Thursday, 24 March 2011


so far, it only has the basic sound effects, but it's enough to get the timing


Animation Storyboard

Lifedrawing (22/03/2011)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Lotte Reiniger (1899 - 1981)

Lotte Reiniger was a german artist who produced animated stories using silhouettes cut from paper.  Her work was based upon the ancient tradition of shadow-puppetry, but instead of filming a performance in real time, the shadow-puppets were photographed, moved and photographed again, in a process similar to stop-motion animation.
Fig. 1 Cinderella [film still]
 The physical nature of the puppets gives the animation a realistic feeling, as there are none of the "boils" and deformations that occur with drawn animation.  At the same time, there is no mismatch between the characters and the background, which can occur with cel animation.

Stylistically, Reiniger's animations are highly distinctive, in part because of the rarity of silhouette animation, but also because of the careful design of her puppets.  Although they are often highly intricate, the silhouette always remains clear and identifiable; a feature that helps the audience to "read" the characters.
Fig. 2  Cinderella [Film Still]

The character design is timeless, with the personality of the character easily visible even to modern audiences; at the same time, they move with a fluidity that can still captivate the viewer.

Although time consuming, the technique of silhouette animation was considerably cheaper than cel-based animation, which enabled Reiniger to continue making films long after the accension of cel animation.  However, the success of the medium is highly dependent upon the skill of the character creator and animator (Reiniger), and cannot easily be distributed in the manner of cel animation studios.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1.  Institut für Kulturforschung (1922) Cinderella [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 23/03/2011)

Figure 2.  Institut für Kulturforschung (1922) Cinderella [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 23/03/2011)


Dasitidar, A. G. (2011) Lotte Reiniger's Silhouettes [Online] At: (Accessed on 23/03/2011)

Kemp, P  (2003) Reiniger, Lotte (1899 - 1981) In: BFI Screenonline [Online] At: (Accessed on 23/03/2011)

Larson, E.H. (1999)  Lotte Reiniger Information [Online] At: (Accessed on 23/03/2011)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Devious Walks

The top one really needs a long flowing robe to work, but the bottom one seems more like an Igor to me... ^^;

Winsor McCay (1869 - 1934)

Often credited as the father of modern animation (he created the first animated film comprised entirely of artwork, as well as the first character designed specifically for an animation (Cartoonist Group, 2011)), Winsor McCay started out as an illustrator, creating advertising posters.  He then moved on to cartooning, creating several popular comic strips, including "Little Nemo in Slumberland".  At the same time, he had a successful carrier in vaudeville, drawing amusing "lightning sketches" on stage using a blackboard and chalk.  Supposedly inspired by an advertising flip-book, he produced short animations that he incorporated into his vaudeville act.
Fig. 1 Gertie the Dinosaur [animation frame]
His most famous animated creation, Gertie the Dinosaur, was premiered in 1914.  It involves an animated brontosaurus (Gertie) who interacted with McCay, obeying spoken instructions and finally giving him a ride.  As the cel technique of animating the character separately from the background had not yet been invented, the background had to be drawn on each frame; however McCay did not do this himself but employed assistants to do it for him.  As a result, the background "boils", imbuing it with a greater sense of life than if it was simply static.  This also ensures that the audience cannot tell that (for example) the tree is going to move at some point, as they could with a cel animation.  McCay also makes use of "loops" to extend the animation, but since these looped actions follow a constant beat, they emphasise the "rhythm" of the animation.

Fig. 2 The Sinking of the Lusitania [Animation Frame]
McCay's next work was a propoganda film about the sinking of the passenger liner RMS Lusitani in WWI.  Made using cel animation, it is notable for its very realistic depiction of smoke and steam, as well as the general quality of the animation.  Although a silent film, text boards provide the audience with information of what is happening, emphasising the pseudo-documentary nature of the piece; however the final text board is obviously propagandic in nature, and this undermines any apparant impartiality in the film.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1.   Winsor McCay (1914) Gertie the Dinosaur [animation frame] [digital image] At: (Accessed on 21/03/2011)

Figure 2.   Winsor McCay (1918) The Sinking of the Lusitania [animation frame] [digital image] At: (Accessed on 21/03/2011)


