Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Walk

Another quick little experiment. I really like how the background turned out in this one! The background was created using felt tip on paper and scanned in (12 frames repeated), the character was filled with 16mm film which I applied ink to and the character was drawn in Callipeg. Hope ya like it!

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Kickflip

Now that I've finished 'Bear', I'm back creating fun little rotoscope experiments, while I wait for my next big project (I'm manifesting).

It took me a few days to get back into doing this- like I stated in my last post, I always feel pretty empty once finishing a big project and often takes me a bit of time to reset, before starting something new. I usually need a break, but one side of me just doesn't like me doing that (feels like I always need to be working on something), so often have a state where I'm semi working, but also not and the stuff I produce usually isn't the best and doesn't get published anywhere.

This piece wasn't forced and I came to it quite naturally which felt nice. I found a clip of a skater doing a Kickflip on free stock footage site Pexels. I then just started animating it in a fairly sketchy manner on my iPad using Callipeg, not especially knowing where it might end up. I've had some pieces of paper which I coloured and patterned using felt tips etc hanging around from February, which I started when I had Covid. Then I began animating 'Bear', so had them sat on my desk crying out for use ever since.


Above is one of the frames.

I scanned in one of the boldest and brightest sequences (I made a load of different ones using all sorts of colours, shapes and patterns) and used it as the background. I think I might try and come up with a few animations which I could utilise these patterns as backgrounds. Think it will be a fun little exercise and get me back into the swing of making work again. Yeah, I'm going to do that!

I then felt the skater should contrast with what we have here, so decided to put him in black and white, with very little detail. I think this clip is really eye catching and fun, which is quite a contrast to 'Bear', which is on the whole quite dark and fairly constrained.

Below is the clip:

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

'Bear' TRAILER!!!

Well this is fun! I've made a trailer for 'Bear' and I'm super excited for you to be able to see a little more of my film.

Up until this point, I've been fairly guarded about what I share, due to not wanting to spoil anything/ give too much away. It's an eleven minute film, so even sharing ten seconds feels like I'm showing too much, but I've purposely kept what we see here quite ambiguous.

I'm also ready to share the synopsis: A high achieving factory worker wears the head of a bear whilst outside the comfort of his home. With the bear head hampering his daily life, coupled with a growing desire to conform, he finds himself torn between his perceived safety and embracing the new.

Here's the trailer:


Enjoy!

Saturday, 10 September 2022

'Bear'- COMPLETED!!

As the title would suggest: ‘Bear’ is now complete!

I can’t quite believe it- almost 11 months of work, from my initial scripting stage back in October last year, right through to completion. At some points I didn’t think this would ever happen- when I’m working on such a big thing, I often find it hard to see the end, because the task feels so big. But little by little, I kept working at it and I eventually got here.

I must admit I don’t feel especially happy just yet- maybe it needs some time to sink in. Probably. I currently feel quite empty. Which is often the case when I finish working on fairly long form projects. Perhaps in a few days when I’ve really had time to process what I’ve done, I’ll feel more celebratory about things- or at least I hope so! Or maybe I’m just dissatisfied with my achievements! But, I do feel it is the former as deep down I am extremely proud of what I’ve created.

Despite what I have said above, to create something from start to finish, with no funding and no external factors to make me make it and on this scale (just over 11 minutes runtime), alongside struggling with several (both metal and physical) health problems throughout the duration, is an extremely BIG achievement. And I must remember that. To think what I’ve created here almost on my own is quite something. I have my partner Ben and my friend Alan to thank at this point- they have both given me feedback, motivation and support throughout and I honestly can’t express my gratitude enough. Without them, the film probably wouldn’t be what it is today.

I think that’s all I’ve to say about it at the moment- I’m cutting a trailer together, so watch this space for that soon xo

Monday, 5 September 2022

04111311

It's about time I put this one up online for public consumption, especially as 'Bear' is nearly complete!

My experimental short film '04111311' is a representation through colour reflecting weather and mood, depicted over the course of 365 days.


The score was composed and performed by the fantastic Jason Williams (whom I've worked with on a number of my projects, including 'Bear').


I've been slacking 'releasing' this one, because I started writing a super loooonnnngggg and detailed blog post about it. But it was going into way too much detail, I just never got around to finishing it and I didn't want to publish the film without the blog as I thought the process might be interesting to document. So I just didn't end up posting it! But then I thought I want people to watch it, so I'm just going to publish it regardless.

