funny quote..

"You could always tell by his conversation which volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica he'd been reading. One day it would be Alps, Andes and Apennines, and the next it would be Himalayas and Hippocratic Oath."
- Bertand Russell on Aldous Huxley

Aims for the project.

Long post coming up... so here's a song to whistle your way through it..

Originally when I came on board, my intention was to really push the whole metaphor idea in the film. I really liked the film as an embodiment of when you just lose it mentally and feel like being a bull in a china shop on your way down... I wanted the ending to be the old man in the cabin, furious at his encapsulation by this gripping fear, thrashing about destroying what he had. I wanted him to seem like he just couldnt continue anymore, and I wanted, by that point, the audience to clearly realise that the whole struggle was a mental issue rather than any sort of physical one. I wanted him to not only be angry and aggressive, but upset, at his end, teary eye'd and tired.

That dwindled as time went on, we decided to have him outside the cabin at the end, so my above idea wouldn't really work in that situation.  As the project developed along with the weeks, the rudimentary aim became more about 'getting it done', getting the shots down. I think perhaps the audience will register some of the above intention, but its so hard to say. I feel like its harder to know whether an idea is consistent in the film when you are so close to it.. 'cant see the wood from the trees' sums it up. (ta to Rosa for that one)

However anywho, here's my goals for the film:

Get better.
I wanna get better at animation. Simple really? I can already see the difference, no so much in my work but in my opinion. I used to be less confident with it. I think this is the main problem with our course, we don't animate nearly enough. If you ask most people in the 3rd year if they like animating/if there up for animating, they say they're not very good at it or cant do it. This is really poor for students of an animation course to feel this way in their third year. The antidote? Just do it. I think this is what alot of the Kernel crew have found, eg Jake wouldn't have been up for it, but he has pressed on, and look at what he can do, and what's more, look at what he has realised he can do. This is how we should be coming out the course feeling, and I think currently most people in the class do not feel this way.

I wanted to get better in the industrial sense too. A big part of animation is the ability to knuckle down and crack on with it. You're half labourer half artist really. You can't just flunk off if the juices dont flow, you have to roll up the sleeves and get on with it.

Get it finished
Else what's the point? I may aswell be on the beach.

Make people feel emotion definitely.. I want them to feel that genuine horrorifying feeling... that terror that comes on slow and you want to leave but cant look away.. leaves you frozen. I dont want to just resort to cheap jumps 'scary movie' style. Genuine horrific feeling to me is best epitomised in Psycho... not in the shower scene, but in the last scene, where Bates is sat in the police station and the camera slowly trains in.

Im not a big horror movie fan mainly because they usually just resort to the cheap tricks (scary movie style) and I dont watch them often because of this, so hopefully we can have a good attempt at this.

Horrorified isn't the only feeling I want to command.. I want people to feel sorry for the character breaking down on screen. This is the biggest challenge for me I think, because it involves genuine acting with the character. I feel like i've got away with alot of the film thus far not having to 'act', most shots are short for me (3 seconds average) and its the character moving from A to B. Acting involved, but more in the characterisation sense.. 'This is how he moves', 'this is how he stands' etc. I'm really chomping at the bit to get going on one specific shot, which is the apex of the characters emotion, when he gives in to the 'dark' and goes under. If I can create emotion here i'll be really happy.

Animation isn't typical for enticing strong negative emotion in adults. I can't think of alot of examples where it has,  except for Toy Story 3 and past Disney films (eg, Bambi's mum). I think one thing i'd really like to tackle throughout my life is using animation for creating strong emotion in film. It's up for debate whether it can rouse stronger emotion than film can... Film has going for it that (surely I presume) we naturally feel a greater sense of empathy for human beings.. It comes down to an atavistic response to feel sympathy for someone who appears hurt. However as a counter to this, i'd say one thing animation has in its favour is that by limiting the visuals and making them more iconic (less detailed, therefore more 'specific' of what's important - EG, the smiley face) the audience are quicker to understand the feeling, quicker to read it.

