Monday, 28 September 2009

Check This Out: apple

Recently I picked up volume 2 of apple from the shop [Travelling man] that I work in. Now I'm a big fan of art books and I'm slowly gaining quite a robust collection mainly consisting of Eastern Asian artists as I'm also a fan of the type of art work that comes out of Asia. The reason why I like art books so much is because they're a great source of inspiration, stuck for a character design? Flip through a book and look how other people have designed a character. Trying to create a sci-fi scene? See how others have done it etc.



When it comes to art books though apple is truly something special as it almost has a magazine format by having images by different artists as well as contiuous comic strips, the art work can be quite breathtaking in some images too. What truly makes it unique though is the range of different styles in one volume such as Kim Hyung-Tae, who worked on the video game series Magna Carta. It also makes me very envious as an artist to see so much talent in just one book and a lot of it is digital art aswell, this makes me even more jealous as my skills with photoshop are very poor in comparison.
The concept of apple is one that I appreciate alot aswell as it is a collection of artists work from across of Korea and it really does put things into perspective with the standards of art & design, it also a great source for inspiration to see how people on the other side of the world think when it comes to character design and general aesthetics, including sequential storytelling.
So enough talking about it! lets have a look at whats inside!!


(image from: http://www.udonentertainment.com/apple/previews/AppleVol1_Sample13.jpg)

First up we have this image by Ji Hyo-Guen which at first glance has a very western style look to it but you can see eastern influences in the face and by the sudden use of a bright colour for the hair. Western art these days tends to be sahdes of mainly grey/brown to give a more look of realism but this takes influence from that type of art and mixes it slightly giving a more unique look to it.

(image from: http://www.udonentertainment.com/apple/previews/AppleVol1_Sample10.jpg)

Next up is a page from the comic featured in apple vol. 1 by Cho Kahng-Keun and it clear to see this is the type of art people more expect from Eastern Asia but when I look at it I can't help think of the works of Jamie Hewlett who in turn has influence from eastern artists. what I like about this piece is he's not afraid to use bright colours and different types of font to help convey his narrative, his composition is also very exciting and it's hard to not have your attention grabbed by the artwork.

(image from: http://www.udonentertainment.com/apple/previews/AppleVol1_Sample06.jpg)

This image taken from Lee Myeong-Un's short comic "She Does Not Cry" is one of my personal favourites from apple vol. 1 for both the use of colours and the design of the characters and it amazes me at what an interesting world he has managed to create within a few pages and after reading it I was left wanting to know more about the world and characters. That is something I can truly respect as sequential art is something I would very much like to strive for.

So there you have it, thirsty for another bite of the apple? If you want to see more previews of the first volume click here, each volume is a bit pricey at £25.99 each but the quality of the printing and art on the inside is definetly worth it.

Check It Out!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Check This Out: Sony Lust


This morning as I was casually checking my number one source for all things video game realted and as I was catching up on all the events of The Tokyo Games show I came across fantastic news that Square Enix have once again teeamed up with Sony to release a special edition of the PS3 Slim which will feature the main character, Lightning from the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII in a stencil format.
I gotta say I've been looking for reasons to buy the PS3 Slim but unfortunately as with previous Special Edition playstations in the past, it looks as though this one will be a Japanese exclusive aswell. It's also set to come with a 250 GB HDD which makes this such a tease! Check out the original story here!

Unfortunately for me this wasn't the only piece of news that has hit the TGS as I found out that the Playstation Network have just released Final Fantasy VIII for download onto PS3 or PSP consoles over in Japan for ¥1,500. This means when it's released over here it should be around £8-10. The idea of being able to once again play through one of my favourite games in a portable fashion is something that literally makes my mouth water as it was once the first games that had a prolonged story and had more to it than just jumping, but I'll go into my love for it another time... Check the original news here!
With the release of Final Fantasy: Dissidia and future releases such as Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep I'm gagging to get geared up with Sony's black boxes. But should I buy them and spend almost half a grand just so I can play a few Square Enix videogames? oh and so I can also finally find out how the Metal Gear Solid series ends...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Animation Lesson One Part VI/VI

Animation Lesson One Part VI/VI
Test Animation

Using the freeware computer program "Pencil" I develop a very, very short test animation, it was really nothing more than just playing around and getting to grips with the program and it's features such as onion layering, which mimics traditional animation with what can only be compared with tracing paper making it easier to follow through drawing the next frame. So below is the fruits of my labour (it was made in just under 1 hour and a half).



Although it lasts for only a few seconds and youtube seems to have cut off the last bit of the animation I am still very proud of it as it took quite a while to create, when drawing this I used the "Straight ahead" method of animating as it felt the most natural to me.
After creating this I am quite excited to start a real animation to which I've been giving a choice of titles to select from, by Monday 28.9.09 I should have developed a simple animatic to convey the title "Arrow Target".

