After the initial sculpt I went on to sculpting a finished, more finalised character. This is another step forward into the construction of my fully articulated puppet. This sculpt was produced from Super Sculpey: a firm polymer clay which can be oven baked into a rigid compound. Within this sculpt I have focused on aspects such as the pose, costume and characters head. The idea of this sculpt was to give me an insight into the characters personality, body language, feelings etc.. which will add to the underlying narrative of the film. It will also give me a detailed 3D reference when building and dressing my puppet. I am able to now take accurate measurements from this to build the puppets body shape. It will also act as a guide for costume sizing and design.
The design of this character is influenced by characters from films such as: ‘The Pirates! band of misfits’ and The ‘Boxtrolls’. the style and design of certain character within these films have influenced the ideas within my own character. For example, the pirate captain in ‘The Pirates! band of misfits’ has over exaggerated sleeves which seem to work well. I feel that this aspect is shown within my design and works well within the conductor costume of my character.
As well as all these important points, overall, I have produced this finalised sculpture in order to document my talents and capabilities as a sculptor/model maker, applying to the wider field of professional practice.
The aims of this term was to begin the pre-production stage of making an animated short film. I came back after the summer break with a rough idea of what I wanted to make a film about. After producing some initial thumbnail storyboards I had some visuals of the themes, concepts and structure I wanted my film to be based on. My first idea was to use a cellist performing to classical music as a way of taking his anger out on career path or his menial job. I had the idea of the cello eventually being destroyed as a metaphor of the characters feelings and emotions towards his situation. I tried to develop this idea further into a solid narrative but found it difficult to construct a strong story in order to give the film meaning. I came to a decision to revert back to my first idea of buildings or urban scenery being destroyed in synchronisation to classical music. After weeks of drawing up thumbnails and developing a solid narrative I had a rough outline of my film and the form it was going to take. As this animation revolves around the audio I found it beneficial to start putting the main scenes onto a timeline to visualise the structure. I began adding scenes until I eventually had a rough version of an animatic which i was happy with. After this I realised that this production would need time put aside for the making of the puppet, sets and props. This being in the medium of stop-motion everything must physically made. I immediately began the design making process which was very time consuming. I often ran into problems in regards to the possibilities of shots and the design of sets. I sometimes had to avoid ideas for shots because of the time scale I have to work with. I started with the puppet and sculpting the head. I took time to figure out how the head was going to be animated, playing around with ways that I am going to use replacement faces for facial expressions. I also made maquettes, models and drawings figuring out the scale and ways in which these would be shot on camera. This making process involved a great deal of trial and error, sometimes things did not go to plan and I would have to rethink the design and re build things. I sometimes even had to change aspects of the design for efficiency reasons, for example, I was able to combined 3-4 different sets into the one which means that I would only have to produce one model rather than 4 different models of the same space. A good example of this is the different areas inside of the crane cabin which I was able to combine into the one set. Over all I feel that this term has been successful even after getting off to a slow start and some hold backs from the leading narrative. I feel that the development process of designing and making is taking longer than expected and needs to move quicker if everything is going to be ready for the animation stage. I believe that the difficult part of problem solving is over, with all the main designs done I can now proceed quickly into prepping the scenes ready to animate before the start of the next term. I think that I could have produced more test animation especially focusing on animating the demolition scene as i feel this will prove the most challenging. I could have also experimented with mould making and casting techniques earlier in the term so that these skills would improve and ultimately be evident in the finished, working puppet. On the whole I think that I have dealt with the pressures of this project but need to start picking up the pace so that the making process is completed and ready to animated before next term.
In order for me to begin the making process of each set, I felt that it was better to first make scale maquettes. I began to take rough measurements off of some reference images which found from google. I then scaled up these measurements to a size that would be best to shoot on camera. I found that multiplying my measurements by 3 was the perfect scale to work with. I wanted the set to be large enough to work with but small enough to produce and shoot within the studio space given. Some of the main ‘destruction’ shots within my animation require parts of the model to be able to articulate, therefore I had to figure out how this was going to be done. The images below depict each maquette, and examples of how I am going to rig the main ‘house set’ so it can be animated.
Suburban house small scale maquette (17cm tall):
Suburban house scale maquette (Around 50cm tall):
I feel that this exercise has played a big part in the development process as it has given me a solid guide and reference when constructing the final finished set. I now know the exact measurements along with implications that are involved when getting around to the test animation stages of my project. The only thing that I could say didn’t go well from this is that there was a lot of problem solving using trial and error when building these. Sometimes things didn’t look quite right or sometimes I even felt that certain aspects of the design were not possible. overall however, these maquettes have turned out better than expected and can now be developed into finished models. The next stage will be to construct these from more solid materials, paying close attentions to the little details that will help stylize the set as a whole.
To start the design process of each set, I feel that it would be beneficial for me to start sketching some basic artwork. First I made an image board for reference, and then I began to design some concepts for the sets within the film. I made a short list identifying each set within my film, and began the design process with some concept artwork. Within these concept artworks I have included props which I feel are important to the narrative and the style of the film. Here are some examples of the artwork I have produced for the sets within the film:
Suburban family home of the main character:
Some research was conducted before deciding on the perfect house that would fit my narrative. I decided on a suburban style home, designed based on a modern time period. I made this decision after thinking about which kind of houses do middle aged couples live in, in reality.
This illustration above was influenced by the set design of the popular feature film ‘Paranorman’. The walls and edges are very rarely straight and uniform, they seem to bend and look crooked almost. The reason for choosing this design was because I feel that the crooked geometry of the walls and windows give the feeling that something is not quite right. It plays on the idea that the house might even fall down at any moment and look as if the structure is not safe. I believe this design applies directly to the themes and mood within my film, as well as foreshadowing the concept of the house eventually felling down and becoming demolished.
In order to get an idea of the scale and design i want my puppet to be I chose to produce a rough sculpt blocking out the form. I also spent time sculpting parts of the costume I intend to use so that I can develop these ideas. Below is the initial sculpt produced from grey plasticine. The plasticine allows me to manipulate the sculpture later on if needs be.
This initial sculpt of my character has been a good starting point for the development of the puppet. I now know the scale I want to work with as well as the basic shape of the body. This sculpt as a whole went well in my opinion. I have achieved everything I wanted from this quick exercise and can now begin to refine the design of the costume, hands, and most important, the characters head.
Given that the narrative of my film relies on body language and expression, the puppet needs special consideration when designing and building Hands. The hands of this puppet will need to be fully articulated as I believe they are in important part of telling this story. After some initial research I have found that, the best way to make hands for this animation would be to cast the puppets hands in silicone. I have found that silicone is a strong and durable material which would be ideal for the demands of this production.
Although going to this length to construct hands seems like it could be time consuming, I feel that this will save time when animating, as well as being easier to work with in the process. Sculpting hands from plactercine could potentially become difficult and tedious when in the animation stage of the production.
After conducting some research online I found different ways in which this process can be done. I think that the strongest way to do this would be to:
sculpt hands (plasticine/clay), produce a two part mould from this (plaster), insert an wire armature inside the mould and then finally pour the silicone into the mould.
I have also spoken with technical demonstrators from the Designer maker course to get a better understanding of this process and guidance into the best materials to use.