Monday, 31 October 2011

Research For Animation & VFX- Post 4

This week we were asked to find 3 keywords to help us with our research in the library, here are mine:


These are the main things I hope to cover in my essay. I think a good way to gather research on my chosen subject would be to watch some classic Westerns, specifically the Clint Eastwood films as his character played a big part in Rango's own interpretation of a Western hero.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Research For Animation & VFX- Post 3

This week's assignment was to, first, write a post about our presentation group.

My group are studying 3D Feature Films for our presentation.

The group consists of Megan (me), Emma, Richard, Rachel, Jack, Jamie, and James; I am the only VFX student in my group, and the others are all from animation so I don't know their details such as Surnames or their blogs yet but I shall update this post with that information when I get it.

We have named ourselves MERGE; this came about by putting all of our initials together as we brainstormed a name, though it actually spelt MERRJJJ we thought it best to go with the traditional spelling!

We do not yet know for sure what our presentation question will be, but as it stands we seem to be heading in the direction of how 3D technology can capture the performance, expressions, and likeness of the film's actors.

We have set up a group blog so that we can share any research and discuss ideas:

The second task for this week's assignment was to brainstorm my essay character and post up my chosen essay question; even though I am not entirely sure about my wording, I am sure of the direction in which I want to go with my essay.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Research For Animation & VFX- Post 2

This week, our assignment was to choose one anthropomorphic character who would then become the focus of our essay. For me, this was an easy choice...

Rango is my chosen character, not only because 'Rango' is a masterful film, but because the character of Rango is a very deep character in terms of anthropomorphism and symbolism and one that I feel I could write confidently about.

Though they are a bit choppy, here are my initial notes on the character:

Rango is a pet chameleon who is going mad with loneliness, his only ‘friends’ are his very own anthropomorphised objects- a plastic palm tree, a headless, one-armed barbie torso, a plastic wind up fish, and a dead bug. Using his ‘friends’ as fellow cast members, Rango creates countless stories, always casting himself as the hero.

Rango’s acting has stemmed from his longing to be something more than he is now, and the props act as a way to reflect upon his own feelings and voice his insecurities; this is shown by the plastic tree, named Victor, who ‘tells’ Rango that his character is undefined, to which Rango replies ‘That's absurd! I know who I am. I'm theeee....I'm the guy! The protagonist, the hero! Every story needs a hero! I mean, who else is better qualified to bask in the adulation of his numerous companions!?’ 

In design terms, Rango’s character is displayed through his species. Chameleons blend which is symbolic of Rango’s non existent sense of identity; he is an actor and can play someone else easily, but when it comes to his own true self he is lost.

Even though Rango is very realistic in design, Rango’s general body shape somewhat resembles a man with a beer gut; he walks on two legs and his body shape is more humanlike in that he has arms and legs with defined hands and feet as opposed to the more pincer like appearance of a real chameleon. Being a chameleon with eyes that can pivot all the way around also allows for Rango’s nervous and deceitful nature to be seen through his constantly shifting eyes.

Rango’s realistic chameleon appearance adds a lot of character but it creates a lot of restrictions on his facial features; his eyes are very beady which makes it more difficult for him to emote through what is considered to be the anchor of human expression, and his eyebrows are represented by the ridges running along his face, these ridges are facial ornamentation (something that is common with chameleons) and only slightly raise or lower to accommodate expressions throughout the film. It is Rango’s wide mouth that allows him to be so expressive, his mouth runs along the width of his head and his lips are purely made up of a thin yellow pigmentation along the mouth line so as not to distract from the mouth’s simple yet extreme forms.
All of Rango’s facial expressions were modelled after his actor Johnny Depp, Depp and the rest of the cast acted out their parts in a studio with a camera crew recording their actions and facial expressions for direct reference.

In the world of ‘Rango’, all of the animals are clothed in some way, in the beginning of the film Rango is wearing a simple Hawaiian shirt- partly as a reference to the film ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and more specifically the character of Hunter S Thompson, who Rango was partially based on- but within the context of the film it could be assumed that his owners dressed him or gave him the shirt. When he gets to the town of ‘Dirt’ and is promoted to Sheriff, Rango sports a variety of traditional western outfits, and later on he wears a similar outfit to Clint Eastwood as ‘the man with no name’ which is symbolic of Rango’s realisation in becoming a hero.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Digital Presentation 1- Post 1

Summer Brief:

The summer brief for my course, and this module, was to research robots from films, games, and other media, and organise them into the categories 'Good', 'Bad', and 'Ugly'. The boards would serve the purpose of helping us to generate our initial ideas for the first 'Digital Presentation' module which is to design three robots- one of each category- and produce turnaround sheets for them.

As these mood boards were supposed to help me come up with ideas for concept designs, I felt that it would be beneficial to include concept designs from professional concept artists and their recent projects so that I could see how they have taken current design trends and manipulated them for use in their robot designs.

I also wanted to create the boards in a way that would clearly convey the overall 'feel' of that particular category with just a glance; to do this I included swatches and organised my images so that the textures and colours of the robots would stand out.

I gained a lot of insight through the research and organisation of these boards and gathered enough design notes to fill 2 pages, snippets of which accompany photos of my mood boards and their reference sheets below:

Good Robots are robots that provide intelligence and generally aid humans, also robots that feature within the piece as a protagonist.
They are generally sleek and clean in design, and often resemble humans- note, they all have a face- in order to convince the viewers of their trustworthiness.

