It Rhymes With "Red Van"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sophisticated Movement

I was in a review a while back and the phrase, "Make the movement more sophisticated.", was mentioned a couple of times. The note wasn't for me but it stuck in my head as it was new to me, and I wanted to try and work out the intent behind it on this oft neglected blog.

For starters, I think that this comment is dependent on the style of movement associated with the piece of animation. The animation in "Family Guy" is basic, but works successfully in the context of the show. With the caveat that we are looking for polished modern feature-quality animation let's sophisticate our movements.

Say our gesture is Key -> Breakdown -> Key, which is the accepted way to construct animation. The sophistication comes not from these poses, but from how we treat the frames around these tent pole moments. It means applying all the fundamentals of animation implicit in our process - force, timing, intertia, overlap, intent etc. It is an attention to detail that adds all of the little stuff. Bringing a character's arm down can be a thought of in high level terms as A to B, but by considering the forces and intent at work, we can think about overlap, settle and the path or timing the arm makes as it travels through space. By applying these thoughts to our A-B we create subtle complexity on top. Makes things a little more believable at the sub-conscious level. Result! Again, this is dependent on the style of animation desired. (Pocoyo, for example, doesn't need this process as it has a lovely style in its own right. If you've not seen it, please seek it out).

Maybe I am intellectualising something that is little more than a semantic alternative to "work into this more!", but understanding a note given in a review is so important to delivering what is required of a shot that I wanted to dissect the note. I think I found it useful, and am now prepared if I ever hear it in a critique.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dragon Japanese Trailer

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Avatar in 3D

I liked Avatar. Do I believe it to be the next generation of cinema, the herald of a new golden age of theatre-going greatness? No, not really, and some of it isn't the fault of the film.

First off though, I thought that the visuals were stunning. The bar has been yanked significantly higher by a bunch of studios at the top of the vfx game, and the integration between the mo-cap, hand animated and live action elements was seamless. The performances were solid, too. I don't know how much was the actors and how much fellow animators did, but it all looked good to me. The amount of work put into every frame was staggering. Well done Weta, ILM, Framestore, et al.

With all of the artistic and technical expertise on display, the story it served never rose above predictable, thus letting the side down. No matter how great the performances of the characters, if you don't care about their journey then it's all for naught.
Not a moment of the two and a half hours came as a surprise, and our protagonist was a bit of a macho buffoon. Why would our sensitive and attractive Na'vi female lead fall for this guy? Maybe she thought he looked cute falling off his 6 legged horse, for his character didn't seem that affected by the events of the film. A little, granted, but only enough to nudge the third act into being.

Maybe I would have liked him with a bit more emotional baggage. It would have been interesting to explore how he received his spinal injury, and the lingering damage to his mental health. How about the effect of the scientists' mistrust of him, standing in for his highly regarded deceased brother? What is society like back on Earth?

I found the films villains, the Human Race, (of course!) to be similarly one-dimensional. Greed is a Deadly Sin, but on its own it doesn't make for a sophisticated motive, and some ambiguity would have been welcome. A great example of this is Lady Eboshi's town in Princess Mononoke. At first it seems ignorant and greedy that the Great Forest is being cut down to power the town forges, but we later learn that in doing so Eboshi is saving many people from prejudice, poverty, servitude and worse by employing them. Success in business means more people saved, and they are happy at their work. As an audience we now have something that isn't a simple as first encountered, and thus where do we plant our flag of allegiance?
Avatar tells us they've found some pricey little rocks to mine on Pandora, but what are they used for? Twice in the film we hear a single line vaguely referencing Earth as being barren of indigenous flora. Wouldn't the desperation to usher in the rebirth of Earth's biomass to be a more effective motive? The evil military man decries racial betrayal at our dopey main guy, but most of the humans on Pandora are hired mercenaries who liked to shoot things and be well paid for it. A cutting speech to poor Hero Guy, but since corporate policy was on display rather than any overarching human attitude towards Pandora, it appeared less effective to me.
So lots of missed opportunities, but story-wise it wasn't a disaster by any means.

Since starting this post my pal Chris sent me this - a few more salient points about the story:

The hype surrounding Avatar had much to do with it being the first major "live action" 3D feature. To me the 3D wasn't as successful as I thought it would be. I think the theatre might have been the problem since I believe I was using the more expensive 3D glasses, which in turn meant that the screen itself hadn't been converted. Blah. It goes to show that however much money you put in to the product, it can all be destroyed at the final distribution stage.

The Dolby 3D glasses were way to big for me, and sat low on my nose making it hurt after the best part of an hour. Yes, I am a big moaning wimp, but I think the glasses are an important part of the experience. I have no idea why 3 versions of the glasses aren't available - 1 pair for those with normal vision, 1 pair for those with glasses, and 1 pair for children! After all, how can kids wear these things if I can't? If this is simply too expensive, rush licensed products to market and I will gladly buy a nice pair of my own.

All-in-all an OK time at the movies, but now we have our landmark film it is clear that the 3D experience needs to be refined, (and quickly), while it is still fresh to audiences in order to maximise comfort and appeal. We need their continued patronage to fund the next big thing!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

2009 Annie Award Nomination

Hello! Long time, no post. It's a familiar first line, I know....

Last Tuesday turned out to be a biggie for your Welsh hero (me), as the nominations for the 2009 Annie Awards came out and I was named as one of the five nominees in the Character Animation in a Television Production category for my work on "Merry Madagascar"! I am very excited and honoured and a bit scared. To make it even cooler, my good friends Mark Donald and Phil To have also got a nod each, so we have three out of five PDI/DW nominations in one category! Their nominations are for their work on the MvA related television productions. The final two dudes are from Disney, so I'm in exalted company.

Here is where you can find the noms: A N N I E S for TV Animation

I really need to get back to writing interesting stuff on this blog, rather than just posting links. Work being busy is a rubbish excuse and I'm not doing AM at the moment, so I don't really have a leg to stand on.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dragons Sketchbook

Cool gift!

Dragons Anim Crew Gift

Thanks Dave and Cassidy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

T-shirt Design

I made this design:

My Submission


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coraline Gift Boxes

Check this out:

Laika sent out 50 Coraline gift boxes to blogs that they liked? I want one. Unfortunately only my mum actually reads these posts so it was never very likely. Oh well.

Make more noise about my amazing blog, mum!
: D



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