House Texture Concept

Drawing inspiration from the traditional media textures and simplified shapes in Scott Wills paintings, I tried to paint the house concept in more of the style that we’re going for. I also tried to push myself to draw more of a dynamic perspective, with the house at an angle to show light on form better. Trying to paint in the style of Wills also made me think harder about using values and shapes within the frame to frame the focal point as I sometimes over-rely on vignettes and light sources to draw the eye.

We’re considering using the silver ratio (2.414:1) for a more cinematic feel in our short.



Story Development and Monster Sketches

We came together to take our Cassandra Cottage episode idea into a new direction. In the old episode the characters were trying to steal an amulet that would help them contain the stranglings/monsters. We felt that the concept of the amulet and the curse twist were weak in the plot and required a lot of exposition. We’ve decided to do away with Cassandra and instead are aiming for a more general example of an episode where our characters have to overcome the perils of encountering and capturing a monster. We tried to focus on Dan Harmon’s story structure 101 while going along – you, need, go, search, find, take, return, changed.

An overview of the plot: (witch – Nami, creature – Puca, potato – Tato)

  • A young witch is practicing her capture spell on a dummy. Her mentor creature gives guidance and her potato friend cheers her on. She messes up the spell spectacularly and the dummy explodes.
  • (Title) Nami – The Last Witch
  • The witch, creature and potato are walking along the moors. Creature is lecturing her about how she should study when they happen upon a tree shrine with pictures/offerings to missing people at the edge of a forest.
  • They see a glowing light in the forest and have reason to believe that it’s the cause of the disappearances. The witch rushes ahead, chasing it on her hover staff with potato in tow.
  • The witch pursues the light into an old house on a cliff side. The door slams shut and she sees that the light is part of the house. The floorboards turn into teeth that try to eat her but her hover staff saves her.
  • Creature turns into owl outside the monster house and tries to save the witch but is struck down.
  • The witch tries to do a spell while dangling from her broom but it fails. The potato falls into the monster floorboards. The witch throws her books at the creatures uvula causing it to gag and spit the witch, book and potato out.
  • They land on the creature. The witch takes a breath, concentrates and manages to do the spell. The house monster gets captured.

Sorcha wrote a script using these beats and also added an opening monologue which gives some context to the story.

I’ve been trying to develop what the monster house might look like. We wanted to keep the house-on-tall-stilts idea from the last episode. I started with some thumbnails to explore house shapes and how these could combine with monster features. The challenge is to make architecture that belongs to a fantasy world, make it recognisable as a house and then create a mimic and monster form.

I think that doing more architecture research will be of benefit. We thought of using medieval European stone houses as influence but this might a be a bit too traditional/overdone in fantasy. Sorcha and Matthew also suggested looking at more real world predators for influence, like the gelada baboon who peels back its gums drastically to reveal large teeth. I’m also considering how a shark’s mouth is designed.

Link to our Pinterest board Monsters Character Design

We also need to develop the mechanics/muscle movements of how the teeth floorboards work. We want the inside of the monster house to be fleshy.

Cassandra Cottage Concepts

These are some early thumbnails for trying to figure out the composition for Cassandra’s cottage. The idea was that we would start the episode with the characters arguing while the cottage is somehow framed in the background, either above or below the clearing that they’re standing in.

Matthew had some more pushed perspectives from directly below, looking up. Looking at these I could push the feeling of looking down from a height more also.

I tried to paint this concept while using the simplified shapes in Mikael Gustafsson’s work (instagram link) as inspiration. Christian also shared interesting ideas for rock formations with us (Kilian Schönberger Earth Pyramids).

I don’t think that I captured the feeling of danger and foreboding that the story needs with these. We’re also reworking how this setting functions in the narrative.

Oil Lamp Study for Skills Development

July 2016

I intended to study multiple photos so as to improve my modeling, lighting and compositing skills. I used substance painter, Arnold and Nuke for practice. Trying to match the outcome from Substance Painter, which is pbr based, to the render from Arnold was a bit tricky. This could also have been due to lighting. Matching the perspective between Maya and the photograph also turned out to be more challenging than expected.

These were some of the tutorials that I looked at for my oil lamp study.

