For this assignment I'm going to combine my work from the 2nd semester Production Art course with the 4th semester Production Art course.
Once again, the usual disclaimers up front: I'll be showing my raw work in progress here as I do it with the classes. I'll be showing both the good stuff and the
bad stuff so you can see my complete thought process unedited as well as how long each piece took.
As part of this process, I want you to start your own Blog pages to show each other your work in progress and to make it easier for me to see your work out of class. Send me the URL
of your page and I'll create a Student Index for everyone to go to.
Rather than having this scroll endlessly as I add stuff, I have an index set up here so you can go to each section specifically. The links will become active as I add stuff and I'll
indicate the last date that any artwork or information was added.
• Location Design Floorplans - Updated Dec. 29th
• 3/4 view Location Designs - Updated Feb 17th
• Asset Designs & Props - Updated Dec. 21st
• Character Designs - Updated Feb 23rd
• Storyboards - Updated Feb 27th
• Layouts - Updated March 5th
• Story Reel
• Final Production Bible
Sat.Dec. 17th, 2011
I've been giving the project some thought for the past few days since I handed it out and decided that I'm going to turn this into a "professional application project".
What do I mean by that? Well, rather than just doing it for the students at the college, I'm going to use this as a pitch for a television show. I've been negotiating with a studio in
China since this past October
to produce a children's show. I sent them some stuff I had done quite a few years ago using my "Me & Max characters and they liked the idea very much.
We are in the process of having the characters modelled in 3D. For a pilot animation, I thought it would be neat to use these characters in the Hansel and Grethel story line.
The general premise of the Me & Max series is that the dog character had a very vivid imagination and he ends up taking Max (the boy) along with him an these adventures.
Each adventure was to be based on a parody of a movie or a spoof of an existing children's story. The story of Hansel and Grethel would be interesting to place Me & Max into, with
The dog playing Hansel and Max as Grethel (with a little gender bending). The resulting production designs could then be sent to the studio for production, thus killing two birds with
one stone and forcing me to work to an even higher level... let's see what happens.
Mon. Dec 19th, 2011
After reviewing the assignments from 1st semester there were a number of basic things that went wrong, that can be easily corrected this time around.
This seemed to be the weak point with a number of students. It's always best to have a sense of the design style that you want to use in your production. Many of you did not
research and come up with a specific style, other than your own "house style". This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless your personal design style really stinks.
Working at any studio,
they will decide very early on what the "look" of the project is going to be.
They will pick a particular artist's style and say, "This is how we want it to look." and then begin collecting
as much artwork that they can to begin the analysis process - trying to figure out what the rules of the style are.
We discussed this in class during the 1st semester and I brought in an assortment of examples from various films that showed different design styles from a bunch of different artists,
and how the studios used these as a springboard towards the final look of their own films. One of the examples I showed was Gerald Scarfe's artwork from the Pink Floyd album, "The Wall"
Scarfe was hired by Disney to do some preliminary sketches of the characters for the film, Hercules.
Scarfe's own personal influence was Ronald Searle.
Searle had also done some production design work on the animated special "Dick Deadeye" from 1975.
If you look at Tim Burton's early design work you can see the influence these two artists had on him as well.
This is not to say that you can't develop your own unique style - not everything needs to be derivitive, but it usually takes a while... and a lot of trial and error
to come up with something truly unique.
This was the number one issue.
When we did the "round robin" assessment of each other's work, you'll remember how "off model" the drawings were from each other. Proportions, volumes, structure are all
issues that must be dealt with when you are doing your designs. Remember: the last thing you want someone to say about your model sheets is, "Which one should I use?"... well,
that and "These are crap."
Develop the ability to see the lines that you are using and their relationships to each other to control the proportions, volumes, structure and to keep them consistent.
This follows the same idea as the character design issues.
You need to find the appropriate design style first. In some cases, the styles can match and in others they can contrast. It all depends on how you want the characters to look
within the environments. Most films have a painterly feel to them - as though they were hand painted with shading and depth - even in 3D animation (in some cases, the
backgrounds are not 3D sets but are actually 2D paintings projected onto a plane.
Some films are going for the "reality look" as though the set is and actual physical build made of real materials. Some go for the realism but add a bit of caricature or exaggeration
to them, perhaps by skewing the angles slightly or adding a bit of a bulge to the objects.
