Monday, 28 March 2011

Walk Cycle

Car Park Barrier

I plan on incorporating this, along with the car entering the parking lot, into my first scene using multiply layers in Premier-Pro. This is so that I don’t have to redraw the background for every frame.

First Scene Background

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Essay Plan, Introduction & First Paragraph

Essay Plan
Paragraph 1
Paragraph 2
Write about animation in general and the different types of animation.
Paragraph 3
Talk about Japanese animation and lead into writing about Hayao Miyazaki.
Paragraph 4
Write about Miyazaki-san’s work using my Neighbour Totoro Spirited Away and Ponyo as main Examples.
Paragraph 5
Write about Miyazaki-san’s influences and how he has influenced others.  
Paragraph 5
Introduction & First Paragraph
This essay will be exploring and analysing the work of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Animation in general terms will be discussed with reference to various books including The Fundamentals of Animation (Paul Wells, 2006). The specific style of Hayao Miyazaki is discussed using the films Spirited Away (2001), My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Ponyo (2008) as key examples. Miyazaki-san’s influences are discussed as well as his influence on overs.

The Fundamentals of Animation (Paul Wells, 2006) states that “animation is one of the most prominent aspects of popular culture” [Wells,2006] it goes on to explain how animation is present in all aspects of pop culture. The films of Pixar, DreamWorks and Studio Ghibli continue to present animation as traditional narratives. However animation now has a massive presents in other areas of pop culture such as TV, advertising and even live musical concerts. The internet, video games and mobile phones also ensure animation, in some form, is always a part of the general zeitgeist. Despite these new platforms for animation and new technology in animation, specifically the rise of CG animation, the traditional techniques remain. Traditional drawn animation and stop motion animation are still being made however western culture is currently dominated by CG. In Japan however traditional animation is very much still a mainstream media.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Heavy Ball Animation, Second Attempt

Still a bit fast because I had to delete some frames because it appeared to fall too slowly. However it is an improvement over my initial attempt.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Quay Brothers

Stephen and Timothy Quay AKA, The Quay Brothers are identical twins from Pennsylvania who creates extraordinary stop motion animation. There work is very distinctive because of is dark surrealist style. The plots of the Quay Brothers animations are minimal and vague. This is not a criticism as there animations are intended as an experience; it’s not supposed to be a satisfying narrative (in the traditional sense).
The Quay’s work shows outstanding attention to detail in terms of colour, texture and light. It is especially disturbing when organic and man made textures are mixed. An example of this is the scene with the stopwatch in Street of Crocodiles (1986); the watch opens to reveal that it is full of gore.

Fig 1: Colour, Lighting & Texture

Perhaps there most accomplished short film, or the film that best describes there style is, Street of Crocodiles. Director Terry Gilliam selected Street of Crocodiles as one of the ten best animated films of all time. Gilliam described his admiration for the film saying: I came to Europe and somehow wound up working in a style that felt like Polish animation. As an American, I always wanted to be seduced into this strange decadent, rotting idea of Europe, and the Quays have created that world in a manner which hypnotizes me, but which I don't fully understand.” [Gilliam, 2001]. The Quay’s influence can certainly be seen in Gilliam’s work, the Quays were perhaps the influence for the baby masks in Brazil (1985).

Fig 2: Brazil Masks
The Polish animation Gilliam is referring to is that of animators like Walerian Borowczyk who was a huge influence on The Quay Brothers. Borowczyk's animation Renaissance (1963) shows a similar attention to lighting texture and colour, it has clearly influenced in the Quays work.

TheGuardian, 2001, The Ten Best Animated Films of all Time, [online] Avalible at:

Zeitgest Films, 2007, The Quay Brothers, [online] Avalible at:

Image List

Fig 2, Brazil Masks, 1985, Movie Still, [online] Avalible at:  

Fig 1: Colour Lighting & Texture, Street of Crocodiles, 1986, Movie Still, [online] Avalible at:

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Car Character Movement Sketches

I have made a series of sketches trying to figure out how my character moves.


Skidding Toward Crash
In this drawing I have shown some key frames in the movement, because the movement wasn’t apparent in my previous drawings.

Animation Timeline 1906/1920

J. Stuart Blackton created the first animated short film called Humorous phases of Funny Faces. Blackton used a chalk board to draw various funny faces and film them.  He simply stopped the film then erased one face and draws another; played together this gave the illusion of movement.

