ENO Project Journal

First day of finding a dynamic as a group.

What is amazing is Rishabh wants to use all our geographical and traditional background to create a animation that would talk about the refugee crisis happening in Lebanon, where I am from, in India, where Rishabh is from, and Taiwan, where Erick is from. This would help make the idea universal and rooted in the present events.

So I started looking at art that Lebanese artists, photographers, painters, street artists’ work done in reaction to this migrant crisis that happened at the beginning of war in Syria. From then, we extracted the key visual elements and artistic references we wanted to include in the animation.

For me, this research was a way to dig deeper in the Lebanese artistic scene and look at new work that developed with the Syrian refugee crisis. I got to look at this situation from a different point of view.

I already had knowledge of the Lebanese artistic scene, most specifically the street art scene. Before I moved to animation, I was part of this scene.

A man famously known as the Lebanese Banksy is the first artist that came to mind when thinking about this research. Usually making famous Lebanese artists faces, this man had taken upon himself to now represent faces that marked the capital, including syrian refugees after the crisis started.  His voice started reaching out and he wanted to shed light on the situation.

We therefore decided to use one of his mural as a reference towards the end of the animation.

Putting everything and cleaning it up in illustrator was a new challenge for me. We each divided the scenes and took care of a few numbers. I get the easy ones to get used to illustrator and vector illustrations.

I am working mostly on face close ups and the two main tigers as I have Rishabh’s primary illustrations as a guide.

We had our first meeting as a group on friday with Christopher and Natasha at ENO concerning our rough storyboard. All our visuals are cleaned up so modifying it will take some time.

The advice given was very helpful. Showing the story to a new set of eyes allowed us to see what was missing in the continuity and see how the story could be easily understood by a new audience. We were told to root the two main characters, the tigers to a place, and have this place destroyed by the flood. We want now to show this relationship, root the tigers to a home , have this home taken from them by the flood, explain why the tigress is sad to leave.

The other thing we needed to change was the pace of the music in relation to the story. The music quiets down in the end, with english words singing while action is still happening (the tigers are swimming). Christopher and Natacha thought the music should come later when we see the rack as a sign of hope.

Overall they liked the story, the influences and references as well as the visual style. The changes we need to make are minor.

So we started cleaning up a new storyboard. Rishabh also asked me to start working on a rough running cycle for the tigers which I am going to try doing on adobe animate for the first time.

After trying on animate, I went back to the TVpaint roots. I hope I have time to later discover animate, however for now, time is too tight. I guess we are going to need some getting used to anyway, trying to find the perfect way to execute the project. 4 legged running cycles have been a challenge for me so I am looking forward to being able to figure it out properly and make it work in the movie’s visual style.

Today, thursday the 18 of october, someone came in to give us the last bit of advice for our animatic. Once again we thankfully do not have much to change and the advice was really well given. It was about planting the decorum and situation from the beginning (the houses are being destroyed, something bad is about to happen) to resolving the situation in a smarter way (seeing the boat earlier in the story and including from the middle of the piece). These are all the little things that will help the story get to the audience quicker and more easily.

I finally started on the proper animation part of the film. My first task was to animate the run cycle we are going to use for the tigers. I first looked at some reference before starting the run.My first draft was too fast so I added in betweens and then adapted the style to make the clean up better. Upon looking at the first draft, Rishabh felt the head was too static, he felt the curve should be more exaggerated in the ups and downs positions. I fixed that and sent it to him to clean up. We are starting to figure out a dynamic. I will take care of most of the rough frame to frame animation while Rishabh and Erick, more at ease with illustrator will take care of the cleanup. The issue is the frame to frame animation is a small part of the process and many scenes will be made in after effects, so Rishabh gave me a small wind scene to figure out in after effects. On the side though, I asked to take care of 2 other frame to frame scenes for now. We have the scenes with the flowers blooming and the scenes where the wave crashes down. I am very excited to work on both of these. It is the first time but I love the movement and the challenge it represents. First thing I did of course is check out references. Live and animated. I like to compare them frame to frame to see where animators skips frames here and there to make the animation easier and better. I finally settled on a live reference for the flower, even though the timing is a bit fast for me but I can work that out. For the wave however, it is very stylish, like a character so the movement and repercussions will look very different from a normal one. The foam for instance should be very geometrical or make perfect curves like Rishabh’s style on this animation calls for.

