Wednesday, 9 October 2013

In Search of Music

This project needs a soundtrack. There are a few different ideas floating around in my head for what will be on the soundtrack in terms of music at the moment. Most of them happy, upbeat and acoustic. I don't want to conform really to a stereotypical happy, upbeat and acoustic song over the advert. We've heard it all before and it I want inject a little excitement and difference into my advert with an exciting, interesting soundtrack.

Gustavo Santaolalla:

This man, originally born in Argentina now living in America, is quite an abstract and experimental composer. His music is often constructed using relatively unheard of instruments or regular instruments played in unusual ways. I think his music is astounding; it is chaotic, unstable, beauty. He recently recorded the soundtrack to the popular video game "The Last Of Us". His work on that game was mind blowing and brought him to my attention. Here's one of my favourites of his:

His music is usually quite mellow and downbeat. It is often in a minor key and has a sad, serious feeling attached to it. This wouldn't suit some of the ideas in my head but could suit others. He has a lot of music and I have only recently began listening to his songs and so am not entirely sure if there is one to fit perfectly at this point however, I would love to include some of his work in my advert as it has such a strong impact and resonance I think would add weight alongside having a more lasting impact on the viewer.

I would love to include his work in some capacity as I think it is really original and doesn't go with the stereotypical advert music we've all heard 1,000,000,000 times in every advert ever. It breaks the mould and will add memorability. Think of the Lloyds TSB adverts and the advert for We Buy Any Car dot com. The soundtrack to those adverts make them stick in our minds and create a lot of the charm. This makes me really want to incorporate Gustavo's work however, if it doesn't fit or gel correctly then I'm not going to shoe horn it in.

Honourable Mentions:

The Stereotypes:

The Drums:


Excision Downlink:

These songs are all varied and out there and different and yet I think they would all work with the ideas in my head however, they are quite specific. Once I have finalised an idea and style I will finalise the song also.

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Method

I have a few ideas floating about now. I am struggling to focus in on one and pin it down to a specific theme or style. I think what will help is deciding a method for animation. The two ideas for this I am considering at the moment are Flash and Cinema 4D. Obviously I wouldn't only use Flash or Cinema 4D however, they would be a pivotal piece of software and would dictate the style massively. And also I would only use the program to create the assets and do a little bit of animation. The majority of the movement and animation will be done using After Effects.

Cinema 4D:

This is a really, really powerful program used to animate films such as Ice Age and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, along with countless cinematic movie title sequences. It allows users to create and edit 3D objects. You can then apply complicated animation techniques and transformation principles. It deals with lighting and reflections in a very professional and convincing manor along with shadows, sub-surface scattering and even physics simulations. You can create anything from photo real images to completely over exaggerated cartoony simplified images. Here are some example images and renders from Cinema 4D that detail both:

As you can see you can render truly beautiful imagery. Whether simple or more complex it doesn't matter the lighting, reflections and the like will (providing you put the time and effort into it) all come out beautifully and make a very polished and pretty final image. It is an amazing tool with infinite possibilities. You do not have to go down the photo real route with the program and I probably will not.  I envision through my use of the program either a far more simplistic rendering or or just fewer details. Perhaps a simple representations of objects being realistically lighted would create some interesting juxtaposition and cause interest. They will scale in, revolve and scale out to add visual significance/interest to add attention to a point. I think that I can successfully achieve this as I have already had copious practice in Cinema 4D and After Effects which gives me confidence in my abilities and allows me to create quite a vivid vision of what I can create.

This is an example of the type of animation I am looking to create using this program:

I don't wish to recreate the lettering and other such things more the look, feel and voice over style. Professional and reassuring yet calm and chatty. I think that the graphical style that the 3D images and the graphical style is really simplistic and geometric enough to be turned into letters yet it has underlying detail and precision. I think this is a great juxtaposition of simplicity and attention to detail and something I wish to emulate if possible.


Flash is a great program for animation. I would go down a more light-hearted, humorous route with this art style. It is very cartoony and light-hearted in nature. I draw inspiration from sites like YouTube and Newgrounds for my use of Flash. It is a very exaggerated hyper real look that I pursue. I could obviously dial it down if my idea so required however, I would have to see where my ideas lead me. With Flash I would probably look to create a far more animated and alive story line with more movement and life. This would lend itself well to the advert but it may look very amateur and unsuitable. Cinema 4D and the like I think lend themselves more to the style of advert and the overarching message however, there are successful examples that state quite the opposite. Here are some examples of creations birthed through the use of Flash:

So as you can see the artwork that I draw inspiration from in Flash is very cartoony however, it is graphically accomplished. My favourite part of the Flash drawing style is the shading from the last image. Very blocky lines and fills where there should be shadow in a darker shade (but only slightly) to the tone it is shadowing is a very appealing technique I think. It deals with shadows in a very cartoony manor yet it looks great and if anything makes the figure or object look more natural. Flash is incredibly time consuming to animate however, I will only be doing the minimal amount possible of animation in Flash itself. I will be doing the majority of the animation and tweaks in After Effects as the brief dictates. 

