Sunday, 29 January 2023

Moth Film Update #2

Some of the moths

It’s been a few weeks since I did an update on this project, so I think it’s high time for a new one!

At time of writing, I’m currently at 626 moths (out of the 1080 needed), so I feel I’m in a great place with it. Ideally I’d have liked to have hit 700 by this time, but it was a quite full on week with work, resulting in wanting to spend less time drawing moths when the working day was up and do something less screen based and more relaxing such as cross stitch instead! I also had quite bad insomnia this week, alongside a few other distracting things occupying my mind, both resulting in my lack of moth drawing.

But, getting past the 600 mark could potentially mean only 4 weeks left to go on this project, providing I hit 100 each week from now on. Though it’s an arbitrary deadline, so if I am feeling stressed or have other things come up, then I’m just going to let this fake deadline slide as overall it’s no big deal and at the end of the day, moths can wait. Despite this, I am eager to get the bulk of it finished, because I really miss rotoscoping and have some ideas of a few things I want to try out, but not letting myself until I’ve finished this project. I don’t like having too many things on at once, because it causes me too much stress and doesn’t allow me to focus on either thing fully, plus it also poses risk of not finishing the first thing I started. Because I’m so far in already on this project, I doubt I’d let myself not finish it, but it’s not a risk I want to take. It’s so easy to leave a project unfinished once moving on to something else, though I have got a lot better at not doing that in these past few years as it’s something I’ve actively worked on.

In my previous update about this project, I touched on ideas generation/ inspiration for drawing the moths. Even now by having drawn double the amount, I’d say thinking of new ideas for each moth has actually got easier instead of harder. I feel this is because action leads to inspiration and the more I’ve done, the more I’ve got into it. I’ve found that each idea feeds into the next quite easily, so I can’t say I’ve struggled all that much with coming up with the ideas, which is nice! That’s not to say it’s been complete breeze, because it hasn’t, but it’s been a lot easier than what I might have imagined.

In the back on my mind, I’ve been mulling over a few ideas in how to finish the piece (both visually and aurally) as I don’t want just a white background and zero audio (I don’t think). Though I have nothing solid or on paper yet as I don’t want to focus on that until all the moths have been drawn. So with that being said, I don’t think I’ve especially anything else to add to this post regarding this project…

…But:

Some other news I feel worthy to share on here is remember the animated TV show I said I’m now working on as an assistant editor on? Well that was announced publicly during the week. Drum roll please: it’s series 3 of The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, which will air on CITV in the autumn. You can read more about it in this Skwigly article. It’s a super fun show and a great team to be working with- I’m thoroughly enjoying the role.

And lastly (this is sounding like the notices/ AOB bit at the end of meetings now!) but, I’m back on the skateboard at long last after my broken shoulder injury! Woop woop! It’s still quite early on in the recovery process, so I’m taking it quite gently, but it’s wonderful to be back. I get so much out of the sport- perhaps I’ll do a full post on skateboarding at some stage (and the benefits it brings). We’ll see!

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Latest Cross Stitch

If you’re a regular to this blog, you’ll know that one of my other hobbies/ creative outlets is sewing/ embroidery. Though of late, you might not know it- according to the ‘sewing’ tab on here, the last piece I completed was in October 2021. Which makes sense, as that’s when I started to really focus on making ‘Bear’ and didn’t give much time to anything else. I did start a few pieces of embroidery since, but never got round to finishing them- one because I didn’t like how it was turning out (though I look back at it now and it actually looks good- I’m so self critical) and the other because it was taking a long time and then making ‘Bear’ took over. I still intend on finishing that one though- it’s still in the embroidery hoop. So I’m obviously remaining optimistic!

A couple of weekends ago, on a random spontaneous trip to Bolton (wild, I know) I found myself wandering round the Hobbycraft there. I didn’t have anything in mind that I specifically needed or wanted, so I was seeing if anything would catch my eye- I’m actually terrible at shopping unless it’s for something I need, as not to waste money or buy things needlessly because of other factors such as environmental or general consumerism! Admittedly sometimes I am too strict on myself and that’s something i’m in the process of working on, but that’s probably a whole other post… But when I came across a basket full of Christmas cross stitch kits which were going for only 50p(!), I honestly could not resist! I wasn’t bothered about whether it was Christmas themed or not, I just wanted something to work on which would ease me back in to sewing again, as it’s something I keep intending to get back to. Anyway, I decided upon a cute little fox design- I usually try to pick out the things I find cutest- bonus points if they have a bear on it!


