Folio Plan and its Update
* Update in Italic and Bold
* There are updated sections in Rationale, Method, and Production.
1 RATIONALE: Intention
For the first 5 weeks of Studio One, I aim to improve my 3D animating skill. Also, I would like to explore the possibility of blending 2D animation with 3D animation. In order to create better animation, I will need to examine my storytelling and directing skills, as well as my understanding of the cinematic language. More importantly, I would like to familiarise myself with the animation pipeline more, e.g. creating an animation from shooting reference video, blocking action, user feedback, further adjustment and so on.
In a nutshell, my ultimate goal for the first five-week of Studio One is to create a compilation of animated shorts that are created in both 2D and 3D.
Updated (week 4 _ 21/03/20)
For the first 5 weeks of Studio One, I aim to improve my 3D animating skill. Also, I would like to explore the possibility of blending 2D animation with 3D animation. In order to get better at animating, I have to practice not only the techniques of animating character’s movement but also acting shots, which is about using the internal force to drive the external action of a character.
In a nutshell, my goal for Folio 1 is to create a compilation of animated shorts that are created in both 2D and 3D.
2 CONTEXT: Field and Site
My work will mainly sit within the 3D animation category. But, it could be transferred to character animation for game or work as the animation part of an interactive installation. However, I will solely focus on the animation category in studio one.
The Studio Ghibli is an outstanding and one of the best 2D animation studios in the world. Although the process of creating 2D animation and 3D animation is different, the storytelling aspect is always the same. They have been creating an animation that is not only for children but for adults as well. Sometimes, multiple messages are hidden in their story. For example, Spirited Away tells the story of a young girl Chihiro and her journey through the realm of spirits. At the same time, it shows the moral of not taking things for granted as her parents are turned into pigs for eating lots of free food. Besides, the background setting of their animated films is always unique. For instance, ‘Spirited Away’ is set in a Japan hot spring resort dominated by spirits and witches, meanwhile ‘Totoro’ is set in the Japan countryside of a modern world. The visual style of Ghibli’s studio animation is always appealing to its audience with the number of details and beauty.
Studio AKA, on the other hand, does a mix of 2D and 3D animation. Their visual style is different from the mainstream animation studios, e.g. Disney and Dreamwork. They mostly create short animated films and constantly exploring and pushing the boundaries of 2D and 3D. For example, their ‘The Amazing World of Gumball ~ The Cringe’ is created with a 3D environment, stop motion memory sequence, and 2D character animation. I enjoyed their short animated film or advertisement a lot as they are both visually appealing and construct with an interesting theme.
David James Armsby is an inspiring animator I followed on Youtube. He works independently and has created a series of animated short films based on a background setting of a dysfunctional society controlled by robots. The series is called ‘Dystopian Animation Short Film’. It explored humanity in a different and creepy way. He managed to create cute 3D models and rendered them with cel-shading, which then presented the animation in 2D. Although the model is cute, he intentionally animated them in a robotic way to stick with the storyline. His understanding of cinematic language is good enough that his animation flows smoothly throughout the series.
All of the outstanding practitioners I mentioned above are still exploring animation in different ways. Some works on the stories till its best, some pushes the boundaries of technologies to its limits, and some merge 2D and 3D to a great outcome. I would like to become an artist that continuously explore and experiment with the different aspect of animation and eventually develop my own distinct style.
3 METHOD: Conceptual, Technical, Craft & Management
From week 1 to week 5, I will be mainly practicing the pipeline of producing an animated shot. The pipeline consists of researching for reference video or shooting my own video, blocking animation, reviewing playblast animatic, adjusting timing using graph editor, reviewing the curve of action, feedback, and final adjustment. I hope to build up the habit of receiving feedback and, therefore constantly improving my animation quality. Also, I have planned to work on 3D animation that tackles specific weaknesses of mine, e.g. running without floating feet and creating more exaggerated facial expressions.
In the meantime, I will be experiment with some 2D animation tools. I aim to create an animated 2D facial expression, export them out as an image sequence, import them into Maya as an image file and animated them. If this works successfully, I will be able to blend 2D and 3D in one form.
