I went on a trip yesterday taking photos of the likely habitats of the Hermit Hogs. I placed the containers in shot with the intention of drawing the hogs into them eventually, but this is the one I’ve done so far. Eleanor came with me on the trip and we decided that this is the likely place our creatures would meet so we drew this together. The pip pip peeks out the bin to see what all the fuss is about outside is about.
The World Health Organisation has included ‘Game Disorder’ in a draft disease classification list that is to be published later this year. It’s rather coincidental that this should be brought up now. It just so happens to be very relevant to the story I want to write.
To have a video gaming addiction you must:
- “Have a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behaviour”
- “Impaired Control over gaming activities”
- Have a lifestyle in which gaming “Takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities.”
These are more or less exactly the symptoms I wan’t Jekyll to be suffering in my story. So perhaps my tale will already have happened in the real world?
I did this just to get a better idea of what happens next (and to have something a bit jazzed up for my tutorial). Obviously the animation is a bit wobbly but it demos what I want to do. The shading helps it blend in a bit and I noticed the reflection in the floor adds a lot to it.
Driving back into Norwich up Unthank Road, I got caught at a red light. In this brief moment, I had a chance to admire some of the wonderful houses that lined the road. Shrouded in vibrant shrubbery, even in this bleak season, they looked so warm and homely. Victorian red brick, timber frames and leaded windows. Keystones and pargeting, all so artfully constructed. Some even had the festive glow of golden fairy lights seeping through the frost on the glass of their bay windows. Christmas isn’t quite over for some.
But one window displayed the image of a modern man at work, all set up in his front window, for all the world to see. From yellow the light of his elegant angle poise, I could see him facing forward, partly obscured by the sleek brushed aluminium lid to his laptop he was hunched over. To the left of him, steam arose from the freshly made mug of tea proclaiming its owner to be the world’s greatest daddy. What a wholesome sight. No longer does father have to go on month long business trips to the far east. He can manage both family and fortune from the comfort of his study and a mustard yellow crew necked jumper. The bamboo Venetian blind gave simultaneously the impression of a formal office and a Caribbean beach hut.
Over Christmas, I found myself blasting through the new season of Black Mirror and a thought occurred to me that Jekyll and Hyde would probably have been received the same way as an episode of Black Mirror back in it’s time. They work on the same principles, giving a somewhat ordinary person an extraordinary power and plays on how they abuse it.
Watching USS Calister, I drew similarities between Daly’s modded version of the game and Hyde. They both use their knowledge to create a way to behave as they truly want to. They’re somewhat different characters from somewhat different stories but their motives are on the same lines. In my story I’d like to create a version of Jekyll from the future that creates a device like Daly’s.
Jekyll can go into this virtual reality and go and get up to all the wretched things he wants to do, but spending so much time in there, not only does his character deteriorate, but he begins to neglect himself. His life falls totally out of balance.
Here’s my first animation test for the hermit hogs. This has addressed some of my main concerns about the pipeline for this project and has made me feel a lot more confident about my vision.
I filmed the hog-mobile performing this basic move across the kitchen floor at 25fps (would have filmed in the natural habitat but it’s blowing a hoolie today). I then took the footage into AE and converted it into a PNG sequence then, for lack of a better plan, deleted every other frame in the folder and reinterpreted it in AE at 12.5fps which meant that it played in doubles. Saving this as a .mov I was then ready to put the footage in TVPaint.
Somehow, TVPaint recognised the video file as being in doubles and displayed the video in the time line accordingly. I animated key frames in fours then inbetweened it into twos that matched the video. I don’t see how I can really keyframe in any other way because the footsteps are predetermined by the hog-mobile’s movement and because of the way this character scuttles around, the legs move so fast, you don’t spend any longer than a couple of frames for each step. I’m going to have to pay close attention to the storyboards when filming for real.
The nature of the brief being to animate in a photographic environment and the nature of my invented mythical beast has led me to do something a bit odd. Having most of the beast being obscured by it’s housing (it lives in fast food packaging), it seemed sensible to perhaps actually animate the object it lives in with Stop Motion actually in the environment. That would save me having to draw this large, solid object perfectly every frame and it would PHYSICALY be there in the environment so I wouldn’t have to faff about with special effects making it look like it’s inside a photograph.
However, I know shooting stop motion outside is an absurdly hard thing to do and it would take an age to get right. So why not just strap it to an RC car and drive it around in live action film?
I couldn’t find any KFC nugget buckets by the side of the road, so I made this prototype nugget bucket out of card and used wire and tape to strap it to a remote controlled car.
I chose this particular car because it’s small enough to fit in a fast food container and has SOME off road capability. This means I can hopefully have it snuffle around through the undergrowth.
Today I’m preparing to do some animation tests for my hermit hogs. After a discussion with Jon, I decided that instead of just animating the whole creature on top of a photograph, I would film the physical object the hog lives in moving around in live action and animate the hog underneath in TVPaint afterwards. I thought this was a fairly interesting and radical direction to go with the brief and is going to make the whole animation process a bit of a challenge.
Having never tried anything like this before, I’m not sure if this is going to make my job a lot easier or a lot harder. Technically, I’ll have half my work done for me already but is matching the the hog to the exactly to the video going to be impossible?
I’m going to write up the pipeline and address my own concerns.
- To move the cardboard bucket the hog lives in, I’m going to attach one to a remote controlled car.
- I will film this performing the scenes on location (25fps).
- I’ll take the footage and convert it to an image sequence (12fps?).
- Import the image sequence into TVPaint.
- Draw the hog into shot.
- Take finished animation into AE and apply camera grain .etc.
- One of my bigger concerns is matching the movement of the hog’s legs to the remote controlled car. I can’t plan very accurately how the car is going to move so how to I plan the hog’s footsteps?
- How do I keyframe when half of the animation is live action?
- How is the digital video going to look reduced to 12fps? Should I try a shot animated at 25fps?
Only animation tests will truly answer my questions.
I whipped up this very rough facial animation to start looking at Tronald’s mouth shapes.
On reflection, I should probably have done his whole head but I was only really interested in his face. To make this, I drew 5 key frames that captured his head movement and key phonemes then inbetweened the rest. I think I’ve captured a rough likeness.
Decided to do some sketches of Tronald in preparation for my character performance piece. Jon suggested when I told him my idea for this that I created a character based on Dump instead of straight up drawing him. However, I think he’s too good a reference point to waste this opportunity.
I took these sketches from 4 seconds of footage. It’s absolutely insane the amount of expression he gets through in such a short space of time. There’s a lot of elasticity in his face which I think is going to be incredibly fun/difficult to deal with.