Friday, 31 May 2013

2005/2006 - Second year at uni - films

Grad Films!
So in the second year alongside life drawing and dissertation writing and about four other classes on film/art studies we also got to work on the third year graduation projects – woohoo!

Now we were meant to join one team and work as proper assistants to the directors, animators and background artists already striving away at their precious project. I however couldn’t find a team with any openings, yes me, little miss billy no mates at large, got banded back and forth and refused over and over because there simply wasn’t any space left.

So of course I ended up working on three films which is directly 100% opposite to what is meant to happen if only for the fact that the dedication required would be a massive strain on top of everything else. Thankfully I found a way to slot in as odd-job person on the three films listed below and even got to help with layout design and animate about two shots on the one called ‘confessions of a schoolboy.’ I don't have all my old line-tests saved anywhere so I'm afraid a few concepts and the finished films will have to suffice.

The three grad films I odd-jobbed on, plus links to two of the final films:

‘Through these eyes,’ Cell shading in oil pastel.
(sorry couldn't find a link to this one but I only shaded a couple of scenes anyways)

‘Like Father like Son,’ Rough colour keys, clean up.

‘Confessions of a schoolboy’ Assistant layout designer, assistant animator, clean up.

See that few second shot where the sexy legs walk in? Yeah I animated that!! Hah ok but I didn’t clean it up so those weren’t my lines you just saw, I did however clean up the shot where he drops all his paperwork. Oh and if you are seeking my name in the credits you'll have to look for my maiden surname of Wallis, I'm still tickled pink to be listed at all ^_^

‘Confessions,’ was the film I undoubtedly helped out the most on and I must say that directors David Gray and Bjorn-Erik Ashcim were really fun guys to work alongside! The final layouts were done by the most lovely Mel, whom I hope I was of use to during the design process. Here are some of my early concepts for a few of the scenes:

A skewed hallway perspective.

The boy's toilets.

An angular mirror complete with ready to yank tissue dispenser :P

My Film pitch
'Out of Ashes'

Of course whilst all this was grad film work was in progress us second year students also to band together or go solo prepping up a film idea of our own. (Because if you have time to spare eating or sleeping you can surely cram another thing in - right? :P) Then at the end of the year we could give a presentation and pitch our ideas to everyone else. Since only a certain number of films could feasibly be made in the given time span we were required to vote on which we wanted to see go into production for our third and final year of university together. 

The premise of my film idea was meant to be a simple one that expressed the circle of life. A young man nursing his sick relative who passes on, the young man takes his relatives ashes and tips them onto an old tree stump in the garden; the tree begins to grow new shoots.

 Still I wanted to get across that deep sense of loss when someone close to us dies and the sense of renewal when we overcome grief and realise that they live on every day with us; which is markedly less simple than just ‘the circle of life,’ particularly with only two and half minutes to tell the whole story.

 Now as part of life drawing we had to study fine art, which basically meant digging through the library, finding artists you like and having a go at replicating their style. These techniques could then be trialled during life drawing sessions, which I’ll admit I wasn’t so great at what with the terror that life drawing generally induces in me as I mentioned in my last post. 

Still these studies were also intended to apply to our film-making process, studying what others had done before and carving out a niche style for our possible future grad films. 

Thus inspired by wonderful works the likes of William Kentridge, Michael Dudok de Wit and Caroline Leaf I set about sketching the kind of style I wanted to for my film pitch.

Charcoal is go!

I prefer these more tonal versions to the colour wash one above.

Tried testing out coloured chalks for my character concepts, below are the first renditions of the young man and his poorly relative.

I was told there was a Raymond Briggs feel to these coloured images, quite the compliment but not really surprising as an influence, I still love The Snowman film!

This was my official synopsis: ‘Out of ashes tells the tale of a young man dealing with the death of his ailing relative. The message of the tale however is one of hope which is expressed through a series of life cycles and metaphors involving not only the characters but also the world in which they reside. We experience alongside the young man in learning that even the most terrible situations in life can hold positive aspects.’

And below are three test animations which were created using the same method as William Kentridge by erasing and moving parts of the drawing in between each capture so each previous frame is lost and there’s no going back! 

Tree stump and bird

Attempted camera twist

Firelight as he stokes his pipe 

I really enjoyed creating these and what’s more Caroline Leaf herself even complimented me on them – wow! Yep you read that correctly we got to meet the famous animator Caroline Leaf! Or I should say she came to meet us after the legendary Peter Parr sent her an invite. Here are a few photos from the day she spent at the university obviously I’m not in any of them as I was behind the camera, booo.

 Top right photo left-right =  Peter Symons (life drawing tutor) Peter Parr (head of dept and animation) Caroline Leaf and an assortment of students from all three years. Interestingly the chap in the middle of the bottom left photo is one of the aforementioned directors of 'confessions' Mr David Gray, the fellow with the cap is Azad who I didn't know well when the photo was taken but became my partner in crime and fast-friend in the third year and the lass with the red shirt is Sarah Gomes Harris, the now very successful co-creator of CBeebies animated series Sarah and Duck.

But I disgress...

On top of all the other studies prepping a pitch was a real strain on time and energy and yes rather heart-breaking to those not voted into production. Students whose films were not being made then had to choose which of the selected films they wanted to work on.

So I guess the big question is did my pitch get voted in?

No, it didn't.
It was second from last >.<

Though also yes, but it wasn’t voted in by the students. 
So how does that work? 

Well the university requires diversity in the films produced every year so they need one CG production, one stop-motion, one experimental and the rest to be standard 2D animation. My proposal fell into the ‘experimental,’ category and the only other pitch that year to meet that criteria was the one that got the less votes than I did. So I won the opportunity by default which was a strange mix of elation and disappointment because whilst no-one rated my idea I was being allowed to make it, I was unpopular and yet successful all at once. Hmm, onwards none-the-less to my final year!

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