Thursday, 22 October 2020

Letraset Experiment

As part of my current project which I'm not really saying much about until it's done (if you are a regular reader here you will already know this), I have been working on some backgrounds. The backgrounds are all abstract and made using analogue materials of varying capacity. Deciding to use analogue materials was to provide both texture and contrast to the smooth rotoscope character animation they are juxtaposed with. See here for an example.

A background I have recently completed is a combination of Letraset transfers (Helvetica [of course], various point sizes) and emulsion paint (have no black acrylic left). I made 32 frames and then looped them. I really love the effect it creates! The randomised paint splats against the straight lines of the typeface makes for a perfect contrast and I like how the paint has made some of the blue letters bleed/ run. I would like to experiment with more of this style.

Here is the clip:


Thursday, 15 October 2020

How It Started // How It's Going

Jumping on the how it started v how it's going bandwagon here. It's coming up to my ninth roto-versary (yep, that's totally a thing) where come November, I will have been rotoscoping for exactly nine years. Not non-stop, I should point out for clarity, though at times it feels like it...

The idea for this entry came about because I recently completed a clip of a woman dancing for one of my current projects, which I touched on in this post. This made me think back to the first rotoscope test piece I did, which was also of someone dancing. I thought the two clips would make a nice comparison point. The quality between the two clips is vast and I don't just mean in terms of 1080p v 480p.

You can view the first video below:


I mean, just look at that fractal noise background! I remember I created this clip using just the touchpad on my MacBook Pro, though since I have upgraded to a Wacom tablet which I bought pretty quickly once having completed the video. I think I held off buying one before carrying out the test clip incase I didn't like the medium and was afraid of wasting money on something I might never use again. I sometimes still use the same one today (I don't own a Cintiq [too pricey]). I created this in Adobe Flash and think I might have done it 24fps. Don't ask why! I think I just didn't know at the time as I was always under the impression that all animation was done in one's. I now know that is not the case.


Above is the video I just completed. As you can see it is much more developed and polished, yet still in keeping with my experimental tendencies I display in my early work. I can't actually imagine doing something which isn't experimental! Definitely my default way of working. Despite the first clip being something I wouldn't be proud of if I made it now, I still look back on it with a fondness. It was the beginnings of what it now my primary working medium, which was unbeknownst to me at the time. Here's to further roto-versaries and bigger projects... Directing a rotoscope feature is a big goal of mine.

As always, keep watching this space for more project updates and other stuff which comes into my head that I feel the need to write down xo

Monday, 12 October 2020

Road to Wembley 20/21 #3

Round: First Qualifying
Date: 11/10/20
Ground: Claines Lane
Attendance: 220
Match: Worcester City Women FC 4-1 Droitwich Spa Ladies FC

Full set of photographs HERE.









Thursday, 8 October 2020

Film Festival News!

 
First of all, I am super excited to announce that my film 'Together | Fragmented' has been selected for the Factual Animation Film Festival 2020! I am genuinely really pleased that my film has been selected for this one as it's such a great festival concept. I love, love, love animated documentary and can't wait to watch the rest of the selection.

Like most other festivals this year it has been moved online and you can find out about tickets etc here. I have embedded the festival trailer below (doesn't it look AMAZING)?! The festival runs 17th-25th October and tickets cost just £5. Absolute bargain.


Well I did title this post 'film festival news' (plural), hinting that I have more than one piece of info to share! Exciting times, right?!


Back in March, Cardiff Animation Festival which was due to be held early April was unfortunately put on hold due to the then imminent lockdown. My short animation 'Nothing New', directed by both myself and Alan Livesey was selected for screening at this festival. We were almost ready to book our trains and accommodation down there, though sadly it wasn't to be. This is why I'm excited to announce that the organisers have been working crazy hard behind the scenes to bring the festival online!

