Monday, 30 May 2011


During the research and development stage of my project I looked at the specialist factors of my specialism which was stop motion animation such as how to correctly build armatures, making interesting viewpoints from the storyboard stage. I also looked at how professional animations used colour to appeal to there target audience. This really helped me make my animation. I found that some techniques worked better than others and although all of the materials that the professional used were not readily available to me I referred to there professional techniques when making the models, lighting the scene deciding on colour and the visual language of my animation.

In the above example A it shows part of the stop motion animation book that I referred to to make the armatures. when joining the models I found that I did not have the material in question which was poly morph so instead I used my initiative and moulded warm glue around the armature wire to hold it into place as shown in example B.

I followed a design process that was relevant to my specialism which included script writing, making a storyboard and animatic, recording sound, lip sync and filling out dope sheets to aid me in my project. I had a few problems along the way including creating the viewpoints for my storyboard, my first storyboard looking as if the animation was set in a theatre with everything the same shot to rectify this I looked at some examples of viewpoints from professional storyboards. I used these as a reference in creating the new viewpoints for my storyboard. I also had a few problems with the papagayo files for the lip-sync I found that if the files were not kept together this created problems when opening them up. Another issue I had was with the character voices I found that they were not the correct pitch for the characters ages and personality's and they sounded a little odd in places also some of the voice tracks had noise in the background that when played back effected the quality of the sound. To rectify this I used a program called audacity to remove the noise and change the pitch of the voice files so that they sounded appropriate for the characters

I chose equipment that was relevant to my specialism from the research I had gathered this mainly included the use of tools to create my characters and set for my animation, this included using a drill and pliers to twist the wire together to make the armature. I also experimented with lighting to illuminate my scene. Even though I researched into how this was done properly I still found I had problems arranging the lights so that they lit my scene. I found that I had several shadows on the scene instead of one. I found that this did not look very natural and real and would effect my animations appeal to the older target audience. I continued to move the lighting around and experiment with how it looked, in the end I positioned the lighting so that there was a key light to illuminate the part of the scene where the action takes place a light that was aimed at the ceiling so that it bounced off illuminating the whole scene and a diffuse light that reduced the shadows and contrast by creating an even light on the scene. I found that this approach worked so that my set was literally shown in the best light and this helped increase the overall quality of the animation.

I experimented with a variety of techniques to produce my scene. My aim was to create visual language that would appeal to my audience. I felt I could have conducted more experiments in the creation of the flowers because I found that the experiments that I did do did not work very well, I managed to find a flower that worked in the end but it wasn't my own. The time-scale that I set for myself made it so that I had to make decisions like this so I could stick to my timescale and remain on task and get on with animating.

To the left is an example of a flower from a professional dtop motion scene and on the right is the plastic flower that i made a decision to use. below is an example of one of the flowers from my experiments.

Comparing my own expriments to the flowers from the professional stop motion animation flowers I felt that finding a using an appropriate plastic flower was essential at the stage in my project to stick to the deadline, to achieve audience appeal and communicate the correct visual language. I felt that this decidion was a good one as it paid off and the plastic flowers looked really good in the scene they had a nice contrast against the other colours in the scene espeicially the blue background.
I had several problems with the technique I used to stick the grass down with as grass would not stick to anything for very long because of the texture of the plastic that it was made out of. After trying a variety of things including glue and staples I found that double sided sticky tape worked in the end.

I think that I did a good job of manufacturing everything for my animation especially the characters as I felt there were of a high quality, there were instances in my animation where I had to remake several parts of the characters because they had broken but this wasn't down to manufacturing faults it was down to mistakes made on my part like the instance when I got marker pen on Alice's face. This accidental mistake hindered the production of my animation because I had to remake the face and it turned out so differently in the end that I had to reanimate every part of the animation I had done so far which was a shame because I felt the quality of the animation I had done at that point was a high standard. it was absolutely necessary to do this because I felt that it would confuse the audience if Alice changed half way through. This small error led to further errors in the animation, because I had already bent the armature a lot during animating with the first Alice by the time it came to reanimate those scenes the armature had weakened considerably and led to the armature breaking in places including the left shoulder and elbow and in the middle which left my model in two halves.
even though I had looked at professional practices when making the armature I had to find out for myself that the armature had to be fit for the duration of the animation. If I had a chance to do it again I would have invested in a proper armature that was well made, strong and less likely to break.
I felt that these issues effected the character personality's that I wanted to portray as I could no longer move them the way I wanted, in the animatic and story bored I wanted Alice to act shy by twiddling her fingers and pointing her toe out, but this was not possible because of the broken armature so she just had to stand still. My animation was good on the whole but it could have been so much better if the armature had of been better or the animation had been shorter so there was less chance for the armature to be moved and be broken.
One of the technical qualitys I had in my animation was the lighting. During the end of the filming of my animation one of thebulbsin the lights kept flickering and this made each frame go from dark to light which I felt affected the quality of my animation. Because I was animating in twos I was able to delete the frames that were dark and just copy the frame with the good lighting so that it reduced the flicker of the dodgy bulb.