In short, it's a 365 style project, where I tracked the weather for each day over the course of urm, well, 365 days and marked it with a colour depending on what the weather was like/ how I was feeling (it's all interlinked for me). I then inked the colours on 16mm film using alcohol ink and went through the lengthly process of scanning the strips in at super high res and then cleaning each image in Photoshop to remove any dust (there was a LOT) which gathered when the film was drying. Once pleased with the visuals, I handed it to my composer Jason who did an AMAZING job at scoring it.

Sorry this wasn't the super detailed post it was going to be, but at least you get to see the film now, so swings and roundabouts! Maybe I'll do one at some stage, but I'm not making any promises!!

Here's the film:


Enjoy xo

Saturday, 3 September 2022

'Bear' Update 3/9

Apparently my last post was my 200th- wow! I had no idea until I happened to look at my stats this morning, but I guess that’s kind of something to celebrate. I suppose it is a fair landmark to have achieved. And so many words written!! Though I must state that I’m not trying to achieve landmarks with this blog or anything in terms of reading figures or number of posts- if I let those dictate me, I probably would have given up long ago or ended up writing things just to get clicks and/ or just for the sake of it. I think that’s why I don’t often promote my blog too much. It’s not that I don’t want people reading it (I do, and I like it when someone says that they read it), but I feel if I put an announcement with each post, then I feel I wouldn’t use the blog in the same way in which I do now. I use it as a way of tracking my progress, with a bit more detail (and somewhat a little more personal) than my Instagram posts.

I also like not restricting what I write about on here- and how it’s not specifically animation focussed- whereas my Instagram is. I mean it is largely animation focused, as that’s what I do mainly, but you know there’s football/ photography stuff, sewing, other creative ventures and just anything else I deem worthy of a blog post! It also makes me think about my work more in critical manner, which is something I feel essential if I want to keep progressing and learning (which I do). I sometimes look back over my archive and look at what I was doing several years ago and it’s interesting to see the ways I’ve improved, progressed and changed over the years. Also interesting to see what the constants are, too.

Reminiscing and analysis over, how is ‘Bear’ going? Oh yeah, first, I should give an update on my skateboarding injury for all those interested: it’s feeling a LOT better now (thankfully) and I feel almost ready to be able to go again. Though not before I’ve bought a helmet and some pads- injury is not something I’m willing to risk in future, especially as an animator.

OK, now I’m finally ready to speak about ‘Bear’! Like 4 paragraphs in on a post entitled ‘Bear Update’. But anyway, now here’s another landmark (and maybe one even more worthy of celebration): THE ACTUAL ANIMATION IS DONE!!! Done-diddly-un. I can’t believe it, I’ve almost made a film. What a journey. I still have sound design to finish and a few tweaks here and there in terms of tightening the edit etc, but everything that needs animating, has been animated! Wow.

The biggest hurdle this week was most definitely the crowd shot- one I had been dreading to be honest, due to amount of characters and the fact that I still had no reference footage for it. I had a few previous failed attempts at getting it, but this week my partner Ben and I went into the town centre on Wednesday morning and sat with my tripod for about half an hour and got everything I needed. And it came out really, really well. I couldn’t find a good piece of stock footage to use for it, so I knew filming it myself would get exactly the thing I had in mind. As the city where I live isn’t the busiest and there was never going to be a point where loads of people are walking in a big mass (or at least not at 9am which is the time we went), I had to animate each person separately and superimpose them in the TVPaint file. That was a fairly straightforward process, plus it meant I had more control and therefore could get more of a diverse range of characters- so mixing ages, genders and ethnicities. You can watch the clip below:


Other than that, I don’t think I have anymore ‘Bear’ related news. But watch this space as I’m going to make a mini teaser/ trailer type thing very soon. So stay tuned for that. And also the post where I finally announce it’s completion!!

Friday, 26 August 2022

'Bear' Update 26/8

This week has been urm, slightly ‘interesting’ shall we say. The week didn’t get off to the best start due to having had a slight skateboarding accident at the weekend which unfortunately resulted in me damaging my animating hand. Luckily it wasn’t broken- I did go and have it X-Rayed as it was quite painful and swollen. So that itself hampered my productivity especially towards the first half of the week. It’s feeling much better now though, thankfully. On top of the injury I also had a really bad bout of insomnia, lasting pretty much a whole week. I think the sound design is making me feel stressed!

How it started

How it's going!

So overall, I can’t say this was the most fun week I’ve ever had, but I can say that picture lock is now pretty much complete- I just have 1 or 2 backgrounds left (depending which route I go down) and the crowd shot to animate- which might take around a day. I think I’ll then go over the film a couple of times to tighten up the edit and make sure it’s all working how it should be.

