Rough Set

To present my finished puppets, I created a rudimentary set to showcase what they would look like within the animation. I ended up using polystyrene because it’s fairly cheap, light and ended up (I think) being very effective. I was able to capture the look of the cave walls I’d been drawing in my storyboards.

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Green Screen

For a time in my project, I wanted to use a green screen to create a more interesting background but it is something that I have never done before so I had to  research it. The source that I found most helpful was a video tutorial:

 

I was able to follow the instructions and get a result but it wasn’t as professional as I’d like, mostly because of my equipment (or lack thereof) but I also realised, whilst practicing the effect, that I much prefer practical effects and prefer to keep everything “in camera” wherever possible.

Test_0011Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 12.58.01

Storyboarding

Storyboarding is usually a bit of an afterthought for me; I’ll plan little thumbnail storyboards when I’m animating a scene but I don’t usually have the whole animation planned in advance. This is obviously pretty foolish but it wasn’t until I finished my storyboard that I realised how much easier it makes the filming process.

Like with the treatment, I looked into storyboards and realised yet again that there is no official format so I stuck to the way I usually do it which works for me. One thing I have leaned to do, however, is make sure that each frame of the storyboard is the correct aspect ratio so that I know what I will be including in my shot when it comes to animating.

Despite using the same format as I usually do, I referenced the books ‘Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts‘ by Nancy Beiman and ‘The Storyboard Design Course: The Ultimate Guide for Artists, Directors, Producers and Scriptwriters‘ by Giuseppe Cristiano, the latter of which had a section specifically on music videos. The book gave me a lot of information on the business side of pitching a music video which was very interesting and I’m sure will be useful later but the information on formatting the storyboard was less so, focusing on music videos without a narrative.

My Treatment

Song: Trigger the Landslide

Artist: Khaidian

Overview: The video will be a stop-motion animation, it starts on a landscape and as the song starts, the camera travels through the earth (following roots) into a cavern where a race of pig/mole people are mining. Throughout the song we just see them doing their job but as they are hammering at one wall, it collapses to reveal an ancient, dormant creature that wakes up and starts slaughtering the miners.

Treatment: The video starts with a black screen but with the first note, we cut to a desolate landscape. A lone, dead tree is blowing in a breeze on the left hand side of the screen whilst the band logo fills the centre, flickering and glitching. As the logo disappears, the camera travels down through the earth, bursting thorough into a cavern as the intro ends. This is our first view of the creatures, busy at work in the cave, hammering at walls and shifting rubble. The camera holds on a long shot of the creatures activities to give the viewer a sense of them but as the music becomes more aggressive, we cut to several quick shots of their jobs, i.e. in time with the beat we see hammering, picking, shovelling, etc.

After this exposure to their world, the music video picks up more of a narrative; we see what the creatures are mining for. A crystal is protruding from the cave wall and one of the miners uses a chisel to extract it, the moment he brings his hammer down is once again timed with the beat and we cut to another creature using a sledgehammer to break down the cave wall. This shot builds as the camera tracks back, revealing an entire row of creatures breaking down the wall and expanding the cavern. This shot is countered with a shot of the ceiling of the cavern, the roots that are protruding through are trembling with the vibrations and cracks are forming, foreshadowing. We then cut to the rubble being cleared and transported to an examination table where it is sorted and the crystals are inspected.

At the end of the second chorus, we cut to one of the creatures inspecting a wall and indicating it as a good place to dig, and instructor points several creatures in that direction and, after grabbing their pickaxes, they approach the indicated wall. As they begin to hack the wall it becomes clear that it’s very thin and they easily knock through. As seen from a shot from inside the small hole that was just made, the creatures gather around and peer in. We then cut to POV of the miners and we see that behind the wall hides a terrifying creature, all teeth and intimidation.

With this, we enter the final act of the video: chaos ensues. As the creatures stare into the void of the monster’s open mouth, tentacles erupt forth and burst through the wall. The miners flee but are slaughtered as they run, cut down or pulled back into the monsters hiding place. The creature never leaves it’s domain but its long tentacles reach out. The camera pulls back and one of the creatures chases it (as if trying to run out of the screen) before he is grasped by the ankle, the camera halts and is knocked into a dutch tilt as the creature hits the ground but stays there and watches the creature get dragged back. The instructor from before has his throat slit and crashes to the floor where we cut to a POV of his last breath as he watches more of the miners defend themselves from the attacking tentacles, the shot fades to black as the creature’s eyes close for the last time. We cut to the group that was just seen in the POV shot, swinging hammers and spades at the threat but to no avail, the focus is on one particular creature, in a medium shot, who gets wrapped in tentacles and ripped in half to the horror of the rest of the group. The final shot is of one of the miners, backed into a wall as tentacles snake towards him. Rubble is cascading from the ceiling of the cave and the camera pans up to see the cavern caving in. The video ends with a particularly large chunk of rock breaking free and falling into the camera as it cuts to black.

Aesthetics: The video will be very atmospheric, with a warm but muted colour palette and deep shadows. Long takes will immerse the viewer in the world of the miners and will be used for the majority of shots but they will be inter-cut with faster edits during aggressive sections of the song. Despite the long takes, an array of interesting camera angles and movements will prevent the visuals from becoming boring. Aesthetically, I believe the end result could be comparable to the music video for ‘Sober’ by Tool or the works of Guillermo del Toro or Jim Henson; somewhat grotesque but fully realised and immersive.

