Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Personal Reflection

This year was the first time I had directed a film, I wanted this opportunity and believed I could create a successful film.


I felt that the most challenging aspect of this year was to try and keep everyone focused on the film and to make sure targets were being reached. Technical problems with rigs and animation were not anything to worry about, the challenge was in creating solutions to problems. I felt the best way of doing this was to just make sure our entire group literally stuck together every week, prior to this we were all working separately including my self and only were in all togethor about once a week. 

I decided my self that this was the problem, and that from this point I decided to make sure we were all altogether, this way if there was a problem with animation or someone was unsure of what I wanted, I could simply just speak to them and resolve the issue. I could also witness the difference in team spirit, people feed of positivity and when a whole team is all working, work flow tends to be stronger.

Me and Tara would always make weekly task to stay on track, she would actually write them while I would discuss to her what the tasks should be. We did not always make the task, but by having weekly updates we could carry the outstanding tasks to next week, which would create more workload but keep us on track and stop us falling behind.

Time management

At the beginning of the film I could manage my self more efficiently, Tara would draft up deadlines and I could stick to them . however as the film developed, I would often go into college with the intention of animating a scene, but would spend my entire day answering questions from Dean Tara and Sam Rob, and James, this was part of my job role and I felt it was more important to offer everyone direction. It did mean that I would then have to get home in the evening and work till early hours to make sure my tasks were complete.

I feel that being a director you have less time to pursue you own tasks, especially when the majority of your team our doing the animation rather then your self. It was not a negative experience, simply a challenging one and I did enjoy the job role, it just meant I had to be more dedicated this year with time management.

My time would also be spent checking emails every half an hour, day to day and phoning people and arranging when to next meet. I would sometimes visit my piers on a one to one basis, if there was a specific problem. generally we always met up as a group, it was only necessary to do this if it was a specif task, such as working the cameras out for the film. or trying to get the style of the film right. I woudl spend many days at sams so he could create the cameras in teh right place, this had to be done like this and he needed to use his desktop rather then his mac, due to its capability. The results were successful. 

Monday, 20 June 2011


During the pitching process, I was given a lot of positive feedback by the tutors, but they said their was a lack of character design and camera angles, I knew the film was in its early stages but there was clearly potential.

Tara,Sam, Hayley, Dean, Karl and Stephen said they wished to work on my film and make it into a 30 second film,I had to cut the team down as it was only a short so I made a quick decision and decided to work with Hayley , Tara, Dean and Sam. Originally the film was split in to two groups, but in the end the tutors felt the Mongolian story had more potential and we decided to all make one film.

Therefore research began and the whole team got on well with research. I carried on with the animatic and design of our main character. The initial concept was developed and story line ideas were thought up, but I was still lacking in getting the right type of cinematic camera shots. At this point I was also not taking on board director style decision, and was to concerned with keeping people happy. I would often say is that ok ? trying to please everyone was getting the film no where. However this all changed in the alter terms.

We got Clym to help us out with the modeling of the Mongol and he looked very realistic and quite nice.  Unfortunately the model was very High Resolution to work with and Tara and Sam made a decision to re-model the man. I thought the model he made looked more like the character I had originally designed, and Tara was happier to rig it as she thought a higher mesh would have been harder to paint weights on. Tara had been working hard over Christmas to rig the marmot she modeled, and was still finding a lot of problems, so we got Hayley to begin rigging the Mongol as she had been doing rigging for Dans earlier unit. Nearer to the end of the third term we found this was perhaps a problem as her rig was hard to animate with. I was hoping to get more practices of animation towards the film, but we kept finding problems with the rigs holding back what could be animated. Rigging was a new skill to both Hayley and Tara so any kind of propblems were completely understandable, we were all still learning.

Dissertation also took up a lot of everyone time, but we held lots of meetings to keep everyone up to date with whats going on and I thought the second term progressed the film a lot further. I would sit with Tara once a week and decide the paln of action and goals of that week. Tara would then right it up and send a copy to everyone email. As my producer, she was in charge of organization and scheduling.