This means we'll still get to watch all of the fantastic films and events very, very soon. Events start on October 17th, leading up to the main festival week 24th Oct-1st Nov. Again, the line up looks absolutely fantastic and I'm immensely proud that our film has been included. I couldn't embed the festival trailer on this post as they don't have a YouTube account, but if you click here, you can watch it. I will be participating in a Q&A as part of the festival at 11am on 25th October, so keep your eyes out.

I think that's all the festival news I have to share for now, so see you in the next post and perhaps virtually at one of the above festivals! 

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

16mm Scan Update

As per recent post, I discussed having completed a test where instead of projecting and then filming some 16mm leader (which I inked in a fairly abstract manner), I scanned it in. I won't repeat myself here with the reasons in doing so, as it is all in the previous post on this topic, so please read that if you wish to know more. In fact, this might not make very much sense if you don't read that actually!

Anyway, I have decided to scan the whole thing (all 100 feet). This was because I honestly have no idea when I'll next be able to use a projector and have had the reel of film sitting around for long enough and I was inspired to do something with it. There's not that much more to my reasoning than that! Plus I suppose it's a slightly new venture and I love trying out new creative ways of doing things.

I'll take you through my process. I cut the reel into strips of approximately 28 centimetres in length (so they can fit in my A4 scanner). There were 106 of these:




Once cut, I decided that some still needed a little more work as they looked a bit 'empty': not much going on, mostly clear film. Luckily I had a couple of colours of ink left over, so was able to get on with that almost straight away. For those wondering, the ink I use is Winsor and Newton (the ones which come in those super cute little almost triangle glass jars). Always loved those since I was a kid (they have lovely pictures on each bottle label). I apply the ink with a pipette, dropping from a hight. Always careful not to get everything else messy when doing so, so a plastic sheet goes on my desk!

When the new additions were dry, it was time to scan. When carrying out the test, I just placed four down on the scanner bed right next to each other. This took a little time to get right as they kept moving when I lifted my hands off them. I needed them to be straight, because otherwise I would be messing around in post with the rotation and post was going to take long enough anyway.

I came up with an invention where I was able to scan 8 strips at once and have them all straight. It's quite ingenious even if I say so myself. So, what did you do? I hear you ask in anticipation... I cut slits in an piece of A4 white card, each 16mm width, 26cm apart. I left 5mm gap between each and repeated. I then slotted each end of each film strip into the card, so I was left with this:


This then went into the scanner face down and nine minutes later, voila(!) I have 8 strips scanned at 2400dpi. These went into Photoshop to be duplicated and cropped, separating each strip out singly.

No, we're still not done. They were taken into my post production program of choice Premiere Pro where I added the keyframes to make each one move. The whole process took eight hours (yes, I do time my work), though this doesn't include the initial inking of the film which I did around a year ago.

The result:


Above is a ten second snippet of what I created. The whole thing runs approximately 2 minutes, though I'm still tinkering with the speed- it looks a little too fast, I think. As you can see, I decided to leave in the sprockets as I ended up quite liking them- they added a different dimension and showed the rawness of my process. If it was a projected piece, then you wouldn't see these, but it wasn't a projected piece and you could see them, so I left them in. It frames it quite nicely too, plus I love where sometimes the ink has filled in the hole, giving it a nice texture.

Watch this space (I pretty much end each post with that!) to find out what I do with it next...

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

16mm Scan Test

Since the start of the year, I have had a reel of 16mm film sat around in my room, inked and raring to go (well, to be projected). Early in the year I was in conversation with the person who I usually borrow the projector from and was planning on projecting and capturing it sometime 'before Easter'. Then, well we all know what happened. The future is still uncertain and with cases high in the area which I live, putting anyone else or myself in danger all for the sake of an artsy, experimental film is not really the way I want to go about my practise.

I toyed with the idea of buying my own projector, but some are quite expensive and I want one which would work and work for a long time. It's also an unnecessary bulk to have around my house, which at this moment in time I could do without. So, what was I to do?

Well, as the title of this post may suggest I decided to scan some of it in. I decided to only scan approximately three feet, because incase it didn't create the effect I wanted, I wouldn't have wasted one hundred foot of film and numerous hours days of my time. Not to mention the amount of computer storage space either, with 2400dpi scans.

