Saturday, June 20, 2009

End of Class 4

Class 4 has been intense in its content as well as the amount of concentration and detail work it demanded. Nicole Herr has been phenomenal in her approach to the work critique and informative Q&A sessions. The class covered subjects like animating dialogue, facial expressions, storytelling through cuts, animating multi characters, advanced dialogue work through, principles of entertainment, subtext and subtlety, design applied to animation, and a walk through with Victor Navone from dialogue to finished animation which was quite encouraging to watch.

Here is the two person dialogue exercise that I worked on. I had to make sure that my dialogue choice not be too long lest I do not finish it in time.

The polishing phase is ongoing, but I think experience is what I now need to hone my polishing skills and train my eyes to see the workflow in advance. The next class will be about pre-production of a short film, a very short film (30 seconds). In the meantime I am going to enjoy the one week break.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Class 410

June 1st, one month since my last post. The two person dialogue is in refining stage (one step after blocking). Time is fast becoming a rare commodity and in a couple of weeks will be the end of the semester. Nicole's Q&A sessions is something I look forward to because she fills it with useful and informative lessons. The time I enjoy the most is the "torture time" as she refers to it. That is when she'd randomly cam a student and gives him/er a line describing the start of a scene then the student builds the story from there. She then would cam the next student who must keep the continuity of the story and so on. This is an invaluable practice to exercise the imagination and story telling techniques in preparation for the next class.

Other happenings; watched the Battle for Terra, a CG animated feature that my Class 3 mentor, Kevin Koch and AM student Harry Porudominsky worked on. The movie was good but by no means a blockbuster. It is, however, a major accomplishment for the independent film house Snoot (toons spelled backwards). I think the story lacked a way to relate to the alien characters. A humorous situation or some drama that could bring the alien world to terms that we can understand could have helped establish an emotional link with the characters. The animation, as good as it was, felt restrained (a director's choice), to the chagrin of the animators who were working on it I'm sure. I find it strange, in this golden age of CG animated features, that story (or great story for that matter) can still be overlooked by some producers. An entire section has been dedicated to story in the animation bible The Illusion of Life. So how could an animation producer miss this fundamental part of movie making? PIXAR built its foundation on story and they make no secret of it. They are enjoying the same success that Disney enjoyed in their hayday. Just watched UP last weekend in theater and it is proving to be yet another hit. "A good story cannot be ruined by poor animation, but neither can a poor story be saved by the very best animation"; (The Illusion of Life, chapter 14, p. 367) It is that simple premise that makes memorable animated features. I can only hope that future production houses keep that as the minimum standard to adhere to, especially in today's society of jaded movie goers and skyrocketting production costs.