Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Production Journal Review

Running pretty far behind at the moment, really going to need to slog out the last couple of weeks. I've changed the animation style from hand drawn to flash to speed things up, I much prefer the hand drawn style but for the sake of getting it done I've opted for flash.

Currently I'm animating the expression changes of the characters for the close up shots, I have 2 expression changes done (with out color) and 2 to go, I've found the second expression I did looked a lot better than the first so hopefully I can expect the last 2 to look look great. It took me 1 day per expression to get it fully complete in B+W which means I should be done and ready for color after the w/e.

If each shot with body movement in it takes aprox 1 day per shot to complete then time will be tight but I should have enough to color and do special effects, focus pulls, etc.

I had a quick look into rotoscoping the explosion shot last night, the style does not fully suit the flash tweening that I have used for the face expressions. I'l rotoscope it if needed but I'm going to have a quick attempt to see if I can animate it using tweens instead.

I began animating the backgrounds in after effects, I've hit 3 unforeseen problems.
1) The composition of the shot looks fine in photoshop but having moved the clouds and cloud shadows across the ground the comp changes into something less desirable. This is not a major problem but I would like to find a solution
2) Moving the cloud shadows across the ground and keeping the shape in realistic perspective is harder than i thought.
3) I wanted to have the cloud shadows movement subtle but defiantly noticeable, its been hard to find the right balance for this. I've been experimenting with raising/lower the opacity of the clouds and the speed which they move at.

I think I will end up doing the character color in flash, I would have preferred to color them with a lot more detail in photoshop but that would have been a very lengthy process. The up side of this however is I kind of like the solid colors for characters, detailed backgrounds combination to pull focus to the characters and help them stand out in each shot.

Running out of internet for the month has been a major hassle for quickly looking up tutorials on the net to over come smalls problems and speed up some of my processes. Also not having the latest version of flash and after effects has become a major hassle. I can not work on my running comp at home at all and I can not work on the flash files once I have worked on them at uni.

Overall the project has grown different to my vision leading me to be less motivated and I do not enjoy the work as much as I might've hoped however despite being nervous about the time frame and potential set backs I am very relieved to be able to see myself finishing the project with it looking decent and on time. I predict once the project is completed and I can no longer work on it I will look at it in a different light and hopfully like it more.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Production Report 2

I've begun drawing my characters into the frames of the shots and done a couple of full colour tests, its incouraging to see what a frame from the film will look like. I've done a rough intro sequence to lay out my ideas and now just need to tidy it up, I also experimented with the sound for the film in the intro. I really need to start geting stuck into the animation. Geting cs5 or a at least the new version of after affects so i can work from home has been a hasle, havnt got it yet. I've got to print out a few for of the backgrounds to work out what size to draw the characters but besides that I'v just got ALOT of drawing to do.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forgot to mention

Forgot to mention a slight problem I've had over the last week is the uni has updated their edition of cs from 4 to 5, Photoshop has been fine but I need to update the software at home before I can work on any of my after effects projects. Hopefully I can get CS5 asap

Where I'm up to ATM

I've finished all my backgrounds with the exception of in-larging my shot 1 canvas slightly so when the camera move happens there is no blank space in screen. Currently I'm importing all my backgrounds into the running comp after effects project, I've almost got them all in ready to start the zooms, camera moves and moving the clouds and shadows around. I'm 1 week behind where I aimed to be at the start of the semester, Im hoping I'll make this up and make some additional progress with work over the holidays at the end of next friday. I'm very aware and a bit worried about running out of time for the actual animation of the project.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I'v basically meet my milestone of having a rough sound track and backgrounds complete. I'm slightly behind as I don't think I'l get the last shot completely done by the end of tomorrow but who knows with a bit of luck I might.

Having a song already sorted is great, I'm really glad I put the effort into this early not only because I didn't need to try get sounds or songs in a rush now when I'm trying to do my backgrounds but also because having a song to work from has been great in coming up with the imagery and setting the pass and feel of the animation.

Here's some more thumbnails of the backgrounds:

Thoughts for sound

Doing the essay on sound design has lead me to re-listen to the track that I got the rights to use for the animation (Brian Jonestown Massacre's - You look great when I'm fucked up). Having my backgrounds near complete and flicking through them to the song is giving my a clearer idea of what the final thing is going to feel/look like.

