Earth Hallucinations

I had an idea on the train to make this so I made it. It initially came from me scrolling directly north from my house to see what was there but it was so visually boring I took it somewhere else instead.

I took a few screen captures scrolling along Google maps in one direction along areas of particularly square countryside in the fens and the broads. I took them into after effects and mirrored and transformed in various ways. I used colorama on the red channel to achieve the weird red and blue look.



Here’s my final showreel of my first year work. Being very selective, I’ve managed to keep it at just over 1 minute.

I’ve structured the editing and sequencing of the video heavily around the song I chose, Proleter’s ‘You Can Get It’. First there is a little introduction with a varied selection of my work from all disciplines then I start titling the sections of the video. I start with my work from TV Paint as its some of my favourite work comes from this and I’ve done a range of different things in the software.

Then I transition to work from After Effects with a lip sync clip. I decided to use the puppet I had created for that project¬†to lip sync a small extract from the music instead of using one of the lip sync projects I’d used before to avoid having to turn down the music. I felt that using one of the clips I had already made would have felt a little out of place and would have ruined the pace of the video. That’s why I didn’t include the music from my ‘Animation to Sound’ clip.

Moving to stop motion, I really like the second clip of the rig smashing the orange ball. I managed to time that to hit the beat as well, which is quite satisfying to watch. Next comes my showcase of moving from reference video to first pass to finished mystery box sequence. The fade from Valentina to the first pass is very smooth as I managed to line up the footage so she and the puppet were the same size and so their steps were in time. That part looks fab.

Then I showcase a few character sheets which I threw in because I thought they looked nice and showed the initial plans for characters that are included in the reel.

Then I finish off with my work from CG which isn’t my best, which is why it comes last, but it does show I have a basic understanding of the software.

I round of the video with a little self portrait animation that grows, holds on normal, then explodes to reveal the title card. I quite like it as a little flourish to the reel, I just hope it’s recognisably me!



Parcel Pete’s Second Take

Yesterday afternoon, I shot a second version of my mystery box sequence with Pete. This one had its flaws again, but it was certainly better than my first.

With this shoot I got the timings a little wrong on some of the pauses, but this has been cleaned up in post. I’ve continued to struggle with adequate lighting for his dark uniform which I think I’m going to have to deal with. I also suffered another breakage with his left ear. I managed to glue this back on and continue shooting very quickly.

This morning, I sat down and put the footage into After FX. First I did the chroma keying with Keylight 1.2. The keying worked a lot better this time around, but I did have to cheat a bit. I keyed it so the edges were clean, but there was some partially translucent parts in his trousers and hair. To fix this, I duplicated the clip so that the translucency disappeared.

Next up I masked out the rig. I had to use this at two points, the first time because I found I had Pete’s foot pinned into a rift in the floor and he wasn’t stable, the second time because because he had a bad lean towards the end of the walk cycle.

Pete AE

Because I had already duplicated the footage, I applied all three masks to the second duplicate clip.

Then I went ahead and animated the smoke. First I did the big mushroom cloud, which I made fairly unconventionally. I animated a shape layer on hold keyframes every two frames to try and blend it in with my stop motion footage that’s on doubles.

Pete AE 2

I’m not sure if this was a silly thing to do, but it looks good so I can’t complain. I seem to have got the spacing right so that’s a bonus! I then masked the cloud to appear as if it is coming out of the bin. Then I did the whispy smoke that comes out initially. But first I tried doing it with smoke rings, but they had to move too far in a short distance of time ti look right.

Pete AE 3

Instead of animating a shape layer for the whispy clouds, I animated a mask on a grey solid layer so I could use the feathering effect to make it look smokey. This seems to have worked quite nicely.

Finally, I reworked the background a bit. I needed to fill in the space on the left of the screen behind the bush. I tried putting a wheat field in but it was too flat and I couldn’t draw it very nicely. Instead, I’ve put a long hedge line with a classic cast iron fence running along the road. Behind that, I’ve put a tree and then further behind I put a hill side. This could do with some work, but I’m going to leave it overnight to see if I like it. I’ve reworked the colour of the bush to help fit the new scenery.

Pete PS 1

Showreel Analysis

Let’s start with this. Despite the reasonable overall quality of animation, this showreel is quite flawed. First there is the audio problem. The music is a little too loud, especially at the beginning where it’s covering up what’s being said in the dialogue, which is cut from various films. There’s also a little issue from poor editing of the music track towards the end.

Some of the clips could do with being a little shorter, especially a the clips towards the end. We linger on the dragon for way too long and we start to see the flaws. The video should never have passed the 1m30s point. He’s made some pretty good animation look very corny. The titling is also vague and there’s no contact details on the video.

This one is pretty darn good, however I feel the structure is a little random. We start with some initial roughs of some different walk cycles, one of which turns into the finished article which makes a nice transition, but from then on, it seems to be clips from a few different projects randomly inter cut with concept drawings. All the work is great, but we could have guessed that from the first minute, the second feels gratuitous. There’s also no contact details.