I went a little ‘off-piste’ from the pattern, because I always like to put my own spin on things (not to be pretentious or anything- I like making things they way I’d like them, because after all, it is for me). I omitted and changed a few bits of the design, plus decided to sew it on to a piece of felt. I think it gives it a really nice finish and makes it more of a whole piece. I love how it came out- I think it looks really cute (which I was a bit worried about at one stage) and I’m pleased with the neatness of my stitches. I’m looking forward to doing more.

Getting back into sewing in this gentle, low key, no pressure manner felt great. Being as I spend most of my weekdays staring at two monitors due to my job as an assistant editor, it was super nice to do something which wasn’t screen based either. A lot of the work I do these days seems to be digital (which is fine), but when I get back to using IRL materials and media, I always prefer it. I find it makes you think differently and more clearly and I always get more inspiration and better concentration when I base myself away from my screens. I’ve lost a desk space thanks to an extra monitor, which meant for several months now (maybe almost a year), I’ve not had a proper space in my room to be able to do non screen based work, which is quite frustrating. I’m in the process of moving house actually, so I’m going to ensure I make a space which is for non-screen based stuff in the new place. I’ve always enjoyed mixing analogue materials with digital, especially in my moving image work, but it’s something I’ve strayed away from recently. But I’m going to make a habit of getting back to it this year.

Anyway, how did I get from writing about sewing to animation? I guess pretty much everything in my life leads back to animation! Being as I’m straying from the topic, it probably means I’ve written all I need to for this post, so see you in the next one xo

Sunday, 15 January 2023

Clips From 'Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood'

Over on my Instagram, I’ve started publishing clips of some of the work I produced on the feature film ‘Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood’ directed by Richard Linklater, which I worked on in 2021. It’s in contention for the Oscar nominations and it’s currently available to stream on Netflix.

The first one is this clip from The Dick Van Dyke show, which I thoroughly enjoyed animating because of the amount of characters and action in the shot. Click HERE to watch (it will link you to the video on my Instagram page).


The second one is of some old-style payphones. I love animating hands, so this one fitted perfectly for me! Click HERE to watch.


I’ll be publishing several more over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes out for those- I’ll do a little post again once they’re up.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

Moth Film Update #1

Remember that new film idea I wrote about a few weeks ago? Yes? Well, here’s the first project update for that!

I’ve drawn around 300 moths at this point- progress which I am quite happy with, as it’s just under a third of the film already. Though, I must admit some days I find it hard to keep coming up with fresh ideas and inspiration, so they don’t all turn out the same. And I feel the more I do, this is only going to get harder as there’ll be even less new things to draw. But I’ve also felt that when I start that days work, I might start off fairly uninspired and the more I do, the more my inspiration feeds off the previous ones. I think it sometimes just depends on the day and how I’m feeling!

I’ve been aiming for at least 10 moth drawings each day- which takes about one hour. I was doing them quicker at the start of the project and could fit way more into one hour, but my designs were a LOT simpler then, whereas now they can end up quite complex:

One of the earlier ones

A later one

I feel this happened the more I got into the project as my mind kept thinking of new patterns to explore, which made the moths more interesting. The ideas for the simpler designs seemed to wear off quite quickly, hence more complexity in my later images. I appreciate that the designs aren’t all true to life and most likely wouldn’t be spotted on a moth in the wild any time soon(!), but the point of this project was never to replicate actual real moths. It’s more an abstract depiction of them. I like the fact that they started off fairly simple, because I think I’ll try and replicate that throughout the film- start off quite gentle and minimal and then descend into something more detailed and wacky (do people still use that word?!) as the film progresses.

As for using Procreate, I’m still thoroughly enjoying the process. I was able to take my iPad with me for when I visited my family over Christmas and was able to do some then, plus have been animating elsewhere than just my office room, so it’s been a really nice and comfortable way of working so far.

I think that’s about it for this update- though just a couple of other things: my shoulder break is healing well (phew), so looking forward to when I have full movement back and can get back on my skateboard. It’s only been 3 weeks since the injury, but it feels like forever!

