Friday, 7 September 2007


The hand-in for this film was last monday, luckily I managed to finish, There is still more that I would like to do (there is always more that I would like to do).

the film can be viewed here

HD resolution (17mb)
Smaller resolution (9mb)

or here

Friday, 31 August 2007


I am in the later stages of production now and currently just waiting on the final sound design and then I can post it up on the internet.

I have however been showing the film in its current state to people to see what kind of reaction I get, so far it looks very good, I have not shown it to one person who has not laughed, and everybody seems to be laughing at the things I want them to. Interestingly though I have found that different people are laughing at different jokes, some people find the joke with the foot hilarious, whilst other people find the bit with the deer funny etc. This is exactly what I wanted, I have managed to create a film that appeals to different people for different reasons. I found that when I showed it to people who have dogs I get the strongest reaction - and on two occasions they claimed it was their own dog on screen, and that I must have been watching their dog and copying their movements.

One comment I received, however, was that perhaps the order of the last scenes was wrong - i.e a giant foot is far more entropic than a deer. However, the giant foot exists in our cultural memeplex, and therefore its entropic significance is undercut by our acceptance of it as an animation convention, the scene with the deer however provides the viewer with a conclusion that they are unlikely to have any cultural experience of, so a deer in a park being caught by a domesticated dog is quite high in entropy. The other reason for the order that I have chosen is to do with providing the audience with a conclusion that they can accept as final. Having the dog kill the deer is actually quite horrific. Having the deer come back to life after the credits ties up all the loose ends, my hope is that if the audience is pleased that the deer is alive then I have done my job - I will have managed to convince my audience to emote with the characters in my film.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

rendering and organisation

So I have been animating for a while now, I have been rendering pretty much at the same time on another machine. For a while I was finding it hard to keep track of what was final and what was not. I have sorted it now with a list of all my predicted shots. On a larger project usually people name their shots AAA, AAB, AAC, AAD etc. This is because it is then easy to keep track of things, and add in extra shots (and they do not become out of order as can sometimes happen with numbered shots). However I have found this to be a problem with my project, this is because I have relatively few shots, If I had a story board then it almost certainly would have been necessary (I decided against this early on so that I could let my project breathe, allowing inspiration and creativity to be at the front of my thinking). So now I have a piece of scrap paper with the names that I have attributed to each shot. This allows me to know exactly what is happening within that shot. I then write down next to the shots whether I have modeled all the props, animated, rendered and composited that shot.

At present I am pretty close to having a working film, of the seventeen shots that I would like in my film, I have five that I have not begun animating yet (and they are not integral to the film) but all the other shots are either in late stages of production (compositing) or are ready for editing. I have found that most shots have been animated in two days, after my initial struggle with rendering I can now render and composite a shot in less than a day. I am now only being held back by the physical and mental strain of such a huge workload.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Some models

For the last few days I have taken a short break from animation and rendering to create some of the other things in my film. Some of them might not make much sense but they are all either cultural references or related to stories that people have told me that I thought were funny.

This is an anvil, obviously.

This is a deer, there would not really be a deer in a park like mine, so the shot that the deer is in will be quite entropic. It came from the story that first inspired me to make this film - A family was out walking their dog on Christmas day and the dog ran off on its own. A little later they found the dog hanging from a deers neck. I found the situation fascinating, the dog walkers would feel shame and embarrassment, the dog would be confused having thought it had just caught everybody dinner.

This is a cultural reference to the Monty Python foot. I have made it a little more grotesque with hair, and made it fit into my world in its design. It represents the ludicrous, weird end of my scale, without alienating my audience completely (as many people will have seen this joke before).

This squirrel is going to be part of my background. It will provide a temporary distraction for the dog. If I have time I will have him pop every now and again in the background to prevent my background becoming too static.

I have made more, but I think these images paint a picture of the kind of things I have been making the last few days, I will have a working animatic soon with music and a few of my jokes.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

arial view of my park.

I have been working on the intro to my film recently. I decided that my film needed something to set the scene before the man and dog walk on screen. So this is my homage to the Simpsons and Family Guy, and the way they use shots like this to bracket each scene. The clouds in the foreground will slowly move out of the way, to give a sense of space.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

I have begun animating.