I have completed the tiger run, flower blooming and currently working on the many scenes that will include the wave character. I do feel a sense of excitement as well as stress when I work on this. As a beginner animator, you can be pretty sure every new scene is in fact “new”. It is my first time animating water and I do not want to disappoint. I have been watching footage of waves crashing down over and over for me to have the movement in mind. Still, once the movement is done, well timed, I need to adapt the visual style which can be tricky when it’s not your own. However Rishabh has been very helpful and knows exactly what he wants which makes my part easier to complete.

Rishabh gave me 2 scenes to animate: the chopping tree scene and the movement of the wind we are going to use for the storm scene. I started working on the chopping scene but got really stuck for hours trying to make it look right. I finally had to hand to my group to fix as I was going nowhere. The movement of the wind however, represented by a single line, was much easier. I already had the movement in mind before starting. I played around a little with the timing and that was it.

I am now working on shot 9. Shot 9 is the scene when the tigers look around and look down and notice their home is being destroyed. They start getting angry. This is very much a complicated scene in the sense that it is typical behavorial animation. I need to get the positions, movements between each keys and timing right to make it even remotely resembling a tiger. I have been watching a lot of references online and looked at the reference video from the LAV class to get an idea of how I should animated this. The tigers usually move their head around when getting angry and roaring to attain more ground. They also have these very exaggerated neck movements to make them look more dangerous. I am now trying to apply that to my keys to make this scene powerful.

I have animated a cycle for a tiger climbing a tree for shot 2. I watched a lot of reference for this so starting on the movement was thankfully pretty fast. This movement also does not require a lot of frames so the biggest issue was to adapt the style.

I am now helping design human characters for shot 2.  In shot, we see human cutting trees. Rishabh told me to look at patachitra art for inspiration and reference before creating the characters.

I have worked on the tiger reaching the top of the tree as well as humans chopping trees. I am now going to work on water splash as tigers run while the water gets higher and higher.

My last animation was having the tiger go from a climb to a stop on top of the tree. I had the climb and Rishabh added keys for me to in between as the tiger gets on top of the tree. With the keys ready, it was pretty straightforward to complete the scene. It was more a question of time rather than thought.

How Fantastic Beasts Immerses us in a New World

Every time I go to the movies to watch a Harry Potter movie, I know I am in for quite an experience.

However when I came into the cinema to watch the latest Fantastic Beasts “The Crimes of Grindelwald” I was once again surprised, amazed by the end result.

Since entering the animation world, I have been looking at not only cartoons but also movies in a different way. I guess it is because I now know better about the long process it takes to do one little thing. I also now know you need a whole load of people for one effective minute of movie.

When you enter the movies to watch Fantastic Beasts, you usually have a background in Harry Potter World knowledge. Personally, I have been bather in it since I was 12. So how was it that the new installment takes us to a whole new level? How is it that is still inspires us animators to aim for more?

“Crimes of Grindelwald” opens on a gloomy imprisoned Grindelwald. The tone is directly set when a small creature, property of Grindelwald appears. Because yes, this is Fantastic Beasts after all, and we are reminded the whole way through the movie.

We discover a lot of now unexpected animals, mix of fauna and flora mixed with special effects.

Some may appear longer than others, however I know than one second of this creature needed months and months of work. They all probably have a base, a background story, a character profile, characteristics, a lot of different versions before they even started modeling the animal.

Every movie brings on its fair share of new creatures to add to your encyclopedia.

Another element contributing for a full immersion are the backgrounds. Creating a magical world in relation to actual places, places you may have seen, places you can relate to.  For instance, Paris was recreated at the Leavesden studios.The underground amphitheater at the end of the movie was inspired by the ancient Roman Pantheon while Furstenberg Square in Paris was identified as the entrance to the French ministry of Magic.

Finally, the special effects tied everything perfectly.

As Harry Potter movies rolled out over the years, so did the special effects. They always got more and more impressive. They inspire us animators to excel in our process, to always aim for more.

This new Fantastic Beasts once again inspires me to create, not only by delivering a magical world, but by delivering a beautifully efficient one thanks to his characters, backgrounds and effects.