Week 7: Unit 12 Final Analysis Report

 

Introduction

In this report I am going to talk about what I have learnt about my specialist subject which is Animation. I will be using the research I have conducted as the bases for my report. I will write about what influenced me to take animation as my discipline, from the history, to the social aspect, the cultural and industrial influences.

For unit 12 I have learnt a lot about Animation, where it came from, how it evolved, how it has been influenced and how it has influenced others including myself.

Research and practical experimentation has been key to my discipline. I looked at various animators to see how the created animations. I looked at Sam Nicholson and Daniel Hashimoto in particular. Daniel Hashimoto was the biggest influence and this was where my experimentation followed in particular. Partly due to the amount of tutorials that are available online but also what he creates. I will talk further about my experimentation later in this report.

Historical

From the historical point of view  the factors that have influenced my specialist area is taking something ordinary and turning it into something fun, pushing the boundaries on special effects to create something that inspires people or makes them feel amazed by something.

From the Haunted Hotel to Gertie the Dinosaur to Moana, each one of these has made the people who have seen them amazed because at the time they were beyond anything else that had been seen.

Animation has existed for a long time, it started with a bet about a horse and since then skills and technology has advanced to what we have today. Along the way there were mistakes made and this created different effects which made objects appear and disappear and turn into other objects.

Without the bet on whether a horse takes all four hooves off the ground at once what we know about photography and animation would be completely different because of the equipment that was invented and the meetings great minds had for this to come to fruition may never have occurred.

Most animations created in the beginning where family friendly because they had to be simple, The Haunted Hotel was about a cup of tea being poured without anyone being present, the zeotrope was a simple looping animation of someone riding a bike for example and at the time they were great and fun for everyone to watch.

Culture

Films and art are apart of our culture, Animation can come into both of those fields, I have learnt that Animation can be used to tell stories, convey emotions and ideas, just like an artist does with a canvas.

There probably isn’t a day that goes by where someone can say I didn’t see any animation today, they are everywhere, TV, the internet, on our phones, electronic billboards and in stores that we shop.

The different types of Animation is what amazes me here, from puppetry like Punch and Judy on the beach which go back for years and years you get things like Button Moon and Dark Crystal / The Labyrinth and The Muppets (Jim Henderson), The Muppet’s Christmas Carol and The Nightmare before Christmas and more recently Kubo and the Two Strings. Some of these mix live action and puppetry (The Labyrinth and Muppets) and Kubo is stop-motion animation and puppetry as the Skeleton built to try and keep it in line with the animation style as the rest of the movie.

Animation varies in different cultures, the Japanese have anime and I believe that most of their ideas come from their rich history and customs.

The animations that come from Britain differ hugely, they seem to be about daily life or satirical events such as the cartoons you see in the newspapers.

The books we have are about little adventures like Squirrel Nutkin or Dennis the Menace, Spy novels, nothing extreme like you get comic books about super heroes, Britain has a culture of sports and niceties rather than exciting action movies and cartoons.

My kids like watching:

  • Paw Patrol
  • Transformers
  • Pokemon
  • Digimon
  • White Rabbit Project

along with various other programs. Not one of those is of English Origin, Paw Patrol is from Canada, which would account for the ski slopes in nearly every episode.

We have had some amazing writers such as Shakespeare and Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens and it seems that most of our animations follow this standard that seems to have been set or the British sarcastic point of view.

This follows through into the animations that we produce, some of which seem to be on daily life like Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine etc. to programmes like the IT Crowd and The Brittas Empire and cartoons such as Fireman Sam, Count Duckula, Dennis the Menace and 64 zoo lane just to name a few, most of which comprise of small events and morale stories, making friends etc., a tremendous amount of excitement seems to lack British Cartoons, but that is part of our culture and we appear to be quite happy with that.

American cartoons are completely different with the likes of Transformers, Mona the Vampire, Drake and Josh, Keenan and Kel, Sister Sister ( a couple of oldies) but teen sitcoms is apart of their culture, Wayside, again, cartoons and sitcoms about school, such as Saved by the Bell, Wayside, Alex mac, power rangers are all based with the younger generation / teens in schools because the school life is important part of their culture and the culture have a massive influence on animations to horror movies and most places in between.

The culture of a place depicts how the characters are going to behave because this is set out because of how people think that they should behave and what is expected from them and this varies from country to country.