Winsor McCay creates an animated sequence based on his comic strip character Little Nemo.
Winsor McCay creates the first cartoon character specifically for animation in Gertie, The Trained Dinosaur.  The animation consisted of McCay Interacting with the titular Gertie the dinosaur, it was shown both in theatres and live on stage.
Felix the Cat was a very popular character in the early period of animation, he appeared in many short animations. He was also one of the first characters to be heavily merchandised.  

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Quick Car Park Concept Sketch

Ball Animations

These turned out to be a lot shorter than I was expecting. I also think I may have over done the squashing and stretching, especially with the bowling ball.

Character Design, Turnarounds & Expressions

Boy Racer Car Character
I replaced the original Burberry design from my original concept with a simple racing stripe (I felt that the Burberry was a bit cheesy).  

CCTV Camera Character

Monday, 14 March 2011

Essay Research

Notes from the Ponyo (2008) DVD special features
Creating Ponyo Notes
“Small children started to pop up around me, especially at my work. Many people I know had new-born babies. It just hit me that I needed a movie for these kids, but not another Totoro. That’s my reason to make Ponyo; it’s a movie for five-year-olds.”  
“If a five-year-old looks at the sea, it could look like a living creature. So I animated this thinking the sea has life and that it’s a living thing.”
“I think five-year-olds are much more perceptive than they are able to describe. So the movie was for kids of that mysterious age.”
“I often think about the relationship between nature and me, a human. I exist within nature but also there’s nature in me that is somehow connected with Mother Nature.”
“We neglect the fact that we are products of nature. We suppress that by following society’s rules. We possess primal powers and desires and that is nature.  So I wanted to release them, and Ponyo is someone who has been released.”
“Good boys try their best to keep their world. But somehow, many people assume they can’t. I wanted to introduce a boy who is true to his world. So we’ve got a girl who is rather wild and primitive, and a boy who earnestly embraces her for what she is.”
Hayao Miyazaki 2008
Creating Ponyo, Ponyo: 2 Disk Special Edition, DVD, 2008, Studio Ghibli DVD

CCTV Camera Concepts

Here are just a few concept sketches for the cheeky CCTV camera character.

 Reference Images

Friday, 11 March 2011

100 Animi: BFI Screen Guides

Analysis of some of Hayao Miyazaki's moveis from the book 100 Animi: BFI Screen Guidesby Phillip Brophy.

Spirited Away

My Neighbor Totoro

I really like this analysis; I love the idea of the movie being a microcosm of Japanese society. I especially love the linking of the tree with the infamous atomic mushroom cloud.  

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Character Concepts

I have been trying to think up a character design for my clumsy automobile. My first ideas below are a bit generic, boring and don’t really seem very clumsy. The design on the top was intended to look a bit arrogant but just looks angry. The other sketch just looks like a psychopath car rather than a clumsy car. 

I was struggling for ideas so I began thinking about what John Lasseter said about all cars seeming to have a personality. I asked my brother to think of cars that look like they might be a bit stupid/clumsy (he knows way more about cars than i do). He suggested the Vauxhall Nova because of its chav/townie associations. I really liked the look of the car because its boy racer personality seemed to shine straight away.  

I was trying to think of fun ways of developing this idea by incorporating some very chav characteristics into the design. I thought of the Burberry cap as a defining chav characteristic.

I thought of using the cars paint job to incorporate the Burberry design, I used the design on the roof and hood. I made the hood look open (like it’s stuck that way after a few scrapes); this made it resemble a Burberry cap.

This is the final design and a few expression variations

I also thought about how this development could change my story slightly. I thought that instead of a chuckling cheeky CCTV camera character, I could make him resemble a disapproving policeman or security guard.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

@ Phil: Script First Draft

I know this is a bit early, but I wanted to get the story established fairly early on. It means I can have more time to work on the fun stuff. I was also very lucky with my behavior and object. A clumsy automobile is not very hard to imagine.
The Clumsy Automobile

The Vauxhall Corsa

I was thinking about the idea of cars having a personality, I have been looking for cars that could be seen as a bit clumsy. I thought about the Vauxhall Corsa, I associate the Corsa with youthful carelessness/clumsiness. It is one of the most popular cars to get after passing a driving test so therefore they tend to crash… a lot. If you look at it thinking of the headlights as eyes it looks like it has a bit of attitude.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Interview with John Lasseter

In this Interview John Lasseter talks about giving cars a personality in the movie Cars (2006).

