Friday, 9 April 2021

Writing

Here's another character rotoscope piece, this time of a man writing on an iPad with a stylus. I used some 16mm film I scratched several years ago (2013) for the background, but never did anything with it at the time. I've used it in various short pieces such as this, since. I like how the background colours and shapes work with this clip. The whole thing just looks really aesthetic for some reason (or at least I think it does)!

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Lancashire Photography Festival

Lancashire Photography Festival kicked off yesterday (April 2nd) in Preston. It is a fantastic outdoor (free) photography exhibition, with photographs pasted on walls at various locations around the city. You can download the map and see the line up HERE.

It is up until 23rd May- I highly recommend visiting. Here's a few images from my visit yesterday evening, though will be going at least once more as I didn't get time to see everything!

Festival organiser Garry Cook (@gazcook)





Friday, 2 April 2021

Book

Here's a super short clip of a woman turning a page in a book! I really like the colour scheme in this one, along with the super textured background. I created the BG by sponging a few colours of paint on a number of paper frames (as in animation frames/ cells, not actual frames where pictures are hung inside!) and then scanning them in.

I mainly read non fiction these days as I usually find them a lot more interesting than fiction. Plus I get my narrative/ 'made up'/ escapism fix from all the films I watch, so maybe that's why I don't really enjoy reading fiction? Who knows...



Saturday, 27 March 2021

Cereal

The next clip in my 'every day' series (I mean in terms of what the characters are doing in each shot, as opposed to what I create every day [even though I do animate every day]) is a woman eating cereal. Action packed as that might be! But I just love animating people doing 'normal' kind of things, but then playing around with style and technique to see which direction I can take it. Animation aside: porridge is totes my favourite breakfast cereal (can't beat something warm to eat first thing IMO), flavoured with cinnamon and a few sultanas. And I have the cooling time down to a 't', so Goldilocks, HANDS OFF!


There aren’t loads more of these clips I'm intending to share despite the fact that I have a fair amount left. This is because I completed them in autumn 2020 and although I felt they were, at the time, a ‘jump up’ from some of the earlier work I created that year, having metaphorically ‘jumped up’ another level or so since, I am not pleased with all of the clips and therefore won't be publicising them. Even though I enjoy sharing the work I create, I don’t feel the work is ‘wasted’ if I decide not to share it anywhere. Each piece I complete is something I learn from, thus enhancing my practise and making me a better animator, whether anyone else sees it or not. I guess it’s a bit like the whole ‘if a tree falls in the forest’ thing, maybe..?!


Saying this, at times you might see a post on this blog where I do write about work I am not that pleased with, but that is more for reasons of personal reflection and it is usually something current, rather than digging through older, ropier stuff purely so I have something to share on social media. On the whole though, I prefer to put out work which I feel best represents my skill set or level of competence at the time of sharing. But I am fine with leaving my older work up, so I can see a clear path of progression to where I am at presently. I love learning! 


Thursday, 18 March 2021

Letraset + Roto #2

Here's 'Letraset + Roto #2' (see version one here). This time I'm using different Letraset and paint colours as the background and a different character doing something different. Definitely overdid the 'different' in that previous sentence!

I will try and write a longer post at some stage soon about newer work (apologies if you haven't found the written parts in these last few posts that interesting or varied), but I have been super duper busy with my amazing new job at the moment and haven't found a lot of time to create much of my own work during evenings and weekends. I have been working on another hand painted piece, but the progress is quite slow. Hopefully it shouldn't be too far off though!

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Coffee Rotoscope

Yum, coffee! Fun fact: I only drink decaf these days (perhaps rare for an animator person)?! This clip is of a man drinking coffee whilst walking (spoiler alert, I'm sorry). I really like animating people walking for some reason- maybe because I like walking and do it a lot or maybe as it's a nice action to draw. Who knows?! Anyway, the background of this one is some 16mm film, which I inked with Indian ink and scanned in way back when. You can read more about the process of that in this post.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Letraset + Roto

As stated in this entry, I said I would be posting some clips which I made in autumn last year, over the next few months or so. Here is the second one: the background this time is Letraset transfers (love those), combined with acrylic and emulsion paint. I really like how this one turned out. Enjoy!


