Interesting stuff

Interesting post here on Cartoon Brew about the possibilities films like Tin Tin are introducing to directors, and the new direction the medium is evolving towards. Im not a 3D person myself, but seeing TinTin really gave me ideas about ways the strand of animation could be pushed, and how it could be a real benefit. Also, the errors that CB point out in TinTin, I quite like. I quite like that Spielberg made these mistakes because atleast he's trying something. They say of people coming out the cinema feeling exhausted - perhaps this is an ideal way to make people feel after watching an action movie... its certainly interesting that a family action movie could make people feel this way.

Also some interesting animation i've seen recently:

I like this as an example of animations ability to say something differently. Virginia Woolf described film as having the possibility to "suggest so much more than the actual gestures of words by men"... Animation like this, to me, is fulfilling that prophecy.

Yes it's playful and fun, but it's also coherent, and perhaps the imagery will stick with the viewer more than if it were shot in live action, or written words on a page.

This is another example. Perhaps the imagery of Balance will stick in peoples minds as a metaphor for the balancing act of society? Or perhaps they'll recall it trying to manage a team of people? With silly little stick men it speaks of humanities greed and dystopian power struggles.

Your stance on art

Here's a few videos that will provoke opinion:

I find it hard to disagree with this. And I also have mirrored his stance about Picasso
 'earning his right'; however, you feel these words are laden with ignorance and objectivity... you can't be so righteous about something of such subtle nature (art) and dismiss it objectively, but you also can't be so open that people are left to take the piss (Tracey Emin... stand up) And yet in a society were capital rules, we are left to ask these questions.

Love this video, if only for the shoe.

If any of these videos rouse any sort of opinion in you, please feel free to leave a comment below
Want to go for an 80's teeny-bopper style for the bible layout

Wife Left Home animatic

Here the bugger is! Final animatic.

Job done, lets have a song.

WLH - final update

Works going well, wrapping up the animatic nicely. Am pleased with it myself. I think the story is all there. It may confuse in a few places on first watch, but on second I think those niggles are cleared up. I believe they are just niggles that'll go when the thing is actually animated.

I watched 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley' last night. I think the complete naturalistic nature of Ken Loach's films is something I really admire and something I would  like to think this could retain. However with all the cutting I'm worried that that has been lost. It may of gone too 'hollywood' in its cutting. I 'ope not. Anywho, again that's a niggle that'll be either evident or not-so come production. Perhaps more length could be added later if necessary.


The second page to the production method I posted the other day. Have been thinking about the best way to compose when the project reaches post production. Reason being, because i've been staring at this for the last few days:
Not what I want to be seeing come April. 
But still have learnt alot. The messyness of After Effects when it gets really over burdened is a real turn-off to getting the film finished. Hopefully with a little foresight can dodge some of that slack.


Right now i'm considering different ways to animate the film. I want the film to have a strong, unified 2D look to it, however I want to look into ways that we can emulate the 2D look, whilst saving time on some shots.

One option is something like the following. Because we have a lot of different shots, alot of quick shots also in CU, it might be ideal to build something like this to go from:

I don't know the feasability of it myself, but it looks like it offers a good level of control for getting subtle movements into a character - which is something I really want. If I were to build flat versions of the characters like this, it would be ideal for several of the midshot/CU's in the film, for example:

Another thing i'm interested in doing is merging 2D & 3D in a way others have sneakily done before. Am thinking Belleville Rendevous - how alot of it is 3D with a 2D facade - eg the bikes. Another good example, and the one that got the ball rolling, is Matatoro:

Matatoro has a lovely style to it. I believe they did the reverse to what i'm thinking - 3D characters on 2D backgrounds, but still the mixture is a good example of how they can work together.

I'll be looking to use 3D in the film, possibly building all the sets as 3D (for example, this early kitchen build by Jake). I will then most probably go over them in line to give them the 2D look. The reason I want the backgrounds in 3D is because of the shot count. I want to be able to play with the camera when productions underway as if I were on a film set. There'll be a few shots in the film that will be quite clearly 3D, one of them, is this one:

What i'm looking for is a 3D person to really come in and grab this with open arms, make this shot their's, and a big shot for there show reel.


