Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Christmas Project Take 2

I'm a complete sucker for music and good music videos so when I saw Shynola on Jared's email list I clicked and was pleasantly surprised. For starters, Shynola isn't one person, it is a group of four visual artists from London who collaborate on music videos and other such projects. They also don't just stick to one medium and specialise in both 2D and 3D. The first video by them I found was 2D and created in flash (unless I'm mistaken.. if not flash then a similar program).

Strange, for sure, but since I want to become better at using flash I can learn a lot from the techniques they used.

Next I followed an adjoining link to another music video he directed by U.N.K.L.E. called 'An Eye for An Eye' which was weird to say the least..

but the use of camera moves and the 3D animation was awesome. Especially how everything tied in to the music and the designs of the creatures.

Finally, as I was researching Shynola using search engines I discovered they had completed a music video for one of my favourite bands - Coldplay. I had little trouble finding the animation on youtube.

I can only place the trailer for the video here as embedding was forbidden on the actual video, but here's a link to it; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYtk1Z0UUu
Anyway, it showed that they were also adapt in stop-motion animation, and combined it efficiently with 2D and in some places 3D... animation and coldplay, what a great combo :D

Looking at their work, it really makes me want to create music videos of my own, and perhaps I will over the next few weeks that I have off and beyond. There is little I can find that I dislike about Shynola, except maybe some of the concepts in their work to do with more carnal pleasures.. (I guess I'm still a bit of a child at heart, but I really don't like sex scenes and the like. It's not just Shynola but I'm using their video as an example here).

Anyway, mostly great stuff.

Christmas Project

I've always felt that backgrounds where a weakness of mine when it came to drawing, and especially with regards to perspective, which is why for Jared's project I've started by researching Piranesi, an Italian etcher, archaeologist and architect (4 October 1720 – 9 November 1778).

There is so much detail in his sketches that you really get a feel for the place he is drawing, the atmosphere. It's also interesting to me because most of his work is set around the 1740s and so is quite different from the environments we are used to seeing today. Seeing his images makes me want to attempt a picture set in a different time period so that I can experiment at drawing different types of buildings and clothes so that I have a wider range to choose from in my head.

The only problem I find with his work is that because they are etchings there is no colour to them, and seeing the colour palette used by different artists helps me broaden my own range.

Over the next few weeks I have made it a goal of mine to experiment in other artists styles more, if I successfully manage to achieve something similar to Piranesi's style I will post it in another entry.

If you have trouble viewing any of the images, click on them to go to the original site they are linked from.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


To see the version of my idents without the addition of sound click here.

I'm not sure whether they work better with or without sound but I've done it both ways just in case. If this was a professional job I would let the castle choose after I'd shown them both versions.

With that I have completed my brief and accomplished what I set out to do. To those reading this I hope you enjoy the final result. :)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

idents with sound

I've attempted to add sound to the idents using soundtracks I found on iMovie and from the Ren and Stimpy soundtrack.

I'm not sure whether I like this use of sound though and will put up the version without sound shortly and make a proper decision then.

Friday, 20 November 2009


I have now completed all six of my idents and have kept in accordance with my schedule.

I would like the idents to either be on the website for Warwick Castle (as loading screens perhaps) or on monitors around the site between important snatches of information about the castle for visitors. They might even work as adverts during children's television if I find the right soundtrack to go with it.

The things that remain to think about are the use of sound as well as the evaluation of my project from the beginning brief and the application of any necessary changes;

stills from each of my six idents


I began this brief with quite a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve; six 5 second idents promoting the summer activities of Warwick Castle aimed at children, but the process of getting to this result was quite turmulent.

I wanted to challenge myself so I chose to create the idents in a programme I was quite unfamiliar with but wanted to get better at; Adobe Flash. This led to a lot of problems especially with the 'actionscript' trying to create water effects, using the 'tween' tool and just getting to grips with all the functions.

I feel like I do know the program a lot better now; whenever I was stuck I either asked for advice from a fellow classmate (notably Dean Pankhurst and Steven Pender who have both previously used the program before this course) or I sought online help and tutorials from professionals like Maxwell Langdon.

The style of the idents was also a problem as first I wanted to create it similar to the ending animation of Bolt (see the first blog entry to view it), but animating without lines was a little tricky so I soon sought other inspiration and found it at the HAFF animation festival and through youtube videos. I think the style and vibrant colours I chose will attract the target audience to my animations.

I paced myself well with the project and have finished a week ahead of schedule so that I can get feedback and improve it if need be. I can't imagine how I could have completed this project with more success, I've tried my best with all aspects of it.