Dr Grob's Animation Review (2010)  Gertie the Dinosaur [Online] At: (Accessed on 21/03/2011)

Dr Grob's Animation Review (2010) The Sinking of the Lusitania [Online] At: (Accessed on 21/03/2011)

Van Eaton Galleries (2011) A Brief Biography of Winsor McCay [Online] At: (Accessed on 21/03/2011)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Walk Cycle development

The bottom one is the one I'm going with, I think

Character Turnaround

the standard lamp is symetrical, so there didn't seem much point just drawing it 3 times ^^;

Character Concept Sketches

its a fat man!  that's about all there is to say ^^;

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

animated lamp examples

there seem to be 2 main approaches to animating the inanimate:

the "disney" approach - add a face to convey emotion, and very elastic body
the more realistic approach - no added features (although there's nothing to prevent the object incorporating face-like elements in it's design) and minimal deformation of rigid objects

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Initial Doodles

some quick thoughts on the standard lamp

Initial Research

After intensive googling, I have found the basis for my animation

Just kidding, Phil

Real influence map:

Lifedrawing (01/03/2011)

Lifedrawing (15/02/2011)

Animation Project Start

Okay, quick summary of start point:

  • Attribute:  Devious
  • Object: Standard Lamp
  • Writing Partner:  Roy
Initial Essay idea - Hayao Miyazaki

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cloverfield (2008)

Fig. 1 Theatrical Poster
Obviously inspired by the success of The Blair Witch Project, this film copies not only the handheld camcorder cinema verite stylings of it's ancestor, but also the curious decision to give away the ending of the story right at the beginning.  (The opening screen informing the audience that the following footage was "retrieved at an incident site formerly known as central park").  Seemingly as a result of this information, the scriptwriters appear to have decided that there wasn't much point developing characters and trying to get the audience to identify with them, since the audience already knows (or at least correctly assumes) that they're going to end up dead in central park (Dargis, 2008).  The plot itself is taken from a Harryhausen classic (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), although as a result of its single point of view the story contains several gaping holes (where is the creature from?  Why did it decide that downtown Manhattan was the best place to go for a midnight snack?  Why does the hero think that the best idea is to head towards the warzone on the off chance that he might be able to save his critically injured girlfriend?)

It's most innovative feature is the use of "previously recorded" footage to give some backstory to a film that purports to have been recorded over the course of about 6 hours in a linear fashion.  This is most effective in the very ending of the film, just after the camera has been bombed by the USAF (mercifully cutting short the emotional video-will of the "hero") and it cuts to the previous day, with the hero and his girlfriend enjoying a happy day out at Coney Island (while in the background a mysterious object can just be glimpsed falling into the sea).  The director also manages to sneak in proper cinematic shots under the guise of television news reports, these provide some of the clearest early glimpses of the Monster, as well as the "lice" that drop from its body and promptly seek out any human they can get their many teeth into (an idea that may have seemed clever to the script writers, but lost it's impact as a result of having featured in a video game - dan).
Fig. 2  Film Still

The most effective moments in the film occur early on during the attack, as the camera catches brief, unfocussed glimpses of a huge shape moving amongst distant skyscrapers.  These snatched sights provide enough information to give a sense of size and alien-ness, but without tying down the audiences mental images with anything concrete (Ebert, 2008).  When the monster is finally revealed in full, it seems almost a let down - the worst horror the audience's imagination can conjure is replaced with the special-effects artists idea of a monster.  In some ways, the "lice" are more successful at creating fear in the audience - whilst they are shown in their entirity once or twice, it is never for more than a fraction of a second and only as part of rapidly intercut sequences that don't give the viewer time to fully register their appearance.

Fig. 3  Film Still
Unfortunately, the film fails to do more that deliver shiny special effects via extremely jittery camera work.  Elements that might have been truely horrifying instead feel flat and lifeless - when one of the female protagonists is bitten by one of the "lice", her subsequent death doesn't feel significant despite its theoretically horrifying nature (saying "I don't feel well" accompanied by pallor and bleeding from the eyes, followed by an exploding torso a la Alien).  When the heroes make it to a chopper and manage to get airborne, we know that they're not safe (thanks to the opening) and are not at all surprised when the monster lunges out of the dust to snatch their helicopter from the air. In the end, the films key feature - the amateur cameraman footage - turns from a strength to a liability, leaving the story curiously flat and empty (Crust, 2008).

