Thursday, 9 December 2010

More Dead Space news

So a new Dead Space trailer is out:

Now go look at 1:21, I was pretty excited to see it in the trailer.
Look again, it's a pretty quick shot.

Look familiar?

That's right. They decided to include a quick bit of footage of Meat Cello, that move I designed for the competition.
It looks great, they've done a great job with it. It looks so much better in 3D. Although I've only seen this small clip, I've been told that the whole move is in the game and "looks just like the original flash animation".
I'm really looking forward to seeing and using that move in the finished game.

Moving on from Dead Space; I've been busy on this little Fentil-related piece:

It's a spread of the different types of inflatogastrates

(clockwise from left)
Finworm (Rock-stalker)
The 'typical' inflatogastrate. They vary greatly in size and shape, and spend most of their time high in the air, silently scanning for prey, while also looking out for larger, equally cunning airborne predators.
An example of these is the Arctic finworm , which, unlike other finworms, hunts more like a land-based predator; The thin, cold air stops it from getting enough buoyancy to float higher, so it stalks its prey by taking cover behind mounds and snow banks.

Micromorphs (Diamond darter & Puff owl)
The smallest (by average) of all airborne inflatogastrates. Because of their size, micromorph species often haunt in swarms - safety in numbers.
Diamond darters live only on the small, isolated island, Subi. Subi is unique to Fentil as it near-constantly has a thick, humid and highly acidic atmosphere, which is retained by the dense forests. Puff owls are only found on the large southern continent.

Gripworm (Leatherbelly)
While having airborne ancestors, gripworms lost their inflatable bladders soon after getting them and live a more snake-like, arboreal lifestyle. The back-looping gut system of modern inflatogastrates is modified, resulting in a creature that is almost all neck and uses its vent as a opposable digit (inflatogastrate vents are usually gill-like structures at the base of the neck which constantly drip waste). This digit allows them to easily grab and swing from branches. It also aids in trapping prey.

Burner (Firebird)
Burners The linked sheet explains most of the details about burners.

Hover Prowler (Vinestalker)
Another inflatogastrate group that has returned to the ground.
Hover prowlers' siphons no longer function to propel them through the air. Instead, they use the leg-like tips to pull their buoyant body along, making them perfectly silent predators. The terminal half of their 'limb' is stretchy and can retract and move about in a similar way to an elephant's trunk. The pads at the end are similar in function to chameleon feet.

Mandibulopd (Spear dropper)
The most intelligent of inflatogastrates. Their cognitive skill is similar to that of birds such as Kea. They can use their three legs to manipulate objects, such as burner larvae (spears)
Similar to hover prowlers, the powerful siphons used by other inflatogastrates are re-worked; the olfactory nodes are substantially larger and the siphons relatively smaller. They use wing-like projections of the siphons to propel through the air, flapping them in a bird-like manner.
Despite being vicious predators, their intelligence leads many species to also be very inquisitive and neophilic.

Screamer (Striped creeper)
A 'living fossil' species. Screamers are perfect examples of what ancient inflatogastrates looked like - 3 unfused mandibles, segmented body, straight gut, 3 posterior spiracle pouches, and fleshy lobopod-like legs.
As the gas bag became more prominent in inflatogastrate lifestyle, the body curved around underneath, leading to a U-turn gut and one of the spiracle pouches ending up on the bottom of the body, with the other two becoming the powerful siphons.
Screamers get their name from the surprisingly loud calls that they use to communicate.

Dangler (Pseudo pulmonary)
Possibly the next most primitive group after screamers. They are ground-based predators which simply hang from their gas bag, all 3 undifferentiated spiracle pouches aligned radially around the body.
Most danglers are ambush predators, using camouflage to remain hidden. Many mimic Pulmonary plants due to the similar tri-lateral symmetry and simple shape.