A snippet of what I scanned in. Ink and permanent marker on clear 16mm leader.

It's hard to get an accurate picture of whether it 'worked' with a six second duration, though it has given me some information to work with- both positive and negative. One of the positives (and a major one in my opinion) were the vibrant colours, more so than what I usually capture when projecting it and filming it. I then find myself going into After Effects to colour correct it, whereas with this, the colours I had inked on the film were the ones I got when scanned in. BIG plus point! It was also cheaper/ convenient in a variety of ways, most of which I have already stated above.

One of the major negative points or 'cons' was the fact that it is a fairly lengthly process. Whether I scan several feet at once (which I would do), there is still a lot of post production work which follows. This is separating the scan file into each different strip and then moving each strip along every two frames in Premiere. When I project and record it, yes it takes a little time setting up the projector, but once you have it going, the process is often smooth and straightforward.

As briefly mentioned above, the storage space becomes an issue, too. A way around this would be to delete the scans once I've post processed them and export a high quality file of it playing through. Talking of space (man), even at 2400dpi res, the film strip still doesn't fill the 1080x1080 canvas at 100% size:


As the above screen grab illustrates, you can see the sprockets at the top and bottom of frame. Whether this is a 'bad' thing or not, I am not yet sure, but it is something to take into consideration. If I decided I didn't want them showing, then I would have to scan at an even higher res, therefore taking up more storage space. If I punch in the frame at this res, then I will lose some of the quality.

My final point is that when scanning, you can see the shadow of where the film strip hasn't been totally flat at points, or maybe this is because of the slight raised nature of the celluloid. It shows up more where I have the permanent marker, rather than the abstract colours and also where the sprockets are visible. Again, I need to decide whether this is important.

I think that what I decide to do regarding the above will be influenced by the end usage for this particular reel of 16mm. Whether it becomes a stand alone film, or whether I integrate it within other projects. Doing this test has given me things to think about and I'm pleased I carried it out. When I do make a decision, I will be sure to update on here.

You can view the film here:

Friday, 25 September 2020

New Showreel

I only updated my showreel in August, though have done a lot more work since so wanted to adjust my reel once again.

I love how my work is going at the moment and definitely can see a vast improvement, even from the last year. I feel I have defined a style which is very 'me', combining my rotoscope work with the more experimental side of my moving image output. I hope I continue to improve and develop.

Here it is:



Monday, 21 September 2020

Road to Wembley 20/21 #2

Round: Preliminary
Date: 20/9/20
Ground: Bottomdale Road (Slyne-with-Hest FC)
Attendance: 60 approx.
Match: Morecambe Ladies FC 3-0 Salford City Lionesses

Full set of photographs HERE.











Sunday, 20 September 2020

DepicT!


If you haven't already gathered from my social media, my animation 'Together | Fragmented' has been shortlisted for the Lockdown DepicT short film competition, as part of Encounters Film Festival. Woop! That sounded sarcastic, but honestly it wasn't- I made this film with this competition in mind and have entered it numerous times over the years without success, so it goes without saying that I was overjoyed to be selected this year.

The standard this year is really strong and I feel super privileged to be amongst such a line up. My film is up for the audience award, so if you have watched it (and like it) then all you need to do is rate it five stars. And if you really like it, you can also leave a nice comment. And if you really really like it, then I guess you can tell your friends to do the same too. Okay, I'm a little biased.

You can watch and vote for my film HERE.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Animation Update

I've not written much on here lately about animation, because I'm currently working on a short film which I touched on in this post and I won't be giving too much away before it's finished.

But, I will be sharing clips every now and again to keep the good old social media algorithms happy (what a world we live in) and also so my social feeds aren't overly saturated with football.