List of Illustrations

 Figure 1.  Paramount Pictures (Org) (2008) "Cloverfield" Theatrical Poster [Digital Image] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Figure 2.  Paramount Pictures (Org) (2008) Cloverfield [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Figure 3.  Paramount Pictures (Org) (2008) Cloverfield [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)


Corliss, R (2008)  Corliss on Cloverfield:  The Blair Witch Reject In:  Time [Online] At:,8599,1704366-1,00.html (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Crust, K  (2008) 'Cloverfield' In:  Los Angeles Times [Online] At:,1,7124274.story?coll=la-entnews-reviews-movies (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Dargis, M (2008) Cloverfield (2008):  We're All Gonna Die! Grab Your Video Camera!  In:  The New York Times [Online] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Ebert, R (2008) Cloverfield In: At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Richards, O (2008)  Cloverfield (15) In: Empire [Online] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Fig.1  Theatrical Poster

Filmed by a group of graduate filmmakers with no script and the minimum of resources, this film became a box office success in America mainly through word of mouth and a highly successful internet marketing effort (of the kind now known as viral adverts).  Often lauded as one of the most innovative horror films of modern times, it is in many ways actually a throwback to the Victorian tradition of Gothic horror - books purporting to be the recently discovered manuscript of some unfortunate soul who, pursued by an unspeakable horror, wrote down what had happened to them as a warning to history, only to end in midsentence as the inevitable caught up with them. (Empire staff, 1999).  Even the device of not actually showing anything out of the ordinary, but merely suggesting its presence through secondary evidence is not new, although it has perhaps been forgotten with the increasing sophistication of special effects (consider The Haunting, in which the fear is conjured through sounds in the night).

As a result of the absence of any special effects to cause fear in the audience, the film is forced to use suggestion and implication instead.  This is present from the start of the film, when "members of the public" recount confused memories of the various legends of the Blair Witch.  The various different stories ensure that the audience cannot tell what will happen next - there are always several possible directions the plot can take, and several interpretations of the events that unfold.  The mysterious sounds in the night are so vague (as a result of the sub-cinematic fidelity audio they are presented in) that the audience cannot determine whether their origin is animal, human or supernatural; a fact that only heightens the "fear factor".  After all, "The noise in the dark is almost always scarier than what makes the noise in the dark." (Ebert, 1999)

Visually, the film is a dichotomy;  filmed alternately using a black and white 16mm cine-camera and a colour video camera.  Initially, the black and white film is used only for the "documentary" footage, while the colour footage represents the "video diary" of Heather Donahue (the leader of the trio).  Some of the "establishing" black and white shots are sepia-toned, although this does not occur once the action shifts to the woods.  All of the footage was shot by the actors, using the actual cameras shown in the film.  However, the different cameras are not rigidly linked to individual characters, which would enable the audience to automatically identify who's viewpoint they are watching; throughout the film there are moments when the cameras shift to different actors.
Fig.2  Film Still

The closest the film comes to conventional "special effects" are curiously positioned piles of stones, and crude stick figures that are found hanging from trees (Fig.2).  Both the piles of stones and the stick figures form repeating motifs throughout the second half of the film, some appearing overnight outside the tent the three film-makers were sleeping in.  These uncanny occurences help hasten the mental deterioration of the cast, accelerating a breakup prompted by the fact that they have become lost in the woods and have run out of cigarettes.  At first this appears to be purely due to incompetent navigation on the part of Heather; however the suggestion then arrises that there is a more sinister cause for their problems (after using a compass to walk south all day, they find that they have returned to a spot they had passed earlier on).

