Thursday, March 16, 2006

All things Irish

So its that time of year again when all of us dig into a wardrobes and find something green to wear and bow to the patron saint of Irist Stout drinks. If you did not already know or had not realised from my hints, tomorrow is St Patricks day!
I was reminded of some smashing short films I saw at Gatwick airport whilst waiting for a flight to Denmark back late last year. Jamersons had set up a stand to promote their product and also had some large screens showing what I vaguely remember to be a claymation talk show. I did a quick search for this relavent festival but because Jamersons sponsor quite so many events I failed to find it. So if anyone remembers that film or has a picture please send it in.
However for all you Irish animators out there I did find out that the Irish Film Board is looking for New Irish Animation, however don't delay in sending your forms as there is only a month left till the deadline.
The Island of Inis CoolAlso in my websearch quest for the best of Irish Animation, I came across "The Land Before Time", "American Tale" and "All Dogs go to heaven". A recent series in production called "The Island of Inis Cool" which is a joint project between Ocon, TerraGlyph and LuxAnimation. This again helps to squash the myth that CGI always has a particular sytle as it mimics claymation and stopmotion in style.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Clay of many forms

So this weekend was the Oscars and good old British claymation in the form of Wallace and Gromit won the day over two other excellent films "The Corpse Bride" and "Howl's Moving Castle". The winner of the short animation was "The Moon and the Son" by John Canemaker which I've not had a chance to see, so won't comment on it.

In W&G there is one "effects" piece that required the use of CGI and that was the bunnies in the "Bun-vac" that were added by Jason Wen of the Motion Picture Company. The comment was that CGI was needed here because of the complexity of the floating required. This problem is something I know well from the jump shot in Ratobat which took considerably longer that of the others as each frame was manually painted out.
This raises the obvious question which is if CGI can be made to look like claymation then how long will it be before any style of animated film will be entirely produced in CGI? Is it still "easier" to animation in stop motion than in CGI? In my latest Flea Circus experiment, I have almost achieved the effect of a clay like skin on the Ring Master (although initially I had intended more of a muppet texture) . This was done by following a Carrara tutorial on Renderosity.Com which was shader recipie for skin.

However, I was not watching the Oscars myself, I was watching CGI clay in the form of The Potter. This excellent short film was a college piece inspired by a quote from the bible and is reviewed in issue 75 of 3D world. Look out for who gets "thanks" in the credits.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

This little piggy went to market

Yesterday our office was full of pink squishy pigs from a company called "PigsBack". Each employee had collected at least 2 in the course of the day and they were being posed and piled in all sorts of positions.

Due to my trip to the NFT yesterday pancakes got delayed till today so I headed straight home after work. On the trip back I got thinking about a quick animation I could make using the pigs and was reminded of the "This little piggy when to market" nursery rhyme.

Following the pancakes, I setup a piece of old carpet in a curve similar to a photography studio to be a grassy hill and my lighting dimmer from the Ratobat project was literally dusted off.
I put my trusty Olympus 5050 (not so trusty now it has a fault with the memory card door) on a tripod and after a quick delve in the manual, I "remembered" how to turn on the remote and get the manual focus working. With some help from my glamorous assistant / narrator, a few hours later a new stop motion animation film was completed.

Watch the Little Pig Film

They say never work with children or animals but these pigs were great fun to animate. However the most tempremental performers in this piece were the peas. Next time I'll coat those peas in honey...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

NFT and Animation

As part of the British Animation Awards over at the NFT there was a lecture session called "Animation and Computer Tools: Who Rules?" with Gaelle Denis (Fish Never Sleep, City Paradise), Darren Walsh (Angry Kid) . Run Wrake (Rabbit) was swapped with Osbert Parker (Film Noir)

On the way in a chap asked "why are you here", it was a good question so I had a think about that during the session... General interested I told him. He also asked if I'd ever finished any films so I mentioned that I had made three (as I'd forgotten about Big man little cigar).

The session was entertaining and looked at three different animators and their old and new works with some discussion about how they were made. A man from Adobe demoed how easy it was to swap low and hi resolution images in After Effects as well as explaining how he helped convert a project from Digibeta to 35mm Film quality (1828x1536) and switching from 25fps to 24fps.

The general conclusion from the pannel was that computers are a necessary evil. However all of the panel did use computers for editing and some for actual production, either CGI or drawn animation using computer tools.

However the question that remained in my mind following the session was how do you manage it all? Osbert's slightly cryptic answer was to use the story. Later panel answered indirectly and commented on Storyboards, Notebooks and Treatments.

So why was I there? Motivation was my key reason and I got bucket loads as many of the panel were creating films like myself in their spare time and taking a long time to do so. I was also hoping for some inspiration on planning and this session did provide some ideas and more motivation. The panel were also impressed that I'd managed to film some of my animations in a day and commented that this was good for creativity.

Coincidentally when I got home the next chapter in the book I was reading Animation: The Mechanics of Motion just so happened to be about production planning...