Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Animator and Animation Reviews... Rene Laloux...



Rene Laloux was a French animator and director born in Paris, in 1929. He went to art school to study painting and after some time working in advertising, he got a job in a psychiatric institution where he began experimenting in animation with the interns. After making 'Monkey's Teeth' in the psychiatric institution, in the 1960's, he went on to make several feature films and short films including his most famous, Fantastic Planet in 1973. In 2004, he died of a heart attack in France.


Fantastic Planet is an animated film directed by Rene Laloux in 1973. It's a science fiction feature film about a future in which human beings, known as 'Oms', have been brought by giant blue aliens to their home planet, where they are kept as pets with collars. I loved the stylistic visual aesthetic to this animation, but i found the storyline very strange and surreal. I tried to follow it but it was slightly boring, if i'm honest. Similar to Svankmajer's and Brothers Quay, the characters are very unique, and particularly eerie in this animation. I did enjoy this animation, but i felt it was slightly too long.

Animator and Animation Reviews... Jiri Barta...


Jiri Barta, a stop-motion animator and director, was born in 1948 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. His films, many of which used wood as a medium, have garnered critical acclaim and won many awards, but after the fall of the communist government in Czechoslovakia he was unable to release anything for about 15 years. Throughout the 1990s he tried to finding funding for a feature film called The Golem, but ultimately only managed to complete a short pilot in 1996. In 2006 he released his first computer-animated short film, and in 2009 he released a new puppet-animated feature film which was aimed towards children.


'Club of The Abandoned' is the Jiri Barta animation we watched, it was made in 1989. After watching, Jan Svankmajer's work and the Brothers Quay, i was expecting another unique piece of animation from Jiri Barta. It certainly didn't fall short of the weird and surreal category i would put Svankmajer's and the Brothers Quay into. This animation focused its attention on the story of abandoned maniquines in an abandoned apartment. I found the story very repetitive as the first half was all about the recurring lifestyle of the manequins. Then a new set of manequins came in and took over, this is where it became more stylistic and interesting, although the storyline never really interested me. I feel the problem is that these animations are beautifully stylistic but lack the kind of storyl;ine i have come to expect from the world of animation and film.

Animator and Animation Reviews... Brothers Quay...


The extraordinary Brothers Quay are two of the world's most original filmmakers. Stephen and Timothy Quay, identical twins born in Pennsylvania in 1947, studied illustration in Philadelphia before moving to London, making their unique and innovative films. Influenced by a tradition of Eastern European animation, the Quays display a passion for detail, a breathtaking command of colour and texture, and an uncanny use of focus and camera movement that make their films unique and instantly recognisable. They are masters of miniaturisation and on their tiny sets have created an unforgettable world, suggestive of a landscape of long-repressed childhood dreams.


Similar to Jan Svankmajer; when i heard the name Brothers Quay, i thought i had recognised it, but i wasn't too sure why. After watching 'Street of Crocodiles' and 'The Comb' by them, i realised that it was an animation with a strange clown-like pupper of theirs, that i had seen. It took me a little while to find it but i have found it and i'm still unsure of it's actual name but i believe it's called 'The Parabol of Gilgamesh.' It is clear to see the similarities in the style of their animations, hence i was able to recognise the Gilgamesh animation as a piece by the Brothers Quay. Their narratives are often overlooked because of the beuty in their environments and textures, and they have become well-renouned for the little details in their animations.



'Street of Crocodiles' was a 21-minute stop-motion animation produced by the Quay Brothers and released in 1986. It was astonishing to see how fine the details were in this animation and this was visually pleasing to the audience. However, if i'm honest, the beauty of the animation and its wonderful score, were overpowered by my struggle to find or understand the narrative to the story. As an audience we have all established the importance of a strong or clear narrative in films and animations, so when i am watching an animation like this, i struggle to watch it because i can't understand the narrative. Maybe this is partly due to its eerie design and the psychologocial mood of the animation, but at times i found it frustrating to watch, despite the beauty of the overall piece.


