Final Major Project

Hi everyone, it’s been a while hasn’t it.  Well I’ve had numerous problems which resulted in my absence from uni for a while.  I’m back now to work on my FMP (Final Major Project) and other projects.

So over the period of time to decide there were a few ideas that roamed around in my head on what I wanted to do.

 

  • Due to developing depression and anxiety, I wanted to try and make an animation that covered the feelings and chaotic thoughts that have been in my head.  The idea revolved around symbolic and figurative figures such as storms, a wall and vast, empty landscapes to accommodate these feelings.  In the end however, it would have potentially become too confusing and complicated to do.  Something I actually needed to avoid because attempting a complex peace was one of the factors of me developing depression in the first place.  The investment could have also been more self destructive as well.
  • A stop motion using figurines, something I’ve wanted to do overall it’s one of the reasons I started out to become an animator.  The problem with the idea is that it would limit the creativity options in a course that demands originality and unique concepts.  That is completely fair enough, so I have this in reserve as a last resort.
  • An animated sequence in traditional two dimensional form.  I want to develop and broaden out my skill set options and try to create scenes and motions for future projects and potential endeavours.

 

I have discussed it with my tutor and I have come up with making a simple animation, well, simple in comparison to the usual stuff I make or plan to make.  The animation will involve a Gargoyle, for now I am not entirely sure what to do.  Hopefully something good, or great.  Something that shouldn’t become one of my usual tangents that I try and make something that will stand out.  From a modelling stand point a Gargoyle is a straightforward puppet to build, being only grey in colour.  This means I can make one much quicker than any other possible ideas I had, and not have to worry about colour merge and smudges.

Research:

Gargoyles have two functions when used on buildings other than display.  The more practical being that they can be integrated into the rooftop’s irrigation plumbing or ledge drainage and become a waterspout during heavy rain fall, in order to prevent damage to the buildings they were built onto.  More traditionally as part of the design and cultural intent of Gargoyles is for them to ward off ghosts and other malicious entities.  Today they are more popular as garden and room ornaments, the whole guardian part of it appeals to the story making aspect and has a good amount of possibilities.

For styles and design aspects, the most notable exemplars to me are Nick Park and the late Ray Harryhausen.  They are the first names that are likely to come up in conversation on the subject or a search.  If I were to have performed an alternative though, I would follow the card shadow puppetry of Lotte Reiniger.  However, this involves a technique and form I still need practice in with the materials, lead, to keep the rigidity.  Also when I practiced with them before, I had to deal with the card becoming adhesive through static energy to my fingers and ruining the shot.  So I am focusing purely on clay stop motion puppets.  For all of my information on stop motion , please follow the link to my older post on the subject.

Research Links:

https://www.authenticireland.com/gargoyles/
http://www.gardensablaze.com/Gargoyles/Gargoyle%20History.htm
https://caintheanimator.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/stop-motion-research/

 

Early concepts:

Before I try to write out the plot I want to try and create the character and the other creatures surrounding them.  So I have tried some of sketches for the faces and body stance:

 

Faces (1)

With the initial concept I wanted to try and create a Gargoyle with goat like features and large, goblin based ears.  This is because I have quite often seen this type of gargoyle and we have ornaments of this type in my house.

Gargoyle scetch 5

Scribble test images, I’ve drawn a base facial structure and scribbled across them to try and create animalistic humanoid features, or demonic.  I have performed the scribbles with my eyes closed to try and create a completely random set for chance. The first sketch ended up looking like a mix of Batman and Devilman, see below the images for comparison.  I feel that the demonic appearance would make for a pretty scary creature for a villain or a dark minion, but I’m avoiding such things since it could make the animation more complicated than necessary.  It looks more satanic than a Gargoyle and isn’t suitable.
With the second and third sketches, I tried to visualize something more comical and I saw features such as elongated noses.  The image has ended up looking like a Japanese Tengu mask, the ending result also made it look rather creepy, unpleasant and seemed too far away from what a Gargoyle should look like. The images had so far had too much of an oriental appearance something I NEED to move away from.
The fourth image started developing a more ogre like appearance, so it ended up just stopping dead.  However, the singular horn and lop sided look has given me a much better idea towards what I want from the Gargoyle’s design. The next 3 pretty much went nowhere as I was trying to explore other animal features that are usually used on Gargoyles.  I was attempting to draw the more dog like statues, these scribble designs were unsuccessful.

 

Batman reference image
Batman as he appeared in the game Arkham Origin, the armoured nose on his mask in part played to the first image sketch’s facial characteristics and armoured look.

Devilman reference image

The Go Nagai ultra-violence character Devilman, I ended up seeing the head wings in the scribble sketches first image.  Again this added to the scary appearance, but I’m trying to avoid such looks and make something more appropriate for a general audience.

I want to try and make the Gargoyle a guardian type of creature, so I’ll try and create a body structure and face accordingly.

Gargoyle posture sketches

I drew three separate postures and body structure bases.  (From left to right) The first makes it look more hunched and apelike, the emphasis feels a bit much on the upper body and could imbalance the armature when it is constructed.  The second dons a more feral and prowling body language, ready to spring into action, but a little on the villainous side.  The legs have ended up a little too long and would be imbalanced and can render a Marquette difficult to pose or even move.  It is the same with the final image, which also has the problem of leaning too far back.  These look good on paper, but for armatures, they will require more time and experience, which I don’t have.

I’ve come to a decision about the plot.  I want to create a small story piece which portrays the Gargoyle as a guardian of unseen beings within a city centre space, one of the small creatures is almost spotted and the Gargoyle intervenes.

Gargoyle scetch 4

These are part of the finalised designs of the Gargoyle I’m aiming towards an intimidating, yet protective look, kind of like a bouncer or a security guard.  There to protect and keep order.  The first design has ended up with a similar appearance to an ogre or a demon.  I was experimenting with a larger jaw line.

creature

This was the start of what I had in mind for the creature that the Gargoyle rescues, a small rubbish creature.  I wanted it to look cute and curious, Im had some initial thoughts from the Jawa’s out of Star Wars.  I also played with the thought of anthropomorphic characters such as mice and rats, but overall I want to make the little creature seem just as mysterious.

CHANGE!!!

I was heading for the same problem I did last time, I was aiming for something too big and complicated to do within a short space of time.  So I’m going for something really simple in comparison, yet will have enough content to fill out plenty of time for an animated sequence.  I’m still playing with the Guardian Gargoyle theme, but in a more comical sense.  A Gargoyle that scares off a bunch of Pigeons, but then protects a left over egg from the elements.  It’s going to be more lighthearted and just a simple laugh along for people to watch.  I’m going to aim for more comical looking character designs.

Redesign:

Pigeon scetch

Pigeons

Gargoyle colour faces

Final design aspects in colour for the Gargoyle face, I’m trying to make him look old and/or grumpy.  I even tried to give him the boggle eyed look of flat faced dog breeds such as Pugs and Boston Terriers.

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Facial chart of what I want the Gargoyle to look like, note that the puppet will have a snapped horn

Set Design and Construction:

I had a really simple vision for the Gargoyle’s mount.  The corner of a building, overlooking an unseen city-scape. Something that can be quickly and easily built in a short span of time and still have the desired effect of looking like a real structure.  After observing a few buildings, I am going for the appearance of brickwork and sandstone.
I’m going with it because it will mean less fiddling with the little details of bricks, but also simplifies the overall structure of the set.  Below in the sketches, you will see how I want to make a three piece corner, for structural strength and easy transportation and construction.  There will be a ledge for the Gargoyle to sit on, I may attempt to construct a support strut to make a solidified foundation.  Who knows, but lets give it a shot.