It's just a hunch but I suppose that it is possible for animation to trump film in this department. Another thing that it has going for it is the complete control we animators have. We can manipulate each and every frame, making emotion stronger. I think that's very useful when you think of the gentle nuiances of the human face.. a split second (or in our terms.. 3 outta 24fps) expression can tell the viewer of a hidden secret, a lie, an alterier motif, etc.

As far as I know, Disney have come closest at pulling at the heart strings, here's a really good example:

If anyone's got an opinion on this or know's a better example of animations acting possibilities, please please post below.

Get better in other areas
Eg collaboration, team management, communication etc. These are things that I hadn't considered when joining Mig's project, but have come to light during. I've half-heartedly handled some of the 'producer' roles, mainly just in the document sense (sheduling, shot lists, etc etc)

Collaboration though also in another sense besides communicating, collaboration of ability. I think me and Mig are both consistently 'good' at what we do, but working together I hope we can push onto the next plateau and make something 'great'. Maybe this whole film wont be great, maybe it'll be a load of rubbish, but hopefully there'll be a few gems in there. Also in relation to this, am really looking forward to Grethe getting her teeth into the colouring now that the block colouring is completely caught up with the animation. Her job now is to work on shadow/highlights, so am very keen to see what she cooks up.


That about sums it up.

I feel like we're about 70% done on the film. I'm nearing the end of the animation.. I'm hoping to bosh it out within two weeks. I have 14 or so more shots to do, so atleast one a day from now on. I've also taken on the editing, it was just temporary but tbh am quite happy doing it. I've had a few issues, but nothing to much, and plus its a nice alternative to animating - collating the recent work and then seeing how its coming along. Emily is coming on board tomorrow, which means the block colouring will keep right on my heels, while Grethe catches up with the highlighting. Also, the effects are starting to pick up, Kirk has been very pro-active and is cracking on with some, and the twins (Kai & Liam) are also working on some bits.

Torn n Frayed

Did these two paintings the other week of the Rolling Stones. There done on massive bits of paper (bout half my height). The Keith Richards one is for me aunty and the Mick Jagger one is for my sister. I love Exile on Main Street so both photographs are from '72.

I've been getting a projector out over Easter, and for a while had been thinking it'd be good to try tracing an image off it onto the wall. The Keith one I did first, and I just straight up traced it. Altho I like the pic it felt a bit pointless doing it. Might aswell just print off a large picture of the photograph. So by the time I got round to doing the Mick one I wanted to do something a little different, hence the multicolour. I really like the colours, very fitting to my memory of the Stones.


Just finished watching 'The Sweatbox', a documentary about the Disney studio during the making of the Emporers New Groove. The films been sold as this sorta pirate-copy attack on the Disney Studio and a production imploding, but its not really, its slightly that way inclined, but that's the way it goes on an animation project. Things get scaled down, things get changed, and especially at somewere as mainstream as Disney, the big, blockbuster revolutionary ideas will get drawn in to fit with the conventions of the audience they're selling to. They've got too much money to worry risk taking big risks I guess is the meat of it.

Watching it, it gets you thinking about conventions. Sting is a big part of the film (I think his wife made it) which is interesting because what you're then seeing is comparing the production of a animated movie to the production of a pop song writer.

Not this Sting.
I really like the conventions of a pop song. It's easy to mistake pop songs as being generic, typical etc, but the route of that critiscm lies in its conventions. What I like about them is that you have this framework of standardised methods (ABAB song writing, verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus, standardised chords in simillar patterns) that the artist is free to live within. So the meat of what they're trying to say dances above the familliar, and the familliar is what makes it accesible to an audience.

This idea is obvious in a bunch of people I love.. listen to Dylan's music, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin (built on blues),Nirvana, Springsteen. Even someone like Bob Marley which is perceivably different, its not different enough (rhythmically, or in build) to exclude. Blues is the best example, which uses largely the same chord pattern to reach the ears of its listeners, and the different lyrics ride atop that. Same with Punk.

So, you can compare this to animation. Disney has made a standardised format, a conventional method, a typical way of doing things. People like Sylvain Chomet are using that 'typical way' (clean lovely animation, fun designed characters, the use of song, a villain, structure of the film etc etc) to say something new or different. The aim is not to completely rejuvinate the medium, but instead to say something alive and that is fresh.

