Analysing Some Motion Techniques

Following on from some of my previous animation shorts, it was clear to me that my animating wasn't progressing quite as quickly as I would have liked. With this in mind, I decided I needed to do some more research into other animators work and try to pick up some tips and tricks to apply to my own work. Although I would class myself as a novice of animating, I would class myself at near proffesional at watching too many cartoons. So from my addiction I feel I've managed to gain a reasonable understanding of some of the motion techniques animators use, such as the motion blur/ stretching as shown in my previous attempts. However, I felt to progress further looking at some of my favorite animators and how they create their signature movement in their characters would be hugely beneficial. I selected a two clips from some of my favourite cartoons and downloaded them into Quicktime Player, where I could analyse them frame-by-frame.
First up, I picked a scene from Johnny Bravo. The scene was packed with Johnny's signature flamboyant quick darting motions from position to position. But it was very interesting to analyse these scenes frame-by-frame and the results are quite suprising as it isn't sometihing as a viewer you would normally see. Something to note is that Quicktime appears to work in around about 31 frames-per-second which could cause some blurring or disturbance in the quality of the animation screenshots:
These first four shots show the motion of Johnny's arm through a stretched and deformed shape which represents the space between the beginning and finished state of the motion, this is to show the blur and help highlight the speed of the movement replicating how we would see speed in real-life. The blur follows the curvature of the beginning and end phase to highlight further the path of movement, if the path didnt follow this angle and curvature the movement would look very choppy on the eye and not work as effectively. The third shot and the fourth shot are very similar but the arm in the third shot is actually still in the phase of being stretched. The blurred shots, 2 and 3 are around 3/30ths of a second each which in relation to the FPS i would be working at, 24, Is about 1-2 frames. which is something to note should for me to recreate this very effective method of showing motion.
Interestingly on this motion, showing Johnny's coming back down to its original position the blur changes in shape slightly. This time, the blur has a sharp curve which is sticks out to the rest of the motion blur shape. This is to show an element of 'drag' and highlight the speed of the motion in particularly the area the curve is coming from, in this case, Johnny's hand.  This motion is actually faster slightly than the 'up' motion in the first initial 4 frames which replicates real life as things come down faster than they go up because of gravity or in this case the natural movement of human joints.
These shots follow Johnny turning 180° to face the mirror. His movement here is slower and less extreme, so it dosent need a motion blur effect. it uses a total of 8 phases to reach beginning to end, which actually differ quite greatly in posture, this was suprising to me that the motion appears so smooth finished, but the frame rate of the animation definitely compliments it perfectly. Obviously the movement is supposed to be a made at a certain speed so if more frames were added to smoothen the movement, it would lengthen it and it wouldnt be the desired speed which wouldnt create the desired emotional effect. 

Script/ narrative

These shots show Johnny's movement 180° back.  This movement is done with much more purpose and vigour so is shown to be much faster. This movement features only 3 different phases of movement inbetween beggining and end compared to the 8 of the previous movement. It also contains an extreme whole body motion blur in the second and most pivotal phase of the movement, noticably it works using a curve similarly to the arm movement which the whole body follows around as if it were a spinning top. this makes sure that the movement looks natural and follows a clear path to show motion and not look choppy. The shot just after is still slightly stretched, this helps to slow and smoothen the movement before it reaches its end phase.
Johnny jumping into action off a stool. This movement uses two extreme stretch motions. The main point of motion in this scene is the movement of the feet, the body drags behind the movement of the feet to emphasise the speed they are travelling at, again the frames use curved lines.
A quick posture change again using stretches and just two motion frames between beginning and end state.
Johnny changes without a blur into the 1st stage of this movement and holds that pose for a total of 5 frames before dashing off. This helps to create emphasis to the speed of the movement through building tension with the starting pose. The 'dash' shows Johnny suddenly half off-screen and stretched out to show speed, this is also emphasised through the inclusion of the motion lines, which follow the colour scheme of johnny's skin and hair. The highlight speed greater than the other scenes and represent the air moving with Johnny as he runs. 
Next, I moved on to study a cartoon that I had always affiliated with motion blurs and stretches, Warner bros.' Looney Tunes, in particular Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. It was a distinct memory to me that Roadrunner ran so fast that his legs appeared to represent wheels. Using a rounded shape of blurred lines, as well as leaving a trail of dust.
As I remembered, Roadrunner uses a looped line which alters slightly in shape to portray his legs like a wheel and highlight the great speed he is travelling at. The cloud of dust that follows him when he is dashing as fast as possible, this offers a clear distinction between his regular and top speed. The clip above shows Roadrunner running at full speed before looking back. His body goes from stretched and streamlined to much more upright as his head turns, there is no inbetween frame as his head turns 180°, this makes the movement very fast and makes his head dart with a purpose to highlight his super-fast awareness, symbolic of the character. His legs shape also squashes from a slanted long oval to a shorter oval with a bend in it mimicing the arc of his body as he looks back.  It's quite hard to see with the resolution of the images but Roadrunner also goes under a stretch effect similarly to Johnny Bravo's animation technique, shot 3 shows this, Roadrunner actually appears to have 4 pupils in this phase.  
Studying these two animations benefited me massively in particular my more in-depth analysis of Johnny Bravo, which I learnt alot from. Below I have put some of the main points I learnt, which could be considered reflectively in improving my own work:

  • Arcs- the motion blurs or stretches always tended to follow a natural arc in particular with joints like arms. 
  • Frame rate - each blur in relation to the 24 FPS I would be working with, equates to around 1 or 2 frames, I should replicate this to achieve a similarly smooth effect.
  • Downward/Upward motions - blurs and stretches for downward motions use a longer or more altered stretch to highlight the speed in comparison to upwards. Things always go down quicker than they go up.
  • Pause and Dash - prelonged poses before burst of speed are iconic of cartoons and add humour and tension to the resulting sprint.
  • Additional elements - when motion blurs alone arent enough to portray speed, wind lines and trailing smoke can be used to emphasise it further. 
  • Details and Frames - even the fastest of movements, such as Johnny Bravo's position changes used two phases between the beginning and end phase, one radical blur and one lesser blur, this smoothens the movement even though it would probably be playing at around 6/30ths of a second.

The Effect of Linework

Across Cartoons, comics and illustrations in general linework is key to showing certain feelings and actions. I looked at a book written by Scott McCloud where he explains the basics behind these credentials, in 'Understanding Comics'. I feel as though these credentials can definitely be applied to animation as well.

In his book, McCloud describes how different lines are attributed to different emotions:
I think the line work in these artworks more aptly describe backgrounds in animation. Regulalry across animation line based backgrounds like these are used to portray emotions and environemental effects.
Anime and manga comics often use collections of straight lines to signify intesity and motion, collectively they can be very atmospheric.
Lines are used here to visualise invisble elements. Although this stye is wildly different to the style I work in the principle is the same.

Linework can also be broken down in a much less conceptual sense and analysed stylistically. The images above of 'Dragon ball Z' use very narrow, intricate lines, this is a clear stylistic choice that many manga-driven animations use. On the complete other end of the spectrum, using very thick and simple line structures for their characters are the likes of, 'Powerpuff Girls', 'Adventure Time', 'Gravity Falls','The Amazing World of Gumball':




Naturally, less complex line structures and in some cases thicker lines, or overall simple structures are often associated with being more primitive. However, this isn't always the case,often more adult cartoons like 'Rick and Morty', 'Brickleberry', 'Family Guy' use simple linework, which creates humour due to their more innocent character designs.

Researching Creative Softwares

Having firmly decided I would work with Adobe Animate, out of curiosity, I wanted to research how many proffesional published cartoons also use the software.

The complexity of the cartoons using Animate range massively, from the more simple likes of Johnny Test

To the more complex, adult cartoon, 'Archer':
It was great to see the levels of complexity that can be achieved particularly with 'Archer'. I developed a newfound love of the show, knowing the work that must go into it. But equally some stylistic elements of it, really bug me, and I know given the chance I would do them much differently.

It's definitely a very effective excercise to evaluate other animations that are made within animate. Identifying areas I liked and did not, help me to plan how to avoid or take inspiration from in my own work.

The 12 Principles of Animation

Based from the book 'The Illusion of life - Disney Animation' written by Disney animatiors Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, they describe the 12 basic priniciples of animation, what makes a chatacter show the appearance of life:

  • Squash and Stretch - This is the principle that animated objects will deform (squash and stretch) according to their speed, weight as well as gravity. 
These basic drawings describe the difference between a ball bouncing, one with, one without squash and stretch. The ball appears much less alive in the first drawing, where as the second appears much more dynamic. The first movement also looks slower and heavier with the second much faster and lighter. The first also looks very hard and rigid where as the second looks soft and fluid.