 

wall sketch Wall set scetch Wall scetch Wall 3D scetch gargoyle set

Material-wise, I’m using polystyrene slabs.  It’s lightweight, can be molded or cut into shape easily enough and it is easily replaceable if need be.  It also bares the detailing of stone like designs, so long as the set is constructed properly, then it will also be incredibly durable.  I’m also using balsa-wood and foam boards for the main skeleton of the set so that it all holds in place.  For surface colouring, I’m using brick designed wallpaper for the lower half and painting the upper half and the ledge in sand based colours for the sandstone effect.

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This ain’t advertising, the books were just there to weigh it down.  Damn good trilogy though.

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Maquette moulding and construction.

All of my maquette’s have an internal skeleton that is a mix of aluminium wire,wooden beads of varying sizes.  The beads are covered with modelling putty (Games Workshop’s Green Stuff to be precise) to hold and set in place over 24 hours. Once the drying period is complete, the greened beads are coated with Fimo oven bake clay.  I have been using this method due to the materials being cost effective, easy to replace and when done properly, have as much free movement as an all metal skeleton.  Until such a time as my being able to afford such frames, this is my chosen means of craft.

To learn more of what I do for this method, click on the link:
https://caintheanimator.wordpress.com/page/3/

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The gap in the facial region of the head is intended as a slot for interchangeable faces in replacement techniques, this will require multiple faces to be made.  I’m using Fimo as the base and also the point for the nose.  Newplast will coat the rest in order to make for easy molding and replacement.  For the Gargoyle’s physique, I wanted him to have a pot belly and seem incredibly old, hunching him over and carving cracks and lines into the body.  During the sculpting process I accidentally scratched the surface off of the skin, I noticed that it made the Gargoyle looked weathered, so I began to lightly scrape the surface of the skin with a crafting knife.  (I’ve also ended up stabbing and cutting my hands with that knife, so my sweat and blood has literally gone into this puppet.)

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Due to their movement requirements being minimal, the pigeons will not be given an endo-skeleton.  The only solid components will be the eyes and beaks.  This makes them easier and quicker to make.  The set has worked perfectly, it holds the weight of the Gargoyle and more.  So long as the Marquette remains on the inner corner where I placed the brace, it can take the weight with no signs of strain.  Naturally I am not going to force it down to see just how, otherwise that’s three days of work down the loo.

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I have carved the surface of the maquette to give the gargoyle a more weathered appearance.  Hopefully this won’t smooth over during the animating process.  I have gently pressed upon it and it does not seem to do so at the moment.  Time will tell as the animating proceeds.

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Using the college to shoot is a bust, the space is way too small for me to work in, upto the point that I can’t get the camera close enough to take the shots I need, let alone being able to move the puppet.  The room is also WAY too hot for the puppets, which are nearly melting due to the collective heat of the room itself and the lights I was using.
The replacement form of the faces is a no go too, the faces are all out of proportion and fall off too easily, I can also see the line were the faces are attached, this means that I’m going to have to remodel the facial structure entirely. This is a quick fix, I can have it solved within a day or two.  I’m taking the set home to work there instead, I’ve got more room to work in and it is surprisingly less distracting than in the college building.  I’ve learned that it is definitely too much for me to focus when I have several other people sharing a room with me.  It was almost a complete disaster too when the legs snapped off and the hands fell apart due to a lack of internal frames.  I was able to repair the damage and replace the concept of the legs, making goat like legs in place of the more bird like feet.

Progress Improved

It has definitely proven to be easier to work from home, I have completed my animating and I am upto the editing phase.  Oh joy, my favourite part.  During the animating I did have to take short breaks to allow the puppets to cool, so in future am going to need a better Air Conditioning system or invest in a mini refrigerator unit (Ray Harryhausen used them during his film projects) in order to shorten the amount of time I need to wait before I can start animating again.  There is definitely a lot I need to consider in future, such as improving the way I make most of my armatures. I’ll begin investing in more properly made armatures for purchase or even use lego technic sets for the ball joint mechanism type armatures.  Or I can adapt my efforts into my cost effective puppets and increase their strength and more stiff regions such as the legs and arms.  I have a few ideas in mind and I will add them to the blog at a later date.  In the meantime I have other matters to be concerned with.  Sadly the weathered skin has smoothed over in places, this is definitely due to the heat as well, so I’m going to have to look into maybe procuring a more durable material for character skin, or making less and adding clothing items.

Editing

Editing isn’t exactly my strong suit, due to there being so many features and and technical aspects to worry about.  There’s also all of the bar space and placement of video and audio clips and to me an difficult amount of fiddling around with their length to improve duration, which means it can take a LOT longer for me to finish a project if I am expected to do more than puppetry and animating.  I will need to stress this with any future clients, of course at the same time I will be investing in editing software so I can at least make the effort to improve these skills for my own projects.  I’m not really going into the details of the whole process because for the life of me I had to perform trial and error (mostly error) tactics to make it all work.  I am however pleased with the end result, the video has ended up being four minutes long, with the inclusion of the credit sequences, as opposed to my goal/prediction of up to three minutes.  So this is a very pleasing result.

The Final Animated Piece:

So here it is, all uploaded and ready for viewing.  This has been a really long and tough project to handle, despite its intended simplicity, something which would have gone more smoothly if I had been able to organise myself better and allow more time for smoother and improved animation, plus I  need to invest in some software of my own.  All things that I will continue in the future, because this is my life goal.  I need to develop a habit of breaking my mental blocks sooner so I can push myself more and be prepared for whatever a client throws at me.  I need to look into alternative and better quality materials to make my puppets more durable, so that they can last in the long run depending on their intended use. On another note, I will be looking into other set construction techniques and methods of easy assembly and disassembly.  I am looking forward to improving my skills and getting my work out there into the world.  Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy what’s to come.

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Client Related Practices

Wow, real world stuff, Client Related Practices.  Well this has been a really tough one to get underway, at least it provides how hard it is to find work.  I took me until just after Christmas to find a client.  I’ve gained the experience of just how difficult it is to find a client out there and how far you may have to hunt them down to get your foot in the door.

My client works in marketing down in London, but she intended for me to create the artwork for a children’s book that she has written.  A pleasant little concept that follows the literal thinking that children have when it comes to metaphors and phrases, poking fun at the indirect meanings of such terms from their perspective. This provides an opportunity to run wild with all kinds of exaggerations and creations should the opportunity arise.

Brief:

Below is a copy of the brief the client handed to me at the start of the year, along with the opening to the story.

Hi Cain,

Happy new year!
I hope you are well.
Below is the copy for my children’s book. It is aimed at 0-5 year olds, so pre- school age.
The general theme and guidelines are:
– should be a light, child friendly design 
– you will need to design the main character “Harry” – ideally, he should be cheeky, aged 4 years old. He will have red hair and freckles. His face doesn’t need too much definition, just something quite simple is fine 
– the illustrations should help tell the story and guide the reader through – perhaps it would help to illustrate the idioms (like raining cats and dogs) – these are the funny bits that would look excellent on the page 
It would be great to get the first draft by the end of Feb – is that possible?
Final draft could be before Easter?
Let me know me know if that’s ok! And also if you need more information.
Thanks
Danielle 

Funny Things That Grown-ups Say

By Danielle Berg

 
My name is Harry Harvey
I am four years old
I have a simple story
That really must be told…
Excerpt which provides the context for the book, she has requested that I do not place the entire manuscript.  It is a very direct proposal to follow,  a simple request.  The image she wants for “Harry” is an appearance that whilst descriptive, also leaves room for other creative possibilities.

