FMP 2: Getting Started

Unfortunately, I won’t really be able to delve into the project until February 1st when the new audio clip is released. In anticipation, however, I will watch a number of previous entries to see how it will influence my own animation. I hope that viewing other peoples’ submissions (especially the successful ones) will inspire me and inform the way that I go about interpreting the audio.

I don’t want to approach the sound clip with any pre-conceived ideas so the point of viewing previous entries is not to gather ideas of what to animate, rather to see if there is an interesting way to go about translating the audio into a visual narrative.

Each of the previous submissions also has a stream of comments from other animators attached, these will inform my actual animation and the “choices” I make. By viewing the comments of both the successful animations and the less successful, I will gain insight into what the voters look out for; what they like and what they believe needs more work. I will be able to use this information to hopefully strengthen my animating skills and end up with a successful, well acted piece.

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FMP 1: Sampling the Sound Beds

I took time and listened to each of the sound beds carefully, hoping that they would conjure up imagery and inspire me. Unfortunately that was not the case. The most I got from each clip was a sense of tone with perhaps the crudest spark of an idea, this is, however, still very useful.

To find inspiration for my concept I will have to search elsewhere, but, once I have that concept I will already know which sound bed will work best with it and will be able to develop the idea with that audio. The most successful E Stings work with the music, often they are even edited to it. I will be able to tailor my idea to the sound bed so that there is synergy between them, rather than adding a disconnected track on afterwards as an afterthought.

FMP 1: What I Hope to Achieve

With some initial research now under my belt, I have some idea of what I would like to produce as my final piece. I still don’t have a concept but that will come with further research and experimentation with the development of ideas.

By the end of the project, I hope to have created an animated E Sting. From my examination of previous entries to the competition I have noted a few elements that I would like to incorporate into my own submission. First, the use of the colour purple. It is by no means a mandatory element but the E Stings that I enjoy the most often include it. I find it adds to the legitimacy of the E Sting, making it feel a part of the brand and the identity that E4 puts out. I would also like my E Sting to tell a narrative, albeit a short one, but I prefer the previous entries that have had some sense to them, rather than a collage of noise and colour.

I would like my entry to be light-hearted to match the tone of the other submissions and, if possible, humorous.  I understand that comedic taste is subjective but I find that my own sense of humour often synchronises with that of 4creative’s efforts for E4, dry and not too forced. I believe that if I stick to this, I will not risk alienating audiences. I also found the most successful E Stings to include background content or jokes, things not noticeable on first watch but the audience is rewarded by repeat viewings as they notice more each time. I feel that this will go a long way to counteract my E Sting from becoming boring or even tedious over time.

FMP 1: Demographic

When looking through some of 4creative‘s campaigns I stumbled across the statement that E4 is the most popular channel for 16-24 year olds. With a little extra research I found that E4’s largest demographic is 16-34 year olds and with that I have found the target audience for my E Sting. Channel 4 attribute the success of the channel to their youth oriented original programming, like ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ as well as hugely popular American sitcoms like ‘The Big Bang Theory’. I will use this information to inform my research and develop a concept that will appeal to the demographic.

 

 

FMP 1: 4creative

Through my research, I became aware of 4creative, Channel 4’s in-house creative agency. 4creative are responsible for a number of advertising campaigns, the branding and a lot of the general look of Channel 4 across all of its media facets. Whilst it didn’t all pertain to my project (or the direction that I envisage taking it), it was definitely inspiring to see their work. The innovative ideas they have and the risks they take, I took particular interest in their work on E4 as that is the brand identity that I hope my project will become a part of.

I find this level of research interesting as, whilst I feel it is good to know the company that I am submitting work to, the competition wouldn’t exist if they didn’t want an outside perspective. With such a successful agency already at hand, why would they turn to the public of not for something new? In the same way, I don’t want to replicate something that the 4creative team would come up with but I also don’t want to ignore their work or my research would be pointless. I believe it all comes down to understanding the company so that I submit something appropriate.

