Sunday, 31 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Rough Guard Thumbnails #57-70

Along with never drawing guns before, this sort of sci-fi armor is new to me so I tried to keep it very basic to start with. I'm trying to keep it looking clean and sleek, but I think some of the thumbnails are a little bit difficult to read but that could just be because I've been looking at them for a while. I think my favourites are #60, #63 and #70.

Friday, 29 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Gun Thumbnails #38-56

I've never drawn guns before but I found making these silhouettes really enjoyable. I eventually decided to try out some more rounded shapes on my guns instead of just straight lines/squares. In my opinion these more rounded shapes match the sci-fi feel more than the blocky ones and would fit into my world more (the space station is a round shape along with the Compass and probably my Protagonists costume depending on how I design it).  Out of these I think #38, #55, and #56 are my favourites. This is because they have a more sci-fi feel in my opinion but also have sharp edges which make them look more sinister (these guns are for the evil guards so it'd make sense that they don't look friendly).

Adobe Premiere: Titles

To practice using titles in Premiere Pro, I added each type of title to my like-for-like animatic. For the dialogue, I used the 'crawl' title but I had them remain stationary.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Animation & Character: Decanter Test Animation/Storyboard

This was originally meant to be a storyboard but I got into it and decided to block in a very rough animation of what I might do for my 'excited decanter'.

From Script to Screen: Art Direction Influence Map I

When creating my main character I had a few different comics, TV shows and films in mind. I've been looking at a lot of different images for inspiration and reference since I'm not used to this sort of style. Even though I'm nervous about trying something new, I'm finding it fun and I feel like I'm learning a lot. At least I have a lot of things to look at if I get stuck.

From Script to Screen: Protagonist Colour Studies

I decided to play about with some colour on my Protagonist. I want to try and keep most of the colours cool since it's in space and I'm trying to limit my colour palette. I'm leaning more towards blues since my character is meant to be clever and swift, and for me when I think of colours linked to that I think of blue. However, I also quite like the purple variations. After I narrow down the colours I'm also going to experiment with skin patterns (spots, speckles, stripes) to go on my character's face. This is also the first time I've really drawn like this so it is very new to me but I think using Illustrator is really helping me.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Script Draft I

Since I'm not experienced with writing scripts I decided to make a draft so if I really messed up then hopefully someone will tell me. I'm a bit concerned with how long it is, I'm not sure if I'm making it way too detailed, if my story is too long, or something else. I do think I can get a lot of it across visually, however. I was also not 100% sure how to type transitions out, I know I can put 'CUT TO:' which I did, but sometimes I just typed out the movement within the script because it's more subtle (again if I did this wrong please let me know). I also realized I don't really have a title for my story...I was debating about 'Compass' or 'Glitch' or something like that but I'm not sure yet so if anyone has any ideas please leave feedback!

Maya Animation I: Bouncing Ball Pt. 2 - Travel & Rotation

Character Design: Environments

Today we went over how important environments were and that the environment itself should be considered a character as it can tell a story on its own. We were then given a set of words to use to create an environment. I was given something along the lines of an abandoned science lab...I cannot remember exactly what it was. I brainstormed some ideas including what type of scientists worked there, what objects/tools would be around, and why was it abandoned. I played around with the idea of astronomy (telescopes, models of planets) and geology (minerals, crystals) but I didn't feel that was working. I then doodled some objects inspired by Tesla coils and came up with the idea that some scientists were experimenting with plants. One of these plants mutated into a carnivorous beast and ate the scientists, hence the lab was 'abandoned'.

Adobe Audition: Generating Tones and Noises

Today we were taught how to create our own sounds within Adobe Audition by generating tones or noises then altering them. I really enjoyed doing this, but I think I got better results using tones instead of noises. The first set of tones I imagined to be space ships or some sort of sci-fi vehicle passing, the second tone I thought sounded similar to a space ship engine starting up then the sound I made using a noise was meant to sound like a storm.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

From Script to Screen: The Compass thumbnails #24-#31

I began making a few variations of The Compass, which is a computer that controls the minds of the aliens in my story. This is important because this may determine my character's hair style as some of them are on her neck, some on her temple, and some are actually drilled into her skull which means her hair would need to be partially shaved. I took inspiration for some of the designs by looking at actual compasses since my original word was 'compass' and the computer controls what direction they go in. Some I imagine have glowing circuit board patterns/wires under her skin, but I think I like #28 and #31 the most.

From Script to Screen: Space Station Interior Thumbnails (Interior) #22 + #23

Here are two thumbnails I drew in my sketchbook in the morning and didn't get a chance to upload them with my previous set of space station thumbnails. I'm trying my best to keep all of my thumbnails organised.