I experimented with these crednetials briefly in a warm-up excercise with Terry earlier.

  • Anticipation -This principle describes the act of pausing before an action, particularly one that is pivotal to the plot. Stopping, pausing, emphasises the movement that is about to be made and adds humour as well as tension.
  • Staging - similarly to anticipiation, 'staging' is all about drawing emphasis to a certain action by using positioning, composition and camera angles
  •  Straight ahead & pose to pose animating - two seperate ideas under one credential, 'straight ahead' animating describes animating by drawing frame after frame directly, creating each frame chronologically. 'Pose to Pose' works by drawing the start and end phases of the movement first then filling in the 'inbetweens' having experiemented quickly with both, I've found pose to pose the most time-efficent and accurate.
  • Follow through/overlapping action - this describes the action of an object that follows a character or other objects movement but continues to move when the object stops. It's also often known as 'drag'. It uses real-world physics to emphasise, movement. something like a scarf blowing in the wind whilst someone runs, could help to emphasise the speed of the character for instance.
  • Slow ins/outs - slow in and outs descibe the last stages of a movement, suggesting that all movements start slow, speed up then slow back down before haulting. This can make movements look alot less mechanical.
  • Arcs - I explored these credentials with some of the motion blur research, but the concept of using 'arcs' in movement is to help movements appear more natural and fluid.Very few living things work in a basic, up and down, left and right action they often move in a a circular path.
  • Secondary action - the secondary action is the action that is secondary to the primary action, as it would suggest. The primary action of a scene could be for example knocking on a door. The secondary action of this scene could describe what the second hand is doing, if it is clenched in a fist this could make the knock appear angrily,if the hand is relaxed and spread the character could be happier and calm. It essentially is there to add emotion to an action.
  • Timing - this describes the time between the begin and end phase of a movement, how quickly or slowly a movement reaches completion. This obviously indicates speed but this speed can also have emotive effects.
  • Exaggeration - cartoons are often built from exaggeration, similarly to if you've ever had a charicature drawn and they've given you a huge nose or ears, exaggeration is used in animation, not only for design but also actions. Actions are made much more apparent nothing is made subtle. Everything shouldbe blatantly obvious.
  • Solid Drawing - this focuses on refining drawing skills and having the skill to draw characters from all angles without them deforming.
  • Appeal - Finally, appeal is based on the characters design and ability to engage with the audience, points of interest, colour and emphasised interesting features are all parts of this. Cartoons which are cancelled are often down to lack of relatability with the main character.

I have a copy of these credentials printed out above my workplace, for constant reference.

More Animation practice - Creating a short television advert

Throughout this project I've realised my animating abilties need to improve before my final project. With this in mind I created a few animations but I decided I should create a more finished and refined one, to truly try to understand my capabilities at this moment in time. This in mind, I decided I would create something which used colour and sound. As i hadn't yet tried to practice lip-syncing and sound since my last attempts at animation, last year.

I knew I didn't want to give myself too much of a challenge due to time concerns but wanted to showcase all of these elements. Therefore i decided creating a quick TV advert for a fake channel would be a good idea. I looked online for ideas for a structure, where I found an itv2 advert for a new series of Family Guy:
The advert uses around 30 different clips of footage from the show, which obviously at this stage of my animation I don't have the benefit of doing, but what I could take inspiration from was the structure of the advert, which flickered from footage to bright eyecatching banners of text advertising that it is a brand new. The advert also uses a spice girls track (parodied at the start by Peter) in the first phase of these selection of frames. The song plays throughout the advert which creates an excited atmosphere, with the sounds of the clips playing over the top and being cut and mixed in places to mimic the lyrics of the song. obviously this is a very high tech and well-thought out selection of techniques and my advert in terms of time and my relatively new approach to animation wouldn't be anywhere near as advanced but I planned to take the idea of bright flashing words and music running throughout and applying it to Fish Terry with a more relaxed and specific soundtrack to the general theme of my animation.
I created the advert using Animate cc as I had before with previous efforts. I learnt various techniques online to add some different dimensions to my animations as well as the knowledge I had gained from studying motion in Johnny Bravo and Looney Tunes previously. I used various layers for each area of Terry's body so i could move them individually without the need of redrawing him completely each frame.
I used the motion blur effect to simulate Terry's arm moving fast for a wave. I followed the rule of it working along an arc, so it appeared like a natural movement. However I didnt use outlines, simply speed lines within the shape. I'm unsure whetehr this is an effective as Johnny Bravo's technique which uses an outline stretched shape, I think in the future i will experiment using that effect too.  However I enhanced this movement greatly when I added a cartoon 'swoosh' sound which I donwloaded from the internet. I edited the sound in audacity to shorten it to the length I desired to fit the speed of the motion. i used just one frame as an inbetween the beginning and end phase of the movement which again is different to Johnny bravo which uses two typically. I'm sure movements like this will become more natural to me as I continue to animate.
The end phase of the wave movement.
The following GIF shows the motion in a short 2 second clip:
below is the whole advert, minus the sound. Unfortunatley the sound being removed does take away alot from the advert so I have encased a link to the advert on my youtube channel below:

Script writing

Obviously, in order to begin piecing together my animation I had to first devise a plotline. I found this incredibly difficult because although I had numerous ideas of jokes, actually creating a plotline with a beginning, middle and end that was interesting was very hard.

In order to help me generate ideas I did alot of research watching other adult cartoons, such as: Family Guy, American Dad, Rick and Morty, F is for Family, King of the Hill, Bobs burgers etc. obviously, not the most gruelling of research activities, i thoroughly enjoyed sitting through some of my favourite cartoons as well as trying to take some inspiration from other popular cartoons I hadn't necessarily watched before. I realised that my preference of cartoon was in most cases lead by my initial reaction to the visual aesthetics and design of them, which was an interesting discovery as putting these judgements aside i was able to study into other elements where cartoons may excel even with a less appealing visual design. Also, it alerted me to how important visual appeal would be for my own cartoon, at this stage I feel fairly happy with my character designs and feel they are visually appealing and adherent to the style i am trying to create.

Although each cartoon was different in plotlines some very often shared a very similar premise around their stories and relationships between the chartacters, often drawing upon real life stereotypes to create a connection with the audience to generate humour through irony. The ' unstable family formula' is clearly something which works very effectively within the adult cartoon community which is something I tried to replicate within my own cartoon, however each cartoon has some areas where it is unique in terms of the family set-up i.e one teenage daughter, one young son to a baby and a teenage son etc. this creates a  much different atmosphere within the family dynamic and thus creates different angles for jokes. 

The family dynamic and groups in general are created through multiple personalities which clash humoursly but also unite in times of danger and sadness. These are the qualities of real life families and thus this draws a connection with the audience. The individuality of the characters however are what often create the storyline and in particular surrounding the main character, which is most commonly the father of the household. This is drawn about because he is seen as the head of the family. I have followed this trend with my character, Terry and having been the first character i created and have the most ideas for. I think simialrly to how other cartoons often work, I will create my plotlines surrounding Terry as the main character. Doing this also gives the audience a more immersive experience and helps them to relate with the emotions of the character. As a result of this i referred to my intentions for Terry's personality, job, relations etc. and tried to devise a plot around this. This was a fairly easy task, however, as this project is essentially my 'pilot' episode, it was also important to introduce other pivotal characters into the episode. 

Plot 1

My first idea of a plotline surrounded Terry's relationship with his father-in-law, Joey, an ex-mafia fish who would take Terry on a bonding experience and show him how to 'be a man'. I loved this idea and I thought up with the help of a friend a lot of jokes and skits. I thought the relationship between a man and his father-in-law was a very relatable one and this would generate alot of relatability and humour. However, I realised that this plotline focuses very heavily on just the two of my five main characters and all five should get a reasonable amount of airtime. Also, with the sheer amount of ideas, I had I realised that the challenge of animating this as a plot idea was going to be very great and as a result i may lose quality in to my illustrations. As such i had to sadly abandon this idea. However I stored some of the joke ideas that i could possibly fit into a different plotline.

