Friday, 29 May 2009

Rotoscopeh

This is half rotoscoped and half normal animation, I thought it would be best to rough out the animation with a stickman first before making him into a character. It costs time now but it will probably save time later.





Thursday, 28 May 2009

Magician



I decided to make the tails on the magician's coat longer to allow ample opportunity for secondary animation. Much of the animation will be rotoscoped to save time. Though if the reference video doesn't have enough, I'll add a little exaggeration.

I filmed myself with a hat a few times and this was the best, I'll probably need to play around with the timing, speed up parts and change others.


video

Sunday, 24 May 2009

The seaside- A breakdown

STUFF:

seaguls/ rocks/ sand/ shells/ crabs/ rockpools/ shelfish/ sea urchins/ seaweed/ barnicles/ waves/ sea/ briny/ windy/ weathered buildings/ weathered faces/ rough/ raw/ sea washed/ driftwood/ pebbles/ stone walls/ fields/ sheep

STYLE:

Irish Coast, weather beaten but beautiful, wide open, clear air, stormy.

RECEARCH/ INSPIRATION

The Peatce Sisters, Landscape artists, Kitie Morag children's books

Primary Consept drawings:







Preproduction, aims and methods

I’m going to try and narrow down a media and method for my specialist study animation. That in itself is tricky as the styles of animation that I like, have a variety of different media composted together. The beginning sequence to the age of stupid is an example, with the painted backgrounds and textures mixed with CG, I’d definitely like that atmospheric effect for the backgrounds and scenery, for the character, I’m not so sure. I can visualise long dark hair blowing in the wind when I hear the song, which would be easier and simpler to do with a 2d character. I can imagine it looking somewhat like the Gorrilaz music videos with their 2D characters in a 3D space. To be honest I’m not too fussed on the media I use, it’s more about the effect it creates. I will use what ever methods and media that fit in with what I want to achieve.

I want a high quality appearance, cinematic techniques –with good use of dynamic camera angles, timing and pacing-, and high quality animation with a subtle but clear story. I’ll need a good quality soundtrack and will need to re-record Great Uncle Joe singing the song, or find another method of getting a clear recording; perhaps a local band could collaborate.

I want the main focus to be on the character and the location, to give the audience a taste of who Kate Doherty was and a feel of her home and the coast where she lived. I’ll need to perhaps visit the location once more and gather visuals from it- concept drawings, visualisations, layout paintings etc.

The length will be dependant on the song and tempo, the tempo will be dependant on who I get to sing for it and whether or not I use backing instruments or not. It will be the simple idea –the life and death of a woman on the coast of Ireland- hopefully done in a complex way. It will have only the song, and no character dialogue.

I hope to market it to a festival, which one? I’m not sure; I guess I can try my luck at several but will need to look more into the methods that other filmmakers use in the successful films. The best of flip screening was very helpful in that sense.

I will enjoy the preproduction process as much as the production as the subject matter is important to me. I will enjoy researching the location and family history and trying to get across the atmosphere, location and personality of both the location and the character to the audience without the audience realising it (as they would if it was a straight forward documentary).

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Brothers McLeod

More on Codswallop:

I have to admit, watching codswallop a second time, I do appreciate the film more. Especially after hearing what Greg and Miles had to say for themselves about it. There is something of a three act structure, though not in the traditional sense with a story -There is no story and once you stop trying to look for one you can see the film for what it is- The mood carries with it the structure, the film darkens towards the middle to represent what would be the conflict/ turning point, then it brightens towards the end and the conflict is resolved. The brothers say that this happened subconsciously and instinctively when the film was in the making.

There are a few characters that are repeated throughout the film in similar but different situations. All the characters come from sketchbook doodles and characters that the brothers liked the look of, the script itself, compiled from odd phrases they liked the sound of, and patched and linked together wherever they best fit, from no storyboard or plan. The result is in many ways random, but if you’re one who appreciates the strange and surreal then this film tops the lot. It was marketed at festivals with the aim of getting themselves known, a different market from what they were used to but so far it has been very successful.

