So after the madness of basic walks we have graduated on to character walks. We also took delivery of 6 lovely new puppets all of which vary in gender, ethnicity and body shape. We were like kids on Christmas morning. I was given a rather portly woman to work with and the brief that she was to be jaunty yet fussy like a mother hen. She used the replacement mouths of Queen Victoria from the Pirates film and so I found myself with 13 boxes full of 624 3D printed mouths. These took a while to figure out.
We diligently went about our research and below you can see my chronically bad video reference. Try as I might I found it difficult to embody a large middle-aged matriarch. It is a curse but one I believe I can learn to live with. If you are some kind of wizard then perhaps you can deduce what the final animation looks like from my reference and picture of my dragonframe scrawlings. If not then you will just have to wait until December.
I also accidentally met the president of Singapore as he toured the studio! His entire armed envoy greeted me as they walked past. Here is a link to a bewildering news article about it.
In other unexpected news I've been informed that my graduation film 'Facet' has been selected for competition at the Animated dreams festival in Tallinn.
And in case you were wondering the cat came back once more, drunk our milk and then sauntered off into the night, such is the nature of cats/the universe.
This week we began the long uphill which is the dreaded walk cycle. I must admit to once again being a bit too smug on Monday and underestimating the challenge that lay before me. By Thursday I was losing my mind. I have definitely improved and I now understand what the walk is all about. Because of the repetitive and technical nature of the walk it was quite a satisfying exercise but also tinged with inflections of madness. I think this is because the brief was for the walk to be as vanilla as possible and so I look forward to next week where we will be adding character to these basic walks. To break the monotony we had some great masterclasses this week. One with Sarah Cox who is Director of Arthur Cox animation studios in Bristol, just up the road. Sarah spoke about her experiences as an animation director and of starting her own animation company. The other masterclass was with Shelley Page, head of international outreach and talent scout for Dreamworks who showed us her 'eye candy' reel of the best graduate work she has seen this year as well as giving us a great talk about what studios are looking for in showreels.
Just one boring picture of my notebook this week so I've also included a picture of this cat that just wandered into my house and refuses to leave, because the internet needs more cat pictures. Watch this space,folks, next week is gonna be great :)
The week was all about making something look heavy. I think I underestimated the weightlifting and for some reason assumed it would be easy, about halfway through the week I was being sorely proved wrong. I think I got a bit bogged down in the detail which is kind of necessary but it meant that my shot took longer than it should have to complete.
Seeing that we were all getting a bit tense and conservative with our animation we were set the task of animating blind i.e turning off the monitors and using the force alone to animate with. Merlin kindly leant me his surface gauge which he used when learning to animate before video assist. The results were a bit jiggly but not as horrific as I'd imagined and I think the real difference was in the shoot rate. In half an hour I'd done 3 takes blind compared to my shot done with a monitor which took the best part of 3 days.
We also had a masterclass with Pete Lord who spoke about the early days of Aardman, how the company has progressed and about his time as a director. As the week wore on the studio started to resemble more and more a cross pyjama party/silent disco as we all felt the madness set in and resorted to slippers and ipods.
I've also been informed that my two films from my final year at UWE, "Verglas" & "Facet" are to be shown at the next CineMe event on the 28th Oct at The Tobacco Factory Bar which is really exciting! Read more about the films being shown on the CineMe website.
This weeks task was to have the character swing and hit a baseball with a bat as convincingly as possible so I began my week with some action analysis of myself swinging a stick. it soon became apparent that I know nothing about baseball so decided instead to rely on YouTube reference videos of enthusiastic American MLB players. I spent a few days drawing and blocking out the key poses and though it seemed like a long time to spend on this I feel it paid off later in the animation phase. Alongside this I also attended life drawing as well as an acting class held on the roof of the building with panoramic views over Bristol. On Friday I attended a masterclass with Nick Park who answered all of our numerous questions about his films, video assist and the future of stop motion. He was also kind enough to agree to have his photo taken with me and my slightly dog eared Gromit! (pardon the pun). I finished shooting early and so decided to give my puppet a thorough clean and as you can see from the photo it was like something out of a nightmare...
Stop-motion animator and model maker with an interest in documentary film-making.