I finally finished my volleyball net. The project is going as planned though I am leaving a lot of work for the last week. I am loving the experience of this project and I keep learning everyday. I feel like I am pushing myself every day, in a good way.
Now I am looking at some videos before starting the animation… As I researched, it really helps if we have a video of a person making the same gestures we want the bird to make so I asked my dad to make some video with different gestures and expressions for the different lines of the Bird. And so he did!
(just a screenshot of the video)
With this I intend to study the movement so the bird looks more natural! I also asked Lucy Barlett (my voice), to film herself talking so I could study her lip movement so it would be easier to sync with the Bird’s beak.
I am getting closer to animate and it has been a long long journey. I think that technically, the project is working but my problems will appear while making the animation and I won’t have a lot of time to fix them. Perhaps the plasticine moulding could have gone better but I still have time to fix it. I am truly excited to start “shooting”
I started my set design. First of all, I did some research on weaving in order to make my volleyball net. It was the only way I thought I could make it. I actually came up with the idea really fast and it worked pretty well, I must say I am proud.
I painted the set (the card box) black on the outside so it doesnt look so ugly and I changed my mind about the wooden floor. I want lighter tone of wood.
Through all this process I am making time lapse videos. I am also doing some sketchbook work on the set design, trying out some bacgrounds, colours and mechanisms. When it comes to the net I decided to use balsa for the pols and paint them yellow.
And this is what I’ve done so far for the set..
Extra news of the day : I finally found the voice to my character!! Lucy Barlett from our course! She agreed on being Rita’s voice and as I asked she even filmed herself talking so I could see the movement of her mouth. THANK YOU LUCY!!!
I’ve looked through several lipsync videos and tutorials and I’m highlighting some research related to that. All my technical notes are on my small journal. However, I had to decide whether I was going to animate the beak in order for it to say every word or if I was just going to open and close it. I took the second option (even though I didn’t start the animation that’s my plan). A helpful video:
I also did a lot of research on mouth shapes and understanding lip sync. In the end, I concluded that I would be safer with just opening and closing the beak of my puppet.
Eye movement and blinking
Since the mouth won’t move a lot I thought that giving blinking to my character would help her be more life like. I researched and there are several types of blinking and took some notes:
Normal blinking – 2 frames to go down (close the eye) 1 hold frame, 3 frames to open the eye again. Apparently, we are slower opening our eyes than closing them.
Fast blinking – 2 frames down, 3 up (usually used when staring at something)
Long blink – 3 frames to close, 1 frame to hold, 4 frames to open – used when thinking (slow)
Flirty blinking (fast blink) – 1 almost closed, 2 to open
With this, I can really give life to my puppet. I now have to think of a better eye mechanism.
Regarding eye movement, I took some notes on
changing eye direction: no more than 3 frames, eye movements are really fast
When talking with someone: Eye moves from left to right ( just one frame)
When looking around: eye makes a triangular shape – 1 left, 1 down, 1 up.
That is my research so far regarding these aspects and I am saving all the video and websites links on a word document so I can evidence my research.
Yesterday I called my dad and asked him to take pictures of the indoor gym of the club because I will try to draw it and make it my set. My idea is to remake the gym and draw it with watercolors. I would also like to have a volleyball net on the set and a few plasticine balls on the floor. As Helen suggested in our last tutorial I researched backdrop animators and designers:
Paul Julian – Warner Bros.
Barry Kooser – Disney, Worker Studio
Brice Mack – Disney
Maurice Noble – Warner Bros., MGM Animation
Kazuo Oga – Studio Ghibli, Madhouse
Walter Peregoy – Disney, Format Films, Hanna-Barbera
Tyrus Wong – Disney, Warner Bros
Kōji Yamamura – Independent
Yale Gracey – Disney
I’ve quickly looked thorough these and saved a few images that inspired me. I might do a sheet with them.
I have now a draft of my script. With that, I started imagining my character’s personality and her potential voice. I wrote a few notes that say her voice has to be:
Young and fun
I will be able to edit the voice so I can play with it but I wouldn’t want to go too far from the original.
