Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Brief

(Har har)

Create an animation or series of animations that address climate change issues in an entertaining way. Consider a variety of delivery methods so that the message can reach as many people as possible. Target audience UK 13-50. Target those who may be interested in making changes in their lives to reduce their impact on the environment.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Top tips

I've made a list of top tips, useful low- no cost ways of reducing your carbon footprint, household waste and energy usage.

Reducing energy in the home
Wash your clothes at 30'C instead of 40'C
Replace ordinary light bulbs with energy saving ones
Only use dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load
Turn central heating down by at least 1'C
Take a short shower instead of a bath to use less water
Don't leave electrical appliances on standby
Only boil as much water as you need

Greener travel
Walk or cycle from A to B when the journey is less than 2 miles
Use public transport wherever possible
Car share with colleagues if you can
Inflate tires fully
Reduce un-needed boot clutter to reduce engine workload
When driving, lower your revs

Avoid food waste
Measure correct portions per person
Make meals from leftovers
Keep an eye on use-by dates

Use, re-use, recycle
Buy produce local and in season wherever possible

For more click here

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Initial Ideas

My first idea was to exaggerate scare tactics and have the contrasting '10 Survival tips for the environmental apocalypse' and '10 simple ways to save the planet'. It would take the form of a series of short gags, one gag for each tip. Then I could link relative ones together like 'Stock up on candles' and 'Turn off the lights when you leave the room' so a funny tip would be followed by a serious one or vice versa.


It could be in the style of old puplic information films like this one:

Friday, 22 January 2010

Rob Sprackling notes

Writer, Rob Sprackling talked about comedy in film and how to keep the audience engaged. He emphasised that each scene should be a self contained story or joke while also contributing to the main narrative.

He explained a good way to come up with high concept, big ideas, by combining things that wouldn't normally fit together. First start off with a world, then clash it with something completely out of that world. His upcoming film 'Gnomeo and Juliet' illustrated this perfectly with a classic romance inside the strange world of gnomes.

Character is critical- Often more important than story...

The central character takes us on a journey, he goes through an emotional change, learns something. The central character must be 3D, with a back story and a future (or goal). Other characters are 'one note' each one bringing out different qualities in the central character. Rob showed us clips from Mike Bassett: England Manager where the audience follow the story of the central character, who goes on an emotional journey as he is knocked from a fan favourite to one of the most hated men in England after several big losses.

Theme- Have something to say
Have a think about what the film is about, is there an underlying message? In Toy story, the theme is jealousy. Rob talked about 'The Queen's Corgi' where the themes are leadership, responsibility and self sacrifice.

Structure- 3 acts and more
First 10 minutes- Find out what the film is about.
End of first act- Turning point, change.
Middle act- solve the problem, find out what to do.
Third act- take action and resolve the problem.

Green Monkey
Rob's film Green Monkey is a short, simple film where there is a pay off at the end. It uses a interesting device where an event has happened and is re-told through several points of view to a detective.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Reference videos

I've been looking at how other people approach the climate change issue through the use of animation. Animation is a useful tool when addressing the climate change problem as it can present information in a simple way while entertaining the audience and keeping them engaged. Some are more successful than others in doing this and I will attempt to explain what I think works (or doesn't work) about each one and why. animation

This is a campaign on what scientists reckon is the safe CO2 level in the atmosphere- (350 parts per million). The animation aims to promote the idea, the number itself and to prompt change. It has no words, which lets it be spread all over the world. It uses graphics to show what 350 is about in a simple way. I think it is successful in this method, and has done well to promote the idea without dialogue.

Act on CO2 Storybook

This campaign uses shock tactics, making the audience consider the world they are leaving behind for the next generation. The idea takes the form of a storybook, using minimal animation just to draw attention to the imagery and to keep the audience engaged. The audience feels empathy for the little girl who asks about a 'happy ending' (again carrying on the storybook theme) which has to be our own making.

WWF Environment animation

This animation promotes change in the most direct and simple way- showing us what needs to change and how to change for the better. It ends in the message 'think new' after showing 'new habits', 'new technologies' and 'new ideas', which all prompt change directly, discarding the old habits and ideas in favor of the new. Its an animation with a very distinctive style in character design, the use of colour, typography, and simple shapes.

Face the music, Oxfam campaign

The simple scene, evolving over time reminds me of some sort of simulation game in which the objective is to advance your civilisation. I like how the pace of the animation and the music evolve over time along with the advancement of the rich and poor worlds. The effects of our own advancement and greed come on fast compared to the rest of the animation, shocking the audience in a very direct way, the poor side taking the worst of it through flooding and drought.

Energy, Let's save it!

This is a fun animation, illustrating ways to save energy in your everyday life- at home, at work and in transit. The characters wear super hero costumes as they perform their duty, saving energy and in turn the world (as super heroes do). I'd say it's aimed more at children than adults with the super hero theme. It also prompts the audience to spread the message to others around them. It hardly uses scare tactics, only really illustrating what we're doing wrong and what we can do to fix it. The character designs and backgrounds have the style of old 50's cartoons, simple, curvy and cute. It appeals to a wide audience as there is no dialogue.

Recycle GB

This animation cleverly takes the form of a game in which the objective is to collect and recycle glass bottles. it's clearly aimed at children of the digital age, using a computer game as a means of educating them about recycling and how much energy it can save.

Animal planet: The animals save the planet (energy saving light bulbs)

This short animation uses visual humor- the struggling penguin vs the relaxed penguin to illustrate its point that energy saving light bulbs are much more efficient than ordinary ones. I think this method of delivery is successful as it is very literal while still remaining entertaining to the audience.

