Monday, 3 June 2013

The Final Film

For everyone who missed the screening of the completed Dancing Nina at the DJCAD Degree Show 2013, it's now available to watch on youtube at your leisure :) The film also acts as my showreel for animation as it's the only thing i worked on within that particular specialism in my final year.


Me with my framed work on the opening night of degree show :)

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Turnaround for Hand in!

Here's the model i made ages ago for 3D Dancing Nina that never got made, but i will be handing in this beauty as part of my finishing competence:

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Scene 04: the LEAST important scene that became the MOST important.

So, a while back, I made a very seeeerious decision....
I would have to cut a sizeable few scenes from Dancing Nina, and join up the remaining space between one half of the film that was almost finished, and the last half that was almost finished as well, if I was to have any hope of finishing it.

These are some of the blocked scenes from long ago that will now never see the light of day since being cut and replaced (THANK GOD)

(this scene still exists starting from the spin and has since been animated by Robbie, cleaned up with dress effect added by me and comped by Stan)

So, a meeting was called (it's been a while since that's happened) between Freya, Robbie, Joanna and I to try and brainstorm a do-able solution.

Our problem was that we had to realistically and stylistically join up two parts of the film, get Nina from one standing position on almost centre stage to extreme foreground and spinning with minimal effort and time.

We danced awkwardly and talked, and then sketched awkwardly. Although i was keen to keep Death out of the scene since i had effectively got rid of him in the previous scene- a convenient little mood swing from Nina (these are cleaned up keys, since this test they have been inbetweened and comped):

Others felt it was necessary to bring him in in some form to provide great enough force to throw Nina into a curve that would end in the position, spin and momentum we needed for the following scene.

I ended up compromising by introducing him as a force; sort of tendrils pulling Nina off to the right:

However i decided Death needed to be there as more than just a force after doing these initial tests and ended up finishing of Nina's timing with the intention of placing Death in the scene mirroring Nina's movement perfectly before using some elemental force to yank Nina backwards from the heart or stomach, and continue to pull her to the right after having transformed into a cloth (and therefore saving me a lot of 2nd character animation). The idea of Death using invisible force to pull Nina backwards and the mirroring idea came from this video reference, Thanks Jo! (for invisible force part see: 1:38)

 These were Nina's keys with the timing sorted:

These are the final cleaned and inbetweened linetests, now waiting to be scanned and comped, The scene was meant to be a simple solution but ended up taking me 2 weeks and getting quite complicated with weight and transformations etc. but i'm pleased with it, and proud that i managed to improvise it with some help at the initial stages and block/ key/ inbetween/ clean it all myself :) I think my time spent observationally drawing dancers at the space definitely came in handy for this scene, with the strange perspectives and thinking-on-the-spot work that was done.

part 01:

part 02:

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

I Am Art and Comping is GO!

So I'm just starting to think of putting together my "making of" when THIS pops up on my radar, and i think hey, why not? I'll give it a watch maybe i'll get some ideas for structuring the "making of".

Little did i know i had just stumbled upon the animator behind some of my favourite parody animation: Harry Podder. I had never found out who made it until now!

More importantly though, I laughed very hard at how much David Stodolny takes the piss out of artsy fartsy nonsense  with his animation style and how much the style he animated his short "I Am Art" with is so very similar to the way i've animated Dancing Nina...

Well my deep, artsy cover's blown, you got me Stodolny!

Any ways, here come some semi- complete shots!! (disclaimer: the colours will probably change, this was a test comp)

These are from Scene_03 part _03. 

This was an early line test of the scene with only Nina:

This was the final inbetweened and cleaned line test:
The timing was changed, and some anticipation added, a breathe and an extra key was added to make the face touch look a little less like a slap.

This segment was blocked, keyed, inbetweened and cleaned entirely by me. Mainly because believe it or not it's faster this way, when i inbetween i don't need a clean up stage.

This is the scene i will be talking about in my Final presentation for the section "finishing competence" as i feel it has one of the best examples of acting in my film. It's a quiet scene in which the characters mainly observe and react to each other. (It was also the first to reach comp but sshh)

I got the extra acting ideas like the face touch (which was not in original choreography) and the smile Nina gives Death at the end from primary research i.e myself and Joe acting out this (full) scene; And research on Nicole Kidman's character Satine in Moulin Rouge led me to the decision to have Nina smile at her partner.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Saving Scene_06

Scene 06 is now scanned and tracked ready for comping but i thought i'd just share the arduous journey it took us to get to that stage.

The scene was blocked roughly by me and then handed to Freya to animate at her own pace, Freya keyed it and then handed it to Jodie to inbetween.

Now it came back looking a bit like this:
I wasn't satisfied with a s few things, once again Nina's head and face were causing inbetweeners trouble, and also it seems some timing issues may have remained from my blocks or the keys, we're not sure. I also was not happy with the smoothness of the head role, and not sure if the long hold was entirely necessary.

Becasue we're so close to deadline, re keying the whole scene was impossible, so i re-jigged the timing, took out some inbetweens and added some. Re-drew a few keys more on model and re inbetweened as necessary, shortened the hold and added a blink, and cleaned achieving this result:

I'm still not entirely happy with it, but i spent about 3 days fixing it and i don't think i'll ever truly be happy with any part of this film, so hey ho moving on!

Friday, 5 April 2013

4 weeks to go... PANIC STATIONS

Okay here's where i'm at. The plan is to finish cleaning scene 1 over le weekend, scan it on Monday. Also finish in-betweening scene 3 part5 over the weekend (cleaning it simultaneously) and scan on Monday.  Block scene 4 THE DREADED LINKY SCENE over weekend, test on Monday.