I'm thinking of trying to get the rights to the Arcade Fire's track- My body is a cage, its really dramatic and I think it would add to the tension and release of the animation when the Sheriff is shot, its got a great kick in it, but I don't like my chances of getting the rights so I'll see how that goes.

I picked up a folder of great sounds from Darren the other week, I haven't sorted through them all yet but there is a lot of explosion sound bytes I'm sure I'l find 1 or 2 for the gun shot and tear explosion which will save me hours and hours of searching the net. I've already spent a few all up searching the net for sounds. Finding quality free samples is pretty hard.

Last background Trouble

Trying to complete my last background image but its proving difficult, the foreground, mid ground, background trick to create depth in the image is what I'm trying to achieve but I can't find any images or draw anything that seems to fit. I put a couple of hours into this yesterday to no avail, I'm going to ask Jack for some help in tomorrows class.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Backgrounds

2 days left to try meet the milestones. I have all my backgrounds complete except for 1 (shot 1) I'm finding it hard to get a good amount of detail and to decide what exactly to draw on the ground to achieve this.

I have decided not to use the horizontal gradient change of color in the sky backgrounds - which was from a strong yellow with an increasing layer of pink. Now all the sky backgrounds are the same and with only a vertical gradient change of color. I think some shots did look better how I had them originally but on a whole the majority of shots look better with a strong yellow in the background of the sky.

I touched up almost all of the clouds hugging the horizon of the shots as they look too straight and not much variance in them.

I finished off shot 15 - the shot with the camera move, I thought I would have had more trouble than I did constructing this shot as it needs to be near double the size and stretching/skewing the ground texture was at risk of looking pixelated but came out fine with just a bit of mucking around.

I'm not sure if the seems between the hills and the ground in a couple of the shots can be seen too easily I might ask someone tomorrow and come back to it as getting shot 1 done is alot more important.

Heres some thumbnails:

This is the shot with the camera pan in it, hence the wider canvas

Shot 16a was never going to be hard to get done

One of the shots where I touched up the clouds that hug the horizon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Image Ordering & Construction

Not that I spent too much time ordering and numbering the layers for my backgrounds as I am nearing the completion of them I have found it increasingly important for myself to get this side of things under control. On average each shot as around 20ish layers. I have started using folders for each main element of the shot, these have been: Character, Clouds, Mist, Cloud Shadows and Ground. Outside of these folders I have kept the standard gradient color for the background of each sky and a complete black layer which is very using in flicking back and for from to gain a good understanding of the varying levels of opacity in the mist and clouds, inspecting the edges of them and the hills, working out exactly where things sit and getting a brief preview of the change in look of the image I will get as I am planning to tweak the colors in a 1 or 2 of the shots to make Izel look very formidable and evil.

Thumbnail of how I have organized the layers for shot 2

Slight change to Shot order

Forgot to mention the other week Darren had a great suggestion for me. In shot 3, it was to have the Sheriff step into the shot rather than already be standing in it. Asminor as this action is I think it goes along way in showing that he has just reached Izel rather than have him already standing in shot and leaving it up to the audience to decide.

In addition to this as Shot2 shows the Sheriff standing in front of Izel I have swapped shot 2 and 3 around so it still makes sense.

This is Shot 2

This is shot 3 where the Sheriff, standing closest to the screen will step into the shot

Getting the backgrounds complete by friday is looking very achievable, in general im almost happy with them except for the opening shot its not as slick as all the others, I'm not too sure what to do about it at this stage. Most recently I have been working out the correct aspect ratio for shot 15 of my animation as when I drew up the storyboards they where at 16:9 but later I decided to give the animation a more cowboy widescreen look and went for the 23.5 ratio so that took a little more mucking around as the photoshop canvas sized I worked out needed to be roughly 1.6 x 2538 wide and 1.18 x 1080 high.

I've added to my skys a bit more. So now I'm not just placing pre-made clouds onto the sky but also adding multiple layers of mist with varying opacity using the colors from my cloud palette. This has been great in blending the horizon hills into the sky, adding a very soft texture/difference in color to the sky and I also created a thin line of cloud close to the horizon.

