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.

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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.

Animation, Propaganda and Satire – Fake News Machine Animation

The development of my stop-motion animation about fake news.

Once I had made all of the models and backgrounds I started animating them using stop-motion. I filmed the animation in two bits. The first part consists of the scenes outside of the machine, in the warehouse. The second part is made up of the scenes inside of the machine, where you see the words being manipulated and changed. I had to film these bits in two parts because the machine itself is a 3D model that stands up in a 3D set, whereas the models inside of the machine are card and paper cutouts that are put on top of a flat background and then animated.

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Screenshot from the finished animation,

After I had filmed all of the stop-motion parts of my animation I imported all of the frames into Adobe After Effects. Here I added all of the effects needed to finish my animation. I added the steam coming from the machine and the words that go through the various stages in the machine. I also added lights and a digital screen to the internet box. I then added in the twitter birds here too. I decided to add all of these various things digitally rather than sticking with the theme of stop motion as I thought that the digital elements

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Screenshot from the finished animation.

would help to convey my message clearly. For example the digital text and twitter birds that fly off with the new words at the end are digital as most fake news is spread on the internet and  its websites online that make up the fake news. Adding the words digitally also allowed me to add effects to them like a change in colour or size when the different parts of the machine does different things to them.

After I had added all of the effects needed to complete my animation I added sound. I used free sound websites to find clips of mechanical noises for my machine. I then added these short clips of audio to my animation in Adobe Premiere Pro. These sounds helped to bring my machine to life and they also helped to explain what different parts of the machine were doing to the words.

Below is the final animation.

Animation, Propaganda and Satire – Making the Set and Models.

Describing the process of assembling the set and model of the fake news machine.

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Stop-motion set up

Once I knew the size of the space I would we working in I was able to start constructing the set. I had decided on the machine being set in an old, dingy and dark warehouse. In order to make this I used cardboard to create the back wall and sides of the warehouse. I then decided to paint the card so that it looked different to the machine as that would also be made out of card. I smeared different coloured acrylic paints onto the card using thinner pieces of card. This allowed the texture of the card to remain. I used blacks, greys, yellows and reds to add colour to the card. The idea was to make the walls look like old rusty worn out metal. I didn’t want to cover the card completely in paint as I wanted to keep the texture of it.

To make the machine I used cardboard for the main body. For the metal pipes I used thick straws and spray painted them silver to make them look like metal. For the internet box I used card that I spraypainted. I decided to do this as I needed it to look different to the rest of the machine and I wanted it to look more futuristic but still worn down so I smeared a darker grey colour on top of the spray paint to make it look dirty.

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Experimenting with lighting and camera angle.

Once I had everything set up I started experimenting with lighting. In the end I used a dim, yellowish lamp to light the whole scene and I also used spotlights to highlight the machine and to make it stand out from the dark background. I then experimented with the camera angle, I decided on a low angle looking up at the machine in order to make it look much larger and ominous.

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Other Props

To film the parts of the animation that take place inside the machine I decided to film them on a flat surface with the camera above them. This would be easier than trying to make all of the models able to stand up. For the background I repurposed a piece of the warehouse walls. I then made the other models using coloured paper and card.

 

The colour pallette for this animation is quite dark and moody. I wanted it to look this way because the dark colours reflect the dark and dingy atmosphere of the warehouse. These colours also help to make the machine and its surroundings look old and worn down which helps to imply that the machine has been working and making fake news for a long time.

Animation, Propaganda and Satire – Initial Ideas and Development

My initial ideas, sketches and models for the latest brief – Animation, Propaganda and Satire

My idea for my short animation is about a machine that creates fake news buy twisting and combining words to make fake news stories.

I started by sketching out some rough ideas for the machine as well as writing ideas for the story. After doing a couple of sketches I started making parts of the machine to see what would work and what wouldn’t. I ended up with a design that I quite liked and thought would work well for the animation. I used card to make the models as its all I had to work with, however, I liked the texture of the card and the contrast between the different colours. I decided to use card to make the model for the animation as its easy to work with but is also visually interesting and it looks different to the machines in Wallace and Gromit that I looked at.

I then did a rough storyboard of my ideas for the story.

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After doing this I made some changes to my idea in order to convey my message in a clearer way. I decided to do this by thinking about the words that would go into the machine and what they would come out as. Instead of having new stories coming out of the machine I decided to have the words that go in change into different words that related to recent fakes news stories in order to show how fake news can be used in modern culture. For example the word racism would go in and be changed into the word patriotism to reflect Trump’s campaign and his questionable ideologies. I changed the way that the words would be put into the machine to show where they come from. I decided to show the words being spat out of a human mouth as the words that go into the machine come from people, they are words that represent a type of attitude of certain people. Another change is that the new story will show how the words are changed and what this means. The words will go in and get twisted and warped, they would then be stamped into the new words. After this they would be made bigger and more noticeable, they would also be buffed so that they glow and become more appealing to the people who believe these stories. The words would then come out of the machine carried by twitter birds. This would illustrate how fake news is spread and where it is most prevalent. I then made a new storyboard that included all my new ideas for my animation.

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