I’ve always been quite a pessimistic person since I can remember. I’ve always been extremely nervous and this has made me quite cautious and calculated. As majority of people this year knows, my dad passed away earlier this year which caused a lot of stress, especially since it was near all my deadlines and it continued to affect me somewhat during the deadlines after that too. Combining with the fact that with pessimism, it’s been difficult when it comes to uni work, my relationship and planning my future. Near the end of the summer I was having relationship problems (yet again) and I had time to reflect on my way of thinking and reacting to certain things. I realised it all came down to over worrying in which I bought myself the self help book “Overcoming Worry”. It involves a lot of reflecting, a lot of analysing, even having to do some tests and experiments to observe my behaviour. This all might seem extremely personal and doesn’t relate to my project at all, but in fact, it’s because of all of this I came up with my idea. It’s been a constant self journey in finding myself and being happy that it’s felt like a constant battle. I was lying in bed thinking about all the progress I have to get through to be able to improve as a person and I came up with making a literal animation of that mental struggle. I quickly wrote it down on my phone before I forgot it and put it up on Facebook for my group to comment about it.
An idea I came up with:Setting starts off at this dark tower/castle. The environment is run down, ruined and the weather is stormy and dreary. We see a character of neutral colour, I don’t know initially I think white, running out of the tower hastily. Maybe he could be wearing chains to show he was a slave/prisoner. I’ll call this character N. After we see N leave the place, we see this devilish looking character or maybe two, where one is ordered to go after N. We’ll call the devilish character that’s pursuing neutral character as D. The environment becomes brighter for N as he slows down with relief but continues on his journey. He meets a few other characters/creatures on his journey that he interacts with. However D catches up and all the other people he encounter runs away in fright. D tries to drag N back, but N refuses and runs off again, trying to lose D. No starts panicking and out of breath and the scenario changes to a harsher environment and the weather starts becoming stormy with thunder and lightening. Eventually N becomes sick and weakly and this causes him to slow down. D catches up and is delighted by the turn of events and uses this to his advantage to start dragging him back along the ground. While he starts doing this, he comes to a halt and can’t seem to drag anymore. We realise N is starting to fight back and even though D is trying his best to return him to the castle/tower, he becomes stronger and stronger and instead is dragging D along with him. The scenery again changes to something even more brighter and softer and the sky is bright blue with the sun shining vividly. Soon he starts seeing other people with halos and finally meets the leader who seems to have authority which I’ll call A for angel. He demands for D to be taken away. In the end N managed to find his home/sanctuary away which contrasts from the miserable place he came from at the beginning. This is all a metaphor for the mind. The self journey from pessimism to becoming optimistic. How people can be a slave to negative thinking. There’s always that negative voice or those doubts that try to bring you down and its a constant battle to over take that. Another small note, initially in my mind, all these characters resemble ‘Pon and Zi’
I forgot to mention, the encounter with the other characters in the middle is to highlight how negativity represented in D pushes or scares people away.
A way to wrap up the ending is to zoom out and we realised it was all set in a person’s head. I was also thinking that the environment can be things that relates to what affects the person’s mentality. Since its all in the mind, the environment can be really random, it doesn’t have to necessarily be realistic.
This all represents the metaphorical struggle getting from pessimism to optimism and the little devil representing that niggle of self doubt that always journeys with us and tends to push other people away (i.e. relationships). I spoke to Deon about this and he seemed really excited about it and proclaimed that I copied his idea (his was also all in the mind, playing on nightmares, etc).
Deon said it would be better if the haven at the end that N finds, turns out to be the prison he had escaped from at the start to add irony. We were talking about how N the protagonist has always been trying to run away from himself and his flaws and I jokingly said we could have a dark version of himself, like Dark Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He liked the idea in the sense that he himself is his own worst enemy.
Here is our protagonist, N (working name. Niko keeps calling him Nigel. I said we should call him Niko). As you can see, it started off very, very basic because that’s how I imagined very simplistic characters. The environment would be what is mainly detailed as this reflects the mood and atmosphere, rather than the characters. Hence why the character would be a neutral colour. How the protagonist feels is reflected through the environment changes.
