Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Module2- Character Preformance and Believibility- Materials and Sculpting

So the objective was to create 3 different expressions and i thought hair would be easy to keep the same but making the same hair again is impossible with clay,  so  the wavy hair became part of the expression. making  the head shape was easy, simply model it around those small yellow kinder egg cases. using simple shapes is also helpfull and gives clear expressions.  i would write this properly but i have a really annoyiong cough and i just want to sleep.  but basicly i loved making these stop motion heads, and am thinking of making a short animation with some other students after im done learning stopmotion.

Critical Studies- Studio Ghibli, scraping the surface

Studio Ghibli, is a Japanese animation film studio founded in June 1985. Many features animated by the studio have won the Animage Animé Grand Prix award. 'Spirited Away' won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2002 and it is still the only non-English-speaking film in the world to have done so.

The three key people of the organisation are Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki.
Hayao Miyazaki, Manga artist, film director and animator. With a career that has spans nearly five decades, the success of Miyazaki's films compare his level of influence to that of Walt Disney and Nick Park.
Isao Takahata Animé film maker, who is often regarded as one of the greatest directors of Animé, or Japanese animated films, who ever lived. war-film, romantic drama, comedy and ecological adventure. His film 'Grave of the Fireflies, in particular, is considered by film critic Roger Ebert one of the greatest war films ever made.' ( Originally Retrieved 2006 -via Wikipedia)
Chief producer and President:
Toshio Suzuki is renowned as one of Japan's most successful producers after the enormous box office success (in Japan) of many Ghibli films. Hayao Miyazaki says, 'If it were not for Mr. Suzuki, there wouldn't have been Studio Ghibli.' (

I feel this is a good studio to study as its one of the only Japanese studio which has made its art known through the mainstream media in both the East and the West. 'Almost all Studio Ghibli's films are available in dubbed form, partly as a result of a distribution deal the company made with Disney' (Studio Ghibli p33). A lot of this is because the themes and ideology in the Ghibli collection are similar to the ones in Walt Disney Pictures. However, their second release, 'Princess Mononoke' made 1999, is a tale centred around the environment involving some violence, a lot of action, and carries a strong message. As this movie would not fit well with the Disney style, it was released through Miramax Films.

Takahata and Miyazaki have such a distinctive style that 'many of the films the pair worked on prior to forming the studio are often claimed as part of Ghibli's' (p15). Their feature films are very popular as entertainment and art.
Environmentalism, or rather the way man interacts with the earth. This is closely linked to the Shinto ethic 'in which our environment is a living collection of interconnected beings that should be respected.' (p20). Miyazaki and Takahata explore these themes through multiple angles which create different conclusions.
Flying is a theme which runs through out Miyazaki's early work and his films with Studio Ghibli. The joy of flying and the freedom it gives to an animator to experiment with speed and movement. Its also used to show worlds or situations from a distant perspective.
Children are often used in Ghibli films because they would naturally be more open to fantasy worlds and 'willing to face up to grave danger because they have not yet developed the facilities to recognise threat, or are even excited by it.' (p23). For example: 'Princess Mononoke- a human raised in the barren woods by wolves. She is attuned to the spiritual realm of animals, and dose not even regard herself as human.' (100 Animé, p190).
Anthropomorphism, Zoo-morphism and Metamorphosis are pretty staple products, but there used much subtly. Although some characters such as 'Haku' in Spirited away, 'appear to be human, only to be revealed later as dragons' (Studio Ghibli p24).

