When looking for more visuals and specifics that I would be able to incorporate into my animation, I stumbled across the website Secrets of Sushi. The website contains countless resources that I will be able to use, from analysis of the specific knives used to tutorials of how to roll sushi. This information will certainly elevate the level of accuracy of my animation. It will also inform my acting choices- how the knife is held, for example, and what cutting motions are used.
Creating patterns in sushi rolls, as it turns out, is not a new phenomenon. When looking for “sushi art” I came across the term ‘kasari maki’ which are decorative sushi rolls, made with coloured rice that come in a range of complexity and shape. There is actually already an artist who works in kasari maki: Takayo Kiyota a.k.a. Tama-chan.
Tama-chan uses dyed rice and careful planning to create detailed kasari maki featuring anything from pop culture references to replicas of famous works of art (as seen below). However, whilst it shows me the possibilities of the “medium”, and somewhat legitimises my concept, it doesn’t really give me anything to work from. I guess that’s because I already know what the sushi will look like and it’s the process of how it’s made that I need reference for – so whilst this was an interesting discovery, it wasn’t particularly inspiring.
In a similar vein, I found other variations of sushi being used as an art form and whilst they don’t inform my project, I thought they’d be worth highlighting. Artist Mayuka Nakamura, for example, created a literal gunkan maki (which translates to battleship roll). The company I&S BBDO and a man named Umino Hiroyuki are producing intricate nori for added decoration to sushi rolls.
Outside of edible sushi, I found this wooden block set designed to educate children about sushi from Tsumiki-Sushi. Whilst this also doesn’t offer a jumping off point into a new well of research, I do love it. I think the set is gorgeous and I adore the aesthetics of it; really clean and geometric but there’s still a handmade feel to it with the texture that comes through the paint. I believe the set looks beautifully crafted and it’s an aesthetic that I hope to get across in my animation.
I was looking into the different fish, and even other ingredients used, in the production of sushi to see if there was a purple element that would stand in for the purple of the E4 logo. I was unable to find such a thing, closest to what I was looking for would be tuna but that’s really more of a dark magenta/maroon and not nearly as vibrant as I would like.
I was actually only able to find one purple fish and it isn’t even edible: the Purple Queen Anthias. I also thought, going back to my primary school history lessons, of the purple secretion produced by several species of rock snail that is used to make tyrian purple dye. Just as the purple fish are inedible, I don’t find the idea of sea snails to be a particularly appetising one (not that purple sushi would ever be particularly appealing). It’s not an issue, however, as I never wanted my animation to be 100% accurate. That being said, I’d rather create a fantasy create for my animation than use a specific yet obscure and inedible one; I feel it falls more in line with the E4 aesthetic.
Perhaps it’s just my ignorance of the subject but researching sushi was more complicated than I imagined, although if I knew everything already I imagine there would be no need for research in the first place. To begin my exploration of the topic, I found out the different types of sushi that existed. What made this a little tricky is the fact that some sources translate the names of the dishes slightly differently, what I believe I’ve worked out, however, is that there are two main styles of sushi (with subcategories falling under those).
The first is ‘maki’ or ‘makizushi’, which is the rolled sushi and arguably the most recognisable. The second is ‘nigiri’ or ‘nigirizushi’ which is a hand-pressed bed of rice , typically topped with a piece of fish known as a ‘neta’. The rice itself is the most important aspect of the dish and is specially prepared in a manner known as ‘sushi-meshi’ which gives it the properties needed.
Nigiri tends to be the most consistent, there are lots of different names for the dish but the only difference between each one is the neta. Sake (salmon) and maguro (tuna) for example are among the more popular nigiri.