The characters I imagined were influenced by the style above, Pon and Zi. However, I don’t want to directly copy this. As you can see from how my drawings have developed, I’ve tried to stem away from this. Deon said it would make more of an impact if N was taller and for the devil to be made shorter so it gives contrast. I think I was quite influenced by the animated film 9 when developing N. I’ll go into more detail in a bit when describing the environment later.
This was a very rough sketch of the devil character from my story. I know it’s not a great drawing, but at that moment I was producing lots of pencil sketches of the devil character which is shown below.
Here I was just trying to show different facial expressions of the devil, even if some of the emotions he has wouldn’t be in the animation.
Another quick pencil sketch.
Here I thought I’d try something different and use permanent pens and do very quick strokes. I quite like how this turned out because it’s very bold but also it shows the cheeky side to the devil. I never imagined the devil to be a serious character, but rather to be quite comically unintelligent.
This was something I did after the sketch with permanent pens. With this one however, I decided to try and use the side of my pencil for this rough, messy look.
This was just a quick sketch to show the devil character in a reflective mood.
The idea was that the protagonist’s feelings and emotions would be reflected through the environment which allows it to be quite abstract. I had the idea that whatever affects people’s moods to be incorporated randomly into the background, i.e. razors (self harming) or love (mountains shaped like hearts or broken hearts). However, the guys weren’t too fond of that concept. We wanted the environment to be quite unrealistic since it has a dream like state where impossible architecture is possible.
An example that was relevant to me and Deon at the time was Professor Layton and the Curious Village. The dark tower had such an odd structure but it’s unique. That’s something we want to incorporate. Even the atmosphere is something we’d like for the dark changes in the animation.
Here is an example from Fable 3 of possible lighting we’d like for our animation, again for the dark sections of our animation. We don’t want it to look quite as realistic as this however since it wouldn’t suit the characters.
I found this on Tumblr of this bridge in India. I found this so eye-catching and inspiring. I just love how this is all natural yet so visually pleasing. From afar it looks so peaceful, yet close up it has harsh aspects, as if the branches could grab you and pin you down. It definitely has a Halloween atmosphere, but as I said before, it’s still beautiful. I thought this could be a huge influence for the dark sections of our animation, like at the start for example, when our protagonist is escaping from the castle/tower.
This is the first storyboard I created for our idea. This wasn’t so much focused on camera angles, but to have my idea there visually. I decided to use sticky notes because it allowed me to have the flexibility of just throwing away shots I didn’t like. I wouldn’t feel too precious about it since it wouldn’t ruin the rest of the storyboard.
The setting is dreary as the sky is grey with thunderstorms.
Here we see our protagonist escaping from the evil place he was detained at and he sneaks past the sleeping devil that was suppose to keep guard. Another devil of a higher ranking wakes up the sleeping devil angrily and forces him to go capture the escaped prisoner.
The hero sees the devil chasing after him and is prompted to start running faster. As he does this, we see the devil in the background trip and fall over and gets left behind.
The weather begins to change into something more calmer with a serene blue sky.
N, the protagonist stops and arrives in a small town where his eyes meet a female character who is just as shocked to see his presence. She eventually starts to relax a bit more and were about to socialise until her face changes to fear and she starts taking a few steps back.
The girl runs into her house and slams the door behind her. Our protagonist can’t understand why she’s reacted that way, but he quickly realises when he turned around to see the devil running furiously towards him. The chase continues again. The weather begins to change again as heavy rain starts pelting and lightning flashes in the background (only once or twice, we don’t want to give anyone epilepsy).
We start to see N walk more slowly due to the fact he’s depleted his energy from running away. He finally collapses to the ground where the last image he sees are of the devil’s feet before he completely passes out.
We see the devil trying to drag our hero back while he’s unconscious but then we see that his movements come to a sudden halt as N gains consciousness and starts resisting.
The devil tries to continue dragging N back, but the protagonist starts gaining more and more strength that soon it is the devil instead who is being dragged along. N soon finds a large Haven like place where the devil is quickly taken away by the guards.
N is greeted by the leader who offers to take off the broken buckles from his wrists.
