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'Thinking Outside the Box'- The Bob Animations

I give you the first of 'The Bob Animations.' I hope you enjoy this little animation. The next one is already in production!!!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

New inspirations, New Idea's

With conversations and guidance comes a new path in the telling of my tale about Morrigan. I've been pointed in the direction of previous animations including the music video for the band 'Danger Beach' and their song 'Apache' below.

The animation is a sort of moving carousel, changing the scenery before fading away in the background. It mixes media, with collage and textures. (Something I am quite fond of.)
In my digging to discover more about the animator, I found a short interview with him, including how he made this piece.

This particular animation has significance to my progression, because I'd like to experiment with the idea of having a fixed camera and the environment and scenes slide in and out of shot to continue telling the story. A little like paper theatre.

Another animation I was told to look at is 'The Secret of Kells'. This 2008 animated film is set in precisely the medieval era I intend to set my story alongside the Irish Celtic vibe I need. However 'The Secret of Kells' incorporates this lovely combination of cute characterization with medieval illustration and stained glass. Perspectives are at strange angles, but in this particular environment it works perfectly. There is a large element of shape involved in this animation, interesting scenes in which all the features fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

The story was based upon a real, illuminated, gospel book called the 'Book of Kells', containing the four gospels of the new testament. The decoration of which combines christian iconography and insular art. insular art is the rather specific Celtic Christian art style limited mostly to Ireland and Britain during the early medieval period. The book was incredibly ornate in its design. And will prove useful to investigate for authentic designs.

Now the intention is to better investigate 'Insular Art' and |Celtic patterns to help me create a new way of animating. I intend to 'grow' the scenery and fluidly change the events of my Morrigan story using Celtic knots and patterns. The shapes will be moved around like elements in a paper theatre with a distinctive medieval Irish vibe to it.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The New Minor Project Proposal

For my final year I would like to create a short animation combining 2D and 3D techniques. The subject being based on Irish Celtic Mythology. In particular a Goddess named Morrigan. Using some of the earlier research, I have decided to create an origin story for her, taking features from the myth and giving her a tragic romantic story which is sketched out below.

I have a certain aesthetic theme I am keen on and in a bid to find more of the same I researched into television, games, films, and illustration. The following are the influences I gleaned from these searches.

When it came to the concept art of the characters from 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' 'Three Brothers' animation. I stumbled upon the art blog of one of the designers- Dale Newton  and it was here I found some early concept design for the angular characters and also some colour keys, which I find valuable for the kind of scenes I would like to be setting.

I've incorporated some sketches below of scenes mentioned in the step outline as I try to express the vision i have for this project.

Morrigan predicts the death of her Warrior

Morrigan meets her Warrior

A tree through the changing seasons as time passes for the couple

By the end of the Minor project I hope to have completed all pre-production ready for animation in the Major project. I also hope I improve my skills, particularly within Autodesk Maya and achieve successful storytelling through predominantly visual elements.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Project Proposal- So Far

So! Here's the plan. I aim to create an animated short revolving around the Celtic Irish Goddess Morrigan, her story being an origin story- How she became to be the Goddess of battle and strife. After a short tutorial it would appear her story will begin as a romantic tragedy. The goddess of death finds the man of her dreams but he is doomed to die at her hand whether she means to do it or not. In the end she manifests as the fully fledged Morrigan. A cursed and lonely woman destined to reap souls for eternity.

Boiling down to the art style I am fixed upon a muted and simple colour scheme, with perhaps use of silhouetted characaters. I like the idea of combining 2D and 3D elements to create something really visually interesting. Not too dissimilar to the animation for 'The Deathly Hallows' animation in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part1.

I still like the pop-up book or diorama layout usedin the BBC 2 Christmas Ident from 2007. Again it has the subdued colours I quite like.

 I feel when I come to designing the characters I need to take an approach thats a little different. A lot of the images that come up when google searching 'Morrigan' are of a well established game character Morrigan Aensland from 'Darkstalkers. An anime style which is not really the celtic route I'm looking for. Although I am however gaining inspiration from the costume design of this statue of Morrigan, by Sharon Aur. (The pictures were found here on her Blogger page.) All of her celtic and fairy staues have a similar charm about them and a unique design to their attire that might prove further inspiration. However if I turn to silhouette in later animation, such detail may be lost. Still, it makes interesting viewing with such an eclectic mix of materials. Here she certainly looks like a warrior and commands respect. It certianly reminds me to consider her nature in her design. Perhaps with the love story comes and evolution in her look and style?

The next step is to go and write out a story structure that will hopefully encapsulate this Celtic tragedy. Hopefully that will appear on the blog shortly, alongside some sketches that spring to mind.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Morrigan, Mor-rioghain, Morrigu...

It would appear my research into Celtic mythology on 'The Morrigan' is the ancestor of Irish mythology (with many many names!) and as a result I've found myself delving into the Emerald Isle's history. I've been doing some research and as is the case with looking up mythology there is an absolute spiders web of information hinting as to the characteristics of this figure and their origins. I'm going to pick out of my research some of the more interesting characteristics that pose potentially creative pathways.

The Research

Morrigan is mostly considered the Goddess of battle and strife. However she has been associated with sovereignty, but also fertility and the land. She has been seen both as an individual or as part of a triad of deity's. (Which I'll shed some light on later.)

As an individual she is most commonly associated with imminent violent death, but also the outcome of war. She would often be seen near battle in several different forms, what with being a shapeshifter. She has been known to be a beautiful woman, but more commonly known to take the form of a Crow, but also a Raven. As a Crow she could survey the battle, either urging the side she favoured or terrifying the side she didn't. In that form she would also symbolise the end of a battle, landing on the shoulder of the dead leader of the losing side.