I had created countless animatics and they were improving, but I felt that it had got to a point where the film had to move on, me and Sam decided to team up. we Composed the final animatic and from this point we had the shots down. Finally the film began to progress. Since this point I realized I had to seriously step up and make decisions and stick to them, this was the first time I had directed a film. I was determined to finish and make this film a success, so I now took on a different approach. I was in every day and so was the majority of my team we became an extremely tight unit. I was there with my team every week and woudl be there to guide each scene and tweak any animation. I think this level of commitment completely changed the dynamics of the group we all had decided to work non stop in achieving my goal as my teams confidence grew so did mine, we also had a really psositive response from Our tutor and this effected the team in a very good way.

We did have some problems and there was a stage where I was so concerned with the amount of animation and the quality of the animation that was being produced, I felt as if the film would never be finished. I felt our animator was never in and the growing concern effected my teams moral, ultimately me and Tara had made a combined decision to inform our tutor and we had to have a contingency plan.

Our contingency plan was to have another animator on board which was quite normal as at the time we only had one confident animator on the team. We divided the animation shots and all got on with making the film. Sam continued to push the visual style and I would let him know which render style I preferred. Rob Bowles actually saved our film as far as animation, he was extremely accomplished in his ability. He was easy to manage, and often understood, exactly what I wanted.

In the end we had finished our film for the hand in which was a huge achievement in its self and a testiment to hard work everyone put in. There is still room for improvement but the overall quality of the animation is good. The film has a simple style yet has some traditional aspects such as the oriental paper which features throughout the film. We could have created more life in some of the scenes some moving trees, the sky needs to be moving, some rays of sunshine and other natural effects could lift the quality and visuals of the film.

This has been an eventful year and an extremely rewarding one, it has been exhausting and I constantly felt responsible for the film and I ultimately was. The entire experience was fascinating and I would do it all again as I felt I have learnt so,  I have learnt a lot about the stages of film making but most importantly how to deal with people and ultimately how to lead a group and avoid conflicts but instead concentrate on the positive aspects and make sure your team remain positive. I am proud of the work my team has produced and the film would have never been complete without everyone contribution.


My main folder was Artist, I knew that my most natural skill is drawing however, I decided to pick a film that was very playful and cartoony. My natural style, is a lot more serious and realistic so I did struggle with the characters but I wanted to make a film which was not highly realistic. I dd push on with the character designs and eventually reached a result that worked well. I was in charge of creating the mongolian concept, the early ideas of the marmot and the eagle and I continually developed the style and landscape of the film.

Technical Folder.

 I knew I was never going to be the technical person on this team.
However I wanted to challenge my self so I did composite one scene and did mess around with bend deformers on the tres, which added some basic control and movements. 


Although Animation wasn't my strongest point I felt that my animation went quite well.
Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed animating and animated four scenes, I had not done any animation since first year and I think I was so determined this year that I just pushed through. I understand some of the 12 principles of animation but not to a great extent. I also could have benefited if I knew how to work the graft editor.

Scheduling (Time management)

Please click schedule to see it in full detail 

Cinematic Storytelling

I purchase this book from the library to help me out with the animatic. My original animatic was fairly flat in its camera, shots. I knew I would have to develop the shots and make them more cinematic.

This book was extremely useful, it explains in great detail how to correctly use the space in a film from the x,y,z axis It makes u realize why shots are there in the first place. I tried to stick to the principles of this book when I made all my future animatics.

These are some of the shots which feature in this book.

Film Techniques

Film techniques is the term used to describe the ways that meaning is created in film.

