Thursday, 26 September 2013

Our Initial Ideas and Deciding a Style

Welcome everyone to Polydoodle Picture! We're back for our final year of our CG Arts and Animation degree and we mean business. Almost too literally as we've chosen to work as a studio for the year.

This project started in my (Sammy) first year. For our unit 4: story-telling we each had to write a script for a 1 minute animation based on the three key words given from the golden envelopes. I got Character: Undertaker, Prop: Catapult, Scene: Joke Shop. These three elements had to each play a significant role in the story. To complete the unit we had to take the story forward and create an animatic and pre-vis version of it. My story '& Son' received a lot of positive feedback but it had flaws in the actual design being miss-matched. The story is a very British one in its setting and darker tones but my design style is very american. 

When Polydoodle Pictures was born we decided to take this story and bring it to life in the form of an animated short but as a studio we'll redesign it from scratch and fix some of the story plot holes along the way. That is where we began this week...

Our first move was to choose when to set the animation. It was narrowed down to either pre-WWII with a lithograph poster style or late Victorian with William Morris/ botanical wallpaper style. We chose pre-WWII because the miserable Victorians might have been too obvious a choice and the poster style appealed to us. We liked the idea of only using a few muted colours in our animation with a very drawn on look. Later, TutorPhil suggested we looked at 1930's London Underground Posters as influence. These poster are obviously very British and recognisably so in their humour, colour palette and layout, everything we wanted!


However, we also established early on where our issues might be. Firstly, in the number on characters, the story only has two main characters but it also needs a whole cast of funeral attendees, a vicar and two flash back characters. In order to make this animation we would have to make working 3D models for each of these...
that's quite a big task! One we're able to do but to make them well would eat into time that could be spent animating. Our second issue would be how to convert the 2D design of the lithograph posters in to a 3D animation. We could take the colour palette and the drawing style but when it becomes a 3D model the charm of the flatness of the poster is lost. TutorPhil made a suggestion that solved both problems by suggesting we look at another English treasure... Paddington Bear!


Paddington Bear, the tv series, first came out in 1975 based on Michael Bond's children's book of the same name. The animation is all stop-motion but only Paddington and the things he interacts with directly are physical things, everything else is draw on to the set and the other characters are hand-drawn animated. Our idea is to bring this style into a more updated version. We'll make the set using Maya but make it to look like a little theatre box where everything is drawn on a flat plane but there's still a sense of depth according to where each plane is placed. The secondary characters will also be flat but animated using either Adobe Flash or After Effect but the main characters will be 3D models that move around the set, like Paddington. We think this'll emphasise that the story's focus is the Father and Son and their relationship and also the animation will have another influence from British nostalgia.

A Theatre Box
Rather than the children book style drawings of Paddington however, we'll be bringing in the Underground poster style of drawing. Which is true of our palette too, rather than just a black and white set and characters will have the muted colours from the posters.

I actually had this theatre box.  The main characters worked by using the magic (magnet) wands underneath. It'll be fun to create this principle in CG world!


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