25/11/2010

After Effects

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The play buttons for the video seem to be a little displaced, not sure why, but they do all work - just hover your mouse round until it activates!

So we are currently working on the second of the Advanced Tech Projects, which is to explore After Effects and create a 30 second title sequence for a fictional TV program. I spent a while really looking at the simple features, trying to understand a program which to me was quite complex. But I soon found that it was very easy to create some really good effects, and with some files and tutorials from Julian's collection, I began to really enjoy using AE's different features.

My chosen sequence is a title sequence for my Major Project film. I'll be putting up storyboards soon, but the main features will be 2D objects in a 3D space, continuous panning and swooping camera moves, and the above pop-up effect on cut-out style buildings and trees.

On other fronts, Major Project is a little stalled at the moment but I've found some nice traditional media styles to explore and some facial shapes to look at, so hopefully I can get straight into it when Pre-Production restarts after Advanced Tech.

I've also had problems with the Collab project, which is really a shame, but to look on the bright side I've come up with a new Collab that is hopefully much more achievable and can be done as my personal project. It'll be a pop-up book with each page dedicated to one of our little animation family members, with a few drawings by themselves designed into a page I draw in their style, with a little caricature of themselves and, with a few words they'll each use to represent themselves, a poem that runs through the book. I'm hoping it'll be awesome ^_^ So start thinking guys - what represents you?

25/10/2010

Major Project Story

So we've finally started Pre-Production but many of us have been working on the project over the summer. I have my story planned and some ideas for what I want the project to look like. I'll try and give you an outline here, and the current story plan. I had a lot of help shaping this from Luke, my best friend and the best story artist I know, so I thank him a lot for his ideas and ways to improve the story :) He's helped a lot of people in the class, so I hope they also give him the credit he deserves. I know he's going to be an amazing story artist with many awesome films under his belt one day.

I have not yet done any sketching to put on here, but I'll try and put some visuals up to give you a 'feel' of what I mean in certain parts. I don't have all the resources written down but if you like a picture and want to know where it's from just comment and I'll link you to it. If the artists that these images belong to see this, please know I'm not taking credit for your images, and when I have chance I will put a full reference linking each picture back to your original Deviant Art page (which is generally where I found them).

My idea for the 'feel' is 'Organic Steampunk', hence the name of this blog, and this is something I want to incorporate into all the elements of the design. To me 'Organic Steampunk' is taking the metal elements of steampunk and replacing them with wood, rock and other organic materials, though there will be metal elements, but still keeping the victorian themes and industrial settings while giving it a much more fantasy feel. There will be a lot of clockwork and spring-based mechanisms, so it does fall under the sub-genre of 'Clockpunk', but I'll refer to it as 'Steampunk' as that is the main genre and is more recognised.


 


The story itself is set in a fantasy world, with humans and creatures similar to our own but with many physical and historical differences. It takes place in a wooden city on the edge of a cliff, over-looking the ice-flows on one side and surrounded by forests on the other. The city was originally powered by a large coal and steam-based industry, relied upon by the working class for income and support, though dangerous as it used a labyrinth of tunnels to reach mines deep under the city within the cliffs. These mines are now empty, long-abandoned at the beginning of the industrial revolution caused by the current monarch introducing a great 'divine' power, which is the cause of her reign and the guarantee of it's continuity. Unbeknownst to the townspeople who revere the monarch as a divine being for changing their lives, this power actually comes from a young female elemental trapped by the monarch deep within the abandoned mines. This captivity has been in place for 50 years, but no one yet has discovered the monarch's secret.





The Characters:

The story centres on four characters. The main character that we follow is Rae. She is an androgynous, urchin-type girl that works as a cog maintainer in the city's towers and buildings. She is poor but works hard to support herself, as her mother died in childbirth and her father works away felling wood in the forest for city supplies. Her late grandfather worked as one of the head miners back in the coal-based industry days, until the new power source rendered his job unimportant, and the city's people decided to give up the gruelling work of mining for power and worship the new 'divine' Monarch for an easy life.





Her best friend, Lucian, is a curly-haired, well-turned out son of a minister in service to the Monarch. The boy himself works in the archives of the city Library. The two young friends have been close since they were born but due to social differences are not supposed to see each other. However the boy's father is understanding, and loves his son very much, so allows him to see Rae whenever possible.





The Monarch is a vain, greedy, cunning woman who is eager to take other people's ideas and achievements and claim them as her own. Duana wandered into the city as a very young child from a travelling family, and found work in the kitchens of the Tower, back when coal and steam powered the industry. On an errand one morning when she was 14, she slipped and fell down the cliff-face towards the ice-flows far below. A passing elemental saw her fall and took pity on her, swooping down to save her and place her within the caves. A quick and intelligent girl, Duana saw how powerful this elemental was, and tricked her into captivity with the surrounding coal and stone. Over the next few years, she experimented on the trapped elemental and began learning how to control her powers. When Duana had full power over the spirit, she took it and claimed 'divine rights', becoming the Monarch, taking over the city with abilities never seen before, and overthrowing the previous ruler. She has been in power for 50 years now, and the elemental is still trapped and helpless in her prison within the mines.





