Thursday, 25 February 2010

Character Design: Diablos, Goblin King.

So here we have Diablos, the Goblin King. He is actually a character that I thought of when I was really young. He was inspired by my Hobgoblin (of Spiderman fame) action figure, which I used to play out Diablos' stories...

Alter ego:
Randal Natos
Age: Seventeen years old
Height: 5"6
Build: Randal was always quite frail in high school, a fact that was always picked upon by Scott Rai. However, since initiating the lab explosion and becoming Diablos, he has gained an unbelievably muscular physique.

Family: Randal lived with his parents in Witherbrook Manor in the west side of the city. His father is Randolph Natos, current mayor of the city and his mother, Evelyn Natos, is a successful businesswoman. Randal would have attended a private school if his parents had had their way, but he was a very boisterous child and insisted upon public school.

Likes: Randal is a brilliant English student and as a result enjoys reading. When he transforms into Diablos, he also gains incredible strength which, when coupled with his remarkable mind, makes him very dangerous.

Dislikes: Randal bears a deep hatred towards Gordon Grayson ands his friends. This is owed mainly to the fact that he is not as popular with others as they are and he is often the topic of ridicule.

Attitude (in a phrase): "I would do anything to get rid of Gordon and his horrible little group.”

Quotes: "Mwahaahahaha, try to stop me now Grayson.”; “Randal died in the lab that day…I am Diablos, Goblin King!!”

Story: Randal was constantly teased as a child owing to the fact that his father, Randolph Natos, is mayor of the city. However, he coped with this and continued his studies and soon became a very learned young student. The final string of Randal’s sanity was shattered soon after he fell in love with Sara Smith, the most beautiful girl in high school.

Initially, he admired her from afar until he finally summoned the courage to make his move. However, Randall was horrified and heartbroken to discover that Gordon Grayson was already dating her. This enraged Randal, feeling as though he had been robbed of what was his, and he initiated a lab explosion intending to kill Gordon, Sara and the rest of their friends.

However, Randal greatly underestimated the sheer power of the blast and was caught directly in it radius, shifting his appearance to that of a ‘goblin.’

Now, with wicked new powers at his disposal, Diablos seeks to unleash his anger upon the city, which he somehow blames for his horrid appearance. His rivalry with Gordon and the others has just intensified…

How Pixar Makes a Movie



At Pixar, animated features go through a variety of different stages: development, creating the storyline, preproduction, addressing technical challenges, production, making the film, postproduction and then adding the finishing touches to the movie.



First an idea is pitched by Pixar employees to other members of the development team. The challenge at this stage is getting the others to perceive the real possibilities in an idea.

The next stage involves the text treatment, which is a short document that sums up the main story in it’s entirety. Multiple treatments may also be developed in order to achieve the perfect balance between the ideas.



Storyboards are then developed, in a similar style to a hand drawn comic and act as a comic version of the movie. Additionally, it acts as a blueprint for the action and for the dialogue. Storyboard artists receive the script pages which detail emotional changes that have to be seen through character actions. Once the artist creates their sequences, they “pitch” their work to the director.

To begin with, temporary “scratch” voices are recorded for the storyboard reels by the artists at Pixar. Later on, when the story and dialogue are more developed, professional actors are brought in to record their character voices from the script.

Next, the editorial team begins making reels, a videotape that allows the cleaned up storyboard sequence to stand on its own. This is an essential step in the process, helping to validate the sequence and to ensure timing is understood in the sequences.

The look and feel of the film is created next in Pixar’s art department. They base this on the initial text treatment, storyboards and in addition to this they are allowed the opportunity for creative brainstorming and development work. They also design sets, props, visuals for surfaces, colours and lighting.

Models are sculpted from the art departments drawings. These are either sculpted by hand and scanned into the computer or modelled directly into the computer itself. The characters are given “avars” which the animator uses in order to make them move.

The sets are then constructed in 3D.

The layout of the shots are sorted next. Basically, employees at Pixar must translate the story into 3D scenes. A virtual camera is used to create shots that capture the emotion and story point of individual scenes. Once a scene has been completed, the final version is released to the animation department.

The stage to follow is the animation of the shots. Unlike in traditional animation, the character, models, layout, dialog and sound are already prepared, making a 3D animator more like a puppeteer. Additionally, the computer creates the in-between frames, which the animator simply adjusts if need be.

Next, the sets and characters are shaded. The shading process is done with “shaders”, software programmes that allow complex variations in the colour or colour shading.