The other animation that we watched by Brothers Quay was 'The Comb'. Again the visual aesthetics and details were beautiful and you can see this from the image above. The musical score was eerie and i would now find it fairly to recognise a piece my Brothers Quay because their style is so easily recognisable. I love their strange and unique characters and environments. However, i was again frsutrated by the narrative because i spent most of the animation trying to work out what was going on instead of being able to just watch the animation. Despite this, i can't help but admire the unique work of animators like Brothers Quay and Jan Svankmajer, and i would like to try some experimental pieces of animation similar to their styles at some point.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Animator and Animation Reviews... Jan Svankmajer...



One of the great Czech filmmakers, Jan Svankmajer was born in 1934 in Prague where he still lives. After studying puppetry at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts and working with various puppet theatres, Svankmajer made his first film in 1964. Since then, for over thirty years, Svankmajer has made some of the most memorable and unique animated films ever made, gaining a reputation as one of the world's foremost animators, and influencing filmmakers from Tim Burton to Brothers Quay. His brilliant use of claymation reached its apotheosis with the stunning 1982 film Dimensions of Dialogue. In 1987 he completed his first feature film Alice, with a characteristically witty and subcversive adaptation of Alice in Wonerland. Since then, Svankmajer has moved further away from his roots in animation towards live-action filmmaking, however, his vision remains as strikingly surreal and uncannily inventive as ever.

When i first heard Phil say the name Jan Svankmajer, i wondered where i had recognised it from. The name rang a bell but i wasn't too sure why. After watching Svankmajer's animations i realised that i had seen some of his work before and it was instantly a recognisable style of his. It was in my Media class in college that i saw Svankmajer's animation called 'Food' and i really enjoyed it, the unique narratives and his very stylised stop-motion in particular. It is clear to see that he has used this style throughout his animations.



Phil recommended watching 'Darkness, Light, Darkness' which was another animation by Svankmajer. Again, as in all of his animations i have seen, there was a simple, understandable narrative and he wasn't afraid to show the finger marks in the clay. I think the marks add to the effect of the animation, similar to Wallace and Gromit, and there is something very appealing about the design of Svankmajer's characters/objects. They seem realistic enough, but somehow he gives them exhaggerated personalities. In this animation the exhaggerated personality comes from the body parts ie. the hands, eyes, mouth etc. I also like the fact we are in one room so we don't have too much to focus on, other than what's going on and the beautiful flow of Svankmajer's stop-motion. I'm particularly amazed at the way he is able to smooth everything back into shape after pulling it apart, it seems unnoticeable.



One of the Svankmajer animations we watched in class was 'Dimensions of Dialogue', which featured a few animated shorts. 'Exhaustive Discussion' is the first of the three sections in which Arcimboldo-like heads gradually reduce each other to bland copies. I liked this animation, although i did find it slightly repetitive. In particular, i liked the way all the different objects fitted together to make the heads and the unique way each object reduced the other parts. The second section, 'Passionate Discourse', shows a clay man and woman who dissolve into one another sexually before quarreling with each other. Again this is another masterclass example of Svankmajer's amazing work with clay. As in many of his other animations, we're restricted to the space of one room and this allows us to admire every last detail of Svankmajer's work. Finally, we have 'Factual Conversation' where two elderly clay heads extrude various objects on their tongues and interwine them in various combinations. I found this animation fairly similar to the first short, and similarly it was slightly repetitive. But again, i really enjoyed the visual aesthetic and the beauty of his stop-motion work.


'Meat Love' is another one of Svankmajer's short animations we watched in class. It depicts two slices of steak, personified as two individual beings, that form a romantic relationship where the steaks dance with each other and show passionate love through symbolised sexual intercourse, before their passion is killed when the steaks are placed into a frying pan. This was a fairly short, but amusing animation and it reminded me of many shorts that we see on channels like Nickelodeon and MTV, except those are slightly less explicit. I liked the story line and again, the stop-motion was a masterclass of Svankmajer's skills.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Rough Thumbnail Animatic Test...

video

Here's a rough animatic i've done to see what my thumbnails look like when edited together so far. I think some parts work well and would look better when more time is taken on the drawings and presentation. But i feel that there are certain parts in the middle that don't work too well, this may be because there needs to be more drawings in between. Overall, i'm glad i've done this test because it allows me to see the timing for my animation which is one of the key principles in creating a well balanced animation. I can also see which areas i'm happy with and which parts i need to improve for my final animatic and animation.