 

 Social

Animation is influences by so many different factors, Hayao Miyazaki has made so many films and most have a strong lead character which is female, this typically goes against the social norm for Japan as females are usually made to be very sexualised and that is influenced by the men and is shown in so many animes such as Sailor Moon etc. Disney is also responsible for this type of animation, not so much sexualised but Pocahontas, Cinderella, Aurora to name a few had simple ideologies, to get married an live happily ever after, which is great, but it does give girls a limited view of how to be happy, the message here is you need a man to be happy, of course we know that’s not true.

Socially the message is getting across to Disney because we are seeing more and more films like Mulan (Technically not a princess as not born into royalty and marries someone in the army but is considered one in the Princess Line-up), Moana and Merida which have been Princesses in Disney/Pixar movies where they are about different values and how to be happy which is about family and friends, doing the right thing and end up happy that way. In all of the movies none of them get married.

This is why we see more movies from Hayao Miyazaki like Princess Mononoki and My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away, they all have strong willed characters who look like they belong in the real world. Miyazaki likes to have girls as the female lead because they look braver than if a man was in the film according Ryoko Toyama.

All the characters below are the lead protagonists of the movies, I have watched all of these except From up on Poppy Hill, I know that all these characters are strong willed and close to reality even though what happens in the films isn’t necessarily anything like reality .

These compared to the likes of Sailor Moon and even CardCaptors which is an anime for the younger generations.

These are also lead protagonists and you can see the difference, one is influenced by the Japanese norms and the other which is Hayao Miyazaki.

Same with Disney, you have Pocahontas and Moana. Moana definitely looks more natural, she is more relatable for the next generation of youngsters. I definitely prefer my daughter to watch Moana than Cinderella. Even Frozen has a really good story to it. Especially when Elsa says “You can’t marry a man you have just met” where in most other Disney movies Aurora, Snow White and Cinderella all got married really quickly.

 

There has also been rumors (fan made) that Elsa might be gay as in the movies she has no interest in male characters, this is no way indicating that she might be but as of last year the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend started going around and if that was to happen in a sequel it would be a bold move by Disney. It could also pave the way for a reform on the differences between people and how that they can be portrayed in movies. Tiana was recognized as the first African American princess for Disney, so things are changing and just as dolls are created to make them look like children with disabilities maybe Disney Films will follow suit one day.

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Disney Princesses are trying to get away from the stereotype now of princesses and beauty where Beauty is apparently all they need, they don’t need a career, that how they look is all important. Moana has been the first “Disney Princess” that I can actually say that is O.K in my books, Her father wanted her to stay on the Island and as Maui says “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,”

As you can see they are princess, most where dresses (exempt: Ariel for obvious reasons and Jasmine as it traditional dress) but they all have sidekicks:

  • Mulan and Mushu
  • Ariel and Flounder
  • Aurora and Woodland Animals
  • Cinderella and Mice
  • Jasmine and Raja
  • Pocahontas and Meeko
  • Moana and Pua and HeiHei on her travels across the sea.
  • Snow White and birds

but Moana wanted more and left the Island to save the world and get back the heritage they lost as way finders. I feel the new message that they are trying to send out is if you believe in yourself then you can accomplish anything, that there is more to you than beauty. Moana stepped up where Maui couldn’t even though she was only 16.

The social views definitely has had an impact on the social aspects of animation and has started a change in how certain characters are portrayed. That women can be strong lead protagonists instead of the usual Prince’s saving the day because this doesn’t represent the views of girls and women today who like to be independent and have adventures.

Industrial

Industrial factors has also changed the way animation has evolved over the years. The way technology has advanced animations have become bigger and better and we have come to expect it. The power of computers has allowed better animations, for example the wave animations used billions of particles to create and had to use several computers to data share in order to create this. We have 3 Dimensional and 4 Dimensional capabilities and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, some of these are cool, and I really enjoyed the 3D element to my Pokémon Alpha Sapphire game but was disappointed that it wasn’t taken through as an option for Pokémon Sun or Moon.

AR seems to be a big hit, It is quite good in Pokémon Go and it is also present in Snatch but it can be used for so many other things and it still seems very limited in what we see it in.

Due to the way the industry has evolved the next movie, game or animation has to be better than the last and sometimes that pushes things especially if they are at the brink of what they can do.

The Jungle book was filmed completely inside so they had more control over the lighting and no real animals were used in the filming.

