My final piece:
This is the end result of my project and the animation that I would submit if the competition was still live. Overall I’m very happy with it; once again, the pre-production was invaluable and led to a much easier filming and editing process and the end result is as I’d envisioned.
There isn’t anything I’d particularly change about this project if I were to do it again but it didn’t go quite as proficiently as I had hoped. For some reason there was a stretch in the middle where I wasn’t being very productive, whilst it may have been partly down to the Easter holidays, I believe the majority of the blame falls down to the fact that I was a little stuck with where to go. As the brief was so open, I struggled a little with what direction to go and as I didn’t have that initial spark of inspiration (like I did with my FMP 2) I was left wondering. It was after I began working on the storyboards that the project picked up speed again and this is a tactic that I will certainly use in the future; getting tangible material in front of me really helped me visualise what I wanted to achieve and I was able to work from there.
Everyone who has seen the final animation has been favourable of it which gives me hopes for the chances it would have if it was submitted to the competition. I believe, if it is still applicable, that I will submit it in the next annual competition and it will be interesting to see how well I do.
In this screenshot you can see how all of the clips came together in the final edit.
As I was very precise with my animatic, and it was cut to exactly the time I wanted, I was able to use it as a guideline when editing my final animation and it made the process a lot easier. Also seen in the above picture are the diegetic sound effects that I recorded and added to the scene. The majority of these sound effects a relatively subtle as to not interfere with the supplied soundbed but there are couple of instances where I left them very audible, when the fish’s head is cut for example. I feel that my additions emphasise the actions within the animation and even add to the audio. Overall I’m very happy with how the animation came together at this stage.
Due to my pre-production work, particularly the animatic, the filming of the animation went relatively smoothly. In the below images, you can see how I set up some of those shots, using rigs to properly position each element. Also seen is how I lit each scene as well as, in the last image, how I set up my camera for the top-down shots.
The only issue that I did have was when I had to do a couple of re-shoots. The following videos are very quick and not particularly well presented but there intent is just to show you the original clip and the updated version. The first video features the different takes I took of the sushi rolling shot. The first clip is the initial clip which I noticed I lit badly and then redid. I was happy with the second clip but when I was editing my final animation together, I realised that it stood out from the other clips as too dark. I attempted to remedy this using some effects and playing with the brightness/contrast but it still didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the animation. As a result, I reshot the clip entirely and the third clip in the below video is my final result what ended up in the final piece.
The other shot that took a little more work was the opening, fish tank shot as it required some post-production. The first clip in the below image shows a test that I did to create a water effect inside the fish tank but it wasn’t very effective and by the time it came to animate the scene for real, I decided it wasn’t necessary. The second clip features the fully animated scene pre post-production and the last clip is the same but after I digitally erased the rigs so that it would give the impression that the fish was floating.
I usually like to keep all special effects “in camera” but in this case, digital touch ups were unavoidable and I am happy with the result. I’m also glad that I took the time to redo the shots that weren’t working, it was a little frustrating and time consuming but I believe the final piece is much stronger for it.
I ended up sticking closely to the designs I created whilst drawing my storyboards, some were adapted slightly but I find that always happens when translating a sketch into a 3D model – I consider the sculpting process to be the final pass of the design where kinks are worked out and the design is finalised. To simplify the modelling stage, and also to speed up production, I only built the aspects of the model that would be in shot, this conservative approach to the puppets also made filming easier as the models had more manoeuvrability and, as I was very precise with my cinematography, I was fairly easy to crop my shots so that only what I wanted seen was on camera.
Torso with attached arms
Prepared sushi (final shot)
These are some images of the props and puppets I created for my animation, the image of the left hand is an example of how I only sculpted what was necessary and then, in the adjacent image, how I was able to incorporate it into a larger puppet when the cinematography called for it. The majority of props were made with plasticine but I also used a lot of card (particularly for the knives) as well as wood for the serving board and the chef’s clothes are white cloth that I tailored to the puppet.
As I was working on my storyboards, I noticed a trend emerging. Early in the process I drew this shot:
After I’d drawn a few more pages it began to feel out of place. Upon inspection, I realised it was because every other shot was symmetrical and “planimetric”. After I noticed this, I had two options – create more diverse shots or continue in the same vein. I chose the latter as it’s an aesthetic I really like and I felt it gave my animation a strong visual identity.
Whilst I didn’t go into the project with this intention, in hind-sight it seems clear that I’m influenced by director, Wes Anderson. Anderson is a huge inspiration of mine and whilst I try not to pastiche his work, elements of his aesthetic often influence the way I visualise things. However, whilst the cinematography may be Anderson inspired, I don’t believe the rest of the animation is; the supplied audio, for example, is not something one would find in an Anderson project. The colour palette as well, in which I was referencing the colours of E4, are not typical of the auteur (who regularly has a very controlled, warm palette).
Above are some examples of Anderson’s cinematography, displaying his use of symmetry and the precision of each of his shots. The latter two images display a technique that I employed a lot in my own animation; the top-down or “god’s eye view” shot
Despite knowing what I wanted to include in my animation, I didn’t have a set narrative. To work around this, I drew non-sequential storyboards, featuring shots that I would potentially include in my E sting, with the intention of editing them together in a sequence that I was happy with.
Just by laying out my storyboards I was able to make connections and see narratives forming but to get a stronger idea I decided to make animatics – this also gave me a better idea of how the images would work with the music and the timing of the piece. I had previously worked out which soundbed I felt the most connection to (a track named “Dirty Fast Bass”) so I used that audio to cut my images to. I later experimented with another track (“EDM”) but returned to my original as I believed I was getting better results with it.
As you can see in the above video, it was versions 5 and 6 that I changed the audio for but found the beat too regular which resulted in a regimented, boring video. I made the first seven in one sitting and after reviewing them, I decided that version 1 was my favourite but I wasn’t happy with how repetitive it was. Versions 8 and 9 were my attempts to refine the animatic and in the end, it was version 8 that I decided should be my animation.