Cutting Edge: The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock seems to always try to present the audience with a new and unusual experience. From 'Rope' (1948) where he used one single continuous shot for the duration of the film, to his most well known work, 'Psycho' (1960), with a metamorphic genre and violence the public has not seen before in cinema, it is clear he enjoys pushing boundaries. Alfred Hitchcock continued this trend with 'The Birds' (1963), a film that makes the viewer interpret the emotions and thoughts of the characters along with meaning behind the plot.

Fig. 1 'The Birds' (1963)
Similar to 'Psycho', 'The Birds' seems to swap between several different genres including comedy, romance, and horror/monster. Somehow, Hitchcock manages to make this work alongside the bizarre 'attack of the birds' story. While the film starts off slow, we are presented with an array of characters all of which aren't particularly likable. However, as time passes and strange bird attacks commence it is easy to still be interested in the characters and wonder what will happen even if we don't like them. We want to see what happens to them while it also becomes clear that the story is not really about evil, aggressive birds at all.

While the effects are not particularly frightening (a seagull pecking at someones hand does not look very scary), the camera shots and sound design is what makes this film unsettling. While the sound of the birds when they attack remains familiar there is something eerily different about it, it falls within the Uncanny Valley. The sound makes them feel unnatural, or maybe supernatural, as if they have been possessed by an evil spirit or infected by some sort of disease.

While there is no actual score within the film, Bernard Herrman (who designed the famous score used in 'Psycho') developed the other-worldly sounds of the birds during their assaults. Using the absence of music within the film, Hitchcock is able to build up an impressive amount of tension before chaotic bird attacks, "...the bird-attack sequences are tremendously complex...and the absence of a score renders the horror more immediate: Hitchcock's long-time composer Bernard Herrmann fashioned an eerie soundtrack of claws, strident with screeches and rustling wings," (Sooke, 2015).

Fig. 2 Bird Horde
Another tool that Hitchcock uses to build up unease is the interactions between the characters as expressed through different camera shots. It is apparent that Hitchcock is skillful with manipulating the camera to get across a character's thoughts and emotions without any dialogue, and in this case, without any score. For example, this film seems to focus very much on the stereotypical (and sexist) female psyche. This includes being overemotional, overprotective, sensitive, and jealousy towards other women.

Just by how Hitchcock frames his characters, it is clear to see how one is jealous or feel threatened by the presence of another. For example, it is clear that Annie (Suzanne Pleshette) was a previous lover of Mitch's (Rod Taylor) and is jealous of Melanie's (Tippi Hedren) relationship with him. Just by how the two interact and how the camera moves from one to the other, we can see that they feel threatened by each other but aren't exactly rivals either. Another example is Mitch's overprotective mother, Lydia (Jessica Tandy). Due to how Hitchcock placed his cameras and sequenced his shots, a simple glance from Lydia towards Melanie is all it takes to express her feelings of jealousy and vulnerability.

Fig. 3 Jealous Mother
It is debated that these feelings of jealousy, anger, and tension is the 'cause' of the birds actually attacking. The film never provides a direct explanation, but one popular belief is that the birds attack due to the emotions of the women. However, it is not "...made readily clear whether Hitchcock meant the birds to represent the classical Furies that were supposed to pursue the wicked on this earth...the context of the birds concentrating their fury upon a house in which a possessive and jealous mother hovers anxiously over her son is so obvious and fascinating that I rather lean to it," (Crowther, 1963). Hitchcock leaving this part of his story open for interpretation is both frustrating and exciting as it allows the viewer to come up with their own explanations and theories.

The reason behind the birds attacking is not the only thing that Hitchcock left open-ended. Unlike 'Psycho', this film has no clear outcome or ending. In fact, Hitchcock seems to tease the audience by having Mitch hear a radio report near the end of the film saying that there have been bird attacks in other cities. This does not mean the ending was a let down, "what stirs me the most about The Birds is not what it puts in but what it leaves out...Electrifying, insurrectionist Psycho still felt the need to wheel on a psychiatrist to explain Norman Bates...But The Birds floats free...a non-resolution, an open ending - the perfect closing that leaves the world in the balance and its mysteries all intact," (Brooks, 2012). Instead of forcing a strict conclusion, sometimes it is better to end on a high note to allow the viewer to question and reflect.

Brooks, X. (2012) My Favourite Hitchcock: The Birds At: Accessed on: 26/1/2016
Crowther, B. (1963) The Birds (1963) At: Accessed on: 26/1/2016
Sooke, A. (2015) The Birds, Review: 'Disturbing' At: Accessed on: 26/1/2016

Illustration List:
Figure 1. The Birds [Poster] At: Accessed on: 27/1/2016
Figure 2. Bird Horde [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 26/1/2016
Figure 3. Jealous Mother [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 26/1/2016

Monday, 25 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Beginning to Design the Protagonist

I decided to start designing my protagonist using both Photoshop and Illustrator. I'm aiming to have a more comic book-like style so I think using Illustrator will help me. I want it to look clean and it will simplify the shapes and colours of my concept art, storyboard and animatic. I haven't added colours or testing colours yet, but I figured I'd post the progress I've made on my protagonists face (excluding markings I will also probably add to her later on.