Despite this week not being the smoothest, I was able to get over a difficult hurdle of a section which wasn’t working. The new way I’ve decided to go about doing it worked out much better, so that feels fantastic to have put that to bed.

I was also given the completed score by my composer Jason Williams, whom I feel has done an absolutely brilliant job. I’ve worked with him for several years now on a number of my films and he always does what I have in mind and then some! The score really enhances the film and it wouldn’t be what it is without it.

Alongside this, I also finally decided what to put behind the car windows when he is driving. I didn’t want to make panoramic backgrounds in a realistic style and then keyframe them, because in my mind I had always wanted them to be sort of abstract. When you’re in a car or train, the scenery sort of whizzes by and it can look fairly abstract anyway, so I wanted to replicate this. It didn’t need to be detailed as it wouldn’t have added to the story. But I didn’t know in exactly what way or how as a few of the abstract ways I tried previously didn’t work. It then came to me- I often work with 16mm film, so I thought ‘well isn’t this quite abstract and also something I like to bring in to my rotoscope work anyway’. There have been numerous test pieces where I’ve used 16mm (or similar) as a background. So it only made sense to incorporate it into ‘Bear’ as well. See below for what I mean:


It wasn’t even like I was shoe-horning it in- it just made sense. Around 2013/14 I made several 16mm painted on/ scratched films, which didn’t actually end up ever being made into anything- they’ve just been sat on my computer ever since and I’ve used snippets of them over the years to enhance other rotoscope projects of mine. So I imported one of them into the project which was something I made on a blue reel of film and printed on my fingerprints with black acrylic paint. It made a really interesting pattern:


I put it behind the car shots and added a gaussian blur, so it doesn’t take the focus away from the character, but definitely adds something visually. As it flickers by, the patches of dark and light change, making it somewhat mirror what you see when travelling in a vehicle. Below is a grab of it in the film:


Right, well I’m going to gorge myself on football over the bank holiday weekend- I’ve got around 9 matches to watch over the 3 days and I am so ready for it! And I’m going to be photographing a few of them too- can’t wait to get back into that again. Hoping for good weather! Have a good 'un xo

Sunday, 21 August 2022

'Bear' Update 21/8

This week was another really positive and productive week- woop woop!! The motivation is still extremely strong (if not stronger), with the end in sight. It always feels weird approaching this stage of the project and thinking, wow, it’s actually going to be finished soon. Having put so much work into something in an intense way for a fair chunk of time, reaching this stage of any project comes with mixed feelings and emotions. Predominately excitement (for it to be finished and also my next project), but also senses of anxiety, disbelief (that I’ve managed to get it to where it is) relief and sadness (due to not wanting to part with it) are just some of the things I’m experiencing. I’m honestly feeling mainly excited for it to be finished, but because I’ve enjoyed it for the majority of the time and grown quite attached to it, it’s actually a little bittersweet because I kind of don’t want it to end either. But then that emotion goes out the window as soon as I think about what I’m going to do next! Did somebody say feature film? Yes they did and that somebody was me.

Reflections out the way, let’s talk about the more tangible things related to the project: what have I done this week?

Short answer: a LOT.

Long answer: amongst starting the sound design, fine tuning the edit and finishing off the last few backgrounds, I filmed (and almost finished animating) the ‘scene with the other character’ in. I’m aware that sounds extremely cryptic, but I don’t want to give too much away at this point!

Due to having learnt a lot about rotoscoping during the process of this project (wasn’t sure that could be possible due to having spent the last 11 years of my life practising this medium), there were some things I wished I had done in the first instance when I filmed the bulk of the footage way back in February. It was mainly due to drawing the face- I found the eyebrows and the lips hard to pick out for a lot of shots, so this time round I asked my wonderful actress Anthea Carpenter-Procter for her scene if she could wear a contrasting lipstick colour to her face, so when I’m animating, the lips are easy to pick out. I should have also done this for the eyebrows- but for next time, I’ll know. Luckily she had quite dark eyebrows, so it didn’t pose too much of a problem. Her scene is quite dialogue heavy, so animating the lips was something I definitely didn’t want to be struggling over, so asking her to wear a lipstick was a good move and something I’ll carry into all my future projects.

