Nuke Colour Correction

Here are just notes I had taken down or copied from the book. I don’t claim this as my own information, I merely decided to copy it down so that I can absorb the information better.

  • Nuke is a 32-bit float linear colour compositing application.
  • Most compositing and image-manipulation programs are 8-bit.
  • 8 bit is good for displaying colour, but not good enough for some calculations or operations
  • It may result in banding – inaccurate display of gradients, change in colour happens abruptly rather than smoothly.
  • Nuke bumps 8 bit and 16 bit up to 32 bit
  • Float – 8 bit = 256 colour 1 = black, 256 = white, 128 = grey.
  • 32 bit allows for what is brighter than white (super white) or darker than black (sub-blacks), 8 bit colours would get clipped. E.g. Paper and light bulb in a room. Different shades of white = float. if they were the same shade =  Non Float.
  • Linear means linear colour space.
  • Computer monitor doesn’t show an image as the image appears in reality <- I learnt this in the lighting masterclass.
  • Has a mathematic curve called gamma that is use to display images. Most often they have a gamma curve called SRGB.
  • Because it’s not showing the image as it appears in reality the image needs to be corrected.
  • Process represents basic colour management.
  • If a gamma curve has been applied to make a middle grey in an image, it will react different to colour correction.
  • Correct way to manipulate imagery – in whatever way – is BEFORE the gamma curve has been applied to an image.
  • Correct way: Linear Image > Colour correct it > Composite it > Transform it > then apply a reverse gamma correction as well as negating the correction you just applied. Nuke works like this by default.
  • In Nuke 0 is still black but white is now 1 to make it simpler.
  • Dynamic range changes from image  – Image usually has black, white and everything in between.
  • Dynamic ranges are split according to their brightness values:
  • Shadows or low lights – darkest colours
  • Midtones – neither dark or bright
  • Highlights – Brightest colours
  • In Nuke there is also:
  • Super whites
  • Sub blacks
  • Colour > Maths > Add – Add operation adds colour to everything uniformly. The whole image changes together.
  • Colour > Maths > Multiply > Strongly boosts the highlights quickly.
  • Colour > Maths > Gamma
  • Gamma deals with midtones
  • Colour > Roll off Contrast > Contrast Value low lights get pushed down and highlights are pushed up.

Centre Value

  • Colours above the Centre Value will be considered bright and pushed up.
  • Colours below the Centre Value will be considered dark and pushed down.
  • Similar to Multiply Node – Virtually the same
  • Lift is virtually the same as Roll off contrast
  • Lift – Value looked at 1, the farther the values are away from 1, the bigger the effect.
  • Multiply operation multiplies the dynamic range by a value. Multiply operation is virtually the same as changing the exposure in a camera or increasing light.
  • I/O Graph – Input vs Output graph
  • x axis – colour coming in
  • y axis – colour going out.
  • Perfectly diagonal line represents no colour correction.

Expression 1 Script

  • Reformat – defines resolution of image. this case it’s 256 x 256 > Ramp (from draw tool box) generates ramp, have a black to white horizontal ramp from edge to edge > Backdrop – Highlights areas in the tree (from Other toolbox). Tells you where to add your colour correction nodes in the next step > Expression (in Colour > Math toolbox) lets the user write an expression with which to draw an image.
  • Can do with an expression node:
  • Simple colour operations (Adding, multiplying but wasteful)
  • Complex warps or redrawing of different kinds of images all together.
  • In this it draws values of a horizontal black to white ramp on – screen a white pixels in the corresponding weight in image.
  • Gamma change midtones without changing black or white.
  • Multiply – Affects highlights more than low lights.
  • Add – Changes everything all together.
  • Contrast pushes two parts of the dynamic range away from one another.
  • Centre value at 1 exact same as multiply curve
  • Centre moves the low lights and highlights point.
  • Centre value at 1 – White point locked while everything else change – opposite of multiply.
  • Soft clip smooths out the edges of the curve so the colours don’t suddenly turn to black or white.
  • Images need to be unpremultiplied then premultiplied again.

