This week Illusion of Life asked me to consider a problem I was facing in the development of my studio project and go through the assumptions I had for that problem and find ways to subvert them.
The problem is: What visual style can I use to represent the inner thoughts of a character.
My assumptions of this problem are:
The style needs to show the emotions of these thoughts.
It needs to give character and personality to the thoughts. This can be used for gags and interactions between the thoughts.
They are the thoughts of the character Molly and so they should look like her. This will allow for other characters to be shown in her thoughts when required.
They should appear alongside Molly to simultaneously show her face going through the process (eyes darting/brows furrowed/mouth shapes).
These thoughts exist in Molly's head, so other characters can't see them. They don't physically exist.
The animation used for these thoughts needs to be the same framerate as the rest of the animation.
As I was storyboarding my studio project, I rendered these thoughts as a bunch of little characters inside a thought bubble alongside the character.
So the first subversion I went with was removing Molly's face from the scene and showing the character's inside her head. This is a visual style used in the animated music video I Can Friday By Day! (I Can Friday By Day!, 2016). I really like the way that this method very clearly visualises that what we're seeing is the character's thoughts. There would still be options for showing the character's expression, it would just have to come before zooming into the inside, which can increase the run-time for the short film. I also have a concern that this would take Molly out of the scene momentarily, and I do want to keep her in focus as she is the main character. This method works well in I Can Friday By Day! as the little critters shown inside the girl's head are the main characters, and not the girl.
For the second assumption I tackled the idea that these thought visuals should be little characters themselves. I went with a more abstract line-work animation to simulate the impact the thoughts are having upon Molly, which is like the style used to represent words and emotions in the short film Out Of My Mind (RadenWA, 2018). I like how the visuals used for the thoughts impact upon Molly, pushing her head from side to side. It gives a real weight to this choice she's struggling with. I worry that if I use this style, I will be missing out on the possibilities for sight gags and the ability to represent other characters within Molly's thoughts. There is also an issue that this style could more easily be seen as some other aspect of the magic that exists in this world.
One last assumption that I haven't had time to tackle this week, but I will be looking as I continue with my studio project, is giving the thought animation a different frame rate. Something like animating them on fours when the rest of the short film is animated on twos. This could provide a visual disconnect that separates the thoughts from the rest of the animation.
I Can Friday By Day! (2016), Japan Animator Expo, Japan. Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki.
RadenWA (2018). Illustrating my inner struggle with watercolor animation - A Short Film -. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvO5PFHOZ7Y&t=42s&ab_channel=RadenWA (Accessed: 8 April 2021)