Media Practice 2: Reflective Essay

The Media Practice 2 module consists of an interdisciplinary project, client based project and a pre-production pack for the final major project. My approach has organically been taking form, developing with some regulated areas. I will address the current practices and practitioners that have inspired my work and the importance of theories learned, tested and applied. In addition, I will discuss the development of my work and stylistic approach.

From my last reflective presentation, I have carried forward some aspects of my methodological approach. This involves the research aspect of visual references through channels such as Pinterest and further technical knowledge of software and drawing techniques have been acquired through PuralSight and Youtube. My influences however have been adapting and changing. From the idea of animated documentaries and ‘Life Driven by Death’ by Paul Wells, it has led on to new styles and a wider scope of material to investigate. Part of the animated documentaries has helped in the development of PROMISE client project titled Balance. New reading material has challenged my thinking such as Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc that describes his experiences leading up to and after the birth of Pixar Animation Studios. Reading the challenges that Catmull faced in management and learning about how to stimulate creativity between colleagues was inspiring and aided in my understanding of collaboration during the interdisciplinary project and the client project. Other readings have improved my understanding and approach in terms of animating dynamically and compositionally. Such books include Setting the Scene by Fraser Maclean and Force Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators by Michael Mattesi.

Collaboration has been the bulk of the first part of the module, which I have learned a lot from. I have built an understanding of the need to manage expectation and clear communication in order to produce and move forward from ideas to reality. Within the interdisciplinary project, exchange of interests and creative projects was very helpful in understanding how we can visually compromise, then going beyond to be innovative. For the PROMISE client project, a soundtrack and sound design was needed and thus I worked with an audio engineer. I wanted to supply with some sound references but also to encourage creativity on his side. Through discussions, and casual exchange of sound distortions and explorations, a soundtrack was produced that complimented the animation. Communication with the clients was also an important aspect and they were updated at appropriate times throughout the project.

From an aesthetics and technical point of view, the clients from PROMISE were flexible in terms of the outcome. Thus the approach was in the style of Disney and more similar to my earlier project Memories than the other project Light and Shadow as it is more narrative with interacting characters. I continued to use Photoshop and then compositing it in AfterEffects, however lip syncing was a new concept at this point. Through research from the module Media Discourses, I have taken an interest in anthropomorphism and its use in the animation industry. There were two main character design approaches I considered taking before I developed the storyboard for Balance that were on the extreme ends of the anthropomorphic graphic style. One was to draw them wearing clothes, standing upright like humans. The second approach was to draw them more as animals who talked and interacted with the nature around them. During client meetings, it was interesting to discuss the differences between my work and the more anthropomorphic work of my classmate. As we are dealing with a sensitive topic of mental health, it was important to bear in mind appropriate visual material. It seemed that the death of an animal was less severe compared to a more relatable burial of a tombstone of the anthropomorphic zebra’s death.

It was very refreshing to have Trunk Animation Production Company visit the university and to have one of the directors discuss their approaches to work. Two projects have really stuck out to me. Both are music videos produced stylistically very differently. The first is David Gilmour’s song Rattle that Lock and the other is Shirley Collins’ Pretty Polly. For Rattle that Lock, everything was animated in 2D with long hours staring at a screen, whilst Pretty Polly was handmade and crafted with puppets. The level of ambition they have was inspiring for my final major project to explore different styles from what I have previously done.

The stylistic approach of my final major project initially began with rotoscoping tests of a hand crafted set. Later I decided to work with hybrid 2D and 3D animation. Instead of Photoshop, for this project I have been exploring the graphic outcomes of Animate CC and running tests with 3D modelling in Modo 902. The final components are then composited in After Effects. Writing a script was a new experience as well as developing and editing the storyline. An intertextual approach was applied as the plotline was adapted from a parable from the Bible about the Prodigal Son and inspired from other films to create a modern version of the parable. Cinematography and layout design came to my attention and how to transform dry conversation to dynamic action. Watching and analysing Disney films aided in terms of gesture and cuts. Other tutorials were helpful in understanding types of composition and transitional devices.

In conclusion, the level of ambition has grown and variety of aesthetics explored, yet drawings stylistically carries a similar character. There have been many aspects in the production of animation that I have learned that include collaboration, management, encouragement, graphic aesthetics, sensitivity of presentation and determination. From this reflection, it allows me to consider direction in the future of what to focus on and my methodological approach in my work. Consistent practice of drawing, refreshing inspiration and diving into challenging collaboration is key to further development.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Catmull, E., 2014. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. Ealing: Bantam Press.

Howard Wimhurst | YouTube, 2016. How to Merge 2D with 3D Animation – Flash Tutorial. [Online]
Available at: https://youtu.be/o_mMLzZYjd8

Howard Wimshurst | YouTube, 2017. How To Animate A Punch With Energy. [Online]
Available at: https://youtu.be/g64E-UNRqcg

Maclean, F., 2011. Setting the Scene | The Art and Evolution of Animation Layout. California: Chronicle Books LLC.

Mattesi, M. D., 2006. Force Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators. Burlington: Focal Press.

RocketJump Film School | YouTube, 2016. Cuts & Transitions 101. [Online]
Available at: https://youtu.be/OAH0MoAv2CI