The Animated Doco – The Siren Situation, Animatic

I’m happy with the over all aesthetic of this, but I’m just not sold on the ending. But in the interest of not getting too far behind with Motion Capture,

I am going to put this on the back burner for a bit and hope that I can smooth it out a bit when I come back to it.

Reflection on my work so far:

1.  Is the meaning/message of the sequence clear? Why/why not?
I do think that the meaning of this is quite clear, but the end part seems to be a bit weak (to me anyhow) I plan on strengthening this by adding another scene before the girls turn into super hero, adding the kids running past an open door and then a teacher poking their head out of the door to investigate what is going on.

2.  Are there areas that seem too fast/too slow? Why? How could these be corrected?
As mentioned above the end of the sequence seems a bit flat after the drama of the chase and wrestle. I have considered adding a scene, but I also think I might go back to the audio and see if there is something else that can be added.

3.  Are we hearing or seeing too much, or too little? Are there areas that could be pared down, or pauses that could be inserted for a breathing space? Are there gaps in information that need to be filled in?
I need to add in a few more cuts, such as over the shoulder shot  after the boy cuts the wire, she shouts stop and the boy looks down at an angry Violette.

4.  Is the sequence sufficiently interesting? Do we get involved? What kind of adjustments can be made to increase the degree of interest? For instance, could we consider making changes to: the proposed visual style, the characters/elements depicted, the emotional tone – poetic/humorous/action-paced/light and breezy/contemplative etc.? Why? Would the changes communicate meaning in the way that you want, or would they introduce new dilemmas?
I believe these changes would strengthen the narrative by adding more context to the interchange between the girls and the boys trying to steal the speaker.

Animated Doco – Synopsis’s

Synopsis One: At this point, I was still going with the name ‘The school speaker’ mostly because Erynn had referred to it as a speaker, but it turns out that it’s a fire siren.


Synopsis Two: this synopsis is more in line with how the vision for my animated documentary is going to take shape. It also has a new name after some brain storming with the girls.  The Siren Situation 

Animated Doco – Recording the Audio and subsequent idea segway.

So it’s taken a bit of turn since having to actually set up an interview with the girls. I recorded 25 minutes of them talking but there was a lot of silliness and talking over each other, plus me being at a sheer loss over how to narrow it down to 40 seconds, so on a whim I got my 11-year-old to come and talk to me for five minutes (yes I had to bribe him) he spoke about Minecraft, which isn’t a huge surprise but it was nice to get his take on why he likes it too much, so it’s definitely another idea to follow.

I couldn’t really get the girls to talk about the fiasco with the speakers getting stolen at school, which is ok, so I will have a re-listen to what we have and see if there are any threads I can pull.

More research, Minecraft  focused

In the interest of following an idea for the Minecraft, I have watched a few different Minecraft animation.

Here is a compilation of the Top 5 Minecraft Animations of 2015, some of which are really good! Taking the block approach to the next level. I really liked the use of lighting in some of them and also making the characters seem more human than in the game.

There is some great use of animation principles in some of them which were great to see in a blocky animation.

I can totally see how this could be used in somehow to create an animated documentary about why my 11-year-old loves Minecraft so much.

I also saw this advert on Facebook the other day and I really liked it, so I took a screen shot so I could look it up later. I couldn’t find this exact advert so I’m glad I had a photo of it! I liked the cut-out planets and a rocket ship.

Beautiful Animation

I also really like this Step into a miniature world of animated paper wildlife short film on the national geographic YouTube page. I love the origami and the integration of real world disaster with something that is happening on the desk.

The lighting, story and modelling tell a fascinating story that kept me watching until the end. The characters and setting interweaved in and out bringing you into the story of the characters and then reminding you of the settings in an effective way. The camera angles used were well staged and there was a good use of depth of field.

Giangrande – Paper Plane

I love the textural feel of this animation and the way the hand-drawn has been incorporated into the animation. After a while you stop thinking ‘oh this is hand drawn’ and instead you are drawn into the narrative. This music video is well constructed in a narrative sense and is a great example of how you can the analogue approach to animation and apply it in a digital sense.

Excellent 2d cut out sequence

I really love how the cut-out effect flows in this short sequence. I partially like the way each cut out is made from something else, I wonder if I can use this to include some of the girl’s artwork.



Next up, the mood boards, in which there are many .. so many.

The Animated Documentary – The Idea Stage

As part of the requirement of this assignment, I have to keep a visual diary, which I do anyhow in a ‘real life’ book I will also keep it here. I actually started this in a word document with the caveat that I would put it here too if I could figure out why my WordPress was giving me the white screen of death in the admin section (news flash, it a broken plugin).