Also, I will be doing research and then write out a reflective piece on existing work. This is to examine the acting and facial expression of the animation, as well as their cinematic language and the lighting method, which will then all contribute to my own practice.
Updated (week 4 _ 21/03/20)
I have done my practice for Folio 1 and I think that I can incorporate a facial expression study and sketching before blocking the character’s animation for future animation workflow. It was hard to create facial expressions when I had no idea of what face I should put on the character. Therefore, implementing this new procedure into my pipeline will definitely help. As to gaining feedback from peers and improving my animation, there has not been a proper way to do it yet due to the sudden changes in our study. Therefore, the loop of getting feedbacks and improving has yet to be set up. However, I hope it will be done in Folio 2.
After finishing my animation practice for Folio 1 though, I decided that my method of blending 2D and 3D animation was not working smoothly as I thought and it distracted me from improving my animation skillset. Hence, I plan to directly create stylised character animation that looks cartoony or 2D in a 3D software. By doing this, I could have more control over the tools I am using and the whole vibe of my project.
4 PRODUCTION: Tools
To improve my animating skills in studio one, I planned out my weekly practice. Below is a table I will be following:
Researching and planning
Week 2 (Maya)
Animating in 3D (parkour and hand-to-hand combat scene)
Week 3 (Maya)
Animating in 3D (underwater scene/ acting scene)
Week 4 (Krita/ TV Paint & Maya)
Animating in 2D (facial expression animating)
Week 5 (Krita/ TV Paint & Maya)
Animating in 2D and 3D (combining both practices)
For week 2, I planned on animating a few parkour and hand-to-hand combat scenes. If it works successfully, I will be able to create a few short scenes where its character showcasing their parkour skill and another scene with two characters doing hand-to-hand combat. For this week's practice, I will be using online video references.
I want to do an underwater acting scene for week 3. I never did an underwater scene and the character’s body mechanic will work differently in that environment. It will be interesting as well as challenging animation practice for me to work on. Animation timing and the smooth flow of the character movement will be important in this practice.
In week 4 however, I will start exploring animating in 2D. I will first do easy character design and modelled the character in 3D. Then I will be studying facial expression and creating them in chosen 2D animation software. After creating the facial expression animation sequence, I will try to import them into Maya and link them to the character. I will be researching and exploring methods of accomplishing the practice at the beginning of the week.
After all the practice of 2D and 3D, I would like to create an animated shot in which the character from week 4 is walking in a 3D environment. In this case, the facial expression is created in 2D while the character model itself is created in 3D. A simple blending of 2D and 3D will then be created. I would definitely want to try with a more complicated animation, but this is only the beginning of my exploration.
At the end of folio one, I aim to create a compilation of the work I have done within these few weeks using After Effects.
Updated (week 6 _ 06/043/20)
For the past four weeks, I had been doing animation practice on pure technical character movement and on character’s action and reaction towards the stimulation of the environment, which in some cases were sound clips from movies. By completing those exercises, I am aware that I am nowhere near a good actor. Therefore, I will need to put in some work to understand the character’s motif and the background story that leads them to do certain things, as well as finding a suitable way to channel their inner state of mind to their action.
In order to improve in my practice, I did some reflections on my work as well. Below are the links to my weekly post starting from week 2, each containing the animation I did for the week and some notes as to how I could improve further.
Week 2: http://magistudio.net/work/agi-studio-1-folio-1-week-2-yee
Week 3: http://magistudio.net/work/agi-studio-1-week-3-1-yee
Week 4: http://magistudio.net/work/agi-studio-1-week-4-folio-one-yee
Week 5: http://magistudio.net/work/agi-studio-1-week-5-animation-practice-yee
Studio Ghibli (n.d.). [Online]. Available from: https://www.studioghibli.com.au/ [Accessed 7 March 2020].
Studio AKA (n.d.). [Online]. Available from: https://studioaka.co.uk/ [Accessed 7 March 2020].
David, A. (2019). [Online]. Dead Sound Channel. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBYChBOoVXAenGDYvl5-dAw [Accessed 7 March 2020].