Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Episode IX

Regardless of the numerous dreams of whimsical tomfoolery I have, this post shall avert from the storytelling I usually indulge in and keep true to the original reason to why I started this blog; animation. I have been rather busy in my chosen field of expertise, hence, yet again, why I have been absent from the parallel universe of status updates and new blog entries. I shall, as always, fill you in on Tom's Thumb Productions and describe how my next animating venture should be a very fun and interesting chapter to look into. Enjoy...

The Software - Dragonframe

I have been debating for quite some time upon which animation software I should invest in and it has been between the two (seemingly major) players, Stop Motion Pro and Dragonframe. When I began my degree in stop motion I was introduced to Stop Motion Pro and therefore it would be the obvious choice after becoming accustomed to this programme over a three year period. However, after listening to peers and reading what other studios have to say, it does seem that Dragonframe has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Barry Purves was one of these peers and I respect this man with great admiration as he is one of Britain's great animators of the 20th Century; so if he suggests something then you bloody well listen! 

As you may already know, I have already taken full advantage of the free trial run version this tremendous piece of software has to offer. In fact, episode one of George the Knight was done on Dragonframe within this 30 day period. As it stands, I have everything ready for my next episode shoot and I have been deciphering the programme with great enthusiasm. The only query I have (and shall investigate shortly) is the process of importing previously taken images into the programme and creating the animation from these images. This could be for a time-lapse piece, for example, where the camera is left over a period of time to snap every 10 seconds or so. 

Anyhow, I finally decided to go with Dragonframe (of which the free controller may or may not have swayed my ever changing mind) and I am very happy that I did. It feels more professional than Stop Motion Pro, but more importantly, to branch out and learn new programmes may bode well in the future. Especially when the next big stop motion film (another Burton production) has been filmed using this software. 

Dragonframe has been used to film Frankenweenie in 3D, which is a very interesting concept in stop motion because the set if so much smaller to work with. The two camera strategy (conveying the illusion of 3 dimensions as it considers the vision from each eyes perspective) has to work on a much smaller scale and therefore can be tricky if the set is deep and needs two cameras to fit down. But camera trickery aside, I am adamant that my next animation has enough things to trouble me without the element of 3D filming to worry about. Of course, the real reason being that I own just the one camera!

The Puppet, the Set and the green screen - episode II of George the Knight

George has some new hand-sewn boots. I will introduce a castle to the set. Green screen will allow some depth with some atmospheric filming. There will be a horse. 

These are bold statements for episode II and is quite a step up from the simple ambience episode I had to offer. And this was ludicrously simple; we're talking a scrunched up sheet of foil that became a boulder, whilst the original storyboard was pinned up to become the ostentatiously creative back drop. 

Not quite a storyboard; perhaps a selection of opportune moments

These are some sketches I did for episode II, where I have brought in quite a range of obstacles for George to tackle. The crow was going to make a very small appearance in the feature film, but I want to incorporate it a little earlier somehow. The horse is a working progress as I haven't constructed the head just yet, only repainted and gave council to the once Barbie styled horse; it truly is wonderful what you can pick up in charity shops for a pound Stirling. I am quite proud upon the transformation this plastic pony has gone through, as the pictures below shall now depict...

The saddle needs a little more detail but George sits perfectly into the stirrups.

With the background now becoming a green screen, it gives me the advantage of developing this animation with a second element to the film. I can put another animation on top of the George sequence, which will appear in the masked section of green, and give further depth to the film. It will, however, be something simple like drifting clouds as my priority is the puppet animation. Initially there was no plan for the castle or even the green screen, but the beauty of these test animations is the lack of commitment to the script. I do have a basic aim for each episode (and there will be three in total before the feature length animation) where I address various aspects of George's character and gradually build up the prop count to 'prepare' him for the film. I like to think of these episodes as a prolonged and elaborative audition; and George is (cliché) the star!

And the rest...

I was recently in Ludlow and found a golden nugget amidst the charity shops. A record player with inbuilt speakers, a tape deck and a CD player... all for £50! I don't usually impulse buy but I knew this was a terrific investment. I am playing my selection of jazz records as I type. It is pure vintage. 

I have drawn and painted a new addition to the Star waz'ere collection. A scene from my favourite film of the original trilogy, where Leia waits patiently for Wicket the Ewok to calm down before finally accepting the custard cream biscuit she offers.

And on a final note, I have decided to make a drastic move away from the Shire and find a place of my own. This may or may not be anything to do with a new job, but the prospects of migrating to Bristol, for example, will certainly inspire my artistic nature. I will always love Leamington, but it really isn't the right scene for me at the moment. I feel isolated even though it is my home town. It's hard to explain, and I shall not digress any more this evening as I am incredibly tired and need my bed with five pillows to really crash out on. I want to imitate this exhausted emotion of mine through the medium of classic cartoon manoeuvring; the falling tree. I shall 'timber' into bed and let my head hit the pillow, upon which I shall immediately fall into a deep and meaningful slumber. 

And to all a good night...

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