I have actually had this idea in my head for a while, to record my 7-year-old twins talking and animated a segment, so I guess it stands to reason that this is the first thing I would think of when given the assignment to animate a documentary. In the interest of covering all basis’s I will be coming up with a few alternative ideas, such as interviewing my Father about experience of being a Romany Gypsy, my Mother in laws quilt group, my husband’s job as an IT professional,  my sister’s job as a high school teacher, how my son feels about having Asperger’s and ADHD.

I decided to focus on someone in my immediate family group, as I know they will be willing participants. Mostly though, I want to talk to my twins about a situation that happened in their school at the end of the last term.  My girls it seems are crime stoppers. They caught a group of 11 and 12-year-old boys stealing speakers from outside their class room and managed to chase them off and provide information that leads directly to the boys being identified, and dealt with. Here are some other questions I will be asking them: What is like being a twin, what is a bully, what do you do if someone is bullying you, tell me about Cub Scouts.
Here are a few notes that I wrote in my physical journal about ideas that I have been generating. I love the idea of also including the girl’s art work in some way.

My girls may be twins, but they both have a very distinct style when it comes to their art work and how they express them selves. If I got ahead with this idea then I would like to incorporate that individualism into my animation as both girls talk.

The top two images are drawn by Violette, who loves reading, writing, and mathematics, the bottom two are drawn and created by Erynn, who says she hates reading and writing but loves to create art work, draw and colour.

Violette’s art work tends towards the two dimensional with written subtitles. Erynn likes to use the scissors to create 3d works of art, she uses a lot of mixed medias and has a very interesting take on the use of perspective.

Resources looked at: 

Part of the creative process is watching other animated documentaries in an effort to identify styles that we liked and methods used.

After watching the suggested documentary and personal narratives, I made the following notes what aspects I liked:

Baba, by Joel Kefali – Painterly, great transitions, painted look, always I motion, childlike, use of typography to emphasise mispronounced words. The simple block colouring tied the story together without confusing the eye.

Coi Army Learning – Why Not Associates – White board look, hand drawn, great transitions.

Storm Whale, Moth Collective – Nice texture and feel

The Wiki Man, Moth Collective – Loose animation style, animated word, not overly complicated or confusing, not too much to look at, vision not confused, I liked it, the idea of rebranding potatoes.

Sarah’s Story, Moth Collective – Childlike drawings, but not childlike, the view reflects Sarah’s feelings and thoughts rather than focusing on the story she is telling about what happened to her. Its meaning was much more metaphorical. Every day is a gift.


My Mothers Coat, Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits – I like the sound effects in the background, the simple lines. This is possibly rotoscoped. The lines were minimal as were the use of colour. Life should be a walk you share, share everything, do not waste time. I found something mesmerising in this.

Liars need a good memory, James Heredia – Collage, paint, digital. Nice integration of video and collage.

Keona + Chantelle – The Wrong Trainers, Arthur Cox Animation – I LOVE the cardboard box cut-outs and childlike drawings. I really love the child perspective in this animation; how they tell about the time, she fell out the window and described how far she fell. I like the way the children talk about their parents, and how they want to help them. ‘Small crushed up houses”
And in the interest of not spending the rest of the day copying links and posting the other pictures that I promise are in the word document here are some other animations I watched:

A is for Autism, Tim Webb – Childlike, hand drawn, dealing with a subject matter important to me as I have an autistic child and brother, I like the integration of the live action and animation.

Asperger’s Syndrome – Stop Motion. Music Matters, Nick Cave – Really love the line drawing and use of typography.

This Land is Mine, Nina Paley – I like the simple vector like graphics used in this animation, I also like how it feels as if it is portrayed as platform shoot’em up game.

Mound, Allison Schulnik – Pencil titles, simple uniform colour pallet, great depth of field, all characters are similar, but yet unique.

A-Z Clip, Sarah Cox – Great childlike perspective. Cut out, paper texture, some great transitions and cuts.

Oregonian ‘Transformation’ Bent Image Lab – I like the origami look and the fact that they took a newspaper and turned it into something else.

Lesley Barnes Herzog and the Monsters, GSA DDS MDes Animation – I like the cut out feel, almost like it could be a pop-up book. The incorporation of typography and books, and the 3d effect created with a drop shadow. I like the interesting perspective.

Shofar, JNFA Dancing Diablo – I like the hand drawn doodles circling the live action.

Creative Freedom, John Kelly – Great integration of live action and 3d, and hand-drawn.

Back to the start, John Kelly – Cute 3d animations, really love the way the camera pans from left to right as the buildings are created. Surprisingly moving, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the emotive music too. The models are very textural, which grounds them. Despite the non-organic shapes.

Josh Pyke middle of the hill video – I liked the cutout view and the integration of the live action with the animation.

The Thomas Beale Cipher, Andrew S Allen – Integration of newsprint, fabric, collage, and live action, textures used to create animation.

