Concept Sketches/Ideas Development Week 07/08

Week 07/08  – Artistic, Planning and Research

My tasks/goals for this week were to finish 3 production design paintings based on the animatic and to design the masked creature and Reymond, the sexy tree, further. The team deadline for reviewing the project concept art is November 20th so I’m definitely feeling behind on these tasks! This is what I’ve got so far.

A core rule in our world is that spirits possess inanimate objects with faces. This is an idea for a possible opening shot that plays with this rule. Ideally we would have a short opening before this which would convey the rule of spirits so then this opening shot could give a moment of “wait, but that means that any of these trees and statues in the environment could be alive/undead?!”. Some narrative could be then be suggested in the undergrowth if statues had been defaced or had magical amulets to prevent possession. I haven’t added these last details to the forest statues yet.

Sorcha had mentioned that our short could be set in autumn so I tried this palette. We’re also considering that the time of day could move from dusk to night.

I tried to draw Nami in but it’s tricky from this low perspective so she’s not quite right. In the animatic she’s flying into the frame but I wanted her face to be visible for this still.

These next few sketches are considering the staging of when Nami is talking to the creature who she has mistaken to be Púca because of it’s bright orange eyes. Púca could be concealed in the shadows behind Nami, perched on top of a totem-pole type arrangement of statues. Púca’s eyes could be the first things that become visible so that the audience might suspect a statue head is being possessed by a malevolent spirit?

I’ve gotten as far as applying value masks in this one but the value arrangement would probably be different, with the background in shadow and Nami the most illuminated.

Reymond still needs to be explored in sketches. Both sides of the crossroads could be designed with opposing palettes and lighting. Sorcha suggested that this scene be bright and sunny colored to suit Reymond. Alec suggested the possibility of lantern lighting too which is a good compromise for having an inviting palette which is still at night. The second frame is inspired by a similar crossroads, aerial composition in Samurai Jack, just to see what it might look like.

Masks and carved heads are often used as threshold guardians. This could be suggested in the detail above the doorway. The door should also suggest the dilapidated and abandoned qualities of the house inside. We have different options for how we can lay the stone. They could be large slabs or rows of thinner faces laid like dry stone wall.

The inside of the house could look abandoned and run down. The house has probably been used as a vessel for eating people before, so the center of the floor would be clear while dust and debris would have gathered around the edges. There could be a fire place towards the back with remnants of pots and tools lying around.

When the house is possessed it takes on the qualities of living tissue on the inside but should also feel like the insides of an otherworldly/spirit monster.

This is a possible idea for the design of the vessel/creature which lures Tato away. This concept plays with the idea that the one of the forest statues had not been defaced/sealed so that it was a suitable vessel for the forest spirit. Spirits monsters could be a combination of the materials that they possess along with the material of the ectoplasm bodies. The ectoplasm material could form solid limbs or remain as a ghostly, fluid material which allows the vessel to float in the air. The eyes could be orange flames of ectoplasm/soul. I purposely avoided limbs so that there would be less walking/running animation but the others say they don’t mind.

Sorcha and Kerry also suggested another idea for the creature which supports the narrative in the previous designs that Matthew created – the spirit could be using a skull mask as a vessel. I like this idea too as it makes sense for its forest habitat. Andrew pointed out too that Nami must believably mistake this creature for Púca so we’ll have to work with the staging more, maybe keeping it more concealed with shadow and foliage.

These are our various team Pinterest boards which give an indication of our design references. I’ve also posted some of the images below which I used specifically from the boards.

Monsters Character Design

Environment Reference 

Spooky Gothic Horror

Animatic 03 Feedback

This is the animatic which we presented in week 07 and which Mike gave us further feedback on on Tuesday of week 08. We’ve discussed the changes that we want to make but major updates to the animatic have been delayed to week 09 as we’ve been focusing on animation tests, further production design, character sculpts, rigging and research. Sorcha managed to cut 2 minutes off of this version at the beginning of the week which is a great start. We’re hoping to condense it further.

I’ve wrote Mike’s feedback in my sketchbook but these are the general points. Alec also made some similar points the week before and suggested some better scenarios for when Nami falls into the monster mouth.

