Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Episode VII

George the Knight - pilot episode

The grand opening of my blinds (for the first time in three weeks) was a short lived novelty as I am now preparing to animate episode II of George the Knight, forcing me to deny any source of natural light whatsoever. Thus completes my journey towards the dark side of animation. In relation to my puppets (i.e. George) I recall some enlightening words from a Chinese boy; 'First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it'll kill him'. Now, we all know what happened to Gizmo, and that is why the environment I create in my studio needs to stay absolute. Rule number one: you do not change anything on set, hence my compulsive necessity to block out the sun. Rule number two: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

However, before I could begin animating today there was a slight incident with George. I speak for most animators when I describe this armature problem as possibly the most frustrating of all: the loss of a hand. Depending on the puppet and what sort of performance is required, I would say an animators attention to detail is spent on the two most important aspects, the hands and eyes. And lo! the characters coordination is born.

So when something like this happens moments before a shoot, it doesn't leave a frightful amount of options other than close for the day until a new hand is constructed. I am trying to give this regular occurrence a title (obviously Star Wars related). Something like 'sabered it useless' or a 'Skywalker-righty'.

Either way, George is having yet another night off...

...and he's not too happy about that.

I have been adding to the set for the next episode. The scenery has already multiplied from that random boulder the puppet was perched upon, to the ominous castle and a polystyrene wall (a huge leap in my eyes). I have also conformed to the haberdashery that is my local Hobbycraft for more supplies including a very expensive roll of cobbled effect paper. I am very disappointed with Warwickshire and its lack of decent art stores, which reminds me, I was going to peruse the art shop at Coventry University and see what I can pillage from that old chestnut. 

Wiring up lighting for the castle's interior.

Balsa wood is our friend. The perfect miniature 'timber' effect.

The general process of constructing a puppet and a set can easily take up 75% of the entire production. Animating is laborious and requires a level of patience that rivals a spider with a really shit web, yet would take up perhaps 20% of the production. A surprisingly small 4% goes to editing (which is a common misconception in the world of stop motion. Our 'post-production' is the 'pre-production'. We spend all this time making props and sets so that we don't need to add any effects afterwards. All the lighting and atmosphere of each shot is captured there in the moment). So essentially the time we spend editing is just cutting the shots, adding sound effects and rendering/exporting the final film. 

And finally 1% is dedicated to freaking out and getting irrationally angry with how hot the studio is and why in God's name you decided to make the walk cycle last 7 seconds. Trust me, if the outcome wasn't worth all this mayhem then I would welcome a job in some sort of catering company... serving food... with the reluctant title of 'dinner man'. 
**Tommy Grainger experiences a dreaded case of deja vu**

So the extra hand has been made and is currently drying after being smothered in flesh coloured liquid silicon. Animation should commence soon. As for the collection of limbs and bandages on the other image below... well if you can't guess what it is by now then you truly deserve a slap. 

The accident left him turtley mangled. 

So after some assembly I am pretty confident that this fellow will look on top form as part of my ninja phase. He needs his weapon of choice, a Bo Staff, and will be leaping magnificently in a still pose very shortly. I am going to wrap up this session with some interesting articles I found via Twitter. This is mainly for the die hard stop motioners who either need inspiration or just something cool to look at (in fact, if you are feeling rather despondent about this post-University stage in your life then read this article HERE because it really does sum up the WTF and FUBAR moments that really do need some inspiration to jazz things up). I have also been reading a lot of stories surrounding Barry Purves and his amazing career. This article found on Skwigly is a great insight into Barry's breathtaking portfolio. 

And to end this on an Aardman high, I have to congratulate the studio for making one hell of a film. The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists! is everything that Aardman stands for and no feeble words of mine can describe the magnitude of its awesomeness. Actually, in the words of film critic Jeremy Jahns, I rate it AWESOMETACULAR!!! What? it is a word.

Now, recognise this guy?

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