Even superficially, it’s easy to notice a few consistencies in the work that 4creative has done for E4 and they are the colour purple and a dry sense of humour. I don’t feel like I will be “cheating” or “copying” 4creative, or the multitude of E Stings submissions that also feature those elements, by including those. I feel like that is an understanding of the brand identity and whether I choose to include them or not, it will come out of an understanding that that is E4’s aesthetic.

FMP 1: Studying the Competition

I watched a range of E Stings as part of my research- some from previous years, some new and some submissions that never made it to television. There are a number of them on youtube but I focused my attention on the E Stings website where the 16 chosen finalists from last year’s competition are featured.

I was looking to see if there were any common elements between the finalists, anything that might inform my own submission so that I could potentially tailor my E Sting to give it a better chance of being successful. For the most part, each submission was unique but there were a couple of elements that I was able to pick up on that I will at least refer to when working out my concept. I obviously want my work to be as strong as possible, but it was also good to look at the finalists so that I could see the calibre of work that my submission would have to be to even be considered.

Final Major Project 2 Brief: The 11 Second Club

The 11 Second Club is a monthly competition based around character animation. On the 1st of every month, a new 11 second long piece of audio is released which participants must interpret and animate.

Entering the competition:

1. What are the dates of the competition?
The competition runs from 12:01 am New York time on the 1st of each month until midnight New York time on the last day of the same month.
The Voting period runs from the 1st to the 5th of each month.

2. Can I edit the audio file? Add some sound effects?
To keep the playing field level, we do not allow edited versions of our audio files into the dialogue competition. If you want to add silence before or after the clip, that’s acceptable. But we feel that modifying the audio clip will muddle the playing field and take away from precious animation time. After all, animation is the focus here.
Entries with audio that has been edited in any way other than adding silence to the beginning and/or end will be disqualified.

3. Can I add extra props and scenery to my shot?
You can, but be sure to manage your time well. We feel that spending a lot of time modeling and texturing extra bits for your scene will take away from the time needed for animation.
Keep in mind that people looking at your entry (and your reel, for that matter) will be focusing on your character animation skills; everything else is not as important, and may even distract from your animation. Consider using simple shapes if you absolutely need props: a chair can be replaced by a simple gray box, a glass of water can be represented by a cylinder, and a baseball… well, you can probably figure out what simple shape a baseball is.

4. What if you guys choose a clip that I’ve already animated?
Well, first off, if we happen to choose a clip that you’ve already used for an animation test, we apologize. We know it sucks to lose some of the “uniqueness” of your piece. However, as long as you are able to follow the rest of the rules (no editing the sound clip, not offensive, etc.), you’re welcome to enter it into the competition. We figure it’s a small consolation for having your piece end up on everyone else’s demo reels. :\

Submitting you work:

1. Does my submission have to be a fully-rendered shot? You see, I’m not that good at lighting, and….
Nope! This is an animation club. Well-rendered shots may look great, but the focus here is your animation. It is perfectly acceptable to upload unrendered previews or playblasts from your 3D software. As long as we can see your acting choices clearly, that’s all that matters.
If you render it anyhow, that’s your choice, but voters are discouraged from giving extra points for it. We prefer movies that are captured from your viewport, with no special lighting or shadows or anything else that would take up precious time.
If you’re really determined to have a beautifully-rendered piece, we suggest that you spend the entire month animating, and then concentrate on lighting and rendering once the month’s competition is over. You can even ask a friend who knows about lighting to help you out.

2. What format should my video be in? Is there a limit on the filesize?
Movie files in .mov, .avi, and .flv should be fine, as long as you’re not using a particularly unusual codec. (typical codecs tend to be Sorenson 3 and H.264)
Animation entries must be 10mb or less, and in widescreen (16:9) resolution. Entries larger than 10mb will be rejected by the system.
See our Helpful Hints for encoding your animation to see how we encode animations for uploading.
If you are unsure about the format of your movie file, remember that you can test out the submission form before the end of the month, since only the newest upload will count as your entry. If you can see it working in the “My Entry” view, then it should be working for everyone.

3. How about framerates? What framerate should I animate with?
The most common framerates for animators are:

24fps = Film

25fps = PAL video–television in many European countries, for example.

