Darren's journal


I'm a Student from Nottingham Trent University who studies Multimedia and specialises in Animation. This is my work so far...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Portfolio

Check out my portfolio at gladwin-animation.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 07, 2008

Playtypus Modeling


Platypus storyboard

Here is the Original Design for the Platypus

Animation starts with along shot. Then zooms in for a close up, the platypus is sitting on a nest looking annoyed.

Platypus starts complaining about being left to sit on the egg as mate's out enjoying herself. He moans that other mammals don't lay eggs so why do they?

He's moaning that he offered to look after the egg, but he can't as he's got poisionous spurs on his feet.

He gets angry and moans what was god thinking when he created the Platypus. He asks was he just using the animal as a test bed for new animals

A giant hand comes down from heaven, Monty Python style and Platypus is staring at gods descending hand. Platypus fly's off screen as god flicks him away with finger


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Third Artefact

For my third Artefact, as stated in my second evaluation I used a WAV file taken from a Marx Brothers film. The reason why the sound file could not be loaded into 3D Max was that the sample rate was too low. For the file to work for the third artefact, the WAV file was opened up in Adobe Soundbooth. The file was edited into stereo and the sample rate was raised, which increased the Bit Rate from 64kbps to 1411kbps. The file could then be imported into 3D Max. Lip-synching could then be accomplished using the Waveform view in the sound option in the mini curve editor.

To get the lip-synching looking right I moved the animation controller in the Wave form view to find out the word spoken in the waveforms. I then moved the morphing controllers accordingly to alter the characters mouth to match the sound at the right time. To get the lip-synching looking right I rendered out test clips to see if the mouth movement matched the words. A couple of times the lip-synching did not look right and now have been corrected. I also altered key frames when the mouth animation affected the skin and looked wrong.

Next was to move on to the body movement, I purposely animated them sitting around a table so I only needed to express arm movement and not the legs and body.

Finally when the early animation looked right I extruded a line spline to create the wall. I used a tile texture for the walls, a wood texture for the table and changed the texture for the characters. Last of all I used an Omni light with shadow on, which gave it added depth.

I am pleased with my finished artefact as I believe I have accomplished what I intended. For the forth artefact I will use a loony tunes sound clip to see if it makes any difference to the humour.


Sunday, February 17, 2008


Last week Ratatouille was released on DVD and if you haven't seen it yet go and buy it as it's a stunning film and one of the most critically acclaimed films in years, if you don't believe me check out metacritic as it's number 7 in their all-time top 100 rated films.

What I first noticed about the film was the perfectly lighted outdoor scenes throughout the movie, which has never been better. The scenes reminded me of the live action/animated movie Who framed Roger Rabbit. You also notice the food looks so real especially the first piece of bread Reme almost eats.

For me though the most brilliant thing about the movie is the fact they seem to me to be paying homage to Disney, and yet taking the Mickey (no pun intended) out of the studio at the same time. To try to explain what I mean I will quickly first go through the Movie.

At the start of the film you find out Gusteau, The Chef and owner of the best restaurant in Paris has died and the restaurant goes into decline. When Reme finds himself at the Restaurant, you find out that the food cooked in the kitchen is prepared using Gusteau's old recipes. The cooks aren't creating any thing new and original, which Gusteau was famous for. Skinner who is now the owner of Gusteau's makes a high percentage of profits from frozen ready meals, using Gusteau's name to sell inferior food products to be consumed in the home. Linguini, the new cleaner who has no cooking talent later teams up with Reme to create original recipes. He is proven to be the son of Gusteau, he then fires Skinner and stops the frozen food ready meal products. The restaurant has been revived and is once again loved by critics.

What I'm getting at is look at the plot and compare it to the Disney Company.

Disney Animation studios went into decline after Walt Disney died. The phrase often repeated at the Studio was "What would Walt do". The films they later released for years were inferior to The Walt Disney era. The films while trying to be original basically were created in the way they thought Walt Disney would have done it.

Michael Eisner was the chief executive officer at Disney in the 80's and 90's when they had a revival. The films Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin etc became popular. They still had the same plot lines as Walt Disney's original films though, Princess falls in love at first sight, characters burst into song and dance, and the films also feature talking animals. Michael Eisner was in charge when Pixar first signed their original contract at Disney and was the reason why Pixar had creative differences with Disney, because of Toy story 2 not being counted as one of the company's 3 picture deals as it was originally intended for straight-to-video release.

Speaking of straight-to-video releases, Disney in recent years under Michael Eisner have brought out straight-to-video releases of inferior sequels based upon many Walt Disney films such as Cinderella 2, Return to Never Never land and The Jungle book 2. Surely the frozen ready meals featuring Gusteau's image is a reference to the straight-to-video sequels Disney released under Michael Eisner. Also Roy E. Disney, who is the nephew of Walt, hasn't got the creative talent his uncle had. Surely Linguini is based upon Roy as Linguini didn't have the creative talent of Gusteau. Also Roy E. Disney is mainly responsible for Eisner being fired from Disney which, has led to Pixar merging with Disney a year later. To me it certainly seems that Skinner is based on Eisner. So you see that while Walt Disney is paid homage to with Gusteau and Roy E. Disney is with Linguini, Eisner is mocked with Skinner and his Ready-meals.

