We finished our “Open City” video I’m really satisfied with the final result! The last days were very stressful because of some troubles we had with the music in the video, but finally everything worked out fine.
I forgot to upload one shot I did, which took me a lot of time, because of its length and all the things happening at the same time. It was quite tricky to combine the character animation with all the different elements, and as it had to be a long shot, I had to think about what could happen without being boring.
Anyway, it’s done! I’ll share it when it’ll be uploaded!
Starting to think about the final project, here are my very first thoughts..
The general idea is to show a visual representation of London’s noise and sounds in different situations. Basically, I want to start recording around the sounds of the town, changing location and time, and create a sort of rhythm with them. Some examples would be: the tube during rush hour, a crowded pub on a Friday night, a park on a Sunday morning, a coffee shop, an art gallery, on the bus etc.
I want to stress some aspect of London: its chaos, stress, excitement, speed… But also its diversity in terms of cultures, languages, ethnicities etc. I had the original idea of this video after some observation sketches I did during the summer. Looking at them, I could see the variety of people in their faces, clothing etc. and I decided to portray it.
This will be the basis on which I’ll start thinking visually about the shapes and situation happening on the screen. In my mind, It won’t be an actual representation of London, this world is rather abstract and graphic, and it changes constantly.
Here is a reference video I found that inspired me a lot:
Other classical references would be Disney’s Silly Simphonies or movies as Fantasia or Fantasia 2000, where the music is essential and lead the animation. In particular, because it talks about a town, Rhapsody in Blue.
The thing missing in all this, is a story! It would be nice to have a character wandering about the screen, finding himself in all these different sounds and changing situations in the background, but I don’t really have thought about it deeply..
In terms of the character animation, we are doing everything in After Effects, which is a bit of a challenge for me. I’ve never actually animated a proper character directly in AE before this project. But as all the layered characters are already drawn in Photoshop by Yukai, I only have to deal with the movement, which is a lot less work.
I dealt with some of the shots in the video:
- I did a running cycle, in one of the first shots, when the character is looking for a solution for his idea.
- A little bit of facial expression, when he’s looking around in front of the big wall full of obstacle signs, feeling very confused.
- Next to the previous one, a medium shot where he’s standing sadly in front of the wall, not finding a solution.
- The shot where he opens the CC door (CC stands for “Creative Commons“), and goes into a new world through a tunnel. *I animated the spiral shape in this shot and the next one with TVPaint.*
- The next one, where he goes out of the tunnel and looks around in the New World, amazed.
- Another facial expression close up shot, when he builds up his own business, feeling happy.
- And the last shot where we see him, opening the door of his business to the rest of the world.
It’s been a while since I last updated the blog. As none of my pitches was selected, I started working on Yukai’s project called “Open City” with Kee and Mohan. It was one of the “Liquid Architecture” briefs, based on the idea of sharing spaces and open resources. I thought I’d share the concept art and character design made by Yukai, because it’s just brilliant and gives an idea of what the video will look like.
So at the very beginning I did the Storyboard based on the thumbnails Yukai gave me, so that Kee could start working on the animatic. This is actually the original storyboard, done very quickly and not very detailed. Done almost entirely by me, tweaks by Kee and the layout by Yukai.
For the LTM pitch, as I was doing some research about the bus conductresses during the First World War, I found out they were called “clippies”. This anecdote inspired me to create a character that had a Bell-Punch-ticket-machine shape, the ticket machines used at the time by bus conductors. I didn’t have a proper idea about a story, though. I listened a lot to one of the audio recording in particular, the one by Florence Cordell, and found that all the memories she tells are very visual. So I decided to create a story giving life to some episodes happened to her. Luckily enough, this time my choice revealed to be appropriate for the client’s requirements! They actually encouraged us to incorporate the recordings in our videos.
The story starts when her husband, who was a bus conductor, goes to the war.
She wants to start working as a conductress: we see her at the height test, trying to reach the minimum height, and becoming a conductress (well, actually a ticket machine…)
Other episodes see her friends and her at a strike against the unequal wage between conductors and conductresses, and during a night out after work.
The end is both happy and sad at the same time. On one hand, her husband comes back alive from the war, and they can live happily ever after. On the other hand, he takes back his work, as all the men did, so she is left unemployed.
I chose a very anonymous character design for her when she’s not working to stress the importance of work in women’s lives in that period, as they could earn more money and start being independent.
I had a little bit of a problem with the Liquid Architecture pitch. During the summer I read the material that was sent to us as a guide to develop the project, and was really interested by the Open City theme. I looked at the video links that we had, and was inspired by this one by Creative Commons:
The whole idea of a shared culture and the openness to a new form of collaboration between artists from everywhere in the world blew my mind.
So I started thinking about a project related to this theme, having an artist as the main character, wanting to create his new art piece. In my mind he would surf the internet and take some elements from other people’s work, artists from the past and the present, and combine them to build up his own artwork.
However, after the explanations on the brief that Jeremy Till gave us last Thursday, I realized that I was a bit out of theme and that I had to think about something more architecture related.
So I changed my character: now he is a designer who looks for inspiration for his new project.
He surfs the internet and the mouse arrow that turns into a character itself.
At first, the research is obstructed by lots of copyright issues and other obstacles.
But then, it finally finds a place where he could go.
The mouse morphs back into the character, as he goes in this open laboratory, where he finds other people working on their projects and lots of different materials and tools free to use.
They give him advices, as the camera zooms out and we see an abstract representation on the open city. It’s a big spinning circle made of small circles that intersect with each other, which floats in a see where other circles (other open cities) are.
In the last few weeks I’ve been doing some research for the London Transport Museum pitch. I wanted to understand more about how people lived during the Great War, what kind of public transportation was used and how it changed due to the turbulent period.
I went to the LTM to have a look at the B-type bus, which was the one used in London from 1910. This bus had a back entrance, where the conductor stood and checked the tickets of the passengers, and an open space at the front, where the driver sit, exposed to all weather conditions.
When the Great War started in 1914, this kind of bus was used to take the soldiers to the French border, while, in the home front, it served the people who stayed in town. As a remarkable number of men voluntarily enlisted to fight in the war, there was a growing need of workers in many fields. Women started replacing men in the years of the war, working for instance in the weapon making industry or for the London General Omnibus Company. In fact, the sudden lack of bus conductors led to the employment of more and more women as conductresses up until the end of the war. When the men came back from the war they took their job places back.
I’ve been trying to get some inspiration about this theme from the audio files we were given by LTM. I found that the most interesting one was by Florence Cordell. I was particularly curious about the lives of the women who ran the town when the men were away. As they started earning money, for sure more money than before, some of them consider the war period as wealthy. They could go to the theatre and enjoy their lives as they couldn’t before. I was very surprised when I found out this sort of paradox between the monstrosity of the war and the good time some women were having. I find it very ironic.
The bus conductresses were called “clippies”, because they had to punch a hole in the passenger’s ticket with the right time and date. At the time they used a Bell Punch ticket machine, so-called from the Bell Punch Company.
As I wanted to do a non-conventional character for this project, not a humanoid character, I found this anecdote funny and started imagining a ticket-machine shaped character. But it’s a bit complicated, I still have to think about it.
I went to the Imperial War Museum as well, hoping to find some more information about the atmosphere or some stories of people during the First World War. Unfortunately the museum is mainly focused on the Second World War, but there was a partitioned scale model of a house that was very interesting. It showed the habits of a family during the war and their preventative measures in case of air raid.
I know this is just an initial research, but I will (hopefully) upload soon some story thoughts and character research.