In order to complete the look, lighting is added next. By using “digital light”, scenes are lit in a similar way to stage lighting. The lights have a variety of uses, such as creating and enhancing a required mood and emotion in a scene.

The computer data is “rendered” next. This is basically the translating of all the individual files that make up a shot, into a single frame of film. This is done using a huge computer system called Renderfarm, and roughly takes six hours to render a frame, although some frames can take up to a whopping ninety hours.

In the end, the final touches are added, such as a musical score, sound effects and special effects.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Twelve Basic Principles of Animation

Squash & Stretch

The most important principle to animation is "Squash & Stretch", which is basically achieving a sense of weight and flexibility in drawn objects. This rule can be applied to si
mple objects, such as a bouncing ball, or objects of more complexity, like that of a human face. When this rule is taken to the extreme, by having a figure squashed or stretched to an exaggerated degree, we can create a comical effect.

In realistic animation, the most important aspect of this principle is that an object's volume does not change when squashed or stretched. Basically
, if the length of a ball is stretched vertically, its width needs to contract correspondingly.

Timing

Timing to two different concepts: physical and theatrical timing. It is of vital importance to the storytelling of the animation, that the timing is done correctly. In terms of physical timing, by doing it correctly an object appears to obey the laws of physics. For example, an object's weight ultimately decides how it will react to an external force, such as a push.


Theatrical timing is less technical, and is developed through experience. It can be purely comic timing, or can be used to convey deep emotions. It can also be used as a device to convey aspects of a character's personality.

Anticipation

Anticipation is used to prepare the audience for an upcoming action, and to make actions in animation appear more realistic. Examples of this include a dancer jumping off the floor having to bend his knees first or a golfer making a swing having to swing the club backwards first. Additionally, this technique can also be used for less physical actions, such as a character looking off-screen to anticipate someone's arrival.




Staging

The purpose of this principle is to direct the audience's attention towards, and to make clear the most important elements in a scene. It is defined as "the presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear." This “presentation” can be done through various means, such as in the placement of a character in the frame, the use of light and shadow, and the angle and position of the camera. The heart of this principle is in keeping focus on what is relevant, and avoiding unnecessary details.


Follow Through and Overlapping Action

These techniques help to make movement more realistic, and create the illusion that the characters follow the laws of physics. "Follow Through" basically means that separate parts of a characters body will continue moving after they have stopped. "Overlapping Action" is when parts of a characters body move at different rates (an arm moving to different timing to the head and.) A third, lesser known, technique is "Drag", wh
ere a character starts to move and parts of him take a few frames to catch up. These parts are usually inanimate objects such as clothing or parts of the body, such as arms or hair.

On the human body, the torso is the core, with arms, legs, head and hair appendices that normally follow the torso's movement. Exaggerated use of the technique can produce a comical effect, while more realistic animation must time the actions exactly, to produce a convincing result.


Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

These are two different approaches to the drawing process. "Straight ahead action" means drawing out a scene frame by frame from beginning to end, whilst "Pose to pose" refers to starting with drawing a few, key frames, and then filling in the spaces later. "Straight ahead action" results in a more graceful, dynamic illusion of movement, and is much better for producing realistic action. However, it is hard to ma
intain proportions, and to create precise, believable poses along the way. "Pose to pose" works much better for this, where composition and relation to the surroundings are of greater importance. Very often, animators use a combination of the two techniques.


Slow in and Slow out

The movement of the human body, and most other objects, needs time to accelerate and slow down. An animation looks far more realistic if it has more frames near the beginning and end of a movement, and fewer in the middle. This principle goes for characters moving between two extreme poses, such as sitting down and standing up, but also for inanimate, moving objects, such as a bouncing ball.

Arcs

Most human and animal actions take place along an arched course, and for greater realism, animation should reproduce these movements. This can apply to a limb moving by rotating a joint, or a thrown object. The exception is mechanical movement, which typically moves in straight lines but which is never seen in the natural world.

Exaggeration


Exaggeration is an effect that is especially useful for animation, as perfect imitation of reality can look still and boring in cartoons. The level of exaggeration depends completely on whether the animator seeks realism or a particular style. The traditional definition of exaggeration, which was employed by Disney, was to remain true to reality, just presenting it in a wilder, more extreme form. Additionally, other forms of exaggeration can involve the supernatural or surreal, alterations in the physical features of a character, or elements in the storyline itself. It is also important to restrain yourself somewhat when using exaggeration; if a scene contains several elements, there should be a balance in how those elements are exaggerated in relation to each other, to avoid confusing or overawing the viewer.