Pam’s advertisement, AssemblyLtd – I really like the use of texture in this adverts, the way the 3d models have been almost flattened, lots of Kiwiana.

Next up, recording the audio! Check out the next blog post for more on this.

Words Hold Power – Final Video

I have really enjoyed this semester of MoCap, last year I don’t think I truly don’t think I got it, but having the freedom to create a piece of art that means something really captivated my imagination.

As an artist, I never know when my next bit of inspiration will strike, so it was really serendipity when I glanced at the poster on the bus stop. One thought really changed the direction of my idea, and I am glad I did, as I am proud of the result.

I have learned a lot this semester that will not only aid me with my future MoCap endeavours but also supplemented my knowledge and skill for my Major of Animation. I found the tutorials especially helpful.

I still feel like I need to improve upon so much, and wish that my skill level matched my visions. If I could improve upon this sequence then I would have to say that I would do something more creative when swapping between rigs. I did experiment with nCloth, but in the end decided to keep it simple so the message was preserved.

I would like to explore particle effects more in the future; however, they just did not fit with my vision for this project.

Below is the final version.

And This is the ‘making of the video’, I quite like watching it along with the video of Mel’s live dance.

Mocap II – Capture to Final Render

I really promise I meant to update this while I was working on it, but as usual, life has kind of gotten away with me so here I am now updating in the last minute.

After capturing the live data in the Mocap room at AUT you import it to Cortex and do something that is called ‘cleaning the data’. To be honest, even though I remember doing it last year I had forgotten every last thing that I learned, so it’s a good thing we had some very useful PDF’s to help guide me.

I think I did an okay job of cleaning it up and making sure all the markers were not muddled up, although there were a few issues on the chest, I think that was more to do with the way the markers were on the suit.

After this, we import the cleaned data to Motion Builder and retarget with one of the characters there. This involved lining up the shoulder, head, hand markers, etc onto the correct place on the character, then save your new re-targetted character.

Then you can send your rigged character with motion control from Maya to Motion Builder and merge your re-targetted character with your new rig. Once you have resized the characters and made sure they line up well you can hide the character showing only your rig and bake the motion to the control rig.

Once the motion has been baked to the control rig you can create animation layers and fix any limbs that might intersect another part of the body or the floor. This is especially important if you are planning on pinning Ncloth to your character, as it really messes up the simulation (I found that out the hard way).

It took me quite some time to figure out how to use the feature on Motion Builder that prevent the characters toes from going through the ground plane. I knew it was there, as Greg my lecturer had shown me in the class, but the 2017 version had put it in a slightly different place so it took about 40 mins of searching to find it because Autodesk hasn’t seemingly updated the new location in any of their tutorial pages.

Once I figured out how to effectively skin my word mesh to the rig and control rig it was easy enough to edit the limbs and make sure the figure had good motion. It was mostly time to consume, and it’s easy to miss jerky or unusual motion if you are scrubbing through the timeline. This is why I did many playblasts from Maya, which allowed me to better easily see if I had smooth motion or not.

Sadly there were few motions that I couldn’t smooth. I suspect that it’s only me that it bothers. The reason for this is the way the original actor moved her arms. As she rotated her arms hands seem to look natural upside down, but when you flip a word that way it looks weird. Or at least it appeared that way to me.

I decided to just do a straight swap between rigs after pondering how to do the transition. I made these either on a camera change, or when my dancer did something like a huge leap. It is actually rather effective.

For my audio, I removed the original background music and just left Dr Maya Angelous voice over, then I used a piece of music that I know is royalty free from Bensound. I also replaced the audio so it flowed better with my chosen music. The Music piece I choose was too long for my sequence so I also shortened it.

I spent two days working out camera angles for my sequence. I know that this is an area that I am weak in so wanted to devote a good amount of time to this to ensure visually it flowed well.

I had an idea of how I wanted the lighting to look, but after spending so much time placing the poetry on the walls, and the dedication on the back wall I realised that I need a well-lit scene.  The only drawback to this is it takes so much longer to render due to all the geometry.

In total it took over 60 hours to render this sequence, at approximately 2 minutes per frame at HD750.

Photo Gallery or process, please click on images to view in full.


Mocap, Mash in Maya

I just fell down a rabbit hole of the internet but in the process discovered this video that has a quick overview of Mash inside Maya and it’s so good it makes my brain want to explode. I can really see the vector graphic thing working well for my character!

Anyhow, I wanted to share the video here while it was still in my mind so I can come back to it later. I’ll add a few more here as I go.

I had to test drive the SVG vector tool immediately! What I can say, is that I don’t think I’ll be doing my character quite like the ones in the image below.

Word figure testing

Here is a video that is talking about Mesh scattering.

Here is the webinar on Mash, that I have to watch. I have a lot of watching and learning to do.