Maki has a lot more variation and therefore has a few subcategories, the most outstanding of which is probably the ‘temaki’ which is a hand-rolled maki that comes in a cone shape rather than the iconic cylinder. All maki is rolled in a dried sheet of seaweed known as ‘nori’ which is made from a specially cultivated algae, all types of maki use half a sheet of nori except for the ‘futomaki’ which uses a whole sheet and is hence much larger, although that is the only difference between it and regular maki. The ‘uramaki’, also known as an “inside out roll” is very similar to a regular maki except the rice is on the outside, created to appeal to westerners who were put off by the seaweed exterior. The final form of maki is the ‘gunkan’, it starts life similar to a nigiri in that the rice is hand-formed but that is then wrapped in nori and a loose topping is added; typically fish roe.
As well as the names of sushi I was able to find out some of its associated products. Sushi chefs use a bamboo rolling mat to shape the maki, they also use wasabi paste (made from the root of the wasabi plant) as both a flavouring as well as an adhesive. Sushi is also served with soy sauce as a condiment and pickled ginger as a palate cleanser.
The programme ‘How it’s Made’ has long been a guilty pleasure of mine and I was delighted to find an episode that highlighted sushi, it may not be the best quality but it was certainly interesting and has given me my first insight into how sushi is produced – something that I’m sure I will explore further.
This bought of research has been invaluable, not only has it given me some more visuals to experiment with but I have discovered additional aspects that I could potentially include in my E sting, specifically the presentation side of sushi. I will have to make a decision down the line what aspect I would like to focus on for my animation – the preparation of the sushi or the presentation (and potential consumption) of the sushi. At this point in time, I’m leaning towards the preparation being the focus. To tie in with my desire of having a reveal, I feel that a chef creating a maki roll and then presenting the finished dish with the E4 logo configured within it is the way to go.
I’ve realised that my project has somewhat stagnated, I’m not really sure what direction to go next and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious path to follow. To counteract this, I’ve decided to just pick a direction and go with it; it will give me more focus and I’ll feel better knowing that I’m moving forward.
Looking over the work I’ve done so far, nothing is particularly calling to me but I feel the strongest connection to the sushi theme. I’m not a particularly big fan of sushi but there’s certainly something aesthetically pleasing and I feel like it lends itself more to a narrative than any of the other things I’ve looked at so far. Now that I’ve picked an area of focus, I can research it to develop a concept for my E sting. Just off the top of my head, it is a rich area for research where I can look at the presentation and preparation of the dish, what ingredients would be needed to make the E4 logo, the history of the dish, etc. I’m happy that I’ve committed to an idea and I hope that it will lead to a more productive project.
I wanted to start making things so I started with something very simple – responding to the pictures I drew inspired by my reference imagery.
At this point, the actual object I made is pretty irrelevant as it was just experimentation but it did bring up a potential issue: how far can I abstract the E4 logo and still have it be considered eligible for submission to the competition? I scoured the E stings webpage and it’s associated links but, unfortunately, was unable to find any E-mail address or help page where I would be able to get an answer. Instead, I turned to previous submissions for reference.
The majority (and a large one at that) of submission did incorporate the entire logo, mostly, I believe, because the submissions are CGI and they use the supplied logo file.
However, there were a couple that I was able to find that weren’t quite so faithful.
These are all screenshots from finalist submissions to the E sting competition so clearly the liberties that they took weren’t an issue, then again, the altered logos aren’t particularly exaggerated and are still very recognisable.
The competition was very clear that all submissions to the competition needed to include the E4 logo so to ensure that my entry is eligible, I believe it wise to make sure that the E4 logo I include in my submission is as accurate as possible. That being said, it has been made clear to me from studying previous entries that there is some freedom in it’s representation so, if I feel there is need for it, I can interpret the logo slightly differently but I certainly don’t plan on doing so.
When looking for inspiration and reference images, another idea that crossed my mind was the idea of a kaleidoscope. Branded kaleidoscopes, like the ones found in tourist destination gift shops, often have a logo or image printed on the glass window of the kaleidoscope that interacts with the mirrors and creates interesting patterns. I felt like that idea ties in with the theme of having the E4 logo run through an object and it may even be more visually interesting as it creates its own imagery. To test this, I built a very crude kaleidoscope.