Ps. I watched 'Your Name.' (2016, Makoto Shinkai) yesterday and oh wow what a brilliant film! Would super advise checking it out if you've not already.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

*New Reel Update*

I usually update my animation showreel in spring and autumn for some reason (perhaps when I realise I've enough new pieces to add), so here is the spring 2021 edition! Enjoy!



Friday, 19 February 2021

Rotoscope Paint Test

I’ve been wanting to do some rotoscoping using analogue techniques for a while now and I finally was able to do so as I now own a printer (yay). Probably a little more excited about that than I should be, but I’m an artist type person and stuff like that gets me excited, so there! As you know if you follow my work, a lot of what I do combines both analogue and digital techniques, so creating some rotoscope pieces not using the computer (or at least not fully) seemed like the next logical step. I often use paint and other analogue methods as backgrounds and/ or to add texture, though never rendered a piece fully by hand.

The closest I’ve come to doing so is this short test piece:



As you can see, I printed out the frames and used different media to mark make. I liked the effects I created, though never since took it further than this clip.


Introduction over, I will now talk through the process of creating my first hand coloured piece. Note: everything I do in the computer is still done by hand, drawing every frame using a Wacom tablet, but it basically cuts out the step of scanning everything in.


For this piece, I decided to draw the outlines on computer first, then print those out and do the colouring by hand. This decision was because after printing out some frames as a test I found it hard to trace each frame accurately. As my printer is only monochrome some of the shading was hard to make out when printed. I also printed 4 images on each page, so they were quite small and therefore a little pixelated, which again made it harder to trace the outlines accurately. Yes, I could have printed out one frame a sheet, but I’m quite conscious of being environmentally friendly by using as little paper as I need and not wanting to use ink unnecessarily.


Going into this, I wasn’t quite sure which medium I wanted to use, as I had quite a lot of ideas and didn’t know which one would work the best or to depict what I had envisaged. To help with my decision, I printed off eight frames: four with a solid black outline and four with a light grey outline. This was because I didn’t know how each might look when printed- would the solid black outline look too harsh against textured, analogue colouring? Which is why I thought I would print off one in grey too. With these outlines I was able to create some style frames using various media (below).


All the techniques I tried:


Sharpie (regular colours)

Biro + gel pen

Pencil

Water colour pencils

Sharpie (unnatural colours)

Watercolour paint

Acrylic paint

Black felt nib


My findings:


It turned out that the black outline looked much better for what I wanted to achieve here- the grey one wasn’t very visible and didn’t give a strong enough image.


The pencil and watercolour pencil didn’t scan very well, so needed altering in post, whether that be by Premiere or Photoshop.


The Sharpie’s bled a little, especially on the second one- not sure whether that was the effect I wanted to create. I do want it all rough looking (well hand rendered/ textured) or I may well have done it by computer, but I still want it to be appropriately neat for each medium. If that makes sense. Probably not!


I added the original frames over the acrylic paint one and the ‘graphic novel’ kind of style one with the black felt nib, to make the outlines stronger. I felt with the original frames brought back in, it really made the image stand out and definitely will be a technique to take forward into the final version.


After studying each image carefully, I came to the decision that one of my favourites was the one which I painted. So I decided to start with that. The pencil came a close second and I think I might use that technique in a future piece (yes, there will be more)!




The painted one had a fantastically bold look to it which I loved, especially when overlaid with the original frame. I also thought having brush strokes on each frame would add lots of texture and a boil to it, which you rarely get when colouring by computer. This is why I wanted to do it by hand- to get a look which is as far from computerised as possible.


So, now for the fun bit: painting! I do enjoy painting a lot, but hadn’t done much for a while, so it was a quite refreshing task. With the added bonus of not being sat at a computer for the 24 hours the paint section took to complete. I used a combination of acrylics and emulsion (didn’t have enough colours of either to do it in one medium) and used one coat of each. I wanted the paint to have large brush marks on it as I wanted it to be as textured as possible.