 

January – Research

A quick google search shows a site that lists a lot of illustrators (referred to as Style Specialists) that are rated as the most popular.  This lead to the following website:

http://www.illustrationweb.com/styles/children

There were plenty of artists to choose from, these in particular where the best that I noticed, or that I could understand the most visually.

Alan Baker – His artwork is very deep in the uncanny valley, bordering on photographic level art.  Going for the full level of detailing on animal fur and surfaces.  The colour pallets are a mixture of warm and cold types, adding to the natural appearance and feel of the imagery.  He completely fills the page with the scene with either the flora and fauna or the image, down to the thinnest blade of grass.  This all has stemmed from his study of zoology, which helps his creatures of fantasy design.

Alexandra Ball – She uses a contrast of of colours, mostly using a warmer pallet for the characters and a colder one for the scenery and backgrounds, with the exception of certain scenes and weather conditions.   She uses different sized shapes to add texture detail. Uses vertical ovular shapes for humanoid male characters and horizontal ovular shapes for female character faces.  A common but very effective style trait.  She gives wildlife a placid and friendly appearance, also utilizing anthropomorphism.

Mae Besom – She uses a style adapted from elements of Japanese comic artwork. This also feels like her work was influenced by western artists, such as Tim Burton. She uses an opposing pallet too, warm colours within a seemingly cold scene to draw attention to specific items or characters.

David Catrow – He draws a lot of exaggerated features such as distended heads and noses, all of his characters have bulbous heads and have a very squashed or chubby design.  He has drawn some very gothic or nightmarish images which don’t seem quite appropriate with the other artist themes.  He is also self taught, which shows more potential in where I can go for the future.

 

Dialogue with the client:

Me:
Happy New Year to you too and I hope all is well on your end.

Yes, the manuscript is more than enough to work with and I can easily make the content appropriate.  Are there any particular designs and styles you’d like it to be similar too?

Or do I have free reign to practice a couple of concepts and see which you would prefer?

 

Daniel:
You have free reign!

Would be great to see a couple of options, and we can go from there.
Thanks Cain 
Me:
Hi Danielle
Sorry that it’s only two images (I have some more sketches but these are more important of the lot) these are the character design elements Harry, there are four hairstyles if you wish for a different look.  Please let me know if you like the style and any changes you want.
Danielle:

Thanks for this Cain – these are looking fantastic!

Couple of things – 
– LOVE the colour of Harry’s hair and the freckles are great
– I think Harry needs to look a little bit younger, cheekier, and ultimately more smiley! Perhaps his face could be a bit rounder?
– The eyes look a bit grown up, which is making him look older than he should be
– I like the scruffy hair, but perhaps slightly shorter if that’s not too difficult?
Does this all make sense and sound ok?
Thanks again – wonderful job!!!
Me:
Thanks, I’ll be sure to make it more consistent and I’ll definitely keep the red wellies in. 
So this was the back and forth while I also juggled my dissertation.  This has solidified the fact that I can only work on one project at a time as a cog in the machine, in place of being the whole machine myself.  The proposal is a simple request which has required only my skills in artwork, which also requires me to learn a new person to draw which I’m not actually used to.  I will have to consider ways to integrate animation into the project.  Possibly along the lines of an advertising or a sting for the point it is published.
With a children’s book there is a lot that needs to be taken into account for appropriate content.  There are the basics, no swearing, nudity or violence.  The manuscript has none of these, so that has already been taken care of.
The first thing I was sent was the memoir itself, which shall not be posted as a whole due to my client requesting confidentiality in order to prevent theft.  There will be a small excerpt later on to provide a context for the book itself.  I started seeing a general appearance for the main character, Harry, then started drawing  few sketches. I am really not used to drawing children, so this was a big task to undertake.  I started out with a few different drawings based around the styles of the artists I had read into on the illustrators website, with the features described.  With this being an animation module, it was somewhat problematic for this to be a children’s book, or so you’d think.  Looking onward to when the book is actually published, I thought about the possibilities of animated advertisements involving the characters.  I have seen such methods used for the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling and also for books by Jacqueline Wilson.
Images:
Harry:
 Harry facial sketches (1) Harry sketches 1
The initial designs for Harry, using different styles, I wanted to avoid making the images too realistic as that isn’s necessarily my strong suit.  I prefer to try a more
Harry face sketches 1 (1)
Harry wave
Animals:
small animals
Scenery:
Kitchen picture (1)
A sketch of a kitchen scene, not entirely used to drawing environments, something to improve on.
Metaphors:
teacups (1)
An example of the metaphors, to be used, one I hadn’t actually heard until reading the manuscript.  “It’s all a storm in a teacup” meaning to make worse than something than it is.  An easy to translate metaphor with the phrasing.
After researching and consulting with tutors, it has been revealed that I am not supposed to actually be creating an entire book, I am in fact supposed to be drafting a proposal together for my client to send to a publisher.  A standard proposal image-wise is supposed to consist of two full pages, design concepts, a full storyboard structure and then any other documentation is the type of planning that is undertaken by the client.  I have met with the client in person and discussed the prospects of the involvement of animations along with how it would actually need to be a proposal for a publisher before I can turn it into an actual book.  She has stated that she is more than happy to simply go with the flow over the course of it.
I guess I lucked out with the client since she has not demanded too much from me within the meantime.  I understand that any future clients will definitely expect work within a tighter deadline.  So far she has said that she is happy to go with the flow. Meaning that after the course has been completed, I can continue the book and finish it should the proposal I give her is accepted.  So from here on out I will help my client in finishing the book but also working towards the project becoming featured as an animated work.  I have much practice to do in order to improve on drawing child characters and small animals.

Final Year Project

Proposal + Research:

Well, here we are, the final college year.  With that entails a dissertation, numerous client based projects and of course, the Final Year Project.
I have three particular ideas that I want to put forward, due to my other ideas being a spiral into a fanboy state of mind, meaning I won’t be able to break from it if I don’t try something different or good.
Also my other original ideas didn’t really have any direction I could immediately think of going in.

Milo – Episode 1:
My priority story wise, this is the starting point for my own series that I’m going to be working on.
In this story which will be roughly three to five minutes long, I want to introduce Milo and some of the wildlife that he shares his small woodland home with.
It will follow a typical day in his life foraging for food.  I want to establish his characteristics and behaviour through body language and actions as he has no mouth.  Along with the solitude of his home, the route of the story will proceed in a fashion (not exactly similar) to the stories The Jungle Book and Tarzan as I came to realise.  More research will help to anchor this factor.  Being that the factor is about the main protagonist at first is always in the company of animals, until the day that they finally meet their own kind.
Of course this won’t happen during the first episode.

Style:  The style of the episode will be a claymation stop motion animation.  Like films/shows such as Wallace & Gromit by Nick Park or the great stop motion epics by Ray Harryhausen.  But not too epic, I’ve got a limited time frame here.
The fantasy style of Milo’s current design were mostly inspired by a hybridisation of Flash Animator Adam Phillips character Bitey of Brackenwood.