Animation the McLeod way:

The films from the hands of the McLeod brothers have a very distinctive style. The characters themselves have been developed over time to be very recognisable as their own work, their signature work. They most often take the form of monsters or strangely proportioned people, interesting to look at and in any colour of the rainbow. Early on, Greg’s characters were hand drawn, which gives them a quality that can’t be truly replicated with a computer. While he did experiment with more graphic methods, he came back to the hand drawn technique giving the characters the handmade appearance they have today. The line is thin, but uniform. It shakes from frame to frame adding to the ‘handmade’ feel.

They often experiment with many different methods of mark making, sometimes deciding on the look of the animation before the story. They have a wide range of techniques in their show reel from animating with photographs to animating on wooden sticks, this helps when they need to find work and shows to potential clients just how versatile they can be. Greg stressed the importance of experimentation and variety in a show reel not only for marketing yourself as versatile but being a good deal of fun. He also stressed the importance of active characters rather than passive- DOING something, rather than having stuff DONE TO THEM.

In terms of promotion and funding, the brothers gain money from doing commercial work and use it to fund their own projects. They emphasised the ‘feast and famine’ way of life, not knowing when the next opportunity would come along and so making the most of the ones they had. Ad work has strict deadlines and in many cases, inflexible scripts, they relish the opportunity to escape to their own projects where you can have complete creative control with nobody telling you what to do. They started out -and still practice- self promoting themselves; via Youtube, blogs, their own up to date website, entering in competitions and festivals, using viral promotion to their advantage, networking, building up useful contacts. They have a show reel of an ever increasing variety of work, short experiments that show what they are capable of and a clear set of goals to where they want to end up at the end and what with. In their case it’s a comedy cartoon series on BBC 3 and they’re drawing closer all the time to that goal.

Currently they are working on Moon Bird, Greg is ahead with the style tests, lighting tests, colour tests and character designs but without a finalised script or storyboard. It’s not the way that I would work, after all the narrative stuff that’s been drilled into us over the past few projects, but it’s an interesting idea to just let go and experiment without thinking too much about the story… Even small experiments can work to build up a varied and interesting portfolio of work.

Miles on storytelling:

Miles, the writer of the two, has many ways to gain ideas and build up such a stockpile to make writers block impossible. One of these methods is to start off with a random word picked from a book or newspaper and to start ‘automatic writing’ just putting pen to paper for 10 minutes and seeing what you can come up with. The results can be pretty random but they can build up a sort of ‘written sketchbook’ of words and phrases to gain ideas from. He also picks out funny stories from a variety of sources, newspapers, spam emails, random conversations… Constantly keeping a notebook on him to collect ideas and random phrases that come to him from everywhere.

In terms of characters, both brothers say that exaggeration is important in scriptwriting. Play with stereotypes and adapt them. Push a character to its limits, have the worst thing happen to them that could happen, this means there is more of a struggle and a sense of jeopardy that hooks the audience in and holds their attention. It’s important to give characters flaws, which in turn gives them depth.

When talking about refining scripts, Miles had many tips and hints:

  • You have to like your script enough to stick with it, read scripts out loud to get a sense of timing and what’s relevant and what’s not.
  • Avoid ‘too on the nose’ dialogue, don’t have a character say ‘I love you’ have him say it with gestures, awkward silences, hidden glances and the desperate need to say anything, even the mundane, to have the pleasure of simply talking to his love.
  • Have a change of state in each scene to keep things interesting.
  • When there is comedy, end on a gag and pause for long enough for the audience to get it and laugh.
  • Use visual comedy wherever possible and dialogue can be ‘the icing on the cake’.
  • When talking about Ad work, Miles emphasised the importance of condensing information into only what’s essential; the key points, boiling it down to what’s relevant.

Rough storyboard

This is the rough storyboard explaining how we get from one character to another. It's not the final one though. Imagine the stage is on a table or something and controlling the characters is a live action puppetmaster/ animator/ magician type of guy. I'm not sure exactly what he/ she will be doing yet but we'll have a group meeting on it tomorow to figure it out. In the meantime, I'll be working on my magician character.