  • Curve tool Max Luma Pixel – finds the brightest and darkest pixels in the image.
  • Image – Constant – Temporarily replaced black background with middle grey background.
  • CONSIDER ADDING THE REST OF NOTES?
  • Colour Correct Node  controls for:
  • Saturation
  • Contrast
  • Gamma
  • Gain (Multiply)
  • Offset (Add)
  • Range tab shows graph
  • Highlights = White
  • Midtones = Grey
  • Shadows = Black
  • Green/magenta mix of two ranges.

This is from the files the book provides as exercises

This was before the colour correction, you can clearly see that the car doesn’t match the background plate.

This is how I managed to achieve this:

  • Car’s matching blacks and whites
  • Ctrl and drag Curve tool 1 Minimum Luminance Pixel Animation > Grade 1’s Black point animation.
  • Ctrl + drag Maximum LP Animation > Grade 1’s White point animation.
  • Background ctrl + drag Curve tool 2 Minimum Luminance Pixel Animation > grade 1’s Lift Animation
  • Ctrl + drag Maximum Luminance Pixel Animation > Gain
  • This has matched the foreground’s shadows and highlights to those of the background.
  • Viewer – Y – Luminance = Greys
  • Edit gamma with the help of multiply.
  • Still need to change colour – look into red channel.
  • Have to change multiply + offset values for perfect results – distance from car from camera means black point will be higher and white point will be lower.
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Learning Nuke

So far I have been following the book Nuke 101 which has been pretty handy as it supplies exercises on a CD. I’ve been following each chapter although I may skip what is irrelevant to the project.

To begin with I was trying to get myself familiar with the interface as all software can be initially daunting. So far I’ve found it quite simple due to the fact that Nuke is node based so everything is visual. Maik had briefed me a while ago about the software and how the advantage of it is the fact that he doesn’t need to be by a computer to plan out his node flow. If he has an idea he can draw the flow in a notebook and take that to Nuke to fully realise it. Furthermore, he said that if he takes a photograph with his SLR camera, he can put in the settings he used for the photo into Nuke, much like V-Ray.

The above print screen is evidence of me following Chapter 2 which teaches about Basic Compositing. Through this simple node flow I’ve managed to learn about each node:

  • Read are the images/video clips you’re importing into Nuke
  • Sometimes the images you load into Nuke are straight and will have to premultiply. For example, the doll influenced the background because it was a straight image and therefore had to be premultiplied.
  • Grade node is the colour correction which you can only do to a straight image, hence why it has been placed before the premult node.
  • The Transform node deals with the size, position, rotation, etc and must be added after the premult node.
  • Shuffle deals with the channels. In the print screen the mask was in the red channel but it had to work across all channels in order for it to be effective and the Shuffle node allowed me to do that.
  • Merge enables you to merge nodes and in this example that means combining the foreground and background.
  • Write node is basically rendering the scene.

All this was pretty simple so far.

This is the result from Chapter 3 where I learnt how to make a more complex node tree. This was actually quite difficult for me as I’ve not handled render passes in the past since we’ve always just rendered it straight. I’m also not very experienced with lighting and although I know some of the terminology, I still have trouble quite understanding it.

Another problem I encountered seemed to be the actual book’s fault. I spent the night and most of the next day trying to make something work but it just wouldn’t do. It was only when experimenting with other options and talking to Deon that I realised it wasn’t my own error, but that of the book’s.

As you can see at bullet point 8, it says ‘choose Avs Intensities’ although that alone is a typo since it should be AvG Intensities as illustrated in the image above. Remember, the image above clearly says Curvetool1 (Avg Intensities)

A few pages later it changed to CurveTool1 (Auto Crop). It was having problems getting the Auto Crop Animation attributes to turn blue or to change over each frame. It was suppose to be Auto Crop, not Avg Intensities.

I’m still trying to understand this chapter better by going through it again and reading it properly. I didn’t want to just follow it and not understand the reason for it.These are a few notes I’ve taken down in my notebook despite the fact it’s already in Nuke101 as I want the information to sink in:

  • Render passes are always premultiplied, so you have to unpremult all passes to colour correct. This explains why on each branch there is always an unpremult following a Shuffle node. For each Shuffle apply each respective render pass in the properties. Plus = Add which means you’re adding (name of render pass) to the composite.
  • Lgt is set as the background of passes.
  • Shuffle, Shufflecopy and copy reorganise channels into a single branch to ease image manipulation.
  • Shufflecopy takes two inputs.
  • Shadow is a subtractive pass so you set it to minus. You’re taking light away.