The only big changes I see that need happening with the film are firstly, a well written bit of dialogue. Right now it's just the necessities chucked in, when in actuality, am gunna need some really strong dialogue in there. It'll add alot to the characters, our empathy for them, and therefore the story as a whole.

Second, am considering adding in some sort of time motif, like keep cutting to a clock, or the characters watch, to show time is passing, and to re-enforce the idea that this is all happening in one day.

And finally, the music. Am really keen to have someone come in and produce a score for it that really boosts the empathy. Right now we don't get into the characters, and I think that audio throughout would be a big part of that.

Will post the final animatic up later, stay tuned.

WLH - Concept art / coloured frames

This one is coloured by Kat. The lighting on Dim is perfect, but i'd like the kitchen behind to be brighter too. Thought about the idea of having the window in view too & light reflecting off it (see next pic)
My edit of Kat's pic. Inspired by Larry Sultan. I think doing it like this is a good cheat way to make the kitchen lighter, and also more muted.

Will post up more as it's done, big work day today

Wife Left home

A few questions I keep get asked about ze film:

 - Why set it in the 80's?
Have set it in 1989 firstly,  as that's the day (19th of April '89) the Sun printed its article 'The Truth' about the Hillsborough disaster.
 Also however, i've set it this date as I want to create a true representation of the late-80's.  When we see nostalgia on TV, the 80's is misrepresented as this pastel-coloured George Michael vilified nightmare, everyone walking round like their in Saved By the Bell. I want to correct that, and create a real paradigm-view of the late 80's/early 90's that is more truthful, more mundane, more down to earth.

Animations power for subjectivity will come into play too however, it'll be  reminiscent of what I remember as normal from when I was younger, what I see in old photograph's, and anything really that is overshadowed by the 'hairspray-memory' of the 80s. It'll be pushed truth, caricatured enviroments.

The 80s has been miss represented, and the 90s doesn't yet really have it's own paradigm window. One good example that's tried to right history is This Is England.

 - Why use Animation and not film?
Truthfully - why not? Why not give it a go with animation? Just because film is quicker it doesn't mean it's better.
If however you mean to ask 'what is it about the medium of animation, that reinforces your film - what is it's purpose in supporting the telling of the story?' that's a different question.
 In that case, firstly, i'm using animation because it'll caricature the story, the characters, and as I mentioned, the environment. Not in the sense that everyone is walking round with big noses and funny teeth, but in the sense that everything's reality will be pushed to promote it to the audience, to give it more meaning.
 The main characters are caricatured shapes - both of them made up of simple circles and triangles, but relatively quite plain of features. I want them like this because they become 'everymen characters'. The bloke looks like a leering caricature of a man you might see leaving a chip shop on a saturday night, or perched up against a bar. And his wife, you've seen her in Trago Mill's, or pushing a pram through town. I've seen Jean several times over since I draw her. She's everywhere, I just never noticed till I started drawing her.

Second major reason, because of the inherent message of the film - people stuck in a repetetive cycle - a loop. There'll be several segments of the film that'll be looped actions - an old man drinking at a bar, a tescoe's employee endlessly shelf stacking, scanning bar codes; the wife cleaning. This wouldn't work in live action. You could say it a different way, yes, but animation says it its own particular way, and in my opinion better.


So yeah, only two questions, and please pardon the rant, have been asked that question quite a few times now..

As to why i've chosen to do a film about a serious subject, I think every animator has a hunch on his back regarding animations appearance as only this 'childrens genre' to the general public. I guess that's why  you get alot of dark animation too (thinking jan svankmajer, Brothers Quay etc), a backlash to the Disney mould.
When I went into this film I was thinking 'Yeh! Im gonna change the way people see animation! Lets do this!' but now i'm a little less naive. I see people have been feeling this same way for years (looking at alot of the Channel 4 animations for example) and that it's a mould that perhaps only time can change.
 I do feel however that in 20 years things could be different. Things are on the rise that denote Disney - i'm thinking all the kids that are into anime/manga, and the rise and rise of video games. The next generations perception of animation could very well break the mould.

Right, that's the end. Will post up some concept art inabeeet.

WLH Colouring

I'm not the best at colouring myself, so i've inquired the help of a few people who are. Here's firstly my attempts:

There too 'fuddy-duddy' (as the saying goes) or too 'namby-pamby'. Eitherway, most of all there not atall 'right'. I think there much too over worked in the wrong direction.