Wind and weather play a crucial role in the works of many animators whether its there to reflect a characters emotion, interact with the character, or set the scene. Wind and 'weather helps create a more impressive experience for the audience as well as showing the true art of the animator.' (p26)

Hannah Patterson, (2009) Studio Ghibli, Kamera Books, Harpenden, Herts
Philip Brophy, (2005) 100 Animé, British Film Institute, London

Monday, 24 January 2011

Critical Studies- Subject of interest

I have decided to focus on Studio Ghibli as an animation studio which has raised its popularity in the east and in the west, being distributed through Disney. I will also look at Hayao Miyazaki who directed Spirited Away which won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2002 and remains the only film made outside the English-speaking world to have done so. The man is the Walter of Japan. Below is some background information I have gathered from previous essays I've written , people I have spoken to and Cartoons I've watched but it has no referencing unfortunately. But a lot of it can be easily backed up through Google and Wikipedia I'm sure. I may come back and reference but id prefer to concentrate on researching Studio Ghibli at this moment.

My main interest lies in critically comparing and contrasting mainstream animation in the Ease and West. I first became interested in this topic when I started researching the origin of the modern Manga (Japanese comic art). It became apparent that a lot of modern Manga, especially the famous Manga eyes was influenced by characters in Walt Disney's early Feature length films. I wrote an essay concerning it for Art foundation in 2010. i shall try to upload it in pictures as due to all the pictures it will not be 'copy,n,past-able'.

Animé is known in the west as a genre on its own but in Japan it is simply a vehicle to provide the same type of entertainment as live-action movies.
Many Animes' are adopted from Mangas'. The first official comic strips in Japan came from USA in the post-WW2 era and from that, Japanese artist began making their own comics. The difference was, the reader had to have every comic strip to understand the story. Typical US comics involve story lines which start and finish with the characters in a 'normal' or same situation.
Animation in the US was still developing and looking for business in the beginning of the century, through its TV shorts and occasional features, Largely developed by Disney or Warner Bros. During WW2 these cartoons served as short escapes from the harsh reality. In fact, the 1950 Disney feature, Cinderella was put down by reviewers. They claimed it had a large amount of human characters which made the film seem real and should be alien to animation.

In the 1900s the US mainstream animation market sold its soul to business and the main goal of the industry was to sell merchandise. Saturday morning cartoons effectively became 23 minute adverts for action figures. Story, was not as important, you could watch an entire series of X-men or Spider-man in mixed order without realising you have done so. Western civilisation took on a Judeo-Christian culture, identifying 'Good' and 'Bad' with one aim.
In Japan the majority of animations were based on the Shinto culture, in which many stories of great people and items are worshipped as deities. For this reason a lot of themes such as homosexuality and death could be explored through animation, but they would be considered taboo in the US. The Japanese stories showed a mix of human characters and their lives with some fantasy element. 'Kimagure Orange Road' focuses on a love triangle between a guy and two girls, but the boy and his family have the power of ESP (Brain Powers). Many are popular for being just like an American drama series. A continuous story line with plot twists and occasional slap-stick comedy. Characters can change and develop within episodes so the viewer has to have seen the previous episodes to understand the story.

Animations made to sell merchandise were primarily aimed at children, but soon they started appearing for adults as well. To this day Bart is 10, Lisa is 8 and Maggie is still sucking on a pacifier. The Simpsons, South Park and King of the Hill all poke fun at typical American life. This episodic approach fit into the busy American lifestyle. Animé on the other hand is developed from Manga, which was popular with all ages, so viewers will take time out to watch the episodes.

I'm not saying that all Animé is not episodic, Series such as Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z were made popular on American and British TV channels because they fit the bill. The latest interesting distributor of Animé is Disney company itself. They released feature-length films from Studio Ghibli, all directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Disney has recognised the underground Animé market in the USA and UK and is buying into it.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Module2- Character Preformance and Believibility- Experimental Stop motion

 For this project i ws in a group of five people and suggested the idea of light painting as an animation. the objective was to use found objects to create an experimental animation and so we looked at a few videos to inspire us including the 'talk talk advert' and 'light warfare'. we also looked at the behind the scene vide to this in order to learn how light painting was done.

after we had filmed, cut and edited the video we reviewed a few flaws it had, firstly the music was good but there was no real sound that required a dope sheet such as a splash when he dives in to the water and also it was not as smooth as we had hoped. so we set about creating another video this one was to be short and sweet.