Matte Painting

When we attended the Master classes that were held out Ravensbourne, we all seemed to agree that Matte paintings were the best way to resolve rendering time. The class made me extremely interested in considering Matte Painting as a career as it somewhat ties in with my desire to do concept. In a way they somehow flow into each other’s fields.

I bought the ‘Digital Handbook Painting Handbook’ and I found it to be extremely useful. It actually teaches you in depth how to do a matte painting and you don’t realise just how complex the process is from designing to the actual projecting. For now I decided to experiment with the projecting.

I had each section in layers, i.e. the castle, bridge and sky. I had the over all matte painting as a single image as well. For this particular projection to add depth I would make each section 3d since the camera would not move much and I could get away with this. As you can see I just created a simple cube for the hill.

I sculpted it to get the general shape of the hill. I then made two more cubes for the castle and bridge and edited it to fit the general shape of each component.

I then created a semi dome for the sky and projected the texture, making sure that the sky image emits the lighting.

This is with all the textures applied. As you can see the bridge is a bit off. Right now it just looks like a plain image but I did a small camera edit to show that I have actually gone through the process of projecting.

My projection test

 

I’m really pleased with the outcome of this projection test but obviously I need to learn how to create my own matte paintings. I really do think this adds depth.Projection_Test_1

I did some more projection tests with a sky I created and just random cubes since we had the idea of using a dome to cover the whole city and project the sky as a texture. However, as you can see, this looks pretty much like a cheese.

Projection_Test_3

However, I managed to sort this out and experimented with using two cameras. One to project the sky, and one used for the actual animation. I was worried that the objects would block the sky projection but it was fine.

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Initially, I had no idea how to approach Matte paintings. These were the first tutorial I tried to somewhat follow:

http://psd.tutsplus.com/tutorials/photo-effects-tutorials/matte-painting-destruction/

http://www.myinkblog.com/matte-painting-create-a-distressed-surreal-cityscape/

Due to the fact that this film is to be realistic, it was decided by me and Deon that it would be best if I used photographs rather than actually paint my own buildings. Due to this I would find photographs of buildings and distort it to make it into something different.

I removed the sky from the original images by either masking it off, lasso tool/polygonal lasso tool or magic wand tool and replaced it with a different sky image. Here I tried to change the general mood by adding an orange overlay layer. Something that I learnt from these tutorials were to use a rough brush such as charcoal and just erase parts of the bridge or buildings and to change the size of the brush for variation. Due to the roughness of the brush this gave the impression of ruined buildings.

I can’t say I like this matte painting since it doesn’t look realistic. The light from the sky does not match the buildings and in fact the difference stands out too much. Over all there wasn’t enough applied to this that changed the image drastically.

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For another test I tried to change the lighting more drastically by playing with the contrast, brightness, etc. As you can see here, the mood is much darker and Westminster stands out much less in comparison to my first matte painting.

When I posted this up on Facebook, Deon gave me a few criticisms and even highlighted where I went wrong.

 Deon Carlos Litchmore I don’t understand why you’re doing a painting of the big ben?!

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He took my image and drew around the areas I needed to improve.

Looking back at this now I can see what he meant, the lighting once again did not match the sky at all. Also, from this point I decided to try and make matte paintings that could be used for the scene rather than continue testing so much with images I can’t use.

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With my next matte painting I decided to take a completely different approach and instead of focusing on particular buildings, I decided to actually do a collage of buildings from different images instead. I literally deleted the background of every image and pasted the buildings together. The sky image is a HDRI that Ash bought and Deon edited so that when it is used for the v ray sky dome, it’ll create a nice variation of colours when the camera is moving through the city.

I’ve been using Photoshop CS5 for the first time when doing these matte paintings as I previously used CS2 so this was a huge leap. When exploring the settings I found the auto-align layers. I tried looking this up for this particular matte painting (link: http://my.safaribooksonline.com/book/photo-and-graphic-manipulation/1592004873/matte-paintings/ch12) but it didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped. However, underneath that was the auto-blend layers. I tested blending all the layers and it created this nice effect where the distant buildings seem to disappear in the horizon. However, I noticed there’s a giant brown box that appears in the bottom right hand corner.