Here's more accurate attempts.

Firstly by Paddy.
I always remember Paddy's brilliant colouring for his pre-production project last year, I really liked his loose way of colouring lines, and his Photoshop/handdrawn style. What I asked him to do is impart that style on this picture of Jean:

I think this style is perfect for the film. It illights feelings of slovenlyness in the characters, and the looseness re-emphasises how loosely held there lives are. I think perhaps if the Supermarket scene were to be coloured in this way it'd especially so work there. I especially like the way Paddy has merged the colours between her hair & her face, as if it's melting down her.

And this is by Kat. I remember Kat's work fondly from last year (her backgrounds for both Swing Heil & Inbetween a Fable) and her strong use of colour. This is for Dim walking home, the world is peaceful all around him, and he is silhouetted against the backdrop. This is a spot on attempt as far as i'm concerned.

More to come soon

WLH - Production stuff

Here's the beats for the film. Or in other words, the dullest way to spoil a film before you watch it:

..And the production method. The first of many timeline's no doubt. I'm sure i'll be laughing/wincing/crying at this timeline's arrogance/ignorance/shortsightedness in a few month's..

WLH - general update

Thanks for all the brilliant feedback the other day people. Was very helpful. It's certainly given me a few things to think about, am certainly considering the whole montage thing. It was funny really because the general verdict was montage to save time, but then Jackson right at the end, sprung the original intention of the whole film - 'Like putting a camera down on a table in a pub' - the social commentary element. Hot damn.

Have had the weekend off to relax ye old brain, bin getting really into it all, and now am back on it. Im trying to find a happy compromise.

The key to the social commentary element (which I haven't really gotten over in the pitch or the anamatic) will be looped segments - people doing lobotomous tasks - shelf stacking, ironing, cleaning, drinking - etc. This will be the crux of the social commentary.

So what i've done is worked that into it a whole deal more. Jean's on the phone, but we also see her loop'd putting stuff away, doing the ironing etc.

It's looking quite good, and hey ho, i've managed to cut a whole minute off the breakfast conversation scene, which keeps the pace moving much better.

Here's a few bits n' pieces that I forgot to post.

Couple of expressions. Also the bottom line is attempts at drawing him drunk.  The second one from left is a bit rubbish, but i'm going to explore this more. Find a happy compromise between my style & Gerald Scarfe's/Ralph Steadmans.

I don't know if I mentioned, but I'm going to set the film in Falmouth. I thought 'why not'. It wont be perfectly Falmouth - there'll be no 'welcome to Falmouth!' shots. Think Falmouth if it were a little more down trodden and desolate... basically I just want to set it here to have a visual reference on my doorstep. QUITE LITERALLY

Inspiration continued

a lovely bit of animation:

Very stylish

I think this has gotta be my favorite short i've seen Pixar do. The character expressions are wonderful

This is quite cool. For a recent animation called Luna, they featured all the pipeline stuff on the site for you to look at. Nice to see

This one looks really promising:

The above (except the Pixar short) are on the Oscar nominee shortlist for 2012. See more here

some really nice animations coming about this year. More here

WLH update

Hello there. Was hoping to post tonight with a completed animation test, but unfortunatly things just aint gone to plan.

Have been working again with TVP. However this time, am using it for traditional 2D animation purposes.

I've got an idea in mind for the process for the film. I'd love to do it all hand drawn, and that is a possibility, however here's what im currently thinking:
 1) Draw the keys on paper, in pastel; scan em
 2) Import keyframes to TVP, use a set of custom brushes to do the inbetweens with, making it look like its been done on paper in pastel.
 3) Do the 'detail work' over the top of the key's and inbetweens, this'll be the character details.


Using TVP has been a bit cack-handed mind. Like I said need to get to grips with it before I can commit to using it.

If not, i've got some other ideas in mind. Because the characters are built out of shapes, i'm considering doing 'rough' animation in flash/toonboom as it's good with shapes/tweens. What I can do is map out the action in there simply, then draw in the details over the top in TVP. I think this could create quite a nice style as the geometric shapes will exist under a 'handdrawn 2D skin'. Kinda like a modern day pentimento effect.