Here is an example of (what I believe to be) Flash animation that is very successful and what I would hope model my animation off:

This is a hugely popular animation in YouTube promoting safety around trains. It is a really colourful, playful, fun animation that has a great graphical style and tons of humour. It is partly the song and partly the animation, they go so well together. The animation itself is smooth, simple and basic. This is a fine example of a little goes a long way. The animations that are on display are simple tweens and pose to pose animation. If I want to go down the Flash route then I think I will try to emulate this style very closely.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


I have lightly dabbled with animation before and as such I have picked up on a few techniques already. I found them on the internet and found them very helpful with the animations I have attempted in the past.


These are basically mouth shapes. This is very helpful for animating speech. In animation it is essential to record any speech before attempting to animate a scene. The speech is key to the feel, timing and technical aspects of the scene. If you animate before hand and make the actor try to speak along with the speed you have already determined it will be awful. As such, you record the speech then go in to animate. The easiest way to make it look realistic is with phonemes. These are basically pre-drawn mouth shapes. They are drawn representations of the shape the mouth makes when certain common sounds of speech are produced, for example A, E, O, TH, L those kinds of things. The idea is you make enough shapes to cover all your bases (and to be thorough draw them at multiple angles) then you can just drop them in your scene when they are requires. Here is an example of phonemes:

As you can see you don't need to draw many to be effective and they save an enormous amount of time in the long run. In flash in particular you can model your character then draw each mouth shape out in turn on separate keyframes. Then just place each phoneme in it's own symbol. You can then listen to the audio track in flash and when you hear a certain sound just drag in the corresponding mouth shape to the correct place on the face (for which you can use crosses and other similar markers to ensure each mouth is in the exact same spot each time). It is a very helpful and realistic tool. You can even create elaborate transitions if you wish to although that can be quite time consuming and isn't really required for simple animations. Simply placing the shapes one after another with no transition will suffice.

Onion Skinning:

Onion skinning is essential in hand drawn animation. It is used to see a reference for the previous frame(s). It is essential for movement and can even help in the placement of phonemes. It has been used for years from when everything was drawn by hand through to the modern day with there being a dedicated onion skin feature built into the timeline in Flash. This is an example of what onion skinning looks like:

This shows onion skinning in a very simple way. Animation is done using frames. You draw a sequence of images that could say, progress through a movement and then layer them one after the other and play them back at speed. Onion skinning allows you to see the previous frames without them being editable (or getting in the way). You can then see where the object was in the last frame and draw the next frame in a more natural position than using mere guess work. Getting to grips with the feature and learning how to use it effectively is utterly essential when dealing with any kind of motion.


This is a lesser known and lesser used feature in animation at a beginner level. It is the image jittering and moving slightly frame to frame. The outline of a character doesn't stay rock solid it instead moves and jumps around. This looks unnatural however, it is still used in some circles. Technological advances make it possible to eliminate boiling yet people go out of their way to include it. It all stems from when animators used to have to hand draw every single frame in the animation. No matter how good any given artist/animator is, it is impossible to exactly copy the previous frame. To get each line exactly where the last line lay. These subtle discrepancies in the drawings frame to frame cause the lines to look as though they are moving slightly throughout the video. This is known as boiling (because it looks as though the image is boiling and bubbling slightly).

Now the real way to achieve this effect is massively time consuming as you need to draw out each frame independently and one after the other. And in a 24fps video that can take a while. There is a cheat you can use on Flash that looks like quite realistic boiling but takes a fraction of the time. when you draw characters and key features you merely make them into a symbol. After that in the symbol view for the image you create a second frame in the timeline and make it a keyframe, then in the second frame select everything and smooth it using the smooth feature on the tool panel. This smooths all the lines and softens the edges creating a subtle movement in all the lines. Now when you place the symbol in a timeline with more than two frames it will loop the two subtly different frames over and over creating the illusion that the outline has been re-drawn through every frame. This is considered a cheat and is looked down upon by the more professional animators who still draw every frame. For beginner animators however, it is a godsend and a pretty effective/convincing feature to have in your toolset.

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