Treatment

Now that this project is more of an exercise in pitching  a music video, I decided to write a treatment. A treatment is basically a step-by-step run-through of the product, be it film, music video, advert, etc. It’s longer than a summary as it includes references to different shots and is not just an overview of the narrative but also of the style, making reference to aesthetically similar media.

I’ve never written a treatment before so I had to do a little research into it:

http://www.pyragraph.com/2013/02/how-to-write-a-music-video-treatment-ferraris-on-ice/

 

As with quite a few of these creative pre-production processes, there’s no set formula. This meant that I was able to follow my initiative and create a document that I would find most useful. I did, however, reference the guidelines so that if I did need to present a treatment in a professional way, it would be an effective advertisement of my work.

As seen here, the range for treatment presentation is vast, from imagery overload to a simple text document, it’s interesting that both of these examples are from professionals in their field.

 

 

 

Chaos

Once I decided to base the ancient, evil creature on the idea of chaos, I did a little research into its symbolism, similar to how I looked at ego. Fortunately, this time I was able to find something usable:

2000px-chaos_star-svg

 

The symbol represents infinite possibilities as I found out: (http://symboldictionary.net/?p=1121) and I find it quite visually appealing. It’s pretty static in its graphic form but I feel I can manipulate it and transform the actual symbol into my monster, rather than just incorporating the symbol into the design.

 

Initial ideas are leaning towards the idea of the arrows being tentacles, possibly falling inline with lovecraftian horror– this works on an obvious visual similarity to creature like the cthulu but also plays into the  themes of the occult and unknowable as I want my ancient evil to be mysterious.

 

cthulhu_sketch_by_lovecraft

 

cha·os

(kā′ŏs′)

n.

1. A condition or place of great disorder or confusion.
2. A disorderly mass; a jumble: The desk was a chaos of papers and unopened letters.
3. often Chaos The disordered state of unformed matter and infinite space supposed in some cosmogonic views to haveexisted before the ordered universe.
4. Chaos theory.
5. Mathematics A dynamical system that has a sensitive dependence on its initial conditions.
6. Obsolete An abyss; a chasm.
I find it interesting that chaos is a former word for chasm considering the setting of my music video but obviously themes of disorder and confusion will become very present once the creature makes its appearance.

Character Design

I already had a pretty realised version of what I pictured the miner creatures to look like, I described them as pig/mole people and even within my initial sketches I had a visual in mind.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 00.01.44 copy

 

To develop the sketch, however, I took some inspiration from nature. I obviously looked at pigs and moles as that was where my initial inspiration came from but I didn’t want the creatures to become too… “cute”. To counteract this, I thought about what a creature might look like shut off from sunlight for its whole life. I pictured pale skin and milky eyes, the most extreme version of this that I could think of, were the deep-sea, almost alien creatures that survive in complete darkness.

I began to incorporate elements of those creatures and I think it added an extra dimension to the creatures, adding an uneasiness to them that I believe fits the “dark” tone of the music video.

 

pignose_btownsend

mole

mole_2063332a

Deep sea Angler fish

 

Moving Forward

At this point, I’ve realised that the creation of a completed music video is a massive undertaking, far too much for the timeframe I have. What I can do, however, is focus on creating a pitch for a music video. I can work on the support material that I would need if I wanted to present a concept for a music video to a band or record company, it’s something I’ve never done before but could be extremely useful if I ever need to consider it professionally.

I’ve already come up with a concept so I will start the next stage of the project with character design, developing the visuals of my concept so that that there’s something tangible to present.

Ego

I decided to research ego in the hopes of finding some symbolism that I could incorporate into the music video:

ego

(ˈiːɡəʊ; ˈɛɡəʊ)

nplegos

1. the self of an individual person; the conscious subject
2. (Psychoanalysis)psychoanalthe conscious mind, based on perception of the environment from birth onwards:responsible for modifying the antisocial instincts of the id and itself modified by the conscience (superego)
3. one’s image of oneself; morale: to boost one’s ego.
4. egotism; conceit
Unfortunately, there was very little in the way of iconography to represent ego, all I was able to find was the symbol of a circle from Jungian psychology. Whilst the psychology was interesting, I don’t feel that there is a strong connection between the motif and the vision I have for the music video. It may be something I incorporate but I won’t consider it a priority.
2000px-sun_symbol-svg

Trigger the Landslide

These are the lyrics for the song and my interpretation of them:

Cue defeat
And foreswear pride
All our instincts are cast aside
From the peaks
To way down low
Bleed an ego like mine
I’ve been there once or twice
And triggered the landslide
Leave all that we find
I repeat
And dignify
All that deems a reply
I’ve lived it once or twice
And triggered the landslide
Leave all that we find
No matter, no mind
Bleed it dry
Your beating heart and my bleeding hands
Remain all entwined
Your beating heart and my bleeding hands
Remain all entwined
Your beating heart and my bleeding hands
Remain all entwined
Your beating heart and my bleeding hands
Remain all entwined
Knowing the song is about ego, my interpretation of the lyrics is how giving into fears and admitting defeat can cause a “landslide” effect that sends one into a spiral of depression and complete loss of confidence. I believe that this interpretation thematically works with my video concept; the miners are the self-conscious thoughts, chipping away confidence until they unleash evil- the embodiment of self-destrucive thought.