For these shots, I also used a Canon DSLR to shoot it on, rather than the Blackmagic which was used to film all the footage in February. I found the colours and the contrast on the Canon to be sharper and more saturated, unlike the washed out feel of the Blackmagic. Again, this made the image easier to rotoscope and I feel going forward, shooting with a Canon would be my preferred choice. I love that because this is the biggest project of my own I have worked on to date, I have found out a lot about a medium I felt I knew so well. When working on something long-form like this, you inevitably learn more than animating short, five or so second test pieces. When you animate something short, there are a lot of things you can gloss over about the quality of footage you use, because there’s only a relatively small amount of frames to create. But on something bigger, those things which may have been slightly irksome on a small project are completely exacerbated and end up being quite frustrating throughout. Perhaps I’ll do more of a detailed post about this at some point- the things I’ve learned when shooting for rotoscoping maybe. But without trying not to repeat myself or anything I’ve already written about. We’ll see.

But, I have been recording some kind of ‘making of’ time lapse videos at each stage of the animation process, so I think instead of doing a post about it on here, I’ll make a short ‘behind the scenes’ type video/ vlog thing once I’ve finished everything. As maybe a video like that would help people understand the medium better, so they can create their own rotoscope animations. Basically anything to get more people on board with the medium!! So look out for that. Also writing it on here so I can be held accountable if I don’t act on it!

I think that’s it for this week. Next week it might be finished? You’ll be some of the first to know anyway! Below is a still from one of the new shots. I actually shot it in the spare room in my house and the microphone is pretty much front and centre- but hey, that’s the beauty of rotoscoping.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

'Bear' Update 13/8

After a few recent dips in motivation which I alluded to in my previous updates, I feel that this week has taken a positive turn and has headed in a refreshing upward trajectory. And it feels really, really good!

I managed to get over several harder shots/ backgrounds which I have been putting off and I actually like the results as well. My ‘to do’ list is shrinking nicely and I feel extremely excited about having an almost complete film. I now feel like pushing through and getting more of it done, rather than avoiding some of the shots like I have been of late. I actually don’t want to stop working on it at the moment!

So what has changed? I think because I got to the stage of the project where I can no longer avoid some of the shots or else I’ll just be stalling, meaning I had to just pick something off the list and do it. Once done and found that ‘oh this looks quite good actually’ and/ or ‘it wasn’t even that hard so why was I procrastinating on it’, I then gained the motivation to work on more. When I can see that something is working, I don’t want to stop and when I have a taste of what the project can be or might look like when done, I just want to carry on.

I also had an injection of motivation/ inspiration from attending one of the MAF Presents evenings in Manchester on Wednesday this week. Along with a really well curated programme of short films there is space for networking/ talking with likeminded people. When you attend something like that and are asked about what you’re working on/ what do you do, I find that it takes you out of your head a little and makes you remember why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. It makes you less likely to want to stop the project and rekindles some of the motivations behind it you had when you were in the early stages of the film. When you’re working on something for so long and on your own, it’s easy to forget why you’re doing it or what the point of it is and it really takes some mental strength to complete it.

The motivations behind my film are firstly to create a story which I want to tell and to illustrate who I am as a director/ animator. I’ve never made such an ambitious project and I really want this to show who I am. I’m eager to succeed in this field as it’s what I have dedicated a good portion of my life to and it’s the only career I can see myself having. There is nothing I enjoy doing more. Secondly, as a ‘calling card’ film, with my intention to make a feature film next and attach a producer in order to attract funding. If I can show what I can do without funding or a producer, think of what I can do when I have both. With both these motivations now in the forefront of my mind, it makes it a lot easier to continue with the project and bring the same freshness and attitude towards it as when I started.

This just goes to show how important immersing yourself in a creative community is and something I really want to keep doing. Which is why I continue to attend festivals and events such as the one I have just mentioned, amongst others.

Below is one of my favourite backgrounds I created this week. Catch you in the next one xo

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Recent Football Photography

After several months break from taking photos at football, I was back on it this weekend with not one, but two full sets!

The break was down to it being off season, plus being busy on animating 'Bear'- so not wanting to lose time I could be animating on editing photos. And also the fact that things in my personal life have been quite chaotic/ stressful in the last couple of months due to various reasons, meaning we haven't been going to as much football as we would have liked. Hopefully things are on the up now, so football photography will become more of a thing for me again. It was extremely enjoyable to get back into it!

Below are some images from Marsden FC, who play their games at the scenic Fall Lane. You can view the full set of photos here.






...And below are some images from The Rail, home to both Retford and Retford Ladies FC, the latter of who we watched on Sunday in a pre-season friendly. You can view the full set here. Heads up: if you like football and trains, then you'll enjoy these!