I went over the lines a fair bit, because I didn’t want there to be any white gaps on the character and I knew I was going to overlay the images with the original outlines I made on the computer anyway. When scanned in, I took each painted frame into Photoshop and matched each with the corresponding outline. Once in the swing of things, this didn’t take as long as I thought it would and before I knew it, I was able to import the image sequence into Premiere to export. TVPaint lets you export the animation frames with the frame number surrounding each one if you check the ‘slate’ box when outputting your animation. This was super useful when using printed frames or else I would have no idea which ones would go where.


The whole piece took 41 hours and 20 minutes for 4.5 seconds of animation.


I am really pleased with what I created here, though if I were to do something differently, I would have liked it even more textured. This is something I can build upon for future versions of this, but for a first go, I am super happy with it. I think it turned out a little better than what I was expecting. It would have also been nicer if it was a longer piece too, but I had no idea how the thing would pan out, so didn’t want to do a ten second clip to find out it would look terrible!


As always, watch this space for semi-regular write ups about my creative processes. Here’s the clip:


Thursday, 18 February 2021

Man in a Suit

My latest animation clip: 


I say latest, but I actually completed it last August, though had not got around to posting it anywhere (besides Twitter) before now. It was going to be part of an experimental short film I was making last year, but I think I've decided to leave that project as just a test/ experiment as it wasn't really going anywhere. So over the next few months I'll be posting what I created on my various social channels (and this blog, of course), as I still want the clips to be seen as I am pleased with what I created.

The background for this one was lots of photocopied pieces of paper, photocopied over and over until the image was completely distorted and unrecognisable, but produced (in my opinion) fantastic texture and pattern. Lots of this project was character animation created in TVPaint, juxtaposed with collage backgrounds created from several different media. So if you think this is exciting, then keep an eye on here and on my Instagram over the next few moths as there's plenty more coming! Hold onto your hats!

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Conversation Animation [Test in Style]

As a lot of the pieces I’ve been doing recently were mainly using just outlines, I wanted to divert away from that and bring back using colour. However, I didn’t want to use outline and colour in the traditional sense, but wanted to develop and build on what I created in the in the video below:


I created this piece using solely blocks of colour to create the figure, which I really liked the results of but wanted to see what else I could do with this technique. I had an idea to use some lines but in a really limited sense, though with the main emphasis being a piece without any outlines. I was thinking something in the manner of the style I used in this short film I made towards the end of 2018:



I like the fact that no outlines were used, but instead used what I call ‘inlines’ to show creases on clothing and lines on skin etc. Since creating this, I have progressed massively in my work and I wanted to make a clip which reflected that. I had the idea to use an amalgamation of the two techniques (so the inlines in Cardigan’s Corner Shop [above] and the colour blocks in the experiment of the person smoking) to see whether I could work them into a useable style for future projects.


It comes about because what I do is often quite flat and blocky, which is fine, but it’s nice to add a bit of depth here and there to mix up what I’m able to achieve in my practise. I came up with a super rough style frame to check if my idea would work in terms of combining the techniques (obv. the colours etc are off, but just wanted a quick proof of concept). I decided it would look how I wanted it, with a few tweaks here and there.



In the final version, I actually wimped out quite a bit and didn’t do as much shading on the character’s face as I did in the style frame. In retrospect, I wished I had gone a bit further as it probably would have turned out stronger. I did add a lot more shading to her arms/ hands though, whereas in the style frame I did not. I feel this paid off as I love the shadows here.


On her top I didn’t do any shadows, but just used the inlines so we can see the creases of her shirt. This was a choice I made in order to differentiate between her clothes and her skin to make the two appear contrasting and have a firm telling apart of both. I also used coloured lines on both her shirt and her skin when needed, rather than using the ‘black cartoon outline’ which is ingrained so many animations. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I mean I use it all the time and it’s used pretty much everywhere, but this piece I wanted to feel different. I think using a darker shade of the colour works just as well as using a black outline or black shading, though makes the piece appear softer overall. This could either be a positive or a negative, depending what effect you want to create.


I’m pleased with the outcome here and I definitely achieved what I wanted in terms of combining two styles I’ve previously used. However, there are some things I would do differently if using this style in the future, such as more shadows on her face and maybe even try a mixture of shadows and inlines on the clothing.


