Rebecca O'Connor Honours Blog

Character Performance

0 notes

Final Animation

I have finished the final animation and I will be handing it in later today. If I can keep the export smaller than 1gb I’ll get it up on here but there are still some polishes I would like to do before the showcase. Overall I am really pleased with the way it has turned out and hopefully I’ll be able to get the film finished over the next year. 

I will be analysing the final film for my dissertation using my critical framework and hopefully I have succeeded in following my own rules.

Filed under progress update

0 notes

I’ve tried to keep up with my observational drawings but as I’ve been focusing on other aspects of my project I haven’t got as much done as I would have liked. However, I still feel that it has helped with my poses and animation throughout the project. It has been much easier to catch the unnatural movements and poses in my animations. I intend to keep up with my observational drawings even after this project is finished. It has proven very valuable over the course of this year and it would seem a waste to just stop.

Filed under observational drawing life drawing

1 note

Black Swan Case Study

I left the Black Swan case study until last as I didn’t want to get bogged down with the first attempts at analysing the scene. Despite this i did have some problems with repetition but I think I managed to clean it up and keep the case study concise. I chose a live action performance in addition to the animated performances to see how they compared. I chose black Swan specifically as it was also an Oscar award winning film so it was a reliable performance. There is also very little dialogue in the scene so as with Paperman and Tangled the thinking and emotion of the character is portrayed through the performance over the dialogue. 

Black Swan

97.50 Minutes to 100.34 Minutes

Aim of the Case Study:

  • What do you want to analyse about this particular performance?

    • The aim of this case study is to analyse Nina’s actions to find out her thought process and the shifts in her emotions. It is also the aim of this study to find out the reasons for Nina’s unstable emotional state and how they are portrayed in the performance.

Character to be analysed:

  • Nina Sayers – The Swan Queen

The action

  • The overall action in the scene is Nina changing from the Black Swan costume into the White Swan costume.

    • Nina enters her dressing room and closes the door behind her. She looks around the room at the smashed mirror and the blood under the bathroom door. Nina is still a little out of breath; she hesitates after closing the door and her eyes move quickly around the room.

    • Nina covers up the blood and moves to the dressing table. Nina’s movements are rushed and her posture is slightly hunched.

    • Nina is painting her White Swan make up on until she stops to answer the door. Nina’s movements are fast and efficient and her breathing has evened out. Her eyes move quickly between the bathroom and the door.

    • Nina pauses and gasps when she sees Lily on the other side of the door. She stands still to listen to her and doesn’t say anything in reply. Nina’s facial expression is shocked when she sees Lily. She stares straight at Lily before slowly looking down and to the side. Nina keeps blinking quickly.

    • Nina closes the door and slowly looks around the room again. She is frowning and she moves very slowly towards the bathroom.

    • She picks up the towel very slowly and puts it to the side.

    • Nina stands up to open the bathroom door and turn on the light. Her movements are very small and slow and she hesitates before going in to the bathroom. Nina’s shoulders are slightly hunched and her whole body is tense.

    • Nina slowly turns back out of the bathroom and stops in the middle of her dressing room. Nina’s movements continue to be small and slow and her eyes are focused straight ahead. She isn’t looking at anything in the room.

    • Nina’s eyes slowly flick from left to right before she looks down towards her stomach and pulls out a piece of broken glass. Nina is very hesitant before she touches the glass and pulls very slowly. Her breathing picks up pace and she starts to cry.

    • Nina stares at the piece of glass. She is crying quietly and he eyes are wide. Nina looks down and her eyes flick around quickly without really focusing on anything.

    • She pauses for a moment and takes a deep breath before she slowly moves back over to the dressing table and continues applying her make up. Nina is still crying for all of this but she keeps taking deep breaths and she slowly calms down.

    • As Nina applies her make up her stiff and clipped movements become more fluid and relaxed.