Heres the basic chain of events (not including live action bits)

Wizard comes on stage and bows
Takes off hat and prepares to pull something out of it
Sparks fly out of the hat and hit the wizard, changing him into a little boy wizard
Hat still overflowing magic
Little boy wizard changes into a little girl
Little girl's clothes change several times
Changes back into wizard
Wizard tries to calm the hat down/ Wrestle it still/ shove sparks back in
Wizard gets sucked into the hat
Hat is the only thing on the stage
Tagline comes out of hat and hovers in the air (possibly stop mo?)
End

Monday, 18 May 2009

Best of flip 2008

KJFG NO.5 (Alexei Alexeev - Hungary)

"Three professional musicians, the Bear the Rabbit and the Wolf are practicing their art in the forest, but suddenly the hunter turns up…"
Best sound design, Flip 2008

Comedy in this short is achieved effortlessly through the brilliant sound design. It illustrates the importance of a great soundtrack in a film and also that the best films are a simple idea, done in a complex way.

Muto (Blu- Italy)

"An ambiguous surrealistic animation painted on public walls indoor in Baden, Outdoor in Buenos Aries."
Best abstract film, Flip 2008

I have seen Blu’s work online before, his work spreads virally through fans passing on links and stirring curiosity. It is truly stunning to look at with its sheer scale and ambition. Its innovative in that its never been done before on such a scale and others are catching on with animated graffiti appearing in adverts. Due to the rough tracking and the faint lines and marks left behind, there is a certain raw quality to the film, you can see some of the process behind it. Though it has little story or narrative- just metamorphosis and evolution- I can see why it won the award.

Skhizein (Jermt Clapin - France)

"Having been struck by a 150 ton meteorite, Henry has to adapt to living precisely 91cms from himself."
Best international film, Flip 2008, In addition, the film has won over 15 international awards

The concept for this film is utterly brilliant, imagine being out of place from the rest of the world, lost from yourself. You can gather your own meanings from the film, from philosophy to insanity. It’s a brilliant story with beautiful art direction.

This way up (Smith & Foulkes - United Kingdom)

"Laying the dead to rest has never been so much trouble."
Oscar nominee 2009

The story for this short is well scripted to be funny, but in my opinion a little too long. It does however illustrate perfectly what Ed Hooks is always saying: Animation is an action, in pursuit of an objective, overcoming an obstacle. There are plenty of obstacles in this, but perhaps too many, there are points in which you expect the film to end and yet there is still more. The film is beautifully made though, using hand painted textures for backgrounds, walls etc and its highly stylised. It takes on the dark look that stop motion has naturally, and yet it’s CG.

The Pearce sisters (Luis Cook - United Kingdom)

"A bleak hearted tale of two weather lashed old spinsters."
Best British film, Flip 2008; BAFTA winner 2008

This film has the feeling of ‘Salad Fingers’ in the strange isolated personalities of the sisters. It has plenty of atmosphere; the sound combines fantastically with the imagery of harsh weather conditions and a bleak landscape. You can really get a sense of how lonely the sisters must be in their isolated life together. You get the feeling –especially with the smaller sister- of a child with few friends playing dolls with whatever (or whoever) the sea washes up. It feels raw in the story, bleakness of the landscape and ugliness of the sisters yet it has a certain aesthetic beauty to it that makes it appealing to watch.

Codswallop (The Brothers McLeod - United Kingdom)


"Based on a series of stream consciousness postcards sent by the filmmaker to their son. ‘Codswallop’ features a collection of surreal characters at crucial moments in their briefly glimpsed stories."
BAFTA nominee 2009

The method of two screens side by side is an interesting one and the audience automatically attempts to find meaning and links between one image and the next, even if there are none. While the effect is random, the small clips by themselves hold small gags or actions that hold the audiences attention, you simply can’t stop watching as you anticipate what will happen in the next box. Throughout the film there is a unified aesthetic with the texturing, drawing and line style that may be the only thing linking the clips together.