 

I decided to go back a step and tried to make the buildings all a similar colour so that this would no longer be a problem by playing with the saturation, brightness and contrast.

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Here you can see the outcome is much better.

 

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Deon told me to take the matte painting into Maya and test it out in the scene. When I did this I realised that the perspective was completely wrong for it to be placed behind Big Ben. Although this meant I had to do another matte painting, I guess this could still be used for a different section of the film.

At this point, we had decided to change from mental ray to v ray so my projection tests previously became some what relevant, particularly the sky projection as there was a different approach to it that Ash and Deon had figured out.

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Inspired by both methods I used, I focusing on a single image and collaging other buildings into the matte painting. Instead of using the whole of the HDRI sky, I print screened how the sky would look behind the big ben and decided to base the lighting and colour scheme of the buildings from that.

I heavily relied on this Youtube channel’s videos:

Photoshop tutorials explaining how to make a ruined city

These videos have helped me very much when it came to techniques that I feel I would continue using these methods until I found something better. I used the same erasing technique I used earlier but this time I added images of ruined buildings to fill in the gaps to make it more convincing. This can particularly be seen from where I’ve made a hole in one of the buildings. Moreover, I have learnt to use the burn tool to give the impression of the buildings aging. I had some trouble softening the outline of the buildings as I either blurred or erased too much. Deon taught me how to think about light direction and by creating a temporary sun to get an idea. As you can see from some of the buildings I added a white overlay for subtle light.

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Here I have once again taken the matte painting into Maya to see how it looks behind Big Ben.

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Deon had asked me to try and add lights to the buildings but we soon realised this did not work as the matte paintings would be influenced by the sky’s light and therefore sometimes being affected by shadows. As you can see here, despite the fact I used white, it is very much dulled out.

Test004.2

From all the techniques I have gathered while doing these matte paintings, I’ve somewhat mixed and matched methods to suit what I feel is best. This matte painting I just edited the saturation, contrast and brightness of the buildings so they’re more uniformed. I also added an orange overlay to suit the sunset of the sky. However, when I posted this up on our Facebook group, Deon said that the buildings were far too uniformed and not random enough. Moreover, he said the buildings looked too similar. They lost their individuality.

Test004.7

As you can see here, I made the buildings a lot more random as if they’re sinking in on one side. I do feel this makes it look more like ruins that have been abandoned. I also decided to add rubble and telephone pole images to add to the desolate atmosphere. This time I didn’t edit the buildings to be a similar colour, I let them stay as more individual but kept the orange over lay. As you can see I also tried adding some light to the buildings as well as shadows according to the sky. In comparison to my first matte painting, I do feel I have improved a lot. Instead of merely slightly editing the images, I have a better thought process and a better understanding of how to use Photoshop tools. I still feel I have a long way to go until I become good at matte painting but the fact I have definitely improved is a good progress.

I also wanted to add that in some of the matte paintings, the sky may seem pixelated but it’s only used as a template to let me know what the sky will look like in the scene. The v ray dome will be much higher resolution.

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I imported the matte painting into the scene again and here you can see what it looks like. However, this is without the sky.

Deon helped me add the v ray sky and as you can see here, it looks a LOT better. The matte painting seems more realistic because it has taken on the sky’s lighting and it blends better with the model (despite it not having textures yet). Over all I am pleased with the outcome. It is a major improvement from my first matte painting test.

future collage

To help Deon with the next set of matte paintings, I decided to make a collage to help inspire him. These were taken from Tron Legacy, Mass Effect 3 (from actual trailer, game or concept) and Lost Odyssey. The reason why I chose these as influences is because they all have a futuristic look and an emphasis on technology. As you can see, the cities aren’t simple designs, there’s usually spires and complex looking textures.

Unfortunately, Deon didn’t have time to make more matte paintings, instead Gerome duplicated the matte paintings I did so give the illusion of many buildings in the horizon.

