FMP, MAJAN, University

The Hatch – Polly & Pip

When it came to animation, I had already done all of the blocking, but everything needed tidying up into nicer animation. Shots 1- 13 were being done by me, and shots 14-16 were going to be done by Ben. When he got these shots back to me, unfortunately, the only complete shot was 16 so I ended up going over the shots and cleaning those up too.

I also decided to paint over the house for the exterior shot as there were things that needed adding such as the background and front door. I decided to do this in a stylised way as I didn’t feel that painting it in a realistic way would match the rest of my film.

There is a shot in the film that is from an upward angle to show the pet grave through the window. I made this by tying together small pieces of lolly sticks and scattering the fake grass I’d purchased in the same way in I did for the exterior shot, but I also added tiny broken up pieces of branches that I found along the beach.

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I had also heard back from my brilliant musician, Jon Sims, with the music for this piece and so I put this over the updated version of the film.

The main jobs left now were the rendering and compositing, this was done by George Smith. He then passed this over to me in image sequences so I could edit this together with the music and sound effects to have my finished film.

With the editing, I had already set up the timing for the shots with the previs so it was mainly a case of updating those but also adding in the animated sky behind the window in most shots and the pet grave behind the window in one shot.

Unfortunately, there was a rendering issue with it not lining up in a certain shot, but I aim to fix this up before the London show. Other than that it turned out better than I was expecting in how the characters and the set come together.

FMP, MAJAN, University

The Hatch- Name change

Next, with my film, I wanted to have a look over the story since I hadn’t done so since my APME unit. I started this by rewatching the animatic that I produced for that unit. I decided I wanted to change the way the chick was introduced as it left too many questions having it hatch on the windowsill, especially as the chick is meant to be a poultry chick rather than a type of bird that can fly. I find storyboarding easiest when I do it really roughly as the ideas flow better when I’m not worrying about how they’ll look therefore I scribbled out some ideas onto sticky notes:

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Then once I’d figured out my new beginning I simplified the story because all of the animation is being done by me and I knew that in the time I had left, it wasn’t possible to have a lot of technical shots. The animation isn’t what I wanted the focus of my film to be, I wanted to use it more to combine my 3D characters into a handmade world as seamlessly as I could, therefore, I was happy to simplify it.

Again, I worked roughly as the purpose of these storyboards was to think about the shot angle and what was happening in the shot, the art wasn’t important here.

The shots ended up changing slightly as I made my Previs, but not by much, I found going over the story in this way and laying it out simply really helped me as I animated the shots initially.

The next thing I worked on was texturing my characters and something I wanted to play about with was using traditional mediums within this process. Once I had UV unwrapped the characters in Maya, I exported the UV maps and printed them off, I then used these to trace the outline onto good quality paper and painted over this using acrylic paints.

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Once I scanned these in and reapplied them I found that they worked in some ways but not in others. Therefore, I decided to use parts of these and also paint parts digitally. For the chick, I decided to paint him completely digitally as it worked best with his sculptural detail.

When it came to texturing the chick, I also needed to export his sculptural details so they could be projected on his lower mesh. I used Polypaint to texture my chick and then exported his normals and textures to be used in Maya.

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My Rigger, George Smith, ended up only having enough time to rig Polly, therefore I ended up doing the rig for the chick, He doesn’t have any complex animation so it was just a matter of making his wings flap, his feet and toes more and his eyes open and close. Doing his rig did also mean doing his paint weights which is one of the more simple but tedious jobs, I managed to get this done to a working degree.

Now that my backgrounds and characters were all ready I could start on animating, I wanted to get everything blocked out into a previs as a first pass so I could give this to my composer, Jon Sims, who would then use that as solid timing for the music.

I also enlisted the help of first year, Ben Freir, for some of the shots, and to keep things organised I put together a shots list.

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Due to time constraints and doing the majority of the project by myself, I’m not sure if I’ll manage to pull off all of the animation and rendering in time for the submission, but if I don’t, I plan to improve on it and finish it for the London Show.

Because of the changes to the narrative of my film, I didn’t feel I could call it The Hatch anymore since there is no form of hatching happening at all in it.

So from now on the film will be called Polly & Pip. (Pip being short for Pippin, the name of the chicken this film was originally inspired by).