Thats it for lesson one! Phew that took a while eh? But it was sure worth it!

Animation Lesson One Part V/VI

Animation Lesson One Part V/VI
Animatics

An Animatic is the middle step between storyboard and film/animation as it's the story board animated in on a very basic level. The animatics are used to help the director see how the film will pan out and if they're happy with it thus far, after the production will move onto film/animating. More often than not audio is added to the animatic to further give the idea of a more complete product but it is not essential.
The purpose of the animatic is to just layour what will happen in the film/animation so that the animators and director knows how to film it more precisely rather than just using a storyboard.


An example of an animatic taken from the "Wonder Woman" animated film.
(image from: http://www.patriotresource.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/animatic_wonderwoman.jpg)


From the image above a screen shot from an animatic looks like a single drawing and because of this the best way to give an example is by checking out the animatic used for the music video for the band Gorillaz "Dirty Harry".
As you can see it's almost like watching a cartoon without any colour and it'll also make it easier to spot if there are any problems. Creating an Animatic is a very useful step in the path to creating a finished piece of work.

Next is the brief animation I made and how I did It!

Animation Lesson One Part IV/VI

Animation Lesson One Part IV/VI
What is Storyboarding?

Storyboards are the bare bones of making a film or an animation in that it shows key sequences of the overall production. They are used to map out what the camera should film including things such as shot types, camera movements (such as panning in or out) and other important prompts and notes that should be taken into account when filming the actual production. The storyboard is very much a kin to comic books as both use a sequence of panels to visually communicate the events that are happening.


Here is an example of a storyboard used in the film "Batman Begins" (2005 ).
(image from: http://www.martinasbury.com/imgs/sb_bat3.jpg)


Today there have been alot more films created based on comic books as film makers have caught on to the simularities that comics share with storyboarding, thus making it easier to translate the story as it has already been visualised. Two notable films that use this are "Sin City" (2005) and "Watchmen" (2009) as both have been adapted for the big screen using the original works as a source for the storyboard.
The "Sin City" film goes that slight step further to also recreate the noir look of the original comic, but both are very true to the original works. There is definetly a trend for turning comics into films, I wonder how long this will last?


A comparison of how the "Sin City" film and comic look together.
(above: The original art work, Below: Screenshot from the film)
(image from: http://www.bibi.org/box/2005/abril/Marvin.jpg)


Next is the magic of the Animatic!



Animation Lesson One Part III/VI

Animation Lesson One Part III/VI
Shot Types

In this post I'll be exploring a range of different types of shots which can be achieved in film, animation and games directing. The defination of a shot is the image that appears due to positioning of the camera depending on the different positions shots have different names. Below I have listed the ones that I know of.

1. Extreme Close Up
An extreme close up is used to help create a more dramatic impact when a regular close up is not enough to convey the intensity of the scene. An extreme close up is really nothing more than zooming in on a certain aspect of a scene, be it an object or a person.


An example of an extreme close up.
(image from: http://cdn-www.expertvillage.com/showImage.aspx?site=21&fn=camera-work-extreme-close-up.jpg)


2. Close Up
A close up is a shot where an object or person takes up most of the shot, it's generally used on people to help show emotion or detail, even a change in facial muscles. It can also be used on objects aswell to show that they are important to the narrative.


An example of a close up.
(image from: http://www.beautysnob.com/images2009/upclosemaybelline.jpg)

3. Medium Close Up
The medium close up is a mix of a close up and a mid shot, the camera is a little further away showing more of the subject. These kind of shots are generally used when dealing with shots of people. The shot should also show a fair amount of detail at the same time, this is what seperates it from a mid shot.


This is an example of a medium close up.
(image from: http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f79/purpleangel25df/rendition.jpg)

4. Mid Shot
A mid shot is simular to a medium close up except it shows more of the background to create a blanace between the subject and the setting it's in. These shots are used to establish new characters or plot devices in terms of the narrative this is becuase of the balance between the two components that make up the overall shot.


An example of a mid shot.
(image from: http://www3.moe.edu.sg/corporate/contactonline/2006/issue11/images/professional/pro01_img02.jpg)


5: Wide Shot
A wide shot is like the mid shot but the camera is situated further away showing all of the subject and a lot more of the background/setting. These shots are used to show what a character is doing but doesn't need as much emphasis as a close up.


An example of a wide shot.
(image from: http://www.tv-handbook.com/images/Jeff%20throwing%20rock.jpg)


6. Very Wide Shot
A Very wide shot is used when placing more ephasis and importance on the enviroment and setting, but whilst still having subjects to focus on. This is used as a shot to show where the events will be taking place but not as an establishing shot as it's still just a little too close. You can generally still make out that there are people in the scene.


