration studio. I set up my desk with my sketchbook, a pile of book and some pots of pencils and a train ticket. The idea was that the monster would come alive in the sketchbook and then reach out and consume the train ticket, allowing the monster to take on the pattern and colours of the ticket. I then wanted the monster to come out of the book and run over to a stack of nearby books into which it would disappear.

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I then roughly storyboarded some other ideas for where my animation could come next. These ideas would use the string model and the cacts model of my monster.

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To film the next bit of the animation I met up with another person in the group. Together we animated our spirits meeting in the kitchen area and interacting with each other before mine chasing the other out of frame. We chose to introduce our spirits to each other because they were quite similar, they are both small and the ideas behind both were similar.

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The animation started with one of the books from the desk in my first animation being put down in the kitchen. My spirit then emerges from the book, it is now multicoloured implying that it has eaten images in the book. After the spirits meet mine chases the other and ends up jumping into a pile of cardboard. This ending would then enable me to use my cardboard model of my monster in the next frame that it appears in.

I then worked with another member of the group in order for our monsters to meet. As our monsters which such different sizes we placed mine on a table so that it could watch the other monster as it walked past. This also allowed my monster to change from my card model to the cactus model.

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For the final part of the animation we wanted all of our spirits and monsters to come together. We wanted to start the sequence with the largest monster standing at the top of the stairs as the others make their way towards it. The little monsters would then dismantle the larger monster and carry parts of it down the stairs. We wanted to film this part through close ups and cut aways which would allow us to focus on each spirit individually as well as animating them all together. The idea for the end would then consist of all of the spirits in the whole group coming together to create a large collage made up of materials, and other elements of spirits and monsters.

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This filming process went well, starting individually at first was a good idea as it meant we didn’t have to rely on each other and we could work at our own pace. The collaberative ¬†aspects of our animated film were made difficult because some people weren’t always in so they were unable to help. This meant that for some parts of the final sequence there was only three of us animating all four spirits and filming what we were doing.

The idea was then to incorporate all of our group films into one big film that showed all these different spirits in the School of Art and Design. In order for the film to be coherent we needed to film an ending as a group. We did this by incorporating all of our separate spirits to make one big mash up monster. We filmed this from above on a large sheet of paper. The idea was that different parts of some spirits would be carried to a ball of mess by other smaller spirits in order to create on big monster which would then throw up some spirits and then itself turning into nothing. This process went well but I think that we should have planned it all before hand so that it would have gone more smoothly.

 

Space is the Animated Space – Model Making

An overview of all the different models that I made of my spirit that I could use in the animation.

In order to animate my spirit I needed different models that would enable it to transform into different materials. I wanted my spirit to start as a two dimensional drawing in the sketchbook and then eventually change into a three dimensional figure. I started by making paper cut outs of the monsters which I painted with acrylic paint to add some texture.

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I then made another set of paper cut outs using train tickets which I then painted a thin coat of white acrylic on top of. This set of paper cut outs would be used for the monster once it has eaten a train ticket so it would look like it had taken on the colours and patterns of the ticket.

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I also made a multicoloured set of models of the monster which colour be used if it were to eat some pages of a picture book.

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I then decided to start making three dimensional models that I could use in the animation. The first one I made was made from plasticine and string. I used the plasticine to create the rough shape of the monsters head, body and feet. I then wrapped string around these, I then made the arms out of plasticine but I didn’t wrap these in string. The idea for this version of the spirit is that it would look like it had eaten a ball of string.

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I also made a model of my monster from cardboard. I started by drawing a net that would create a box for the body. I cut it out and folded the sides so that it made a 3D cube. Then i stuck the arms, feet and ears on. The mouth was made by cutting a hole in the box and adding paper teeth. I thought that this version of the spirit worked really well as it was visually consistent with the two dimensional models and it was really clear what it was made out of.

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The final model that I made of the monster was supposed to resemble a cactus. I used green plasticine to create the monster, I wanted it to look really similar to the clay model that I originally made so that it would appear visually consistent. I then used tooth picks to add cactus like spines to the model. The idea was when it came to filming I could make it look like the spines were emerging slowly from underneath the skin. The idea for this model is that the spirit would come across a cactus somewhere in the studios and eat it making him turn green and prickly.

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Space is the Animated Place – Research

Some research that I have done for a new project about animating spirits that could potentially live in the art building at uni.

The idea for this project is to create a group animation about spirits or monsters that could be living in the Cardiff School of Art and Design.

For this project I wanted to create an gremlin inspired creature that I could animate running around the art school being mischievous and inquisitive. I started by doodling some ideas of simple monsters and spirits. Some of the ideas were inspired by the animation Spirited Away.

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John Kenn Mortensen – Sticky Monsters

I then decided to look at another artist in order to inspire my work. I looked at the book Sticky Monsters by John Kenn Mortensen. His monsters are quite terrifying but odd and his drawings gave me ideas for some for monsters and spirits.

