Monday, 31 January 2011

What have we here...

Good Lord! It's a lip-sync!

Not only is this a lip-sync, this is Shot 9 more or less finished. The background needs attention, once I figure out exactly where in the room Jay is facing at this point (as the movement has differed slightly from my storyboard) but other than that, the first shot of the film is (nearly) completed. Hazaar!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Café Crawl Saturday

Today has been spent drawing and colouring. These are no doubt useful practices for an animator.

First of all, my classmates and close friends, Christina and Richard, and myself had a Café Crawl Drawing Day. To make up for the distinct lack of animation-specific life drawing classes on our course, drawing people sneakily out and about is usually the subsititute, so I suggested a café crawl. We only managed to go to two cafés today (slightly longer drawings than anticipated. On my part anyway) but next time I'm sure we'll manage more. There is a silly number of cafés bunched together around Middle Meadow Walk in Edinburgh so venues are easy enough (there are two Starbucks literally within a minute's walk of each other there). One of my drawings isn't finished yet as the some of the pens I was using ran out halfway through so I shall have to purchase new ones in order to complete it, but there is one that I'm rather pleased with.
Christina, drawn with 6-colour pencil, 22/01/11
I can't decide whether it's sort of cheating to use a pencil with a lead that's split into six different colours, but at the same time it sort of leaves the final result of the drawing up to chance, which I like. Sometimes there's a budding Dadaist within me trying to get out. Either way, methinks Café Crawl Saturday shall have to become a regular thing. It's nice to take a break from film work whilst still doing something productive that will help the production in some way, shape or form.

Now it's back to colouring for my film. I've got two shots cleaned up and scanned which I'm rather excited about, so now it comes to colouring them to see how my desired look will appear onscreen. Here's a frame from Shot 9, a lovely close up of Jay looking a little unconvinced:
In the end, I want the shading to be sort of scruffy looking and a little jittery, whilst the backgrounds will be textured to avoid everything from becoming flat. Unless that's the look you're going for, a flat appearance is a real danger with 2D hand-drawn coloured frames. I'm debating whether the shading needs to be more obvious or not. There's a very fine line, I'm finding, where the shading can be a little subtle one minute and then overpowering the next. This is a problem on the skin in particular.  A few more hours messing around is needed, methinks. It is exciting/a relief to start to see some of the drawings looking complete; it makes me feel like my film will come together like it's formed in my head.

I have also just received a present which made me smile. We all need inspiration, don't we? Well, HMV have been capitalising on this for a few years now with their 'My Inspiration' posters. You know the ones: famous musician/actor/filmmaker is pictured with a quote from something which inspires them. They're dotted all over any HMV store you care to look in. Well, one of my best friends, Creative Writing and Film Studies graduate Hayley Charlesworth (who shall almost always be referred to as Charlesworth) has made one for me and it has made me very inspired:
I'm very tempted to print it out and stick it on my wall/studio space but a part of me wonders whether this would be seen as cheeky seen as I'm not famous yet. Having said that, I can be purchased on the HMV website. When I was in the Hallé Youth Choir, I took part in a recording of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius (which has since won a Classic FM award for Best Choral Performance - oh yes, I'm very proud of us) and the CD can be bought here. Buy it if you care to. It's very good, but I am rather biased.

And finally, speaking of Journey inspiring me, it is the former lead singer of Journey's birthday today: Steve Perry, aka 'The Voice' (no, not you Russell Watson). I have a book of codeword puzzles that has one for everyday this year and today's contained the word 'journeys'. It's almost like it knows. Anywho, to celebrate I've been listening to Journey and Steve Perry's solo stuff all day (like I need a reason anyway) and to finish, here's a GIF of the man himself from the infamous Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) video:
The best checkered shirt dance you'll ever see.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Desert Island Discs

I have done more since (I have nearly three shots drawn out) but here is a very short test for one of the flashback sequences. Both are shots that can be completed fairly easily as they lack precise backgrounds but they have some of the more complicated movements in them; one features a dog (and four-legged walk cycles are not my strongest point - anyone who has seen my eca sting featuring a cat limp instead of walk can vouch for this) and the other features Jay run and kick a football. The latter is the one I'm working on and the entire shot is looking passable... for the moment. Needs more inbetweening. For now, here is the very short test.
Hopefully, I should have this shot finished, scanned and possibly coloured by the end of the week. That could be me getting ahead of myself though.