Circumstances/Context

Nina has wanted to dance the role of the Swan Queen for a long time but she has never had a prominent role in the dance company before. She is coddled by her mother and has no real control over her life. As a result Nina is very self-conscious and down trodden, she has very little confidence. However, when Nina is given the role of the Swan Queen she slowly becomes obsessed with the role and with giving the perfect performance. She becomes paranoid over rehearsals and is certain that Lily (another dancer in the show) is out to steal her role. On the night of the first showing and shortly before this scene Nina kills Lily in her dressing because she threatens to finish the performance. Nina stabs Lily with a shard of glass and hides the body in her bathroom.

  • How does the character react to it?

    • When Nina first returns to the room she checks both the mirror and the door to the bathroom where she hid Lily’s body. When she sees the blood she covers it up and then proceeds to get ready for the next act. Nina doesn’t look over to the bathroom again until there is a knock at the door and she quickly glances over to it. When Nina sees Lily at the door she is speechless, she is confused and a little afraid to see Lily alive. After Lily leaves Nina checks the blood under the towel and the bathroom where she hid Lily’s body. However, there is nothing there. This is when Nina realises that she has stabbed herself.

  • What does this tell you?

    • At the start of the scene Nina barely acknowledges that she killed Lily. The show is far more important to her than getting caught and she shows little to no regret. By this stage Nina will do whatever it takes to complete her performance. When Lily is revealed to be alive Nina does not understand how. As Nina works out what really happened she slowly becomes more distressed, she is afraid of what really happened. Nina slowly realises that he stabbed herself and it becomes clear that none of what happened with Lily was real. Nina has been hallucinating and has become more unstable.

Objective

Nina’s objective in the scene is to prepare for the second act of the performance and get dressed as the white Swan. Her overall objective is to finish the show.

  • How do you know this?

    • Nina only pauses for a moment to cover the blood before she goes straight to the mirror and begins changing for the second act. She does not stop getting ready until there is a knock at the door and she has to answer it. More importantly, when Nina realises she has mortally injured herself she does nothing about it. Instead she returns to the dressing table and continues to prepare even though it will most likely mean that she will die.

  • What does this tell you?

    • Choosing to finish the performance over seeking medical attention shows that literally nothing is more important to Nina than getting back on stage to finish the show. The fact that Nina is crying when she realises her injury shows that she is fully aware of the consequences of the decision she is making and she makes it anyway. It very clearly shows how mentally and emotionally unstable she is at that moment if she is willing to die to give a perfect performance.

Conflict

The conflict for Nina in this performance is herself. It is an emotional and mental conflict. She has to decide whether or not to finish the performance.

  • How do you know this?

    • When Lily comes to the door Nina stops preparing for the show to go and answer. However, Lily is not the conflict as even when she leaves Nina does not continue getting ready. After Lily has left and Nina has checked the bathroom (to be certain that Lily is not there) she realises that she has injured herself rather than Lily. This is the true moment of conflict for Nina, she could find help so she does not die, but then she won’t be able to finish the performance. However, if she continues to dance she will most likely die. Nina overcomes this conflict when she goes back to the dresser to finish getting ready. She chooses to finish the show which solves her conflict.

  • What does this tell you?

    • The fact that Nina is conflicted over whether to finish performing the ballet or seek necessary medical treatment shows that she is not in a stable state of mind. By this point she is obsessed with filling the role of the Swan Queen and giving a perfect performance. When Nina chooses to continue performing it is clear that she values her role and the show more than her own wellbeing. Going back onto the stage is all she cares about.

Subtext

The subtext throughout the scene is Nina worrying about Lily in the bathroom. When Nina first enters the room Lilys blood is leaking under the bathroom door. Nina immediately covers it up, she doesn’t want to see or think about what she did to Lily earlier but it is constantly in the back of her mind. This can be seen from all the looks and glances Nina throws towards the bathroom and the smashed mirror. When she hears the knock at the door Nina immediately looks to the broken mirror and the bathroom before looking at the door. Nina’s hesitation to answer the door shows that she is afraid whoever is behind the door will find out what she has done. Although Nina does not seem to regret killing Lily she does not want to get caught as that would prevent her from dancing. When Nina answers the door she only opens it a crack and blocks the room from view by standing in front of it. She wants to stop anyone from seeing inside the dressing room. When Lily is shown to be alive the subtext changes as Nina tries to work out what has happened. When Nina checks under the towel and in the bathroom she becomes more distressed she knows now that Lily was never there: she injured herself. This is when Nina acknowledges that she has been hallucinating and she is afraid.