The group was sure that we needed a new video but there was alot of discussion about length and  where we could film. i created a story board for a 45 second piece over night with simple movment and speech. Michaels idea to use wire on props so we could get consistant volume when light painting allowed for a much smoother video and even in tight conditions we filmed a small sketch with a day. there were other groups working in the room which ment the pictures came out with akward lighting. this was not a problem for Brian and Beatrice who quickly imported each frame into photoshop and darkened them up. I then put in the sound over night and since Brian and i were so proud of the video we cheekily thought it deserved the 20th century fox drums and trumpets at the beginning. 

this project was very fun to do, but also very hard. i love that i now know a new type of animation and would like to do it again on a bigger scale. 

What is Lght Painting ?
Light painting, also known as light drawing or light graffiti is a photographic technique in which exposures are made usually at night or in a darkened room by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera. In many cases the light source itself does not have to appear in the image. The term light painting also encompasses images lit from outside the frame with hand-held light sources. The first known photographer to use this technique was Man Ray in his series "Space Writing" created in 1935. Photographer, Ellen Carey, discovered Man Ray's signature signed by penlight nearly 74 years after the pictures had been taken.

Test Pictures:

Monday, 17 January 2011

Module2- Character Preformance and Believibility- Group work

so for the group project we looked at MJ's thriller  dance it has iconic steps which are easy to recognise, even with stiff stickfas men preforming them. everyone animated thier own character and mine is the tone on the far right. to get the moves right we simply looked at some thriller instructional  dance videos and copied the movments. we also looked at the origional Michael Jackson music video for inspiration and to sync it with the music. i have linked the dance video that we found most helpful below. over all we found our piece to be good but it could have been better so we decided to make a few other videos later.

At this point i felt i wanted to do another video, as did Jacky and so we decided to experiment with lighting and concentrate on the characters movment. so we created a scene using spot lights to make a clear difference between light and dark. jackys character jumps down in the shaddows which took a long time to get right but looked amazing. we animated our own characters and tried to build tension  just before jackys character  kicks mine. i felt that something as simple as having my character scratch his head sould communicate a confused look because of the Stickfas characters have no faces.
We were supposed to  make more on this video the next day and Andys character was supposed to come in but Jacky couldnt make it so Andy and I created another animtion. this time our characters were balanced on the edge of an 'Animation light box' which made it harder for them to balance. we experimented with panning the camera from one character to another. making the movment look real. so you can identify the karate master from the lazy bum in the beginning. also some movments were slower than others and we made an effort to show that. the only down side was that a few shots were blured and we didnt notice untill the end.  we used wire to make a paper ball fly through the air and  typical comic book anotations were appropriate and they worked well.
we were largly influenced by the video below.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Module2- Character Preformance and Believibility

Back to uni and straight to the animating chamber...
...this is the first time i animated with these Stickfas figures and it becam clear how hard it was to make the thing simply walk. the blue-tac was helpful but also make s the whole thing look abit unprofeshional.  i wanted to do a couple more types of walks to practice smoothe movement. making the caracter more believable.
This sneak walk i copied crom the classic walk cycle picture and i felt it was not helpfull at all because it makes this video look choppy...after making the video i realised that the positions on the picture ase only key frames to guide an animation. but as i went on to animate the group animation i felt more comfortable moving the character around freely and experimenting as i went along.
 I made this moon walk video after the group project but I grouped it with this post as its also a video i made on my own. i feel it also shows how i become confident in moving the stickfas figure. i also used some refference from MJ videos.

In this video i wanted to experiment with a few things. i realy enjoyed working wiht sound. it made the movments easier because the figure is already preety mechanic so the robotic sounds work in my favour. i also shot this in 18 framse per second which was was slower than 24 but faster than 12. in the end that didnt make much of a difference. the animation runs fairly smoohtly but i feel it would be tha same, even at 12. i may experiment with this further later on. I was also inspired by the 360 camera pan in the matrix and attempted to move tha camera around abit on this character with a zoom in at the end.