Tuesday, 24 February 2009


I've had some great news over the past few weeks from several friends, so here I would like to share the excitement, spread the good news for those of you not yet aware of it, and to congratulate each of them...

Jessica Cope has been nominated for a BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award in the Animation category on Thursday for her graduation film The Owl House.

Johanna Wagner's Masters degree film The Inner Shape (for which I created a Paint on Glass animation sequence) was also nominated for a BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award, but in the Factual category.

And finally, Lora Jensen (whose film I scanned two years ago) worked on This Way Up directed by Smith & Foulkes at Nexus Productions in London. This Way Up was nominated for an OSCAR in the Short Film (Animated) category, but lost out on Sunday to La Maison en Petits Cubes.

Well done to each of you for your achievements so far, and thanks for all the experiences you each gave me during our time together at eca.

UPDATE (21 March 2009):
Jess lost out in the BAFTA's Animation category to Julia McLean's The Finger Trap.

Johanna won the BAFTA's Factual category.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Graduation film update

Progress on my graduation film began to stall last week, and having spent the last 4 days avoiding the issue, I think I may be about to go into reverse... But fear not, for I am hopeful that this reverse will lead to a better destination.

I had only 2 shots left of the female character to rotoscope, and I had also begun the tedious colouring process (I am colouring large parts of every single frame black with a ballpoint pen), but the combination of a very repetitive colouring process, an aesthetic that I was not happy with, and the extreme isolation of being stuck at home for the last 10 days made this a horribly depressing situation that put me off the film as a whole.
I have always harboured reservations about the rotoscoping process because I felt that it didn't add much to the story, and some shots looked too lively or realistic for what I wanted to achieve with it. I have also struggled to maintain the excitement of my storyboards in the final rotoscoped drawings, which is dragging me down further. I read a quote in a blog a couple of years ago about storyboards and concept art having more vibrancy than the final animation, which the author found really disappointing, and I have found that quote quite inspiring ever since...

Lots of people have been interested in and have praised the look of my rotoscoping, and although I like the look of some shots, it does not look anywhere near as interesting as I had hoped my film would look when I began. Although the colouring process is very tedious (which is exactly what I set out to put myself under at the beginning of the project), I do not want to leave college having survived an epic endurance battle if it means I have a film I'm not at all happy with.
I also have an issue with my shots and the atmosphere of my film. It was supposed to be a slow and atmospheric film, but my longest shot is only 4 seconds, and I use cuts way too often. I wanted to have really slow shots that stay with the protagonist and barely cut away, but it would be torturous to animate (because I attempt to rotoscope at least one shot every day), and I feel that I could achieve a much more effective film if I made it solely in live-action with a purpose-built set and with no animation involved... But I don't think live-action would be suitable for my degree in animation...(?)

So my plan now is to return to the storyboards, re-draw them all as if I was going to make my perfect live-action version, and then re-start the animation process from there (using the 1" storyboard frames as the frames of animation). The reason for this is that I have always felt that the storyboard animatic tells the story clearly and that the animation sequences just fill the time by making obvious the character's movements - so in my opinion the animation is not enhancing the story in any way.
By re-doing the storyboards I can hopefully re-tell the story in a more effective manner with the stimulating aesthetics of my original storyboards (which I struggled to get into my rotoscoping).
By in-betweening the storyboard animatic I can have clearer motion for a general audience who are unfamiliar with storyboard animation, but it will hopefully maintain the atmosphere of the original storyboards, while the new jerky/limited animation technique should create a creepier motion and environment for the overall film...

If I do decide to go with this process it will mean I've wasted the time of Darryl, Annalise and Ewan who all worked on the live-action for my rotoscoping, and although they will all still get credit in my final film (regardless of what it is or contains), I want to make a film that looks interesting and that I am happy with so that they are not credited for some piece of rubbish that means nothing to me (otherwise I would just go to the bin and sign a piece of litter for you!)....
So here's to experimentation.