And lastly, if you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I haven’t engaged on there for maybe nearly two months now? Or something like that. When the recent men’s football World Cup was taking place I decided against going on Twitter (due to the amount of football related accounts I follow) as I was boycotting the cup this year (though no judgement if you decided to get involved). But ever since, I’ve not felt the desire to log back in. I feel my life has felt calmer (and nicer) without it and haven’t actually felt the need to go back to it. I’m currently leaving my account active, while I decide if it’s something I’ll ever come back to. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but I’m in no rush at the moment. I have enjoyed Twitter over the years and have met some great people through the platform, plus if I didn’t have it, I doubt I would have ended up working on the Richard Linklater film. But I’m on a break, at least. Still on Instagram though (and this blog, but I guess you already knew that)!!

I’ll probably put another moth update blog in a month or so- I’m not going to do one every week as it won’t change that much, so won’t make for the most interesting of reads!

Sunday, 1 January 2023

2022 Film Recommendations

Like last year, here are my top film recommendations out of the (feature) films I watched during 2022. In total I watched 78 (77 being ‘new’ i.e. one’s I have not previously watched, with one rewatch), down from 143 in 2021. I was quite disappointed I didn’t reach 104 this year (meaning two ‘new’ watches a week)- hopefully I can reach that this year though. I find watching feature films really important, because in my opinion watching them is essential if you make films. It’s where a lot of the learning takes place- especially if you take a little time out afterwards to understand and analyse what you’ve just watched. This year I really want to develop my feature film, so watching as many as possible will hopefully assist me in this task.

These are listed in no particular order. The title of the film is in bold, followed by the name of the director(s) and then the date which it was made (in brackets).

Please enjoy and let me know any recommendations of what to watch this year in the comments. Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

1. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Heller, Marielle
2. The King of Staten Island (2020) Apatow, Judd
3. Adolescents (2019) 
Lifshitz, Sebastien
4. Paris, 13th District (2021) Audiard, Jaques
5. The Lost Daughter (2021) Gyllenhaal, Maggie
6. Petite Maman (2021) Sciamma, Celine
7. Cow (2021) Arnold, Andrea
8. Turning Red (2022) Shi, Domee
9. When Marnie Was There (2014) Yonebayashi, Hiromasa
10. The Nest (2020) Durkin, Sean
11. Weathering with You (2019) Shinkai, Makoto
12. Another Round (2020) Vinterberg, Thomas
13. Promising Young Woman (2020) Fennell, Emerald
14. Mass (2021) 
Kranz, Fran
15. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Adventure (2022) Linklater, Richard
16. On Gaku: Our Sound (2019) Iwaisawa, Kenji
17. Boiling Point (2021) Barantini, Philip
18. The Souvenir: Part II (2021) Hogg, Joanna
19. The Worst Person in the World (2021) Trier, Joachim
20. Ali & Ava (2021) Barnard, Clio
21. True Things (2021) Wootliff, Harry
22. Pleasure (2021) Thyberg, Ninja
23. Seahorse (2019) Finlay, Jeanie
24. Support the Girls (2018) Bujalski, Andrew
25. Entergalactic (2022) Moules, Fletcher
26. A Bunch of Amateurs (2022) Hopkins, Kim

Friday, 23 December 2022

New Film!

Long post incoming! I actually started writing this one a couple of weeks ago, but it took a lot longer than thought/ hoped for several reasons, one being breaking my shoulder! Gutted, because it means I can’t skate for a bit, but I guess it’s just one of those things.

Anyway, enough of than, here’s the post:

A few months on from finishing ‘Bear’, I'm now ready to embark on a new short film. It's a micro short, aiming for 90 seconds in length, with the fantastic DepicT competition in mind. I wanted to make a new film, because full pieces of work are somewhat more meaningful, rewarding and ‘whole’ than creating just test pieces, along with providing a focussed challenge. I chose 90 seconds as it's a manageable format, meaning I can complete it alongside working full time. It’s also something you can submit to festivals, plus another thing you can add to your CV as a filmmaker. It shows you can make work on your own initiative and demonstrates that you can complete a project from start to finish, which is actually more of a big deal than it sounds. You’ll probably know this is you’ve made complete films before (or stopped midway). Yes, test prices have their place (I sure do enough of them), but a complete short film is a great format to aim for, too. I’m a filmmaker, so making actual films makes sense!

This film isn't actually rotoscoped (gasp) nope, it's one of my experimental pieces. I tend to do these alongside rotoscope work, which you’ll know if you’ve been following my work for a while. If you’re new to my stuff then hello, welcome and I hope that you stick around! Here’s my most recent experimental film, which I completed in 2019, or was it 2020?:


The concept of this new film is pretty much just moths. It’s a flicker style animation (not sure if that’s exactly the right term), but it’s when separate images of similar things are put after one another, and when played through at say 12 or 24 fps, it gives an effect of the image changing or warping. If that make sense. So in this instance, I’ll need to draw just over 1000 separate images of moths (no big deal) and have them playing at speed to create the desired effect.