Plot 2

Following on from my first plot idea i realised some points I needed to work on:

  • Inclusive of all 5 characters
  • Highlight each character personality
  • Less intense storyline, less backdrops
  • Focus on conversational humour allows ability to re-use backgrounds and character posture etc.
  • Center plot around Terry and his personality and relationship with other characters (explosive temper)

After hours of frustration and research watching other cartoons, in particularly their pilot episodes and how they introduced their characters, I devised a rough plot idea which would:

  • Showcase each character and their personalities
  • Follow Terry as main character, following his emotions 
  • Portray a family dynamic
  • Show family in a relatable environment and atomsphere
  • Focus on conversation and relationship between characters

My idea was to have all 5 characters sit down for a family meal and talk about how each of their days went. Terry arrives late for the meal after a long hard frustrating day at work, he arrives with his typical synical, arguementative, irritable attitude. Sharon, Terry's wife - the family mother, asks each character indiviually how their days went, each character's day is represented through a flashback - this allows me to create seperate sub plots and bring a more diverse range of backdrops and secondary characters into the animation. this is important to me as it allows me to work with some of the joke ideas I've had and wanted to use and create relevance for them into a plot. Terry is already irritable but Sharon adresses him last on how his day went, which frustrates him further. The humour of the scene should come through the relationships and dialogue between the characters, the flashbacks and the tension of waiting for Terry's impatience and anger to eventually boil over. Terry leaves the table in his anger and reverts to sitting alone in the lounge to watch TV, he sits with his typical undeterred scowl through a series of adverts. the adverts are also a good oppurtunity to line with jokes. The final advert will break down the third wall with the audience with my idea being that it will use a dialogue along the lines of "AND NOW ANOTHER STEREOTYPICAL CARTOON SURROUNDING AN UNSTABLE FAMILY" this will be followed by a groan of anger by Terry before cutting to the credit roll. This will pay homage to my first draft of fish terry where the plot focused fully on following Terry's descent to exploding in anger. The dialogue of the advert will ironically mock the whole concept of my cartoon which i think will speak humoursly to the audience.

I looked at a script online to help me understand how to effectively structure my own. This came through the form of a script for the cartoon version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was important for me to be able to reference how I would think about the script visually, as most of the scenes I hadnt drawn rough concepts of yet so I didnt want to forget any ideas I'd had.

Obviously, all of these ideas are simply writing but having done alot of research and already having a good knowledge of cartoons I believe i think very visually and can imagaine how my scenes will pan out. Following on from these initial rough ideas I began to write a script for this plot:
This is just a few screenshots from my first draft of the script, however i found it pretty essential to jot down all my ideas into this format before i attempted to take my narrative any further. Doing so allowed me to evaluate how long the story might pan out to be and most importantly whether the challenge of animating it would be too great.

Futhermore, to help me judge the potential workload, I used a colour coding system to highlight each time I would need to draw a new background. I thought this was a handy way of being able to quickly identify how much work I potentially had to do.

Next Step - Storyboard

So with a first draft of my script written with visual references as to how i wanted the scenes to look, i began to try and compose a story board. My intentions were to create a series of rough compositional drawings, to gauge how my plot came together visually. And try to think in terms of cinematography how I could enhance tension, humour and interest in scenes. I did some further research into other cartoons as well as a very conviently timed workshop from Fumio at university about camera angles which would very helpful to refresh my memory from my time studying film before. 

My intentions with my rough storyboard sketches are to convert them into a more refined group of images to be used as animatics. A stage of animation i was previously unaware of which I feel definitely highlights my novice mentality! Doing so will allow me to compile my images in a slideshow format alligned with sound which will give me more of an idea of how the images work with sound and of course, the plot. I plan to do some research also into animatics.

Conversational Camera Angles

From previously studying film in sixth form I believe i have a relatively strong knowledge in terms of cinematography heading into animation. Camera angles add depth, tension and overall more interest to a film but what I want to look at more so is how it's used in animation and in particular, with conversations. 