Here's a few bits of inspiration as I try to chisel down the style:

Im a big fan of rough animation. Perhaps it's a view formed through lazyness, but I often think, why don't we (animators) just output a film in the style of rough animation? It looks nice to see the pencil strokes.
This is a nice reference, however it's very typically Disney, so as an antidote...:

Gotta love Joanna Quinn. Don't know whether i'm envious or inspired.
Joanna's animation has the fluidity & roughness that is perfect as a reference. However, I get the sense that it'd be wrong to try to imitate her style, . But if we just take from it that roughness & fluidness, we have a good basis to recall.
I think another problem is - Joanna's just to good. The perfectionism of her own style is not something I want to try to imitate. It's too high a bar to set right now - I want to be realistic with it. Not doubting the ability of myself & the other animators, but realistic of the time frame & events to tackle.
Im sure with time we could make our own 'Joanna Quinn production', but what's the use in imitating?

This animation offers a good antidote to the above.

I've always noticed in my life drawings, that I'll draw a rough body - people will look at it and its average, but then put in a few head details, and people look at it and they think it's great. (eg)

Basically a bit of detail on the important bits, and the rest of the picture is sold.

I think this same theory applies to this animation. It's mainly done in silhouettes (which is alot quicker to animate as I discovered last year on Swing Heil..!) but there's brief snippets of detailed close up animation that are especially fancy to look at, that raise the bar of the rest of it.

Im considering maybe using this same idea. The characters have good geometric silouettes, so it may be fun to have them in more blocky detail than to go all 'Joanna Quinn' on every shot.

Oh, and this.

EDIT - Another:

The animation style of this somewhat contradict's referencing the above hand drawn stuff as this is much more clean cut, it doesn't have the shaky lines of Joanna Quinn or the obvious-pencil marks. However what i like about this is 1)its style - the colours, the characters 2) the pacing of it, the character development 3) the animation style. Altho it's contradictory, I really admire it.

Saying that, I admire Lapis, but I certainly dont look to imitate its style..

Also on the project, got Hughey on board to co-direct which i'm excited about. Hughey is into film and thats what he wants to do - be a director. I think it'll be good to have someone else there - to bounce ideas off of, to cross check ideas for shots with. Also for myself, so that I can focus more on the art side of things from now on.

I think sometimes also, you go to far down the rabbit hole - get to far into your own head, that it becomes overly subjective and you lose sight of the audience, and they lose sight of your intentions. Having someone else there will help me reign it in, make sure it makes sense.

Jake's also on board to produce when the time calls. As of yet, as we're still in the pre production stage, its not important for him to be doing 20 hour days for WLH... but in time jakey boy, in time.
He also made this cool mock up of the kitchen for me to story board from:


It's weird, i've been working all day everyday on the film pretty much, but when it comes to stuff to show, there's not alot to put on the table. It's all back end stuff - getting the script finalised - had a good talk with James Henry the other day about it - and since then have refined it, focused more on whats important and what ideas are central. The story hardens every day in my head. I've been compiling the storyboard also. Am proud of how its looking so far, the vision is coming together.


As an afterthought, here's some reference for the style also. Some of it is just interesting pretty pictures, and other is an attempt to gear towards a style for the film.

And inspiration for the setting :

Is there any reason to leave the house??
Brighton, Romford & Torquay via the wonderful research tool - Goo-gel'

Stay tuned fart fans

Fashion illustration

Bought some ink the other day & have been trying my hand at fashion illustration. From a Richard Avedon photo:
Messed with the colours too, but to be honest think I prefer it without. The first of many.

Also on the theme of fashion, have been updating me girlfriends website. Take a look:

WLH - Bits n bobs

I've been doing concept/wow images all week getting ready for the pitch, and am feeling quite inspired since I discovered Dice Tsutsumi. He's a brilliant artist, who did the colour boards for Toy Story 3, I believe he was director of colour/lighting on the film, and for me, that's one of the elements that really shone in TS3.

He's got a very digital-yet-naturalistic style. Its quite simillar to Alberto Mielgo's digital work also. They both have a liking for naturalistic colours & sharp edges to the shapes. I think it really makes a point of the abilities of using photoshop etc as a medium.

Anywho, here's a few concept pieces. The one of Jean, I feel the colouring is trudging the steps of Dice Tsutsumi, although, there's quite a distance left to trudge!


The pitch is all gearing up. Bricking it, of course, but getting there ;)