Saturday, 8 August 2015

Update

So I think its about time I gave you lovely people and update, after all it has been nearly three months since I last posted anything.

Firstly, I'm very pleased to announce that after three years of hard work, I have graduated from the University of South Wales with a First in BA (Hon) Animation! 
Woohoo!


Here's some proof! Silly hat and all.

Secondly, despite the fact I finishing making my film quite some time ago, I realized that I didn't remove the privacy setting on Vimeo. I have now made my graduation film 'Wings' publicly viewable and will also upload it YouTube soon!  



 Here's the link
https://vimeo.com/128870913

Last but not least! The reason Ive been so quiet online lately is because...

 (insert drum-roll)

 I have a job!

 Where you ask?

Well I'll tell you.

 I only went and got bloody employed at Animortal Studio working on Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires!

 Ive been working there for a little over two months now and I'm loving every second of it. I couldn't have hoped to work with a lovelier or more talented bunch of people who've taught me so much and made me feel so welcome.


Here's a little group photo from last week when the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, popped in for a visit.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Props

As well as building the sets the set design students also offered to make a few of the larger props for me. Unfortunately I was unhappy with the standard of prop that they produced and ended up constructing the majority of them myself in a very limited time span. I would also like to thank Sophie Lewis (second year stop motion) for stepping in and making a few of the smaller props for me. Including lots of tiny books, a chair, a ladder, boxes, and brooms (photos below) :)

Here are the props made by the set students. They were made using plastic cut with a laser cutter.




Here are the props that I constructed. They are unfinished in these Photos they were made using balsa wood. Which I feel gives a more realistic finish to the prop.


When making the door I salvaged the frame and hinges from the door made by the set students then covered it in balsa wood.




Here are some photos of the set fully dressed and ready to film.
 





I also made the coin that Pip finds at the start of the film. I used a two pence piece as the base, then used super sculpy firm to create the insect and honey comb design.

Looking back I should have made a resin copy of this to reduce the weight but I didnt consider this at the time.



I baked the sculpy then stuck on some gold leaf using PVA. I then rubbed on some acrylic paint to give the coin an aged look. 













Interior Sets



I think the interior set is where the majority of hiccups happened. After the initial mock up models were completed and tweaked to my liking, construction of the set began. Unfortunately I was unable to visit and comment on the building of this set as much as the other one. This is possibly why things didn't turn out as I expected them to.






I was initially pleased with the work being produced. Unfortunately after the set had been moved from the workshop to the University building I was able to take a closer look and realized that the walls didn't fit snugly together and wobbled rather a lot which isn't great when trying to film in stop-motion. As well as this the paint job was a shoddy. I was however very pleased with the floor boards which had been made using a laser cutter.




I didn't take any photos at this stage due to time constraints. With the help of my wonderful mum and dad (Shirley and Antony) we patched up the set which included but was not limited to reinforcing the walls, using paper mache to fill the gaps, giving everything a fresh coat of paint and PVA and building a base for everything to sit on.

I also wired up all the fairy lights and bottles which meant cutting lots of holes in the wall and floor of the set to hide all the wires.
 





 Here are some images of the finished set I took while filming.






Exterior Set

 Here's the obligatory apology for not posting for so long. I'm very sorry, don't be angry with me. I've been very busy making a film!

I was very lucky this year to have my sets made for my by some set design student from my university. We worked collaboratively to develop my initial designs and they built several mock up models before construction of the final sets started.

Initially I was reluctant to outsource parts of my project to others but am glad I did so as it allowed me to concentrate on constructing my puppets and to attend work experience at Chuck Steel. Although the end result is amazing I wont deny that there were a few hiccups along the way.

I had two sets built for my, I'll start with the exterior set as this is where the majority of the film takes place. This set was constructed from several separate pieces so that I could arrange them in different ways.

The set was carved from huge blocks of polystyrene, some of  the pieces were more sculptural...



 ....others parts (see below) were flatter and could be used to create a sense of depth in the set by placing them in the background.




The exterior set was meant to resemble something between a termite mound and a bee hive. To achieve a honeycomb pattern metal stamps were made that could be heated up and pressed into the polystyrene. 




 Next came the painting, the image below shows only the first coat, the end result is much more textured and the colour graduated from dark green at the bottom to a light yellow at the top.


 



This next part is possibly my favorite piece of set (its unfinished in this photo) and sadly it only appears in my film for a few seconds. The aim of this huge wedge is to create a false perspective, to create the illusion that we are looking over the edge of a cliff. 



This is how I filmed the shot in question


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ultimate Image


DID SOMEONE SAY ULTIMATE IMAGE?

Well here it is!
This is probably the most amount of faffing I've ever done with Photoshop to make an image look 'pretty'. Considering I know very little about the program I don't think it turned out half bad.





Its not quite what I originally had in mind. Due to being a few weeks behind on filming I had a limited amount of shots to choose from, none of which I felt were ultimate image quality. Instead I took a few quick snapshots of my character and put together this little number instead.

Company Research - Part 5 - Blinkink




Blinkink are a production company based in Soho, London. They create innovative and unique commercials, short films and music videos which combine various mediums including animation  live action. Some of their most recent work include:

'Barry the Biscuit' Boy made for Cravendale is a wonderful little advert which combines stop motion, live action and puppetry. This particular advert or should I say the 'making of' video was a big eye opener for me. I realized that the skills I have acquired from studying stop motion can be applied on other kinds of puppets and not only armatured characters. This advert has also led me in to using a small amount of live action in my third year film.