Bitey of Brackenwood (latest video by Adam Phillips)

His skin colour and ears are based around elf characters from the World of Warcraft series.

One of the Warcraft trailers:

The creatures in the animation will mostly be based upon prehistoric and modern creatures.
The wildlife will be based upon:

Mammal like reptiles

 

The characters will be made with armatures while most facial expressions will be performed via the replacement technique.
I was going to attempt placing magnets in the feet of the armatures so they may stay on the surface of the set better. However I have not been able to locate any affordable sheet metal or strong enough magnets as suggested.
The sets will be small enough for a forest scene that would seem like part of a larger scale forest.  I was able to find a sight with very helpful tips on how to make such a set.
Other sights have mostly given the info about lighting (I’ll be using two or three point) and saying about providing a cardboard cut out as the backdrop.

Target Audience:
The base target audience of Milo will will range from younger groups of ages 10 – 20’s that are fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy with a love of adventure.  The reason of this target audience being that Milo’s physical appearance is incredibly young, colourful and innocent.  He has long ears similar to Elf characters in the Fantasy genres, but also has a form that is unique among most of these types.
His most distinct feature is the fact that he as no mouth.

The story route:
This was the original draft, the edited components will be seen in the storyboarding phase and also in the final product.
The story does follow the route of “Man” vs Nature, I emphasize the man part because of the fact that Milo isn’t human.

Milo Episode 1 – Treatment

 

Opening:

The sun raises over a beautiful wilderness, as the light floods the plains it reveals a large hill covered in trees. Within the trees various forms of wildlife scuttle about the forest, lizards, mammals, birds and insects. A small group of lizards in particular forage near a large, twisting tree. One of the young lizards that’s playing nearby climbs up the tree, towards a sleeping creature. It crawls onto the sleeping creature’s chest and stomps on it once. The creature turns slightly, ignoring the baby lizard. The lizard growls and stomps again, then again and again. Suddenly the creature jumps awake, grabs the lizard, puts it on its back and tickles its belly. The lizard makes a delighted squealing sound, playfully pawing at the creature’s finger. The creature expresses a look of joy through its eyes and ears at the lizard, the lizard then climbs up over his shoulder and onto his head. The creature stands, looks down from the branch, then suddenly drops off of the branch and back down to the forest floor below. As he does the series title appears, Dweller Tales: Milo.

As Milo drops to the floor, he places the lizard down. The other lizards (the size of large dogs) approach him and rub up to him like cats. He strokes them, enjoying their company. Suddenly his stomach growls, he pats the lizards goodbye and heads off into the forest to forage for food. He travels for a while, suddenly coming across a pool of water that has gathered in one of the trees. First he splashes his face and shakes himself dry. Then he dips his hands into the water again, the liquid drains through his hands. When he is finished he continues through the forest. He finds a fruit on the floor, he picks it up, the fruit turns out to be rotten. He angrily throws it away. A mammal shrieks as the object surprises it and scurries across the path, meanwhile Milo brushes his hands on the cloth wrapped around his groin.

He continues through the forest until he spots a clearing, there, in the centre, he sees a fruit tree. He moves towards it and reaches for the fruit.
A branch snaps, he turns see what made the noise.
He finds nothing.
He once again grabs a ripe and fresh piece of fruit, takes it in both palms and sucks the juice out of it. The piece of fruit is drained and left as a wrinkled skin.
He picks another fruit, while he feeds on this one, something watches him from behind. It makes a strange “bwobbling” noise.
Milo turns and looks to try and detect the noise, his ears twitching directionally. He drops the fruit he was eating then looks around for the source. He searches the clearing, then notices the rustling bushes. He clears the leaves to see what is making the noises, revealing a tree, with a bizarre jellyfish like creature attached to it. Milo looks cautiously as the creature makes only slight and bare movements.
Milo approaches closer, he prods the creature with a stick he picks up. It makes a noise, and shuffles slightly. Milo leaps back and steps behind the bushes. He pops his head back out and approaches the creature again, once more prodding it with the stick, it makes the gurgling noise and shudders with each prod.
Milo then approaches the animal and starts poking it with his fingers, the creature seems to shudder less now.
Milo then steadily places his hand onto it, for a pause he seems confused, then alarmed.
He leaps away from the creature which suddenly launches a pair of tentacles at him, trying to catch him. He dodges one tentacle but the other one wraps around his arm, he tightens his face into one of agony as the jellyfish creature stings him. It tries to pull him towards it, Milo resists. The creature begins to unleash more tentacles and tries to grab Milo, he grabs a stick and swings at the incoming appendages.
Each is batted away while one is still attached to his arm.
The tentacles almost grab him again, but this time the “Two Way Lizards” leap out from the undergrowth. Striking at the tentacles of the Jellyfish creature.
While it is distracted, Milo impales the tentacle holding his arm into the ground. It lets go and the creature makes a rumbling growling sound.
It then grabs one of the Lizards, dragging the thrashing creature towards its mouth.
Milo suddenly charges forward and slams his fist into the creature, which ripples and flaps from the impact, releasing the Lizard.
They retreat from the Jelly Beast to a clearing some fair distance away from it, as Milo peers through the bushes at the creature, it shuffles away into the depths of the forest.

Milo see’s the Lizard cleaning its wounds and proceeds to gather a particular type of leaf from nearby.
After helping the creature, he then proceeds to a spot were the sunshine’s through.
After a moment bathing in the light, his injuries suddenly begin to heal. Revealing that as long as he is in the light of the sun, he can heal himself and possibly other incredible things.

The story will conclude with Milo being comforted by the lizards.

 

Client Based Project: Bringing Literature to Life

For the first client project of the semester I have to create an advertisement in order to promote reading to people between 12 – 16 years old.  I’ve already got some good ideas coming in, but first off, as always…

Research:

As an initial start off point, I went to the local book store to gather information on the most popular genre of books are for this age group between both genders.  I also gained a few titles to further any idea concepts.
I excluded graphic novels as they are already live literature art form.  Leaving the focus purely on written works of fiction.
According to the more than helpful staff at Waterstones, the most popular genres I could find where:

  • Dark Romance – for teenage girls (Love stories with Vampires and Angels, no surprise there.)
  • Gothic Horror/Gothic Action – for boys age 12 to 14 (Black Library’s Warhammer novels be it the fantasy or Sci-Fi)
  • Fantasy action – 15+
  • General Teenage fiction
  • Comedy in general also

So looking at these genre’s I know what my animated advertisements can be based upon and what I need to consider in order to make it appeal and also bare in mind what needs to make it suitable for the target audience and allow it to be shown pre-watershed (suitable for showings before 09:00pm in the evening).

I also asked for the most popular titles among these genres to also gain ideas in terms of style and content.
The following titles being:

Also a few other Authors with hit series:

I attempted to find video trailers for the books, as I recall seeing ads for the Artemis Fowl series, I was unable to find them on YouTube, but I did find a few videos for Jacqueline Wilson’s books:

My Sister Jodie:

Diamond:

This video contains a very brief animated sequence with the character, a good way of showing the imaginative side of Mrs Wilson’s characters, something I will have to consider for my own upcoming project.