I haven't had any more trouble with my hard-drive but have backed up my work every time I've made any changes just in case.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Progress Update

Still just working on my background images, i intend to have them fully finish at the end of next week and am currently on schedule todo so. I hit a bump when my portable hard drive corrupted and I lost about 6 hours of work the week before last.

I'm finally begging to like the images t
hat I'm producing,the mood board I created in pre-production has been a great help, Iv stuck that up on my bedroom wall along with my storyboards, character designs and concept art to keep myself thinking about the animation.

Having the storyboards up on the wall whilst drawing my backgrounds has been a great help for really quick referencing, and keeping the entire sequence of images in mind when thinking of what I actually need to prod
uce in regards to consistency and re-use of certain elements.

I have constructed a few clouds that I can re-use and combine in different ways so they look different so currently I am just working on their composition. I have also downloaded some
ground texture brushes for photoshop that I am now overlaying over my original simpler grounds and have been able toskew the image to create a good sense of depth in the shots.

Originally I just used the eraser at varying levels of opacity to create depth in the ground detail (less as it reaches into the distance). However I am now using layer masks in combination with the gradient tool to create an adjustable gradient of transparency which allows me to easily edit and re-edit the gradient opacity of the detail. Comparing the 2 techniques together, they both have their advantagesand disadvantages,so I think I'll use a combinationof the 2 for themost part to create the ground textures.

Here's 2 background images in the early stages:

and later stages:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

24/8/11 Production Report

Produciton Report (500 words)

So far in production I have been working on my backgrounds, compiling a rough sound track and fidling around testing a heat wave effect.

The main set back I have had with my backgrounds is settling on a look for them as I want them to be a distinguishing feature of my animation. The backgrounds are made up of 3 main elements- ground, sky and clouds. Firstly the general texture and colour pallet of the ground was what I was working on. I initally started with a range of 5 to 6 intitial colours and merged them and then worked towards limited my initial pallet to 3 main colours wich I think works better.

Seondly and what I am still working on is generating a texture within the ground using filters, I found the film grain filter to be effective in adding texture to the surface of the ground and the poster texture filter for adding depth in the various heights of the ground however... although the film grain filter addes a nice subtle spoted difference to the ground the colours it produces are not desirable as they do not fit within the grounds original pallet. The poster edge filter works on the difference of colour to add an outline to it so although it adds a nice depth to the ground as the ground reaches towards the horizon and more differences in colour are seen to give a feeling of distance, the poster edge filter adds more detail in the distance rather than the foreground and this is the exact opposite of what I am aiming for. Neither of these filters can be adjusted to counter act these effects.

Initially when drawing the skys for my animation I was solely using the paintbrush tool overlaying it over a photo of a sky I had tweaked the colours of using the colour balance and brightness and contrast. However finding images that matched each other and also fit the compostition of clouds that I wanted for various shots prooved to be very hard, although 1 or 2 would look great I could not find and produce an equal grade images for the skys. SO I opted to draw the skys myself, this gave them a simplier look which I'm not sure wether I like better or not but is alot eaiser to create especially with contenuity between shots. I downloaded and experimented with cloud photoshop brushes (thanks josie) which I like the effect of as the transparentys work well and I can create a layered effect.

For the colour of the sky replacing the photo backdrops I used the gradient tool too create a yellow glow near the horizon and slowly fade to the main orange colour of the sky. Overlaping this I put a gradient of orange to light orange from right to left in a document 3 times wider than my shot sizes so each shot I had a near 360 panoramic image to copy and paste from the get the right sky for the backgroudn of each shot whilst having subtle colour changes throughout, this creates a great consistency which I am very happy with and on a whole looks a lot better than the photo technique I intially had tried.

As for the rough sound track, I have the rights to the Brian Jonestown Massacre song "you look great when I'm fucked up". This will be the main sound for my film as I want a film clip kidn of feel for it, the track will be shown un interupted and un-edited. To accompany the song I have started to compile some sound effects for the animation like a gun shot, breathing, fire crackling to add to the sound scape.

I am yet to create the images that I intend to use the heat wave effect on but intitial testing (thanks for the help jack) I am really happy with, substituting the final images into the after effects project and a bit of tweaking should pose no major problems.