This one had no trouble giving out the contact details – It even has them in the thumbnail! I thought it was interesting to see the contrast between a working animators showreel and a students. I watched Gemma’s one here and it certainly didn’t feel like 3 minutes, which just proves you have to be really bloody good to be able to go above 1 minute 30. Have I sold myself short or been realistic leaving my own at 1 minute?

In spite of what I just said, it could probably have been a little shorter, since it is much of the same throughout, but it need the time to show both her work on key animation as well as the cleaned up footage.

Her showreel making skills seem to have got her employed on a few great projects, so I can’t poke too many holes.

The animation for this one is stunning, it’s quick cut, in most cases with a really fun soundtrack. Again, it hits two minutes and as we go into the second minute, I check to see how long more its got. It’s got a very uniform style but still explores a few different looks around that.

What’s strange about it, is after all that, we get a name and email address dumped onto the video in Helvetica. What’s that about? I’ve just seen some crazy design going on and now this? It’s a bit of a let down, but it works. There’s also no date on it.

The Swallows of Kabul


I can just about see between the layers in this one, especially when the paralax kicks in. I think the door that swings open at one point might be 3D, as it would have been in ‘Les Armatures’ earlier film, ‘Triplets of Belleville’.

The style of this is absolutely staggering and the nuanced little scene we see is beautiful. It’s about time someone gave some stigmatised people a naturalistic voice.

Parcel Pete’s First Take

This afternoon my 2 hour slot to animate came round and I produced this:

I’m not terribly pleased with it, but first I’ll point out some things I like. Watching the feet throughout the clip is very satisfying. All the steps through the initial walk cycle (bar the last pace) roll smoothly from one to the other. What I’m particularly pleased with is the step towards the box, which came out just like I planned it in the animatic. When I practised this part of the animation in my test-run, it looks like the video has corrupted.

The first thing I don’t like about this is the hands during the walk cycle. I’m not sure how they went so wrong, but they don’t swing so much as they jerk. If anything could do with a little bit of easing in and out, it’s those. The reaction could do with a fair few less frames and possibly even a step back. At the moment, it looks slow and forced where it needs to be snappy and decisive.

Then there are the technical problems. The footage itself is problematic, whether that’s the fault of the lighting or just the camera, the shadows are too dark and make keying quite a struggle. What could really help the problem is having a secondary light or perhaps a reflector. One thing, which I didn’t see coming, was the bin dissolving when I applied the key. I figured that it was dark enough to not be a problem, but that will need to be changed if there’s an opportunity for a re-shoot. ¬†Another thing is the puppet. The lovely new stripes I applied to the trousers with IMPACT glue began to peel off towards the end. This was because the trousers ended up rucking up and the knees and this pulled them off the trouser. I’m not sure if I should remove them from the model sheet or apply them more firmly to the model. The head, which was pointed out should be more secure for filming, became a problem when I found I had mounted it too stiffly. One of the key parts of the performance is a head turn that leads in the glance round. When it came to that, the head was too stiff to turn at all. I managed to take it off and make it a little looser with minimal effect to the clip itself.

Overall, the performance isn’t terrible and I can edit it to be slightly more slick. but what I can say, having had at least an hour more time and a technician in the building, it could have been a far more productive experience.

Gumball Backgrounds

Here’s a couple of places that have given me an insight into the background making process for gumball.

Some backgrounds are a result of heavy photo manipulation and others are 3D sets with photo-real textures that are rendered into stills with mental-ray.

The photo-real backgrounds in gumball mean compositors need to recreate accurate lighting and shadows with the characters.

Gumball Compositor Application

Gumball Jobs.PNG

Here is an absolutely golden source. Now I know exactly what software is used to put together the final scenes and what is expected of a compositor on the show. Good knowledge of Flash and Photoshop is a plus as it means they can also work with animations and backgrounds if they need to and set up dynamic links between projects. I now also know they call it a ‘Multidisciplinary team’ which is good to know, because I’d only been assuming.

Philip Valette – Compositor

Digging around Gumball, I found this demo reel from a compositor on Gumball. It’s a brilliant showcase of the level of detail that the compositors help instil into the show. There are camera moves, focus pulls, camera shake etc.

I sent him a little message on Vimeo to see if he could shed some light on the compositing pipeline.

Hello there,

Doing a little research on compositing for modern 2D animation, I found the demo reel for your work on Gumball. I hadn’t seen the show before, but from your clip, I realised it’s quite masterfully put together. It must have been a complex job!

I know it’s been a while but is there a chance you could tell me a little about how the compositing stage worked for Gumball?

How did the mixed animation styles effect the compositing? Thinking about it, I would assume that you only received a bunch of video files so it wouldn’t make a huge difference but can you tell me otherwise?

Would you begin work on a scene as soon as the first animations came through or would you have to wait until the production stage was over?

Were you working purely in After Effects?

By the way, I was just looking at your blog, I though I’d say I really love your comic. You’ve captured the beige era of technology in a really funny way. I’ll be sure to pick up a copy when my student loan comes in!

All the best,

Finley – Animation Student

Its not all flattery, he looks like a very interesting guy, having worked on some really cool projects and his comic does look awesome!

We’ll see how far this gets us.