FMP, MAJAN, University

The Hatch- Backgrounds

When I first started to make my backgrounds, I used Maya and Zbrush. I had a clear vision of what I wanted this room to be but during APME my concepts stretched only as far as assets rather than full room designs. I spoke with a friend, Annie Bennett who helped me by doing a layout of the room as I described it to her:

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When Modelling this I made a few minor alterations but this gave me a solid base to refer to.

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I wanted the room to come across as quirky and sweet, and even though this wasn’t at a finished level yet, I could feel that this wasn’t heading where I wanted it to.

Something I was toying with was the possibility of making my sets physically. I started my doing some research into this, and put together some moodboards:

After also researching various methods within this I then did some tests to decide whether it would work.

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First, one of how I might make the walls and the flooring- The foundation of the set. This test was done using lolly sticks for the floor and wall cladding, which I cut to size individually and glued together and then added patterned paper for the wallpaper.

I then thought about how I would fill this room, I played about with a lot of different materials, air-drying clay, cardboard, home-made paste, chipboard and fabrics. Some of the tests were successful but a lot of them showed me exactly how not to do it. I ended up deciding to go with chipboard for the furniture because it’s sturdy, although hard to cut out. Other parts I made, like the bear, I made was made out of silk clay. I hand sewed the mattress cover, quilt and pillow and the mattress itself was made out of a sponge.

I also did some tests for the exterior model of the house. This ended up being a large portion of the modelling. I started out by making a base from cardboard and then layering on top of it with lolly sticks and then painting on that. Each piece was glued on individually, and to make this I ended up using between 600 and 700 lolly sticks.

Here are some of the tests I did before I started making it:

I played about with using cardboard instead of lolly sticks because it would be quicker and easier but it just didn’t look as effective.

I also tried making texture with air-drying clay but that cracked as it dried so wouldn’t work for this.

Here are some process photos I took so you can see the development of the sets.

Overall I enjoyed making it all physically but it was a lot harder than I initially anticipated. I didn’t expect to need to use a saw for the lolly sticks, they were a lot tougher than I thought. I also didn’t anticipate burning myself countless times with the glue gun. As much as this was a long and difficult task, I found it to be an enjoyable one and I’m pleased with the overall outcome of it. I feel it has a lot more charm to it than it would have done had I made it all digitally.

I put together a turnaround of the house before painting it, so you can see the level of detail within it.

You can see the showreel for the house and assets below:

I also decided to do a quick test on keying out the space behind the window in the room and add an animated cloud movement.

I started by creating a photoshop file with a couple of layers and painting individual clouds. I took this into Adobe After Effects to make this into an animation. Shown below.

I then edited a photo I took of the set in photoshop, making it more vibrant and blocking out the part I wanted to key out.

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Here is the test once I edited it in Premiere Pro.

It’s not quite perfect but that just comes down to me not colouring the green keys out cleanly enough. Other than that, the way I lit the photo, the cloud effect and the overall look of it really works and I plan to do this throughout my film.

FMP, MAJAN, University

The Hatch- Characters

Knowing what my film was going to be, I was eager to jump into production so I started with my character creation. Knowing that my girl character was going to be more time consuming and more complex I decided to start with her, this turned out to be even more challenging than I expected. I first made a simple block shape in Maya that resembled a basic body, then imported that as an obj into Zbrush.

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When I’d got to this point I was happy with how my character was looking, but looking back on this now I am so glad that the feedback I received helped me to change this as it improved dramatically.

Initially upon feedback I struggled to find how I wanted my character to look so she went through a few changes:

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Thankfully I carried on working on her features and style and this is how the finished sculpted character looks:

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Next, the task that felt slightly avoided, after spending 7 weeks on my first character I found that creating the chick felt a little daunting. I had no idea what style it would follow and I didn’t have many concepts of my chick to reference back to, my main issue to begin with was aiming to make it too realistic in it’s form, it had no charm because of this, and then when I realised this I went the complete opposite way and tried something too stylised that didn’t match my girl character.

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I drew up some more concepts, got some feedback and advice and slowly found a good balance for this character:

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Character sculpting took me a long time, but this is one of the main focus’ of this film for me, I wanted them to have some charm and personality.

