Monday, 14 November 2011

Barbie castles and miniature weapons

A strange blog title I have to admit, and yet those who know me won't be surprised at all. I recently went to visit my father in Germany with my brother; a hefty road trip through five countries with a lot of red bull and many psychological challenges along the wrong side of road. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was walking along a street and saw this old German woman getting rid of some ragtag junk. I spotted a pink and green Barbie castle/house thing and the cogs in my head started to turn. You see, with the animation I do (and many will understand this) you will find yourself picking up so much random stuff wherever you may be; whether this is a car boot sale, a rubbish tip, the park or even on a night out (I swindled some nice beer mats that could make nice paintings for a model lounge). Basically it is a habit that us stop motion animators get in to.

It took me a while to figure out how the damn thing opens up.
So here it is in all its glory: the Barbie house in the middle of revamping and redecorating. I have only spray painted sections and tried out a grey colour on the tower to test the application on to plastic. It seems to bode well and to be honest it shouldn't matter too much as this will be a background prop and won't play a major role in the animation.

I have also started to make some smaller props for the medieval story. I haven't finalised what the ending might be but I have a good idea for the start and main part of the animation, but either way there will be need for swords and shields! I have also made a mace and a cloak for on of the knights and part constructed a helmet for George the knight.

I have used a mixture of super sculpey, fabrics, dowel
and wire to make this range of props.


I have also constructed a crow which has only a very small role in the film. The storyboard somewhere below will show his importance, however, he still has a joint in his beak to allow him to caw to his hearts content.

And on the right is a look at the Barbie house before I set the paint to it. You can imagine the looks I got as I trekked back to my Dads place carrying this under my arm. But this is just part of the job. Another day in the office... pillaging children's toys.


Don't judge me.


The story of this animation is still in the making but it will open up with a peaceful countryside scene with birds singing, clouds in the sky and all that scenic jazz. And here is the tricky part, because I am trying so hard not to mimic the fight scene between the Black Knight and his unworthy adversary (clad in green) from Monty Python's Holy Grail. If you recall, the two have quite a vigorous and animated duel which results in the Black Knight launching his sword through the slit in the other knights helmet, obviously slaying him, right before King Arthur tries to cross the bridge.

The image above of the storyboard is crap. I apologise for the bad lighting but I took a photograph and didn't scan the page in as I perhaps should have done. Anyhow, this will be the general opening of the film where in-between the 'happy shots' (as I shall now call them) you will have a quick shot of the clashing of swords and loud shouting (but no dialogue just yet). This will emphasise that something epic is happening close at hand.

I then have the idea of trying a tracking shot to pan down onto the fight scene and just have the two knights duelling. I realise that choreographing an animated fight will be bloody hard but it's something I've always thought of throughout the years on my stop-mo course. I guess having a home studio has its advantages... you can pretty much do what the hell you want!

Here is a selection of animals that might be hanging around in the vicinity of this story. The crow you already know about; the rabbit just hops away and the cow may be axed even before auditioning. But it is the horse that I have much faith in to help with the storytelling, and I don't mean in a narrative sense but in one simple facial expression.

The two horses that the knights rode in on are standing off screen to the fight and simply watching their masters. To emphasise how pointless the fight is in the first place, one horse will just look at the other in an overly bored manner and then keep munching on the grass he/she would have in his/her mouth. I have clearly chosen the gender for that blasted crow because he looks like a moody chav knob head, yet the horses I have yet to decide. Maybe one of each. So this is some insight into the animation but like I said, it is all a working progress. I essentially wanted to crack on and make things, animate things, and keep my motivational spirits high.. and just having a different idea altogether (in comparison to what I have made before) really is very inspiring.

I lost my camera (as you might know, if I mentioned it in my last post) and yet I am not bothered in the slightest. The reason being is because my new Sony Ericsson has a fantastic HD camera with something in the 8 mega pixels region. I took this photograph of an M24 Chaffee tank from WWII and was blown away with the quality. It's only a bloody phone!


I have now finished my CVD promo package. The DVD covers have been printed out on some fancy matt paper (£24!!!) and all I need for the final touches is the insert, which is pretty much my CV in short. I have gone with a post card idea that can slot inside the DVD case.

I have used vistaprint before and will probably use them again as they seem to have some good deals knocking about. The postcard features an illustration I did, which I thought might be a nice break from all my animation images and perhaps show my drawing skills.

The back of the post card will have a brief synopsis of my education and skills (the image on the left is incomplete by the way) and anything else I can fit on that would be relevant for sucking up to a studio. Coincidentally, the cartoon illustration on the post card is the one I have just sent in to 'The Young Cartoonist of the Year' hosted by the British Cartoonist Association. Fingers crossed people!


The original drawing I was going to send in to the competition. It includes all the 'monstrous' characters I have sketched over the last few years. Cartoon 'me' decided to challenge them...