Monday, 20 June 2011

The Degree Show

Hey guys,

Can we meet by the end of the week to sort out the degree show?

I will try and design some posters or hand outs for it using screenshots from the renders, but if i can have a better quality image from Sam that would be good.

We can also sort out printing the artwork or main images... oh and the art books??

I'm guessing Thursday would be best with Dean and maybe Sam's work?

Let me know ASAP

Cheers guys


Virgin Media Shorts

This could be a great competition for our film and I hope David enters it:

Lights, camera...action!

Virgin Media Shorts, the UK's biggest short film competition, is back with a bang for its 4th year.

Whether you're a Shane Meadows in the making or a Ridley Scott on the rise, we think every raw talent needs a break.

We're passionate about discovering the next big thing. And, as the only people to offer TV, broadband, phone and mobile, we're in the perfect place to offer film makers the biggest arena to showcase their work - online, on TV and on mobile phones. We can give you a leg up in the film industry and give millions of people the chance to see your work.

Virgin Media Shorts gives 12 up and coming film makers the chance to show their work on 35mm in cinemas nationwide for a whole year, across the Picture House network and independent cinemas. Plus, the lucky winner of our Grand Prize lands £30,000 to make their next film, along with some expert mentoring from the UK's leading film body, the British Film Institute.

Here’s the full list of what’s up for grabs in 2011:

* 12 film makers win a chance to show their work in cinemas nationwide for a whole year
* One lucky winner gets £30,000 to make their next film with money-can't-buy mentoring from the BFI
* One People's Choice winner takes home thousands of pounds' worth of new film equipment
* Plus, we reward the university, college or school with the most entrants with loads of shiny new kit

What we're looking for

Think big! We'll be showing 12 shortlisted films on the silver screen. So think about what will work well on the big screen. Be cinematic.

Think about the story. What makes a great short film? Find your own voice. Try something new.

Add plenty of polish. We're looking for raw talent and brilliant ideas, but that shouldn't stop you making sure that all the elements in your film are as good as they can be. Understand the importance of good sound, camera work, acting and editing. All of these things work together to help create the world you're trying to portray.

Try to have a critical eye on your own work - cutting things that don't hit the mark technically or just aren't needed to tell the story.

Up to 2 minutes 20 seconds (140 seconds), including top and end credits.

Freefall Changes

I have been spending all day changing the Freefall sequence in order to make it more like the animatic and I was given the following feedback from my previous work:

  • have them drop into the scene following the pose from David's scene
  • have them freeze and look into the camera, so no shaking of fist from Mongol
  • drop out of scene quicker

I think the scene is much better and I have worked so hard on it, but apparently it is still not enough and they are going to use James' scene instead. I am actually heartbroken about the whole thing as it means I have barely any animation in the film and so will have nothing to show at the Degree show.

This is Jame's version:

Friday, 17 June 2011

'It Ain't Over Yet...'

I have two laptops and spent the final night putting my folders together and this is the screen both of them treated me with at different stages... got to love deadline days :/

Here is my finished DVD case ready to be handed in, hope I have done enough for a good grade

Yesterday was very traumatic for me as I turned up to Ravensbourne expecting to see renders of my work and them in the final film. What I found was that Sam had cut them almost completely and there was less than half a second of my work in the film. I had not been made aware of this until I was sat watching the film and some of my shots had been replaced by in my opinion unfinished second year work, whichI do not think is acceptable.
The hand in for the Degree Show is next Thursday, and I have been given until then to tweak a couple of the shots such as the freefall and the man grabbing the chicken so that they can make it into the final piece. I cannot wait to get this done, and I am somewhat annoyed that if I had not have come in yesterday I would not have had any work in the film for the degree show, especially when my main folder in animation...