She would also take the form of a hag by a stream and be seen washing the bloody uniform of warriors about to go into battle. A sure death omen for the owners of the uniform. The washer woman form is otherwise known as Bean-Nighe.

She could foretell the outcomes of battles but sometimes would intervene herself so that the her favourites were victorious. This particular characteristic is comparable to the Norse 'Valkyrie's'- female figures who would choose who would live and die in battle. They would then take the souls of the dead to Valhalla and Odin. Taken from my research it appears that though Morrigan would interfere in battle on occasion she would never quite do it directly... 
"The function of the goddess[the Morrigan] here, it may be noted, is not to attack the hero with weapons, but to render him helpless at a crucial point in battle"

The etymology of her name broken down into 'Mor' and 'Rigan' indicate that 'Mor', in several old languages to be derived from our word 'Nightmare'. (The Old English- Maere. The Old Russian (and Scandanavian)- Mara). Meanwhile 'Rigan' translates to mean 'Queen'. However the scholars consider 'Phantom Queen' to be the best translation from the Celtic descriptions.

Returning to the concept of 'The Morrigan' in fact being a triad of deity's or even sisters. There are many names that have been placed in the triad. However the most commonly occurring are Badb Catha, Macha and Nemain or Fea

Badb Catha, translates into battle crow. This particular deity is seen as the omen of a battle to come, but it is a scavenger bird and will feed on the victims of the war. (Not too dissimilar to the Valkyries harvesting the souls of the dead.)

The name Macha derives from the old Irish for Plain or Field. This deity is directly linked to the land and extending from that, wealth, fertility and queenship.

Nemain, has disputed translation but each revolves around the concept of terror and frenzy. But the other form of Fea is known to be the worse incarnation. Connected to frenzy, terror, fearful sound and madness. She is said to terrorise men through a shriek so awful they died of fright instantly.

So- time to do something with the information.... 

I still like the idea of shape-shipting between the different forms of young beauty, to a hag to a crow. I'd like to slip in some fluid transitions like paper folding, paper cutouts sliding across to reveal or hide elements and alter the scene. Or creating diorama's for depth. 

Moving into the story. I could perhaps create one around the inciting of a war by the Morrigan herself. (She seems to predict these things a little too well) And then her subsequent interfering. I could hint at the idea of the trio of sisters. Multiplying and causing trouble of their own. But I think it more likely I will stick with the individual version of Morrigan.

I would like the creative freedom of creating my own story, but there has been frequent mention of a particular Hero named Cu Chulainn and Morrigans part in his death. The story is well described in a wikipedia article under the subheading 'Ulster Cycle'. And is a potential candidate for adaptation. (The above statue pictured is a representation of Cu Chulainn carrying the body of his friend)

My Sources of Reading


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Minor Project- A few ideas...

It Begins...

Its time to start the final year, (scary prospect) BUT exciting at the same time. I have been entertaining a couple of idea's. Admittedly they are a floaty mess, but thats to be expected at the moment. I hope to refine one or two of these and turn them into a worthwhile project that expresses me as a CG creative by the end of this year.

Idea 1

My first idea was inspired by a track of music. The beating folk like nature of 'Where No One Goes'  from new Dreamworks release 'How to Train your Dragon2'. But rather than focusing on Vikings as the subject, I looked into Celtic mythology and fairytales and started exploring slightly more folk sound, courtesy of Kevin MacLeod. My favourite so far linked here, known as 'Celtic Impulse'

I felt like creating a paced wordless story, exploring landscape environments whilst hinting at the old gods. I feel particularly drawn to 'Morrigan.' described to be-

A shape changer. She can transform from ravishing beauty to hag- or battle crow to the 'Washer Woman of Doom'- in triple time.' (godchecker.com)

I like the idea of following that character through a visual aesthetic either with muted or few colours. (Like the BBC 2 Christmas Idents form a few years back) I think this might have a potential for some interesting transitions covering both 2D and 3D.

Idea 2

A pair of characters I drew a while back, called 'the Kapow kids' have been niggling at me for some time as potential characters for a children's TV show of some description. But ignoring the name 'Kapow kids'. I keep imagining them in a little sci-fi world of their own getting about at high speeds on hover boards.

The goal with these characters would be to create them and animate them in their own TV trailer. I'm rather drawn to the block colours and slick design of the kids TV shows 'FreeFonix' and 'The Secret Show'.  Theres a comic book style panelling and silhouetting I would like to emulate. But perhaps evolving a story around racing, like Pixar's 'Sugar Rush' game in the film 'Wreck It Ralph'.

                                            Freefonix                                       The Secret Show
                                                                     Wreck it Ralph

Idea 3

Flicking through my sketchbook. I came across this guy. The character was inspired by 'Ice Age' secondary character 'Scrat' (voiced by the director Chris Wedge) I feel those goggling eyes are oozing a luckless and hopeless personality. And perhaps I can take the style and create a new hapless creature. Or maybe a small cluster of them and then create a sketch of a similar nature to Scrat, or perhaps 'Bernard Bear' and 'Shaun the Sheep'. Where all the action is purely slapstick.

Idea 4

This consists of me revisiting a project from my first year during 'Storytelling and Commission.' A project where we were given three words. A character, prop and location. Mine were a clown, a lasso, and a restaurant. The end result of that project was the animatic below, entitled 'Roped In.'

I've always been quite pleased with the key characters I created for this project and I feel they have the potential for further exploration. I could perhaps create the same story, frame by frame, completely in 3D. I could redesign elements with a richer set of environments.

Or I could take simply the characters and do something completely new. Such as a solitary act by my Cowboy Clown.... As of yet I am unsure.