Archive for October, 2010

Week Eight – Supervisor Meeting

I cancelled our meeting this week as I was busy. It’s not crucial that we meet this week anyway as I am just working on my lit review. I suggested that next week Richard take a quick look at the writing I have done so far to let me know if I’m going in the right direction.

Gantt Chart v1.1

I’ve had to make some allowances for running over schedule on the anthropomorphism chapter. Here is an updated Gantt Chart reflecting those changes. I’ve added a new chapter on Sound In Animation (working title) as sound will be a factor that will go a long way to helping me achieve my goal.

Week Seven – Overview

Week seven has been and gone and now I can feel the pressure. I’m just about keeping a grip on the schedule but I can foresee it slipping away from me. Last weekend I managed to write a good bit about modern stop motion and it’s accompanying software. Instead of reviewing each individual stop motion-related software, I did a round up and focused on the software I will use to create the final deliverable; Dragon Stop Motion.

This weekend just gone I had planned to write about anthropomorphism and Animation Principles. I failed miserably in doing so and am still working on the anthropomorphism chapter. I’m not too worried though. It’s quite an integral part of my literature review so I need to make sure I cover the right material and areas. As I stated in the last post, there is not a lot of literature on anthropomorphising inanimate objects so a lot of the research has been observation-based.

I have a lot of project work to do this week for other modules so I need to hang up my Honours Project Cap for a few days. When I put it back on I will aim to finish the chapter on anthropomorphism and start into Animation Principles for the weekend.

I need to update the Gantt Chart to reflect my new schedule. I am thinking I will bump the chapter on the Case Study to the end as it’s not essential research.

Week Seven – Supervisor Meeting

I began the supervisor meeting by telling Richard what I had written so far. I informed him that my topics were slightly altering from what I had originally submitted in the learning contract. I explained that I have not compromised the contract, but instead just realised that some topics are not as important/relevant as I had originally thought, and some new topics have been added.

We then began discussing anthropomorphism, which is the next topic on my lest to research. Specifically, it will be anthropomorphism of inanimate objects. This greatly narrows my scope as most of the material out there relates to the anthropomorphic qualities of animals largely due to the work of Disney’s character creations. A lot of my literature review on this subject will have to be observation rooted in fact. We talked about the Luxo Jr. short, which we usually refer back to when talking about this subject, and how human characteristics are applied to inanimate desk lamps. I pointed out that the lamps moved similar to the human arm with it’s ball & socket and pivot joints. This means the lamp moves in arcs rather than direct lines, which pertains to human movement. We discussed whether or not I was going to use animation principles like squash & stretch and anticipation to develop the characteristics of the tape machine.

Richard had a search on the ACM Portal site and found some journal-based material on this topic and gave me a copy of what he had found…

The Use of Anthropomorphism in the Animation of Animals: What all animators should know by Nikki Atkinson

Principles of Traditional Animation Applied to 3D Computer Animation by John Lasseter

Tricks to Animating Characters with a Computer by John Lasseter

While the first one doesn’t relate directly to inanimate objects, it will be useful to touch upon the idea of anthropomorphism in general and this includes animals. The second two will be extremely helpful as John Lasseter is a godfather of giving life to inanimate objects. We found a great interview online with him where he talks about how to give life to an object by putting yourself in place of the object and trying to imagine what it’s feeling. Sounds a bit bizarre but is a great way of developing a character and story. After watching that clip I’m already getting proper ideas for my final deliverable.

During the meeting it dawned on me that in order to give human-like qualities to an inanimate object, I will be required to do some research on human expressions also. Richard said this would be a good idea but not to go too in-depth as this may get off topic.He directed me to last year’s 2D lecture on lip sync which contained a section on facial expressions. The key, I think, will be to look at the tape machine itself and exploit the features it has. With a bit of imagination I think a face could be implied.

Week Six – Overview

I pillaged the library on Monday and took everything I could find related to this project. Some of the books are as big as beasts and I struggled to get them home. A few books I wanted were out on loan so I will have to return for them. Here is a list of the ones I took out…

The Technique Of Film Animation – John Halas & Roger Manvell (1976)

The Animation Stand [Rostrum Camera Operations] – Zoran Perisic (1976)

The Focal Guide To Shooting Animation – Zoran Perisic (1978)

The Illusion Of Life [Disney Animation] – Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston (1981)

The Animation Producer’s Handbook – Lea Milic & Yasmin McConville (2006)

The films Of Tim Burton – Alison McMahan (2006)

The plan is to write this weekend. I have been kept busy with other work this week so I am going to try and write my two pieces -modern stop motion & stop motion software – tomorrow (Sunday). They go hand-in-hand so I might just have a paragraph or tow about the advances in modern stop motion and compare it to the techniques of old, followed by a breakdown of the available software and what each one offers.