As I understand, Camera work should never move more than 180° as this will be too distracting to the natural flow of the film for the viewers. As such within a conversation to camera will naturally dart from character to character within this 180° mark. Characters speaking, in particular when the dialogue is pivotal, is often captured by showing the characters face and upper torso so the audience can understand their emotions through their gestures. As such the camera often uses midshots to show these factors. The camera will travel 180° between each character to show both dialogues as they speak. This regular jumping across the two characters is symbolic of their voices bouncing back and forward to one another, this technique is used incredibly often in almost every animation and film. However, sometimes and OTS (over-the-shoulder) element is added which essentially shows the shoulder of the character who is being spoken to. this puts the audience into the characters shoes and helps them to engage in the conversation more, it adds a lot of depth to the scene. 
Having a dinner table scene in my own story planned, I studied a scene from a Family Guy episode to try and gain a better understanding of how I should angle my camera to portray conversation:
Family guy use a long/establishing shot at the start of the conversational scene to showcase the setting and all the characters involved to make the close up shots that will follow within conversations easier to follow and the audience will not get 'lost'. 
In it's second shot, the scene moves to a mid-shot, showing a three way conversation. It is large enough to show the characters upper torsos and facial expressions to gauge their emotions fully. 
This same shot (shot 2) then pans either side from the head of the table to focus on the characters on each side. I found it very interesting that the same background is used for in total 3 different conversations between different characters. The idea of re-using backgrounds was something I have tried very hard to plan, to save myself time, so witnessing this technique used here has been hugely beneficial of me otherwise I think I would have spent days making extra backgrounds! 

In many ways I may recycle this scene into Fish Terry, as I feel it works so effectively and secures a fair section of my plot with relative ease on the animating front. I am very glad I looked into this scene before jumping into my storyboarding and further stages of my animation plans.

Backgrounds/settings/ composition/ Rick and Morty

At this stage of developing Fish Terry, having just completed my first rough draft of my script, I should have potentially been working towards creating a rough storyboard to help visualise how each shot would pan out in terms of camera angles, composition etc. However, inspiration and influences tend to pop up without much warning so I took the chance to record my findings. Also, I didn't actually plan on evaluating composition of shots from another cartoon but with the inspiration coming from this cartoon I chose to, which can only help me develop my intentions for my storyboard.
Having been newly released on Netflix, I decided to watch a programme called 'Rick and Morty' a show that to my knowledge wasn't readily available on British television prior to this release.

As a newcomer to the show, i was sceptical due to some strange stylistic decisions which bugged me such as the 'scribbly' pupils in the characters eyes but the humour drew me in and stylistically one thing I noticed particularly was the backgrounds. 

The characters embark on a number of sci-fi adventures which leads to some very interesting settings, which allow for some really cool colour schemes. An idea I toyed with within my first attempt at creating an episode of Fish Terry, was to eliminate outlines from my background and only use them on the characters, to draw attention to them. I think this definitely worked but I felt slightly that the style looked a bit disjointed and didn't match up well. Rick and Morty create their seperation between the characters and forergound elements to the background simply by using basic gradients and textures in the background, but flat fills in the foreground. This adds an element of depth to the backgrounds and a simplicity which I liked and thought helped to enhance the simple character designs.

I screencaptured a few shots from different episodes:
the backgrounds in this scene are very complex and feature alot of lines but they blend in with the dark, dull colour scheme, which contrast to the brighter colours of the foreground. The use of textures also are only really prominent in the background which create subtle tone and depth and emphasise the flat colours of the characters.
This shot is a beautifully coloured skyline which uses textures but also alternatively coloured lines, which add contrast again to the foreground. In this scene, the opening of the clouds is supposed ro draw attention although being a part of the background and I feel as though the use of the light blue outlines adds a perfect amount of contrast without being too distracting to the foreground.
This shot uses composition and angles to help highlight the depth of the stage they are standing on and perspective and distancing through the smalling of the background elements like the trees. Stylistically, it uses flat tone and texture tone, showing that the show don't refine themselves to one really rigid formula with their backgrounds but it still works effectively.
This shot uses a translucent haze. Which further shows the programmes willing to use multiple different techniques to display tone to create depth and atmosphere.
Visually, the colour pallette in this scene is really appealing, and represents perfectly a person or monster's internals just through a rough display of tone and texture and colour. The yellow on the sign also contrasts strongly and makes the audience want to read the sign, whislt still being visually appealing.
the dull colour scheme in this scene and the messy props in the background make the audience immediatley aware that this is set in a garage, something which in practice sounds quite a difficult setting to draw. 
these shots in this scene are a great example of how well the creators of Rick and Morty capture their ideas of a different planet. The idea of changing the colour of the sky works brilliantly to create a foreign atmosphere and it looks visually stunning very much a contributing factor for my newfound love for this show. The peculiar environmental objects contrast just enough against the background whilst working with the very appealing colour scheme. The whisp shapes in the sky also use an appropriately orange coloured outline whislt the ground uses a slightly darker brown colour to create contrast but not detract from the character in the foreground who obviously uses a bolder black outline. The background is also blurred which creates even more emphasis but also a degree of depth, a technique often used to highlight foregrounds in photography, it also helps to null the complexity of the background which could've otherwise been a bit distracting.
the previous 3 shots also are a good example of how composition is used and how the sizing of the characters differs in relation to the background. 'Rick' in the shots above is shown in a close-up, long-shot and a mid-shot. it's interesting to notice that he is always relatively central to the scene, this is to draw the most emphasis to him as the main Point-of-interest. Also, the changing of the background is interesting to evaluate as the elements such as the planet and the whisps don't move noticably but grow or shrink in size with the rest of the shot. it would be interesting to know whether the background is re-used and simply zoomed in and out of  or if it is compeletly redrawn. However, the fact that this is in debate in my mind would make me believe that just zooming in and out and re-using the same background could be a useable technique I could deploy myself in Fish Terry.
I can't speak highly enough of my love of the background work in Rick and Morty, in particular, the sci-fi skylines and I hope to try and replicate some of these techniques I have learned. I have bullet pointed the most prominent here, for my own reference:

  • Colour contrasting
  • Blur contrasting
  • Flat colour to textured scenes
  • Alternatively coloured outlines
  • Other gradient effects, transparency etc.


following on from creating a script and researching some camera and background effects I was able to create a first draft of a storyboard. Having realised the enormity of creating this animation and the length of my story, I decided to try and streamline my storyboard and use minimal backgrounds, essentially making the job faster and easier by taking shortcuts where possible, without sacrificing too much in terms of quality.

I completed countless amounts of fast doodles trying to capture my ideas. I realised that actually putting your ideas on to paper was much harder than expected:
I created loads of super-quick sketches of composition ideas with rough footnotes. this was a really long and boring process for me, even though i spent seconds on each drawing and it was just to get an idea of composition I hated it! 
I created a full storyboard using rough (perhaps too rough) sketches for each frame - some of which i re-used for scenes that were similar and only different in the character's expressions. I didn't focus too hard on character expressions, I more so focused on composition. I also added some footnotes about camera direction and some ideas for dialogue and sounds.


To visualise my storyboard and see how shots worked with one another I placed them into Animate cc and worked with a VCAM to create a very rough idea of how the shots would piece together. As time was of the essence i decided not to focus on chatracter movements and simply changes in shots.
I began to add sound into the animatics as I recorded voices as well as music or sounds I could sample or download from the internet. Although the images weren't moving at this stage it was good to get an idea of the more basic sounds, where as the more complex movement noises such as motion 'swooshes' could only really be added later.

Voicing the Characters

Fortunately, I had a few very enthusiastic friends who loved the idea of being the voice to one of my characters. Therefore, this process was fun and very relaxed! I invited over my friend Jimmy and my brother James even wanted to get involved. We cracked open a few beers and had a laugh whilst recording some speeches we improvised from my basic script. I think it was definitely important that we had a laugh whilst recording these voices so we were much looser and gave a much better and funny performance - I think it would've been very awkard otherwise. We used my iphone to record the voices through an app which saved each voice file, which we named (on the most part) and also named the versions which weren't so good. My friend who coudlnt attend when we were recording the voices, recorded himself after reading a script i sent him via facebook messenger, and uploaded the files to soundcloud an audio sharing website which I downloaded them from.
The app is very easy to use, you just press record and then stop, it then gives you the option to name the files
saved files can be added to the cloud or dropbox, incredibly easily.
I think it was a good idea to use a total of 4 different people for voices (including myself). As it brought more diversity to the characters and all difference in voices were much greater. The voices I also edited in audacity, this created even more difference between the characters. This was particularly important with characters voiced by the same person, as although they are intended on being very different some are still perhaps too similar so enhancing them in audacity definitely added much more individuality to each character. 
Audacity shows the sound in a visual representation, meaning the loudest parts of the chart are the largest and the smallest parts (closest to the line) are the quietest. Having recorded mostly on a mobile phone it meant that recording qulaity would need to be touched up as well as the removal of background noise.
Reducing noise in Audacity is very easy, I simply highlighted the area where I wanted to reduce the noise and selected from the effects dropdown, 'noise reduction'. where you enter a menu and select how much noise you wish to remove. This makes the voice tracks much higher quality when adding to animation. In particularly when creating a lip sync to vocals, silence in the non-speaking parts is pivotal.