During the last few pieces, I worked out a new (faster) way of colouring the clips. So I've basically jumped on here to share my joy with whoever that one reader is my stats seem to tell me I get. Hello! I used to draw all the outlines in one go, then colour at the end. Sounds logical, yes? Though that was a slowwww process, because when using the colour fill it doesn't always reach up to the corners or the small gaps where lines are too close together. This resulted in a lot of time spent going over the fills with the brush tool, filling all the bits which the paint bucket missed. Not great for an already labour intensive process. 

Now, this time I do still draw the outlines in one go, but on two layers. So, the first layer is a more silhouette/ basic block shape layer, like so:


And the other layer is the detail:


I then switch off the detail layer, leaving the block outlines which I then colour. Because there's not as many lines or spaces to fill, there is less to retouch with the brush tool. Once that's complete, I switch on the detail layer and proceed to fill in the other shapes that need colouring, such as the facial features. This takes so much quicker and I have no idea why it's taken me so long to do it this way! Below is the final result.


You can watch the full version here:

Monday, 7 September 2020

The Road to Wembley (Take 2)!

On 6th September the 20/21 Women's FA Cup started for 376 teams around the country. It also marked the start of this season's 'Road to Wembley' attempt for myself and my partner, Ben. We will aim to attend one game from each round of the cup, from the Extra Preliminary to the final. You can read more about why in my post from last year here. The reasons for doing so stay the same.

Round dates

The difference this year though will that I'll not be writing a full blog for each one, but concentrating more on the photography side of things. This is due to having less time at the moment to write full written blog posts. I will, however, do a post for each game with match details and include some photos, along with a link to the full set. So without further ado, here are the details for Road to Wembley #1:

Round: Extra Preliminary
Date: 6/9/20
Ground: H.E. Barnes Stadium
Attendance: 135
Match: Dronfield Town Ladies FC 2-1 Arnold Eagles

Full set of photographs here.








Saturday, 29 August 2020

Ground 300!

Little did I know that when myself and my then housemate Ben (now partner) attended Haig Avenue to watch Southport FC in November 2016 just 'for something to do', that three and a half years later I would have been to three hundred different football grounds and would class myself as a 'groundhopper'. It was a cold evening and I had zero inclination that watching football in this capacity might become a hobby. I didn't even know it could be a hobby.

Fast forward to 2020, after many days travelling to strange places, thousands of miles covered (whether that be by rail, road, air or water), hundreds of goals witnessed, countless coffees consumed and multiple photographs taken, we pulled up to Allithwaite, just outside Grange-over-Sands on the evening of 17th August. The previous day had been overcast, though this day the sun was shining and seemingly ignoring the amassing storm clouds overhead. The conditions were fantastic for photographs and couldn't have picked a more appropriate evening for this occasion. Having seen a few images of Quarry Lane beforehand online, I knew that I would enjoy this one. I was not wrong.


We approached from the top of a hilly lane, already giving us a taste of how we were about to spend the next ninety minutes: we were faced with a large, partially grassed over quarry behind one goal. As we neared more details began to reveal themselves: to out left was a building housing the dressing rooms, alongside this was car parking and a grass bank soon to be dotted with spectators. To our right were a number of houses lining the road running parallel beside the ground and beyond these, further in the distance was the sea. 




This match itself had many aspects which would send some groundhoppers running for the hills: it was played out in 3x 30 minute thirds rather than the traditional 2x 45 minutes halves, there was no programme issued, it was a pre season friendly, it was played between two reserve teams and the pitch was not railed off. To me it was paradise. There are not enough superlatives to describe the ground and I honestly suggest you look to watch a game there yourself, whoever is playing. Cartmel 'A' are currently using it, due to their home ground not yet ready. It was topped off by the appearance of a rainbow, which stayed for almost the entire game.


Here's to the next 300...

You can view the full set of photographs by clicking here.

Ps. I've been terrible at regular blogging throughout August. Will try better in September!

Friday, 14 August 2020

Running

Nope. I haven't taken up running, apologies Strava fans.

What I have done though, is an animation test clip of someone running. Well I say test clip, but it's more of a segment, because it's part of a longer film. The film is a work in progress and is quite experimental, so perhaps that's why I say 'test clip'.