I could go on but I will say one last thing, in Ratouille it takes an outsider, a Rat to turn the restaurant around again to the business it once was, who creates original recipes which the critics love. Surely Reme and the rats are based on John Lasseter, Brad Bird and the rest of the Pixar team. You only have to look at the name Reme Rat, how similar is that name to another much loved rodent from Disney. How close to the name Mickey Mouse do you need to get.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Second Artefact Evaluation

Here is the second artefact evaluation as promised.

Personal Research Project Second Artefact Evaluation

For my second artefact, as stated in my first evaluation I used the same characters. My original idea which will be used in my third artefact will be to lip-synch the two characters to dialogue taken from WAV files of classic Marx Brothers films. This did not happen as I had problems with putting the WAV files into 3D Max. I tried to load the files and 3D Max could not open the file. I eventually found out the problem and will go into it in the third evaluation.

Since I did not have time to produce the second artefact to my original plan, with character dialogue I decided to make a gag out of it for my artefact. The characters meet and say “Hi” to each other so use white board and pen to communicate when no sound comes out when they try to talk. One of the characters writes on their board why can’t they talk and the other replies that the animator can not get the sound into the “Animation program”. I thought it would make a good gag and I could carry on with further whiteboard dialogue through to the end of the animation.

I am quite pleased with my end result but should have had a longer shot on the first white board when the character asks “Why can’t we talk”. The problem does not really matter too much as it is only a short piece of text so can be read pretty quickly.

Since I have completed my second artefact on time, which I had trouble doing for my first artefact, I can concentrate on producing good animation for the rest of the artefacts. These will hopefully improve my animation skills and give me experience in lip-syncing which I have not really had yet.


First artefact evaluation

The e-mail link to put our evaluations is still not up yet so will post the first and second here for now.

Personal Research Project First Artefact Evaluation

The original idea for my artefact was to create a simple character to use throughout the animations. The first idea I had for a character was to create a Duck-Billed Platypus character. There has not really been a Platypus character before apart from the Platypus Brothers from the Tazmania cartoon who did not have a staring role.

As I was thinking about the following artefacts, one of my ideas was to do the Monty Python sketch, The Ministry of Silly Walks. As the sketch made use of John Cleese’s long legs I realised that a Platypus character would have short limbs, so will not be ideal for the sketch. As many classic comedy gags, including the Silly Walk sketch and Looney Tunes gags relied on two characters I needed two as well.

For time wise the characters had to be basic models, they had to be long limbed for Silly Walk type sketches and I felt also had to have big expressive eyes and mouth. This is the reason I modelled characters with head and body joined together, similar in style to Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc, and SpongeBob Squarepants.

I have left them with a standard material colour for the time being which may or may not be changed at a later date. I have noticed simple characters online in commercials such as the Microsoft Zune adverts which are simple and very well designed. I will see if I can improve the design of the characters to be seen in the next artefact.

I have had a few problems with the models including the rigging and especially the skin modifier on one model. I eventually sorted out the problem and the quick animation is the end result.

I still have not decided what to do for my next artefact as I think I will delay the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch for a later artefact as I need to be more experienced in lip synch and body movement to attempt the sketch. I might well do a classic Looney Tunes gag for the next artefact.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Cartoon character Skeleton's

If you ever wanted to know the bone structure of cartoon character's then check out Lee Hyungkoo's sculptures.
I particually like Wile E Coyote chasing Road Runner and the Bugs Bunny models.

Another one I've found is this skeleton of Pac-Man by Le Gentil Garcon with help from paleontologist Francois Escuilie (you will find more information if you type in skeleton pac man into google).

Although these are only drawings they are also worth a look. By
Michael Paulus, they contain the skeletal structures of cartoon characters such as "Hello Kitty", "Charlie Brown" and "Marvin the Martian".

First Blog of the year

Another year over, the turkey's been eaten and we're back at uni. Should have done more work over the christmas break, but I have been thinking about characters I can create for my research project and my client project.

Originally for my reasearch project I was thinking about creating a Duck-billed Platypus cartoon character as it's an unusual and funny looking animal. The only platypus cartoon characters I can recall are the platypus brothers from the Taz Mania cartoon from the 90's, which I'm quite surprised at for such a strange creature. I think I will create the character for the client project as I think I will need a long limbed character for showing classic gags for the artifacts. I might even create a character with just a head for a body like Mike Wazowski the Green, one eyed monster from Monster's Inc'.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Client Project

For my live client I decided to enter into the D&AD Student awards and go for the Animation design brief. The Project requires creating and animating a character to protray it's personality. The film to fit the brief should be between 20 and 60 seconds, time permitting I will create a longer animation for my University project deadline, which is a few weeks later than the D&AD deadline.

To create the animation I will design a character and develop a storyboard to plan the animation. The character I think will need to be long limbed probably in proportion to an adult human. Characters such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck spring into mind as they were very expressive characters.