I feel that an independent study will help push me into starting and completing my own projects, without the deadlines decided on by somebody else. Being able to hold myself responsible to myself is an important skill, and one that is very difficult to uphold. This study gives me a chance to force myself into seeing a rpoject through from beginning to end.
But what is this project?
My independent project is going to be a traditional animation; I've always admired the works done by the pioneers of my field, and have been curious to try it. I also feel that doing things the hard way will give me a different sense for an appreciation of timing; in digital media, timing is handled largely by a little bar along the bottom, where you can drag out the length of your images individually there. Because the result of my work is easily viewed, reviewed, and edited, I'm of the opinion that it changes how I interpret and arrive at the timing for my work.
This project will require a lot of me: research on how timing has always been handled for tradition animation; the basic supplies with which I'll animate, such as paper; and, of course, the sheer time it will take to get the whole thing finished. Since I knew this would take some time, I decided to keep the premise of my short quite simple and based it off something my brother used to do.
When I was a kid, back in the good ol' 1990's, my parents used to have movie nights when we were supposed to be asleep. However, we didn't always want to stay asleep, and would want to see if we could sneak by our parents and get some snacks. It became a sort of game to see who could do it.
The solution my brother had was unique, to say the least. He used to tell me that if you covered yourself in a blanket and ran by our parents real fast, they couldn't see you at all.
My short -called "The Snack Sneak"- is based off this idea, but I took it and distilled it to its essence. I have the concept work to follow.
Since the whole short is based off of my family, I didn't see why I shouldn't have the ideas revolve around them, as well; after all, it's their personalities that color the story, so why shouldn't those same personalities color the designs? Flair and individuality in degisn comes from the core essence of the story and its characters, and I already had a basis for good characters right in front of me, though of course I made some minor changes.
In simplifying the work, I removed all characters but those main three; the parents and the boy. Since they are based off of real people, I decided reference of the people involved wasn't amiss. Actually, to not include reference would be amiss.
First picture of my parents, taken from my mom's facebook, of them standing with my older sister as her college graduation. There aren't many good photos of my dad; this is one of maybe three up there.
I of course started off with sketches of the main character. Though based on Cameron's appearance, I wanted to modify it to more clearly show the personality of him. After all, the picture of my brother above makes him look sweet and mild, though in reality he was more than a little cheeky.
In my approach to design, I usually start with the face and rehash it until it feels right. I went with rounded shapes for youth, and sort of made the face have a sort of slope -as a triangle does- to help indicate a slight inclination to mischief. Top image includes idea sketches, bottom has finals.
For the mom character, she very, very closely resembles my mom, though of course I went with more exaggeration. For example, the picture does no capture how wide ehr hips actually are, and of course that sweater hides it, too. I took that and pushed it, and put her in her pajamas- she loved her pajamas. Since my mom is a very overall understanding sort of person, I really stuck to the rounded shapes a lot, particularly in the face. As with the main character, the top is first sketches, the bottom finals.
The father character was the absolute hardest. As simple as I'd decided this style is, it was hard to capture the right age without making him look very harsh or too doughy. I wanted a rectangular design to the face, to give this man some stability- and eventually deviating from my actual father, because the sketches based off him that were simplistic made him look too young. I've got more sketches of him just because it was that much harder to capture him; four pages of sketches, and one final.
Finally, here are the rough beatboards I did to get started in laying out what I wanted to do. I'd been thinking of how I wanted to visually tell the story wordlessly since the idea came to mind, and thus, most fo the angles were fairly pre-determined before I ever picked up a pencil. The beginning is supposed to have a dramatic feeling to emphasize the character's mood, and from there goes to being a little more flat to better show the actual humor int he situation, especially form the parents' view.
I did cut and/or change a few of these angles and added more for the cleaned boards/animatic.
The animatic took the most time, because I was using this as my opportunity to really rough out my backgrounds, as well, which are also based off my own house. I based it off my house because a lot of the story relies on how the main character interacts with the layout, particularly of the stairs and stair-rail. Reference was easy because I was in my house at the time these drawings were made. Since I have the rough ideas and layout done, now I can focus in stylizing more.
For now, the video is not up due to some technical difficulties. Stay tuned for when I get it working right and am able to upload it in a future post.