TEAMMATES: Erinn Morrow, Sarah Lenaghan, Bradley Lyness
For this project we were given a lot of freedom as long as our animated short was 30-40 seconds long and created around the theme ‘bravery’. We came up with an idea we all liked quite early on, a sort of slapstick comedy about a macho man acting tough and then being frightened of a tiny spider whilst timidly trying to remove it from his house. I was cautious about settling on one idea so quickly but we all had a similar idea of what we were going for and all found the idea very funny which I think is a good sign.
Sarah was also keen on incorporating 2D into the animation somehow, so we are considering having a comic book style montage of the man ‘gearing up’ to fight the spider, where 2D effects such as comic book sound effects and action lines are added to the 3D animation. We also looked into how one might do stylized cel-shaded CGI (examples seen in this Youtube playlist). This ‘cool’ sequence then works well as buildup to the reveal that he is merely confronting a small spider and his subsequent slapstick comedy reaction to the spider landing on him. I’m glad we’re doing something with elements of physical comedy as it is a brand of humour I have great interest in; I even wrote a blog post about it last year.
Erinn’s Initial Storyboard:
After the initial storyboard we also came up with the idea of introducing a daughter character who comes in towards the end and gets rid of the spider for him, although we were fully prepared to scrap the idea if we couldn’t make it work in the short space of time we have for this project. (EDIT: We did end up deciding to use her after all.)
This is also around the time we came up with a working title for the short, Man vs. Nature. It is a play on the classification of the basic types of conflict in fiction. The fact that ‘Man’ is in the title is a reference to the character’s machismo image which we are hoping to subvert through humour.
Much of our research and planning was done by myself and Erinn (though Sarah and Bradley also contributed!) and that research and planning can be found in this google doc which the team used to collaborate on ideas whilst keeping organised.
One of our main inspirations was Pixar’s The Incredibles, particularly the teaser trailer.
We were heavily influenced by Pixar and Disney in terms of character design as well, as many of their characters have very strong use of shape language.
Since our character is a father who likes to think he is tough but is in reality quite soft in more ways than one, we were specifically looking for characters with strong square builds that were contrasted with more rounded shapes in order to make them more friendly looking. Erinn, who did our initial design for the dad character, was strongly influenced by Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph for example.
We also looked at a number ‘suit-up’ montage scenes, mostly from superhero or action movies featuring very manly male men doing very manly male man things.
The fast and dynamic cuts of filmmaker Edgar Wright’s montage scenes were another source of inspiration for the style of the opening scene.
As for the house, we are considering having the setting be some version of Scandinavian, at least in terms of interior design if not the characters themselves. Bradley and Sarah are both interested in this and gave us this link to tips on Scandinavian design.
Here are some of the character design sketches I did for this project.
We are also considering incorporating some of our concept art into photographs on the wall which could be featured in the actual short, in the credits perhaps. We all enjoy 2D art and illustration and I think this would be a fun extra which could also benefit our skills and portfolios.
For class on the 16th of November, Sarah, Erinn and I put together a short presentation – found here – where we gathered as some of our inspirations for the project as well as all of our concept art so far. We also showed our first two rough storyboards (mainly Erinn’s work) to the class and explained that we were confident in how we were going to combine the two.
I’m glad to see our idea went down well and although I realise we are being ambitious in many ways with this project I am really excited to see what we can do together.
Erinn and I collaborated on this second animatic. I will say though we all tried to work together as much as possible, Erinn and I ended up dominating the story part of the production process simply because we were able to meet up and work together more often – however I do consider creating and critiquing ideas and stories to be something I enjoy doing anyway. While I was sort of in charge of writing the story (not without the others’ input!) Erinn was mostly responsible for storyboarding and editing the animatics together and I am very grateful for that, as storyboarding turned out to be more difficult for me than I thought. Meanwhile the character designs and concept art has been split pretty evenly between Erinn, Sarah and I and I think it is heading in a very good direction. I’m also grateful for Sarah as she is interested in working on designing the environments for the short, as is Bradley. Bradley also says he is interested in learning rigging as well as working on the sound design and post production.
Next we will be working to bring our idea into 3D, making 3D Previs and planning the layout of our environments as well as working on modelling and maybe rigging our characters. I will also be starting into Zbrush for both this and the solo project, and I look forward to it as I really enjoyed sculpting with Mudbox last year. I hope I can pick up the skill quickly.
Blog post on physical comedy:
Research and project planning (google doc):
Pitch / Presentation:
Rough first version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWeOQw-g0Uk
Ending with daughter character: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ifs22wMAsyI
Version 2 animatic rough timing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IBNbuAJ5Ec
Version 2 with sound – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwp2ubnRfdM