This week has been a slow one for me, as you can probably tell from my posting this week later than usual. Unfortunately, it’s been a difficult week so work hasn’t been as much as usual. These things happen and I’ll persevere in the ongoing weeks to boost my output.
As our story is still lacking and it’s changing week by week, we decided that George would currently work primarily on the storyboarding with the ideas that we discussed as splitting a storyboard can just make it confusing for us both and complicate the narrative further. With that in mind, I worked on some more character concepts based on some of the ideas that we’ve recently discussed:
First some more general concepts of our girl character that show her preparing to decorate her room and warming up to the chicken.
Next, The idea that at the beginning perhaps there is a hint within the character that she likes the princess Rapunzel story, in the way that she wears a tiara and a princess dress, thus a hint at an explanation as to why she might like the idea of having a bedroom in the tower of the house, before the realisation that it isn’t what she expected it to be. But as the story develops and her love for the chicken grows she turns into more of a country girl with less of an obsession of being a princess.
Something else I wanted to look at was some asset design, with the idea that the girl is obsessed with chickens/country life by the end of the film and her bedroom becomes filled with things that reflect this, so I looked at children’s rucksacks and drew up some concepts of this that could work for the film:
With the narrative now being based on the idea that the girl learns to love the chicken while decorating her room I thought about how her room might look in the end as a completed room, so I started designing the type of bed a young exploratory child might have that also reflects the countryside:
This week I started by adding more frames to the storyboard we had started, I only got as far as introducing our characters when I realised that it was too long, so George compiled these together as an animatic so we could take a look at the timing of it.
after seeing it all timed out we had a long discussion regarding where we want our story to go, initially while doing these storyboards we were heading more towards the story of the girl and her chicken already having a close bond but this coming into question by another animal she finds, although establishing their strong relationship, putting it into question and resolving it all felt too much for our short film as we didn’t want it to become a story that felt rushed. This storyboard, as much as we will be discontinuing it, I feel helped us a lot in establishing our characters traits and personalities, and what direction the film would work better in.
After more discussions, more sketches and more rough storyboards we have decided that the film will take place in the rural countryside where a family has just moved into a large house that needs renovation, the young girl in the family is used to the city life and reflects this in the way she behaves and looks, she is also quite lonely due to her parents working a lot and having just moved away from all of her friends. To start with her clothes are left on the moving van that has already gone, so her mum goes to the local shops/ markets to buy her some new clothes, when she also passes a poultry market stall, eggs and chicken is being sold, as well as live chickens in cages, her mum decides to buy one as a companion for her daughter. When the mum presents the girl with her new chicken and country-style clothes, she rejects both. The film will follow the girl in her bedroom as she redecorates it as well as develops a strong connection to her chicken.
Below is a beginning sequence idea I have drawn up which I plan to develop.
And some more concepts I drew up of ideas I had envisioned and wanted to explore:
I also felt that as we’re going to be developing a connection with such an unusual choice of animal I should observe them a little more, I sketched my own chickens and also spent a little time looking up breeds of chicken that might come across as more characteristic.
One breed of chicken that I looked at that I feel could be something to consider when designing the chicken character was the Frizzle breed.
This is because they’re such a clumsy, goofy looking breed that I believe we could use to make it endearing to the audience.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
This week I decided to focus on Character designing, so I started by applying the new colour scheme to some of my favoured original character designs:
I then thought about good ways to finalise this, and as my project will be in 3D I felt that making a maquette would benefit this, I started by making a simply shaped character in Maya, then taking this into Zbrush to Sculpt over, having not used Zbrush properly before (I usually use Mudbox) I found this a challenge, but it’s definitely something I want to use when creating my characters and assets of my final film.
This week I was approached by George Smith who asked if he could work with me on this project, as I’m unsure of where this project is leading I decided that combining both of our skillsets would be great, therefore the majority of this week has been spent discussing what we want the project to be and exploring different ideas and techniques together. We dappled in the idea of the project being a story about a woman wanting to learn about poultry who moves into university with her pet chicken and has the difficulty of a rude housemate who treats her cruelly, We also had the idea that perhaps she is someone who has been taken away from the poultry life (maybe from being evicted etc.) and lives a regular life with a pet chicken, and escapes this by starting her own chicken rescue, although among exploring these ideas we felt they didn’t really lead anywhere and took away from the charm of my initial story pitch.
First, to get some ideas flowing we played about with a couple of techniques, for example, using worded prompts, starting with existing lines, one line drawings etc.
I enjoyed this process and really felt that it helped me to get some creative ideas started in my head, we then went on to draw characters in theme with the film, playing about with crazy ideas such as the chicken having more character to it.
This sparked an idea for the film, that perhaps it’s a young girl who might be a little lonely, (maybe her parents work a lot) who has a great relationship with her pet chicken, and she brings home an injured animal she finds on her way home from school that she decides to help and rehabilitate. We discussed this idea and decided to try moving it forward and started working on rough storyboards for this:
At first glance, these don’t make much sense but we have noted what each shot is and plan to improve upon these. It’s only the introduction, but this was enough for us to figure out a direction for the film. Going forward we have a clearer idea and this week I feel has been extremely beneficial to the film in developing a stronger sense for what the final product will be.
As a way of first trying to develop my story, I decided to do some life drawing, starting with chickens, using my own cockerel pippin as my reference, images from both when he was just a few weeks old and images from just days ago:
Next I decided to do some from life:
Doing these, helped me to develop some more story ideas, which I decided to spend some time refining as story outlines, shown below:
Girl lives in the outskirts of the city, spends most of her time as apart of the busy city life, but doesn’t fit in with that life, she is given the gift of a toy incubator and toy eggs, she decides to put eggs from the kitchen into it to try and hatch them.
Young girl, lives on a farm with her dad, amongst chickens, cows, sheep, horses, ducks. Father dies so girl is forced to live with her mum in the city, girl took favourite chicken with her. Mother works a lot so girl spends all day in a flat with only her chicken for company.
A step-dad is struggling to understand his step-daughter but soon realises her love for country life so gives her the gift of a chicken, which she falls in love with, the film shows their relationship grow as he teaches her about chickens and as her bond with her chicken grows.
Film starts in a car/train, showing the girl, sad in the back of the car/train, flashback to life on farm with her dad (paint-over and colour to show difference in past and present) girl and her mother (stern looking, uptight, busy with work) arrive at a flat in a busy city, they’re greeted by the girls stepfather, who the girl instantly rejects and barely acknowledges.
Young woman is evicted from her poultry farm, is forced to move to the city for basic job opportunity, (takes her favourite chicken with her) she works in an office job which drains her. One day during work she comes across a plea online to adopt some chickens who are in line to be killed, she decides to save them, then this leads to more and more chickens that need help, who she helps, her flat becomes overcrowded with chickens, she decides to open up a city chicken rescue. This could serve as an advert for the British Hen Welfare Trust.