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  • Writer's pictureSilvana

Start of the last Semester

The "Production and Post-production" course rolled on this past week and I can feel that it's getting serious now. This film has to be made and quickly! The final hand-in date is May the 4th :D This leaves me just a little over 3 months to make this approximately 4 minute long film.

I am very excited and I feel positive about being able to finish this film, I have gotten quite good at sticking to deadlines and completing the music video last semester has given me some more confidence as well. But of course I don't just want to finish it but also do so to a very good standard and be able to make it look the way I want to. That will be a challenge and I might have to make some compromises along the way and possibly cut out some bits and pieces. But I am prepared to stay flexible and adjust if need be.

It feels really good to get back into the film and animating after the winter break, where I have concentrated mainly on writing my dissertation. What a relief to have that sent off! Equipped with new energy I started animating and editing another test shot. I wanted to get a better idea of the look and workflow for the more busy city scenes.

I started by picking one of the scenes and quickly noting the different layers I would need.

To make it easier for myself I did this test shot using only boils. First the character outline boil (pencil on paper), which I then shot, went back and added some coloured ink details/shading and shot it again. On another layer I shot the front line of city people (boiling ink texture on paper). The people in the back fade into the background and are just a still image of ink on paper. The background is a single ink on 200gsm paper image. I assembled everything in After Effects and then went into TvPaint to create an image sequence of character fill mattes. Back to AE to edit it all together and once I finalised the editing (also adding 3d layers and camera depth) I exported the scene at 10fps (matching the frame rate of the animation) as a movie and loaded it as a reference into TvPaint. I then drew the smoke on top of it, as a white matte, using a pencil texture.

I am super happy with the outcome. The only thing I might add is a few more images to the boils, so that I can use a randomise expression on it and have it loop less and it might make it feel a little more smooth.

I might even use this shot in my final film and just continue animating it this week. I can always update certain elements at a later point should I want to. The next step would be to animate the city people and buildings closing in on the character. Mike suggested I simplify the shapes of the city people as they move closer, to make animating them easier for me and also to enhance the feeling of claustrophobia and I will follow that advice!

I also had a chat with Allan and it made me think about the "moon-scene" in the film, where the character rides on the moon and sees the city in a distance. The purpose of the scene is to show that she sees the city from another perspective (rather than being immersed in it and being overwhelmed by it she sees it nestled in between mountains and trees) and that this changes her feelings about it. Allan made me question the imagery of the moon-ride, he said it was very fairy tale and a little "cliché" or at least not a surprising element (and reminiscent of the DreamWorks logo) and I wonder if I can make the imagery for that scene a bit more personal, rather than universal. I am quite fond of the scene, but my favourite bit is not the moon itself (although it holds some importance for me too) but the perspective of seeing the character's feet dangling in the air and past it the cityscape.

Straight away I had images in my mind of the character sitting high up on a tree branch (instead of the moon) and viewing the city from a bit closer up so that you can see the warmly lit windows of the city. The image of a bright window in the darkness is very personal to me: it makes me realise that there are people living their own unique lives behind those windows and they are all around me and this makes me feel much more connected in a large city. I also feel that this setting ties it together better as it focuses on the tree/nature part rather than including a celestial element ;)

I adjusted the animatic to get an impression of this change:

While I really like it I'm not 100% sure. I think that is because I showed the animatic and concept to a lot of friends/family over the winter break and a lot of people connected especially with the moon-scene, saying it was their favourite scene. I don't have to decide it straight away. For now I will start animating the first few city scenes, as I am very happy with them and don't intend to change them. I'll also continue showing people the animatic and hopefully in the process I will achieve some more clarity about that middle part.

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