Saturday, January 4, 2014

About Design Discourse and Me


When I started this course, if someone had asked me, "Can you explain to me what the horizon line is?", or "Explain what 1080p resolution is?", I don't think I could have answered the question with much confidence. Clearly I was lacking significantly with knowledge of the subject, the industry and the process of animation. I never looked at this as a setback, I took it as a chance to start over again. I had the chance to look at the course through new eyes and realise that I was not alone, others were in the same position as me . . . or at least fearing they were in the same position.

In week zero we were thrown in to the process of creating a marketable item or a concept. I love the beginning stages of a team project. The bainstorming, running with an idea and bringing the concept into the visual format. The constantly writing down ideas and putting them on the walls or windows with sticky notes. Every idea counted. No matter how crazy or stupid, because maybe someway down the road, that idea would lead to another idea for another group.

In the beginning of our official projects, such as, Design A Poster, Create A World and Perception, I started to pick up a new dialect for my progression in the course. New terms that would aid me in my studies. Over time I started to learn more details of placement of an object in a scene or an image. I also became more adjusted to working in a group, which I was already fine with. I enjoy working in a group and I know that whether I liked it or not, it is not possible to go down the line of work that I hope to follow without the aid of others. Feeding ideas off one another is how to get the best possible outcome from a project. That is why having the ability to adapt into different work environments and not causing confrontation is a key aspect of group work.

Also, moving from projects that we as groups have created to another group, is something that I found really useful. It taught us not to become attached to our projects or creations. It teaches us to change and move from any type of project and enter a new group with a completely open mind.

Over the course of the semester I have gathered a better understanding of drawing, understanding perspective and layout. I have improved on my own drawing skills and and digital art skills. I can see an improvement in my work. Life drawing classes helped me to understand form and perspective, but I still need a lot of practise. I have learnt a lot of helpful tips from tutors from life drawing to books from the library. Although I am still far from where I should probably be at this stage . . .

Either of these will be fine!


I have grown to be more appreciative of the pre planning work that goes into an animation or film. Such as, storyboarding, concept designs and character designs.

Character expressions for "Batman The Animated Series

( The book, "Batman: The Animated Series", helped me a lot in my developing my knowledge of storyboards, character model sheets and the whole behind the scenes process of an animated tv show. )

Understanding the importance of a storyboard and how precise they have to be for an animator or director to understand in order to transform into a movie or cartoon struck a chord with me.

"Batman: The Animated Series" - Storyboards from the open ing title sequence.

I really enjoyed the Design Discourse class when we had the task of creating the storyboards from a Winnie The Pooh movie, "Happy Windsday".

Above is a link to a page that I found interesting for just general knowledge of the animation process and I always enjoy seeing the rough work before colour an detail are added in animation.

I found that storyboards were exciting to create, I like the fact that every frame matters and that the details of the shot have to be written below, such as, "jump cut" or "track". In this class I learned of the importance of having the ability to draw the characters exactly the same in each frame. I have difficulty with this. In some of my storyboards Piglet or Pooh looked fine, however, in the next they would look more like a scribbles. That was when I realised how precise a storyboard must be. I may know that it was supposed to be Piglet but if I was to hand it over to an animator, they may not have a clue what I had drawn.

The use of different terms increased my understanding and value of not just storyboards but also for future knowledge in film projects. By learning these terms I will be able to explain my ideas in greater depth and detail so that others will hopefully understand them as clearly as me.


As we progressed through the semester, my ambition grew. Wanting to push further with my ideas and how the final product would be conceived. In the animatic projects, at the beginning, the ambition was to create new characters and a funny chain of events that worked with the story of fire.



However, being too ambitious and over stretching the mark can lead to huge mistakes. We learned this in our second animatic for Design Discourse. We were given a scene from "The Kings of Summer".

As we were only given the script and had no background knowledge of the film or the scene, we were to translate this in whatever way we wanted, and to turn it into an animatic with our own story. Although the feedback was positive for most of our animatic, the major flaw in our animatic was the fact that we used colour. An animatic is not, as we know now, to be in colour. This mistake however helped us because now we know for future preference, that an animatic should not contain colour. It should be pencil and shade at most.

The first paragraph of the above link, describes how we should have went about creating the animatic.



