Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Narrative: The Art of (Writing Part)

Not sure if I was supposed to include this into my contribution but this is all the writing I've done for the Art of Document:

Who we are

We are a group of 3 CG Arts and Animation students, all with different skills and personalities and we have been working together as  a team for this first Group Project of our Degree. Our studio name is  Black Lagoon Studios taken from our first source of inspiration which was the film The Creature from the Black Lagoon. We have our own individual blogs  but have also created our group one:

Andriana Laskari:
Domantas Lukosius:
Aidan Codd:

Group Blog:

The Project

 We were challenged to produce a full animation trailer inspired by 1950s-70s film trailers, using our given title as a starting point for our story. The title our group was given was “Killers from The Swamp” which directly linked us to Horror. For this project, everything had to be done from scratch which meant building our own characters, our own set  and creating  our own story . These had to be original and unique .

The Story

We went through a lot of discussion and changes before deciding on our final story.  Initially, out trailer was going to be a B-Movie, almost like comedy but eventually turned into a horror movie. The story involves two characters, a Mother and her 10 year old daughter who go on a weekend trip to their holiday house near a swamp. What they are not aware of is that the water is contaminated by factory waste which results in the mutation of the creatures that live in it. When the child goes missing  the mother runs panic stricken  into the woods  to find her. She realises she is being chased by some “unseen” creatures in the woods .She senses their movement and sees their shadows  between the trees .Will she manage to survive this or not?  The story is set during the 1970’s so there are a few features on that define it as a 70’s film like the movie style, the car, the clothing and the colour palette.

The Storyboard  and The Editing

Storyboading and editing  was kept simple.  The whole animation opens with a calm driving scene when everything seems nice and tranquil. With the growing tension the scenes get shorter and more upbeat. The movements of  the characters and of the camera get more frequent and the tension builds up to the point when the mother finds herself surrounded by those mysterious creatures. The trailer never shows what happens to the mother which entices the viewer and leaves him with a huge question mark: what are those creatures?

Pre Viz

We got to the pre-visualisation stage quite soon as we needed  to visualise our work as regards editing and creating our first storyboards. We realised that each of us had a completely different view on how the trailer would work with the editing so we set ourselves a task which we named Animatic Monday. Each one of us made a quick separate pre-viz over a weekend to see what worked best. It turned out that our first idea was a complete no no, so we ditched that idea and made some huge changes in the editing. Thanks to the decision to pre-visualise our editing very soon in Maya our final story runs a lot smoother and is more pleasant to the viewer.

Concept Art –Environment

Our whole trailer is based on a rural environment, a forest next to a swamp. All the vegetation, the ground and the matte paintings have the same colour palette based on autumn shades like dark green, brown and grey. In the trailer there will be a sudden change in colour when the mood switches from calm to panic. It starts off with warm colours like red, orange and brown and swiftly changes to cold ones like blue and green. We kept the matte paintings very painterly and matched them to the rest of the environment.

Concept Art- Characters

Initially we started with 6 characters and 3 creature designs which seemed a bit too much considering the time we cut it down to only 2 characters and a creature which is shown only as a silhouette. Our two final characters are The Mother and her 10 year old daughter called Tracy. Their design is not too realistic, nor too cartoony, but somewhere in between. The Mother design was based on strong motherly figures from 1970’s films whereas the daughter is more of a cute tomboy with dungarees and pony tails.

Modelling and Texturing –Environment and Props

The biggest challenge in the environment part was to make everything look as organic as possible. The trees were modelled from scratch along with the rocks and some vegetation. The layout of the scene is simple but everything is placed in a way that made the environment look believable. The texturing is pretty soft with some interesting detail and low bump mapping to keep it less harsh. To avoid unnecessary modelling, planes were used in many parts like the leaves on the trees and the sky view of the tree tops. There were a few props that had to be modelled and played an important part in the animation like the car which is a Fiat 127 from the 70’s and the house which is a basic wooden cabin- what you would normally find in the isolated countryside.

Modelling and Texturing- Characters

Modelling and rigging the characters was a long process but a rewarding one. Their anatomy is based on real life humans but their faces are a bit more stylised with oversized eyes and small mouths to make them look cuter and more vulnerable. We kept the style of the clothing simple, inspired by 1970’s fashion and put some patterns on them from the same decade. The 1970’s was all about earthly colours with extravagant patterns, so we tried to give the characters’ textures these sorts of elements.

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