Project Evaluation

The Beginning

It all began with choosing groups, which can be an awkward and upsetting task when clichés and friend groups are created. I am good friends with Niamh Cunningham, and had also done my year’s placement with her at Lamb Films. We had discussed for months that we would like to work together when we got back to University if possible, and that possibility had arrived.

Tyrone Owen’s and I get along really well, and I think he is a super talented character artist and animator, I had worked with him back in first year and we knew we got along, so when he said he would like to be part of the group I was thrilled.

Julie Kane and Blaine Fox, like myself are very timid and will never thrust themselves into a situation, however I had worked with them both before in second year and they both wanted to be part of the group, so that was it, we became a group of five. Myself, Niamh, Tyrone, Julie and Blaine and we called ourselves…V for Piñata.

 

Creating the Story

Next was creating a story, the only ‘rule’ or guideline we were given was that it must be entered into a festival/competition and so we began researching all the different animation festivals and competitions currently running, after spending a full day doing this we realised we should just keep it simple and apply to one that is actually local, we chose ‘Dingle Film Festival’ in County Kerry, Ireland.

Since we chose a local competition, we immediately thought it might be wise to create a film with an ‘Irish/Celtic’ feel. After researching deeply into Irish mythology and all the stories that come with it we settled on focusing on ‘The Land of Youth’ or as its better known ‘Tir Na NOg’. We spent 2-3 weeks developing this story and storyboards, and I think we all personally liked it.

However, creating this film would mean we would need at least 4 characters and a few animals. Not only this but after presenting we realised that unless you are from Ireland, the chances of you even knowing the story to begin with are slim, therefore it may be a confusing film and audiences would have difficulty following the story.

After this realisation, we decided that we wanted to go with a more modern approach, but keeping an Irish connection in it somehow. Finally, we came to the idea of Irish Immigrants in America. I had been doodling and drew a little house, Tyrone mentioned how it looked like a typical American house and it would it would look lovely with a porch, then he happened to mention that he had been looking into when Irish immigrants moved to America back in the 1800’s and how roughly 10.5% of Americas population claim to be of Irish descent. That was when it clicked. We decided our story would take place on the porch of a little house somewhere in America, and that it would focus on a family that included someone of Irish descent. After a solid few days of story boarding and discussions we landed on our idea.

The story would be set through the eyes of a child and his grandfather. They would be sitting on the porch whilst we can hear the little boy’s parents argue due to the father having to go away for work. Since the grandfather can clearly see that the boy is upset, he decides, in his beautiful Irish tone and accent to read the boy a children’s book that has morals and lessons that tie in with what he is currently going through.

A large section of the film will be seen through the illustrations of the storybook whilst the grandfather narrates it.

 

Getting to work

Once we finally had the idea storyboarded and an animatic created, we got to work, I spent my time painting and drawing house and environment concepts, whilst Tyrone and Julie focused on character design and concepts. After a few weeks and all concepts were finalised we got into the hard work, I focused on the house and modelled it based off of my own designs which I really enjoyed doing, as I could make sure it looked exactly like I had envisioned. Once happy I continued working on the house and UV unwrapped and textured it.

Tyrone modelled the grandfather character and some assets and Blaine modelled the Child and parents. Julie modelled a few cars and assets whilst Niamh continued doing research, and set up time management plans.

Once all assets and car were modelled they were sent to me to UV Unwrap and texture, as I seemed to be best suited for this task.  Tyrone and Blaine textured their own characters, Blaine also rigged all of the characters as he the most skilled rigger in the group, and we wanted it done quickly rather than wasting time and producing rigs that were of bad quality.

Tyrone struggled and asked for my help on UV Unwrapping. Once I sent him a short video showing how I do it, he managed to fly through it himself. I was very proud of him for sticking at it and learning, as I know how frustrating it can be when you aren’t quite sure what you are doing or how to fix a problem.

Once I had the house and assets fully completed, Niamh brought them into the scene and assembled them to create the set how we had pictured. We were then ready to animate.

 

Working as a team

Team work is a major part of the Animation Industry and our course, and this project was no different. Since I had worked with every person in the group before, I felt at home quite quickly. I knew each person’s skill set, and their personality traits so it made it easier to get to work quickly knowing how to approach each person.

I feel that Niamh tried hard to make sure everybody was doing something that they enjoyed and had a task at all times. She also tried hard with time management, but I feel that as time went by, and we encountered problems the schedule wasn’t kept too as was originally planned.

