The latest Google Spotlight Story came out on Steam yesterday, directed by John Kahrs, the person behind ‘Paperman’. It got a lot of hype at Annecy along with ‘Piggy’, another Spotlight Story I’ll have to write about. I expected to see something just brilliant as ‘Pearl’, the only Google Spotlight Story to have really achieved something so far.
While I didn’t find it as emotionally engaging as Pearl, it certainly had a lot of value in being a VR story.
The beautiful, impressionistic art style, also a strong feature of Pearl, made it a very moving and plaintive place to be, out at sea. I feel it’s a very easy setting to replicate and very effective. At the beginning of the story, we’re belting along the waves, sails billowing, in a flotilla of other sailed vessels while William the captain chants a sea shanty with his two young crew. It’s fantastic.
Despite being set on a ship on rolling waves, you don’t seem to get sea sick. I think this is achieved by keeping you constant in relation to the ship’s speed and direction but constantly level, as if you were mounted on a gimbal.
Kahrs wanted to depict the sea as it is, a harsh and unforgiving place to be. This VR story definitely gets that across in a very romantic way.
I spent the weekend in Leeds getting a dear friend of mine to record an original music track for the beavers. He’s done a cracking job, getting the vibe right on the money.
My favourite part of the process was trading out a guitar squeal to kick off the music for a sampled beaver scream that we altered to sound a whole lot more aggressive.
He experimented with a few different riffs and quite a lot with his various peddles, ultimately giving way to the ‘Big Muff’ peddle that we owe the heavy, growling, low-fi sound to.
Ever since I started this project, they seem to have gained an awful lot of support in the media. Am I going to be preaching to the converted by the time I’ve actually finished this?
Well, this is rather handy isn’t it? I’ve come across most of this terminology in my research, mostly in articles written for mainstream audiences where the author feels the need to spend a paragraph explaining the meaning.
At least I can check my definitions easily and ensure I’m not talking out my arse in my research report.
Here’s some sketches from around Norwich I took for the Norwich Love Letters project. We went out as a group to tour round all the most important places to us.
When we met up in the morning, I told everyone not to take too much time and keep everything loose; we dont want over complication. Along the way, I thought it appropriate to say not to worry about warping the drawings, I quite liked it when that happened. It gave the drawings the quality of being like a memory, just the kind of thing I’m looking for.
This is the first major step we’ve taken as I didn’t quite realise the urgency of this project. After yesterdays session, I realise I need to step up and take responsibility for this project.
My next step is to write a manifesto for what I want us to achieve with this project and collate all the drawings from to today to begin to assemble some kind of story.
Talking to Lynsey on Friday, I told her that my report still hadn’t really made any progress and decided to discus the possibility of writing an editorial report instead of a standard essay. Her response was very positive and has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the project. I feel far more comfortable filling 2000 words with my VR research.
Lynsey told me that the other half of the report would have to be a justification for my article, detailing why I chose a certain publication to write it for, who the target audience would be for the article in terms of readership, circulation and topicality. So I’ll be in the library this week looking at magazines I could write for. I’ll really enjoy the design part of this, I’m imagining I’m gonna have to buy some stock photos for this.
Got some good feedback from my presentation on Friday. At the very least it got a good laugh, but I’m still very conflicted about whether or not it’s making the right point to the audience. About half of the people I speak to seem to think it’s on the money but others believe the story could do with a human voice and others thinking I need to amp up the devastation (Jon being a strong advocate for both).
After my feedback a couple weeks back from Helen, I thought my new ‘evil beaver’ design worked nicely but Helen seemed to think even these dark, mad eyed devils still looked rather cute (I can’t seem to escape my massive admiration for the little beasts) so perhaps I do need to go even madder with the devastation to compensate?
One group on the feedback sheet suggested I over-stylize the devastation sequence with bright red and orange, this could be more fun than the mysterious night setting?
The only other feedback suggested getting some harsh sound effects going in the devastation sequence, which is definitely something I want to play with in the future.
As with feedback from the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, the older committee members are unsure weather or not they wish to associate themselves with a film that frames the beavers in such a light, regardless of the context. I’m going to carry on with it regardless and perhaps try to convince them otherwise when the animation gets better.
For now, I think I’m gonnna leave the beavers alone as my other projects are becoming more and more urgent.
I’m seeing beavers when I close my eyes.
This is my improved version of the animatic, ready for Friday, unless I decide to change anything in the week.
Not sure about how I’ve done the osprey catching a fish, might be a bit too ominous? Not quite what I want.
The new evil beaver design works nicely I think, helps contrast between beaver reality and beaver fever dreams.
I really like my new version of the reverse shot after the fever dream. I think the butterfly adds to the tenderness of the beavers. I animated this new version of the shot on a whim, making it up as I went along but I think I’ll keep it.
Here’s something I put together to help me with the colour script.