Summary

Nina is determined to finish the last act regardless of what she has to do to get there. She murders Lily and then continues as though nothing had happened. Nina does not even seem to feel remorse for Lily, her hurry to cover up the blood showed that she does not want to think about what she has done but it does not stop her from dancing. She does not care enough to give up her obsession. Even when she realises that she is mortally wounded Nina does not stop. By this point she values the performance over her own life, as long as she finishes. Nina is obsessed with the role and the perfect performance. In addition to this the fact that Nia vividly hallucinates shows that she is mentally and emotionally unstable. Her obsession and paranoia has got to a level where it is the only thing she cares about is the performance and she will do anything to complete it. When Nina cries after she pulls out the glass shard she is scared and confused, nothing is certain to her anymore. The fact that going back out to dance is what calms her down again shows that not only is she obsessed with finishing the show it is also the only thing that is clear to her anymore. She can’t trust anything else.

I was pleased with the outcome of this case study as it was far more successful than my first attempts and it gave a clear view of Nina’s character and her emotions. As this is the last case study of this project my next step will be to add the case studies to the dissertation and use the critical framework to analyse my final animation. 

Filed under Black Swan case study Dissertation Critical Framework

1 note

I have no experience with effects like this in maya and so I went straight to tutorials to work out the mirror smash.

I ended up using this tutorial: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dreamsin3d.com%2Fglass_tutorial.html&h=SAQH22yVf

I did change the settings slightly so the smash would fit the scene better but I am really happy with the way it has turned out. I applied a mental ray mia_x texture to create a glass effect and it looks really good so far. I will need to tweak the opacity and positioning of the crack so it fits the shot and the phones impact point. However, I think that it will end up working really well. 

Filed under smash skill gap tutorial

0 notes

The cleaned up final shot!! I smoothed out the animation and changed the timing of The Lady’s actions so that the become faster and almost snappy by the end of the shot. I also tried to slowly build the facial animation to reflect the Lady’s increasing stress through the shot. The last reaction movement is still a little jerky and I may try and tweak that before the final render. However, I am particularly pleased with the way that the eyes move around the room. I think it gives a genuine reaction to the situation and portrays The Lady’s emotions clearly. The next step for this shot is to add the texts and the text alerts and make any changes to the timing based around them. Then I’ll be rendering it out for the final piece.

Filed under shot 6 final shot pass 2 3D animation animation

15 notes

Paperman Case Study

I chose Paperman for a case study as i won an Oscar and was therefore a a credible example for reliable analysis. I also chose it as there is no dialogue and all the thinking and emotions in the scene have to be derived from the characters performance. 

Aim of the Case Study:

  • What do you want to analyse about this particular performance?

    • The aim of this case study is to find out what George is doing in the scene and what his thought process and emotions are during the performance. The manner in which these thoughts and emotions are portrayed will also be analysed.

Character to be analysed:

  • George

The action

  • The overall action in the scene is George trying to get Megs attention through the window.

    • He is sitting at his desk looking at the lipstick mark left by Meg on the paper. His posture is slumped and his expression is grumpy.

    • When the paper goes to fly out the window he rushes to catch it, almost flailing as he moves to the window.

    • When he sees Meg in the building across from him, he rushes back to the window and pauses for a moment to look at her. He then starts waving quickly and he is smiling. His movements are large and energetic.

    • He stops waving when his boss sees him and slowly sits back down with a frown on his face but he keeps looking back to the window.

    • He starts to fold a paper plane out of his work documents. He hesitates over the one with Meg’s lipstick on it and doesn’t fold it. His movements are fast and sure on the paper. He keeps looking to his boss’s office as he finishes it.

