Saturday, 28 July 2012

PL&TN: day 14

I was out late watching the opening olympic things last night so I haven't got much done, but today I made a side-view of Peter, the main character - I've already made it as a 3/4 view, but to make him run I need his legs to be able to fully cross each other, i.e. pivot from the same place at the bottom of his body, on the 3/4 view each leg has its own pivot point.  And guess what?  I made a little film while I was doing it so you watch the thing take shape as I thought it'd be fun!

and here is a photo of the finished puppet.  It'll have replaceable heads to I can change the expressions easily while it is running  . . . .

Friday, 27 July 2012

PL&TN: day 13

Hello . . . I finished the storyboard for my other show and now I'm working on the animation again.  Meanwhile I also took a couple of days off to lie in the sun and somehow solved some of the unfinished story issues while I was doing nothing.  oh, actually I did read a book about Sal Mineo.  So now that I have nothing left to design - because I thought I had a massive clockwork machine to design and possibly even make out of cardboard for picture reference, but I don't, the answer was already within the story (sorry to be mysterious at this stage) - I have now started cutting everything out, and organising scene lists.  Weirdly it's exactly 100 scenes at the moment.

A lot of the puppets are jointed so I can manipulate them in the same way as a 3D stop motion puppet:

. . . I'll be making another one tomorrow so I might film that process to show you.  For some of the really wide shots I have to make quite small puppets and as they're too small to be jointed I instead make a series of replacement puppets, one for each movement.  I tend to keep it to about 4 or 5 pieces, so it doesn't end up looking too professional . . . 

They're quite small, here is the main character next to a 5p . . . 

Also started cutting out backgrounds - 

And in other news, something has bitten me and my right arm has become massive.  Hope it becomes normal soon . . . now i'm finishing early to cycle into East London to go and watch the Olympic opening ceremony.

Monday, 23 July 2012


building matthewtropolis while i work on some new ideas for the Christmas show . . .

Friday, 20 July 2012


so today I've just been storyboarding my December show.  I used to hate working in this way, i.e. planning, but I have to show other people the ideas, and if you're trying to work with pictures then I've learned that words are a complicated way to explain what the pictures are going to be.  Better just to show some pictures.  And actually I'm starting to enjoy planning things...although I haven't left the house all day, and still have half of them left to draw . . .

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

. . . another project . . .

If you're reading this I guess you will notice i haven't posted any film updates . . . I've just had to stop for a few days while I finish off designs for a show I'm doing at Christmas (which hopefully I can talk about soon).  Here are some pages from my sketchbook from the last few days (and possibly a couple from earlier in the year) . . . 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

PL&TN: day 10

So, I've actually shot some animation today that will be part of the final film, it's some background material - grey windy skies, and it's taken almost 2 days to make about 15 seconds of it, although that includes repainting the skies 3 times before they looked good enough (by which I mean spontaneous enough) on long pieces of wallpaper, photographing it, and printing it out frame by frame on a bad printer, photocopying the sequence (which took 2 hours in the library as only one machine worked and I had to keep stopping to let other people use it who didn't have 300 print-outs of cloud paintings to enlarge) and then photographing it again as a final sequence.  This process is partly to do with trying to make the surface of the paper (and also therefore the screen and the layers that make up the film) feel apparent in the film; the photocopier leaves artefacts on each piece of paper that will stay in roughly one place when you film it, and it hopefully gives the illusion that the images are passing across it, or under it. 

Here are the long sky paintings - grey sky undercoat drying on our stairs:

and then clouds drawn on in chalk:

I also spent about 5 hours yesterday making a rain sequence but it wasn't good enough, so I'm going to try that again this evening while I carry on listening to Kyle read 50 Shades of Gray.

It's good to learn that by mostly following your instincts for what might work in animation a big part of the process is doing it wrong - the first clouds looked too fussy, and the rain storm didn't have enough consistency across the mark-making yet, but sometimes you can't see this until you have drawn it all and filmed it to play back.  Then the mistakes are obvious . . . 