Even considering the crudeness of its construction, the end result wasn’t very successful, the mirrored surfaced on the inside weren’t reflective enough so it didn’t lead to any particularly exciting patterns. The gist of the idea is still evident but I would need to obtain more specialised materials if I were to take this idea further.
Having said that, I don’t believe I will be taking this idea further; it was an interesting experiment but I don’t feel it lends itself to a narrative – once again, it falls into the “imagery timed to music” category whereas I would like to tell a story in my E sting. However, I was pleased to see how clear I was able to translate the effect on camera so I do believe I will be returning to the idea of using kaleidoscopes, it’s just not right for this project.
I thought of another example of how the logo could be revealed: rather than running through an object or only being visible once an object has been broken open, what if the logo is always there but only from certain perspectives? This got me thinking about anamorphosis; a distorted image or object that requires the viewer to implement a specific device or occupy a certain space to reconstitute the image. I immediately thought of the painting, ‘The Ambassadors’ (1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger.
The painting features an anamorphic memento mori – a skull that can only be viewed clearly from a specific angle. The idea of anamorphic art also brought me to the work of Georges Rousse. Rousse is an artist and photographer who uses anamorphosis to transform sites into pictorial spaces that are best viewed through his photographs. It’s an impressive control over perspective an interesting look at how much a photograph will flatten an image.
Above is an example of Rousse’s work and with it is an image demonstrating its changing state when viewed from different angles. I like the work a lot and but it reminds me of the Channel 4 idents (previous to 4creative’s recent channel redesign). There’s a physical representation of those idents standing outside of the Channel 4 building which I went to photograph.
Whilst I enjoy the precision and aesthetics of anamorphosis, I don’t believe it’s a style of work that I will be following for this project. Not only does it feel a little derivative of previous Channel 4 iconography, I also don’t see how I can build a narrative out of it; I want the logo to be revealed in context and I feel that anamorphosis alone isn’t context enough.
Overall, I am happy with how this project went; I completed what I set out to achieve and it was encouraging for myself to see how much I could accomplish in a month when I am dedicated. I have struggled in the past to complete projects and have often handed in incomplete animations as final pieces, admittedly they are generally more ambitious than this but to have created an 11 second animation which has a narrative and is informed is still a success.
Looking at my completed animation there are things which I would change (I think it would be impossible for it to be any other way) but in particular I’m not fond of the delivery of “sausage”. I think the timing may have got away from me in that shot and wasn’t as fast paced as I’d envisioned – I would have liked the hand movements to accentuate the word more. If this was a more professional animation with a longer turnaround I would have revisited that shot but I do feel it was strong enough for entry into the competition and I stand proudly behind my submission.
After animating, I had several shots that needed to be cut together which I did in Adobe Premiere, I also used the programme to export my finished animation in the correct format – according to the submission guidelines. Despite having timed out my animation in the animatic stage, I animated a few frames either side of each required shot so that I would have a little play when editing, this meant that I could have more control over the timing of the piece but it also made the editing a touch more fiddly. I had to pay close attention to the audio so that I wouldn’t inadvertently change the provided clip, in the end I successfully edited the clips together, adhering to the exact timing of the audio without throwing off my lip-sync.
After finishing my animation it was time to submit it to the competition. I followed the guidelines and fortunately it went smoothly.
My submission can be found here: http://www.11secondclub.com/competitions/february16/entry/91C2L4
I ended up placing 45th out of 231 entries. I didn’t really know what to expect; obviously I would have liked to have placed higher just because it would be nice to see people appreciating my work but I believe 45th is a respectable place to come, especially for my first submission.
The main goal of this exercise was to get some feedback on my work and hopefully some constructive criticism, whilst there wasn’t much in terms of advice, it was nice to see people respond to my animation and the majority of it was very supportive. Hopefully, if I enter the competition again (and I’m sure I will) I’ll be able to work my way up and place higher and higher each time as I improve as an animator.