One Nice Family Photo (Tom Senior - United Kingdom)


"My family rarely get together, so when it happens we need always to take a photo. As if dinner with nine people and the dog isn’t memorable enough!"
Best newcomer, Flip 2008

I enjoyed the documentary aesthetic to this film and the technique of animating to a soundtrack or video. The line quality may be rough but I think it adds to the personality of the film and characters. You can really get a sense of the emotions and moods of the characters involved.

Small birds singing (Linda McCarthy - United Kingdom)

"Every day is Monday at the home of the unbelievable family. Tiny elephants, arguing apples and a body in the hedge… Just an ordinary day at Small Birds Singing."
Selected for Edinburgh 2009, Annecy 2009

This film has a good, quirky, sense of humour and interesting characters. While the story and events are a little odd, they all have a unified theme of strangeness. For a student film and a stop motion the cinematic techniques are well thought out and the film ahs many interesting camera angles. The events themselves tie together in an ‘a day in the life of’ way, there is little story but it has structure to make up for it. The small snippits are like the comics that its based on.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Age of Stupid Review

It’s amazing how such a high-end result could be achieved with such small budget, but the Animation directors on The Age of Stupid were extremely resourceful. From deep space explosions made from dropping milk into a tank to shots of ruined cities from polystyrene floating in a canal their creativity knows no bounds. They’ve pulled effects, what would normally have taken 3D software, off with the help of a talented compositor and their own brilliant imaginations. Martyn’s high-quality matt paintings give the film a stylised noir look that carries over seamlessly into 3D and then live action, the overall tone, texturing and colour grade working to merge all manners of media into one film.


Sections of animation work well. I especially like the ‘history of war’ sequence in which the constant war humans have for resources is illustrated with clarity and with a script to the point. I like how the style of characters evolve through history and location taking on the appearance of art in that location and at that time, while also retaining qualities such as textures that tie each scene together into one sequence.


Overall the film did not take on a preachy edge, though I had thought it might. It works well to reveal our mistakes and look at them with regret and guilt but also determination. After all we still have the power to change and the age of stupid can become the age of change and revelation. We have the power to save ourselves, after all that we have accomplished. I hope that others will feel the same.


On a personal note this film made me feel guilty about being an animator, when we work on commercials, in many ways we’re fuelling consumerism. Perhaps I could take the same route as John and strive to only work with ethical, environmentally friendly companies, though this will be hard with the current economic state. I could make films ad my form of demonstration, and do my part to help the planet we depend on so much for survival.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Procedural Animation Summary

Procedural animation is the generation of motion based on procedure. That procedure, similar to that of generative art, is a process in which a series of statements/ instructions are defined by the artist or programmer to be externally executed.


I can somewhat share the passion Olivier Reullet has for his work. The way in which he told us that the computer itself can be used as a tool and a medium in itself, the creativity being with the instructions or program written. Procedural art and animation blur the lines between science, engineering, mathematics and art. Through trial, error, experimentation and creativity programmers can create a variety of effects that while might be created/ worked out and rendered by the computer, have a human link in the form of the programmer themselves who set the ball rolling and await in anticipation the effect it will create.


It is used in many things from abstract music videos to games, from special effects in film to VJ (visual jockey rather than disk jockey) projections. It can be used to achieve results that would otherwise be impossible (or at the least extremely time consuming) with the use of key framing or frame by frame animation. It can be used in creating animation that responds to events, it can have the audience interact and see the results of that interaction such as what happens in games. It is this area of procedural animation that most interests me, having a program that will show visuals according to user or audience input of various types.


I look forward to experimenting with ‘Processing’ and other script based applications as well as exploring the use of scripts, physics and expressions in programs I’m already familiar with, such as action script, Maya and Flash (actionscript). I will look at code, using existing codes edited and combined to my purposes once I understand what it all means!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Magician

Cut out experiments, I liked the one on the right, especially the shape of his face. His whole body is made of very simple shapes so it'll be easy to animate.A few more experiments further refining the triangle faced magician. I used Art rage 2 which mimics the texture of paper and the behaviour of paints on it, I was able to use a pallet knife to spread around the paint and merge colours together. I found it easier to work with a wash of colour over the paper first.