Darren Shan has also received live action advertisements for his books, such as Zom-B:

and Hell’s Heroes.  The final chapter in his Demonata series:

This one involves mainly animated sequences.

I would like to note that I have also personally read works from a majority of the listed authors, which has granted me some idea of what the content should be (and what to restrain in the case of Darren Shan) in my advertisements.

Over the next few days I will also look up any marketing data to support these statements.

I of course also looked up some previous ad campaigns used to try and encourage children and teenagers to read:

I started with a bare basic search on YouTube on adverts encouraging kids to read, the only advert that seemed to appear that had any relevance was an internet video advising parents, rather than promoting them, how to keep their kids entertained with books:

Of course there was also a celebrity appeal video with Jon Bon Jovi encouraging parents to allow kids to read the newspaper, sorry for the poor quality:

This may have been useful back in 1999 when it was used, according to this video’s description this is the fourth instalment of an ad campaign involving celebrities to encourage reading the newspaper.  However, when I searched the channel for links it turned out to be a Bon Jovi fan channel, so I was unable to find any links to the other videos.  Over the course of the project I will search for more clues of the advertising campaign.

After seeing the information so far, I have begun thinking of concept ideas for my proposal for the tutor.

Techniques I can use and examples:

I intend to try and do this story in traditional hand drawn with some potential stop motion elements.
A way I can achieve this is to use techniques performed by Lotte Reiniger, who used flat card cut out puppets for her work.
I can use these techniques for my advertisement for silhouetted figures on detailed back drops, I can edit them using Photoshop or Flash.

Concept art:

img009 img010 img011 img012 img013 img014 img015 img016

My main idea was to involve a combined mix of hand drawn and shadow puppetry.  The sequence was to be of a boy on a bus, when he starts reading the book, his mind brings to life an action sequence.
An Elven hero was to run across a fantasy landscape made of books and have a clash with a dragon.

In the end I completed a couple of tests, overall it took me too long to make a final decision about what I wanted to do  and there were other problems that I ended up having (personal problems) which made the load even more difficult.

 

Technical Production skills – Aesthetics

For this phase of the module I am to look into and develop an Aesthetic Range for a list of subjects:

  • The Seven Deadly Sins
  • The Muses
  • The Planets – I’m doing this one.
  • Chess
  • The Senses

Out of this list I’m going to look into the Planets, mainly because I remember that the planets in our Solar System were involved in the naming of the Roman Gods (that were adopted from the Greek Gods) and have been given plenty of back story from these civilisations.

To start off, aesthetics is described as the perception and appreciation of beauty, mainly in art terminology.
When considered in film and animation, aesthetics are used by an audience (mostly inadvertently) when it comes to certain representations.
For example, if you where going to see a film of Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens) the immediate expectations you have in mind would be of Victorian London, work houses, industrial architecture and steam engines, for a start at least.
Well that’s my immediate impression anyway.
From the extract that I read, Freud also states that psychoanalysis doesn’t say anything about beauty:

“The love of beauty seems a perfect example of an impusle inhibited in its aim. ‘Beauty’ and ‘attraction’ are originally attributes of the sexual object.”

Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, trans. James Strachey
Norton, 1961, pp. 29-30

There seems to be a heavy element of subliminal, messaging involved with aesthetics too.
From the page I read it would seem that the satisfaction we see itself is subliminal in the art we see and even the media we see.
So in short, we are pleasured by the things we watch but pleasured even more by the things we enjoy watching.  Hence the fan bases of Sci-Fi or a romance series, despite the brazen differences, they have the same effect.

I read up on Sigmund Freud’s (as suggested) and it would seem that when we look at or create art, we seem to get some manner of sexualised thrill out of it.
This is more along the lines of appreciation of beauty or as the term is referred to, Aesthetic Appreciation.
This would also play into a simple appreciation of beauty or the beauty of nature itself.

So as I said earlier, I will be looking into the The Planets and the aesthetics they bring, going with Roman  religious mythology to begin with.
So to start off, the Romans adapted their gods from the Greek Olympian Gods.
So to for a quick link up (note that I am also listing the differences between the Roman and Greek gods and their mythology):

  • Greek – Zeus/Roman – Jupiter:  King of the Gods (Jupiter is the largest planet in our Solar System, so it would give the impression of grand majesty and dominion, hence being the ruler of all other beings.)  Symbolised by the Thunderbolt and often on a Throne.
  • Greek – Aphrodite/Roman – Venus:  Goddess of love beauty, in Roman also the Goddess of lust.  (Venus is a very bright planet in our Solar System,  regarded as a beautiful sight in the eyes of those who see it.  Which would grant an aesthetic of a beautiful woman or any other item of vanity.)  Symbolised by doves and being with another God (Eros, God of love.)  There is also a famous painting by Sandro Botticelli, the Birth of Venus.
  • Greek – Ares/Roman – Mars:  God of war and bloodlust (Mars is a red planet, so it will have been a perfect representation of the war mongering side of any religious faction.  Granting an aesthetic of a warrior clad in the armour worn by either military.)
  • Greek – Kronos/Roman Saturn:  Father of Zeus/Jupiter  (The concepts for these two deities in fact seem to blend into the same characters.  In Greek mythology Kronos was a tyrannical being who ate his children out of fear that one would bring his defeat.
    He and the other Titans were defeated and banished to Tartarus in the Underworld.  However, Kronos escaped to Italy where he became Saturn, the Roman God of agriculture and harvest.  A being of peace.  When reading into it the idea behind the deity comes from the planet Saturn’s golden colour, associated with wheat.)
  • Greek – Poseidon/Roman – Neptune:  God of the Sea,

The aesthetics I seem to see of the Roman Gods because of the planets they’re associated with:

Jupiter:  A kingly looking man who bares an appearance similar to Zeus, but clothed in Roman garbs.  Perhaps surrounded by storm clouds and with red eyes (because of the planets massive storm eye) sat upon a throne that towers above you.

Venus:  A red haired beauty of a woman who glows brightly.  Venus is the brightest planet in our solar system because of its proximity to the sun, so it would promote this kind of image.  I also feel as though this Goddess would hide a secret rage and jealousy, because of the stormy atmosphere that covers the surface.

Little things I picked up:

Most Greek legends seem to spur up because Zeus can’t keep it in his trousers, I apologise for the vulgarity of the tone.  Through reading he spawns that many offspring from that many forms with that many women.  Yes I can understand the basis of someone being more mighty as a hero if they are the son/daughter of a God.  I did touch upon a quote in Arthur Cotterell’s:  Encyclopedia of Mythology, it seems that behind these tales:

The antagonism between the two could be viewed as a clash between different religious traditions or local cults, each cult recognising a different lover who was often regarded as the ancestors of a ruling family.”

– Arthur Cotterell’s:  Encyclopedia of Mythology

I can’t help but feel that this may be touching on two groups insulting each other down to the ancestral level, or of course complimenting a family on their heritage too.
By which I mean the legend involving Zeus and Europa, Zeus courted her in the form of a beautiful Bull.  Such a story could have been used to insult one cult or family.  Which may have been turned around into a more positive light by the family in question.  There was a painting by Paolo Veronnese titled the Rape of Europa, pleasant.
On the other hand you have a story which sounds more fantastical and a favourable compliment on the fine genes of a family.  Everyone is familiar with the Ray Harryhausen epic Clash of the Titans, which is based upon the legend of Perseus.
Zeus’ lover in this tale, the mother Perseus, Danae, was imprisoned in a tower by her father, who feared being slain by a grandson.  Zeus visited Danae in the form of a Golden Shower (lets say of light) and she became pregnant with his child.  For all I could interpret, the story may be directed at a family or religious sect who would have possibly held high regard in society.