An example of a very wide shot.
(image from: http://fly.hiwaay.net/~mdsmith/isslake61.jpg)

7. Extreme Wide Shot
The extreme wide shot is used as the establishing show to show viewers where the narrative is taking place, showing more enviroment and there is generally no subjects to draw attention to.


An example of an extreme wide shot.
(inage from: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGC/StaticFiles/Images/Show/35xx/350x/3500_blow_down_nuclear_plant-3_04700300.jpg)


8. Over The Shoulder Shot
This kind of shot is used when portraying a conversation to people to give a variation to ways you can portray two people talking. Below is an example of the over the shoulder shot.


an example of an over the shoulder shot.
(image from: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/starkj/coms126/cinematography/over_shoulder.jpg)



9. Cut In Shot
The cut in shot is used to show details of things in a scene that may have been missed, it's good to use this kind of shot as it allows audiences to take in the whole scene rather than just focusing purely on the main aspect of the scene. Unlike cut away shots what is shown is generally still apart of the narrative.


an example of a cut in shot.
(image from: http://www.mediacollege.com/video/shots/images/hands.jpg)


10. Cut Away Shot
The Cut away shot is simular to the cut in shot except for it shows something that is not a part of the narrative. It's good to use these types of shots to really just give little breaks inbetween the scenes.

an example of a cut away shot.
(image from: http://www.mediacollege.com/video/shots/images/kali.jpg)


11. Two Shot
A two shot literally refers to there being two subjects most often characters in one single shot at one time, the most common place that these can be found is in news readings. These shots are good as it allows the audience to see how characters interact with each other.


An example of a two shot.
(image from: http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41777000/jpg/_41777814_ferriegall300.jpg)



I also explored The Rule Of Thirds, which is essentially the compostion of the shot to make it exciting and interesting to the viewer by keeping the main focus point of the scene in a third of the scene. Imagine a picture of a bee with a grid of 3 x 3 over layed ontop, by using the rule of thirds the bee should take up 3 of the blocks. This goes for general composition.

Next is storyboarding!
Till Next time!

Animation Lesson One Part II/VI

Animation Lesson One Part II/VI
The Principles Of Animation

So here I am again part II of the first lesson, this post will outline the 12 main rules of animation, These rules were devised by Walt Disney Studios in the 30s' by resident animators to help guide production and younger, less seasoned animators. These rules also helped animation develop from a novelty to more of an art form. THANKS WALT!

Without
further a due lets dive right into the principles!

1. Solid Drawing:
This essentially means knowing the basics of anatomy, composition, weight, light and shadow
although these days CG artists don't need to draw an understanding of these disciplines can be a great benefit to creating more smoother and believable animations.

2. Appeal:
The appeal is the design of the character, this can be comparable to an actor's charisma. It's the animator's job to make sure that the character is designed in such a way that they'll be appealing to the audience in any sense, such as making clear differences between the hero and the villain.

3. Arcs:
Arcs refers to the movement of humans and animals in that any action that they make occurs along an arched trajectory. Animators should reproduce these kind of movements to better convey a certain amount of realism to the audience through the animation.

4. Ease in & Ease out
This is a general understanding of movement, rather that specialised to people as Arcs is. When objects move they need time to accelerate and to slow down, in terms of animation to convey this means using more frames at the start and end of the motion to help pass off imitation of realism.

5. Staging
The concept of staging ("mise-en scene" if you want to be fancy) is to have the ability to direct attention towards certain things in a scene to help convey what is going to happen next as animation is a form of story telling, even in it's simplest forms. This also includes character placement, essentially for those of an artistic background it's the Composition of the scene.

6. Anticipation
To have the skill to create anticipation is to help guide the eye of the audience to certain things in a scene such as to wear action is about to take place for example: a close up shot of bending knees before a character jumps. Anticipation is much like a sister skill to staging as the two together can create amazing outcomes.

7. Squash & Stretch
This is a technique used in more outlandish animations such as "Looney Tunes". This gives a sense of weight or flexibility to objects and the best examples are found in those funny old cartoons as this technique is often used in an extreme sense to create a comical effect.

8. Timing
There are two types of timing, Physical Timing and Theatrical Timing. Physical Timing is more a parable to creating an imitaion of real life, where as Theatrical Timing includes ecerything from comic timing, conveying emotions and character development. This technique is very simular to easing in and out as it can follow the same kind of rules.