Monday, 11 May 2009

Experiments

I experimented with sillhouettes today to try and express the mysterious qualities I'd seen in the dracula in 'Transylvania 6-5000'.




I used black paper at first calving out seemingly haphazard shapes with the scissors that would later transcribe into the strong lines of limbs and cape billows in the character sillhouettes. the process gave me an idea for a character, a magician of sorts who would travel as mist and change things around him with a flick of his wrist. You can get away with anything with animation...

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Villans

The presence of an antagonist is essential in most stories and it can manifest in many ways. Often in children's animation the antagonist is so obviously a villain in his appearance that we need not know their crimes to believe they must be evil. It helps of course when the villain does act in a way to scare or otherwise cause harm to the protagonist. It helps induce, not strictly fear, but anticipation and excitement in the audience and they follow the story with renewed interest as to what will happen to the hero next.

In the Looney Tunes cartoon 'Hyde and Hare', an adapted story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, bugs is fearful of Mr Hyde without knowing that he is also Dr Jekyll. The cartoon uses the classic pantomime technique of having the audience know more than the protagonist; a case of 'He's behind you!' This engages the audience further than the fear and excitement alone, having the audience on the edge of their seats wishing Bugs would realise what we already know.


One of my favourite illustrations of the theory that a villain need only to look like one to be believed as one, is in 'Transylvania 6-5000' again another Looney Tunes cartoon based loosely around a classic tale. The house itself screams dark and evil but Bugs seems none the wiser. Again its another case of the audience knowing more than the protagonist. The vampire character seems born from the shadows, simply a vague black mist floating along till he appears suddenly tall and with feed on the ground in front of Bugs. This is a clever animation technique as well as an effective one. Why have a character walk when he can float mysteriously over the ground?

The eyes are also important in the way a character is perceived as evil, typically the pupils are small and the eyes are narrow, as if in a glare, for many of the character's expressions.


Castle Queen

This song was written by my great Uncle Joe in memory of his mother, my Great Grandmother, Kate Doherty.

I've Heard of fine beauties since I was a boy,
Of the fair Cleopatra and Helen of Troy,
But there was one fairer to me it did seem,
With grace and with beauty our own Castle Queen

Her skin was as soft as the fine morning dew,
And her dark rolling locks o'er her shoulder it grew,
The gleam in her blue eyes it would charm a king,
And bright was the smile of our own Castle Queen

She was only sixteen when young Henry so bold,
Came to ask for her hand in sweet wedlock to hold,
Soon she consented and it's plain to be seen,
'Twas the start of the legend of our own Castle Queen

Next year they got married and two hearts became one,
In the church at St. Mary's surrounded by friends,
She took his surname and fulfilled his young dream,
Then brought back to the 'Castles' his own darling Queen

She had four lovely daughters and fourteen fine sons,
In times when great hardship and poverty was one,
Ah! but all through her troubles one joy could be seen,
Was the smile on the face of our own Castle Queen

For seventy two years she reigned on her throne,
She welcomed friends and good neighbours from around Inshowen,
Ah! but age takes its toll now and so it would seem,
On the health and the strength of our own Castle Queen

It's sad I remember that dark April day,
When the Lord came to call in to take her away,
She stole away from us in a heavenly dream,
That silver-haired mother our own Castle Queen

The churchyard was crowded on that early spring day,
As we laid her to rest beneath the cold clay,
But I'm sure she looked down from her heavenly scene,
As we said goodbye to our own Castle Queen

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Coraline Review



As I sat down to watch this for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would be dark, which was clear from not only the trailers but the media itself; stop motion features have a tendency to be so. But I don’t think I was quite prepared for how dark it would be. The sinister edge was sharp and startling but definitely needed, in the same way that Roald Dahl books have no qualms about scaring children.