Other projects aim towards a more flat graphic style. In these cases, the character may be flat but the environments are painterly or the opposite where the characters are fully 3D
but the environments are flat. This contrast can make the characters stand out better but it has to have a reason... or just look cool for it to work.
You can play around with these ideas to find the look that best suits your production, or more realistically, suits your abilities. There's no point in trying to learn a style from scratch
within a very limited time frame that we have unless you're psycologically and physically dedicated to doing the job completely. This is something that you will need to face when
you start working in a studio. Unless you are the production designer, you will have to follow someone elses design choices and draw they way they draw - adapting your own
abilities to match their style - line-for-line!
Almost everyone failed to come up with an interesting "Mad Scientist lab" for the last assignment. This was simply due to lack of effort - to find the appropriate reference material
and populate the room with stuff that says: "I'm a mad scientist and this is the environment that I work in". It's finding cool looking elements that are stereotypical and iconic that
are immediately recognizable as "Mad Scientist" stuff. There were plenty of test tubes and beakers, but where was the weird stuff??? A few of you had some interesting ideas but
didn't carry them far enough. You need to come up with things that will make the viewer go, "Wow! That's so neat!!"
For Hansel and Grethel, I want you to push the idea of what this kitchen is all about. Make it the creepiest, scariest, most imposing environment you can possibly come up with.
The witch is a freaking cannibal!!!
This is not going to be Martha Stewart's kitchen!
This is a conflict of life and death. Grethel is going to die. Hansel is the only one who can save her. He's trapped in a cage and he can't save Grethel unless he can reach the key.
We need to feel the extreme tension that is going on at opposite ends of the kitchen. If I don't feel my heart pounding in anticipation over what is happening here and the tension
of Hansel's struggle and ultimately the surge of... "YES!, Now go and kick her butt!!" as he escapes, the storyboards have failed.
I must feel the emotions of the characters: the terror of Grethel about to be burned alive, the revulsion and hatred for the Witch, the anguish and helplessness of Hansel. If I don't
feel these things, I've been ripped off.
Not only will the shot selections be important, but the character actions as well as the timing of the scenes. Too slow and it will become ponderous, too fast and it will lose the tension.
Here are the four really important things to be sure you have in your boards:
1) What is the character doing?
• Do you have enough action poses,
• Do you have match action poses from one scene to the next,
• Is the character in proper proportion - to the environment and other characters,
• Is the eye direction correct.
- You look at the character's eyes first. Can you see what they are feeling or thinking in their eyes? Can you feel what they feel?
2) What is the shot?
• Are you using the proper fielding,
• Is this the best angle.
• Have you crossed the axis line,
• Is the cutting clear between the scenes - no jump cuts!
3) Where is the Character?
• Is the background clearly indicated in the scene. Do I know where I am in the environment,
• Is the perspective correct - where is the horizon line, where are the vanishing points,
• Is the background consistent with the location design,
• Is the character properly placed within the environment,
• Are the proportions of both the character and environment consistent.
4) Is the storyboard complete?
• Does it show the storyline clearly,
• Does it show the storyline in an interesting and entertaining way,
• Do I feel the proper emotions at the proper times.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the things you need to be thinking of while you do your boards, it's a good start point to be sure you have the important things.
Most people didn't even bother to board out the transformation, others had maybe 4 or less scenes and in the final shot... taaa daaa, he's Mr Hyde now. That's lame.
I suspect, most people left it until the last moment and then ran out of time. This goes right back to proper time management. Know when your deadline is and then work to
1 week before in case of any foul-ups that might (and probably will) turn up. Oh, if I only had a dollar for every time I heard, "Everyone was using the computers" or
"My software trial period ran out", or the old stand-by: "I got sick (cough, cough)."
It doesn't work in the real world. A delivery date is a delivery date. You meet it or you're in trouble. Any delay you create will cause the next step in the process to be delayed.
Even one day can cost a studio thousands in pay to the people who are now sitting around waiting for you to finish your work. If there are 10 modellers waiting for your designs
and each one gets paid $40.00 per hour, 1 day = $40.00 x 8 hrs = $320.00 x 10 people = $3200.00. Are you going to pay their salaries for that day you were late? Probably not,
but chances are, you'll never get another job from that studio again. All you'll get is a bad reputation.
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