Secondary action

Adding secondary actions to the main action gives a scene more life, and can help to support the main action. A person walking can simultaneously swing his arms or keep them in his pockets, he can speak or whistle, or he can express emotions through facial expressions. The significant thing about secondary actions is that they give emphasis to, rather than take attention away from the main action.


Appeal

Appeal in a cartoon character relates directly to what would be called charisma within an actor. A character who is appealing does not necessarily have to be sympathetic — villains or monsters can also be appealing. One such example can be found in the Disney/Pixar movie Monsters. Inc which is brimming with monstrous characters. The important thing is that the viewer feels that the character is real and is interesting. There are several tricks for making a character connect better with the audience; for likable characters a symmetrical or particularly baby-like face tends to be effective.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Week Two Group Work: King Kong

video

In week two of our Animation Planning module, we were assigned the task of producing a short animated piece, which was to be based on one of our favourite films. After much consideration, we decided to summarise the movie “King Kong” by selecting the major plot points and condensing it into an animation that lasts no more than sixty seconds. We found this to be fairly risky, given that the movie has a total runtime of 187 minutes.

With roughly only six hours to completely plan, storyboard and then produce this animation, we found it rather demanding on ourselves to complete it within the allocated time. However, with noticeably obvious cut backs and some jerky animation, we finally managed to complete the exercise.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Experimental Animation: Alien Creature

A character created in Lightwave 3D 9. This helped me to develop a better control of timing in my animation.

video

Experimental Animation: Cannonball Bounce

video

This short piece of animation that was produced in Toonboom Studio 4.0 shows variations on the Animation Principles that are discussed later. In terms of 'Squash & Stretch', this piece uses very little if any of this principle because it is not a soft object, such as a ball. Adding the same degree of 'Squash & Stretch' that was included in the earlier pieces, "Boris the Ball" & the bouncing ball example, would take away the realism of this animation of a cannonball.

Also notice that the cannonball doesn't bounce anywhere near as high as the previous examples and fairly obviously has the strict rules of gravity applied to it.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Experimental Animation: Basic Ball Sequence

video

Experimentation with animation in Toonboom Animation Studio 4.0. This piece of animation is also more similar to the "Boris the Ball" animation that was posted earlier, than the cannonball animation that is posted afterwards. This animation shows much more bounciness, which helps to characterise this as a rubber ball, as opposed to a cannonball. This effect was gained simply by adding more Squash & Stretch, which is an important principle in animation. Appropriate “Timing”, “Exaggeration” and “Slow in & Slow out” was also used to distinguish this ball from the cannonball example.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Character Design: The Symbol

Alter ego: Gordon Grayson
Age: Seventeen years old
Height: 6"2
Build: Gordon is a handsome and very well built lad, making him very popular with the girls at high school.

Family: Gordon lives with his parents, Francis and Michelle Grayson, on the east side of town. Unlike the rest of his friends, Gordon is an only child, and therefore doesn’t understand what it feels like to have brothers and sisters.

Likes:
Gordon takes great enjoyment from his mathematics class and loves spending time with his girlfriend, Taylor Johnston.

Dislikes: There is not very much that Gordon doesn’t like as he is a very positive and optimistic person.

Attitude (in a phrase): "I will only use these powers to do good."

Quotes: "Randal, I'm sorry you were treated this way, but we can fix this."; "It looks as though we'll be busy for a while to come Scott."

Character: Gordon Grayson was just an average young man before the incident at Lab 14c. He made his way through high school with generally decent grades, had secured a place in university and had recently started dating the most beautiful girl in school. However, it was detail this that led to him being deeply hated by Randal Natos and caused the jealous nerd to create an explosion at the school lab in an attempt to kill Gordon.

The explosion resulted in Gordon gaining powers and subsequently changing his identity to The Symbol in order to protect his loved ones. Now that Randal has become Diablos and dedicated his
life to evil, Gordon has been forced to take a stand and to protect the city.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Experimenting with Animation

video

Experimentation with animation in Toonboom Animation Studio 4.0. This piece of animation is more similar to the "Boris the Ball" animation that was posted earlier, than the cannonball animation that is posted shortly afterwards. This animation shows more bounciness, which helps to characterise this as a rubber ball, as opposed to a cannonball. This effect was gained simply by adding more Squash & Stretch, which is an important principle in animation. Appropriate “Timing” and “Slow in & Slow out” was also used to distinguish this ball from the cannonball example.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Boris the Ball starring in: The Hill

video

This originated with me playing around on Toonboom Studio 4.0 for roughly twenty minutes, and getting really invested in the animation that I was working on. I had originally intended for more material to be included within the animation, but had to change the ending and cut it down. This was due to a difficulty I was having with the timeline in Toonboom and it was really frustrating me and, worse still, refused to go away. Ah well, c'est la vie!