  • SCAN scene 1 and scene 3 (part 5), TRACK both (try and find slaves to scan)
  • TEST scene 4 blocks and amend
  • finish amending/ cleaning scene 6 and TEST
  • SCAN scene 6 and TRACK
  • CLEAN keys for scene 4
  • INBETWEEN scene 4 
  • DOJ-CON meeting
  • TEST scene 4 and SCAN (unless amendments needed)
  • CLEAN scene 2
  • LIFE DRAWING meeting
  • Match up DRESS KEYS for scene 2, CLEAN
  • INBETWEEN dress layer scene 2

Thursday, 4 April 2013

more inbetweens

Hay all,
Heres the inbtweens I finished for Slava; they're rough but otherwise good.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Scene 3: Nina's impossible feet

This scene has now been divided into several parts to help me focus on one movement at a time and achieve better results- bite size! also it's changed a lot, mainly on whim... After re working scene 2 so that Nina's spin ended with her balancing on the knuckles of her feet, the following scene required a bit of a re-think. 

Here's a very old test to remind everybody what the full Scene 3 used to look like:
Using youtube reference, trying it myself and asking others to try while i watched i quickly realised moving from knuckle of foot to sole with no help was painful, un-natural and probably not recommended. However Nina's body being impossible is not news to me. Having decided that Nina could and would complete this maneuver i decided to have her express more pain while doing it and to give Death's presence more of a purpose by making him pull her upwards by the wrist- ohoho foreshadowing! I also wanted to make it as obvious as possible what her feet were doing when they would be covered by her dress the whole time.

Some painful looking videos i used as reference for some movements i was attempting to realistically draw: 

What the first part of scene 3 looked like to begin with:

With timing change and more exaggerated movement- legs visible through dress:

Final keys that i handed to Robbie to inbetween, invisible legs again:

Shout out to Nuria again, my timing guru!

Sketchbook research (photocopies from "Classic Human Anatomy for artists, Guide to Form Function and Movement, Valerie L. Winslow; observational sketches, postcard from Da Vinci exhibition at McManus Galleries, Dundee) 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Scene_01 Shenanigans!

Part of the reason i haven't posted in a long while with hard proof of animation progress is the fact that i had to spend a long time fixing my own mistakes with timing and drawing in my very first scene. 

I'm going to try and explain my process in this obscenely long post: 
1. This was the original keys for scene 1 inbetweened by Freya, I was disappointed with the result, i thought it was too slow and the face and head in general seemed to morph shape far too noticeably for the slow start of my film. The way i'd drawn her face dipped forward at the opening was also inaccurate of the actual length of her face portrayed in my character sheets.

I fixed it by drawing new keys (they are currently being inbetweened by Louise Cadger) after doing some in depth research on skull and facial muscle construction and facial angles from a hand made maquette of my character's head. 

2. The second part of the first scene with original keys by me and inbetweening by Freya. I thought again that my timing was mis-judged  and the face was once again off model.... 

However to spare myself the task of redrawing all of the keys i only re-drew and re-inbetweened the frames at the beginning and end of this part that i felt left the face too noticeable when un-obscured by the character's hands. I also took out a lot of inbetweens to speed up the movement. Nuria's my go-to-woman for timing help :)

3. Part 3 of scene 1 had some drawing issues like the other parts of this scene: the shoulders move at different times and the head is not on model when in it's extreme positions.

I fixed the scene by re drawing the keys  and personally inbetweening to guarantee the fast flip forward of the head was executed on model.

All the head research i conducted in my sketchbook to help me achieve animated results i could live with:
1. observing and drawing my hand made plasticine maquette of Nina's head

2. studying the construction of the human skull from John Raynes "Human Anatomy for Artists" and adapting it to suite Nina's unique character design.

3. Side studies of skull and muscle structure on an adapted human face

4. Photographs of the maquette in lots of different positions and angles, time was spent drawing over the photographs with a hard clean line to demonstrate the flat shape that would be visible of any particular angle on a frame of animation.

5. Making of the maquette: observational studies of an anatomical skeleton and reference from my own 3D Maya model of Nina, made months ago in the early stages of the film's pre-production. When moulding Nina's face i paid attention to the underlying (hypothetical) boney structure of the skull i had imagined and the main muscles responsible for shaping the face i had read about in John Raynes "Anatomy for Artists".

6. I noted a section of "Human Anatomy for Artists" about the tendons connecting the skull to the main torso as these would be in action heavily in the opening scene of Dancing Nina.
 I would like to note that i make these studies in the hope of making my character's structure and movement convincing but i know that due to the unique design of Nina, especially, this won't be entirely possible and i will have to allow for in-human exaggeration in areas such as the neck, arms, lower spine, legs and feet. A lot of the normal human bone and muscle structure has been warped to achieve Nina's design and i intend to make hypothetical studies of more of her body in regards to it's similarities and differences from a normal body.

rough inbetweens

heres the roughs of the inbetweens I did for Slava, youtube sorta butchered the lighting but yeah.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Observational Drawing: Dancers at the Space

This is the culmination of the last 3 weeks of drawing dancers at The Space  (Dundee College) every Wednesday morning. the session usually lasts about 2 hours and involves me and who ever else who wishes to attend sitting at the edge of classical ballet or contemporary technique and choreography as well as freestyle classes and sometimes rehearsals. The dancers also sometimes take breaks to stretch or listen to tutors, and sometimes they take part in solo rehearsals.

After scanning the drawings i've tried to test my memory of anatomy by drawing over the sketches digitally to produce more complete studies of some select poses. I intend to continue doing both the observational drawing and continue to finish off selected poses regularly to provide myself with regular quick and accurate human figure drawing skills, and to widen my knowledge of the capabilities of a dancers' bodies with a view to finishing Dancing Nina to the best of my ability.