Originally posted on the MA Character animation course blog, published March 6th 2016.
Originally I was planing on keyframing this week, but since I still had no clear idea of how the movie should look, that became what I worked out instead.
I’ve made model sheets for the heads of the different characters and have written a document of the characteristics of the different characters, their personality traits and their role in the movie. I’m very happy with how they look even though I think the main character will have more than the crooked ear as to set him apart.
We had a very good tutorial this week with David Johnson from Famous Flying Films that talked a lot about the importance of setting characters apart in both looks and acting. That characters should act out small things to keep the scene feel reel and that every character should have a physical feature to act out. He also told me that the reason this was very important to my film is because although the audience have time to learn to recognize the different foxes during the first half of the movie, this awareness needs to stay after they have all gone white. I was also told to not change the story any more as it now works well (phew!) and to now focus fully on animating the characters in a convincing way.
Out of the blue on Monday morning I got another firstyear in the team, so now I have three talented people to help me out. Juliette (blog), Judit (blog) and Shuaijun (blog). Juliette, who was the one I got on Monday, asked to do backgrounds for the movie. Which I was grateful for as backgrounds really isn’t my strongest side. I get too bored with still images, that’s why I prefer to draw something that moves!
So for her to have some reference to what I wanted I tried cleaning up and colouring one of the backgrounds from the movie. I have been doing some research into animation backgrounds on this great site http://animationbackgrounds.blogspot.co.uk/ to see the variety of what I can do. Since my characters are fairly simple I wanted a type of background that could match that without not making everything look flat and boring. I found my preferred background style in the Winnie the Pooh movies and did some research on the background artists. Al Dempster, Doug Ball, Lisa Keene and Leonard Robledo’s backgrounds where the ones that gave me the most inspiration with beautiful line work and limited colours.
I tried to match the richness of detail and style without making it too alike. The background worked out, even when I put Njunus (main character) into the scene and I managed to keep the feeling of the cold and rough look of the Arctic landscape.
Background from the animatic
Background with new line work and colours
New background with character
I’m so happy that things seems to work out well at the moment. I can now slowly see the movie coming together and I look forward to really start production with my firstyears. With a bit of luck we can finish a good chunk of the movie during the next weeks.
And also, this week we went down to the ENO to see Akhnaten. Which was awesome and although I liked the Magic Flute a little bit better because it was quicker paced and funnier, this was bigger in scale and cast and was pretty spectacular to watch.