FENGYAN HUO CONVERGENCE/DIVERGENCE BA (HONS) ILLUSTRATION LEVEL5 AUCB printed in United Kingdom fhuo.blogspot.co.uk 2012
CONTENT SYNOPSIS OF STUDY IDEA DEVELOPMENT CHARACTER DESIGN
INITIAL SKETCHES POTRAITS &ABSTRACT PATTERNS MOVING SEQUENCE
ABSTRACT PATTERNS VIRTUAL WORLD SCENE DESIGN REAL WORLD SCENE DESIGN
STORY LINE STORYBOARD TECHNICAL LEARNING POINTS
SYNOPSIS OF STUDY The relationship between space and body is abstract but inspirational. I am strongly interested in a bold conjecture which points out the existence of parallel worlds and Merleau-Pontyâ€™s idea that it is the body that constructs the space. According to the film Matrix, with the omnipresent application of computer technology, there could probably exists other virtual space in which our bodies are different from what we are in the visible world. To me, I image the figure of the body in the virtual world could be a black dot. I intend to make a short video mixing with animation to show that, in the virtual world, a little dot which gets lost has to choose to go through different doors to find the exit, and eventually arrive at the original space which it takes the initiative to find (build).
The previous learning experience in Philosophy deepens my understanding of space and the dynamic character of the body, the ideas about the relation between space and subject from Merleau-ponty give me inspiration to undertake my project. To me, in the virtual world, the body may easily get lost in different spaces with no direction, but it will finally find out that it is the decisionmaker and go back to the space it choose to stay. Moreover, the creating experience in previous illustration units reminds me the importance of pushing the boundary of practice and finding satisfactory ways to communicate with the audiences. Chris Patmore once said: â€œThe story has to be good but the telling has to be better.â€? In this new unit, I will be more open-minded; instead of just sticking to traditional painting
approaches, I will focus on the methods of story-telling, try to make my work looks less direct and obvious, in order to encourage the thinking and imagination among audiences. Reflecting on my previous work from the last two units, I realize that I could challenge myself in three aspects in the Convergence/Divergence unit. Firstly, I would like to design the characters in different ways, for instance, an abstract and graphic figure, instead of just drawing realistic portraits by referring to pictures. Furthermore, I intend to maintain my style in creating weird and mystery atmosphere, but in a more professional way, to avoid being too personal for other people to comprehend. Finally, since I never explored moving image before, I will learn relating software such as After
Effects, and do experiments on different medias to help me to find the best way to show my idea to others. I will start to collect digital recordings such as photos, sound tracks and videos for my upcoming visual experiments. At this point, I will think about the design of the visual space, which can be different from the visible one, and I will highlight the construction process of the body, consider the ways it rebuild or create space. As to the research part, I think I need to concentrate on three fields. To begin with, I need to look at basic techniques in making animation, such as image and scene design, layer setting and so on. I will read ‘Digital Animation’ by Andrew Chong. From this book, I expect I could have a rough understanding of the major
elements in making animation, and learn how to build a storyboard which can be turned into a short animation in the end. Besides, since I want to show virtual and imagery space in my final work, I need to draw reference from some movies which also show the wildest imagination about different worlds. For instance, ‘The Fall’ (directed by Trasem Singh), ‘Source Code’(directed by Duncan Jones), ‘Dark City’(directed by Alex Proyas), ‘Paprika’(directed by Satoshi Kon), ‘Cube’(directed by Vincenzo Natali)and so on. The last but not the least, I would like to look for some experimental animations on the internet such as Peter & the Space Between (Directed by Taiji Chou) which also focus on abstract topics and some animations such as “Jazzed” by Anton Setola which are very
successful in visual strategy. Moreover, I am eager to discuss with some animation students about their work and my developing project. Another thing that draws my attention in this new unit is time management, apart from spending long time in learning the basic knowledge of animation editing software, I am aware of the importance to leave enough time to modify the animation, in case that I will come up with better idea or get advisable suggestions. Finally, I plan to show my final outcome on the internet and expect for more feedback from different audiences.