Other than that, I've been listening to Desert Island Discs and wondering what I would choose if I was on the programme. For those unfamiliar, each week the guest on Desert Island Discs is asked to choose eight songs which they would take to the desert island they have found themselves stranded on. They then have to choose just one song out of the eight, as well as one book (the Complete Works of Shakespeare and The Bible or whichever religious text that is relevant to them are given) and one luxury item that will not help them escape the island or allow them contact with the rest of the world.
Naturally, I have come up with my own list because I love playing these sort of games for some reason. And naturally, because you're so desperate to know, here is my Desert Island Discs list:

Song One: Four Sticks by Led Zeppelin

It's very hard to choose, but I tend to say Led Zeppelin are my favourite band. This is probably because one of their members is one of my favourite musicians and I've probably chosen this song because it showcases his talent (let alone the others'). John Bonham was the drummer for Led Zep and I absolutely adore him. I was very tempted to pick Moby Dick for the four minute drum solo, but I'll go with Four Sticks because it amazing, Bonham played the track using four drumsticks, hence the title.

Song Two: Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel

This song has the distinction of being my most played song on iTunes by nearly 100 plays. Peter Gabriel is fantastic and this song makes me feel stupidly happy and stupidly sad at the same time, and that's an accomplishment. It is beautiful. Jeremy Clarkson picked this song for his Desert Island Discs. Now, I don't care what you think of Jeremy Clarkson but one thing is for certain in my eyes: the man has excellent taste in music.

Song Three: Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky

This isn't a song, but there we go. Mussorgsky is probably my favourite composer (I have a great love for the Big Five Russian composers) and this is my favourite piece of classical music. The sequence this was used for in Disney's Fantasia terrified me when I was younger but I even then I still thought the piece was outstanding.

Song Four: The Bell by Mike Oldfield

Tubular Bells II is my favourite album is this is the last track from Side One. Continuing the ideas showcased in Tubular Bells, Oldfield created a beautiful little melody and asked Alan Rickman take up the wonderful Viv Stanshall's post as Master of Ceremonies (although Rickman was uncredited on the album). This reminds me of driving around Anglesey with my family in the summer, automatically making me smile.

Song Five: Serenade To Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams has written some of the most sublime pieces of music but methinks this has to be my favourite, even if it is because I have very strong ties to this piece. When on tour with the Hallé Youth Choir in France in the summer of 2006, this was one of the pieces we performed. This piece provided the most memorable moment of the tour for me; performing on an open air stage set in a great hillside in Fayence, we sung this as the sun set behind us. Imagine hearing this as the sky turns shades of orange, pink and purple before turning inky on a balmy night. I very nearly cried at the time.
EDIT: For anyone who is interested, here's part of Serenade To Music being sang by the Hallé Youth Choir as part of the Bridgewater Hall's 10th Anniversary concert in September 2006. I am singing in this performance but you won't be able to see as a) the quality of the video isn't that great and b) someone's head is in the way of where I was onstage anyways.

Song Six: Ask The Lonely by Journey

This could be seen as a little ironic if you're stuck on a desert island on your own, but no matter. This also shows how much Journey have taken over my life. They've always been a favourite of mine but they've shot up the rankings recently, managing to knock the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Waterboys, Family, Roger Chapman, Kate Bush, Jethro Tull, Supertramp and the Groundhogs out of this list, which is impressive. This isn't my favourite Journey song either (that would be After The Fall). This song just makes me dance about like a complete idiot, it's fantastic.

Song Seven: The Rio Grande by Constant Lambert

Again, I have quite strong personal ties to this piece but it's still fantastic so that doesn't matter. Not very well known and extremely difficult to find recordings of, Lambert's The Rio Grande is classical music infused with jazz, which is a great combination in my eyes. I performed this with the Hallé Youth Choir as part of the Hallé's 150th anniversary concert that was broadcast live on Radio 3 on 30th January 2008. I desperately want to get hold of the sheet music to this again, as the recording I have from our concert is not the best quality so at least I could sing all the Alto 2 parts again.