What you see in 'The Sweatbox' is a crushing of this 'life' from within the Disney studio. Sting says something interesting in a letter of doubt he writes to them at the tail end of production, comparing them to a McDonald's hamburger which takes all these strong elements of culture and mashes them together into something sold cheaply. It's interesting to get his opinion because he's come from a background of what I described above(the artist being free to say something that is fresh, within the conventions). This overworking and cutting out the weak spots & 'making everything as strong as it can be' is something we've (3rd yr students) heard alot over the last year, but for all its obviously perceivable worth its also something that limits the voice of a production. What's best with songwriting is to hear an album and to listen to each song. Then, you know where the artist was coming from at that point, the place he was at in time. Refinement is much like a 'greatest hits' album, it may have 'Like a Rolling Stone', 'Lay Lady Lay' & 'Tangled Up In Blue' on it, but you don't get the feeling of knowing where the artist was coming from at that time.

This is of course difficult for animation (that is built in the conventional Disney mould) as the production takes so long, you can't bosh it out like you can a set of new songs, so of course, feelings change within the months and years it takes to make it, feelings are lost, new ones are aquired and the message changes. However this is why it's important to follow a auteurial method as much as possible. Make one guy head, and his feelings, from one time, that week when the pre-production begins to flow, the essence of the project but also the complete and controlling voice of the film.

With refinement things arent always taken into consideration that should be. For example, the writer who is angry will not only write an angry sentence, but the worlds he uses will be angry words, not swearwords or negative words, but words that are accented with an agressive agenda. By the same reguard, someone that is happy with life & writing, perhaps there verses will flow with iteration and flowing noises. These things are lost 10 months down the line, when the editor decides that 'that one sentence' isn't necessary to the telling of the plot.

Anywho you get the jist. If anybody would like a copy of 'The Sweatbox' come give me a nudge in the studio. Not literally, im quite frail.

Dart your eyes round the four corners of the room, make a cup of tea, flick through a book...

...Go sit on a bench and sigh, go to Tescoes and buy more stuff you don't really need.

These are my tips for overcoming computer sickness.. I thought my Mum was just tryin' to scare me when she said about square eyes.. but she forgot to mention losing the ability to cohesively speak in words, the numb bum & the dizzyness.

Computer sickness is an infliction... I find myself increasingly doing stranger and stranger things.. at 2am.. marching round the kitchen chanting the grand Old Duke of York at a faster and faster speeds...

Anywho here's a comp of animation from saturday-thursday. Most aren't quite finished but you get the jist.

As always would be very happy for any comments/criticism

Also, this is quite interesting to listen to. Glen Keane talking about animations capabilities. It's from 4 years before he left Disney, so with this in mind, will be interesting to see what he does now.


"Write ten songs a day, throw nine away" - Bob Dylan

One really important thing with animation is the ability to be able to throw your drawings away. We have a tendency (when creating) to treat everything you make like your own imperfect-immaculate babies.. to care for them, anything about them - be it a 'nice line' or a 'smooth curve', or a 'correct posture'. You have to take off the rose tinted glasses if you want to get your animation right. Its tough to do but you should act safe in the knowledge that second time round is always going to be better. The strength comes from the graft.

This throwaway nature is what I love about animation as an art form also. Alot of art forms we look at today are shrouded in this perrenial pretentiousness.. root it down (for my generation) to the pompousness of the WBA's... the dullness of the gallery space vs the excitement of a television screen.. whatever it is, art has a degree of pretentiousness that turns the common man away. However, everybody can appreciate a grafter when they see one, and can emphasise with effort. And in animation effort is clearly on display. We're much akin to not only the architect & designer, but the builder also. I think this 'respect' we feel when we see work that clearly has graft behind it is something that ultimately could change peoples opinion of art. It is what's lacking from Tracy Emin's bed, for example, and is so far obtuse in Damien Hirst's work that he pays people to do the graft for him, purely taking the piss. Animation can show people that there's another, more dignified means of going about your craft.