Animation Development David B. Levy
This book is a great introduction to the process of creating a pitch bible and the process of pitching to and working with development executives and networks. Two main emphases have been made so far in order for a pitch to be successful:
- Demonstrate your industry experience as proof of your ability to put a team together to drive your ideas onto the screen.
- Demonstrate the strength of your ideas with unique characters that drive stories specific to how they react to the world and conflict you put them in (the pitch bible).
I’m aware that my industry experience is relatively small at the moment, with only placement year behind me, but I’ve often read that ‘projects are the new portfolios’. Hopefully by working hard in final year, we can create an outcome which will be proof of our abilities with teamwork, storytelling and production.
Audiobook Notes Chapters 01 – 03:
In week 07 of Designing with Color and Light, my biggest take-away was the power of contrast when telling a story within a frame. Contrast in the wrong places will draw the eye away from the flow of the story. This could be contrast in value structure which is designed with local values, the effects of atmospheric perspective and placement of light and shadow. Also consider edge softness and depth of field. Fowkes also talks about creating more interesting greys.
The critiques on other classmates work for week 06 of Designing with Color and Light on Schoolism made me consider how to use weather and atmosphere more to create an experience.
The following are my notes from the critiques:
Week 06 in Designing With Color and Light on Schoolism talked about the use of light and atmosphere when designing frames within a sequence. My biggest take away from this week so far is the power of being able to quickly thumbnail the colors of a scene to see what works best. The homework for this week is not just about choosing a warm and cool palette. This week is about trying to push further to use light and atmosphere to bring out the emotional beat of the story e.g. discovering or travelling through a mysterious city or town.
Update 05/October/2017 – Creating pitch bibles was something that I got to play more of an active part in towards the end of my placement. A point of feedback from our week 02 pitch was that we should make what we enjoy making first and then see where it fits in. Heather Kenyon’s advice on making a pitch bible is still useful though, even if we don’t have a particular broadcaster in mind.
Creating an idea for a series which we love and which still adheres to the requirements of a particular broadcaster has been a recent shared challenge for me at Flickerpix. There is still a lot about writing character driven narrative which I’m trying to figure out. I see the broadcaster brief as less of a limitation and more of a challenge. How does writing for a 10 year old audience differ from an 8 or 14 year old audience? I would guess that looking at particular life events would be a good place to start but what about the language and types of characters? I usually categorise the books that I read a little more broadly into children, young adult fiction and other, usually depending on the age of the main characters if it’s a more modern book. Paying more attention to target audience in the bookshelves might be more helpful.
Trying to distill an idea into a short form while still maintaining the humour and demonstrating how the characters drive the narrative has been another challenge. The video link below has some useful tips.
How to Create a Pitch Bible with Heather Kenyon
- Think about the competition. Is there something on air that is already similar to your idea? Have a good answer why it’s not that.
- Think about where you see your show. Know the difference between networks and where you are able to sell. Don’t handicap yourself with a tiny niche.
- Think about what relates to your target audience. What are in their lives?
- Ask for feedback. What doesn’t make sense to them? Start soft pitching the idea. See where you stumble or are too convoluted.
- Your bible is your presentation guide. Don’t read from it. Ask if people want a hardcopy or a pdf emailed to them.
- Kidscreen, miptv, mipcom (bigger for animation).
- Your bible should be around 10 pages, a fun easy read. Overview, character descriptions, episode examples.
- Overview – tagline, start at the beginning, you need to start with the basic information! What are the rules, tone, genre, length of episodes, storylines? The overview is 1 – 2 pages describing the complete package. Give exact examples, be clear about the points. This is the stage.
- Character descriptions. Adjectives don’t tell you much. Be creative about how you describe character. The look of the character can be a good opportunity to start with ‘the opposite’ statement. E.g. Mandy is disgusting. She uses her sweet looks to get her way. Show the conflict between what the character is and what the character wants to be.
- Episode spring boards. This is the area that makes or breaks the bible. Show the beginning, middle and end. Give the examples that draw the overviews and characters together. What is it about the characters that motivate actions in the story line? Who is important in your show? Have you given them enough prickles in their personalities to drive the story off of each other?