Production:

When it came to attempting my own designs, I attempted to go with the animal mask design and tried to create masks for the three lead dietis, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto.
This was a difficult process because of the design potential, which also lead to point where I didn’t even know what motif I was going for anymore.
It was a mix of Super Hero and Theatrical masks, all extravagance and I simply couldn’t come to a final conclusion.

img017 img018 img019 img021 img022 img023 img024 img025 img026 img027 img028 img029 img030

Sources:

http://www.ancientgreece.co.uk/gods/explore/exp_set.html

http://www.astronomy-education.com/index.php?page=136

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110322075421AA3lOAb

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/525167/Saturn

http://www.rowan.edu/open/philosop/clowney/aesthetics/philos_artists_onart/freud.htm

The Encyclopedia of Mythology:  Arthur Cotterell

Technical Production Skills

As I came to realise last semester, I need to definitely improve certain areas of my skill sets.  Luckily I have a Technical Production Skills course to help me become significantly more efficient in the areas I’ll be covering.

(From here onwards I will refer to it as TPS, don’t affiliate it with anything of the same initials because it’s not, except for Technical Production Skills, but if I type that constantly then it’s going to get tedious really fast)

Part 1) – Storyboarding:

Research:

Every film, TV program or animated series goes through an extensive process of planning and pre-production.
One of the most important aspects of this pre-production process is the Storyboard.
The purpose of the storyboard is to provide the basic visual step by step of the project before filming.
I have personally made the mistake of making animations without a storyboard and winged it, I had the general idea and all, but it would have been much better if it had been planned more meticulously.

So of course a storyboard is going to have to be accurate to the script or what is written for the

Fiction module

A new semester and a new opportunity, a fresh start with something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
For this semester my self initiated module is fiction.  So for now I’m getting underway with the research.

Research:

All films follow a structure, significantly more detailed than the basic:

  • Beginning
  • Middle
  • End

Form of storytelling we’re taught as children.  There is a far more in depth yet understandable method which all films, or stories for that matter, follow.

When a story is written, films and animation have to be written too, they must answer a series of questions which are answered as the story progresses. These basic questions are:

  • Where is the story set?
  • What event starts the story?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What conflict(s) do they face?
  • What is at stake?
  • What happens to the characters as they face this conflict?
  • What is the outcome of this conflict?
  • What is the ultimate impact on the characters?

These are also fleshed out with questions like:

  • How and when is the major conflict set up?
  • How and when are the main characters introduced?
  • How is the story moved so the central characters face the central conflict?
  • How is the central conflict set up to propel the film to its conclusion?
  • How and when does the film resolve most of the major conflicts set up at the outset?

So while there are these basic principals, there are also numerous plot forms, I did a quick search and came across this link below.
Very informative, so there is now a lot for me to use from this page alone.

http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html

Another piece that requires consultation is the Hero’s journey, a formula which a every major story follows.  You want some examples I thought of when I looked at this:

heroes_journey

Dan McAdams – What makes a story, four components:

  • Settings – Location, time
  • Characters – Protagonist, antagonist, the friends, comrades, love interest minions .e.t.c.
  • Plot – Episodes, arcs rising + falling action.
  • Climax – Denouement (the wrapping up of the story after the final confrontation) .i.e. Lord of the Rings, there are multiple conclusions, starting with Aragorn becoming King of Gondor, then the Hobbits returning to the Shire, Sam getting married and having kids, then finally Frodo, Gandalf and Bilbo make one final journey into the light.  While this is an extreme case of a denouement, you at least get several examples in there alone.

This is the basic element of the story, another author who has covered these patterns is Foster Harris.  He states that there are three basic patterns of plot.

Foster-Harris. The Basic Patterns of Plot. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959. Foster-Harris contends that there are three basic patterns of plot (p. 66):

  1. “’Type A, happy ending’”; Foster-Harris argues that the “Type A” pattern results when the central character (which he calls the “I-nitial” character) makes a sacrifice (a decision that seems logically “wrong”) for the sake of another.
  2. “’Type B, unhappy ending’”; this pattern follows when the “I-nitial” character does what seems logically “right” and thus fails to make the needed sacrifice.
  3. “’Type C,’ the literary plot, in which, no matter whether we start from the happy or the unhappy fork, proceeding backwards we arrive inevitably at the question, where we stop to wail.” This pattern requires more explanation (Foster-Harris devotes a chapter to the literary plot.) In short, the “literary plot” is one that does not hinge upon decision, but fate; in it, the critical event takes place at the beginning of the story rather than the end. What follows from that event is inevitable, often tragedy. (This in fact coincides with the classical Greek notion of tragedy, which is that such events are fated and inexorable.)

For number 1, I actually think of the ending Asura’s Wrath (a game produced by Capcom that is an interactive series), the main protagonist has a final showdown with a deity.  He is about to kill the god when his daughter tells him that the god is what channels the magical energies keeping him alive.
Regardless, he still ends the deity in order to save his daughter and end the suffering the people of the world, dying for a final time (he dies several times in the game as part of the plot) and leaving his daughter without him.

Taken from the link also.

I did find out more on the link provided.
Whilst reading I also thought of swapping and altering certain plot elements and noticed a couple of patterns:

  • Vengeance for kindred upon kindred + falling prey to cruelty of misfortune + rivalry of superior and inferior + conflict with a god(s) + quest + rescue + rivalry + sacrifice + man vs god/religion = Asura’s Wrath
  • Transformation + machines/technology vs machine/technology + Adventure + Rivalry = Transformers (you kind of get drawn in by the word Transformation.)

Ted talks on narrative structure and storytelling:

Julian Friedmann – The Mystery of Story Telling:

Susan Conley – The Power of Story:

Robert Tercek – Reclaiming the Power of Personal Narrative:

I’ve tried putting my understanding of the research material to use when I watched Batman:  Gotham Knight2008

To be specific, the first arc of the film, Have I got a Story for You.  Written by Josh Olsen, animated by Shoujirou Nishima

This story follows a non-linear plot line (the story is told at different points in time rather than a simple A – B Linear) and rather than the usual basis of a Batman story where it’s the Dark Knight trying to solve a crime, a string of crimes and apprehending which ever villain is involved.  It is purely a focus on the people of Gotham’s perspective of him.
In this instance, 3 adolescents who have all seen him and telling the individual stories to their friend.  Their viewpoints all differ and cover the basis of Man vs the Supernatural, or a reverse as the antagonist in the story (an unnamed villain) is a man.
Of course we still have the crime pursued by vengeance/justice element that you will always find in a Batman story, but it is seen from a spectator stance rather than the Dark Knight’s view of the world.  The way of telling this story is an exaggerated way of showing the urban legend of Batman, until the climax where we see the man himself, human, injured and in need of a helping hand. Rather than how most people will see Batman in the animated series as being just that, a man dressed as a Bat.
In this short the art style available truly goes into the depths of a child’s imagination on how they might visualise a legend aesthetically.  Showing him as a living shadow and a literal bat monster (reference to Man-Bat there) and and a robot.
I view the story as being a mini version of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction
or the Kill Bill films.