It’s a shame I didn’t use the projection techniques that I learnt from when I looked at matte paintings for the very first time. However, this would’ve been impractical due to the fact that the camera is very erratic. Projecting the matte paintings onto 3d objects would only work with subtle camera movements. This is why we used planes instead.

Industrial London

When Mike suggested for us to do an environmental film, we spoke to Dan after our lesson and tried to brain storm through potential ideas. Dan suggested we create our environmental film around London because we’re already based in it. It’s best to draw inspiration from something we already know. Gerome came up with the idea of a post apocalyptic London that in order to continue running, all the landmarks would be turned into industrial buildings. For example, the Big Ben blowing out smoke and having cogs all over or the o2 pumping electricity. The group on a whole decided this would be the best approach and we would be able to show off our skills in this film.

timetable

Here is a screenshot of how we organised the pipeline. This worked quite well by using Google Calendar. What’s also good is that most of us have android phones so google is a priority.

Deon’s hair project

When we were told to change our idea, Gerome took influence from the animation about the man’s conflict with his moustache and his initial thoughts were about creating a similar situation but only with Deon’s hair. Deon’s hair has always been a topic of conversation, even with strangers. For one, it is very versatile. Depending on whether Deon can be bothered to comb out his hair, it can be curly and compressed, or it can be straight and random.

Here are some examples, as research and for the lulz

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Flat from sleeping

The reason why I’ve shown so many pictures is because I feel that in almost every one of them, his hair is some what different. It’s usually a run in joke that his hair changes depending on his mood. When he’s ill, sometimes his hair reflects that by being some what deflated and less lively. Other times our friends like to say that if you put your hand in his hair you’ll get pulled in or eaten. Deon’s told me once he had lost a pair of scissors, and then some how found it in his hair. I guess these theories aren’t too far from the truth.

There’s been so many times where random strangers come up to him to just touch his hair, I think the most bizarre being in the queue at the London Anime Expo where a guard dressed up as a Storm trooper started touching his hair and commented that it was ‘bouncy’. Due to stories of strange events or people’s reactions, creating an animation around Deon’s here isn’t too difficult, particularly when we can exaggerate the truth.

General stories of Deon’s hair:

  • · Strangers coming up to Deon and touching his hair e.g.random woman.
  • · At Anime Expo, Stormtrooper (guard) comes up to Deon and pats his hair and says “bouncy”.
  • · When Deon came with me to Raya’s birthday party, she didn’t look at his face, only his hair. She didn’t quite know how to react, her expression was between fascination and terror.
  • · Jonathan’s nephew seems to be fascinated with Deon’s hair. Instant grab, even with both hands.
  • · On our way to Deon’s house, dog stops and stares at Deon’s hair for a good few minutes. Even the dog’s owner was like, “It’s rude to stare” and tried dragging him along to the front door. He stopped again and continued staring.
  • · Jonathan was saying on Thursday that Deon’s hair seems to be conflicting with his heritage.
  • · It takes on different forms and shapes. I.e. when he was ill, his hair seemed to be lifeless.
  • · At John’s birthday, they were all taking a group photo and Jonathan said, “Why is Deon standing in the corner?” It was a random person. Then as the guy was leaving he said to Deon, “You wish you had my hair.”
  • · Both of his parents have said (I think jokingly) they’ll cut off his hair while he’s sleeping.
  • · Deon having trouble combing his hair.
  • · Deon telling me he had trouble finding his pair of scissors. He then found it in his hair. He had somehow slept on it.
  • · Everyone asks to touch Deon’s hair. They could’ve known him for 5 years, and still have the urge to touch it.
  • · Everyone warns people that if they touch Deon’s hair, it might take their arm.

Gerome took influence from the animation I previously mentioned and suggested a story where Deon wakes up and must prepare for a hair competition that he’s won consecutively. However, this constantly goes wrong as he can’t seem to get the right hair style and while trying to style it he gets a small electric shock from the plug socket. When thinking about the effect of it, he attaches every electrical appliance to himself and finally plugs it in. It cuts to a view outside the house and you see a cloud of smoke suddenly come out of the windows. Then you see Deon coming out of the front door covered in soot but his hair dead straight and wild from the shock and a proud smile on his face. Then as a punch line at the end his hair falls out revealing he’s gone bald.