Moana had new software created just so they could create the waves with a more natural look but with personality so it’s not just Industry influencing animation but the animation is influencing the industry in the way of requirements. This is to be expected though as we have become accustomed to the quality of the movies that we have been experiencing and I doubt that anyone would settle for the quality of a new Star Wars movie and then going back to the look of the Back to the Future movie, not  that there is anything wrong with the Back to the Future movie as it was great when it came out but it is what people expect from now on.

Analysis of Contextual Perspectives

I have learnt that there is a lot that affects they way something is created.

  • Is it socially acceptable and if not is it pushing it too far?
  • If it fits within the norm has it been done before and now old hat and nobody cares?
  • If it does fit and hasn’t been done to death is there a new twist that can be done to make it something new or exciting again? like Bomberman which is being re-released on the Nintendo Switch with some new features.
  • Can the technology available keep up with the idea and if no can something be  created to allow this idea to happen?
  • Does the plot of the story keep in line with the culture? Style of clothing, landscapes, wording, environment etc. You wouldn’t have a historical story about Pocahontas for example without John Smith, it just wouldn’t work and some people might get offended as it is part of an important historical event. Even though there has been twists to certain story’s, namely Fairy Tales they have done it in a good way like:
  • Fairy Tale in New York
  • Once Upon A Time
  • Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
  • Grimm The TV series based of the Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales.

I have also learnt how different types of animation have come together to create something new. Like Kubo and the Two Strings which came highly recommended from a friend of mine, Using puppetry and Stop Motion. Jungle Book:- Live Action and computer graphics .

  • Alvin and the Chipmunks
  • Jungle Book
  • SpongeBob SquarePants.

I can use the knowledge I have gained from my research to experiment with what works and fits in with what I am trying to portray. If I am to create a story for cartoon for a child then using computer graphics would possibly not be the best and what if it was in another country then boundaries and art styles would change to suit the culture of the demographic. If I was to create a cartoon for the American demographic I would have to be careful about the subjects, trying to avoid delicate issues such as the current president, past atrocities, things that have happened to America but then I would make it like I would for the Japanese or for the English because they expect different things from their entertainment. Brambly Hedge would definitely not suit everyone.

Research

I carried out a lot of research for this specialized subject, from the beginning of photography and animation to how animation has been created with different technologies and how they came to be and have evolved into to what we know today. I have learnt about the different social and cultural ideologies that have had an impact on the style of animations and their content that come from different countries. I have learnt that history also plays a big part on the content and evolution of animation as inspiration has to come from somewhere and it usually is past events because it is something we know and can build on.

I know what kind of animations work together, like puppetry and stop motion, live action and stop motion could also work, live action and computer graphics/animations.

I have learnt more about myself and what influences my work, I have learnt about my working style and what motivates me when it comes to animation. I know what animation artists I look up to like Daniel Hasimoto Also known as Action Movie dad and Sam Nicholson who owns Stargate Studios.

Science fiction also influences my work which is why I also like the work of Daniel Hashimoto and Sam Nicholson as Sam worked on TV series like Heroes and Daniel makes home made movies come to life using After Effects.

 

References

ABBEY BOUNCY CASTLES,. Cinderella_6.Png. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

“British Animated Television Series”. En.wikipedia.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

C64360d492fec726cacf3aba2cf8db15.Png. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Card-Captor-Sakura-Kinomoto-Moonknives-Ribbons-Konachan_646150.Jpg. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Disney_Princess_Pocahontas_And_Meeko_2015.Png. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Edwards, MJ. “‘Kubo And The Two Strings’ Final Trailer, New Clip, And Behind The Scenes Images Unveiled”. Rotoscopers. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Jones, Shanna. “Hayao Miyazaki: The Great Feminist Filmmaker Of His Time – Screen Robot”. Screen Robot. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Kent, Gemma and Julie Hassett. “Entertainment Edit: November | Motley Magazine”. Motley Magazine. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Mammano, Micheal. Sailor-Moon-Season-1-Essential-Viewing-Guide. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Moana_-_Action_Pose.Png. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Mulan And Mushu. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

“Nickelodeon Shows”. En.wikipedia.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Pinterest,. B8ac85e46d5aefd7f51dc27d8a7f0355.Gif. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Pocahontas_Disney.Png. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

worldartsme,. Ariel-And-Flounder-Clipart-1.Jpg. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Week 6- Practitioners Report

David Hashimoto A.K.A Action Movie Dad.

