tirsdag den 7. april 2009

Stop Motion Planning, workflow and experience

Beside the fact that I'm not thumbnailing or sketching for a scene, stop motion has a very familiar work flow. I get the scene handed from the director, I look at the animatic, look at the notes the director has given me, I write my own notes and questions, I have a talk with the director and hopefully I get my questions answered and NOW I'm ready to stand on my own for a while and create the foundation for a strong scene.
I take a deep breath, I clear my mind, without forgetting everything the director told me! I imagine the scene as I see it finished. I run it in my mind over and over and take note of all things happening that I like. Big storytelling beats as well as small gestures that I like for the characters. Usually the animatic, and thereby the director, will have a fairly set timing on all scenes. On 'Forest' this is very much the case and the creative freedom does not lie in overall timing and story beats. It lies in all the character animation between and around the beats. The poses might already have been settled on as well so this isn't where I can experiment either. I find that especially the transitions and the timing of these as well as secondary actions are the areas in which I can make the scene into something more than what is to be seen from the 'blueprint' of it.
When I have a strong idea of how I would like the scene to be, I arrange for another exchange of words with the director. In this meeting it is very important to me that nothing is left unaswered. If some of my ideas for the acting or speed of the actions don't fit the directors plan, we need to come up with something he likes together, which usually works for us, or I have to rething parts of the scene. I already once tried starting animating a scene, while still having unanswered questions in my mind and it really doesn't work for me. It distracts me in the sense that the scene feels open to input and new ideas and this makes my mind wander off. When I animate, I want to focus on getting my planned motions down best as possible.
So I get all my questions sorted with the director, before I start animating. If I am still a bit unclear about what the director wants with a scene after our first couple of talks about it, I blog it out roughly and we take it from there.
The timing of transitions and of the scene in general is what is most unique about stop motion, I think. In Maya I can slide my keys around as I please and in hand-drawn scenes I can change the frame number and add, replace or take out frames in the process. In stop motion I don't have this possibility. This forces me to fully understand the velocity and motions involved in the scene, before even starting to animate the puppets. Thumbnails, small sketches or notes are all ways to remind me of my thoughts about the scene. I've done a few scenes now and I tend to mostly do notes as planning with the occasional sketch or two. (see planning sheet above for as an example)
Every frame is unique and importan in the sense that I wont have the opportunity to go back and adjust it. This demands all animation senses to be on high alert for every frame, which is what I am learning the most from these days. It is also exhausting and at times it is very tempting to capture a frame even though it isn't spot on and I only kind of know how my arc for the right ear is going to be like! This is where professionalism, stubborness and self-discipline plays in and I find that it can be a real challenge to work on a scene for two to four hours without loosing concentration. Luckily our time schedule allows breaks when we need them. They are very needed to get a high quality result, I think. And this is what we want!

Stop motion animation stands to as an amazing challenge that will leave its marks on the way I animate. It's hands on and trial and error with immediate failure or success! And during it all you find some great friends in the puppets.

Banquet Scene

Here's a linetest of the latest scene I've done for the fabulous film 'Forest'! It's so great to finally get to animate the main character of the film and implement all the small traits Tobias's given him.

I'd like to write a bit about the approach I take on a scene like this. So in the post above you can read about my work flow and planning in a stop motion scene. Now I haven't been doing this for a very long time, but I am finding it very insightful to try and would like to share the thoughts I have on it. So if you dare, check out my next post! And if you already read it while reading this, because you don't check my blog often enough, well go read it again and leave a question, comment or a hearty hello!

fredag den 3. april 2009

Straight-Ahead Break

I took a 30mins break from the scene I am currently doing for the bachelor film 'The Lumberjack' and did this small facial piece.
I am going to put a big fat 'WHAT!' in it.
I have a lot of small things, especially facial animation, that I would like to test and this seems like a really fun way to do it. Not too much planning, just going on my gut feel. Here is the clip.

torsdag den 2. april 2009

Wolf Animation

This scene is the second one I've done with the big wolf for the bachelor film 'Forest'. In this scene we cut to the wolf in mid air jumping over a fence. As it lands it starts a low sneak towards screen left. I have animated the actions only on the 'y' axis and in composite the animation will be dragged along the 'x' axis. We chose to do it this way to save space in the greenscreen room.