Monday, 24 January 2011

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...

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