The film is a mixed media short, comprised of various recycled bits of paper from my studio. Sometimes this is from previous projects or works, or sometimes just scraps which I don't know what to do with. I then cut these up in to 8x8cm squares, sometimes paint on them or sometimes manipulate them in other ways, scan them in and sequence them on the timeline in Premiere Pro. I have also started adding some rotoscope animation to them, because it fitted well with the theme. I won't be discussing that until it's complete, because it's more of a moving image artwork than a film in the traditional sense and therefore don't want to be influenced in any way while creating it. Despite this, I am happy to share segments and explain about some of the creative processes I'm using.


This piece is made up of photocopied paper, cut up in to *loads* of squares (above), recycled from a previous project. I thought the paper would make a fantastic background, because the amount of texture and unintended pattern it would make. I think I made the right decision! The result was just what I was looking for and perhaps turned out even better than what I had first imagined. The project I was using the recycled paper from was quite a big one, so there was plenty of paper to play with. I had enough to create another section of similar style and there is still lots leftover, which I will also be utilising. 

 
I also went for a slightly different style for the rotoscope animation in this project. As you can see on the above image, the outlines have quite a smoothness to them, more so than what I usually use. I activated the line smoothing on TVPaint. I'm always looking to try new ways of animating and again wanted to diversify my portfolio, so decided to use this technique. It's quite reminiscent of the line style I used to use when I started off animating in Adobe Flash, so I feel it was perhaps a nostalgic choice which lead me here.

I also reverted back to the bold, block colouring, than employing the more realistic shading style I have been using of late. This was because the backgrounds throughout this project are all quite textured and 'hand made' looking, so wanted the rotoscope animation to contrast with that. I think with the smooth lines and the block colouring, it provides the contrast I was after.

Here is the clip:

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Cricket Continued...

Looks like there has been a problem with this post! For some reason Blogger has taken it upon itself to delete some of the words- I mean just look at that first 'sentence'. Anyway, being as this was written back in July, I'm not going to rewrite it as I can't remember what it said and I guess you get the gist of it from this.

Having taken my camera to a recent

Buxworth FC
Buxworth FC

In my usual fashion I scour the fixtures a few days beforehand, looking at a variety of leagues. The main day for club cricket is (like men's football) on Saturday's, though 2nd XI teams (and below, including women's) often play on Sunday's. I don't mind what level I watch in any sport, because I just love watching it regardless. In my research, I happened to stumble upon the

The drive was fairly easy, arriving us in Earby with plenty of time for a walk. If you do ever have a free afternoon in East Lancashire, I would very much recommend taking a trip to this picturesque town. It even has waterfalls (and no, I'm not talking about the stereotypical Northern weather). After a couple hours it was time to make our way to the Applegarth, home of Earby CC.

It definitely had the views of the hills I wanted and a lot more, including a visible mill tower from one end. Not only that, but it boasted a good sized pavilion and bar, along with an electronic scoreboard opposite. Despite not being used to photographing cricket, I got into the swing of things quite quickly. It wasn't too dissimilar to football and in fact, somewhat 'easier': the line of play was more predictable and the players stayed still for longer periods, making composing shots and framing players a less arduous task. Earby also had ex England Women's cricketer Arran Brindle playing on their side. Not everyday you get to see that!

Some technical stuff:

Since purchasing a 'new' (second hand/ pre owned/ vintage- whatever the term is these days) 24-105mm lens earlier in the year for photographing football, I was slightly frustrated I had to go back to using my cheaper 55-250mm for this game. In my opinion, this visibly hindered the image quality as the lens used is a Canon 'STM', unlike the higher quality USM 'L' series of my newer one. As I wanted to get a mixture of both action and landscape shots, the 24-105 was not appropriate as it doesn't zoom far enough to get good close ups of the players at the crease. Despite this, composition and content wise I'm very pleased with the outcomes. I would definitely like to photograph some more cricket matches this season should the opportunity arise, before the return of football takes over...

I have attached some images below, but you can view the full set here.