This piece was also quite time consuming- perhaps because of the combination of lines and shadows, and being in full colour. It took a little over 44 hours to complete for 8 seconds of video. But the more detail a piece encompasses, the longer it will take. I don’t really mind as I think the result was worth it, but it’s something to consider when deciding a style for my next short film.


The clip:


Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Collage #2

Here's another collage. As promised, I said there'd be another one this week and here it is! I won't write a full post on this one, as I think it might be fairly similar to the previous one and I'm conscious of not wanting to bore you!

But anyway, the background this time is post-it notes (please don't sue me, other brands are available). And I used a thinner outline on the character, as the thick one I used previously didn't suit this as well. I did try for like a frame or so and thought nope. Anyway, here goes:


Ps. a shout out here (I can do what I want this is my blog) to the amazing Animation Industry Podcast which has reached it's 100th episode! This episode features the stop motion animator Terry Ibele who is usually the host/ interviewer of the chat, but this time we get to hear his story to where he is now. If you've not listened to the pod before, would really recommend doing so as it's super inspirational and interesting!

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Recent Embroidery

Below are several images of some recent embroidery I've been doing in between rotoscope projects. I find it good to exercise my creativity in a variety of ways as I feel it provides me with space for my ideas to develop and breathe in my main practise (animation/ moving image). It's nice to do something creative which isn't solely computer based, too!

These are all my own designs, however I didn't design the typefaces on the one with the letters, though I would have loved to have been the person who designed Helvetica <3 The one with letters was more of a sample piece to practise different styles and stitches. Many of those used on that piece were ones I've never tried before.

Also, pictures ain't the best quality (just using my phone, soz).




Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Collage #1

Moving on from the skate clips (or at least for now) I’ve been working on a couple of collage style pieces. This post is about the first one, the second to follow next week- I’m sure the suspense is killing you!

I’ve had several old maps lying around in my room for a while, which I bought some years ago from charity shops with intent on using them as backgrounds for some art pieces I was doing at the time. I only ended up using small parts of them and have been waiting for an idea to use the remainder of them ever since. Which brings us to this.

I decided to get out the good old PVA glue (oh hey GCSE art) and make up some collages from small torn up pieces of map. I made ten of these, which would then become the background to the animation:


With the background being maps, I wanted the rotoscope foreground to relate to travel, or at in least in a loose sense. Either way, the piece of footage I chose to animate, juxtaposed with the maps, would then (hopefully) give the feeling of travel/ adventuring. Basically all of the cool stuff we can’t do right now. I chose this clip of a guy walking around in a forest. Because nothing screams travel more than that, right?!



I did several style frames for this one, as I wanted to find a look which really complimented the map background. So I was looking for something which was fairly rough around the edges, which could actually be drawn on a map in real life and of which would suit the rough aesthetics of the torn map pieces. It also needed to show up against the quite busy background, so was looking for a style which was bold.



I ended up using the ‘pen brush’ with a quite high thickness, but also with pressure for how hard I pressed down with my pen as I wanted the lines to have some nice differentiation. I think if all the lines were the same thickness, it might look weird and unnatural. 


The style is overall quite different to my usual fairly neat look I go with, but it was super refreshing to animate something that I could be loose with and not care over the minute details. I feel there is a place for both in animation and for my personal progression, I am a strong believer in diversifying what you do or I feel you don’t move forward as much or as fast as you have the potential to. I’m aware that I bang on about this quite a lot in this blog so I’ll read this is my queue to stop talking writing.


Here’s the finished piece:


Friday, 22 January 2021

Skate Again

In my previous post I said I may or I may not do more skate related animations and in this post I’m saying that the ‘may’ turned into a ‘yay’ and here I am talking through another skate clip. Though with a bit of a twist, as the character in this video isn’t actually skating (gasp) he’s just walking with a skateboard, but I thought that might be a little more interesting than someone just plainly walking. Am I right?! I think so…

Desperate to continue evolving my designs, I wanted to break away from the usual colour and outline I so often do and try something a little different. I did want to use both colour and outline, but not in the usual sense. I wanted sections of colour and sections of outline (how many times have I just said colour and outline), but did not want them to be joined, in an attempt to break down the traditional form of a picture.

