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!


Monday, 31 October 2022

'Bear'- First Public Screening

I'm delighted to announce the details for the first public screening of my short film, ‘Bear’- woop woop!!

It’s part of the ‘Showroom Shorts’ monthly short film event at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield. It’s one of fifteen films playing that night- and I’m overjoyed to be part of it as the programme looks absolutely amazing! Click here to see for yourself.

It’s on Tuesday 15th November and the films start at 9pm- though it’s recommended to get there earlier as most of the filmmakers (myself included) will be present, so a chance to chat/ network (whatever you like to call it)! Oh yes, it’s also FREE- how cool is that?!

Below is a screen grab from the event page itself, which has a bit more info (click to enlarge):


…And just in case you missed it before, here’s the trailer for ‘Bear’:


Be great to see some of you down there- I’m usually wearing a yellow hat, so come say hey!

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Rotoscope 3D Animation Test

I know in my last post I suggested these test clips might slow down a little, but I actually made another one already. I said I’d only do them if I had a specific idea for something I wanted to try, rather than doing them for (what feels) like the sake of it. Soon after writing that post, I genuinely did have something I wanted to try, so here we are!

Ever since hearing about ‘Mixamo’- the free Adobe resource (what’s the catch lol) of 3D characters and animations you can use in your own projects, I wanted to utilise it in some way or other. I’ve had a few ideas before, but not really got that far in executing them …until now. I think my other ideas were over complicated hence never carrying them out, though this idea was definitely something I felt I could complete.


So what is it?!


I wanted to try rotoscoping over one of the 3D characters. Why? A couple of reasons. Firstly, to see how it might look and if it would work altogether. I’d been curious about this, just to see how much drawing over a 3D character would differ than drawing over filmed footage of a human. Whether it would pick up on certain nuances, or even look anything like what I was trying to replicate. I think I was curious about trying these things, because I thought it could potentially be a great way of making my next film, rather than using real actors. More on that later.


In terms of the process, that barely differed- it was a quite simple case of importing the footage and redrawing it in a style I felt suited. In fact, because the reference footage was computer generated, it was quite a lot easier to rotoscope as more things with it stayed fixed. Such as hair. Rotoscoping hair on filmed footage is not fun (IMO), especially long hair! The footage was also cleaner and therefore easier to see some of the outlines.


A negative I found though, was the fact that because it was computer generated it was somewhat glitchy. There were occasional artefacts sticking out of the character at various points and sometimes the body/ clothing was not acting especially naturalistic. These things were fairly easily fixed though as I could just re-draw them in a way which appeared more ‘normal’/ natural.


Overall though, the concept seemed to work- or at least for this piece of footage it did. I went for a shot which contained a lot of action/ movement to it. I’m considering maybe if I tried it with a more still shot- how well that would work. Something I’d like to try anyway. It also didn’t look a complete mess (phew) and it didn’t appear too ‘uncanny valley’ either- or at least not in my eyes. Perhaps because I went for a highly stylised black and white finish, the end result came out really nicely. I skipped a lot of the facial features/ detail, which perhaps cut down on any uncanny feeling there might have been, if I went full detail with the face. Who knows… 


The second reason I wanted to try it was, as if it did work/ look ‘good’, then I might consider using it in my next short film. As you probably have guessed from reading this blog, I’m a person who likes to experiment with technique and technology, so this felt like the perfect testing ground! So, as stated above, I felt like this technique did work (though needs more experimenting on different clips, I’d say), but if it was something I’d want to use in future productions, I’d have to learn how to animate 3D characters, or at least to a certain extent. I mean this would be if I wanted them to do specific things and act in a certain way. So would there be much point taking a lot of time to learn 3D animation enough so I can use it in a short film, over hiring actors and filming them, to get a look which is similar? At this point, I’d probably say no, but it’s not like there aren’t advantages of using 3D characters instead of real life people. One main one would be that it would cut down the stress/ hassle of being on set, alongside sourcing a decent location to film in at a reasonable price. It would cut down on filming budget, but raise the amount of hours spent, therefore increasing the time budget.


Like I said, I’d want to make a few more of these test clips in the same way, to see whether it works with different shots and characters, rather than just the one I tried. I think this might help me decide if it’s something I want to pursue on a bigger project. I have even thought that it might work in a more abstract project, rather than a narrative film, because I can just use the pre-loaded animations, rather than making my own (so I wouldn’t need to spend hours and hours learning character animation in Blender). Again, I feel more test clips would help me decide here.


So in conclusion, I feel it was successful, but needs more testing. I sound like a scientist in how I approach my animations!


Here’s the clip:


Wednesday, 5 October 2022

New Job!!

Sooo, the title of this post is called ‘New Job’, because urm guess what, I got a new job!!!

Even though ‘Bear’ went on for slightly longer than planned, the idea after finishing that was always to get another job. I kind of like the idea of doing one job for a company, then taking a break to work on one of my own films, then a job again and so on. This, I find is a great way to satisfy a healthy work-life balance and also both sides of things I want to achieve in my career/ life. These are making a name for myself as a director (of animated films), but also being able to have the opportunity to work on other fantastic projects happening in the industry, such as feature films or TV series.

This current job is the role of an Assistant Editor working at Illuminated Films on a super fun/ creative children’s TV series (which I’m not going to state as it hasn’t been publicly announced thus far- sorry). When it is, I’ll let you know! I decided to go for an edit role this time, because it’s something I massively enjoy doing and have always wanted to try in an industry/ studio setting (which I haven’t done prior- despite my amount of experience, it’s mainly been in a corporate/ commercial setting or on my own short films). I’m also under no illusion that I’m going to get a rotoscope role each time I need a job, because the actual fact is, it’s a niche medium so there isn’t always a project I can readily jump on, unlike other forms of 2D animation which are more widely used. Hence going for a role which is both something I’m confident/ experienced in and enjoy doing.

I’m really pleased that I was selected for this role and I hope I stand out in the work that I produce for it. I’m already mid-way through the first week (it was a super quick turn around from applying to starting!!) and I’m finding it really enjoyable so far, with a really friendly, small team. And I’m not just saying that! I think it’s really cool that the work I’m doing now is contributing towards a TV series which will be broadcast at some stage in the near future. I appreciate how lucky and privileged I am to be able to work in this industry, but I also have to acknowledge the hard work I’ve put in to get me to this point- for me it definitely didn’t come easily or smoothly and there were so many times I could have given in. But I kept on going and working away, and I feel it might finally be paying off.

Rotoscope clips from now on might slow down, but I have a few things in the works. I’m actually going to stop doing ‘test clips’ for now (I think), due to the fact that I prefer to have a project with an aim, rather than something which feels like I’m doing it for the sake of it. If there is a style I specifically want to try out, I will, but I’m not just going to aimlessly create clips, just for something to post on the socials (that’s not the reason I do them btw, but sometimes it feels like it). I’m actually going to start a new short film project- something which I can do in the mornings before I begin work. This project won’t be as long in duration or as ambitious as ‘Bear’, but I definitely want to make something! I feel a shorter project might allow me to experiment with style a little more. Anyway, more on that as and when I have stuff to talk about for it.

Think that’s all for now, so see you in the next one!

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