Filming the clouds:

Is this weird? - yesterday after the rain animation failed to work very well I thought I'd go to the cinema instead and see Killer Joe.  It was the afternoon show, and when I got in there was just one other man in the whole cinema / screen, and he was singing along to a song in the advert, really confidently, and didn't stop when I came in.  Then he started to make a kind of spitting noise, like when you pull off the paper sleeve from a straw and get a bit stuck on your lip, and I thought, oh he has a bit of paper from the sleeve of his straw stuck on his lip.  But then he just kept making the same noise all through the next advert, over and over, and it was just the two of us still, and I started to prickle all over, and thought, I might be in for some trouble, and I moved along to the end of my row, not too obviously, but just enough so I could try and keep him in my peripheral vision if I sat slightly crooked, but I couldn't without turning more to look at him, and I just didn't want to make eye contact or make any movement that might make me stand out.  Then he started talking to himself, and I started to think, ugh, who talks to themselves and makes spitty noises and is able to come to see a weekday afternoon film, especially one about a trailer park murderer, and I started to just get more prickly and weird feeling as I then thought I saw him move seats too, and I just had to leave.  So I didn't see it.  

Saturday, 7 July 2012

PL&TN: day 8

Since beginning to write this more frequently I realise I'm getting a lot more work done than I might naturally do on my own, because I feel like I have to report what I've achieved every day, and I feel like it must be enough of a day's work, so I'm really concentrating hard . . . here is what I have done today.  I'm working on some of the incidental parts of the film - animals that wander in and out, the wallpaper in the cafe, that kind of thing . . . if I get stuck with some of the bigger ideas it helps to keep things going to just move over to some of the other smaller details.  So here is a test of some ducks that fly past early in the film -

it's easier to work out movements as an animated pencil test, just to see if they work properly, because a lot of the animation is done with replacement pieces when I make them as shadow puppets, it's quicker to re-draw them than to re-cut them.  This duck is made up of about 6 different images, so I will eventually cut out 6 different pieces to loop and make them fly across the screen.  

I also designed the wallpaper that will appear in the tea-room scenes . . . maybe Designer's Guild will stock it next season . . . 

here is it before I added the tadpoles and gymnosperms (because they just seemed like the obvious thing to add in the gaps):

here are some of the fern research sketches:

and here is the main character's house:

there isn't that much left to design now, probably one more main thing,  so I guess it means I have to start the final animating soon . . . it's scary to commit to a finished picture.  

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

PL&TN: day 6

Today I drew some maps and made little models of some of the buildings I need to draw for the film.    I think it is already really useful to have drawn a big map of the whole territory,  even if some of these places I've drawn won't even be places that the audience ever sees . . . Everything is made of paper cuts and is mainly in silhouette, so it's quite a 2D world, but I wanted to feel that the place that the characters live in is real and give the audience a sense of geography, I also think that it's a way of trying to match the quite complicated and detailed shadow puppets if the world they live in is dense and full of little details - that a river goes through the town, or that there is a viaduct that runs all along one side,  even if i only show these things for a couple of seconds in the background I hope that it'll bring some sort of cohesion to everything.

I find it difficult to justify in my brain all this careful planning, as I usually prefer to work more spontaneously, but now having made a few little films I'm starting to learn that the preparation and research is just as important (sometimes) as the actual puppet-making and filming.  Here are models of two of the buildings - the school-room and the tea-room, both still un-furnished . . . both scenes need shots in these rooms from quite a few different angles and so I thought it would be helpful to have a physical model to work from.   Except now I want to make some little films in these models instead . . .

Monday, 2 July 2012

PL&TN: day 4

Here are a few storyboard sketches from the film, and working out the mood/season things . . . not that much to show you because the rest of the drawings have been mainly just composition thumbnails but I want to continue to upload pictures and updates throughout this project so I can keep my concentration levels up . . . because it's hard not to get distracted, isn't it?