So, today I was interviewed by faster than light about the stuff I have have been and will be up to. The presenter Grant Stone quizzed me about Rombies, Briefcases and the topic of this post - the Vowels video clips I am working on for fantastic Japanese based duo Yongen.
Due to current events and reshuffling of projects, the next video doesn't have a solid time line as such. And so I thought it might be nice to let people know that the project IS in fact moving along steadily. More so - I thought I would critique the first video and show some of my techniques being implemented in the next video, Rococo.
Let me start by saying that I am a naughty boy. I haven't made any story boards for these videos. which is both odd and funny because that has been a big part of my work over the past years. So what did I do instead? I paneled the videos out as comic book chapters. Yeah, that's right. Comics. I thought that they are so close to storyboards I would give this method a try. One page for the in production Rococo looks like this;
From there I tear all the panels apart and throw the individual files into iMovie to mock up the video clip - matching timing and events to the music (Which I have heard 100's of times and am still not sick of. Nice - I don't think I could keep going making these if I didn't love the music). Almost every frame becomes a cut in the video 'Rococo' has 33 cuts. ''. From there I illustrate all the backgrounds that will appear throughout. The pic below shows one such transition;After I have finished all the BGs for the video, I proceed to plan my animation. The above is pretty damned simple to imagine. A bouncing bug. For any difficult animation, I keep reference and Preston Blair's 'how to Animate' (I've had a copy since pre-lower-region-hair) close at hand.
Thinking of the pacing of the video, I make a path and act out the movement with real objects to the music. This makes me look like a 4 year old in a 30 year old's body. I do this indoors with the windows closed. The red represents the screen size I am using with the videos. 822pixels by 486pixels - which is both widescreen and broadcast quality.
From here I mark out the basic animation using shapes in Photoshop using the Animation window. After making repeated tweeks, if the basic movement is smooth (or as smooth as I can be happy with without tearing my heir out) I begin roughly sketching in the characters shapes and subtle movements.
The above picture shows both the moving shape I mentioned and the sketched out character for a few frames. Incomplete but I think you get the idea. I will hold anything more detailed back for another time.
Now. You may be wondering why I am insisting on drawing and posting 100 vowels characters on my blog? Well, Rococo calls for street scenes. and I need a LOT of variety to fill out those scenes. Once my 100 are complete, I think at least half of those could find their way into the video. In fact, I am trying to focus on the types of characters you might find wandering about the streets of Rococo.
The biggest issue I had when I finished the 'Give me your sun, give me your moon' video clip was that I had drawn many of the animation using a pencil in Photoshop. Why is that a big deal? well, a brush gives a soft edge while the pencil gives a hard edge. Why did I use the pencil? Because I was doing 2D sprite animation for games. Using the pencil immediately means pixel art and thus makes things a whole lot smoother for work flow and of course editing with a simple click of your magic wand.
As shown here;
But I don't like the look. So I will be doing away with it completely in this video. There are other thing I would love to change would have to be the clouds and steam effects (in future videos) - it may mean going back to the earlier animations to edit them and bring them up top the new standard... I don't know. I like 'Give me your Sun, Give me your moon' - it's just that it's looking like the continuations of that video are looking much better. I am no Animation pro, and was never properly trained but I am enjoying these videos and should I manage to finish all 10 - I'll wager that I would have learned a thing or two along the way and that is reward in itself.