This man has some serious skills and has been an inspiration for me for vfx. A little while ago I found a clip of what he has been working on on Facebook, one of those recommendations from the lovely people at Facebook – thank-you.

He turns his son’s everyday adventures into a masterpiece.

In 2005 he left The university of Southern California and finished his internship at Paramout Pictures. He has worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios as an artist and In 2005 he went to work with Dreamworks Animation where he worked as an After Effects Artist  on various things like Me an My Shadow and Kungfu Panda 2. He left Dreamworks Animation in April 2015 and is currently making his own videos under the name Action Movie Dad where he creates some amazing clips and tutorials.

I have recently being trying to re create some of his work in After Effects by watching his tutorials on RedGiant.com.

The one with the Dr Strange portal effect.

I have managed to recreate the portal effect for this and could probably do it without watching the tutorial now minus the part with the actor.

Danial Hashimoto uses After Effects in all his works but has the plugin Trapcode by Red Giant.

In particular he uses Particular, that was no way intended but couldn’t think of another way to put it and was a little amusing so I am leaving it there.

Particular gives a little more control over the particles themselves,  I have learnt how to make particles emit from lights, use null layers, tracking etc.

Maybe this is a bit more difficult to deconstruct in the way of Formal Elements because he is recreating the way something is rather than creating something completely new. I can say that the color yellow is used in Dr Strange after he meets the Ancient one (Tilda Swinton). I feel that as it is placed in Tibet, and the color of the robes that Tilda wears is close to Saffron Yellow which comes from the colors prisoners used to wear which means Humility, free form materialistic things.

“Ensō (circle) is a sacred symbol in the Zen school of Buddhism and is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy, even though it is a symbol and not a character. You may hear it called the Circle of Enlightenment, the Infinity Circle and even the Lost Symbol of Reiki. If you actually took the meanings of the two Kanji symbols that make up the word, ensō would translate as Mutual Circle or Circle of Togetherness.”

Only when Dr strange truly learnt to let go of the baggage he carried and let go of any physical barriers was he truly able to open the portal to get back from the cold where The ancient One left him. Which would be classed as enlightenment by Buddhists.

So maybe that is why the portal is round and yellow because of the Journey that Stephen Vincent Strange had to go through to get to a point in his life that he was truly happy – enlightenment only truly allowed him to become the great sorcerer he is.

He even gave up his own future to keep Dommoru stuck in an endless loop to keep the rest of the world safe.

 

For the Dr Strange clip Daniel took two films, one of his son leaving school and one arriving home. They were not lined up so he spent two hours doing some really complicated techniques (which worked really well) to line them up. He used a mask to manipulated the position of his son so it looked like it lined up and then made a guide circle and turned down the opacity and created two null objects and a light. He had to rename the light to Emitter that allowed him to use it as an Emitter otherwise After Effects would not recognize it. He made the Null object a parent to the Emitter and the Emitter parent to the Guide Circle. He did this so that he can rotate the Null Object and have the Emitter follow the path of the guide circle my copying the position of the Guide Circle and applying it to the position of the Emitter which gives the effect of a Catherine Wheel. catherine-wheel-firework.JPG

After this Daniel adds the Particular to the solid and changes the settings so it starts to look like the Dr Strange Portal. After he has it like he wants it he blends the 2nd scene so when the boy opens the portal and it comes towards him it is a seamless transition to his home scene. To add to the effect he adds sparks that comes off his son’s shoes which is done by motion tracking.

 

Daniel Hashimoto has influenced me creatively because of what he has created from a simple recording of his son in the park on a toy boat to being in a sea storm, from playing in a toy shop to destroying it with a lightsabre, sofa jumping to watching out for lava. The polar express coming down his street, Jumping in a puddle and disappearing. These videos have created fun and enjoyment and plus they look pretty cool, I want to learn how he did it and try and recreate it so I can learn and adapt those skills to create my own animations/videos.

 

Sam Nicholson

Sam founded Stargate Studios in 1989, it is a visual effects production company in Pasadena with over 125 Visual Effects artists and Technicians.