The one area I feel I am weakest in is the initial designing stage. Often I rush my ideas so that I can get started as soon as possible since I panic at the thought of deadlines! Going back it might be worthwhile re-thinking a few of the ideas and seeing if I can get them any more original or interesting.

Finally, comparing this work to the industry-standard out there I feel as though I still have a long way to go in terms of drawing skill and using flash to its fullest potential. There were no very interesting camera angles in my work and some of the animation was a little robotic because I didn't have time to dynamically animate everything. I would also be part of a team in the industry and wouldn't have to go through the process by myself so that could be solved later on. I feel the time frame I had was adequate and working a few hours a day really paid off instead of intensely working on it during one short period of time.

I really enjoyed working on this project and want to continue using flash in the future, it is a really inventive program and I feel I have not yet lived up to my animation potential using it, but this is as good a start as any.


I realise this post is a little belated but I don't want to fail to mention some of my research so here it is.

After the formative I pushed myself into further research, and the BBC drama 'Merlin' was a useful start. It's set during the middle ages, aroundabout the same time Warwick Castle would have been an active castle.

The joust scenes in particular were very useful and while I may not have the time to go into as much detail as they did with the fighting, it was still useful and enjoyable viewing.

As well as this, from the 4th to the 7th of November, I went on a trip with Ravensbourne to the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF) in Utrecht. I saw 9 different films overall;
Competition shorts 1
Cartoon d'Or 2009
Gurren Lagann the Movie:Childhood's End
Piano Forest: The Perfect World of Kai
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
Competition Students 3
Competition Shorts 4


The competition ones were especially inspiring as many were done by students my age or by professionals in the industry I'm aiming for. I looked on youtube for some of the ones that inspired me most;

Although the style is years ahead of what I can do, I loved the atmosphere this video created.

The mix of 2d and 3d animation is what really opened my eyes to this video.

I just really liked the simplicity of this one and the storytelling. You will need to watch it a few times to really understand it =)

Unfortunately most of them were not on youtube but for reference, 'Clichés de Soirée by Merwan Chabane and 'I am so proud of you' by Don Hertzfeldt' were also a great inspiration to me and helped me decide on the final style of my idents (which has changed somewhat since my first post...)

I got a lot out of the trip and I definately wouldn't have seen these animations otherwise so for that I am thankful.

I was also hugely inspired by a lot of videos people had made for fun on youtube using flash. Most notably the 'prowlies by the river' series which has some fantastic no-lines animation with fluid movements and water effects;

and also this quirky fanmade nintendo animation;

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

correspondence with Maxwell Langdon

For one of my idents I need to use some actionscript on flash to make the water look as though it is moving. I found a useful website called 'pixelhivedesign' and a flash tutorial for water.


Unfortunately when i tried to apply it to my animation, there was a severe delay in the playback, so I emailed him with the query and here is a copy of our correspondence;

16 November 2009 at 12:04
Dear Maxwell,

I recently used your 'realistic flash water' tutorial, and while the example worked fine, when I tried to apply it to my own animation the playback speed was very slow. I've tried changing the fps and resizing the actionscript and image to no avail.

Can you think of a reason why this may be happening?

16 November 2009 at 14:29
Hi Michelle,

Mind sending me the compiled Flash .swf or even the .fla, so I can see what is happening on the Stage. You were right to try and resize the effect, it is cpu intensive. However, you said it didn't help so must be something else.

Maxwell Langdon
Pixel Hive Design - Professional Web Development & Graphic Design

Nov 16, 2009 at 15:56
Thank you for the fast response!

I've attached the flash file, hope it helps. I was also trying to find away to make the 'bottom logo' and 'dragon' layers have the water effect on them, is that possible?

Anyway, thank you again!

16 November 2009 at 16:25:34
Hi Michelle,

I did two things. The main thing was you had the effect applied to an area of 720x800. I changed the 800 to 388, the size of the reflection:
myBitmap = new BitmapData(720,388,false,0);

The second thing I did was add a few lines of code to allow the effect to be paused. I pause the effect during the scroll up animation since you don't really notice the effect anyway during the scroll and it is also hard on the cpu to scroll and animate the effect. I unpause it when it's done scrolling. You can see how I pause it on the "water" layer on the main timeline. Look at the actionscript on the frame when you begin and end the scroll animation.

Animation looks good on my computer now.

Maxwell Langdon


I have since been able to complete that ident bringing my total of completed idents up to 4. So far I am on schedule but I'll need to finish the other two by friday and then worry about properly updating this blog. I've also completed the final background for the idents;

Till then!

Monday, 9 November 2009

flash tests

flying test for the falconry ident. I had help, using the 'Cartoon Animation' book by Preston Blair as reference.