Substance Painter Tutorial – Model Preparation 01: UV Mapping and Texel Density

Substance Painter Tutorial – Fundamentals 05: Baking textures

Substance Painter Tutorial – Model Preparation 05: Mesh export options

Forum Topic: best way of baking a curvature map for painter

Forum Topic: best way of baking a curvature map for painter

Forum Topic: Substance plug-in to Arnold

Using Xnormal:

This video shows a great technique for unwrapping curvy objects such as the wire on my lamp model. Instead of spending crazy amounts of time trying to select faces and edgeloops, this method uses the unitize function and then makes a selection of every UV, except along the seam, and sows this selection together in one neat shell which can be unfolded.

Blast Wave Compositing Practice

Following on from the Video Copilot blast wave tutorial, I attempted to create an explosion in my driveway in Donegal. The footage is kind of terrible as I don’t have access to a decent camera for filming but it still provided a good challenge for matching the assets to a similar quality, colour and contrast.

Driveway Explosion

The results are quite similar to what I created in the tutorial so now I’m curious about what different types of explosions could look like. I used the Action Essentials 2 pack (from video copilot) to create this so I’m also curious about how I could go about creating my own assets if the story so needed. Also, there’s no camera motion in this so it’s more apparent that the debris is disappearing.


Iglu Media and Football Euros Animation

It has been an informative 2 weeks working at Iglu Media. Andrew Coyle, Kerry McCormick,  Jonny Shields and I worked on two quick turnaround videos for the football Euros. The first video was an explainer style animation that explained the difference between Irish and Northern Irish football. That one was very successful with views as it very quickly got over 2,000,000 views on Facebook alone, then many extra on YouTube.

Irish and Northern Irish Football Explained

We then started the next one on Friday evening (June 10th) and managed to have it complete by Wednesday (June 15th). That one was more complicated as it involved character animation and lip syncing for the first time! This one is currently on around 200,000 views on Facebook. It’s interesting to see the difference in views between YouTube and Facebook.

Paris Bun music video:


Some reflection on what I’ve learned over the past two weeks:

  • There’s a great advantage to everyone working together in an office space and keeping the same office hours. Everyone was in early in the morning, had a reasonable lunch and worked until 5 or 6.There was simply no time to be distracted during our set work hours. In the past I’ve felt guilty about having this expectancy of everyone in the team. I understand that some people like to stay up extremely late at night and then sleep as needed. However, after seeing how well a team can work when we keep regular office hours and be together to discuss ideas or troubleshoot problems (or just as happily work at our own desks), I would really love to see this happening in our final year team.
  • When it comes to animating, having pre-recorded sound for timing is so priceless!
  • Having a tight deadline really forced us to be efficient as individuals and as a team. Planning was greatly helped by having a locked down script or song to work from. We could immediately jump into the storyboard stage. We were forced to quickly decide on a simple style that the whole team could adapt to, for drawing and animating. Jonny Shields was a great organised force to work with and set up the initial assets list that let the team plough ahead.
  •  The presence of a ‘boss’ like figure also helped. There was that extra subconscious pressure not to be fluffing around or having unneeded tea breaks.
  •  I’ve discovered gaps in my knowledge, particularly around graphic design and typography. It would also have been useful to know how to use Illustrator for creating vector based graphics to animate. I ended up drawing with the pen tool in Photoshop for the first time but I’ve seen previews of Illustrator tools that would have made my life easier. Jonny Kane pointed out that this is a recurring area (Illustrator) that people passing through have said would be useful but lacked knowledge in.
  •  Jonny Shields pointed out and helped me fix poor typography layouts. Having a knowledgeable person as part of your team to learn from is a great plus! Andrew Coyle also pointed the way to expressions that I had now known about in After Effects. Having everyone around for immediate feedback, when I asked, was a great plus also.
  • Usually I’m not afraid of failure but I found that this fear became a greater obstacle at the thought of other people having real dependencies on the outcome of my work. I came at this project with the thoughts that I knew absolutely nothing about football and I’d never created motion graphics like this in After Effects before. On top of that there was a crazy deadline. Looking back, it was a risk worth taking but I didn’t know that at the time. It was a relief when Andrew joined the project and then Kerry soon after. I couldn’t have asked for more reliable team mates. I still would have tried to tackle this by myself, even if that might not have been wise.


Stargazing Concept in After Effects

Christian suggested adding parallax and a vignette to the 2D stargazing scene to make it stronger for the pitch video. I finished the 2D concept a little more and animated the layers with a camera in After Effects. Unfortunately we didn’t get to complete our 3D version of this as we didn’t plan enough time to add the characters. I tried to use Sorcha’s design of Julie in this  (as it most match the Moebius-like style that we had discussed as a team) and then tried to match William to Julie. The lighting hid the line a little though and the colours changed after I colour corrected to fit within the scene.