1. Please click on image to gain full description.

2. Please click on image to gain full description.

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I always knew that the cameras would be a huge part of our film, especially for a chase scene. We had to make them dynamic and as exciting as possible. The camera in its self can behave like another character,  it can change focus tilt, rotate and completely warp the perspective of the movie. I made it mine and Sam's priority to get the camera's right while the majority of the team worked on the animation. I had to delegate specific roles, and knew some were stronger at animating then others, while others had more technical ability. I knew how i wanted the cameras to be, therefore collaborated with Sam through this process.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Tree Curvature

I wanted to create some movement so the trees could move as the characters ran past them, unfortunately, we ran out of time, but could always aim to get some movement into the trees for the degree show.


First Step Import  multiple files, their are 4 tif files ( 1, Ambient Occlusion), (2, Character layer), (3, Environment layer), (4, Shadow Layer).

  •  Make sure Tiff Sequence is selected, this puts it in number order and also selects all the remaining files. Do this for each one. 
  • First drag the ambient occlusion in, this gives you some solid depth to your composition
  • After this drag the Background in my case the textured look, this gives a clear indication of what the film will look like 

  • Place the Background layer underneath the Ambient Occlusion, now the two layers have fit together.

  • Now the character layer, the ambient occlusion and the background layer are in place.
  • I changed the layer property of the ambient occlusion to multiply so that the depth was increased and there was white. 
  • Now its time to key out the green using the pipet tool, By Adjusting the colour tolerance to around 140, This removes the green. The reason for doing this is to make sure that the background does not bleed through the characters.
  • Tweaking the Tolerance removes all remaining green.
  • Now I need to change the opacity of the background so its not to harsh, I need to select the layer and click T which is a shortcut to tweak the opacity.

  • I have now added the shadow layer , I had to place it at the top of the other layers otherwise it wouldn't show up. I put the opacity to level 20. 100% was far to high. 
  • Brought the character layer down, so that they did not stand out to much to the background. 

This is the result.
  • The problem now is that Background is bleeding through the characters. 
  • I am now creating a separate composition for the environment layer within the existing one, so that it will make layers more tidy.
  • Inside this composition I dragged a new character layer into it, so I can use the character layer as a mask.(Alpha-Mat)
  • Layer setting precompose layer creates the new composition. 
  • In the new comp, I dragged the character layer and use the key effects to remove the green
  • The black has now been taken out of the environment, therefore there will be no environment to bleed through the character. 
  • Now that all the passes have been edited to the desired look, I now need to just tweak any final adjustments.
  • The last step is to rende it out. (Composition /Add to reder Que-Best settings (24FPS)
  • Hit Render.
Here is a video showing my stages and the results. I did composting for this scene, I would have liked to do more but most of my time in this film has been taken up by overseeing others work and production. 

    Sunday, 24 April 2011

    Artistic Style of Film developing.

    While the rest of the team have been animating, I decided to make me and Sam in charge with the visual style of the film, we were working with a scroll type background and also using photo shop to create sky.

    Here our the results, This was one of the exciting parts of the film as We were actually seeing progress and the artist and technical people were mixing up.

    Sam was in charge of all the rendering and we had to work closely to achieve the desired look.

    I really wanted to push the concept and did some research, I looked up the Chinese Olympic Animation and thought the colour tones were really effective, the neutral colours of the mountain with the warm sky gave it a kind of fantasy element.
    I then began experimenting with different variation of sky's , Sam would then composite this into the 3.D render.The first two sets of sky were to intense and the heavily painted style clashed slightly with the simplistic style of the film. The third one was more of a washed out version, this is becasue I erased some of the sky so, that the paper style background still bled through.

    The results were working nicely and the our film now had an authentic type of oriental style.

    Sam had rendered in Ambient occlusion then integrated colour, he had placed the sky over the top and it looked very interesting and slightly fantasy. I painted the sky in photo shop.Sam now had a clear idea of how the film should look. He created many render tests and eventually we decided to select the above style. The reason being it was not to heavily textured and the style was still simple, we wanted the film to have a simplistic style as, we could have gone two ways, either very realistic or highly stylized and simple.

    This image has been composed on photo shop in Layers, But Sam's actual render looked very like this one.