I am also working on the jousting animation, and for reference I have used another page in the book by Mr Blair;


There are now 2 and a half weeks remaining.
By the end of next week I am hoping to have finished my idents so that on the last week I can perfect my blog and change it in time for the summative (if there are any critical errors). I want to have completed 4 of them by the end of this week and 2 next week.
So far I have completed 2 idents :)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Formative Assessment and Storyboards

Had my formative this afternoon and got a bit of feedback on my work and suggested ideas;

-adding an unfurling scroll to one of my idents (archery? princess tower?)
-research "Robin Hood" both Disney and BBC series for ideas
-think about where the idents would be shown - internet? television?
-start thinking about music and sound effects and doing research into that.

Apart from that I seemed to be on track.
I've also completed 50% of three of my idents after working solidly this week. I'll put a few of the first tests up in a few days.

I have also completed my storyboards. They are extremely basic but will do the job. I'm getting very conscious of how much time is remaining!

Jesters, Jousting, Princess Tower, Falconry and Dragons, Archery (from left to right).

Click for larger images! :)

The one thing all my idents must have in common, is the Warwick Castle logo;

So i have worked hard to get that into the idents in a way that they will notice.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

backgrounds and schedule

Backgrounds for my idents I've been working on for the last few days;

I have also put a quick schedule together of the work I need to do over the next 4-5 weeks!

26th October - 1st November : must have completed all storyboards and a couple of animation tests or rough drafts
2nd November - 8th November : have completed two idents
9th November - 15th November : have completed four idents
16th November - 22nd November : have finished all idents
23rd November - 27th November : go back over idents and improve if possible. Also think about the addition of music and sound effects.

it's a bit basic but it's what i'm aiming for!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Video Clips and more Picture Reference

On Emu's recommendation, here are a couple of videos from the jester show. They're not great quality but it was the best I could get at the time.

Setting up the characters..

The next one is from the end of the show, and I think I would like to base one of my idents off it.

and this is from an official warwick castle video of the show;

I will be mostly working on the jester and princess tower idents this coming week as I have a clearer idea of what I want in them than the others.
Expect storyboards, backgrounds and maybe a couple of short animation tests!

Here are a few more images I found that I will use to help me with the animations and their backgrounds;

Some of the pictures I will adapt into new backgrounds and others I'm going to turn into Photoshop images and change the colours to make the brighter so they can better grab my target audience's attention.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Brain Storms

Still coming up with ideas for the idents...
If you are unable to see the full images, just click on them for a bigger size.



(Princess Tower)


Character Development

Primary research of the activities at Warwick Castle. I took these photos plus a few videos of the events for animation reference.

Art-wise... I have started developing the jesters first, since I feel they are ideal mascots for the castle.

I also completed a digital picture of them for personal reference (although the style is a little too complex for animation) but I will simplify it down significantly to look more like the pictures above.

Also, when it comes to animating these guys, I plan to use the character 'Harley Quinn' from Batman as a good reference for how jesters hats should move!;

Thank you for looking!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Industry Exercises project

Welcome to my Ravensbourne blog for the Industry Exercise project (unit 205)!

My brief will follow that of Brief B (produce a series of 5 second idents for the National Gallery) except I am choosing to focus on Warwick Castle instead as I visited it over the summer and was deeply inspired by the sights;

Brief B: Animation

“We need some idents done to attract tourists, particularly children, to Warwick Castle during the summer, maybe your students could come up with some ideas for us? We need a range of five second clips that we can play before during and after television shows aimed at them, and to put on our website to reinforce the castle’s identity. They can use the logo, they can use images from the website, they can use current or future exhibitions as a theme; it would be really nice if they could reflect some of the colours that are commonly used; sky blue and yellow.

It would be great if they came up with a range of ideas… I would like to see six ideas from each of them. A storyboard for each as well as some explanation of why they have taken that approach would be excellent support for their actual animations. I suppose they’re going to have to do a little bit of research into the gallery and what we’re about to really come up with something useful…”

• Do some research into Warwick Castle
• Storyboard, explain, and produce six five second segments of animation to reinforce the identity of the Warwick Castle.

I want my idents to be aimed at the children that visit the castle (up to age 12 or so) and I plan to produce them all in flash, one for each attraction of their summer programme - jousting, the jester show, princess tower, fire-breathing, falconry and either the Trebuchet or castle dungeon.


During the past week of research (which i will scan in over the next couple of days) I watched the animated Disney/Pixar movie 'Bolt' and want to produce my idents in the style of the end credits;

I have also made a playlist on my youtube account of all the different idents that I could find;

but my favourite examples are the wallace & gromit ones as they are short and to the point. very effective! I want my idents to be similar to this;

I will continue to update this blog through the coming weeks with my progress. Stay tuned!