In the examples above, which are the same shot,you can clearly see the difference In the lighting as the bulb flickered. In example A it appears to be very dark espeicially in the left hand of the image where the light source with the dodgy bulb was but bin example B you can see a dramatic difference in brightness. The other images I had taken for this scene where of random lightness and darkness. Because I had animated in twos and i was able to solve this problem and get rid of the very dark shots but not all of the shots were light and dark some where all dark. I think that this factor reduced the quality of this particular scene even though I managed to rectify most of it.

I decided to film my animation at a frame rate of 25fps instead of the usual 24fps that is commonly used for stop motion animation. This is because film is played back at 25fps and I felt that doing this would make my animation appear to be smoother compared to other stop motion animation I had produced. I decide this right from the beginning and was able to fill out my dope sheets for a 25fps animation.

I thought that the quality of the images was good and this was down to the fact that I had put thought into producing the animation in a controlled environment. Compared to the first stop motion animation that I produced the quality of the images was noticeably better. I think that the good quality of my images for the animation made it look near to a professional standard. Below I have some images from a professional stop-motion animation, my own and a previous animation done by myself so I can compare them.

In the above images you an see some examples of stop motion animation stills with a similar veiwpoint. example A which is a still from a professional stop motion animation, example B which is a still from a stop motion animation from my current project and example C is my own animation from a previous project.
I felt that the quality of the images in my own animation compared to the professional one where of similar standard i beleive this was down to the fact i had used the correct lighting and compared to my previous example my current project was loads better. This was because I had animaed in a controlled environment. I think that these examples of my animation from the past and present clearly show how i have used my reearsch into specialist factors in the subject to increase my creative ability. Even though I have a long way to go befor I can make my animations be of a professional standard I am much better at stop - motion animation now than i was 12 months ago.

I filmed my animation at a resolution of 1024 by 576 which was wide screen I felt that this would give my animation a cinematic feel to it which would appear more professional and be appreciated by the target audience.

I think that the aesthetics of my animation looked good the colours worked well together especially when they were layed out on the scene, I experimented with putting all of my characters and props on the scene to make sure that they looked good together before I started animating.
When I was developing my flowers I found that they did not have much aesthetic appeal as the materials that I experimented with did not look good. After some thought and after I looked at some scenes from professional animations I saw that they had used plastic flowers so I made the decision to use plastic flowers rather than the ones I had made.
Here is an example of the plastic flower compared to the one I made.
I felt the aesthetics of these plastic flowers looked far better than anything I could ever make and this added to the visual beauty of the whole scene.

I put a lot of thought into what the characters and scene looked like visually. One of my aims in the brief was to make sure my animation was suitable for the target audience. I felt that the target audience would have a preconception of the characters so I to designed the characters especially so that they would communicate to the audience that the characters were Alice and a Caterpillar and that mere props were a mushroom, what I mean by this is that I wanted the characters to look like what they were supposed to be and I wanted to make sure that the audience saw this too as some examples I found of caterpillars and mushrooms did not even look like what they were meant to be, I found one example of a caterpillar that looked more like a slug than a caterpillar and I also found mushrooms that didn't look the part either as they had faces and looked like people.

Here are some examples of caterpillars from my research, I don't think that either of them communicated visually that they were in fact caterpillars I think that this was down to there shape. After seeing this I looked at more realistic caterpillars and I made a mind map of all the things that made a caterpillar look realistic. I then designed my own caterpillar so that it was obvious that he was a caterpillar.
I had a problem with the visual language of some of my caterpillar models as I felt that they communicated visually the wrong message and did not communicate what they were meant to be, this was due to lack of information of making characters like these. I went back to the begginning and managed to solve this problem by writig a list of all the things that i wanted my caterpillar to communicate visually and made sure that my final mdel mrt all of the criteria on that list.
I looked at female characters from professional stop moton animation to help with the visual language of my characters as i felt that some of the colors would effect there appeal and suitability for the target audience because they may communicate the wrong message visually. A particular exmple of this was when i looked at female characters from professional stop motion animations with a similiar target audience to mine so that i could compare what compare what colours the professional model makers had used fo the hair of these characters. As i felt the colours that i had chosen where not suitable for my audiece as they may communicate the wrong message visually.

Here are the colours that i had originally decided on for alices hair. Below are some examples that i looked at of female characters from professional stop motion animations.

These are te examples I looked at and I found that even though the examples where bright colours they were a subtle shade for example coraline in the far left has blue hair but it is a very subtle shade. This helped me to solve my hair colour problem by making me realise that subte shades were more suitable for my target audience.