    • When the first plane falls he watches it through the window and then quickly goes back inside to make another one.

    • He continues to make planes even though they all miss the window Meg is in. He watches them until they land and when they miss he goes straight back inside to make another.

    • When his boss catches him and closes the window George waits until he has left before he goes straight back to making planes.

    • George keeps making planes until he runs out of paper. He knocks the basket off of his desk as he reaches for another sheet because doesn’t look at where he is reaching. He is still looking out the window at Meg. He turns around when the basket clatters to the floor, quickly looks around the room at his co-workers and turns back to the window.

    • George catches the sheet with Meg’s lipstick as it tries to fly out the window again. It is the only sheet left and he looks between it and the window for a moment before quickly folding it in to a plane.

    • He holds the plane at the window for a moment and takes a deep breath before the plane falls from his hand towards the street. George quickly tries to grab for it and keeps trying to reach it even after it has floated too far away.

    • George then sees Meg leave the building opposite, he watches he reach the street and quickly turns around where his boss is standing. He stops dead in his tracks.

    • His boss puts another stack of paper on his desk and George slumps dejectedly back into his chair. As his boss is walking away George watches him and his expression changes from upset and resigned to one of determination.

    • George sits for a moment as his boss walks away before quickly bolting out of the office regardless of whether or not his boss sees him. He doesn’t hesitate or look back. George just runs straight out of the room with his jacket, knocking the new stack of papers to the floor as he leaves.

Objective

  • What is the objective?

    • The overall objective of the performance is for George to get Meg’s attention by any means available to him.

  • How do you know this?

    • The first thing George did when he saw Meg was wave his arms around to get her attention. Before this point all of his motions have been small and self-contained but when George is waving he stretches as far as he can and jumps up and down. When that doesn’t work he starts making planes and trying to throw them in her window. Even when all of the planes miss George continues to catch her attention until he runs out of paper and physically cannot make any more. When the planes don’t work George leaves the office to go and find her. The objective can be proven when George does finally get Meg’s attention

  • What does it tell you?

    • George is desperate to catch Meg’s attention and meet her properly. The way George’s movements speed up and his actions become large and lively show that he is excited and happy to see Meg again. George takes care to aim when he throws the planes. He is clearly focused on the task and his face is screwed up in concentration. This shows that he is invested in them reaching Meg’s window. He cares whether or not the get there. This is also shown in his reactions when the planes miss to the point that George repeatedly knocks his head against a wall in frustration. Even after this he doesn’t stop trying to get her attention. Getting Meg’s attention is more important to George than his work. He uses the work documents to make the planes but he only cares about whether or not they reach Meg, not what happens to them afterwards.

Conflict

  • The conflict in the scene is a mixture between another character (George’s boss) and situational conflict.

  • How do you know this?

    • George’s boss causes conflict in the scene as he keeps stopping George from flying the planes to get Meg’s attention.

    • The situation also causes conflict as the planes aren’t reaching the window Meg is in. This varies from the planes simply missing the window to funny scenarios like when one plane flies into a passing bird and falls to the ground.

  • What does this tell you?

    • George sees his boss as an authority figure and listens to him when he is there. He does not however care much for his job because as soon as his boss is out of sight George goes back to getting Megs attention. Meg is more important to him than his job in that moment.

    • George dealing with the situational conflict shows the level of his determination to get Meg’s attention. Even though every attempt to reach her fails George does not stop trying to get her attention. He really wants her to see him.

Circumstances/Context

  • The context of the scene is that George and Meg met very briefly earlier that day. Before George could say anything in reply to Meg accidently getting lipstick on his paper Meg had to get on a train to leave. It was clear that George wanted to say something but missed his chance.

  • How does the character react to it?

    • George keeps looking at the lipstick mark Meg left instead of doing work. When he sees her through the window he immediately tries to get her attention and forgets about his work. When she leaves the building without seeing him, George rushes out of his building to go and find her in the street.