Week 05 on Schoolism Designing With Color and Light focused on creating a concept illustration using the principles so far. Fowkes encourages over and over again that the value keys should be experimented with for a wide range of contrasts e.g. high contrast, low contrast, light shapes on dark sky, vice versa and so on depending on the mood and story. He also drills the importance of considering and being clear with the type of light source and how the color of the light affects the local material color. These are all areas that I could understand more and push more.
The following are my notes from critiques on other people’s work.
Week 5 goes through demonstrations of painting quick thumbnails. An emphasis is put on using the fundamentals of combining warm versus cold/hue, value variations and saturation variations to create abstracts of emotional beats.
Focus on principles over tools and techniques. Tools quickly become outdated but the principles will stay the same. Create your own process for working quickly. Photoshop tool presets and actions can speed up your workflow.
Nathan Fowkes process
Fowkes knows that he’ll have cool light filtering in so he starts with a warm background.
A neutral on a warm feels very cool.
Paint abstractions with the feel of real light and an interesting color palette.
Everything is kept very neutral apart from some select areas of contrast.
Nathan Fowkes thumbnail painting.
Pay attention to the flow of lines in your painting.
Nathan Fowkes thumbnail painting.
Look at your scenes in relation to each other. Your painting might not be as bright and vibrant as you thought it was. Use adjustments to correct contrast and vibrancy and to create more variety in the context of the color script.
Nathan Fowkes thumbnails after adjustments.
Week 05 Homework
Create a finished painting to this level:
Start by roughing out an idea in simple values.
Think of the relationships between cool and warm. Where are your light sources? Paint with lost and found edges.
Gamut Masking (2011) James Gurney
I haven’t fully understood the use of a gamut mask before beyond simply choosing a palette. The same color scheme, as perceived by our eyes, can be cast into warm or cool light depending on the gamut mask which is chosen. The gamut mask will shift the colors within the frame towards less/more saturated depending on how warm/cold they are. E.g. an intensely saturated yellow will become quite grey under colder/bluer light.
I have potentially a lot of illustrations to paint over the coming weeks so this basic concept will be helpful.
I went through the following tutorial on Puralsight to learn the basics of using XGen. I then experimented with this to try and create a soft fleecy body for the Octaves. Learning a new system and trying to apply it in time for a deadline was quite challenging. University projects were good preparation for this but I found that there was an extra level of stress involved in the workplace.
Creating Dynamic Fur with XGen in Maya
An important note that wasn’t explained in the tutorial is about file paths. XGen likes to create folders for each modification that is applied to the groom. If any of the file paths to these folders are wrong then the groom will disappear. I found that XGen would sometimes make errors and save folders to the wrong collection directory. It’s therefore important to check that the initial folder creation is where you want it to be. I also found it helpful when working across multiple computers to make sure that all the file paths are relative. Instead of having the full path directory, start the file path with “$DESC/” so that the ‘description’ folder will be searched from whatever collection the XGen is set to.
XGen also seemed to have a bug for me. Whenever I imported a collection into a scene, two ‘description’ folders would be created within the ‘collection’ folder. One of these folders would contain all the information needed but would be ignored by XGen while the other folder would be read by XGen but contained an empty setup. This was fixed by a simple cut and paste. Maybe there was a reason for this?
My notes from the tutorial:
So, today I was trying to match the perspective of my Maya scene/model to that of a photo that I was studying. I thought, wouldn’t it be handy if I could zoom into the view without messing my camera settings. I remember hearing something about this in Devon Fay’s tutorial on Creating a Sci-fi Alleyway (very awesome) so I asked the Google. I came across the Creative Crash website, which seems to be a good source for scripts, and the “shotView” script.
Then after digging through my notes for the script that Fay uses, I found “zoomerator”.
“Great, I just need to copy and paste these into some folders in Maya’s/version directory.” said I. But of course, me being me and Maya being Maya I misread the instructions. Instead of putting the files into the users directory/documents I put them into the c/programs directory where Maya has similar folders. So after many copy and pastes into different folders and errors in the script editor later I discovered that Maya had been telling me the correct directories all along in the script editor. How nice. Although I wasted a lot more time than was necessary I did learn a little, or at least discover more doors that I haven’t looked much behind yet. I’ll leave links here to these articles that I found for future reference. Pointless story aside, this is the main point of this blog post. Also, future me, don’t half ass the reading of the instructions.
Installing a Maya plug-in
Setting environment variables using Maya.env
The whole environment variables thing didn’t work for this purpose for me but maybe next time….