 

Production:

For my own fictional piece I came up with several ideas, the vast majority of which where rejected.
With good reason, my tutor was trying to get me to think differently and work differently instead of me going with my usual idea concept which are predominantly fan based.
Here are all the rejected ideas first off:

Initial generation:

Ideas list for Fiction

 

  1. Milo – Episode 1, or the opening at least.
  2. A remake of my Halo stop motion test into a proper episode.
  3. A Mass Effect stop motion.
  4. A Gears of War stop motion.
  5. A Dead Space 3 stop motion.
  6. A Marvel or DC stop motion.
  7. Basically I’ve got a lot of custom built figures I specifically intended for stop motion videos. So I want to make use of them because it’s long overdue.
  8. Halo the Ghost of Reach preview episode
  9. Halo: Wolf Pack Delta
  10. A Godzilla stop motion to tie in with the upcoming film.
  11. Warhammer 40k animation segment.

I even wrote down to disregard them all.

The earliest drafts was an intended remake of a video I made before, here’s the full draft:

Fiction Story 1 – Halo: The Rescue

A properly written and story driven version of my stop motion test from last year, this story is set as though it happened during the Halo 4 campaign.

A Covenant squad drags a trio of marines across the terrain, they stop and throw them forward.
The marines look up to see Jul M’Dama, a character from the books and Spartan Ops, staring down at them.
The Marines are interrogated for information, one of them is killed and the other maimed. Jul starts to leave and orders their execution.

As the last two marines are about to be executed, a Spartan IV appears and starts taking down the Covenant in an effort to rescue the last two marines.
He takes out a majority of the aliens, but then a pair of Promethean Knights show up and knocks the Spartan down.

A Knight swings to cleave him in two.

Suddenly, a hand stops the Knight’s arm, the hand belongs to the Master Chief.

He forces the Knight back and opens fire on the Knight, which retreats and deploys a Watcher.
Master Chief destroys it and throws a weapon to the Spartan IV.
The duo fight back against the Covenant and take down one of the Knights.

The other Knight moves to protect Jul M’Dama while the remaining Covenant move to block the Spartans.

Chief and the IV move over to the Marines, arm one of them and take on the remaining strike force while Jul M’Dama makes his escape aboard a Phantom.

While the Phantom leaves, the remaining Covenant are beaten when Master Chief and the Spartan IV gang up on a remaining Hunter.

A Pelican arrives to extract them.

As the marines board the Pelican, the Spartan IV reaches out to help Master Chief on board.
Chief declines and moves off to another objective.

The Spartan nods respectfully as the Pelican takes off.
The Master Chief then turns to continue his mission.

The second idea was another Halo toy-mation, this one consisting of predominantly custom built figurines, again this was a result of pure fandom dominating my mindset and it left no room for originality:

Halo: Wolf Pack Delta

A squad of ODST’s and Marines are pinned down by Covenant forces, all is looking bleak.

Then suddenly, three drop pods come crashing down in the middle of the Covenant force.
Three Spartans burst out of them and take on the alien army.

One of them, clad in blue and white armour, athletically deals out the hurt against a Jackal and some Grunts, he quickly snipes a Brute in a quick draw motion.
He makes a move, the shot pauses, with the name Snow Leopard appearing and then zipping off the screen.
The motion continues as he snipes a Brute off of a Ghost.

An orange and steel coloured Spartan unleashes a storm of bullets with a chain gun, tearing apart a Revenant in the process.
With the ammo spent, a pack of Brutes rushes him.
He brandishes the chain gun like a golf club, the shot pauses, the call sign Kampfer shows up and then zips off of the screen.
He slams the chain gun into a pair of brutes, knocking them away, he drops the gun and charges at a Brute, flips over it and snaps its neck after grabbing its head.
He lands on the ground and throws an explosive at a Wraith, it explodes and he moves onto the next opponent.

The last member of the Spartan team lands and lunges forwards with an energy sword, he cuts down a Brute and charges towards a Hunter.
The beast slams its arm towards the ground, the Spartan slides underneath.
Once he stands, the Hunter notices the two plasma grenades on its back, it roars in fury as it is blown apart.
The Spartan looks forward with the explosion pausing behind him.
The name Manticore zips on and off the screen.

The Covenant force moves into a full retreat as the marines continue firing, the Spartan team strikes a pose and the title Wolf Pack Delta zips on the screen.

There are a couple of others but I’m not putting them up here.

Anyway, I then attempted to try and come up with my own stories that where of course Sci-Fi or Fantasy, but this was still me in my comfort zone and not being daring enough with any potential original works, still, I personally think they’re good story concepts which warrant revisiting, in time.
But for the project they weren’t really suitable, but here is the first, I wrote this one out differently, using bullet points to go over the events:

Fiction Module – Lone Warrior

A cybernetic knight must fight against machines in order to retrieve something that can win the war.

It re-appropriates Quest Narrative most of us already know.

Opening:

  • A rolling fog with silhouettes of dead men and jagged machinery, revealing the signs of a battle.
  • A man kneels over a dying comrade, they silently nod their goodbyes as the one laying down passes.
  • The survivor silently stays knelt, burying his feelings.
  • He is interrupted by metallic scraping sounds.

Middle: 

  • Dark shadows with glowing red eyes stalk out of the fog.
  • They surround the man who begins to snarl with anger.
  • As the machines draw closer, the man stands, armour suddenly flips and clicks into place over him.
  • His helmet flips over his head and he takes up a battle stance.
  • The machines begin to charge at him.
  • He suddenly punches the ground and releases a wave of energy, knocking the machines away.
  • He pulls his sword out of the ground and charges the enemy, swinging his blade and cleaving them.
  • He uses a shield mounted gun to shoot at the machines also, the muzzle flare showing his helmet and the demonic looking machines.
  • After a minute or so of fighting he appears to have finished the last of them.
  • As he is about to continue, he hears a menacing growl from within the fog.
  • He braces for the next opponent.
  • A mechanical tail whips out of the fog and knocks him to the ground.
  • He stands back up, watching glimpses of the creature as it shifts through the fog.
  • Claws strike out at him and he parries the blows, but also takes hits as the claws strike him in the side.
  • While he stumbles, he notices glowing red eyes in the fog.
  • He drops his broken gunshield and braces himself once again.
  • The machine monster charges towards him…
  • He lunges forward, slides along the ground and stabs the creature, oil spilling from its innards.
  • The machine shrieks and shorts out, its glowing red eyes shutting down as it “dies”.
  • The warrior stands up, taking the moment to feel the relief of the victory.
  • He notices the fog clearing behind him…
  • Revealing a vast complex of machines and buildings for as far as the eye can see.
  • He makes his way towards the machine fortress, the fog once more surrounding him.

 

Ending Cliffhanger:

 

  • A room shows the lead machine, a silhouette plugged into a throne like structure.
  • It looks out over the battlefield on a monitor, littered with the dead of the men and machines.
  • It watches as the warrior approaches.
  • It looks over to a tank, a beautiful woman is inside, linked up to breathing equipment.
  • Behind her, something massive stirs.
  • A massive eye opens, ending the story, for now.

 

So to generalize it all:

 

Suffering – The warrior has lost all his comrades in conflict.

Struggle – The warrior must survive the onslaught of the demonic machines.

Overcoming – The warrior defeats his opponents and continues onward to his mission.