I’ve done some research on plasticine models. I’ve looked at the whole process and took some copies from the book. Taking the drawings I had from my character I drew the wire and balsa skeleton. Of course, I had to study all kinds of mechanisms mainly the wings and the fingers/feathers. The wings because they have to close and open and when closed they must fit the body tidy. The fingers because they have to be the most flexible part of the body since they will move a lot but it also needs to be stable. So I developed several wing skeletons and tried them out:
I chose the last one, where the wing as a bigger piece of balsa and I asked Helen, she agreed with me. I mounted these and the sketches on an A1 sheet to show what I’ve looked at and experiment.
By now I feel like I am getting somewhere. I start to visualise how my puppet will look like and I know I will have a lot of small problems with the plasticine. However, I’m looking forward to it.
Making a bird puppet is not easy and it’s surely not easier to animate it. Hopefully, I am done with the puppet this week so I can move on to the animation part.
Note: As I read, I shouldn’t be rushing things and I should be patient because of the better the armature the easier it is to animate it. Most people tend to be impatient and anxious about starting animating. So now I’ll focus on the armature and its quality.
During the morning I researched through some stop motion and plasticine artists.
Rich Webber – the director of Purple and Brown, Shawn the sheep and Wallace and Gromit. He works with Aardman animations and in one interview he gave he stated that their focus on animating usually lies upon the detail and expression of the eyes and eyebrows. I also found his Instagram page that can be helpful for inspiration
Corky Quakenbush – a worker in American motion pictures and TV series in a wide variety of different jobs, including camera work, writing, and production. One of his specialities is in stop-motion animation. They produced “Rudolph the red nose reindeer”.
Charley Bower – One of the stop-motion pioneers. He made a short film with a bird eating metal. The animation is not so smooth in some parts so it allowed me to observe exactly how he moved some objects.
Lou Bunin – Puppeteer Lou Bunin created one of the first stop motion puppets using wire armatures and his own rubber formula. Bunin went on to produce a feature-length film version of Alive in wonderland with a live-action Alice and stop motion puppets portraying all the rest of the characters.
Di Conway – Wellington sculptress Di Conway is widely known for her ‘fat-lady’ sculptures created in her converted “shed” at her home. It is through these quirky, humorous figures and the underlying social commentaries about life, and empowerment of women that they embody, that Di has established a cult following in Wellington. Creating works in both bronze and clay. This artist is not an animator but I found her work really interesting because her sculptures all like slightly cartoony.
This research helped me visualising different methods and approaches to clay modelling and stop motion animation.
This morning I finally photocopied the pages of the books I am researching. It took me much more time that I was expecting, it basically took me all morning to print all I wanted and cut the pages on the guillotine. During the rest of the day, I was chasing time to keep up with the tasks I had planned.
I did a lot of sketching today. I was observing birds and they’re movements so my drawings were quite fast and sketchy. I was really happy with the outcome because the final pieces were all really expressive and it helped my project moving forward when it comes to understanding how birds fly and move.
I then mounted the drawings into an A1 sheet. I was happy with but I still have to finish it because it looks too white or empty…
With the drawings I’ve made from animators research I came up with an A1 sheet to make it more visual. It turned out to look quite busy but I like it.
I finished the day by organising the next sheet I’m going to make, which is about the bird’s anatomy. I just cut some pictures and starting making a plan of how I want it to look like. But I also bought plasticine for my project. To be honest it was not an easy task… I don’t have experience, I don’t really know the amount of plasticine necessary to make one model so I just hope I bought enough.
To sum it up, my project is moving forward to a considerably fast rhythm. For now, the only thing that is bothering me is my last sheet, there is something missing but I don’t know what… Besides that everything is working really well because I managed to complete all tasks I planned and I’ve been being too optimistic but for now it’s ok. I am happy with my work so far. Sheets are looking good, research also and I am now ready to move on with CHARACTER DESIGN!!