Animal planet: The animals save the planet (Gassy cows)

This animation uses simple toilet humour and visual jokes to appeal to a wide audience and illustrate the point that cows produce greenhouse 'gasses' and by eating less meat, there will be less cows. Being a vegetarian, this video isn't targeted at me so I'm not sure how effective it is in delivering the message home, but it certainly entertained me.

Gulf Power- Light painting

This advert uses the interesting effect of light painting to illustrate the use of power around the home. The method is by far more interesting than the message however and I'm not sure how effective it was in drawing people to the promoted website to 'learn more' most of the YouTube comments are about the light painting technique.

Today's weather

Stop motion, paper cut-out animation illustrating the effects of climate change. it says a lot in 30 seconds but ti lists more problems than solutions, which is something I'd want to avoid. I like the style of the animation however, and its simplicity in listing point after point.

Global warming domino (WWF Brazil)

This animation uses the domino effect to illustrate the chain reaction of events all over the world, set off by a logger cutting down a tree. It uses dark humor and shock tactics to illustrate its point (that what we do can come back to haunt us), to entertain the audience and to prompt action and change. I'm not sure who this animation is aimed at, however, unless its the loggers directly. The general idea however can be applied to a variety of situations and harmful environmental effects, not just logging. It only shows the effects of climate change, not the solutions to the problem.

Futurama- Global warming: None like it hot!

This funny clip takes the form of an educational video with humorous personification of 'sunbeams' and 'greenhouse gasses'. At the end it pokes fun at humankind's denial of the climate change problem.

Animated editorial cartoon

This cartoon amused me as it pokes fun at the nature of humankind in a very simple way, specifically the way we tend not to notice when we're doing harm until its too late.

Round wheel Rolls

Though not directly about climate change, this short animation pokes fun at those who ignore scientific evidence in favor of old, inefficient ways. It holds parallels to the current oil industry, climate chance sceptics and new renewable energy technology.

Mood boards

After finding a selection of images from google, I grouped them into categories of good and bad.

The bad consists of scare imagery of what is happening in the world as a result of climate change and what could happen in the future. It also consists of imagery relating to how we got into this mess in the first place.

The good consists of positive messages relating to climate change; clean energy and ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

A lot of environmental films use a combination of these two categories. They show the audience what they are doing wrong, the consequences of their actions and what they can do to change, usually in that order. I want to avoid this format as it is used often and tends to berate the audience. Generally an audience, no matter what the age, resents being told off. I think by now, most people in the country know about climate change, they don't need a lecture, they just need the motivation to take action.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Aims and Objectives

Aims (what I want to do)
  • To create an animation suitable for a variety of festivals
  • Stick to a short, simple idea
  • Combine CG with one other medium
  • Make audio integral to the film
  • Create a name for myself
Objectives (why I want to do it)
  • To produce good quality animation for use in my show reel
  • To show a range of skills both in CG and in any other mediums I combine it with
  • To promote myself for future freelance work
With these main aims and objectives laid out, I can work towards a project theme...

Ever since seeing the Age of Stupid I've felt sort of guilty about studying animation. All i might end up doing is fueling the consumerist society and contributing to the bombardment of adverts that plague our every day. But then I realised that I could use animation in a good way, for environmental awareness, for providing solutions, for prompting change...

I would like to approach environmental issues in an entertaining way, keeping the audience engaged. The easiest way to do this would be through the use of humour. But I need to work out how I can make this serious subject funny. A topic like this will also show that I can promote something, while not necessarily a brand, climate change is a global problem and if I can prompt change in people it will make a difference.

I will try and focus on the everyday things that the average person can realistically change in their lives. I don't want to lecture, climate change is a well known problem and I think I can safely assume that most people know about it. What they may not know, or might need prompting on is what they can do to help.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Blue Baboon Reflection

I started off well with the last project; I had a simple idea, a simple story, one that would use my skills in character design, CG modelling and character animation.

Character design and modelling

I’m happy with the way my characters were simply designed, making the modelling process very easy to complete. I would like to have had the time to make a maquette for my pet sitter character to better visualise him from all angles. And for the baboon, I made the mistake of baking the Super sculpy before being sure that I was happy with the design.

In some scenes, the movements look a bit stiff, they would have benefited from video references and more time spent on them. In other scenes, the animation is incomplete, and in a few, there is none at all. The animation quality would have benefited greatly from better…

Time management
As this was the first CG film I’ve attempted where there are characters involved (and two of them for that matter) there were a lot of things that I hadn’t tried before and that I had to learn on the job. I had little idea of the time it would take to do certain things, the order in which to do others and the amount of work involved when it’s me doing everything. The time plan I made at first was unrealistic, the second was much too late in the production. Though the story was relatively simple, I spent far too much time working on a storyboard that I didn’t use. I was unrealistic about how much I could achieve in the time that we had. I had a few tricky problems that took a while to solve. By the end I’d run out of time to find or record decent sound effects and didn’t anticipate the sound studio being out of order. Though I had music for the chase scene, I didn’t have anything for the other scenes. I couldn’t complete the animation for all of the scenes and editing was a day-before stressful scramble for the deadline, leading to a largely unfinished result.

Thankfully, I have time now to finish off this film and polish it for use in my show reel.

What I’ve learned:

• Sounds, (especially dialogue) are better made before the animation
• Clusters do not work for eyelid blinks on their own; they’re good used for making blendshapes though.
• When doing blendshapes, be sure to do them BEFORE connecting your character’s skin to the skeleton. As the deformation order will be messed up if you do it the other way around.
• Though it is good to try things that you haven’t done before, leave time in case it all goes wrong.
• Plan your time use from the start, it’s bound to run out earlier than you expect.
• When painting skin weights, limit yourself to the add tool. First rough all of them out, and then smooth them if you need to (from the extremities inwards) with all other influences locked. This way you prevent influences being added to places you don’t want.