The world through the door, the other world, filled with vivid colours, treats and delights could tempt any child into believing all was well... If it wasn’t for the buttons. The transition from the world of wonders to one of sinister consequences is a remarkable one. Once Coraline starts realising her mistakes and wishing to go home, the illusions around her falter; things that were once dazzling wonders, become sickly sweet with a desperate edge or are cleverly transformed by a few small changes. A theatre, once full of marvel only needs to be emptied to become scary. Jumping mice become ugly rats, dogs with angel wings become snarling bats. Everything falters in one way or another as the ‘other mother’s’ grand ensnaring plans fall to pieces and she can no longer play her games.


The film itself is beautifully made; the characters are varied in shape and size as much as they are in personality. My favourite is Mr. Bobinsky with his eccentricity, bounding energy, slight madness and of course the hairy armpits. The film reminds you that, while the real world may not be pretty, it is at least real and doesn’t lure you in with false hopes and ideals that never truly existed. It illustrates brilliantly the old saying, ‘be careful what you wish for as it may just come true’ or the well known idea that spoiling children leads them only to wanting more.


The 3D adds an extra quality to the film that is not strictly needed. Already, the film has dynamic camera angles and points of view that make you feel a part of it. But I couldn’t help loving the way the portal to the secret world seems to fold out in front of you as though you could actually crawl along yourself and find yourself in a perfect, but not so perfect alternative dimension.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Brief

This is what we came up with today as a brief for the project:

Produce a 20-30 second Animation combining a variety of styles and promoting animation at BCU specifically children’s animation. The style of animation is to be targeted at younger children, while the advert itself is aimed at prospective students and professionals interested in the animation course and animation for children at BIAD.

The animation must showcase different styles of animation while tying them together in a unified way, utilising knowledge of what children like in animation and what it means to be a 7 year old.

It must be lively, attractive to both target audiences but more towards children. Make it fun while also showing the processes behind animation, for example showing the mistakes that can happen, and the creation of new characters by existing characters- A character given a pencil and drawing himself a friend.

Next steps:

Task 1- Use the mind maps to explore what it means to be 7 and look back on your own experiences to gain an insight into the 7-year-old mind. Come up with a character of your own creation and think of ways he or she can interact with other characters and scenes created by other members of the group. Think about the target audience and what they do/ play/ create/ like, refer to the mind maps.

Get inspiration from animations you enjoyed as a child and think about why you liked them and why they work. Incorporate your answers in the design of your character and scenes.

Mind maps





First Ideas

FEAR, irrational, self induced, rational, elevated by peers or siblings, nightmares and monsters under the bed.

At the age of 7 most children have at least one fear, sometimes many more. Some children are more prone to getting scared than others, fear can thrill some and terrify others. Though I didn't have a fear as such, once I knew what another child's fear was, I would tend to scare them with it, making up stories and confronting them with things that scared them, like with my sister and spiders. It was a little cruel, yes. I guess I just found it funny that others could be scared so easily.

It would be interesting to do a story on an older sibling (like I am) scaring a younger one, but working himself up till he started to believe the stories he told were true.

Or perhaps a small child who confronts the monster under the bed and tries to make friends. A story about conquering fears and overcoming irrational thoughts.

Media


I don't remember much about the things I used to watch at that age. I think it was probably because I didn't watch a lot of TV, I made my own entertainment, played with my barbies, read books, painted, drew or made dens. I liked cartoons though, catching them after school or on weekend mornings. My favourites were old favourites, the Loony Tunes and Tom and Jerry. I remember running downstairs whenever the theme tune came on for the Loony Tunes, excited by the prospect of another fun short where animals talked and bunny rabbits outwitted sneaky hunters in very funny ways. I also liked the Pink Panther, another smart animal that made humans look hilariously stupid. Of course I had no Idea at the time that these cartoons were ages old and just happened to be repeated occasionally when I was growing up, I only knew that I liked them a lot.


I do remember more recent cartoons, such as 'The animals of farthing wood' which were nice but they didn't interest me as much, I liked the animals, and the fact that they talked, but they were still to real I guess, not interesting enough, they weren't funny enough. And after watching Watership down, a film so similar in its style to the animals of farthing wood, I could never go back to it. The rabbits die!