We all decided to do some concept for this idea and here are a few of mine. These were just random ones just trying to get a sense of style.

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As you can see, I tried to make the hair random, but this wasn’t enough. We had to push it further.

EDIT: I couldn’t find a picture the picture where a friend had shaped Deon’s hair as a star, so I thought I’d put one of Gerome instead.

In all fairness, both their hair are quite versatile.

As director, Deon decided to try and make developing the idea for this as fun as possible because we’ve been a bit downhearted with our idea being scrapped.

He asked us to draw 15 random faces with different facial expressions. Then, for roughly 15 seconds each we had to design the most random hairstyles for each face. This proved to be quite amusing to share. Here’s my one and I hope the others posted their version up as well on their blogs.

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We each took turns taking a look at each other’s designs and ticked 3 we liked the most. The ones with the most ticks would be used in our film.

The next task Deon gave us were to each draw our own interpretation of the opening scene of the film.

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I took some influence from some photo references like for example when Deon wakes up the back of his head is flat (like in the photo I posted earlier).

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The guys quite liked the shot of portraits of Deon with his different hairstyles and his trophies on the wall and all you see of Deon when he walks past is his hair.

While we were still developing the storyboard we showed Mike the idea. He seemed to find it amusing but he said it was a very character driven idea considering none of us are animators. Although he liked it, he suggested we do something more relevant to us, like an environmental film to show off our skills. Once again, we had to think about what was best for us and scrap the idea. We were back to being some what downhearted after all the effort we put into.

Self Journey

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.

  1. Talk about how we spent the whole day discussing the storyboard/possible conflicts
  2. How me and Niko revised the storyboard again
  3. 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.

timing

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.

Coming up with ideas

You’d think with the summer holidays, that would be more than sufficient amount of time to come up with good solid ideas. Unfortunately, creativity doesn’t come out of thin air.

One thing I asked the group:

I was thinking as a possible idea is to look into mythologies. I’m not talking about Greek ones btw. The reason for it is because I found Japanese mythology quite interesting with the shape shifting Tanuki/fox or the goddess wolf Okami. It doesn’t have to be Japanese, it’s just from what I’ve learnt about Japan is quite interesting and we’ve seen how it’s applied well i.e. Pom Poko, Okami. That was just one random idea tbh.

This was just something I was influenced by when we met up to talk about our ideas. Matt’s group were focusing on Greek mythology, and Ladji’s ideas seemed to be based on an African background from what I remember. The reason why I suggested Japanese culture is because it’s an interest I have and I’ve also looked into the tanuki and fox folklore for a unit last year. As Niko had said, it’s a bit over used, but it was merely just a suggestion of culture.

When trying to think of something individual culture wise, I remembered back to when I visited Mauritius at the age of 11. My cousin had explained to me the story of the dodo. She had said that the dodos were very greedy and grew too fat to fly and became extinct from being unable to defend itself from being eaten. I thought the story could be turned into a cute, simplistic animation. Niko and Ash seemed to be really keen on the idea (Ash is also Mauritian) to the point where Niko expanded on the idea and created his own storyboard based on my brief suggestion.

In the meantime, I also went to the V+A Museum with my sister and niece to try and find inspiration for ideas. I looked at quite a few cultures but due to the fact I took so many photos, I’ll only select the few I found interesting and upload it here.

Description:

MUSLIN GOWN

Cotton, embroidered with silk

The fabric from Bengal, eastern India; made up in England c 1795

This elegant gown is a fine example of the neo-classical style of dress that was fashionable at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Diaphanous Indian muslin was perfect material for the new, lighter and less tailored styles, which were often accompanied by the equally fashionable Kashmir shawls.

The reason why I quite like this dress is because it’s so elegant and refined. As if it signifies something virginal and innocent. Looking at the fashion of cultures and periods might seem a little bit irrelevant, but it usually gives a feel and atmosphere is important within animation.

Description:

BITA GHEZELAYAGH

For Ghezelayagh, handmade felt embodies qualities of simplicity and resilience. Since 2003, she has designed tunics and capes which are then made up by traditional felt-makers in Iran.