This is just my initial pass at the first few scenes. There are already a few things that I have changed (such as the camera angle of the second shot, it was too close in and the roll of the camera was too much) and if I get time I will be going back and changing things. I am still not happy with the man's walk cycle at the beginning, but it is satisfactory for now, I really have to get cracking with the rest and start rendering!!!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Rig Documentation

This video documents the final rig that I will be using in my animation. It shows the versatility of the man's facial expressions, the simple yet effective foot setup with multiple rotation points (ball, toe, ankle, heel.) I have had to re-rig the dog completely since my last post - I rigged the dog in a similar fashion to the way I rig bipeds (with a central control point and the center of gravity). The problem I found was that dogs spread their weight over their front and back legs so I needed a solution that resulted in a spine control system that mimicked a dog's physiology. I also integrated an advanced dynamic tail system that automated its whip action, thus reducing the time needed to animate it.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Animation Test

This is an animation test. I did not need to make a perfect walk cycle. I just wanted to test out my rigs to find any pitfalls, and to discover how to use Maya's animation tools.

so far I am quite happy with the way the rig for the man works. It is simple and does the job. However, I am not so happy with the Dog rig, I think I need to have less spine controls that drive the spine bones. Also I need to reconsider the feet setup, my dog design pays no attention to the actual physiology of a dog's leg which is why I went for the reverse foot setup on the dog. However after animating I found it hard to get them to look right in motion. I will be doing some more experimenting with the dog to find more suitable solutions.

It has taken quite a while to get comfortable with Maya. However, I now feel I have overcome the main obstacles presented with converting to the new software.

Almost finished my background

This is the progress I made with the scenery this last week. I'm pretty happy with it, only a few small things that I would like to change if I get around to it. I am happy with the way the buildings and trees in the distance are desaturated due to aerial perspective. I think the flowers on the bushes in the foreground were a good addition. It was difficult to tell what they were before. I think before I use this in my film I would like to alter the gradient on the floor slightly, I have found it difficult getting the colours to my satisfaction. I would also like to put some daisies and extra tufts of grass on the floor.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Scene is almost finished

This is a test to see what my scenery might look like in 3D. So far I am pleased with the result; there are a few minor details that I think need changing (for example, the tops of the trees, flowers on the grass and in the bushes). I am also aware at this point that the still image will need some movement in it so that it does not become stale. I have been thinking of ways I can introduce a variety of different elements to the scene that will keep it alive such as butterflies, joggers, floating leaves/feathers etc. However, at this point my main concerns about the scenery are with composition. I have spent a lot of time trying to create a pleasing image that reads well and does not distract the eye.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Gantt charts are so much fun.

This Gantt chart maps my predicted progress for the duration of this project. At this point I am just finishing up the rigging stage and preparing my two characters for animation. I have done a few tests with texturing, although I think it will take a bit longer before I get something I am happy with. I am almost ready to do some animation tests, during which I can work out my animation workflow, but so far I am on schedule.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

My Character is also almost ready

This is the male character. I still have to work out a few things, such as blend shape eyebrows or FK, and decide what kind of control I want over the hands.

I will be doing some animation tests soon to finalise my ideas.

My dog is almost ready

This is the dog fully rigged. I still have to work out shaders and textures. Other than that this dog is ready to go!

Progress with Maya

I am finally getting to grips with the Maya Interface. I have nearly finished modeling and rigging the man and the dog - I will post screen shots soon. After trying out a few different methods of rigging I finally settled on the reverse foot setup. I decided against sliders wherever possible because I want the characters to be 'hands on'.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Design Sheet

This is a mock up of what I expect my film to look like.

It outlines how I intend to use colour to add emphasis to the characters and their animation.

I will not adhere to this strictly as it is just a test to see how viable this animation is.

This is a collection of just a few of the sketches I made when coming up with my characters. I found that the difficulty is in coming up with two characters that work together.

Synopsis of my Major Project

My submission for the major project shall be a short film. It will consist of a number of plural gags that stem from a repeated formula indicated at the beginning. Each individual gag will be less than ten seconds with some being less than three.

The Narrative of the film is set around the relationship between a man and his dog. The setting is a park where the two begin to play a game of fetch. From there the film takes an obsessive line in exploring many of the possible outcomes from when the ball is first thrown. As the film continues the results become more ludicrous and riddled with entropy. The first few instances see the dog refusing to give the ball back or covering the ball in slobber. Then a twist comes when the dog enters from another direction. From here a different dog brings the ball back, the dog brings a different ball back, the dog refuses to get the ball, the man gets the ball, the dog brings back a roast turkey, a giant foot squashes the characters, followed by anvils and safes etc.

The film addresses the relationship between man and dog, and how through body language the two communicate. Empathy is generated by providing situations we can all relate to - failure of communication, embarrassment, resignation and frustration. The obsessive structure of the narrative builds a sense of momentum in the story and pushes the characters to the edge of insanity. This relates to the absurdist tradition within animation, exploiting the plasmaticness of the medium, paying homage to some of the animators who made animation a viable creative medium.

My Film will imitate the stylised 1950s animation of Hanna Barbera and UPA with colourful, sharply designed backgrounds, and simplistic yet aesthetically pleasing characters. This will facilitate two important tasks. Firstly it will enable me to concentrate my time on the animation itself; one of the aims of this animation is to showcase my knowledge and skills in animation (timing, weighting, character performance etc). Secondly it will allow the narrative to proceed at a fast pace whilst still being highly communicative in animation and story telling.