Sunday, July 30, 2006

welcome to my little world

Well, its gettin harder thats for sure!

We've had a "little world" of own for soem montsh now, in preproduction and now the hardest thing is bringing all the ideas and energy from that into full-production . Trying to communicate all those months to the "new guys" and get them on the same buzz as us is hard but rewarding as its starting to translate into the work they do.

With all the new staff comes the challenge of trying bring everyone up to date with the ideas we've been discussing as a small group for so long and try to find a way for it to be interesting for them despite the fact that, really ,its quite a controlled stage.
We really know what we want and we are really going for controlled - pose to pose type stuff in the posing , using the boards as a starting point, without too much re-invention, same with the Bgs, the scene illustrations are the "keys" we are trying to have everyone follow.
For some people, its just not suiting them, and thats difficult.

The style is very specific, and theres not a lot of room to manoeuvere , which I guess is frustrating for some of the artists, all of whom are very talented and good at what they do.
Slowly though people are getting to grips with what we are trying to do.
Probably , also, our preparation could have been better and a lot of fixing is happening at thsi stage too.

The animation will begin in September and we are trying to have very tight , pose to pose stuff figured out in this layout posing stage.
I'm going through the layout packages with a fine tooth comb with Nora trying to really help everyone get to grips with what we are after now, so when the real pressure hits they will be able to communicate it to the rest of the crew abroad, easily.

For techinical alyout we are coming to grips with trying to get whats planned on teh boards exactly on screen without losing anything in the fixes and even in the simpel process of including more people. Its hard because sometimes we want it EXACTLY as its boarded other times its cool to find better ways to show things or improve cuts and so forth, so its a real scene by scene process with lots of retakes.

Anyway we struggle on! I think we'll get there in the end and we'll have soemthing to be proud of and a bucketload of experiences to help with the next one!

We had an inspiring talk from Mike Nyugen last week , really giving us the gusto to try and raise the bar and really get into our scenes. He's a really great guy and I look forward to seeing his film - My Little World - completed.

It was great to see Barry O'D as well , down from magnificent offices of Barley Films, and Tom Caulfield, a Salooner once, many moons ago, has just joined the team again.
Also we had a visit from Darragh of the famous Brown Bag Films in Dublin and it was great to be discussing the "problems" of having such a Boom in Irish animation at the moment! Long may it continue.

anyway sin é ,

Slán anois,


Saturday, July 15, 2006

colour models

I love these - makes it look like a REAL production - hehe - really sort of professional looking or something - yeh i know thats dumb but theres this sort of fetish for the artifacts of production is'nt there? Like rough model sheets and things that most people never see?
I love that old Bob Clampett bugs Bunny model sheet - its so nicely laid out and presented - i'm sure most animation fans know the one I mean - and I mean its just a working document - not intended for public consumption - just a means to an end, yet for fans its as interesting as the final cartoon in many ways.
When Lili was doing these I remembered the visit I made to the Bluth studio in dublin when I was 14 - I remember being impressed and depressed by the enormity of the endeavour it was back then to make an animated film.
I remember a room full of paint pots, specially mixed, for each colour of each character!


Last year Jean Baptiste did some really great concepts for the Vikings - a few of which I post here.
The roughness of their line in contrast to the stained glass type line on the main characters is something we really wanted to keep.
For a while we even thought of doing them CG.
Anyway we decided to do tehm 2d but we are trying to find a way to have a cool rough outline on them. One test we are doing with the Frere Ume in Liege in belgium at the moment is this test of a drybrush type outline.
The idea is to have the computer track the red line on the clean up (by Martin Fagin) with the drybrush ink-line.
It might be a bit of stretch. But failing that we can always go for that "rough animation" pencil outline look. I'll post how the tests go...

layout posing starts


bit of a mad week, outside the weather is mighty, but we are going ninety, Sunday we tried cutting the animatic but kept hitting problems of a technical nature.
Anyway the guys in Hobsoft are cutting it now, and it should be here on Monday.

I felt a bit overwhelmed on Monday with all the new people and the pressure of still having so much to finish on the boards. But we got over the hump and all was good by the end of the week.
Nic Debray joined us for posing, he's getting into the style, as is Jean.

We are working reel by reel now, trying to get all the technical layout and the posing for the first reel done first and so on.
Barry is checking design stuff and designing any incidentals thats are not in the model pack.
Fabs is back from his time off in Cologne and taking care of the posing team . dividing the work and so on. Its good to have a few people who are well into the film to lead the new crew.

So the posing crew are - Nic Debray- Jean Morel- Jean Bap - Eve - Baz- Fabs- with Andrej and Tom Caulfield to join soon.

The Layout is coming together and they are hitting the style too, less retakes this week.
Raymond is motoring through the clean Bgs, and the studio seems really full as we also have some helper-interns - Lisa Marie, Rebecca and Ray. We also have two interns from France from the same college as Adrien and Lily, Sebestian and Laure, who are helping out too.

The colour models are looking well, and the boards are shaping up.

I thought I'd write a bit about the process of doing the boards - working over the now 12-18 month old first pass stuff with the final voices and doing the final timing. The pass we did last summer was like a rewrite pass where we ironed out a lot of things in teh script before the final draft with Fabrice last November, and cut and changed dialogue, but we had no final location designs and the models were in development as we went soits pretty scrappy...we are redrawing everything now for teh past 6 months or more, but as we've gotten busier and busier Remi has had no time to work on it, and its gotten down to me and Nora to finish the final pass. Mind you Nora and I are so busy looking after things its gotten slower and slower...anyway heres how I have been working...