The most difficult experience of design discourse in my opinion, was the flash tutorials. I found it really hard to grasp. I wanted to do it, I just couldn't get my head around the small little details to using Flash. Getting a fair understanding of what I needed to do was okay, but actually doing it was another story. In the past year I had only used flash for traditional animations ( frame by frame ), so throwing tweens into it was crazy in my mind. So if I had to focus and work on my main weakness in Flash, that would be to understand Tweens, and how they work. The bouncing ball exercise was very difficult and with a lot of trial and error, I kind of figured out how to do it in the end. Making the ball wobble also added some confusion.

Although the bouncing ball exercise was difficult, I found that the "Bunny" exercise was not as complicated to grasp. Still with a lot of trial and error and not without mistakes and glitches, but actually understanding the symbols for the bunny's ears and eyes was okay.

For a new design discourse project, we were given a scene from George and the Dragon. The catch was, we were given no sound and we had no idea what the film actually was at the time.


We decided to make the scene suspenseful, with the score building and building until the final climactic moment.

The first thing we did was find sound effects that we needed. It was clear that we needed, footsteps, fire crackling and a dragon's roar. We collected over a hundred sound effects to chose from. The sound was edited in Audacity as GarageBand was unfamiliar to us and frustrating. We also recorded the dialogue in Audacity. I did the voice of George and it took a few times to sync the dialogue exactly. It took a few tries but in the end it worked brilliantly in the video. The music and sound effects all worked together and our feedback was positive.


Perception, our first theme for our first design discourse project. It took awhile for us to settle in this project and decide on a firm idea. We spent a lot of time brainstorming, collecting ideas from each other. Wondering which method of film would be best, animation, rotoscoping, stop motion or noir. What direction would we take with it? In the end the main focus would be on lighting and the use of mirrors. Illuminating and reflecting the dark side of our character. Showing what is really inside a persons mind and how light would portray this. We used, lights, torches and matches. The lens flares worked well in scenes that had hysteria as a theme, the total confusion that the character in our movie was going through. Also shaky cam made it seem all too real. It felt like a real life documentary, studying the psyche of the human mind.

Being that the light in the film played the primary role in a sense, we had to use it well. Be creative. The research that we gathered on Kyle Cooper for our presentations helped us here. We took inspiration of course from the "Se7en" opening title sequence.

This opening title had mystery to it. It was disturbing, creepy and it set the mood for the rest of the film. We wanted to do this in our own movie. We got books from the library, which helped me understand shots and lighting.

For the light shining in through a crack in the door, we used chalk to give the impression of dust. We got this idea from the previous lecture about lighting and composition in a scene. We watched a scene from "True Grit".

The courtroom scene in true grit, the beams of light behind Jeff Bridges, are made by fog/smoke in the room. We tried to create the same effect by using dust.

Perception was one of my favourite projects this semester because I think I took more understanding from it than most other projects. I had never made a film before and learning how a film is made, filming the same shots over and over again. I had learned to edit and edit sound effects and musical scores over a scene. I learned about placements of objects and framing. The whole process made me understand the whole process of making a film.



When our Create a World projects started, it was crucial that we tried digital painting. Truthfully, I wasn't too excited to get started at digital painting. I wanted to do it but I was expecting the outcome of my work to be a disaster. My mindset wasn't very positive. I was thinking "I can barely draw on paper, how could I draw on a computer?". However, once I got started I became really enthusiastic and involved in what I was drawing. My confidence was restored, and I felt and still feel like I did a good job having never tried it before.

These are my first few digital pieces in order. I liked the outcome of them and I enjoyed the change from traditional to digital drawing.


I think that keeping an open mind about different tasks and challenges will help to keep me focussed and to get the best out me. I want to show my full potential and practise will only get me there. I have to keep experimenting with storyboards, character designs and my own life drawing.

This semester has taught me the importance of storyboarding and life drawing. If I can draw something in front of me in the correct scale and ratio then I can move on to anything.

Storyboarding and pre-planning/research has played a huge role in my learning and growth this semester. I have been given a desire to learn new things about the animation process.

The tutorials throughout the semester provided a lot of useful information from details ranging from "storyboard ratios" to "flash tutorials and the basics of animation".

To summarise, I have learned that I must move on from where I am now and keep pushing myself to discover new abilities and learn new software. I have to avoid drifting into a comfort zone and try new and unfamiliar things to me.
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