He graduated from UCLA graduate school of Fine Arts and has been active in film and television for over 30 years. His first job in visual effects was to work on Star Trek 1 and Max Headroom as supervisor visual effects artist and recently he worked on Heroes along with many others such as:

  • The Watcher in the woods (1979)
  • The Devil and Max Devlin  (1981)
  • Halloween II                           (1981)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  • Two of a Kind (1983)
  • The Returning (1983)
  • The Running Man (1987)
  • Future Flight  (1987)
  • Ghostbusters II  (1989)
  • Millennium  (1989)
  • The Dreamer of Oz  (1990)
  • Highlander II: The Quickening  (1991)
  • Afterburn  (1992)
  • The Water Engine  (1992)
  • Interceptor  (1992)
  • Lifepod  (1993)
  • The Hidden II  (1993)
  • M.A.N.T.I.S  (1994)
  • Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance  (1994)
  • Island City  (1994)
  • Naked Gun 33 1/3 The Final Insult  (1994)
  • Sliders (1995)
  • Twister (1996)
  • Moll Flanders  (1996)
  • Robo Warriors (1996)
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack (26 episodes) (1995 – 1996)
  • Dante’s Peak (title Sequence) (1997)
  • Asteroid (1997)
  • Volcano: Fire on the Mountain (1997)
  • The Lake (1998)
  • Mafia! (1998)
  • Houdini (1998)
  • Brimstone
  • Can of Worms
  • The Thirteenth Year
  • Gen-X-Cops
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley
  • Tempting Heart
  • The Soul Collector
  • Y2K
  • Purple Storm
  • Millenium Man
  • 2000 AD
  • Race Against Time
  • Quarantine
  •  Running Mates
  • CSI: Crime scene Investigation
  • The Wonderful World of Disney
  • Boycott
  • Tomcats
  • Repli-Kate
  • 40 days and 40 nights
  • The Guru
  • FastLane
  • Carrie
  • Second String
  • Helen Of Troy
  • Traffic
  • Spartacus
  • Breakin’ All the Rules
  • 5ive Days to Midnight
  • Seed of Chucky
  • Earthsea
  • Into the West
  • Urban Legends: Bloody Mary
  • Fields of Freedom
  • Las Vegas
  • Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King
  • Grey’s Anatomy: Every Moment Counts
  • Ugly Betty: 22 Episodes
  • Heroes: 21 Episodes
  • CSI: New York (2007)
  • Knight Rider (2010)
  • Maggie Hill (2009)
  • 24 (2009)
  • ER (2001 – 2009)
  • General Hospital (2009)
  • Defying Gravity (2009)
  • Private Practice (2009)
  • Outsourced (2010)
  • Adventure Scouts (2010)
  • The Walking Dead (2010)
  • Pan AM (2011)
  • Beauty and The Beast: A Dark Tale (2012)
  • Smash (2012)
  • Phantom  (2013/2014)
  • Soulmates (Visual Effects Producer)/(Visual Effects Supervisor)

This man has clearly worked on many titles and the ones that stick out to me are some of the firsts, Sliders, a great TV series, Using Portals which is relevant to the work I am trying to do – Portal Particle effects. They are many more classics here that have great effects, some better now than what they were from 1989. From Star Trek II and GhostBusters II to the Walking Dead and Heroes.

It was hard to find any work specifically by Sam Nicholson and not by the company itself unlike Action Movie Dad but you can see that he has worked on these films and TV series in various ways.

The Use of 3D modelling is quite apparent in some of the show reels along with Green and Blue screens. Blue screens are used when a lot of foliage is needed to be included. So 3D modelling, texturing and animation are used within the films with a lot of VFX using various methods. The studio would of done a lot of research before filming, followed by concept art and box modelling, to 3D modelling, texturing and filming and photography with Particle Effects and tracking for the way people move among other things.

Stargate Studio’s Demo Reels.

Evaluation:

This was a very interesting task for me, i have been really interested in animation from when I started researching it and with all the different techniques that can be learnt. It definitely has made me rethink what i want to do for my FMP. It was a lot easier to find information on Daniel as it was Sam because Daniel is self employed and anything he creates is solely done by him, but when it comes to Sam, he is part of a company where hundred’s of people could work on one project such as Heroes so it’s hard to find information about what he has created himself.

http://www.modernzen.org/enso.htm

http://www.colourlovers.com/blog/2007/08/20/colors-of-religion-buddhism

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1885366/

 

http://stargatestudios.net/sg/sam-nicholson/