Song Eight: Manchester by The Beautiful South

I felt I needed a song to remind me of home and what better way to do that than to combine it with the acerbic lyrics of Mr. Paul Heaton. I am fiercely proud of being from the Manchester area so I'd happily share that with any sea creatures nearby.

The book I would take would be The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: A Trilogy of Four by Douglas Adams. Hitchhiker's has long been my favourite book and the Trilogy of Four would give me most of the series in one book, which is very handy indeed.
My luxury item, I feel, would be my lovely alto saxophone, which I have named Sonny, and an endless supply of reeds. Since I finished my lessons (not by my own choosing, may I add) in 2005, I have become rather rusty and if I had all the time in the world and nothing to do then I'm sure I could improve and do justice to dear Sonny. David Suchet of Poirot fame chose his clarinet and reeds so I feel this is a sensible decision to make.
And the one song that I would chose over the others? Serenade To Music. It is etched so deep within my being that I will never grow tired of it.

A pleasant distraction from inbetweening, but it's also music such as this that gives me the motivation to finish my film.

Friday, 14 January 2011

People make me angry.

Okay, so this isn't so much about my work as it is about politics.

I'm sure that most people in Britain have been aware of the by-election that just took place in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency. This is my home constituency so the whole thing has been of interest to me (despite the fact that I forgot to register my vote in time...). The previous Labour candidate, Phil Woolas, is an idiot of the highest order and I'm glad to see the back of him. I remember a meeting that was held about the flooding that was occurring down the back of my row of houses and Mr. Woolas droned on, quoting all the usual empty promises to shut us residents up. However, when it came to questions being asked about solutions to the flooding, I distinctly remember my thirteen-year-old self coming up with better and perfectly logical answers compared to Mr. Woolas. The man knew nothing.

This man is an idiot.

Despite all this, Oldham East and Saddleworth has long been a Labour seat, along with Oldham West and Royton and the majority of seats in the Greater Manchester area. I'd have thought that a Labour win for Debbie Abrahams was a foregone conclusion (despite the fact that Labour won by only 103 votes in the General Election this year), but from some of the comments I've read on articles, apparently not. The residents of Oldham East and Saddleworth are 'thick' for voting Labour back in and the fact that the BNP came fifth means we all must be racist.

Now hold on a moment. First of all, what exactly makes the voters thick? If I had managed to register my vote in time for this by-election, I know I would've struggled knowing what to do with it. Because the result was Labour this means we're fools because 'Labour were the ones who got the country into the mess it's in now'. However, if the outcome had been a Conservative victory we would've been called stupid because of all the 'horrible cuts the Tories have brought in'. Vote for the Lib Dems and we would've been told we're moronic because they've 'turned back on everything they promised; have you not seen the tution fees fiasco?'
Can we win? No. Whichever candidate we'd have picked we'd have been told we'd picked wrong. It's simply a game of trying to find the lesser of three evils. I personally feel the parties are all as bad as one another. I don't abstain from voting but I have the hardest time deciding who my vote should go to. British politics is becoming corrupt beyond recognition so trusting anyone with power is a daunting task. I can't help but think that if I had remembered to register in time, I probably would've voted for the Monster Raving Loony Party, the Pirate Party or the Bus Pass Elvis Party. Let's face it, they probably couldn't do a worse job than any of the main parties. They'd probably make more sense than the main parties too.

And to the people who seem to think that the whole constituency is racist because of the votes for the BNP? I will admit, 1560 votes for the BNP is 1560 more than I'd like to see but that's a small fraction of the people of Oldham. Yes, there are underlying racial tensions in Oldham but I know that many people feel sick to the stomach even thinking about the BNP, let alone voting for them. Do not tar the entire borough with the same brush. I'd like to think that my family, friends and I are enlightened enough not to harbour fascist ideals.

Methinks the thing that irritates me the most is that these comments have most likely been made by people who've never set foot in Oldham or anywhere remotely near. We're all backward and live in the dark ages up here, clearly.

Anyway, back to making my film.