95% of the time I feel we all worked very well as a group, helping each other when we encountered problems and even learning new skills from one another.

There were no fall outs between the group, only what I can describe as creative disagreements and patience wearing thin from time to time. Overall I think the group worked well together, everyone pulled their weight and produced work, and together we successfully created the film we set out to make.

 

What went well

What went well in this project, was most things to be honest. We worked well as a team and a great amount of work was produced by all of us. The characters looked appealing, the book was produced both physically and digitally, and we met the deadline successfully.

 

What went badly

We worked well as a team but I feel our biggest hurdle was in the first few weeks when we just couldn’t get our story right. Creating a good story was our biggest struggle. We knew from the beginning that if you don’t have a good story, the prettiest pictures in the world isn’t going to save a film, so we wanted to think of something good.

We also realised that sometimes if you are in the middle of a project and don’t take a step back or have an outsider’s opinion, you can get confused with what is actually good and what isn’t. We learnt this the hard way, as presentation after presentation it just wasn’t reading with the audience or hitting the mark.

It took completely rethinking and creating a story so far away from the original, before we finally felt we were on the right track.

It took us quite a while to decide to show the ‘fairy story’ side of the film in a children’s book, and in the beginning this wasn’t quite right either. It wasn’t until I teamed up with Julie and we worked together on this, that it finally started to look professional, like would be seen in a real film.

 

 Conclusion

To conclude, I would just like to say that I really enjoyed working on this project, despite taking ill and not being in the University quite as much as I would have liked, I still worked and enjoyed working and communicating with the group.

I got along well with everybody in the group and would have no problem working with any of them again as they all have different talents and skills that are a great asset within any team.

What I have taken away from this project mainly, is to get the story down as soon as possible. Without a good story set in stone, its hard to move on with any other work. Good team communication is key and to have respect for one another even when you on each others nerves, or someone hasn’t been able to produce the work desired, due to skills, illness or for whatever other reason.

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“The Journey”

 

As a group we realised that we needed to give the story book a name, and Julie suggested “The Journey” and straight away we all thought it was great.

A journey can be so many things, it can be physical, like getting to and from university each day, or it can be mental, like dealing with an illness, or a family member. I think that is the perfect way to describe not just our book within the film, but the film itself.

Beginning this project feels like so long ago, and ‘a journey’ is the perfect way to describe it.

We put together two version of the story book, one with narration and one with text, here they are below…

THE JOURNEY

 

Bringing Characters Into the Story

Once each of my illustrations were completed, i scanned them in and sent them over to Julie.

Once Julie received the illustrations she drew out poses for the two fairy characters and placed them into the scene, like you can see below.

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We spent time doing this to all of the illustrations and put them in an order we thought would tell the story best.

After this was done we found a rough paper texture and applied them onto it in Photoshop, we did this to try and make the illustrations look like they are in an actual story book.

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When added into the book model in Maya, we thought it looked quite well…

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My Illustrations

Making a story book involved a lot of drawings and even more painting. I spent a lot of time creating them, and really enjoyed it.

However, sadly during this time my grandmother took very ill which meant a lot of time was spent away from work and spent with her in her final days. Sadly, my granny passed away on Christmas Eve morning.  I will miss her deeply and i am truly glad i was able to go spend time with her rather than miss out from doing work at home.

This news meant i took a good week or more off of work.

Before my grannies dementia and illness progressed, she was a very talented water colour artist. She was the reason that i became so enthusiastic about art, and so i thought it was a great way to say goodbye to her and deal with the grief.

Below are all of my paintings…

Children’s Story Book

A main part of our story is going to be told through a children’s illustrated story book. The book is based around two fairies who go on a journey looking for wealth and fortune. The book was originally going to be a ‘pop up’ storybook, but this was later changed to a normal and traditional book.

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In the end after one goes on a hard journey and one goes on an easy journey,  they  both find each other at the end of their paths. The moral being that family and friendship is worth so much more than any wealth.

In the beginning it was just Julie who was working on this part of the film, but after it being viewed by the tutors, it was decided it needed to change. I came on board and this point and we decided that it would be best for me to work on the backgrounds/environments and for Julie to work on the fairy characters and all of their poses and actions.

I took most of my inspiration from the old storybooks such as A.A Milnes ‘Winnie the Pooh’, Beatrix Potter’s ‘Peter Rabbit’ and Jill Barklems ‘Brambley Hedge’.

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