Next, I went about retopologising them ready for UV unwrapping and baking down the textures for projection.

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I want to get a kick start on my backgrounds and environments so I’ll be putting my characters on hold for a while, I’ll come back to texturing them once they have been rigged by my rigger George Smith.

AniDoc, MAJAN, University

Animated Documentary

For this project I am working with George Smith and Jordan Rutter, we all work primarily on 3D, therefore, we felt we would all work well together.

As soon as this project of an animated documentary was presented to us, we had a friend approach us and ask us if we’d like to tell her story of sexual abuse. It is, of course, a very heavy subject but we decided we wanted to do it.

The first thing we needed to do was the interview, we felt it best that I interview her myself as the only female in the group and we wanted to make the interview as comfortable for her as possible. As a group, we worked on what questions we wanted to ask her and wrote them down, but when it came to the interview I ended up asking additional questions relating to the things she had told me. I came away with recordings of nearly two hours altogether.

Editing this down is something we struggled with as there is just so much in that interview that we wanted to include but of course, we’re limited to 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.

I edited this down to 5 minutes and then handed this over to Jordan who managed to edit this down to 2 1/2 minutes, and after some feedback, we had a discussion amongst ourselves and realised that there were parts that needed to be reworked but there are definitely parts that are working. George then took it upon himself to finalise this but worked closely alongside us so we could all have an input.

We also value our friends input as it is her story, and after editing we had a discussion and realised that what we had focused on in our version of the edit wasn’t what she wanted her story to portray so we ended up having to restart editing this, it was a huge setback but was important to the success of the film in that we wanted everyone involved to be happy with all aspects of it.

While this has all been going on we have all been working on concepts for possible character designs and general concepts to get an idea of style. Something we are looking at is low-poly styles and abstract work.

Here are some of my concepts:

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Doing concepts in this way has definitely helped us to find the start of a direction for our film, something else I thought about is the setting, most of what took place did in her grandparents house so I wanted to explore a possibility of what that might look like, I was aiming for something that would come across as daunting to a child:

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Once we eventually had an edit that everyone was happy with we got onto making our animatic, I started the initial animatic, with some shots based off of other peoples ideas from our group, and produced up to 1:09 and then Jordan did some more to it which I edited onto the end of mine and we got to 1:38.

After completing this we could instantly realise what we liked and didn’t like about it, what we wanted to use and what we wanted to change, so it was a helpful process, although the deadline was fast approaching, and with the project being 3D we wanted to work on finishing the character designs so we could get into making them as soon as possible, therefore I focused on finishing the designs for our girl character.

I also started worked a 3D sculpt of this character that George had started, but it was later scrapped as the team didn’t feel like it was working.

Here is the model after I had done some work to it after being given this by George to work on.

I also started working on a character for the abuser but we later decided not to have him in it as a full character at all, and simply just hands, so this was also scrapped. Below shows the unfinished sculpt I had been working on in Zbrush.

It felt a little confusing to me as we didn’t seem to have a solid art direction as a group so after a long discussion altogether on that I then went away and made a mood-board for us all to follow in terms of style.

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Once we had decided on our main character being portrayed as a doll and that our style was to be low-poly, George went ahead and completely made our character, from modelling and texturing through to rigging. We developed a shot list dividing them evenly between ourselves and got onto animating, below shows the shots that I animated, I also created the assets, backgrounds and textures for these shots as well as organised the lighting in the scenes for them:

I found myself working a lot on textures for this project so below are the textures for the unwrapped UVs I created for my scenes:

One particular scene that included additional modelling and texturing was one set in an oversized bedroom, this was used in the film but the entirety of it was not shown as the shot ended up being closer up than initially planned, shown below:

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And finally, here is the finished animated documentary:

 


 

Overall, as a team, we had some difficulties which we worked through, such as falling behind due to our poor time management and our disagreements on the overall message portrayed through the audio. We worked through these by simple communication, it is important to have a strong, open and honest dialogue within a group if you are to work well together. In conclusion, I am happy with the outcome of this film, its stylised step-tangent animation portrays a sense of stop motion which is exactly the look we were aiming for, therefore I am pleased with that, also, I believe that our film does its job well in portraying the story of our friend and our visuals fit well alongside the dialogue.