Character Design: Boris the Ball

A brief design for a character that I soon hope to animate, named Boris the Ball. These were created in Toonboom Studio 4.0.

I instantly took a liking to Boris when I came up with him, and he reminds me of characters such as Voltorb and Electrode from Pokemon.

Boris is just a ball, who rolls around, trying to get through life as much as he can. However, obstacles such as towering hills prove to be a natural enemy for Boris...

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Character Design: Vox Arturo


Age: Nineteen years old
Height: 5"11
Build: Vox has a powerful build, owed to the fact that he is constantly training. Vox is fully aware that he must continue to push himself and break past the limitations of an average human being, if he is to have any chance of becoming the greatest warrior who ever lived.

Family: Vox cannot remember his biological parents as they abandoned him when he was only a small baby. He was raised by a humble fisherman named Retello Arturo, who discovered the boy lying on a log in the Getteso Forest. He had been branded on the back of his neck with a peculiar insignia, which Retello did not recognise. Besides from his adoptive father, Vox has no other family that he knows of.

Likes:
As was previously mentioned, Vox enjoys training and exercising to his very limitation. In addition to this, Vox also enjoys reading and travelling around the Oblivion Plateau. The demons that dwell within the caves of the Plateau provide Vox with exceptional battle experience, the likes of which he could never experience from training alone.

Dislikes: Seeing as he was brought up around fishing, Vox has developed a strong resentment towards anything that is fish-related. In addition to his, Vox isn’t very keen on femailes as he simply doesn’t understand their appeal.

Attitude (in a phrase): "I must win this battle, the future of the kingdom depends on it."

Quotes: "Don’t you realise that there’s more to this life than fishing, father?”; "God, I really hate fish."; "I want to become the most powerful warrior there is for nothing more than to protect those that I love.”

Character: Vox grew up never knowing his real parents due to the fact that they were killed before he can even remember. He was discovered lying on the grass by Retello Arturo in Getteso Forest. In truth, Vox has descended from a line of royalty from the Var’iel race and is, in actual fact, a prince of the realm.

His mother and father were killed during the invasion of their kingdom by the Arcada Empire. His uncle Bathien, who was a descendant of the Wolverian race, rescued Vox from certain death at the hands of the invading forces. He placed him in Getteso Forest, knowing that he would be discovered by Retello in a short space of time. Massive differences in the cultures of the Wolverians and the Var’iel meant that the boy would never have been accepted in the Fenrir Mountains and may possibly have been killed by the tribe leader, Arcanite.

At any rate, Vox was raised by Retello, believing him to be his biological father and believing that his mother had drowned when he was very young. But now, having turned nineteen, Vox’s father has revealed to him the truth about his origins. In addition to this, he told Vox that the symbol he has been marked with his entire life is actually a symbol of the Var’iel race. With this new knowledge, Vox has set out on a vast quest to help discover himself and to find where he really belongs.Vox grew up never knowing his real parents due to the fact that they were killed before he can even remember. He was discovered lying on the grass by Retello Arturo in Getteso Forest. In truth, Vox has descended from a line of royalty from the Var’iel race and is, in actual fact, a prince of the realm.

His mother and father were killed during the invasion of their kingdom by the Arcada Empire. His uncle Bathien, who was a descendant of the Wolverian race, rescued Vox from certain death at the hands of the invading forces. He placed him in Getteso Forest, knowing that he would be discovered by Retello in a short space of time. Massive differences in the cultures of the Wolverians and the Var’iel meant that the boy would never have been accepted in the Fenrir Mountains and may possibly have been killed by the tribe leader, Arcanite.

At any rate, Vox was raised by Retello, believing him to be his biological father and believing that his mother had drowned when he was very young. But now, having turned nineteen, Vox’s father has revealed to him the truth about his origins. In addition to this, he told Vox that the symbol he has been marked with his entire life is actually a symbol of the Var’iel race. With this new knowledge, Vox has set out on a vast quest to help discover himself and to find where he really belongs.

Character Design: General Alfred Ziegfried


Also Known As: General of the Vargosian Army
Age: Twenty-six years old
Height: 6"3
Build: Ziegfried is a fairly well-build, athletic and healthy young warrior, which is seemingly a necessity given that he is considered to be the most powerful warrior in the world of Viedania. He is a combatant of great strength, though his true skills lie with his blade, the "Ramis.” Ziegfried trains strenuously on the Andon Plains, which lie outside Zeppelin City, for three hours each and every morning.