I get the inspiration for a lot of my films from my surroundings and this one is no different. A groundhopper friend of mine is into collecting moths or ‘mothing’ (I think is the correct term)! Once when he was enthusiastically talking about the aforementioned hobby, I thought that moths could make a really nice animation idea, and now, several months later, I am putting it into reality.

Before going into this project, I wanted to do a lot of R+D, because I don’t want to get halfway through and decide that this style isn’t actually working and have to scrap the whole thing- animation takes long enough as is, let alone if you have to re-do any of it. Plus if you’re in it for the long haul, you want to ensure the style you’ve gone with is right and fits the project. Sometimes I feel I might not do enough as I’m too eager to just start animating, but with this one being such a short film, I know I have the time to really develop it and get it right.

I decided to use Procreate for the bulk of the drawing this time round, for several reasons. Firstly, as wonderful as Callipeg (the program I use most for animation) is, the brush options are unfortunately quite limited, meaning I wouldn’t be able to get the desired texture/ look for this film, compared to other programs with a wider variety of brush options. TVPaint was also out of the question for this, because I wanted to be able to do this project in a fairly portable manner, especially with Christmas coming up, along with the cold weather, meaning I might want to work elsewhere other than my desk in my freezing cold office room. So, the only other option I had to use was Procreate. I purchased the app around a year ago when I bought my iPad, but never really had the opportunity to fully utilise it, besides a few concept pieces for ‘Bear’ here and there and a few other bits and bobs.

When I was exploring it prior, I definitely appreciated the variety of brushes and thought that I’d love to be able to utilise this app one day for something animation related (I don’t really do illustration or anything). I have tried out animating with it, but for me, the timeline isn’t very intuitive for animation, with all the layers being on the side (I get it works for some people, but not me- maybe I’m too old fashioned)! But, this project is more of a collection of separate drawings than stringing images together in such a way that they animate if that makes sense.

So once I decided on the software the first task was trying out a load of brushes- a process I always find fun, though I have a tendency to get distracted easily whilst doing so as there’s so much to explore!


Above are some of the brushes I tried out in the first instance- really testing out different sizes, styles, textures and opacities. Once I felt had explored enough, I imported them into TVPaint to see how they’d look in a sequence and against 16mm film- something which I had in mind to use as the background for this- due to it’s properties reflecting those of a moths- colourful yet translucent, plus the abstract nature of the medium. Though this might not be how I decide to finish the piece once I’ve drawn all the moths- I have a few other ideas in mind, but that’s for later anyway. Here’s the test in video form, plus it will give more of an idea of the concept/ how the finished piece might look:


In most of my animations, I use a brush with a thick, hard, solid outline, so as it’s a way of working I gravitate towards, that style came up in my tests. After playing it through several times, I decided that it was in fact too harsh and didn’t really reflect any properties of moths- something which for this animation I felt would be necessary. After reviewing them, I knew I wanted them to be more delicate than some of the styles I had been working with. I then went back to the drawing board and selected three further brushes after much more trial and error to do some ‘deeper’ testing with.

I wanted to make 6 moths using each chosen brush to see how they’d work in sequence. It was no good just drawing one or two, when the whole thing is going to last over a minute. I’ve found whenever I do style frames for previous projects, they might look good as a still image, but sometimes it doesn’t always translate to when it’s moving. So in my tests in style, when it comes to finalising the look, I always like to do at least a couple seconds of movement.

The first brush I tested was ‘Eaglehawk’, though I quickly decided that I did not want to pursue this one any further. I thought it looked more appropriate when auditioning brush strokes, but when it came to drawing full moth with it, it wasn’t giving the effect I was after, so I quickly disbanded this idea.

The second brush I tested was one called ‘Gloaming’. Here’s one drawn with that brush:


I quite liked it and it was definitely more delicate looking than my previous tests, but it still wasn’t quite right. So my search continued.