When it came to films I was open to anything with animals in it there seemed to be a lot with talking rodents, The secret of Nimh, Fifel goes West, The Rescuers, The rescuers Down Under, American Tail. I guess it must have been a craze or something at the time, but I loved them. I also loved anything that Disney made. We used to go to the video shop up by my school with a huge array of kids films. We watched them all, my sister and I, at least one a week.


We didn't have a PlayStation till they were cheap enough for me and my sister to go halves with our birthday money and buy one for £100 from that same video shop as the owner began introducing games. I was around 8 or 9 then I think so I won't go on with that. We did have a computer though, I'm sure at that stage. A really old DOS model with no mouse, only a keyboard. Games came on floppy disks and everyone in the household was addicted to lemmings at one stage or another.


I think 7 year olds now would be more in tune with media entertainment than I perhaps was at that age. Of course Barbies still exist and I used to play with those, but I liked setting up their houses rather than actually playing houses with them. I would make Items of furniture for them, dress them up and decorate the rooms but had little desire to actually act out anything with them. I preferred life sized roleplay even if it was the fantasy 'ebwa' world, I could pretend I was something else. I also loved to dress up, we still have the fancy dress costume today, full to the hilt with ex charity shop goodies that me and my friends would dress up in and be whatever we wanted to be, princesses, space explorers, witches, monsters... anything. We'd perform plays or puppet shows that we'd invented for the adults to watch. I tended to choose social fun and interaction while at home rather than be stuck in front of the TV or computer. It seems times have changed, screens have got bigger, more colourful, less static and with better quality sound and picture- theres more now that will pacify an active child with all the bright colours and theme tunes like sirens.

Friends

I didn't have many friends at school, it was at that age of 'thumbs up', 'thumbs down' friends one day and not the next. I was just beginning to understand the true nature of friendship as being mutually good. Though from previous years of silliness and attention seeking, I had a hard time shaking off previous bad reputations. It didn't help that I occasionally still acted a bit crazy. I don't think it affected me much though, I had one friend at least, Simone who I had known practically from birth. Our parents were good friends and we were often at each others houses. I found this in the year three 'best book' again which gives an insight into what I believed a friend was at that age.


In class I guess I tended to act as the clown, distracting others from their work out of boredom, unable to keep still and be sensible.

I managed to find an old school report from the end of that year and the teachers say much the same thing: 'lacks concentration and distracts others'.... also 'difficulty cooperating with others during group work' I guess I was both an individual and preferred working individually.




Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Experiences

I remember that around about age 7 I had a lot going on. I was very active, so much more than I am now. I went swimming lessons both at school and again outside of school earning badges and stripes all through my school years. I recall having attended ballet for a short while, only to give it up. Piano lessons for a short while, only to give it up and gymnastics, which I remember attending at around that time.

I remember the place I used to go, a wide floor area for floor gymnastics and a vast amount of equipment that we were rarely allowed to use. As with many lessons, school or otherwise, I rarely gave the teacher my full attention and was easily distracted in my own world or was busy distracting others with attention seeking stunts. There's a video somewhere in the vast VHS stores in a cupboard downstairs of a gymnastics competition I took part in at around that age. It's hilarious to watch even now. Proud as I was in my little red leotard, getting nearly every single move wrong in a group floor act. While everyone was rolling one way, I would roll the other, I never listened.


We had an old cat called Oliver, gerbils that tended to either escape, get eaten by the cat or kill each other and tropical fish. I loved animals and hunting in the garden for mini beasts. I remember at one stage I had about 20 snails in 2 big glass containers in the garden and I'd feed them dandelion leaves and lettuce while keeping them out of the vegetable patch. I was very into rabbits at that stage, my first stuffed toy had been a rabbit, I've still got it, since I was given it as a baby. We were never allowed rabbits though for some reason, but I've never stopped wanting one. I made up an animal, the 'ebwa', which behaved a lot like a rabbit I guess. Me and my friends and sister would make huge dens that covered the whole floor of our shared bedroom with tunnels and hidden entrances and pretend to be a family of ebwas, hopping around escaping the hunters by hiding underground.