The elemental herself is a spirit of air and light, giving off power that in our world we would call electricity. Niamh (pronounced Neev) is a gentle, beautiful creature that is desperate to escape her captivity and be free within the world once more. The coal prison that encases her has been subject to her powers for so long now that it has transformed into a glittering diamond garden, glowing with the elemental's power and heat. Without her the city would collapse as it has become so dependant on her power over time.








The Story:

We start with an introduction to Rae and her life as a cog-maintainer. As she is going about her job, she begins to notice strange energies and sparks happening around her. This becomes a common happening for her, and she comes to be curious about the energy and what it may mean. One day, the energy accumulates into the face of a beautiful girl, and Rae feels she must find out who it is, no matter what. She is consumed by the mystery and asks for the help of her best friend Lucian. The two friends talk about who and what she could be, and Rae tries to find ways of communicating with the energy to help with the search for information. Through this, they get hints of the mines and the Monarch, and begin to build an idea of what happened.

Lucian uses his access to city resources and the Library to discover the existence of the caves and how to use the long-disused lifts and walkways leading to the labyrinths. The two friends plan a difficult trip down into the heart of the caves where they believe the girl might be.

Together they discover the crystalline garden that has grown around the girl over the many decades she has been imprisoned. At the heart of it is Niamh, strung up and unable to move, supplying the city with it’s ‘mysterious’ power. Niamh recounts the story of her capture and imprisonment and reveals the Monarch’s lies. The two friends must leave to figure out a plan to free her, but Niamh and Rae feel a deep connection and Rae finds it hard to go.

Unbeknownst to them, the Monarch is alerted to Lucian's research through long-set up warnings on the information he requests, and sends ministers to question him and his father. The boy's father knows nothing of it but suspects the involvement of his son, so when the Monarch becomes particularly angry, Lucian's father accuses himself of the crimes and is made an example of in front of the royal court.

Meanwhile Lucian, enraged by his father's death and determined to bring down the Monarch, has been given his father’s access to old records and discovers that nearly all proof of Niamh's captivity was destroyed by the cunning woman. He manages to uncover the way to remove the bonds holding the girl, but through schematics and plans he sees that without Niamh, the city would collapse as it has become so dependant on her power that it cannot even stand without her. Throughout this, Rae has been spending all her time communicating with Niamh through the energy waves, learning more about her and caring for her deeply.

Rae must then choose between the continuation of the city or the freedom of a girl she has come to love unconditionally. Her choice is difficult, but she believes the three of them can be happy and help to rebuild a new city near the forest, using the old mining traditions and materials of the land. So Rae and Lucian return to the caves to attempt to free Niamh.

However the trapped girl then explains that this is not so – while in the caves she is corporeal and like a living body, but on contact with the outside, with the sunlight and air, she would cease to be like this, returning to her original elemental state: free but no longer able to be with Rae.

Rae is inconsolable at this revelation, and ceases to free Niamh, struggling to accept the need for Niamh's freedom with the opposing wish to be by her always.

Meanwhile the Monarch has been searching for the two friends, knowing that her secret is discovered and her rule in jeopardy. She cannot risk any of her ministers discovering the truth so must pursue them herself. She still remembers the way to the caves and knows that they must be somewhere in there.

Lucian has been keeping lookout at the mouth of the caves and so is forced into a struggle to keep the Monarch from getting to his friend. He is injured terribly but manages to push the Monarch from the mouth where she plummets to her death in the ice below the cliffs.

Back in the caves, Rae struggles to reach a decision. Her love eventually wins out and she finishes freeing Niamh. They share a brief embrace before the caves begin to collapse as the city above them shakes and falls in on itself. They flee to the mouth of the cave.

They cannot linger as they are in danger of being crushed by the falling rocks, so with a final kiss, Niamh disappears into the elements, and with her power she bears the two friends upon the wind to safety by the forests, where many of the city’s people have evacuated to from the ruined buildings, reuniting Rae with her father.

Lucian is permanently damaged, but with his knowledge of the old city's workings and Rae's ability with the materials and cogs, they work with the evacuees to build a new city amongst the forest using the old traditions of coal and steam.

End.






Well, that's the working draft anyway. I'm quite pleased with it, and have yet to see any glaring plot-holes, though I can think of a few people who will be quick to point them out lol so I'll fix those when they crop up. Otherwise, I'm really excited about visualising this, and although I have no sketches at this time, I know the style I want to go for -

The Style:

I enjoyed working on designing for stop-motion last year, so would like to continue that theme this year. That said, it will be very much along the lines of the 'Coraline' style - very polished, detailed and smooth. I want to be more illustrative with the designs themselves, using a lot of ink and calligraphy pens, and perhaps some scraperboard for negative images. I used to enjoy this style a lot but it was pushed aside for digital learning last year and I'm not happy with this. I also want to work in a semi-realistic style, as the characters will be planned for sculpting so there is more room for detail. I will also work with paper textures for costumes, and photomanipulation for backgrounds. Here are a few images that have styles I'd like to look at:







Well I think this is long enough already - sorry about the overload of text! But at least now you can all see the full idea so far, and a few visual examples along the way. I hope you like the sound of it, as I'm pretty excited, though I'm sure things will change as it progresses.

Anyway, thank you everyone!