Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Initial Ideas

I need to stop worrying about the wrong things :) and as I have done, I've immediately become more productive...

After taking the advice of my friend, Abby Ryder, (again)... I started breaking the brief down.. taking the main ideas of 'Heart' and 'Optimism' and trying to associate thoughts, feelings, experiences and situations with each, building a possible background story and/or personality to a character. Also taking the advice often found in Computer Arts Projects character issues, it helps if you inject a little bit of yourself into your characters, making them more believable.

The first of my ideas is an Alien character, one who dreams of exploring space, reaching for the stars, who always 'thinks BIG'. I love sci-fi and science, space, the stars and aliens so this is something I will enjoy creating... my initial idea was having the alien character crash land on Earth, I then had Anna Paldanius - the writer who I worked for in the 7x7 project for the Manchester Literature festival - come up a brief story to inspire me (sadly I havent yet given her full feedback on this nor informed her of my change in ideas)(Guess what Anna!?)... I feel this character could be developed further and grow with a narrative... so fingers crossed.

The next idea I came up with is inspired by Pixar's animated shorts and Michael Slack's 'Monkey Truck' (see previous entry here and here). Both Slack and Pixar invest a lot of time and personality into their characters, as I have said previously, a glossy visual style means nothing without there being a solid idea behind the work and time invested in making it come to life. With this in mind, I have the beginnings of what feels more like it will be an animated short rather than developing a character for a cartoon... but the premise is about a optimistic little light bulb who wants to fulfil his destiny and bring light to the world. It would be about using your potential, not being scared to shine, but also having the courage to go for it - in fact both ideas have this central theme - but I like the idea of a light bulb being determined to help us (humans) by giving us light.

these are all prelim sketches and do not represent how I will be executing the final thing, but for now my task is to develop both of these characters, seeing which one leaps of the page at me... (sketches of alien to follow)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Monkey Truck!

Whilst researching ideas for a character in my competition entry I stumbled upon this via Drawn blog,

The initial premise of a monkey crossed with a truck is exactly the fresh and unique idea I'd love to create. The fact the monkey truck then goes around the jungle helping out the other animals ticks the 'heart and optimism' box, but the scenario of a lizard about to be stomped on or building a little hut and transporting coconuts shows how Michael Slack has not only conjured up this mad combination of an animal and a vehicle but also considered how it would exist and move about in it's world. Admittedly, the animation isn't as glossy and smooth as many people may come to expect but it is also part of it's charm, the timing and focus allows for the story to be delivered in a way that emphasizes the situation without labouring over fancy computer generated graphics.

D&AD Competition: Character creation

This year's D&AD brief sees them join forces with Disney in looking for a fresh and exciting design for a lead character, full of optimism and heart, to star in a narrative driven comedy cartoon. They have been rather open with the guidelines, not specifying a human character, allowing our imaginations to run wild and we should avoid stereotypes and current trends within the animation industry. Rather than creating a cast of characters and a world in which they can inhabit, the brief calls for more focus on the character development, particularly on how the character may move, how its weight sits on its frame and then more personal aspects giving it a soul, what are the characters dreams and aspirations, fears, foibles....

I have had a few starting points from which to attack this brief, although now have had leapt off the page at me at the moment. I have started researching into what cartoons have come before, what is popular amongst children aged 4 - 14 but there is only so much research you can do before I actually have to start.. "doing". I had forgotten how I actually work, in favour of how I think I should work, searching for a style or format with which to present my idea.. but it's the ideas stage which needs more attention. No matter how polished or popular a visual style may be, it will never replace a great idea.. so i've got some thinking to do :)

I have recently overdosed on animated films, not just for research but because I have always enjoyed cartoons and what could be better than a 90 minute long one? It's difficult to come up with an idea that is 100% original nowadays, most animated films have the same basic premise but its the characters, the cast, that bring these stories to life on the screens and in our minds. Rather than watching Pixar's feature length films, their animated shorts have proven to be more insightful for this project, after all I'm not expected to create a full length animation but a 30-60 second one. Pixar's short films have been a way of showcasing emerging animators, modellers, artists and directors, giving them a platform to pitch their ideas and see them come to life. The most intriguing part of these shorts are the unique characters and situations, not always your average cutesy anthropomorphic animal character or beautiful princesses in search of a prince but often mundane objects that are injected with life and personality, making the audience use their imaginations as they try to enter the world and mindset of these characters...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Personal bits

As a little favour to some friends.. I have taken on a couple of side projects. Unfortunately, as they are unpaid, theres no deadline for and I have other things to worry about with Uni.. they often get pushed to the side... but I'm making a start on a few of these.. shown below...

Inuit Productions:

design a cute character to be animated and featured on the company's website.

Must Be The Shoes:

design a branding character that can be used on products and website.
here I took my friends interest in wrestling and luchador masks and began playing with shapes for the body..