But I am going to have a bit of a rest after a manic few weeks, well year and will start these changes on Sunday.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Project Overview

Keeping to Targets

The first term seemed to be taken up mostly by changing the story constantly and we were a bit in no man’s land for quite a while with regards to the narrative and how the film would progress We had quite a few meetings with our tutor who kept changing his mind about what he would like in the film and this kept swaying the Director. In the end he eventually took charge and with my research into different comedic and animated film the narrative was completely changed to include more gags and bring out the fun in the film. This gave us more focus for the second term although rigging issues seemed to slow down the process continually, which was not helped with the added pressure of our dissertations. We aimed to have all the models and rigs finished by the time we started the second term, but unfortunately we were still finalising the rigs well into the third term. As an animator I found it frustrating to keep having to relay the problems to our rigger and really enjoyed animating in the last term – even though in my opinion the rigs could still be improved. We also aimed to have the film animation finished half way through May ready for tweaking and compositing and again this was not the case. We did tend to have shorter term goals that were more successful, such as by the end of the week having a shot blocked out, the changes to the story did push a lot of the work back in the beginning of the project. I am glad this was the case however as I feel the film is much stronger for the narrative side of this, although I wish the character designs could have been pushed through quicker.

Job Roles

My main job role throughout this process was that of Head Animator. I also used my rigging skills after learning about the process in the first term of this year. I do feel at times this was undermined and other members of the team took on work without making myself and others aware. For example models made or started when they were assigned to another team member. Job roles often became quite mixed and this lead to confusion throughout the year, not just for myself but for others aswell.

Team Work

The team started off brightly and we all contributed to the meetings and did lots of research. As the end of the first term drew to a close however we were a bit disheartened by the feedback we had been receiving. The second term gave us another wind when we had finalized the story and everyone started pulling their weight for the first time. The last term has had everyone working hard in order to meet the deadline.

There has been some team problems, mostly to do with other members and myself. Due to some absence this last term there has been a bit of confusion regarding feedback and talking through things in person, but these were for reasons beyond my control. In fact looking through the work now and reading the Facebook group etc. I was one of the main driving forces pushing the film forward most of the time. Especially when quite a few of the plot points or gags in the films were my ideas. I think the group has taught me valuable lessons in communication and at times no matter how much you do actually try it will never be enough. Furthermore people can really back stab anyone else at every given opportunity.


I am quite pleased with my animation and only wish I had had longer to complete it. Becoming ill in the vital ending stages (which as an animator I had been looking forward to all year) knocked about half of the time I could have been animating right off. I feel if I had the extra weeks I could have created more shots and polished the ones I have submitted to a fantastic standard. Hopefully I will be able to in time for the Degree show or especially the Skillset Showcase should our films be chosen. Furthermore, the work will take place in my showreel and I am quite excited to show it to prospective employers. I have learned so much about walk and run cycles it is untrue, and I feel confident that I will be able to create them with any rig thrown infront of me from now on! I have also used the graph editor a lot more than I have before to try and make the animations smoother and at times reign them in. I get somewhat excited when I start my animations and have so many ideas they sometimes go a bit too far, especially in the films like this where I want to show off what I can do. I think the most important lesson I have learned through my animation is that less is more, oh and to ALWAYS take on the feedback of what the director wants.


My other aim for the year has been to learn rigging, which I have done to some degree creating the character blend shapes and also setting up the rig for the Mongolian. This is the one area I really do wish to pursue in the future as I think it will not only help my career prospects, but I also enjoy the challenge and working out how to fix the problems. I only took the body rigging as far as the controllers and as yet have not delved into the world of painting weights, but I am confident from my practice at the beginning of the year with the facial shapes that it will not be a problem, especially with all the new tools released with the newer versions of Maya.

Overall, there have been many ups and downs to this project and although it looks good I still think too many inputs from different people have created some shots that do not look that great, especially towards the end of the film with regards to filmic language and camera angles. Personally, I will be glad to start my life after University now, although I have enjoyed the whole Ravensbourne experience.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Rigging Video

These first images are of the Mongolian model I made aaaages ago before it was changed for a lower res version. I haven't included them in my rigging video because it does not actually work as a rig yet I have only created the controllers and skeleton so far. I may carry on with this as a side project when I have finished uni to keep up my practice... although I will put these images on my disc aswell.

Without further ado, my rigging images for this year...

Folders Folders Folders

Here's the process of making the folders, so I am putting my concept art together using Photoshop, here's the files I am going to sort through for my progress of scenes, and finally I am using Premiere to put together my Animation and Rigging videos. Where I only have one file for the subject, for example Dynamics, then this will appear in its own folder by itself.