Family: Ziegfried was raised under the watchful eye of King Slyvius, reigning monarch of the Vargosian Kingdom. Originally, Ziegfried lived in the city of Perce with his mother and father, until it was raided by the Vargosian Army when he was just a baby. His parents were killed in the attack and he was taken in by Slyvius, who could sense there was something special about the lad. Ziegfried was raised to believe that his biological parents had been murdered in an invasion by the opposing Kingdom of Sabin.

Likes:
Due to the harsh upbringing that he endured as a child, Ziegfried has grown into a cold and unemotional young man who takes pleasure in killing mercilessly and lives for the sheer ecstasy that he experiences during battle.

Dislikes: Due to the lies he has been fed by King Slyvius, Ziegfried has a great hatred for the people of the Sabin Kingdom.

Attitude (in a phrase): "I will not allow you to live.”

Quotes: "So be it, you shall receive no mercy."; "You will not stand in the way of destiny."

Character: Ziegfried is widely considered to be the most powerful and certainly most accomplished swordsman in the world of Viedania. When he was only a young boy, Ziegfried was continuously pushed by his adoptive father, King Slyvius, to train and to practice his sword skills. Eventually, Ziegfried developed into a merciless killer and the exhausting training became almost a form of pleasure and release. He was appointed the General of the Vargosian Army at the youthful age of fifteen, demonstrating just how powerful the boy had already become.

Thus far, Ziegfried has been unable to find any warrior who can rival his abilities and all challengers he has faced have ultimately been slain. Ziegfried played a large part in the invasion and subsequent destruction of the Summoner Islands, where he and his forces had been ordered to retrieve the Artemis Crystal from the Visante (High Summoners) Palace. However, this apparent “betrayal of the world” has not been well received by the Sabin Kingdom and a war to end all wars looks certain to arise.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Character Design: Ursus Arctos



Age: Nine years old
Height: 6"8
Build: Ursus is reasonably well-built owed greatly to the fact that he is descended from the Ultian race, renowned for their powerful bodies and formidable battle skills.

Family: Ursus, and his two brothers were raised by their mother in the caves of the Malisa region. Ursus left home at the age of four to travel the world, desperate to live up to the image of his deceased father, Shea-Kai, a famed legend among the Ultians. Additionally, Ursus deems his partner and long-time comrade, Tyron Rezev, a brother to him.

Likes: Ursus is vegetarian which is in stark contrast to the rest of his clan. Despite being teased frequently, he enjoys eating fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains. Additionally, Ursus enjoys playing his pan flute, which helps to keep him relaxed at times when his severely bad temper begins to flare.

Dislikes: Ursus loathes unnecessary fighting, which proves unfortunate given that his journey is plagued by harassing and evil characters. Whenever Ursus exposes his reluctance to fight, his possible assailants view this as a sign of weakness and press harder for a fight. Ursus is, in actual fact, a fairly accomplished fighter but believes in resolving petty conflicts through discussion, as opposed to a fight to the death.

Attitude (in a phrase): “I will become a great warrior, just like my father.”

Quotes: "I‘m certain we can talk this over, man to…bear.”; "If we proceed, there will be no stopping me… Are you sure this is what you want?”

Character: Ursus was raised by his mother, Collaris, in the caves of the Malisa region, just outside Telmil City. His father, Shea-Kai, was a legend among his race, but he died in battle before Ursus was born. Growing up, Ursus heard many exciting tales about his father, and felt a burning desire to become a great warrior too. Throughout the years, Ursus maintained a healthy way of life and kept fit, often wandering far from their home into the Achara mountain range.

His adventurous nature could not be contained for very long and by the age of four, the age of maturity in Ultians, he had left home. Early in his travels, Ursus met up with Tyron Rezev, a puckish character who soon became Ursus’ best friend. Tyron introduced Ursus to his clan, named Abbadon Clan, of which he was the leader and which consisted of his friends and relatives. Ursus has now been travelling with Abaddon Clan for five years, and has risen towards the top of the hierarchy, being viewed as a “second-in-command.”

However, their generally peaceful and fun existence looks to be coming to an end, as the humans of their world, Yisedia, have begun waging war and claiming new territories. Abaddon Clan must now join in the desperate struggle, not only to live in peace, but to save Yisedia from the destructive and unrelenting force of the humans.