Friday, 3 November 2017

Exquisite Corpses Intervention Day at Staffordshire University 2017

Every now then then at the Staffordshire University Animation department we have an Intervention Day; a chance to down tools, put current projects aside and revitalize everyone's creative juices. This time around we went for four different workshops, running simultaneously throughout the day with a rotation of students from all levels, based on the theme of  'Exquisite Corpses'...

Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver (from the original French term cadavre exquis), is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.  
Wikipedia definition (God-of-academics forgive me).

Workshops included large scale painting and drawing, large scale puppet making, paper collage and mine; digital collage using Adobe Bridge, Adobe Photoshop and 5 Gigabytes of images from old books, engravings and manuscripts.

And yes...we dressed up!

For me the students all created Top, Middle or Bottom body parts and they were assembled afterwards.

It was an excellent day and the results are below..

Monday, 11 September 2017

Anatomy of a Scene: 'Big Hero Six'; The Police Station scene.

This post is taken from a new lecture looking at the structure of a scene and how the composition and performance tell the story.

The example is Walt Disney Pictures 'Big Hero 6'; directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams.

This scene is a cliche negotiation scene where a child tries to convince an adult authority figure of some threat and fails miserably, only to flee at the threat of 'Hang on while I call your parents'!

Invaders from Mars 1953
To make this scene more interesting and unique the actual negotiation is Hiro trying not to be distracted by Baymax's antics leaking air and repairing himself with sticky tape. In a way Baymax is the child, bored by the conversation and just trying to amuse itself.

This gives the scene far more visual and comedic interest.

Wide Establishing shot
Slow track in , some traffic goes by. The building is very traditional and old.

Wide Interior Establishing
Slow track in. Baymax is very passive.

Cut on head move of police man to...

Medium Shot
Turns head to establish  eye-line for dialogue.

The tape dispenser is in shot, priming the audience for the gag.

Medium Shot
Plenty of space around Hiro, head framed by lighter doors behind.

180 rule established with the cop.

Hiro's actions progress towards the lens, making him keen and eager to tell all.

Medium Shot
The cop has very limited movement and facial expression. Great finger anticipation during speech. He has seen everything and is not going to be moved.

Medium Shots
In contrast Hiro gives a very broad, energetic and highly charged performance.

Medium Shot
In this shot the cop is very still, hands not moving, not drawing the audiences eye!. This leaves the frame ready for Baymax's hand to come in and take a piece of sticky tape.

Detail of medium shot
The action of Baymax's hand coming in to take some tape is simple but still managers to display a charming use of curves in the movement. As hand moves out cut-on-move to...

Cut-away Medium Shot
All Baymax's moves are robotic and limited; no shoulder movement. This makes the situation funnier and more surreal.

Medium Shot
It is interesting to note comedy always works better if the subject is either front on or at 90 degrees to the camera.

Cutting away to Baymax allowed the camera to cross the 180 line between the two humans.

Medium Long shot

Detail of medium long shot
Veeeeery slow blink.

Medium c/u shot
Repetition of the same gag reinforces it.

Medium shot
Cut back to the cop who pushes the dispenser closer to Baymax.

Because we have cut back this way we have crossed back over the 180 line ready for dialogue to continue.

Medium shots
Hiro is still highly energised and his end pose directs the audiences attention back to Baymax.

Long shot
Reverse angle; 180 rule observed. Baymax has half of the screen to perform in. He is clear of props and visual distractions to his performance.

Long shot
All keys have strong silhouettes with great use of negative space.

Close-up shot

Long shot

Low battery symbol visually reinforces what Baymax is saying.

Medium shot
Less is more! The 'seen everything' cop does not even blink at this.

New angle on Baymax. Eyes blinking out-of-sync.

Cuts on blink to Baymax own view...

Medium Close-up shot
Pull focus with hand held feel to shot.

Two shot
Over the shoulder two-shot. The image of Baymax deflating is reinforced by his eye squashing shut when his head is on Hiro's head.

Medium shot
Cop moves on chair to back table. The chair does NOT move in a straight line, but has a graceful curving track.

This is the moment that the cop says he is going to ring Hiro's parents. Time to go!

Medium Two shot

Medium shot
Cop turns back, stopping half way to look at clip board and to give time for the duo to leave the room...

Medium shot
Pull out to show tape dispenser, it even moves to screen right slightly...cop looks at it briefly...cut-on-move...

Wide Reverse shot
This wide reverse angle shows reveals the now empty reception area as the tape dispenser jumps off of the table and flies to the closed door.

The narrative continues outside for a couple of shots.
cut to exterior...
The whole scene is an excellent example of good planning, composition and manipulation of the audiences attention. The acting is strong and the use of strong key frames is great.

The scene even performs well with no audio!!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

CGI Landscape for Teaching Maya 2016 Part II: Simple Cartoon Textures

In an effort to entice traditional 2D animation students to see the potential and flexibility of CGI I have been using simple cartoon-style textures and alphas to show them not all CGI has detailed photo-based texturing.

I started with the 3D paint tool to mark up the general look and positioning, created a limited palette to work from...


...then bashed out some quick textures in Photoshop.
Tree Foliage
Tree Bark

Grass tufts Alpha texture

Big Grass tufts Alpha texture

Foreground texture

BG Rocks texture
Given more time the textures can be refined, but they should retain the simple style with large areas of flat colour.