I am currently working on a presentation for one of my other modules, Motion Graphics, and have decided to base it on the role of sound in animated motion graphics. I’m hoping to bludgeon two birds here so when it comes to doing a piece on sound for stop motion I should have done the research already.

Week Six – Supervisor Meeting

I rescheduled this weeks meeting as I will not be able to make our regular one on Thursday.

I began by showing Richard the Gantt Chart I created last week. He was satisfied with it and saw no problems with the time scale. I did explain that some topics may change over the course of writing the report and some may be added as I am not fully sure I have covered all the topics I will need to discuss.

We spoke about the inclusion of sound in my final piece. I said that sound would feature in the final deliverable and it would play a part in creating a personality for the tape machine. So far I have not included this into my literature report and aim to research the importance of sound in animation, particularly related to inanimate objects. This might even work as a tangent to the chapter on anthropomorphism. I won’t really be sure what context to place it in until I start to research it.

We discussed the possibility of the tape machine being able to talk and would this be an element of bringing it to life. I questioned whether this might be cheating the title slightly as I have said I will use Stop Motion to bring the machine to life. Richard assured me this does not really change the aspect as the sound is to aid the animation which in turn is breathing life into the subject in question. We talked about the prospect of giving the tape machine a universal language that does not require words but carries the implied meaning regardless. Richard recalled a show called The Amazing Adventures Of Morph which illustrates this effect nicely. Other examples I can think of would be the Clangers, and slightly less stop motion but of equivalent value, Mr. Bean. Also, it was expressed that the machine could sound like an old cassette speeded up. I also thought maybe the tape reel could contain reference words and phrases, much like Stephen Hawking’s voice box, and the tape machine could rewind and fast-forward to obtain the required statement. It could have an almost HAL-esqe quality to it. I remember playing Bioshock and being totally in awe of the sound design and voice talent on it and maybe could conjure up something a little like that old, scratchy type sound for this piece.

I showed Richard what I had written over the weekend (3 pages on the history and types of stop motion) and he reckoned it was a good start. He was pleased to see that I had included references at this early stage but suggested that I make sure I am writing them correctly. He also suggested that the inclusion of pictures would help illustrate my points. I plan on making my report as pictureful (should really be a word!) as possible.

I voiced my concerns about the issue of gaining consent from people who might be communicating with me online. I was assured that written or verbal consent would be fine as long as that person was made aware of the use of the material once it was submitted. Richard also explained that I could use ‘anonymous’ in cases where the persons identity was irrelevant.

We then got to talking about the Imagine Animation website as Richard recalled that Ray Harryhausen was featured on one of the issue’s covers. I am thinking of doing a case study on an animator in this field, or possibly a stop motion film, if there’s enough time and he might be a great choice of animator to choose. Also the site contains a discussion forum, which Richard suggested I could use to my benefit by getting in touch with people ion this line of work to ask questions of. It is a rich source of information and I feel I will be using it in the near future.

Week Five – Overview

On Tuesday Richard showed me some animation magazines called ‘Imagine’ which he felt may be useful. I have borrowed them and am sifting through for articles relating to my dissertation. I have found the website a wealth of information and one I plan to mine in the near future. He also gave me a loan of an honours project which deals with creating a 2D animated trailer. It is somewhat related and will be useful for the approach and project layout alone.

I met with John Morrison the same day and you can read an account of that meeting in this post.

I devised a Gantt Chart on Thursday to help me keep track of my schedule. I managed to get most of the week five work done this weekend. So far I have written approximately 1000 words on the history and styles of stop motion animation. I am aware that this may be too much considering the final report should not exceed 14,000 words but I feel it is better to get all the information down and then trim it at a later stage. I found that most of my research seems to be watching clips of films/animation and then looking for reliable sources to extract facts from. I am keeping track of all the websites and books I am referencing so it will be easy to document when it comes to linking my references and citations at a later date.