However, with a puff! The kind leader our protagonist thought stood in front of him is actually the boss of the devils. As if pulling off his face, the antagonist reveals that he is actually the dark side of N to conclude that our protagonist’s greatest conflict was himself.
I explained the idea to the group in more detail with my storyboard along side it which allowed us to refine the idea better. We started at 2pm and left around 9:30pm, that’s how in depth we were with creating the script for our more refined storyboard.
Here is the script that Deon wrote up while we discussed it:
Shot One – Establishing shot of the castle, camera pans across from a 3/4 angle, setting the scene. (Need demented castle concept)
Shot Two – Character, behind the wall, maybe we see his broken chains and cuffs, sneaks round corner, breathing heavily, clearly fatigued, spots a sleeping devil around the corner (Inside the castle)
Shot Three – Sneaking up to the sleeping devil.
Shot Four – Close up shot of the sleeping devil, N sneaks past, still same shot
Shot Five – Sleeping devil on the floor still, camera shot of N sneaking past the devil looking fatigued and scared, making its way to the giant exit.
Shot Six – As the second devil is sleeping, the first one steps in, foot in camera shot, menacing. The second devil wakes up, looking very scared.
Shot Seven – POV from the second devil looking up at the main devil, but silhoutted. This allows us to identify him slightly. Boss devil makes deep sounding grunt. At this point we see a glistening of a ring as well, that can be clearly identifiable.
Shot Eight – Glow of the eye on the main devil
Shot Nine – Little devil makes high pitched moan, sim talk (INSERT DIALOGUE HERE)
Shot Ten – We see N running across the bridge from the castle like place, very low angle shot of the castle from behind, with the devil in the background (environment changes depeending how far the devil is away from the main char N)
Shot 11 – N is off the bridge and into the forest type place. This can be shown as a slightly low birds eye shot
Shot 12 – N starts navigating through the forest like place. Place is still dark.
Shot 13 – Side shot as N looks around while running. (Different run cycle)
Shot 14 – Back to forward shot of N running.(Different run cycle)
Shot 15 – Low angle stationary shot from the side of the environment changing, N looking scared.
Shot 16 – back to forward shot, devil approaching. (Different run cycle)
Shot 17 – Stationary camera shot Looking up. N runs over it (Niko Dodo)
Shot 18 – Birds eye shot of the devil approaching REALLY close
Shot 19 – Same shot as before just getting really slow motion
Shot 20 – same shot, just from the side ( N looking even more scared)
Shot 21 – Back to front shot (N looking terrified)
Shot 22 – Devil falls over branch. ( illustrate how we see fit)
Shot 23 – N carries on running, devil still on the floor in the background, becoming more distant
Shot 24 – N starts noticing the changes in the environment
Shot 25 – Sky starts becoming lighter, and more pleasant to look at
Shot 26 – N starts to slow down, through tire and happiness, at the new environment and that he thinks he’s finally escaped..
Shot 27 – N turns in some sort of direction and notices the girl, just standing in front of him.
Shot 28 – N begins approaching the girl (girl is looking innocent at this point)
Shot 29 – Close up shot of n looking at girl (doms original story)
Shot 30 – Girl smiles innocently, the world changes from good world to nightmare world (can see the change in the background) slowly.
Shot 31 – N is confused and scared, central shot of the female character, the female starts backing up while looking very scared.. turns around and runs towards villiage (haven)
Shot 32 – N becomes incredibly scared, and turns around
Shot 33 – Close up shot of the devils face while he’s running (use camera to illustrate running)
Shot 34 – N runs out of shot, following the female character
Shot 36 – World turning nightmare again, as N is falling..
Shot 37 – N falls to the floor and becomes un-concious
Shot 38 – Flashback, hazy. Goes back to how we FIRST see N break free from his “cell”.
Shot 39 – Establishing shot – N in his cell
Shot 40 – close up shot of N, bowing his head while chained to the wall
Shot 41 – Use environment to illustrate mental torture
Shot 42 – N musters enough strength out of non tolerance and begins to pull away
Shot 43 – Close up shot of the RUSTED chains slightly breaking from the wall.
Shot 44 – Frontal close up torso shot of N straining silently with rage
Shot 45 – Side shot of chains shattering as n pulls away in slow motion, which in turn causes him to wake up.