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I decided that I quite liked one of the monsters that I had drawn and that I was going to use it for my project. The idea behind the monster is that it is a spirit that craves inspiration, it goes around the different studios eating things such as books, drawings, plants and materials and as it eats these things it changes colour and form. For example eating a picture book would make the monster multicoloured or eating some clay would then make him three dimensional and made out of clay.

Screenshot_20171211-155645I then made a model of my spirit to see what it would look like as a three dimensional model.
We were then put into groups so that we could discuss our ideas and come up with a way that would allow the spirits to meet and how we could animate this. From this we decided to start the animation with all of our spirits leaving their sketchbooks where they were created.

To do this I looked at Wendell McShine an artist who works in print, instillation and animation. His work references african art and it is usually about idols and Gods.

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Wendell McShine – Rainbow Hill

His animation Rainbow Hill gave us lots of ideas for how we could animate our spirits as he uses pop ups, pull outs, paint, drawings and paper cut out figures to animate the work in his sketchbooks. From watching this animation I decided to use a paper cut out to animate my monster leaving the sketchbook as I thought this would be the easiest and most effective way.

For this project I also did some reading on Spirits of Place and Genius Loci. I have been reading the book Spirits of Place which contains short stories written by a range of people, some about themselves, about places they’ve been to and experiences they’ve had of spirits of place. I think this reading has helped to me come up with ideas for my spirit and what it represents and what I think is important in a school of art and design and what is important in my subject illustration. In my case I believe inspiration is important within my subject and the school.

Image result for black dog dave mckeanI have also looked at the graphic novel Black Dog by Dave McKean. This book briefly mentions genius loci but the use of materials, textures and collages inspired me in this project as they are an important part of my spirit. The way that the artist uses ayers of paint and paints on ripped pieces of paper that is then stuck together to create a canvas inspired me to try something similar.

Editorial Project – Fright Night

My final illustration and GIF for Fright Night an article by Graham Lawton from a New Science magazine.

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This illustration is for an article titled Fright Night by Graham Lawton from a New Science magazine. The article talked about how people like frightening themselves and why this is the case. I tried to illustrate this by creating a quirky haunted dolls house. I thought that this worked well with the article as it portrays the fun involved with being scared by a book or film and it works well to draw the reader in. I decided to explore materials again in this project by using a mixture of watercolour, collage and gouache paint to create this image. I think the collage really helps to give the image life and a sense of fun which is what I wanted to include in my work.

Field Reflection

My personal reflection of the Field part of my first year at university.

The Field module of my first year at university was about working with other people from the same or different disciplines so that we would be able to combine our different skills and knowledge in order to collaboratively create pieces of work.

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We started the module by doing some short projects in groups based on the idea of manifestoes that we considered important. For these short projects the group that I was in made work based on the topic of animal rights. From doing this I learnt that some approaches to group tasks can be unsuccessful and that communication is key when trying to create a piece of work that coheres. In our group we thought it was best to split up into smaller groups to compete our work and bring everything together at he end. This did not work so well especially for the Guernica project where we had to create one large piece of work together. We found that we had not communicated our ideas well and because of this our work did not fit well together as one big piece. In future it would be best to talk more as a group to ensure that we all understand our individual tasks within the group.

The second project that we were given involved us being put into new groups, this project was also longer than the shorter previous ones. This project was centred around a soldier’s story from the Spanish Civil War. This group project was more successful than the other ones that I had taken part in because we communicated more, sharing our ideas in order to ensure it would work with the other members work. We decided to individually produce a response to the soldier’s story and then bring all our work together in the end so that it could be displayed as more of a collection of items that told the story. I also collaborated with an animation student in order to produce the main feature of our mini exhibition, a map that showed where the soldier travelled during his lifetime. I enjoyed this collaborative process as it allowed us to improve our original ideas by discussing them with each other and sharing each others knowledge in order to produce an animated map. Another major part of this project was research, as a group we looked at propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War. Individually I also looked at old postcards to inspire my designs. This project also allowed me to develop some of my skills such as screen printing. I used paper stencils fixed to a screen in order to print my postcards. I had used this technique before but this project allowed me to experiment with it further as I was able to build up my images with multiple colours that had to be printed separately.

Untitled-1The final part of this module was to create an individual or collaborative piece that responded to the topic of animation, propaganda and satire. I really enjoyed this project as it allowed me to develop a piece of work from another project further and it also allowed me to learn lots of new skills that I had no previous experience with. These skills included using a new programme for stop motion, learning how to set up lighting, experimenting with the camera angle and then learning how to add different items in AfterEffects. I also learnt how to bring everything together in PremierPro and how to include existing sound effects in my animation. I also learnt briefly how to edit green screen footage. This project enabled me to learn a number of new skills, some independently and some with the help of others. This project also helped me to learn how to manage my time effectively in order to meet deadlines. I also learnt how to create a story board for an animation.