I originally sketched out some style frames but for a different clip which went wrong (long story, but I do hope to do something with the clip at some stage as I think it has lots of potential, so watch out for that). You can view those below:



As you can see, I have broken down the image and taken some colours to focus on and others to leave out. Despite choosing a different clip in the end (lots of it was down to the first clip not having much action for the character- he was just sat there and not moving about much so was uninteresting to animate- I mean, I’m not sure what I exactly expected from a clip of someone sat on a train but anyway) I still kept the concept the same and tried to do what I could with the new piece. Unfortunately, unlike the train video, the second clip had less imagery in the background to deconstruct, so it turned out a little less exciting visually than the original style frames.



One of the major pros of working in this manner was the fact that only having to do outlines on the character cut down the time immensely! I ended up focussing on the skateboard as the ‘stand out’ colour in this clip, as I did not want to be drawing lots of nature stuff in the background as I wanted the clip to look quite graphic-y with clean lines.


Instead of colouring the skateboard though, I drew a filled box around it for each frame and coloured this red. At this stage, I quite liked the appearance, but didn’t think it was especially exciting or outstanding, so messed with it some more. I decided to colour the outlines which were within the box white (as opposed to black which the rest of the outlines are in), so there was some contrast and also further emphasis on the boxed area. I like this effect and pleased that I went with it in the end.


For the background, I wanted something textured as the rest of it is very smooth (I really like playing with texture), so I used some cine film to make a contrasting backing. I use analogue techniques a lot in work and love how it looks when juxtaposed with something digital.


Overall I really like how it looks, but I still feel the deconstruction idea can be pushed a lot further. Perhaps this might be easier on a clip with a more interesting original background or maybe push myself to be a little less tentative in my approach. Perhaps a mixture of the two… As always, check back on here to see more of my work or see me on IG/ Twitter for slightly more regular updates.


The finished clip is below:


Friday, 8 January 2021

Skate

As the title of this post suggests this one has nothing to do with light or shadows and is something completely different altogether. Why? Because I just wanted to have a bit of fun! This isn’t to say the other ones were not (they were), but they were all quite structured with an end goal/ aim and I really wanted a project where I could loosen up again.

I’ve done several skate clips since I began rotoscoping way back when and because it’s a subject I have an affinity towards, every now and then I like to revisit it. I also used to skate. I tend to experiment heavier on the skate clips than anything else for some reason, so it’s always good to go back to them and see how to progress further. Perhaps because they’re often short, snappy clips which don’t take that long to create, it encourages me to do something I usually wouldn’t do as it doesn’t matter if I ‘mess up’ or do a style I’m not happy with. This clip (for a couple of seconds animation) only took 2.5 hours which is like crazy short in animation terms!


As I often do, I rough out several style frames to get my ideas going. Usually more ideas develop from just putting pen to tablet, so even if I don’t have an idea to start with, after about half an hour of messing, I’ll have lots! Most of these were just line work and some were similar to what I have used before so I wanted to steer clear of those. It was the 6th design when I created the one I used for this project.

Style frame

I used the filled stroke tool and silhouetted each section of the skater in a different colour. None of the other ideas were especially jumping out at me and I seemed really drawn to this one- maybe it was the bright colours- I definitely get distracted by shiny things! It’s not a style I’ve used previously and I thought it would look super cool as a moving piece. The original clip had a lot of motion blur, so drawing it in this manner meant I could be quite rough and it didn’t matter if it wasn’t super detailed- I wanted to get the general impression of the clip down, rather than focussing on the minute details. I decided that this clip wasn’t especially about the intricacies, but more the action of the skater, which I feel came across nicely in the final outcome.

I definitely had some fun with this one and I like to think that comes across too. Watch this space for more (maybe skate clips, maybe other stuff, I’m yet to decide)…

Monday, 4 January 2021

2020 Top 50 Film Recommendations

I’m sure readers of this blog know that I keep Excel sheets of both bowling alleys and football grounds I have visited, but I also keep a spreadsheet of all the feature films I’ve watched. I started this back in September 2010 when I started my Film Production degree to see what films I would watch over the three years, but I have kept it up ever since. There is a column for the film title, the director, the date the film was made according to IMDb (what would I do without you), my rating out of five, a line for comments and a tally where I mark subsequent watches (though these day I don’t re-watch films as much as I used to).