For my final major project I wrote a brief which stated that I was going to plan on making an animation based on a paragraph from the book Alice's adventures in wonderland, come up with character concepts and design and create 3D characters. My main objective or problem that had to be solved was to increase my creative ability and come up with character designs based on other peoples ideas and create 3d models as I felt this was a good quality for a games artist to have.
The purpose of the project was to work in realtion to my own brief was so that I could use the reserch that i had decided on to develop my own animation.
The work that I produced for this project was some of the best work I have ever done so I feel that it did improve my creative ability which is something I planned to achieve when I wrote the brief. I felt that i achieved its purpose by creating my creative ability because I used references from professionals to help inform me and give me a means to be more creative. I used the information I had to create charters based on the ideas of the author of the book which was one of the main points of my brief and to create 3D models of them and making sure that while I did this i payed attention to wheteher or not they would communicate my ideas visually and be suitable for my audience.
My final outcome was fit for purpose because it clearly was recogniseable as a part of alce in wonderland which showed that I had used the ideas from the author to create the character concepts and ideas for the scene. I felt I did this well because these characters were already well known and popular so I payed close attention to peoples preconceptions of these characters so that they were recogniseable to the audience.
In relation to the brief that I set for myself I put alot of effort in making sure that every aspect of my animation was suitable in terms of visual language and appropriateness to the target audience. I did this by evaluating as I went along in terms of the appropriatness of my designs and experiments.I was critical and if i felt a design did not work or was not appropriate I reserched into that particular area to find ways of making it better such as the example of the hair colour above. I felt that I also had to make quick decicisions during the production to make sure that the animation was suitable and appropriate such as when i had to alter the face i made the decision to reanimate the whole thing again so that i did not confuse the audience. even though this set me back days with the production of my animaton I felt that the suitablity and appropriatness of my animation were too important to just not care aout a factor like this.
Parts of my animation were original in some senses such as the way the characters spoke I felt this was different to any other films and i putthought into the tone of the voices.Even though the character design itself may have appeared to be unoriginal as I portrayed Alice as a blonde in a blue dress which was basically the same as most other representations of the character. Even though the design of her was a little unoriginal I felt that this is what the target audience wanted as people have a preconception of the character Alice I felt that changing her too much from what people knew about Alice would make her loose her identity and would effect the story. The caterpillar character was original looking especially his green colour in a lot of Alice in wonderland film he is blue, it said nothing of his colour in the text.
Being original was not really what I wanted to achieve, the problem I set in the brief was to create characters based on other peoples ideas so this the option to be original was limited. There were instances where the text in the book did not provide me with enough detail to create things exactly such as the design of the hookah pipe, flowers and mushroom so in these cases I was a little more free to be creative.
I managed my time well during my animation, if i had nt done this i would not have had any extra time to perfect and correct the problems that i had a long the way and there were many problems with the animation. I put my time to good use and made decisions based on how much time I had left and whether or not it was practical in the time I had to make do with some aspects of my animation rather than start over.
Those who watched my animation found it very appealing to the point where they wanted to see more than the 1 minutes 50 of animation that I had created. I felt the use of conversation in my animation was appealing to my older audience and the voices really made it appealing also as they were quite funny.
I felt the overall good design of the scene and the props and characters combined with the correct lighting and good quality images all helped to make this animation very appealing to its audience.
On reflection if I were to ever make another stop motion animation I would conduct more experiments into the creation of the characters and into there movements. I felt it was problems with the characters that hinderd me most along the way.

One of the problems I had regarding the specialist factors of my animation was one of the shots camera angles. There was a particular scene where Alice had to walk to the mushroom. I found very difficult to get a shot that included the whole of Alice without the caterpillar showing as she was a large character and I found that moving the camera back resulted in the area surrounding the scene to be visible, so I made a decision to just include part of Alice in the shot.
The reason that the caterpillar could not be seen was because he wasn't meant to appear in the story until a certain point. On reflection I suppose I could have just removed him from the mushroom, but I felt that that would be strange because it would appear that he had appeared from nowhere and I didn't want the viewer to be confused. 
The result was that the shot appeared to be an accidental error because Alice's head was missing, this was not the case because the shot was filmed like that deliberately, however, the shot looked really unprofessional so I decided that I would make a change to it so that Alice's missing head was not an issue.

Here is an example image from the scene in question, you can clearly see the issue with Alice's head not being in the shot.

One of the solutions I thought about was to ditch the shot completely. This shot however was vital because it showed the transition between Alice's Location at the front of the scene going into the scene. If I had of left it out it would have confused the viewer as it would have made Alice seem to have appeared from nowhere so this was not an option.
I thought about increasing the size of the scene so that only part of Alice was visible. As the original images for the animation had been downsized appropriately for the animation. I had access to larger images. At first I tried to make a new avi with the images from that scene in the program Monkey jam but at a larger scale so that if I was to increase the size of the clip in the video editing software it would not look pixelated but i found the size of the files where so large that they caused Monkey jam to crash or not build the avi correctly. As an alternative I used the video editing software adobe premier pro to increase the size of the existing video and move it around so that only Alice's feet where in view. This did not look perfect and considerably reduced the quality of the clip, but it looked better than before and more importantly it didn't look like a mistake.
I was not satisfied with the quality of this part of thew animation I think it looked terrible But I had to base this decision on what the animation would look like as a whole and not just on the one scene.
I felt that the animation in its entirety looked better after I had made this alteration than it did when the shot looked dodgy.

Here is an example of the rectified scene. As you can clearly see the quality of the shot has been reduced.

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