Bad robots are robots that are built for combat, also robots that feature within the piece as an antagonist.
They are more sharp/ angular in shape and are often lit or coloured red to make them appear threatening; they are generally more creature like in appearance in order to distance them from the viewers.

Ugly robots are robots that have been designed with function as the main focus instead of the aesthetics of the good and bad robots, they serve to fill the world of the piece. 
Their function must be obvious as they must portray it within a very short amount of screen time (they are often seen purely in the background or in cutaway shots), and they are generally designed without eye catching features so they do not distract from the featured robots of the piece.

These categories cross over depending on one's focus i.e. design vs plot. Wall-E is a prime example of this as he is a garbage compactor and has a design that resembles something of a garbage truck merged with a JCB (therefore 'Ugly'); but he is also the main protagonist of the film and so his design shows a lot of personality, mainly through his camera eyes which have been tilted and the lenses enlarged to give him a sympathetic "puppy dog" eyed look (therefore 'Good').

I hope to post my initial design ideas within the next week or so, and hopefully they will display the understanding I feel I have gained through this task.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Drawing- Post 1

Last Week we were given the task of doing some perspective drawings of a train station in Stoke within 2 hours.

I find it quite difficult to draw on location because of all of the activity happening around me and there is no desk or comfy chair to settle down on and become absorbed into whatever I'm working on. When in a studio I would approach a perspective drawing by establishing the horizon/ eye level, plotting the vanishing point(s), and then proceed to construct my drawing; but on location, particularly this one, I couldn't find the focus or stability to carry out my usual process- I did attempt to do a rough structure with my first drawing but I didn't feel it was helpful in this situation so I decided to simply sketch what I saw.
Admittedly, I don't usually approach location drawing with my structured process as I feel that the time spent on location should be spent trying to capture the atmosphere of the place within one's drawings, but I thought that as the session was about perspective drawing I should try and construct my drawings more accurately. 

The first drawing I attempted was a one point perspective of the platforms, a string of lights were running  in a line just above me and at the end of the platforms stood an arched metal structure; using a graphite stick I laid down my horizon line and plotted the vanishing point but I found myself lingering over the lights and generally not enjoying the drawing so I scrapped it, turned around, whipped out my brush pen and decided to go freestyle with my next drawing. Here is the result:

Even though I feel that I didn't fulfil the original task of producing a perspective drawing, as this drawing, in my opinion, lacks depth and the perspective is not very well defined, this sketch has grown on me; the brush pen is a particular favourite tool of mine, I love to play with line and the pen forces me out of my usual perfectionist tendencies in favour of more energetic strokes.
I feel that this style of drawing added a lot of character to what could've been a rather sterile image and I'm particularly pleased with my rendering of the metal structures in the background as I think they gave the picture more depth and the way they curved around with the track was what attracted me to that view in the first place.

My main concerns with the image and the experience was, as I said before, I think that my drawing lacks depth and this is a problem that I feel is a recurrent one throughout my work and one that I hope to improve upon; and second is my speed, or lack thereof- this drawing was the only one I produced within the two hour session.
I am well aware that speed is a necessity within the industry and I think that at this point my lack of speed would be the biggest concern for a potential employer; my slowness has always been an issue throughout my studies, I am a very thorough worker and I always aim to produce high quality artwork but I do recognise my lack of speed as my biggest weakness, again I aim to improve on this.

What have I learned from this task?
This task has highlighted to me the need to practise my drawing on location skills, not only should it help with my speed but I think that practising location and perspective drawing will help me to develop my drawing abilities in regards to relative scaling of objects in space and creating more depth within my work.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Research For Animation & VFX- Post 1

The aim of this week's assignment was for us to find three blogs that we particularly enjoy and post them up; of the many blogs I've been fortunate to stumble upon over the years, I have decided to feature these three:

First is Lines and Colours, I hold this blog in high regard for it's sheer wealth of information and inspiration; the blog doesn't focus on any one aspect of art, but holds it's doors open for everything from cut-book sculptures to traditional portrait paintings. The blog is also fantastic for highlighting the technological advances in how we view art.
My favourite aspect of the blog is the articles that feature both up and coming artists who are still unknown to the masses, and artists whose work and presence has faded with time- I have lost count of how many artists I have discovered through this blog.

Second is Character Design, a fairly self explanatory name. Character design has always been my passion, the human body is such a wonderful thing and to see the vast interpretations of it's form by the artists featured in this blog always pushes my desire to evolve and refine my own style.

Third is Animation Backgrounds, a blog that is unfortunately no longer updating but the content that it already holds is simply beautiful; the purpose of this blog is to put the spotlight on the rich and detailed backgrounds of animated films and TV shows that the viewer would never pay attention to otherwise.
As I said previously, I am passionate about character design and as a result I tend to favour characters and the human form when doing art, but as a concept designer I need to be skilled in all areas so I am actively looking for resources like this to help me hone my skills. I have only recently found a flare for background/ landscape design, but looking through the work shown on this blog makes me want to delve deeper into the subject.

These blogs are not only great for finding inspiration, but they are also extremely helpful research spots so I would definitely recommend them.