The only thing I left out was the date in which I watched it- I would have found that really interesting. Which is why at the start of 2020 I created a separate document titled ‘2020 watched’. After adding the films to my main spreadsheet, I would copy and paste them into the supplementary document allowing me an account of films watched by the year. I have already started this again for 2021 and will continue to do so for years to come.


In 2020 I watched 219 different films, all ‘new’ watches, besides three which I have seen in previous years. One of these was on purpose (oh hey Waking Life) and two by mistake (I had no recollection of having watched them until I went to add them to the spreadsheet only to find they were already listed).


Instead of putting the whole list up for all the world to see, I edited it down to my top 50. I have put them in the order of which they were watched, rather than try to find a number 1 film and so on (would have genuinely been too difficult a task). The title of the film is in bold, with the director(s) in italics and the date in (brackets). If you can’t spot a film on there, it’s either because I’ve not yet seen it, I watched it prior to 2020 or I simply didn’t think it was good enough!


Please enjoy and let me know any recommendations in the comments.


1. Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven (2015)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins (2018) 

3. Our Little Sister, Hirokazu Koreeda (2015)

4. Only Yesterday, Isao Takahata (1991)

5. Capernaum, Nadine Labaki (2018)

6. American Honey, Andrea Arnold (2016)

7. Diego Maradona, Asif Kapadia (2019)

8. Stations of the Cross, Dietrich Bruggemann (2014)

9. Three Identical Strangers, Tim Waddle (2018)

10. The Grand Bizarre, Jodie Mack (2018)

11. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma (2019)

12. The Lunchbox, Ritesh Batra (2013)

13. Ghost Town Anthology, Denis Cote (2019)

14. Honey Boy, Alma Har'el (2019)

15. Eden, Mia Hansen-Love (2014)

16. It Felt Like Love, Eliza Hittman (2013)

17. The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki (2013)

18. The Souvenir, Joanna Hogg (2019)

19. The Farewell, Lulu Wang (2019)

20. The Selfish Giant, Clio Barnard (2013)

21. The Vast of Night, Andrew Patterson (2019)

22. Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler (2013)

23. Woman at War, Benedikt Erlingsson (2018)

24. I am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck (2016)

25. Jeune Femme, Leonor Serraille (2017)

26. The Red Turtle, Michael Dudok de Wit (2016)

27. 1985, Yen Tan (2018)

28. Girlhood, Celine Sciamma (2014)

29. Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach (2019)

30. Bait, Mark Jenkin (2019)

31. Lynn + Lucy, Fyzal Boulifa (2019)

32. Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Eliza Hittman (2020)

33. Finding Vivian Maier, John Maloof; Charlie Siskel (2013)

34. Little Women, Greta Gerwig (2019)

35. Notes on Blindness, Peter MiddletonJames Spinney (2016)

36. Matthias & Maxime, Xavier Dolan (2019)

37. Rocks, Sarah Gavron (2019)

38. The Forty-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank (2020)

39. Queen & Slim, Melina Matsoukas (2019)

40. Perfect 10, Eva Riley (2019)

41. You, the Living, Roy Andersson (2007)

42. Calm with Horses, Nick Rowland (2019)

43. Ernest & Celestine, Stéphane Aubier; Vincent Patar; Benjamin Renner (2012)

44. Mangrove, Steve McQueen (2020)

45. Song of the Sea, Tomm Moore (2014)

46. The Australian Dream, Daniel Gordon (2019)

47. Parasite, Bong Joon Ho (2019)

48. Roma, Alfonso Cuaron (2018)

49. Festen, Thomas Vinterberg (1998)

50. Saint Frances, Alex Thompson (2020)


I’ve also added on a couple of bonus films (it’s my blog I can do what I want). These were two of the re-watches, but wanted to recommend them as they are both fantastic each in their own right.


Waking Life, Richard Linklater (2001) 

Like Father, Like Son, Hirokazu Koreeda (2013)