I tend to have a "scary period" where I'm trying to pull it all together in thumbnails and scribbles, this is pretty scary and stressful when you are under pressure to check things and keep an eye on everything else.But also its the most creative part and you don;t want to lose too much just because you are under pressure like .. I try to use the weird time before waking up or going asleep to picture the scenes and play them out in my head, I always think theres more time than I really have and end up having too many ideas.
Its the same with my animation - I almost always intially do too many poses and end up having to pare it back.

Anyway once that bit is done I'm lucky that Stewie and Nora can read my absolutely scrawlly scribbles to see if they think its on the right track, and if it is, i usually head on in to tidying it up.
That second opinion is really important to me, I really don;t feel comfortabel going any further until I have gone thru' it with the lads to be sure its been double-checked.

then its "tidy up"
Which takes ages and usually has quite a few things crop up at that point.

We've been hitting quite few learning curves - for me its mainly been stage direction - having to flip a lot of shots I've been instinctivly putting in the wrong direction in the scribbly pass stage. Its usually okay with flipping it and stuff as we have a very flat style with very clear and simple rules about which directions the characters should be travelling in to various locations and so on.
The other main problem I encounter is bad cuts with "pop-ups" and so on.
This is something that just keeps slipping by me and I wonderw ill I ever get it into me to just avoid them - anyway they are usually quite easily fixed with abit of restaging help from Remi, but somehow its always a little painful... you just can't always show everything and still be clear. Usually once those type of things are ironed out, it all feels that much more solid and makes more sense , even when it seemed okay before! ...if you know what i mean... its just seems to click together better.

Anyway thats the process for the boards, we are going to quite a full finish, with fairly on model characters and clear Bgs and lots of poses. Its a good way to try and iron out problems early on.

Not that its that early on anymore!

At technical layout we've still encountered a few of these annoying "pop up" and "stage line" issues that keep creeping in, and Ross and I have been sitting with Remi and the layout guy at the beginning of each scene they take on- and trying to spot any issues before they get stuck in to all the technical work of preparing the scene.

Also Ross will spot any problems in the Scene illustrations that need to be checked and redone in continuity with the layouts and any props or locations that need a sketch for the layout man to follow. Lilly has been doing some great prop design lately.

A few of us bummed off early yesterday to Superman...The last Superman film I went to in the cinema in Kilkenny I was wearing my Superman outfit. It does'nt fit too well anymore so I left it behind this time.

What a great show. I really enjoyed it, a few things bugged me but overall I just loved it. I really love the whole mythos of Superman and this one is really lovingly done.
Put me in a good mood all night!

Anyway thats all for now folks...


Saturday, July 08, 2006

hello there


its getting so busy now its hrad to find time to think never mind post.
I hope it'll all settle down soon, its mainly just all teh new people, and a bit coming and going.
We have new a new layout guy - Marc .
The layouts are flying along, the hardest thing is feeding this crew while keeping an eye that nothing is being lost in the flurry of activity. Theres a huge amount of reuse in the layouts because of the style, somany objects are designed and then just moved around to crete different composistions in the same environment, especially in the interior scenes, so its allowing teh technical layout to go quite fast.
Its been a bit depressing in some ways seeing boards I was'nt completely finished noodling with going to layout - its much bigger deal to change things after that , so i guess I just have to let go most of the time when it gets to layout.
Cuts, composistions and so are pretty much locked from then on.
We have locked the first third of the film now animatic wise.
I am spending the day tommorow with the editor, Joe, just marking the scene lengths and stuff.
Cutting the wavs to get them onto the x-sheets.
Using Animo, we can have digital X-sheets from the word go, which is cool - very precise stuff.

Wea re installing an assest managment sodftware called "Hobsoft" that was used on Asterix and the Vikings, hopefully it will help us manage all the files that are being created between all 5 studios and it will allow us to communicate more easily least thats the plan!

We have a new animator joinging us today, Jean Morel an ex-Disney guy who worked on The Lion King on Scar and on Hercules and stuff on Andreas Dejas team, thats quite exciting.
Jeans showreel is mighty impressive, so its great to have him joinging us .

Also in a few weeks in association with Barley films in Dublin, we are having a masterclass from Mike Nyugen , the director of "My Little World" and a supervisor on The Iron Giant.

Thats gonna be cool I'd say. I went to Gobelins during the week last week, amazing work there, the students all seemed to be in big demand. But hopefully one or two will join us here!

I was depressed to find I am now to old to begin training in Gobelins - I'm 29 and the cut-off is 26. So my new ambition is gonna have to be to make the Cartoon Saloon a place where I can learn as much as i might there!
So goodbye to any dreams of going to Gobelins, or being a Ballerina, or an astronaut.....sigh.

Emmmm...Bruno is starting to work on the temp track for the score this week, so thats exciting too, we have a tele-meeting set up for Thursday.
Unfortunatly we did'nt get together to go to Miltown Malbay this year for the Willie Clancy festival.

Last night i went sketching in the woods near my house with Adrien, Lili and Remi.
I'm boarding the final pass of the forest sequences now , and just to sit in a forest and sketch was very nice.
I think i'll try and do it again tommorow.

I am having to go super fast now on the boards as theres thsi trundling machine behind me that is catching up to me, and I have to keep it busy!
Its a lesson for next time - LOCK THE BOARDS BEFORE LAYOUT...ahh I always learn thehhard way I suppose.

Its been nice in some ways to say that certain thinsg are "locked" , finished and time to move on, like all the modelsheets and all - in a nice big thick package now, seems substantial.
I've uploaded a few ....

Next time....thats something on everyones minds now, thinking of what the next project will be already....

So thats a quick update after a long radio silence!