Final Week Scheduling

I had this text message from Dave regarding the state of the film. Sam has been doing a great job with the rendering, so it is good to know not many shots need to rendered.

Here are examples of some of the renders he has done to show the style of how the film is looking:

I am somewhat concerned that he has not rendered my shots or refuses to put them at least on Vimeo as I would like to use the renders as part of my animation video for my final folders. As Animation is my main folder I think it is a bit mean with- holding them when he has had most of the shots for nearly a week now. It means I cannot complete my animation video today, so I hope he has done some by tomorrow otherwise I will have to rely on playblasts which would be a shame.

Final Scene Six

Here is the new rough sequence for the Marmot stealing the chicken as drawn by Tara. The 'love' sequence will come inbetween Dean's sneak up behind the Mongol and my stealing the chicken. As I was working on Scene twenty one still, Rob animated this short sequence and I changed my Scene six later that night.

The sequence required Dean's tree stump to be used for the Mongolian to have the chicken resting on. As Dean had not scaled the object properly, here is the scale as it appeared in my scene and also the Facebook conversation I had with Rob in order to keep the scene consistent:

It was not only the scale but the positioning of the stump that was also important, so Rob sent me the co-ordinates to make sure they were exactly lined up:

Here is my final sequence for scene six, which has been the last of my scenes to be completed. I kept in the hat movement from before as it shows secondary action and also emphasises the shock of the Mongolian when the chicken is taken. The only real change are the positions of his arms and also the direction the Marmot moves in as this was changed to accommodate the tree stump within the scene. I am happier with it now and as far as I know so is the Director. I am a little unsure about the whole 'love' sequence and I am sure there could have been a better way to do this, but due to time constraints I am sure it will suffice.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Scene Twenty One Finished

Extra Step Scene Twenty One

I wanted to add in an extra dance step to the Marmot's movement, in order to fill the time between the side step and the chicken being stolen, so I looked into salsa dancing and remembered a simple step where you bring one foot infront of the body and kind of sway the hips then bring it back again.

Final sequence in shot twenty one:

Scene Twenty One Sketches:

Scene 16

Much faster and has more movement, Mongol shakes his fist reacting to Marmot getting the chicken, quicker camera movement down

Monday, 6 June 2011

Freefall Research

via :


Do falling objects drop at the same rate (for instance a pen and a bowling ball dropped from the same height) or do they drop at different rates? I know a feather floats down very slowly but I would think a heavy object would fall faster than a light object. Thanks for your help. I have a bet on this one.

Asked by: Terri


If no air resistance is present, the rate of descent depends only on how far the object has fallen, no matter how heavy the object is. This means that two objects will reach the ground at the same time if they are dropped simultaneously from the same height. This statement follows from the law of conservation of energy and has been demonstrated experimentally by dropping a feather and a lead ball in an airless tube.

When air resistance plays a role, the shape of the object becomes important. In air, a feather and a ball do not fall at the same rate. In the case of a pen and a bowling ball air resistance is small compared to the force a gravity that pulls them to the ground. Therefore, if you drop a pen and a bowling ball you could probably not tell which of the two reached the ground first unless you dropped them from a very very high tower.

Answered by: Dr. Michael Ewart, Researcher at the University of Southern California

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Animation Updates Fourth June

scene six

I had feedback to make the Mongolian be looking away from the Marmot and possibly be rubbing his hands. This somewhat confused me as the animatic shows the Marmot literally swiping the chicken away from the Mongolian and running away and this kind of build up is from the previous scene. When I came into University I saw another team member had done the hand rubbing so now my scene had to be cut down rather than extended. I had the Mongol adjusting his hat as a quicker simpler method of him looking away from the Marmot, yet the scene is now going to be changed yet again in order to make it clearer the chicken is the ultimate goal of the film and this shot will now just be the ending of the sequence.

scene seven

This is the faster reaction shot after the Marmot has stolen the chicken. I have made the movement of the eyebrows much smaller so they do not look as crazy and distracting from the whole movement of the shocked expression. Likewise the mouth does not open as much as this affected the movement of the brows due to the way another member had attached the blend shapes.