My character after bringing her into Illustrator.

Quick sketch using Photoshop.

From Script to Screen: Space Station Thumbnails #15-21 (Interior + Exterior)

Life Drawing: January 25th

I found today's life drawing lesson very fun and enjoyable. We had a new life model that stayed in very expressive and new poses which made drawing more interesting. I felt more encouraged to try out different techniques and materials as I tried to let myself have fun and be more free.

Maya Animation I: Toadstool (Squash & Stretch) + The Bouncing Ball Pt. 1 (On The Spot)

Maya Animation I: Pendulum (Settle & Rest) + Chain (Secondary Action & Overlap)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Space Station Thumbnails #1-14

Here are my first few thumbnails for my space station. Some are inspired from actual compasses with one big middle section with four (or more) outcropping sections. Any feedback is welcome.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Post OGR Influence Maps - Other Species

I've made two influence maps that are relating to the two other alien species I'm planning on designing. Although some of the images in the maps look a bit menacing, my aliens aren't going to be (the guards are obviously). After a discussion with Simon on Friday, I think I'm going to have alien species be variants of each other, sort of like bees. For bees there is a queen, workers, and drones so I'm planning on having a 'smart' race (my protagonist's race...influence map here), a strong race, and a sort of gangly race.

The strong race I imagine to be reddish brown in colour and be the construction workers, front line soldiers, mechanics, metal workers...anything that requires great strength and hardiness. The other species I imagine to be a sort of brown/yellow/green colour who have lanky limbs and a sort of stout torso. I think they would be the cleaners, farmers, and other basic services because they're not very smart or strong but they're careful with what they do. I'm also considering maybe the blue species are only all female while the red ones are all male and the green ones are a mix but I'm unsure (as I feel this might sound sexist in a way saying smart ones are girls and the strong ones are boys...but was just an idea considering it is a fictional world).

From Script to Screen: Post OGR Influence Maps - Space Station Exterior/Interior

I think I'm going to try to design my space station first after I make a few more influence maps regarding different alien species. I want to do the space station first as I've never drawn anything really mechanical like a space station before. I'm going to try to keep it simple and sleek looking. I'd rather it look really futuristic and clean (ex. like the Naboo space ships in Star Wars or the station in 2001: A Space Odyssey) instead of gritty with lots of panels (ex. the Nostromo from Alien or the Millennium Falcon from Star wars). I might have the ship have a big center with four outcropping wings of the station (where maybe the different aliens go for their jobs? and all of the aliens go to the center to 'sleep'?) and I imagine it looking similar to a large office or a shopping mall because of the different levels and platforms. The inside of the ship I think will also be sleek, and will have different computer terminals, escape pods and air vents.

Friday, 22 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Post OGR Influence Maps - Compass, Guards, Aliens

I have an ideas in my head of what I want the compass, guards, and my protagonist's speices to look like so I quickly made a few influence maps. I think I want to keep the Compass simple in terms of its design since I'm planning on having the station itself rather sleek and clean looking. For the guards, I'm planning on making some have rifles and the others batons...I want their faces to be hidden and I'm guessing their armor is going to be black. My protagonist's speices is meant to be smart and nimble, so I pictured them to be very elegant looking with blueish colours. Since this is going to be my protagonist's species I want to avoid straying from the human form.



Alien (protagonist's species)

Animation & Character: Excited/Enthusiastic Decanter

Today we were given an emotion and an object to create a character for an animation. I got excited/enthusiastic and a decanter. I quickly drew some thumbnails of decanters before deciding on a shape I thought matched the character I wanted to make for the animation. We are going to put this character onto a photographic background, so I was thinking I might put my character on a dining room table. I think I might have him tipping back and forth and maybe jump a few times, then fall over and spill off the table and maybe have the liquid turn into "Deanna Crisbacher" or some sort of title for my showreel. I'm not sure yet, but I'm going to take some photos and see where I can put my character to shape the story.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Post OGR Thoughts

After reading my OGR feedback I had a rush of ideas for my story. I quickly wrote them down so any feedback would be nice, especially regarding different alien races. I'm a bit nervous about having multiple races because I'm going to have a lot of things to design including the exterior/interior of the ship, the protagonist (must stand out compared to the other aliens within her race), the protagonist's race, any other races, the guards, any weapons, the Compass, and things like the pods and terminals. I'm sure I'll sort something out as I think the background aliens can be slightly more generic in my storyboard/animatic at least.

I'm also concerned about how the animatic has to be 1-2 minutes long and due to the high action in my story, I'm unsure where my animatic might stand within that time limit. Luckily I think I can set things up visually pretty fast so I'll see how it all goes, any feedback regarding my new ideas would be appreciated.