Candlestick Idea #2... Detailed Thumbnails...




After the rough thumbnails i did yesterday to show the key positions of the dance, i decided to add inbetween points based on each second on my animation, similar to a rough version of my animatic. This would allow me to identify how long each movement will take in preparation for Meg's class on Tuesday. I'm hoping to be able to edit these thumbnails together to give me a rough idea of how the animation may look and how my animatic might look.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

More Candlestick Observations...


Here are some more drawings of candlesticks based on images i have gathered. When you look closely i think is visible that there are many human characteristics and body shapes. However, i think these designs are too complex for my story which i feel needs to be simple and parred down. I will continue to look at some more designs to see if there are any elements i wish to add to my more basic character designs.

Candlestick Idea #2... Rough Thumbnails...



I've just watched the Anna Pavlova Dying Swan Ballet video again and i've tried to do thumbnails of the key positions/movements in the dance to see how my candlestick character would look. With a lot of bending movements i the body and the flame (which seems to look like a head) i feel it gives the character a look of exhaustion. At the moment i'm thinking of experimenting with charcoal to see whether it gives the candlestick a varied style or look. Although the dying swan video is about 1 minute 50 seconds, i feel i would be able to remove certain parts if i was to follow the dance for my own scene.

Wounded Candlestick #2... Inevitable Death...




So i've been thining of how i could create a three act story based on Phil's idea of the candlestick slowly dying. I watched the two links Phil sent me from Swan Lake and i really like the idea of the candlestick slowly dying with a black background. Unfortunately the brief specifically states it needs a three act structure so i really need to work on that side of the idea. Here's my idea so far, i pretty sure it has a three act structure and i've tried to incorporate the appeal that i was going for in my first idea so that the audience sympathises with the character. I would like to use some music which is soft and mellow to suite the character slowly dying. I could possibly use the song Tchaikovsky composed for this scene but adapt it to suite the cautious beginning...


IDEA #2:


- We begin with a title which dissolves out over the black background...
- A faint light source starts to flicker into the frame from the right...
- The candlestick cautiously peers into the frame (slowly), we realise the light source is from the candle...
- The candlestick cautiously walks into shot (exhaggerated walk/tip-toe)...
- Some of the melted wax from the candlestick drips and comes through the top of the frame (cartoon world = cartoon rules?)...
- The melted wax falls from the top of the frame and hits the candlestick, which startles him...
- Again, the candlestick starts to walk cautiously and slightly startled this time...
- We see another drip of melted wax from the candlestick which comes through the top of the frame...
- This hits the candlestick which again startles him and makes him realise he is melting (injured/dying)...
- The events that follow show the candlestick attempting to prevent the wax from falling (he tries to keep the wax in his tray/dish buth it overflows)...
- What follows is the sad, inevitable scene of the candlestick dying/melting slowly as the light begins to fade out...
- We end with the black screen we started with.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Symposium... Pan's Labyrinth...



Just to say, so you don't think i'm ignoring the symposium. We've started to gather information together on Pan's Labyrinth. We do actually have a blog for communications, but it's not that interesting just posts about notes and ideas we have. I got quite a few notes from the director's commentary on the DVD and this is the basis for our research which will particularly emphasise on fairytale nfluences, Romanticism and Symbolicism in conjunction with our last symposium which also focused on the fairytale element of Romanticism...

Candlestick Observations...



At the moment i'm just doing some observatins and drawings of more complex candlestick designs. For me, they are slightly to realistic and complicated and would take away that appeal that my basic candlestick has. Although i'm still looking at ways to show different characetistics and emotions plus if there are particular detailsi like in some of the images, i may add them to my original design which seems to be the most convenient at this time.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Important points for my story development...

- Firstly, i feel a chamberstick is more relevant to my character becasue it isn't necessarily decorative but more purposeful, meaning the introduction of electricity and the incandescent light bulb would have a huge impact on how useful it is.

- Radio wasn't invented during this period so a tabloid newspaper would be a common means of media coverage.