The series Felt Memories was inspired by felt tunics and talismanic shirts. The tunics offer physical protection, while the shirts are believed to offer supernatural protection. Worn in battle, the shirts are traditionally decorated with religious texts and symbols. Ghezelayagh substitutes symbols of resisteance, protection and martydom from Iranian post-revolutionary popular culture. They include a thousand and one keys, crowns, tulips and images of Hossein Kharazi, hero of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Ghezelayagh embroiders and paints these symbols on to the felt garments.

Bita Ghezelayagh was born in Italy in 1966. She lives and works in London and Tehran.

This tunic was visually appealing when I saw it in person and from reading the description, there’s so much depth on it’s background. It seems this piece of clothing tells a story in itself and it could be wonderful to create an animation to, although it has such complexity, I’m not sure if this could be done in such a short project.

As the description had said, we waited until they put the lights on and we really were able to see every detail of the carpet. You can’t tell just how grand it is, but it is absolutely huge. The photo doesn’t give it justice as there’s so many little details. I wanted to reach out and touch it but it was protected and preserved by glass. I always find Indian culture to have such lavish materials and is always visually appealing. My sister told me I should do an animation on Indian culture because it’s very rare for that to be the topic of animation. It would have to be visually appealing.

URINAL IN FORM OF A TIGER

500-589, Southern Dynasties

I found it unusual but fascinating that something so detailed was created for something so crude. It’s quite attractive and very stylised. The combination of look and use stood out to me when I left the V+A Museum. It makes me think that we could make any object or environment quite obscure in our animation like this. At first glass, you would’ve never known this was a urinal and I quite like that concept. Something quite beautiful, actually having mediocre importance. I think it’s the fact that to me, this seems quite lavish, while obviously people thought no more of it as something to urinate in. We could use that concept in our animation in the sense that something that the audience/viewers would be fascinated and taken in by, the characters would see as insignificant. Kind of like how Harry Potter is. The wizards and witches use magic for everyday life and don’t find it out of the ordinary, while Harry Potter and the viewers find it amazing. It’s a bit far-fetched to compare a urinal to Harry Potter, but it gave me somewhat similar ideas.

These two pieces (zoomed in photos of both as well) that were hung up really caught my eye. I’ve always loved traditional art so I couldn’t help but stand and stare for a while trying to take in how this might have been created. I love the earthy, muted tones as well as the quality of lines. It really sets the period and yet again seems quite elegant and gives a calming feel. I’m not sure how this art style could be replicated in CG, although it does have similarities to the Prince of Persia game that we used as an influence for our project last year.

This one is quite similar to the previous one, but instead it’s fabric. I wanted to include this one also because it has such detail yet it must’ve taken such a long time since it seems to all be sewn by hand. This reminds me of the Indian culture in the sense that yet again it’s quite elegant and sophisticated. It packs full of detail as well as using high quality material. It seems this is the kind of thing I find the most fascinating, lots of detail on high quality material. My friend’s sister had a wedding recently and I was intrigued by the photos because of the clothing they wore. I felt the same way when looking around at the V+A Museum. I’m not sure if my group would feel the same way, but I could always discuss this with them.

LIVING

Textile furnishings

The textiles shown were were made for a wealthy  Chinese household. Some where purely decorative, but many served a practical as well as decorative purpose. Some soft furnishings were reserved for use only on special occasions.

I didn’t choose this particular one because I liked the design, but mainly due to the swastikas incorporated. Most would find this offensive, but many don’t realise that before World War 2 or Germany, this symbolized peace. It wasn’t until Hitler reused the swastika that it meant something evil. I just found it interesting how one person could take a peaceful and innocent symbol and turn it into something so full of hate. We wouldn’t be able to add this into our animation because it is still too much of a sore subject, but I just found this somewhat fascinating to see how a symbol that’s now offensive, used in a common textile.

FOLDING ARMCHAIR

1500-60, Ming dynasty

The Ming emperor would use a chair like this when travelling. He might be hunting, inspecting territories or making sacrifices at tombs of his ancestors. the chair is decorated with patterns of five-clawed dragons and lotus flowers.