scene twenty one

This is the scene that I have probably worked on the least over the weekend even though it is the one that needs the most work. I have done some updates with the way he pushes up off of the cliff and also him coming behind the Marmot and grabbing the chicken off of him. This was easier to animate than him pushing the Marmot over, and also maintains that the chicken is the most important driving force of the film, not the Mongolian versus the Marmot otherwise they would have been attacking each other throughout. This shot will be concentrated more on Monday or Tuesday with an intensive session, as I want to concentrate on it rather than fitting it between scenes which is what I tend to do.

I am starting to realise that I find it extremely difficult to concentrate on one scene at a time if I have multiple shots to complete. For example if I have a few shots at a time I may work on one for half a day or a day and move on to another without finishing them. Evidently at this stage it is necessary to complete the shots as we are at the end of production.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Scene 21 Changes

Today has been aimed at working on my final scene. The reason I had left it so long was to see whether another group member could fix the Mongolian’s arm which had for no reason disconnected from the rest of the rig. Unfotunately it could not be resolved so I had to import another Mongolian and copy across the keyframes. I decided to use a newer version of the Mongol rig as I believed Tara had done them better, but I actually found them to be worse as he gets random creases in his arms and there is a difficulty with rotating the hands at times.

Furthermore the new rig does not rotate at the torso which I feel has been some what detrimental to my Mongol walk cycle as he approaches the Marmot as he moves at the hips but then the arms are also back at the shoulders when they are meant to be opposite and forward. I am unsure if there will be a blur on the Mongol at this time, which will be down to the compositing, so it may be alright in this state for the film production. For my personal work, I will look back into rigging to add another controller to move the torso, probably by making it twist the two top clusters within the chest.

It also became a bit confusing when I copied the keys across as the new rig was in exactly the same place as the old one and I could not differentiate between the two. This meant taking a step back and keying the appendages –arms, legs, etc – first and then the overall control for the character. I did become somewhat concerned when the eyes appeared in this state as I thought they were randomly floating out of the new geometry for no reason. Happily, I found they belonged to the old one and could be deleted accordingly.

One of the other changes I had to change straight away was importing the changed version of the chicken into the scene and making the Marmot dance with it instead. This was relatively easy to recreate the movement of the chicken yet there was more time spent moving the arms of the Marmot to make it look like he is holding it, as the mass of the chicken was not the same as the old one.

I am also unhappy with the movement of the Marmot now since I have had to cut his spin, as throwing the chicken in the air again looks like he is giving it to the Mongolian and obviously we do not want this to be the case. I would like to add in another dance move after the side step yet I will think about this after the Mongolian’s moves.

Feedback and Changes to Shots

After discussing my shots with my tutor and producer, then ringing our director, I have the following changes to make:

Scene six:
  • make Mongol look away from the Marmot when he steals the chicken
  • Marmot runs off faster
  • Mongol arms are not twinned and land at different times
Scene seven:
  • Eyebrow movement not as extreme or distracting
Scene Sixteen:
  • Arms and legs have faster movement
  • Hold Marmot squash for longer - another frame
  • Mongol reacts - shakes fist - to Marmot taking the chicken
  • Faster fall at the end with quicker camera move
Scene Twenty- One
  • Mongol doesn't barge Marmot out of the way, instead comes behind him and takes the chicken
  • General work all over especially on the arms
I have got the weekend to finish these shots which is an extension of three days to address the changes. I am going to Manchester on Sunday so it is unlikely I will work much then - although I am taking my laptop with me.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Scene 6 Stealing Chicken

I have changed this scene quite a lot since my feedback, as the Marmot run cycle has been improved and he just jumps slightly now to grab the chicken rather than being over dramatic and turning away first like he did before.
The Mongolian also barely moves although I did keep him raising his arms as I needed a way for him to have less of a grip on the chicken in order for the Marmot to be able to 'snatch' it.

I also think it looks better with this camera angle. I tried to make it more dynamic and interesting, and also lined up the Mongolian with the hut in order to draw the audience's eye down towards the action.