The ending of the film is sudden and ambiguous, defiantly failing to answer any of the questions it has provoked in the audience.  In a final cinematic touch, the black and white camera drops to the ground, the film slipping on the reel and causing a striped, jarring image to linger for a few seconds more.  Perhaps this is the film's greatest contribution to film-making history, for it manages to create "a kind of shadow horror that only comes into play later, at night, when you want to forget it." (TimeOut Staff, 1999)

List of Illustrations

Figure 1.   Haxan Films (org) (1999) "The Blair Witch Project" Theatrical Poster [Digital Image] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Figure 2.   Haxan Films (org) (1999) The Blair Witch Project [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)


 Ebert, R (1999)  The Blair Witch Project In: [Online] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Empire Staff (1999)  The Blair Witch Project (15) [Online] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Maslin, J (1999)  The Blair Witch Project (1999) In: The New York Times [Online] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

TimeOut Staff (1999)  The Blair Witch Project (1999) [Online] At: (Accessed on 02/03/2011)

Pre-Vis first draft

I'm not sure about the part around 0:37, I may scrap the long intro shot and go strait to the door opening, then flow into the walking shot

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Fig. 1 Theatrical Poster

Famous for it's use of non-linear storytelling, this film is essentially the story of an armed robbery gone wrong.  It opens with the main characters in a dinner just before commiting the heist, discussing Madonna's "like a virgin" over their meal.  Most of the scene appears to be one continuous shot, with the camera circling the table; this is intercut with occasional closeups (Ebert, 1992).  The scene ends with a slow-motion shot of them all walking in a group as the title music plays; care has been taken to ensure the rhythm of the music matches the visual rhythm of the charactors walk.
Fig. 2 Film Still
Immediately following the opening credits, the film jumps to the aftermath of the heist, with Mr White (Harvey Kaitel) driving a car with wounded Mr Orange (Tim Roth) in the back seat, clutching his belly "as if to hold in his organs" (Canby, 1992).  Obviously something has gone wrong, but Tarantino doesn't reveal what immediately.  Instead, Mr White takes Mr Orange to the pre-arranged meeting place (an abandoned mortician's warehouse, where the majority of the film takes place) and the plot is only revealed as the surviving members of the gang arrive - as each gang member arrives, there is a short vignette showing part of there involvement in the robbery:  Mr Pink's arrival comes with a flashback to the immediate aftermath of the crime, as he describes how he escaped from the scene of the crime; Mr Blonde's scene depicts his induction into the plot following his release from prison; Mr Orange (immediately following the revelation that he is an undercover policeman) shows his training for the role and infiltration of the gang.

A curious feature of the film is its timelessness; as Empire reviewer Jeff Dawson points out, "there are few contemporary reference points, the gang sports caricatured 60s Blues Brothers garb, and proceedings are underscored magnificently by a golden oldie radio station pumping out a series of bubblegum hits from the 70s."  (Dawson, 1992).  This timelessness paradoxically helps to keep the film feeling contemporary by forcing the audience to concentrate upon the characters rather than the scenery (although the few scenes with a mobile phone do date it).  This focus on character is assisted by the absence of the actual heist; by removing the most action-packed scene the audience is more tightly focussed upon the small moments of violence as they occur throughout the film, culminating in a tense mexican standoff, compared by some critics to the climax of For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (McCarthy, 1992)
Fig. 3  Film Still

List of Illustrations

Figure. 1   Dog eat Dog Productions Inc (Org) (1992) "Reservoir Dogs" Theatrical Poster [Digital Image] At: (Accessed on 22/02/2011)

Figure. 2   Dog eat Dog Productions Inc (Org) (1992) Reservoir Dogs [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 22/02/2011)

Figure. 3   Dog eat Dog Productions Inc (Org) (1992) Reservoir Dogs [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 22/02/2011)


Canby, Vincent (1992) Reservoir Dogs (1992) In: The New York Times [Online] At: (Accessed on 22/02/2011)

Dawson, J (1992) Reservoir Dogs (18) In: [Online] At: (Accessed on 22/02/2011)

Ebert, Roger (1992) Reservoir Dogs In: [Online] At: (Accessed on 22/02/2011)

McCarthy, T (1992) Reservoir Dogs In: Variety [Online] At: (Accessed on 22/02/2011)

Silent Animatic

Just need to add the soundtrack

Storyboard V2

Virtuality storyboard

Title changed from "Time" to "Virtuality"