Blinkink also played a part in the John Lewis 2014 chrismas advert 'Bear and the Hare'. I immediately fell in love with this advert and its beautiful combination of hand drawn 2D characters and three dimensional stop motion sets.





Other examples of work from Blinkink include 'Marlyn Myller' from Mikey Please whom is also the creator of 'The Eagleman Stag'





 and 'Sandy' a short and cheeky and defiantly film directed by Joseph Mann




Its wonderful to see a company that are interested in keeping stop motion alive by complimenting and combining it with CGI, live action and 2D animation and by supporting aspiring young creators to make new and unique work alongside well established directors. I especially enjoy viewing work from Blinkink because their creations are always exciting and innovate an I never know what to expect.
 



Monday, 20 April 2015

Company Research - Part 4 - LAIKA

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/58/Laika_logo.svg/200px-Laika_logo.svg.png 






Despite the fact that LAIKA are relatively new to the stop motion film making they've quickly shot up the ranks and have become the leading innovators in stop motion technology. LAIKA initially started making films using CG their first film, a short, being Moongirl released in 2005.

LAIKA were probably the first company to make three dimensional printing and rapid prototyping their own and to use it on a massive scale this has allowed them to create ambitiously huge and complex films that would not have been possible to make using traditional methods. 

So far LAIKA have three feature films to their name each more exciting than the last.


Coraline (2009)
 


Paranorman (2012)
 

and my favorite so far The Boxtrolls (2014)


LAIKA currently has another film in production due for release in August 2016, Kubo and the Two Strings.

Very little information has been release about this latest project, all we know is that  'the new movie is a sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan.'I'm very excited about it because it seems worlds away from the previous films. I cant wait to see how Japanese culture inspires their style choices and the animation itself.

There's a little more info to be found on the link below

http://www.laika.com/index.php



First Look At LAIKA's Next Movie, Kubo And The Two Strings 

 
I really enjoy that LAIKA aren't afraid of new technology's like three dimensional printing, they they;re fining new and innovative uses for it and that they are constantly pushing and improving the boundaries of the stop motion medium.


What a lot of people don't know about LAIKA is that they uses quite a bit of CGI to enhance their film. When I first found out that they use CGI to help create crowd shots and other complex scenes I initially felt that they were cheating a little. I soon released this was somewhat hypocritical of me. How can I praise the use of rapid prototyping in one hand and criticize the use of CG in the other, it's simply another development in their style of film making and animation.



CG crowd additions.Final shot.



Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Company Research - Part 3 - Aardman

https://artintheheartblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/key_art_aardman-1.jpg





Well of course Aardman had to make an appearance in these research posts at some point. Its very likely that characters such as Morph and Wallace and Gromit were my first introduction to claymation and stop motion animation, though as a child I'd never had imagined I'd be a stop motion student today.



http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ec/Morph-NMM-Bradford.jpg


Aardman is probably best known for its amazing stop motion feature films like Pirates!In an adventure with scientists, Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit and TV series like Shaun the Sheep but what many people don't know is that Aardman works with a variety of media including 2D, 3D, CGI, live action and puppeteering. They are also responsible for creating the worlds largest stop motion film (Gulp) and smallest stop motion film (Dot) as a promotion for Nokia phones.  You can watch them both here

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD7eagLl5c4 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieN2vhslTTU

What I like about these short films is that they push the limits of what can be achieved with stop motion both in terms of the technology and materials.



https://files.list.co.uk/images/2012/03/27/www.fact.co.uk_pirates__in_.jpg



What I like most about Aardman is that although they are now using new technology's and materials such as three dimensional printing and foam latex as well as the traditional plasticine to create their puppets, they have managed to keep the clay like appearance of the characters very consistent and true to the 'Aardman Style' that we all know and love.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Company Research - Part 2 - Makinnon and Saunders





Mackinnon & Saunders are one of the world’s leading puppet making companies specializing in the design and construction of characters for television shows, feature films and commercials.


What I like about Mackinnon and Saunders is that they are teaming up with company's such as Fantastic Flying Films and are helping to create fun new series like Calamity Island from the creator of Koala Brothers, David Johnson. I found the pilot for Calamity Island utterly adorable and couldn’t  look away for a second.  I immediately fell in love with the stylized appearance of the characters and the addition of mischievous penguin adds a lovely quirk to the plot.


You can watch the pilot episode here
https://vimeo.com/37950651 


They are also responsible for the puppets in TV series such as Bob the Builder, Postman Pat and the one I’m most excited about THE CLANGERS!  Its wonderful to see that these animations are being made and filmed in their original stop motion format and not horrifically recreated using CGI.

 



I first stumbled upon Mackinnon and Saunders when I found out that they made the puppets for one of my all-time favorite films ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’. The popular children’s book by Roald Dahl is a big happy memory from my childhood and I had to know more when I found it was being made into a stop motion feature film.

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/fantasticmrfox/images/e/e8/FantasticMrFox.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140509182615

I'd be very interested in working for Mackinnon and Saunders because of the huge variety of projects and films they work on. I imagine each of which comes with its own unique set of problems to solve in innovative and interesting ways.