 

A formula described in a Ted talk with Julian Friedmann.

The story plays upon elements of techno-fear and how some people may regard technological advancement.

While also it is an exaggerated way of showing how people can feel overwhelmed by machinery. (Say when you can’t figure out how to operate computer software)

Ending the story with a cliff-hanging enigma, should promote a desire from the audience to grant the opportunity to expand.

The second story also turned out to be too much into my comfort zone:

Fiction Module – A Machine’s Soul

A machine who is sent to capture a relic of an ancient civilisation.
It chooses to sacrifice itself for mankind.

Opening:

  • A quick overview of the future and how space exploration requires incredibly smart machines in order to complete the dangerous missions.
  • A view of a barren alien world.
  • A pod comes crashing down from the sky, it slows its decent with booster fire.
  • The front hatch opens.
  • A large tank like vehicle rumbles out slowly.
  • It surveys the area with a first person view, scanning for threats.
  • Detecting none, it moves out towards its destination.
  • It travels across a vast wasteland with the remains of ancient cities and constructs.
  • After transitions of time, the machine arrives at a cave that blends into a main building.
  • The machine moves in…

Middle:

  • The machine slowly drives through the dark and ancient halls, the twisted remains of machines and alien skeletons litter the floor with scorch marks on the walls.
  • The machine makes distressed sounds at the surroundings.
  • After a period of time the machine arrives on the edge of a vast, circular room, a glowing red device at its centre.
  • The robo-tank rumbles steadily across the floor to the device.
  • It reaches out for the device, a red spark of lightning suddenly engulfs the pair and the machine makes a mechanical wailing sound.
  • In its mind we see images of ancient and horrifying machines burning the world and its people.
  • A group of aliens fight their way to the evil device’s core and place a lock down command, shutting off the device just as it kills the remaining alien.
  • The robo-tank backs away from the device, which is now looking at it.
  • The robo-tank arms its weapons and prepares to fire.
  • Suddenly, the ground beneath it breaks apart and a massive alien worm with cybernetic implants rises.
  • The robo-tank backs up and begins firing at the worm, which charges and knocks it back.
  • After some initial scuffling, the machine suddenly unlocks it’s guns into a pair of arms and its tank treads turn into a pair of legs.
  • The machine stands and has a massive duel with the beast, in the process losing its arm and sustaining other forms of damage.
  • Finally, the robo-tank walker kills the worm cyborg.
  • It limps towards the core unit, taking it from the pedestal.

Ending:

  • The machine drags itself towards the pod, where a shuttle has landed and a group of engineers and officers stand waiting.
  • The machine holds out the core unit, which glows a more malicious red.
  • The robo-tank-walker remembers the ordeal it went through.
  • And the horrors the core unit showed it.
  • It looks at the humans standing before it.
  • The machine suddenly stands back from the crew, then crushes the core unit.
  • The crew start yelling orders as the robo-tank-walker starts back towards the city in order to destroy the remains.

It’s also pretty poor in comparison to everything else I was coming up with.

The final one before my tutor had to step in and get me out of the rut was meant to be more sensitive and heroic:

Fiction Module – Good Samaritan Soldier

A boy is lost amongst a mass of panicked refugees.
Are the soldiers trying to maintain order as nasty as they appear?

Opening:

  • A column of trucks rumbles along a dirt road hillside, gunfire sputtering in the background.
  • Inside are a group of refugees, all worn out.
  • Among them, a child rests on their mothers lap, the horrors of the conflict evident on their tired face.
  • From outside, the truck slows and grumbles to a halt.
  • The child looks up as the refugees begin to move out.

Middle:

  • The people outside are all bustling, trying to find loved ones, all the while, a battle seems to loom ever closer.
  • The child looks up to see soldiers, soldiers in big menacing armour, stand atop a tall wall.
  • They are firing at an unseen enemy.
  • The child’s mother starts to try and pull them towards a location when suddenly there is a loud explosion on top of one of the tall buildings in the camp.
  • From the child’s perspective debris showers down nearby, suddenly the entire crowd panics and start charging.
  • In the commotion the child is knocked from their mother’s grasp.
  • From their perspective, the child is pushed and dragged by the crowd, flashes of arms and clothing as they suddenly end up alone in a mass of people who are too terrified to notice the child in their midst.
  • The child looks around for their mother, who is nowhere to be seen in the mass of screaming and panicked people.
  • No one seems to have noticed that the fighting has stopped already, they’re that frightened.
  • The child tries to call out, but the people and an explosion drown them out.
  • As they continue to stumble around in the mass of people, something huge nearby turns their gaze towards them.
  • The child is starting to panic from the crowd, then darkness falls over them…
  • They turn to see a menacing soldier stood over them, their helmet the embodiment of terror.
  • The child freezes with absolute fear at the sight of the giant.
  • The people in the crowd are still trying to find somewhere to hide, but they give the soldier a wide berth.
  • The soldier kneels down and almost reaches face level with the child.
  • There is a momentary pause as the soldier’s terrifying helmet and the child’s young innocent face stare each other down.
  • The soldier places a mechanical hand on the child’s shoulder, then reaches for his own helmet…
  • Slowly lifting it to reveal…
  • A kind, compassionate face smiling at the child.
  • The child suddenly shows signs of not being afraid anymore.
  • The soldier puts down his helmet and asks the child if they’re okay and where their mother is.
  • The child starts to cry from sheer relief and the sense of finally being safe. They lunge forward and hug the soldier.
  • The soldier stands up and lifts the child on their shoulder, saying that they will go and find their mother.
  • A couple of other refugees almost crash into the soldier, who simply holds them and looks them in the eye, telling them that everything will be okay, that the firing has stopped.
  • The refugees start to calm down, noticing that the battle has stopped and that the soldier is there to help.
  • When the refugees have calmed.
  • The soldier calls out “Has anyone seen this kid’s mother?”
  • The refugees look, one comes up and says that she might have been dragged by the crowd to the shelter.

Ending:

  • The soldier and the child walk with the crowd, they are all heading for the shelter.
  • People are finding loved ones, hugging them and all trying to help each other.
  • Some refugees are with the soldier and child, pointing out individual women to the child. None of them are the mother.
  • The child suddenly shouts out.
  • The soldier looks to see that the child is pointing to a woman.
  • She turns around, revealing herself as the mother.
  • The soldier smiles and places the child on the ground, the child runs to their mother and the two embrace.
  • The other refugees all smile and then continue on with trying to help each other, laying beds, preparing food and so on.
  • The soldier is suddenly places his finger on his ear as he hears a call.
  • Since he has a mission to get back to, he leaves to take up the defence at the wall.
  • The child turns from their mother to see the soldier leaving, momentarily lost without the man who helped them.
  • The soldier looks over his shoulder and smiles at the kid, saluting goodbye and heading off to the wall.
  • The child waves goodbye and the soldier heads off into the distance.
  • We then see the soldier arrive at the wall, another soldier looks at him and asks where he was.
  • The soldier turns to the other and says:

“If you don’t try to help one person, then what’s the point of showing that we’re here to protect and help everyone here.”

  • The other soldier nods in agreement and respect and the pair stand watch over the wall.
  • Ending with the child happily reunited with their mother.

Afterwards, I ended up generating an original story, one that has nothing to do with my fan bases or comfort zone, instead this one is set around an artist who has done a painting.

Artwork:

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Storyboard:

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