IDEA DEVELOPMENT Inspired by Merleau-Ponty’s idea about the body-space relationship, I firstly attempted to create an animation that rethinks how the body can construct the outer space. Visually, I focused on the scenes when space comes out from a hole of the body, or when the body creates a special tunnel and goes into another space. My initial design of the animation relied on Merlear-Ponty ‘s brilliant viewpoint : the body can construct all directions and flats of the external space and give it meaning. Followed by a series of research and experiments, I began to rethink the initial idea. Instead of showing abstract spaces coming out from a body in order to relate to the divergence topic, I decided to create scenes that show the body making choices about which new space it want to enter into. Søren Aabye Kierkegaard’s idea about choice helps me further develop my
project. To Kiekegaard, people are living in a dilemma: to live alone and get inner peace or to live with others and feel unsettled. Similar to Kiekegaard, I was eager to depict the choosing process of the body. However, in my animation, the body is facing a different situation. It has to make more than one choice, and the very first choice decides and constrains the following ones. The first choice was made by a man in the doomsday of the world. He had two choices: dying in the real space with his beloved or living in the virtual world constructed by the computer. He chose to be a black dot and entered into the virtual space. The following choices are made in the virtual world where there are many entrances. Losing all his memory, the dot (man) kept looking for an exit by trying the entrances one by one, although such exits never exist.
CHARACTER DESIGN In an outstanding animation, character design plays the key role. I used to create the characters by referring to photos, and I am quite happy with the realistic drawing approach. However, illustrations created in a traditional way could be a stepping stone, since the realistic style sometimes could not encourage the viewersâ€™ wildest imagination, and it is hard for illustrators to break through their own boundaries. Realizing that I should keep doing visual experiments, I began to rethink the character design in my new animation. Firstly, I began to look for some good examples and I found out that classic and
attractive characters could be collages (mixture of faces and other things), abstract and distorted portraits and incomplete portraits, (for example, works by Deepa Vekaria). In short, something that could stimulate the viewersâ€™ curiosity and give them visual enjoyment. In order to convey their original idea successfully, animators would think over the topic and storyline of their animation before sculpting the characters. The works by Young Soo Kim and Jonathan Bartlett remind me the importance to keep the character designs in harmony with the atmosphere of my animation. Since I am going to show the virtual world as well
as the real one, I believe it is advisable to combine realistic paintings as well as abstract patterns in the character design, which will be consistent with the scene design. As to colour, I prefered to use earthy and dark colours, making the portraits simple but mordern.
I made a video first and then exported it as a jpg sequence. Then I used Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter to draw a series of portraits.
initial sketches to mix portraits with colourful patterns
SCENE DESIGN When it comes to atmosphere construction, scene design plays the decisive role. In my earlier illustrations, I tried to create images from different angles and perspectives, which is similar to the viewfinder in film making. In order to further such practice in scene design, I began to look for some good examples such as works by Garrett Pruter. In his illustration, Pruter intends to show the mystery hidden space which is invisible. He paints the architectures in two different styles, abstract and realistic. The abstract patterns of buildings are created to depict the strange look of the hidden space, and the realistic
buildings represent the real world which we experience every day. Similarly, there will be two different worlds in my animation, one is a virtual space which contains many entrances and exits, the other one is a collapsing real world which is attacked by giant fireballs from sky. When designed the look of virtual world, I decided to use lines and dots to create a special view of the space which is constructed by computers. I aimed to build up a distinct difference between the real world and the virtual one.
initial sketch 1
initial sketch 2
initial sketch 3
After a series of animation experiments, I realized that it is better to create long scenes, so that I can move the camera along the landscape to follow the movement of the bouncing ball.
initial sketch 4
Tunnel Instead of using Adobe After Effects to create a starfield effect, I decided to draw a tunnel which is built up by three special doors. In the animation, the tunnel is the connection between the real world and the virtual one. When designed the tunnel, I tried to relate to the patterns in the virtual world.