Whenever I got my face painted I always asked to be a rabbit.
The caption says:
'Cape Hill's fourth annual street festival got everyone in the mood for summer - even though the sun hardly shone. As well as music, there were Asian and Caribbean food stalls, stage acts, puppet shows, demonstrations of kickboxing and sword fencing and beat officer PC John Jillings tried out face painting on Lauren Newman aged seven, of Sycamore Road, Smethwick'

Though I don't remember much of the festival I remember asking the policeman if he could paint my face as a rabbit.

Fears


When reading this, i find myself transported back to the age of 7 as many of the qualities in this description applied to me, but not all of them. I can't recall ever worrying about much at all. I didn't have any irrational fears, like spiders, ghosts, etc, that many other children did. I remember on quite a few occasions exploiting others for their fears, and regretting it afterwards.

I remember oncet a sleepover once at my friend simone's house, there was a red light on the security unit on the wall. I convinced one of my friends, Rowan that it was a 'wolf's eye' and it was looking at her. I'm not sure how I managed it at the time, i guess i was just very persuasive or good at telling scary stories. In the end she got so scared that she had to go home, thats where the regret comes in, I hadn't expected her to actually believe me.

Another occasion, another sleepover. We were being so loud that the neighbour knocked on the wall for us all to be quiet. It freaked is all out at the time but i decided to make a joke of it and told everyone it was the ghost of a little boy who used to live here and he did that all the time. When the other kids started to get too scared though (and i was afraid they'd be scared enough to leave) i told them not to worry and that the ghost was actually quite friendly, like casper (the friendly ghost).

At school it was the same, I remember this one occasion where i managed to convince a girl in the same year as me that I was a witch and i could turn her into a frog. I'm sure it started out as an ongoing game of sorts, but then she started to believe me and got scared. I remember thinking that children who believed in ghosts, witches and vampires were very silly because 'everyone knows they don't exist.'

I found this in my year 3 'best book' of schoolwork that luckily my parents kept.



I guess this shows how much I liked telling scary stories and perhaps how I saw monsters and ghosts as clearly fictional characters, to be told in stories and not carried over to the real world. I did have nightmares though occasionally. One that comes to mind is the reoccuring nighmare I'm sure I had at around about that age.

The nightmare was really quite gruesome, a pack of snarling, hungry, black dogs escape from a cage at the far end of a garden and by the end of the dream are tearing at my innards and eating me alive. I think we can call that a rational fear at least, after all all dogs are decendants from wolves, but the strange thing was I wasn't actually afraid of dogs at all. It must have meant something. 7 was about the age I dreamed a lot about flying, I loved those dreams. But with the dogs, gravity seemed to drag me down and make flying a real effort so they would snap at my feet till I would eventually float down with exhaustion and resignation that there was no escape and they would just have to eat me. And I'd feel them eat me, strangely. I'll have to get that dream analysed at some point and see what it might have meant, it must have been significant since it reoccured several times... Maybe I was scared of something after all.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Introduction

When given a target audience of a younger age, its much simpler to look back on your own experiences at that age than to say ask a 7 year old what it's like to be 7- it's unlikely to get the answers you need.
The trouble is that while I might remember the sorts of things that i did at 7, for example got to gymnastics and swimming classes, its difficult for me to remember anything on a deeper level without thinking about it for a while and doing a bit of research. That will be my first task.

For secondary research I can pull up information on what psychologists think about 7-year-olds and their behavior.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Preproduction for specialist study

The module aims to prepare us for the first specialist study module in L6. At the end, I hope to have defined a set of principles relating to how I work, a production pipeline that I can easily apply to future projects and a set of theories, oppinions or ideas that I can call my own. I will not focus on a films asthetics without first knowing the story, plot and characters and choose an appropreate style according to them. I guess I could call that mu first principle, though it might change throughout the project.

I hope to find contacts within other networks such as actors and composers that I can collaborate with on projects, be that in a music video for example.

After our class discussion this week I understand the importance of theatre in regards to animation- In performance and acting, In lighting and set design and in staging. Also in regards to contemporaty context and 'breaking the fourth wall'.