  • The ‘keep your eyes peeled’ potato joke was lost. There should be a cut in to Tato’s reaction and audible grumbling. Nami should perform towards Tato when she apologises.
  • Make sure that the performance is loud and clear.
  • Nami needs motivation to cause her to stop. The rustling sound effect is missing  in this version which would cause Nami to stop but maybe Tato points towards the rustling bush. Always pay attention to cause and effect.
  • Consider how time passes. Nami comes across the creature very quickly and without apparent trial.
  • What is the creature doing in the bush – it could be eating berries.
  • The second close-up of the creature isn’t necessary when Nami is about to jump. Is this not a good editing pattern, getting faster and closer?
  • Pay attention to continuity of the space relationship between character staging.
  • We should see Nami’s spell start in a wide shot before it cuts closer to the Edgar Wright style cuts. Also indicate Nami’s spell forming, otherwise it pops into existance.
  • Frame Nami in an angled view looking towards the creature and beware of making her eyeline suggest that she’s looking elsewhere.
  • Nami’s pose looks like she’s straining to look around the creature.
  • We plan to see Púca’s first shapeshift. After this, when Púca is pacing he should’t pace away from the camera. Also, if Púca isn’t walking, then we can focus on his performance instead. Choose your battles.
  • It doesn’t come across that the creature is an accidental decoy. Nami and Púca should have more of a “…and who’s this guy” moment.
  • Move the camera with the character if they move out of frame and into the next shot (instead of cutting).
  • Use a two shot of Nami and Púca reacting to a third character instead of focusing on one at a time.
  • The wide shot of Tato should show him starting to listen. Cutting into his ear is confusing.
  • Is there a rule that Nami will also get smaller if she’s on Púca’s back when he shapeshifts?
  • We depicted Nami travelling on Púca’s back as we thought that the shots could be appealing but Mike’s feedback is that it would make more sense if Nami travels on her staff which is quicker.
  • Time could pass off screen between when Nami and Púca enter and exit the forest to Reymond’s crossroads.
  • Set up Reymond’s position in relation to Nami and Púca.
  • Will Reymond have afro hair, nice foliage etc? Reymond’s butt cheeks could wiggle when he laughs.
  • Nami should also be framed in Púca’s reaction shots to Reymond.
  • Take out the warning and Nami’s response. (We’re not sure if we want to do this as Reymond is our messenger, and it’s funny.) Speed up the dialogue at the end or cut it.
  • The screen direction changes when Tato arrives at the house. Maybe keep this right to left screen direction for Púca and Nami when they arrive at the house also to signal moving into danger.
  • Add a better establishing shot of the house.
  • Nami and Púca should cross the bridge when the camera does.
  • Mike suggests that Nami should run across the bridge first as she’s already shown that she’s impulsive at Reymond’s crossroads. However, this was something that we changed from the first animatic as we thought that it contributed to Nami coming across as stupid. We could make Nami run across first but try to pay attention to her performance so that she doesn’t seem completely brainless.
  • We’re missing a shot of when they open the door, either quickly or slow and tense.
  • When the camera pulls out it should reveal something e.g. Tato’s staging in relation to Nami and Púca when they enter the door.
  • Nami should start to leave the frame before we cut to Tato.
  • Púca needs to act more in the background instead of staring.
  • Nami needs to pull out her staff and be at the ready when the possession is happening and not after.
  • We’re reworking how Púca reacts to Nami falling. It’s agreed that Púca should immediately try to save Nami. Mike suggests that Nami could purposefully fall after Tato and then summon her magic in the moment of extreme peril. Maybe Tato is the demolition expert and has grenades. Magic shouldn’t be too convenient.
  • The magic should reflect Nami’s earlier attempt at magic.
  • Nami doesn’t need to announce her intention to capture the monster if she’s about to do it.
  • The end needs a lot of condensing. Mike pointed out that there are multiple points where it could just end.
  • For the ending dialogue the trio should already be walking into the distance. The smouldering house could be included in the last shot.

Animatic 03 shortened version 

Storyboards and Teamwork

Artistic and Planning

Week 06 2017/10/30 to 2017/11/05

We all had a long weekend of storyboarding for the new script. Andrew finished drafting the new script for Monday of week 06 while everyone else had been working on research, concepts or 3D sculpts. Once we got the script we reviewed it together, made some small changes and started planning the shots together on Monday on a shared spreadsheet. We found that it was a lengthy process with everyone sharing opinions so we gave Sorcha and Matthew the responsibility for planning the shots on the spreadsheet. This got finished by Wednesday and we divided out the resulting 139 shots between the five of us.

Screen Shot 11-06-17 at 12.06 PM

Shot planning

I was given responsibility of shots 85 – 115, where the trio are almost eaten by the possessed house, and spent most of Wednesday evening discussing them with Sorcha. Then on Thursday I thumbnailed out all the shots on one page, really trying to keep camera angles, composition and continuity in mind between boards.

Thinking through theses took longer than expected! I find that my level of drawing skills slowed me down a little too. I thought that after Thursday it would be a simple job of cleaning these thumbnails up but then it took longer again to figure out the poses and facial expressions better and tighten up the perspective. These boards took from Friday to Sunday to complete.

I can’t say that I’m too happy with my finished boards either. I really need to improve my ability to draw the same characters with different expressions and less stiff poses. I know that storyboards don’t necessarily need to be pretty but better drawings of sequences of poses and expressions, well framed by the camera with a pattern of editing in mind, would probably carry through to the 3D version too! So much to practice and improve for animation!

Also, the backstory of the house has changed now so that it needs to be designed more. Before it had existed as a mimic that was always a monster disguising itself as a house. Now it begins as an abandoned house that the spirit in the mask is able to possess and transform into a monster body.  Concepts haven’t been made yet for these so the composition of the room in the boards is very bare. Maybe more interest could be added to the framing if there’s more abandoned paraphernalia lying around.

This time around we used a shared onedrive folder to share all of our boards. Seems crazy that we posted all our last ones to slack for the editor to find. Sorcha is our editor this time around and is now putting the animatic together.