final scene design 1, Orange Volcanoes
final scene design 2, Whirling Wheels
final scene design 3, Giant Swaying Hooks
final scene design 4, Front Gates Scene
Different from the virtual world, the real world scenes were created in a more traditional way, and in order to show the desparate atmosphere in the doomsday, I used dark colours on the collapsing buildings and sharp colours on the fire and burning stones. In the initial design, I tried to use Adobe Illustation and Adobe Photoshop to create a simple background, but it looks dull and can not lead to a strong contrast to the virtual scenes. Whatâ€™s more, this vector drawing is not ideal to animate, I had to rethink the visual strategy.
initial design for the collapsing metropolitan
final scene design 1 I used Adobe After Effects on this background design to create a scene showing the metropolitan is attacked by giant fire balls from the sky.
final scene design 2 This is window view, I used After Effects to add fire, smoke as well as lightning on this image.
The story is created to show the divergence topic. In the end of the world, a man chose to survive this catastrophe by turning himself into a black dot which lives in the virtual world. Losing all his memory, the dot keeps finding an exit to a whole new world. There are hundreds of entrances and virtual spaces in the virtual world, and the dot has to keep trying the entrances one by one. However, instead of leading to a lotus land, all the entrances just points at the beginning where the dot starts the journey except one. This unique entrance also does
not lead to a whole new world, it will just take the black dot back to the moment when the man decided whether to stay and die or to continue to live by being a black dot which loses all memory and keeps searching for an exit that never exists. Since the whole story will be told backward from the end, in order to be more specific and clearer, there are some key elements I want to highlight in chronological order:
Indicates the spatial transition from real world to virtual world.
Whirling front gates
The dot would face hundreds of whirling circles after travelling through the tunnel. These round gates are both the entrances and the exits of virtual spaces. The black dot could choose one of these gates and enter into a new space. And then it will come out from another front gate and has to make another new choice. The repeating showing up of these front gates indicates the journey in this virtual world is nothing more than an endless illusion.
There is a virtual space behind each front gate and
they are different from each other. However, they are the same in essence: they have hundreds of exits and all these exits lead back to the front gates scene.
A woman was terrified and begging her husband to stay with her in this horrible moment, but the man chose to live by turning himself into a black dot.
Orange round gate
Speed up tunnel and front gates scene
This is the last gate that the black dot chooses. This unique gate is in fact the entrance leading back to the real collapsing world.
Tunnel moving backwards
Indicates the journey from virtual world to real world.
Huge burning stones from space attacked the world and everywhere was on fire.
Indicates everything repeats forever when the man made the choice to be a black dot. The circle will only end when the man chooses to die.
TECHNICAL LEARNING POINTS 2D Vs. 3D
The first design of the front gates scene was simple and less creative, I initially just put many realistic paintings of doors together. But then I realized it would work better if I made 3D model and film it. However, this animation style would definitely not be consistent with other parts of the video. So I drew reference to an important feedback in my first tutorial-- creating special patterns and symbols. Then I chose to draw abstract circles and triangles on them. The final outcome is easy to animate.
I choose to use the zoom in and zoom out effect to make the visual transition between virtual spaces and front gates scene. Furthermore, between the two scenes in the real world, I used the Curve effect and Smoke effect in Adobe After Effects to do the transition. The design of tunnel is another challenge for me. At the beginning, I used CC Star Burst effect to indicate the travelling through space at a high speed. But the outcome was boring and not consistent with the other scenes. Therefore I created some round gates built up by abstract patterns and changed their scales in
different key frames, making them appear to be approaching from distance. Furthermore, I also pondered over the visual strategy to show the man becoming a dot and going inside the virtual world built by the computer. At first, I created an image of the brain and intended to show it with relating types, then made it transform into a black dot step by step. However, this transition was too lengthy and confusing, so I decided to use the Camera tool in After Effects to show two orange dots which represent the brain travelling along wires into the computer and disappearing.
Soundtrack I chose A Song for Beauty & Adornment created by Ă lfheimr since it has the strongest tempo in the end, which fits my animation which tells the story backwards from the end. Apart from using other peopleâ€™s music, I also attempted to mix soundtracks for part of my animation. I created the sound of a bouncing ball when it hits the ground, the sound of typing on keyboard and the sound of explosion when the fireball hit the skyscraper. The softwares I used are Adobe
Audition and Fl Studio.