30fps = NTSC video–television in the United States and Canada. Many computer games are also animated at 30fps.

We recommend that you choose one of these framerates, as they are likely to be what you will be animating at when you are employed by a studio, whether they are working in television commercials, film, or games.
The 11 Second Club entry system will accept entries in any frame rate.

4. What format should my thumbnail be?
Thumbnail images for the entries should also be 560×316 pixels, in JPEG format. The site will automatically scale them down as needed.

5. Can I submit an entry, then replace it with an updated submission before the voting starts?
Yep! You can re-submit your entry and change the thumbnail and text as many times as you want until the submission period ends. In fact, we encourage you to try a test submission a few days before the end of the competition, to make sure the process goes smoothly when you’re ready to submit your final entry.

 

I am excited to start this brief as it will be a good excuse to practice my animation skills and may in turn lead to a nice piece for my portfolio. I find I often get caught up in the pre-production of animation projects but the quick turnaround of this brief will force me to work fast and sacrifice some of the attention I usually give to the aesthetics in favour of a well animated final piece. The fact that the brief specifically calls for a character animation will also help me to not get distracted by smaller details and really focus on developing my skills as an animator.

Having said that, there will of course still be need of research and development as I interpret the audio clip and build my own narrative around it, as well as character design and manufacture.

Final Major Project 1 Brief: E Stings Competition

Even though it’s a dead brief, I wanted to try my hand at the E Stings Competition for one of my projects as it’s an annual contest and, even if my end result isn’t suitable for next year’s submission, it will at least be practice for my future attempts.

The Brief:

Your Entry must be exactly 10 seconds long. If your E Sting is under or exceeds this limit your entry will not be considered by the judging panel.

Your Entry must include the E4 logo which can be downloaded from the entry page on E4.com. Failure to include the E4 logo will result in your Entry not being considered by the judging panel. Permission to the use the E4 logo is limited to your Entry only and you must not use the E4 logo for any other purpose and is subject to your compliance with the section entitled “Permission to Use the E4 Logo” set out below.

If you decide to use music on your Entry, you must use one of the supplied audio beds which can be downloaded from the entry page on E4.com. Failure to use one of the supplied audio beds will result in your Entry being disqualified.

Your Entry must be of broadcast quality and must not contain anything that is obscene, indecent, defamatory, un-lawful, offensive or that infringes the copyright, intellectual property rights, moral rights or any other right of a third party. Your Entry must also be suitable for daytime broadcast. Please ensure that you do not place yourself or others in danger while creating your Entry. Your Entry must be entirely your own work and must not contain any music other than the audio beds referred to in paragraph 9 above or any other third party material and must be fully cleared for us (and others authorised by us) to use in accordance with these E Sting Rules (including the licence you grant us as set out below). Channel 4 reserves the right to edit your Entry. You acknowledge and agree that you produce your Entry at your own cost and risk. You must also have the consent of anyone featured in your sting.

You must not: (i) use the YouTube AudioSwap functionality to include music within your Entry; or (ii) use any other functionality or content available through YouTube to edit or amend your Entry after submission to us. Please also refrain from enabling the advertising functionality on YouTube in relation to your Entry as while this will not automatically disqualify your Entry it will mean that it will not feature on the E Stings website.

Please also bear in mind our View House Rules (opens in a new window) when creating your Entry. Failure to do so may result in your Entry being disqualified. These House Rules contain important information on staying safe online and details of content that we deem unacceptable. Please ensure that you have read, understand and accept these prior to creating your Entry.

In order to ensure that all Entries can be judged fairly all Entries must be in the English language.

 

The brief itself is very open; with only a couple of parameters, the only real limitation is the creator’s imagination. This also means that there is very little to inspire a starting point, I will have to delve deep to find research that will help me develop a strong concept. Whilst the openness is a little daunting, with virtually limitless directions that I can take, I am excited to start this project and there are a few areas that I know I can start my research. Finding out my target demographic, for example, and watching the already popular E Stings from previous years. Listening to the supplied sound beds is another area that I can mine for inspiration.