It's going to be a big picture and I'm doing this in the same way I did this piece:

I did the lines in Flash, then went into Photoshop to colour it. I really like this way of doing things, as I have trouble keeping definite edges when painting in Photoshop. Also, it's nice having some lines to colour inside, I find it easier to define the form and just be more detailed in general without having to worry about the niggly little edges.
This is what the inflatogastrate thing looks like without using lines at all, just going straight from sketches:

It just looks messy. Also, that small one above took about twice as long as the line one did.
I do want to get much better at doing realistic things in Photoshop, though. Perhaps next time I'll use thinner lines and slowly get rid of them.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Or something.

Well with all deadlines behind us, here is my finished experimental piece,


I'm really happy with this little animation.
My original idea was something much darker and surreal, revolving around the theme of parasitism, and using raw meat for some of the stop-motion parts.
One of the major problems that I found with this idea was that it seemed far too complex and difficult. I managed to do a few tests, but ultimately I just wasn’t happy with the idea, and so I ended up changing my idea at the last minute.
My new idea was admittedly less experimental, but I still tried to make it mostly new techniques.
The last time I did some paper animating was the ‘Paper Love’ short. I quite liked the simple style of it and I wanted to do something visually similar, but different in style. Initially it was going to be just black and white, but I felt it was too bland, so I added a mid-tone background.
Only about a third of the way through shooting I realized that I had chosen almost the exact same colour as the Paper Love background. I guess I just like those colours.

The main inspiration for the piece was the idea of swarming animals such as birds and fish, and how the individual units move together, split off and rejoin again. I wanted to take the idea one step further to make the amorphous swarms form solid objects periodically, which animate then split off again.

From the beginning of the animation, I had decided to do it all straightforward, with as little planning for the actual animation as possible, as it would make for a more fluid movement of the swarm. I did make dope sheet for the animation, and made some basic plans for what happened. However, once I started moving the bits of paper around, the plans started to crumble, and the intricate dope sheet only became useful for telling me where the beats in the music where, which was all I ended up needing.

The bomb was inspired by the beginning of the short movie, PIXELS, by Patrick Jean, which begins with an 8-bit bomb inside a TV which explodes, sending out a cloud of floating 3D pixels. I guess the more I think about it, the more I see the inspiration. The bomb itself went well; the fuse burned away exactly how I wanted it too. As for the new fuse growing, I simply shot it in reverse, cutting small bits off at a time and then reversing the frames to give the illusion of a growing fuse.

The border of the animation serves two purposes. The first and foremost is to widen the frame to make it fit into a 16:9 window, as the camera only shot on 4:3.
The second was for aesthetics. I chose intricate, baroque patterns, which were contemporary to Vivaldi, himself, so it all fits together. The blend burn effect of the border resembles an old silent film vignette, which helps fit with the old feeling.

The Shrapnel logo was designed to convey the visual style of the animation, and so is made of lots of shattered pieces. However, simply having sharp, angular shards overlooks the gentle overall tempo of the animation and the music, so I added a more stylized, baroque ‘L’

I’m very happy with how the finished animation came out, especially after adding the extra border, which made the footage have a sense of place, as if it’s being projected in an old theatre. I was tempted to add a film-grain effect to give it a more aged appearance, but I decided against it as most of them look a bit cheesy and are generally overused.
I feel it was quite ambitious to shoot it at 25 frames per second, especially as I was already halfway through the allotted time. I managed to condense the actual animation into 4 days of solid work, clocking up about 20 hours work.
Despite the tedious nature of this cut-out stop motion, I do enjoy the outcome. I’m probably most happy with the tentacles, I managed to give them the whipping, twisting look that I was trying to achieve.

Next time I try some experimental animation, I feel that I will definitely have to branch away from paper animation, because it won’t really by experimental by this point.

Here are the two, rather messy dope sheets for the second half.

As you can see, few of the original scribbles and ideas ended up in the final piece, but the red waveform was vital in timing the little pieces of paper.

Finally, one more of the many icons I've been dabbling in:

This is my one for Flash.

It's been a good term overall, and I'm really happy with what I managed to get done.

I'll probably still update this blog over the holidays.

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