Shot 38 – Close up shot of N as his wakes up quickly and notices he’s being pulled straight away.
Shot 39 – Close up shot of N from face of him being angry / resistant
Shot 40 – Side shot from torso up of the devil walking pulling N along with an abrupt stop
Shot 42 – Close up shot of N’s hand in the dirt, you can see devil in the backshot looking surprised / confused / resistant (as in, menacingly mocking N’s strength)
Shot 43 – Side shot of N and the devil, N takes a step forward, and then another step forward.
Shot 44 – Shot of the devils face looking really surprised
Shot 45 – Camera shot from the front, looking upwards slightly, N is taking more and more steps.
Shot 46 – Birds eye shot of N picking up speed
Shot 47 – Close up side shot of N – See the determination in his face
Shot 48 – Environment starts changing to the good world, as his narrows his villiage.
Shot 49 – POv from N shot of the villiage – same as the one at the start!
Shot 50 – Shot of the devil as he frantically tries to pull N back
Shot 51 – N begins to approach the villiage entrance as he picks up more speed
Shot 52 – As he gets into the villiage, the devil begins to lose grip.
Shot 52.5 – Behind shot of N’s foot, and the devil letting go because he doesn’t have the strength.
Shot 53 – Low angle shot up at N from behind as he walks into the villiage, and begins looking around at the scenery.
Shot 54 – Side shot of N’s face, as he looks happy, and looks to the right
Shot 55 – Central shot of the girl encountered in the forest
Shot 56 – Close up of the girls face as she turns and smiles towards N
Shot 57 – Girl walks towards N whilst smiling, in the background we see the devil being picked up and carried off or something
Shot 58 – Girl smiles, and holds n’s hands. This changes from a shot of the faces to the hands. AT this point, we notice that she has the ring which is identical to the one at the start?
Shot 59 – girl starts fastening with the cuffs
Shot 60 – N looks up and closes eyes in relief, thinking that his cuffs are being taken off
Shot 61 – N feels heavy, and opens his eyes and looks down.
Shot 62 – Close up on the chains., We notice that there are chains on his hand.
Short 63 – Close up shot of N, showing confusion
Short 64 – close up of girls face showing a smirk
Shot 65 – (Refer to harry potter) The girl transforms in a stringy smoke like smoke. Low angle shot looking up at the girl, centralized.
Shot 66 – Smoke aura thing clears, we see a slow pan, up to the face of the devil the boss, starting from the ring. As this is happening, the environment starts changing to the nightmare world again.
Shot 67 – POV from devil looking at N, seeing n’s scared face.
Shot 68 – Back to a shot of the devils torso upwards, from the side – slow pan Showing N as well, with the environment, still changing
Shot 69 – same shot as before but slightly zoomed out
Shot 70 – Devil pulls ns cuff towards him
Shot 71 N’s POV looking straight at the devils face
Shot 72 The devil raises his hand, FIVE FINGER FACEPALM, and slowly lowers his hand to reveal face (Slowly)
Shot 73 – Profile shot, of both of them, staring at each other.
Shot 74 – Fade to black ( environment becomes pitch black )
Shot 75 – FINAL SHOT – Closing shot, imprisoned N – still needs to be worked on.
- Talk about how we spent the whole day discussing the storyboard/possible conflicts
- How me and Niko revised the storyboard again
- How I tried calculating timing.
This storyboard was revised again as we spent a whole day discussing it and the possible conflicts. The next day me and Niko decided to work on the revised storyboard and here are some examples of our thinking process:
We were trying to think exactly how the devil would fall and how he would be dragged as well as how our protagonist would wake up.
We also thought about the final part of the film would look like. How our protagonist would react as he thinks his chains are being taken off (pumping his fist into the air and realising his arms still feel heavy). These are very quick sketches that we generated when trying to spur ideas in the moment.
I was also told to try and calculate how long this should take when animated.
I won’t bore you with every frame timing
However, when we had to pitch the idea again to the tutors, they were still unconvinced. They felt the idea was too complex and that we should simplify it. In conclusion we had no choice but to scrap it. Dan gave us examples of how to take the essence of the conflict in our story and apply that to a simple situation.