Story Ideas

Here are a few quick ideas for a story using the three-act structure.

Idea 1

Act 1
A witless looking car character enters a parking lot; he tries to park but keeps banging into things.

Act 2
A security camera character is watching the car and laughing at his incompetence as he keeps reversing and accelerating as he tries to get into the space.

Act 3
The car has a look of determination on his face. He takes aim and zooms in the space. The car looks proud of himself and the camera looks disappointed. The car then lurches forward and both characters look surprised, the car speeds into the camera knocking it over.

Idea 2

Act 1
Two characters are lined up on a racetrack starting line, a suave looking sports car and a simple looking old banger.

Act 2
A starting horn sounds and the sports car speeds of, leavening the witless banger way behind. The sports car swerves through cone obstacles easily, whilst the banger knocks almost al of them over. 

Act 3
As the cars approach the finish line, the sport’s car well ahead. He begins to showboat not noticing a cone in the road that the banger sent flying earlier. The sports car trips on the cone and crashes as the banger takes the lead and the race.

Hayao Miyazaki Mini Reviews

I am writing my essay on Hayao Miyazaki, and at the moment I am relatively unfamiliar with his work. I decided it might be a good idea to watch a few of his films and write some mini reviews. Last Night I watched the movie My Neighbour Totoro (1988), here is the review.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

My Neighbour Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki/1988) tells the charming story of two sisters (Satsuki and Mei) who have recently moved to the country to be closer to there mother, who is ill in hospital. They come into contact with mysterious forest spirits who live in the woods nearby, the main one being the titular Totoro.

The film is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865), not only because of its obvious similarities, the little girl who discovers a magical world. But it is also structured similarly, there is no narrative structure based of conflict. Film critic Roger Ebert has said, "My Neighbor Totoro is based on experience, situation and exploration—not on conflict and threat," (Ebert, 1988).

The characters in the movie are very likeable and realistic. The girls are very funny and react to situations in a believable way. The realism of the characters makes the insane things that happen easier to accept. The creature, Totoro is also very charming and funny, he resembles a giant teddy. However he also seems powerful and godlike without being threatening. The Independent described the Totoro Character as, innocent and awe-inspiring, King Totoro captures the innocence and magic of childhood” Forbes (2005).

Fig 1: Totoro And The Two Sisters

To conclude My Neighbour Totoro has a wonderful cast of both realistic and magical characters. This makes it a warm and Charming film reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. 


Dee Forbes (2005), Analysis Cartoons: Toontown's greatest characters, The Independent

Roger Ebert (2001), My Neighbor Totoro 1993, Chicago Sun-Times

Image List

Fig 1, Totoro And The Two Sisters, 1988, Movie Still, My Neighbour Totoro, Available At:

Monday, 7 March 2011

Essay Idea

I was thinking of writing my essay about Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. It would be a challenge for me because I am relatively new to Animi. However I have seen a few of his films before and loved them. Writing my essay about Miyazaki will give me a chance to look deeper into a subject I am interested in, but haven’t really explored before.

Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay was an American cartoonist, he first became known for his weekly comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland AKA Land of Wonderful Dreams (1905/1927). McCay revolutionised early animation, his first animation was an adaptation of his already popular comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland (1911). Little Nemo is a beautiful looking animation that was meticulously coloured by hand.

McCay went on to create even more ground breaking animations like How a Mosquito Operates (1912). Perhaps McCay’s most ground breaking animation is Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). Gertie is perhaps the first animated character with a real personality. This was a fundamental development in animation. Gertie was the predecessor to later cartoons, such as the ones developed by Warner Brothers and Walt Disney. Gertie the Dinosaur was also the first film to use key frame animation. Put simply, a key frame is a drawing that defines the beginning and end points of a transition; key frame animation is still used today.

Another great piece of work by McCay is the world war one proper gander piece The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918). This is a massive departure from McCay’s usual light-hearted comedic style; it is very sombre in tone. Arguably The Sinking of the Lusitania is McCay’s greatest technical achievement in terms of animation, the fire and smoke effects are a marvel.

Unit 5 Animation

My two story elements are a bit of a gift really.
My title will be, The Clumsy Automobile, I can see it already.
Initial Idea
There are lots of videos on YouTube of ridiculous car accidence caught on CCTV. This led me to the idea of a security camera character mocking a witless car character, as it tries to perform a simple task.