9. Straight ahead & Pose-to-pose
This refers to the two different methods in which you can animate, straight ahead animating referes to drawing frames out one at a time which is generally used for animators where as key animators will work in the pose-to-pose stye which consists of drawing out the key frames to show the progression of the animation. Fill in animators would draw in the frames between the key frames.

10. Exaggeration
The technique of exaggeration is often used in cartoons to make them more entertaining and the idea is that taking a simple motion like opening a door and making it more exciting and over the top than it would be in real life.
Walt Disney says: "Reamin true to reality, just present it in a wilder, more extreme form."

11. Secondry Actions
This refers more to subtle movements in the animation such as the moving of hair in the wind when a character is walking, the main action is the motion of the character walking but the secondry action is the moving of the hair. What the sencondry action should do is emphasis the first movement not take away from it.

12. Follow Through & Overlapping
Follow through and overlapping again is about the motion of an object or a character meaning that when a direction change happens some parts contiue in the original direction before making that change. This technique is to help give a more fluid look to the overall product.

And there we have it, the main rules to use when creating an animation and by following these guidelines you too can become an amazing animator!! (with enough practise ofcourse...)

Next we'll be looking at shot types!
see you soon!


Animation Lesson One Part I/VI

Animation Lesson One Part I/VI

In this lesson I had a basic introduction into animation such as, a brief history of animation, The 12 Main Principles Of Animation, the different kind of shot types that are available in film, storyboarding, animatics and an introduction into the computer program Pencil.

In this post I'll be writing about the Brief History of Animation.

In The Beginning:
I was shown five important stages of the development that animation has taken to reach the standard that it's at today these were;

1. Cave Painting (Prehistory)
2. The Zoetrope (William Horner, 1834)
3. "Humorous Phases Of Funny Faces" (J. Stuart Blackton, 1906)
4. The Golden Age Of Animation (late 1920's - early 1960's)
5. Computer Generated Animation (early 1970's - present day)

First I was shown some examples of cave paintings and when looking at the images that people thousands of years ago had created there is a certain amount of fluidity that comes with it and it's here that you can see the start of images in motion.

(image from: http://www.eyesclosed.org/img/hires/cave_painting_l.jpg)

Next I was shown an example of The Zoetrope by William Horner. The Zoetrope is cylinder shaped device with a series of images on the inside and small rectangular holes on the outside. The concept is that when the cylinder in spun the viewer looks at the side of the cylinder and because of the holes in the side the viewer will see the images move in a simple fashion. This is the real beginning of animation and the concept was created when Horner saw movment behind the wheel of a carriage whilst it was in motion. Here is an example of The Zoetrope in action.

(image from: http://courses.ncssm.edu/gallery/collections/toys/images/ZoetropeTopView0315.jpg)

The short film "Humorous phases of Funny Faces" shows a development in animation since The Zoetrope, the creator J. Stuart Blackton uses simple tools such as chalk and a blackboard and precise camera work to create a short motion of animated faces. It's truly an achievement for the date it was made in (1906!) it really just goes to show how long animation has been around and what it's gone through to get to where it is today! Below you'll find the short film.



Next is The golden age of animation, for this I was shown an example of one of Walt Disney Studios early works, namely "The Three Little Pigs" (1933). This Golden age includes works by studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. (For their "Looney Tunes") as there is such a great volume of work I will use "The Three Little Pigs" as an example to analyse. The first thing that I noticed was that the backgorunds were quite static and that the only moving parts were the characters and objects that those characters interact with, the audio quality is not as high as something made in present day but it probably used high end recording equipment for the day. Below you can watch the short film.



Finally I looked at the Computer generated era, which is when animation started to introduced computer generated graphics into the process and final product, in 1984 was the first time a fully CG short film was created, developed by Lucasfilm "The Adventures Of Andre & Wally B." shows what high end computers and months of work can create and when compared to the present day animations it's not all that special but back in '84 this was the first time the world was intoduced into a full three-dimensional animation. This animation was later bought by Steve Jobs whom founded Pixar thus this became the psuedo-First Pixar animation.



It's amazing to see how far animation has truly progressed in such a short time, in the 30's hand drawn animation astounded the world and today it's CG animation that continues to impress audiences, and technology and film making has developed to a point where animation can be found in most media productions.
Next is the Principles Of Animation!
so Keep Up To Date!


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Blog ver. 2.001.333.9

Hey there people,
This is the official blog to catch up on all things to do with Ken McFarlane, This includes general blogging, events and places I've been, people I've met, interests, odd-ball features and ofcourse the all important tracking of my University Work. This means things like my views on the latest films or any that I have watched, re-tellings of the times I've hung with the famous and updates on pet projects! So look forward to all this!

I will also try post atleast three times a week! just to try keep things interesting!

Thats it really for the first post so see you in two!