Carved lacquer on wood

Given by Sir Harry and Lady Garner

My sister was the one who directed me towards this and she found it amazing that folding chairs existed this far back. Something that seems like a recent invention was actually used centuries ago by the emperor. This doesn’t really help me with ideas for animation, but it does show that current objects and inventions are actually older than we think or inspired by the past. Maybe for an animation, we could combine old with new which is how I felt when discovering this old folding chair.

Once again, something with such a basic function is made with such detail. This was quite large in scale although the photos don’t give it justice. It’s such a visually appealing piece and this may start to sound repetitive, but once again there’s elegance which is symbolised by the peacock. I can imagine this being a statue alone, but it does have a function too. I love the texture that’s been carved and it certainly is inspiring.

I’ve always found the armour for a samurai interesting since they seem quite poised and respectable for fighters. I’m not sure of the practicality of the suit (although I’m sure there were reasons for it) but aesthetically it is pleasing and awe-inspiring. However, Samurais have been reused in films and animations over and over again that it would be difficult to make unique. Fight scenes are also never successfully made within projects but I don’t think the group are silly enough to attempt to do one anyway. I jokingly said to Deon we should do an animation of a samurai riding a dragon and he said why not, as long as I can somehow make a story behind it. That would be quite a difficult task…

The difference between the Black community and White community’s church is so vast that it’s unimaginable for us in this day and age where people are treated equally. It’s hard to believe that life was like this before. It’s hard to believe that Black people weren’t classed as human or even worth anything considering their church was merely made of cloth in comparison to a proper brick building.

Just another example of segregation that seems unbelievable now. It’s almost as if sharing the same beach or church made White people at the time worry they’d catch a disease or something contagious. Almost as if they could turn black also by being in the same vicinity as Black people.

Top (Left to Right):

Going to work:

2:45am: The first bus of the day pulls in at Mathysloop. The bus will reach terminus in Marabastad, Pretoria, at 5:15am 1984

3:00 am: Early passengers on the Wolwekraal-Marabastad bus. 1984

4:00 am on the 2:30 am bus from Wolwekraal in KwaNdebele to Marabastad in Pretoria, one and a half hours still to go. 1983

Bottom (Left to Right):

5:45am: after arrival at Marabastad from KwaNdebele and Bophuthatswana: commuters queue from onward connections to workplaces. 1983

Buying weekly bus tickets for transport between ‘jomelands; (i.e. Bophuthatswana and KwaNdebele) and Pretoria. 1983

Going home:

Pulling out of Pretoria: the 7:00pm bus from Marabastad to Waterval in KwaNdebele

The journey for these people must’ve been excruciating and to think this is their daily routine. What is the most scariest is that this wasn’t that long ago. To think things have changed so much since and how majority have rights now. We still have a few issues of prejudice, but it seems that things are definitely improving which I’m grateful for. Our generation seem to be the lucky ones to skip this kind of segregation because we find it hard to believe that this existed not so long ago. We’ve all studied Black history, but to think it continued until recently is hard to imagine. Maybe it’s strange for me because I’m mix raced and in Mauritius and England currently, the mixture of culture is a natural thing. I actually think it enriches the country and makes it a bit more interesting. I may not (directly) relate to Black culture but it is something I do feel strongly about, especially since I’m in an interracial relationship and it’s not unusual to get stares. I’ve written in a personal blog before about being judged on the outside, yet I’m so mixed with different heritages that being Asian is only partially who I am. Even that side of me is mixed. I probably found this section of the V+A museum the most interesting, despite it just being photographs. The combination of photograph and description really makes such a huge impact.

This description was really hard to read and was just generally shocking. My sister was amazed that this could happen. Yet again, this happened not that long ago. There’s not much else I wanted to say about this description because I mainly added it for the shock value. Obviously we can’t do something this distressing for our animation but it does make you appreciate the way society is now.

Visiting the V+A museum hasn’t really helped narrow down what I think we should do for our Final Major project, but it certainly has been interesting. The photography had the most impact on me and left me thinking afterwards. It seems strange that skin colour was such a problem and now where ever I go, there is such diversity among people that I can’t imagine life any other way. I’m sure my experience and the photos I took will somehow come in handy, although right now I’m not sure how they’ll relate to my animation yet.