- The electrical ceiling fan was actually invented in 1882, although there were water turbine powered ceiling fansbefore this period. This means that having a ceiling fan in my home during the period of my story will be fine.

Setting and Period Research...

- Thomas Edison invented the electric light in 1879. He was neither the first nor the only person trying to invent an incandescent light bulb.
- Between the years of 1878 and 1892 the electric light industry was growing in terms of installed lights.
- By the end of 1880, Edison had produced a 16-watt bulb that could last for 1500 hours and he began to market his new invention.
- The 19th century was part of the Victorian era as Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901.
- Gothic Revival architecture became increasingly significant in the period, leading to the Battle of the Sttles between Gothic and Classical ideals.
Here are some images of the interiors of houses that you expect to find in the Victorian era, for more wealthy people. They seem very spacious and over-crowded with luxuries. It is evident that candlesticks were significant although towards the end of the century, with the introduction of electricity, they became more decorative household items.

Pixar Short... Luxo Jr. (1986)...

The most relevant animation to my idea has to be Luxo Jr. Not only would i like the movements to be similar, with my character hopping around, but the appeal these characters have through their emotions is something i need to integrate into my own characters. The audience engages with what would be inanimate objects because they are given human characteristics and emotions; we can tell when the lamp is happy and sad due to its exhaggerated body movements (and partly due to the sound effects used). This appeal can be found throughout the collectionof Pixar shorts, but i feel this animation is the most relevant to mine because it includes everything i want to integrate into m work. I will deinitely be constantly referring to these shorts i a bid to get the best appeal and emotional response in my characters.

Candlestick Reference Images...












Here are some of the different varieties of candlesticks (Candlesticks, Chambersticks, and Candelabrum) that i will use as a reference for the design of m character. Already you can see how different shapes and sizes give different personalities to each candlestick. I can particularly see some that look feminime and some that look child-like. I will contnue to experiment with these traits in my character designs.

Beginning and Ending Storyboard Thumbnails...













Here are my beginning and ending to my story. There's only one shot of a radio broadcast before we see the unhappy candlestick and for the ending we have a sequence where the candlestick feels useful and wanted after being alone on a cabinet for some time.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Essay Topic... Walter Elias Disney...



For me, there was no-one more inspirational and groundbreaking, in the world of animation, than Walt Disney. Growing up as a child there wasn't anyone who didn't know about Walt Disney and his films, and they hold out as some of the greatest films/animations in history. Even after his death, his legacy and company still live on. These are just a ew reasons why i have chosen to write my essay on the man that created and gave a voice to Mickey Mouse. I feel there is lots of opportunity when writing about disney to look at the 12 principles of animation, as well as giving examples of how he has inspires and influenced other animators and their animations. There is a lot of research that i can look into about Walt Disney soit is important to make sure i only note the really important parts for my essayotherwise i could take me all year. It will be worth considering films like Steamboat Willie, Snow White, and Fantasia among others to show how important his work is to the industry.

Possible Beginning and Ending Ideas...



BEGINNING:

- Radio Broadcast about electricity taking over before we see the candlestick sad.

ENDING 1:

- The candlestick is injured and makes it was back to the cabinet it came from. It doesn't make it and collapses.
- The owner picks up the candle, puts it on the cabinet and lights the candle because there is a party/gathering going on (The candlestick is used to set a relaxed mood in this circumstance).
- The candlestick jumps with joy and in doins so, accidentally puts out the flame.

ENDING 2:

- The candlestick is injured and makes it was back to the cabinet it came from. It doesn't make it and collapses.
- Owner puts the candlestick on a table where there are other candlesticks that have been lit.
- The other candlesticks notice the cabdlestick and one of them goes over to light the candlestick using their own flame.

I'm fairly happy with the idea for the beginning, bceause it helps us to establish the goal of the candlestick. As for the ending, i prefer the second idea beause it's a warm ending and the cadlestick reaches its goal of being noticed again and being useful. This ending particularly reminds me of the pixar shorts with the birds and toys because there is always one protagonist and then we are at some point introduced to other characters, in this case a warm friendly set of different style candlesticks, maybe to do with a candle party or something.