Lastly, the brush I tested was called ‘Wild Light’ (under the ‘Artistic’ category), which is the one I have decided to go for. At first I tried it with the opacity set to 60%, but after drawing several in this manner, I changed it to 100% and these looked well, urm 100% better:



This brush gave such a lovely, textured feel, yet dark and solid enough so it didn’t look too ‘weak’, and transparent enough so it felt somewhat ‘moth-like’ (I am definitely going to start using that phrase regularly)! I loved the frayed, bitten edges, which for me resembled the markings on a moth. I can’t wait to get stuck in! Now I just need to come up with a workable pipeline…

I really liked using Procreate for these tests and I’m looking forward to using it when I start this project properly. It’s very user friendly and great for this especially, because it allows you to flip layers, meaning I only have to draw one side of each moth, too- therefore cutting down on some work! I want the look of this animation to be very symmetrical because I feel that way it will work best, especially for when each image changes to the next.

Hopefully I’ll get a decent start on this over the Christmas break- will do some updates on how I’m getting on over the next few months. I have no idea how long it all might take, but I might try and aim for say 20 moths a day- or one hour of work perhaps (though obviously more over the time off).

Anyway, I guess that’s for me to figure out!! Not sure if I’ll post again before Christmas, so if I don’t, then have a great one if you celebrate it, have fun and stay safe xo

Thursday, 8 December 2022

35mm

I finally got round to developing a roll of 35mm film which I finished off last week (though started in July)! Because the film itself and the developing of said film is so expensive these days, I feel I have to be really cautious or precious over the photos I take with it and how often I use it. Mainly incase they don't come out 'good', but I feel the more I do use it, the better I'll get at film photography and more use to my camera, so the hit rate will be better overall. Must do more! Hopefully I'll manage another roll over Christmas.

Below are a some which I liked:








Sunday, 4 December 2022

Rotoscope Over 3D Test #3

Third one of these. Really quite like this style, perhaps something to develop into a slightly more long form piece. Maybe... I didn't actually like this one to start with, so I left it on my computer for a while, thinking it'll just be one of those pieces that I'll never share (I have loads like that)!! Then I went back to it last week just to have another look, changed the colours and for some reason it just clicked! Making art is a weird process.


On an unrelated note, the super talented filmmaker Liam White has a crowdfunder happening right now for his most recent short, 'Housewarming'. I would highly recommend having a look at his campaign and donating if you can spare the funds. I'd love to see him be able to make this project, so fingers crossed he reaches his target!

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Swimming

It’s been around about a month, but I now have a new animated clip to share! This is a continuation in technique of the previous one where I rotoscoped over a 3D reference. I wanted to develop this way of working to see how it looks on other shots/ characters.

I had some hand drawn abstract patterned frames hanging around (as you do), which I always had intended to incorporate in an animation at some point- though wasn’t sure especially what (or when). I was looking at them and felt that they were reminiscent of waves in a loose, abstract kind of way. With this in mind, I decided to use a reference clip of someone swimming.

For the figure, I used a similar style to the previous one- black outline with black shading, but instead of a white fill for the body, I used a shade of blue which I felt complimented the background. Here is the clip:


I think the end result is really eye catching and love the contrast between the smooth, clean look/ feel of the rotoscope animation, with the rougher, choppier hand drawn background. I love how the background turned out when animated, too- it does actually kind of look like waves! I also really like the colours- I could have so easily wimped out and just filled the figure with white again, but I feel that the blue really gives it something extra.

I think this is a technique which I want to carry on exploring for a while. I don’t feel I’m finished with it yet, or pushed it as far as I want to! Watch this space for more as always.

Ps. I watched the animated feature film ‘Entergalactic’ on Netflix not so long ago and I honestly don’t feel it’s been hyped up enough- it was absolutely fantastic!! Please go and check it out and give it some love.

Monday, 28 November 2022

'Bear': Manchester Screening Details

Hey hey! It’s been a while- I’ve been busy with work and life, but still doing things!! I’ll try and make time to do more of a general update blog soon (perhaps)- we’ll see.

But first, some more exciting news on ‘Bear’: it’s coming to Manchester! It’s playing as part of the quarterly Filmed Up event at HOME Cinema on Tuesday 6th December at 6.20pm.

I’m really pleased that it got selected for this, because it’s a fairly local event, meaning some of the cast and crew are able to come down and join all the fun too! Also, I love HOME, so to have my film screened there is pretty cool IMO. Plus, the selection of films playing that evening looks great.

It’s only £5.50, which for 90-ish minutes of local talent, is what I’d call a bargain. Link to tickets and for more info, please click HERE. Hope to see you there!