  • What does this tell you?

    • George is still thinking about Meg and is sad that he didn’t get to talk to her. When he sees Meg out of the window he immediately tries to get her attention. He still wants to talk to her and realising that he has a second chance instantly cheers him up. George leaving work to find her also shows that he is so determined to find her that finding Meg is more important to him than his work. He does not want to miss her again.

Subtext

  • The subtext in George’s performance is that he feels trapped by his job and his boss. From the start of Paperman George seems dissatisfied and unhappy. It is not until he meets Meg for the first time that he seems happy at all. When he gets to work at the beginning of this scene his is back to being sad. For both missing his opportunity to talk to Meg and that he does not like his work. Whenever George tries to do something to attract Meg’s attention his boss stops him and eventually causes him to miss Meg in the street. However, the only reason the boss has power over George is that he lets it happen and does what his boss tells him. It is not until George leaves work and ignores his boss that the paper planes come alive and actively seek Meg out. This could signify that George was in fact holding himself back; the planes didn’t catch Meg’s attention until he finally made a decision to leave work and actively search out something in his life that made him happy.

Summary

  • George is unhappy with the way his life is currently. He does not like his job and he is stuck in a tedious schedule like his co-workers in the office. This is shown through George’s resentful looks at both his boss and the enormous piles of paperwork he delivers to his desk. George’s posture is slumped and his arms hang limply by his sides. His eyes are also downcast and he keeps them half closed. George moves very little when is not trying to get Meg’s attention and he shows no hurry in trying to do anything work related. George also completely disregards both the paperwork and his boss’ warnings in order to continue trying to get Meg’s attention. The only time George seems happy or excited is when he sees Meg and his actions become lively and animated. George’s dedication to getting Meg’s attention shows how badly he wants to talk to her and have something in his life that makes him happy. Even though every plane misses the window George never stops flying them or seems doubtful, his only reaction is to quickly make another plane and try again. He is not willing to give up on meeting Meg. His final action in the scene is to run out of the office, this over everything else shows that Meg means more to George than his job and that he is making the decision to seek out something better for his life.

Filed under Paperman case study Dissertation

0 notes

I have had some serious problems with the lighting and rendering for this film. Initially the renders were taking a very long time to complete is the maya file didn’t crash and The characters eyes, hair and skin kept glowing despite the darker lighting. I eventually worked out that the characters short texture and the bump maps were causing the crashing and extended render time and so I removed them from the scene. I am not entirely sure why this was happening as the set textures I made worked no problem. However, I can get renders out now so I’m happy with what I have. 

The last image here is the final lighting and render setting for the film. I turned down the ambient occlusion and specular dropoff for the textures that were glowing and applied a basic maya texture for the shirt. The lighting itself was developed after using this tutorial on image based lighting: https://vimeo.com/46198682. It has proven invaluable for getting my renders up and running and I tweaked the setting to keep my render time down while still producing satisfactory render quality. 

The text textures are placed on planes in the maya scene and the visibility is toggled on and off. I tried to make the text seem like a font that would be used on a phone to make it clear that this was the text The Lady was receiving. Overall I think it helps build the pace of the shot as the text overlaps and crowds the character. I wanted it to reflect her confused and overwhelmed mental state.

I will render out the film with these settings and work on the mirror reflections and smash to match the main shots.

Filed under lighting rendering skill gap tutorial

0 notes

I decided a while ago that I was only going to animate half of the planned film. I did not think that I could animate the entirety of it to a quality that I would be happy with in the remainder of the year. As a result this will be the final shot in the film and it will end when The Lady smashes the mirror with her phone. I had planned this shot to be the pivotal moment in the film when The Lady changes from fearing her isolation to realising that she has accidentally lost what little she did have in a moment of panic. I chose this as the final shot because the pace and tension of the shot builds until she smashes the mirror creating an end of sorts. The Lady does not achieve her objective at the end of this scene but this is when it becomes clear that she will never achieve it. 

The animation is currently only blocked out. Her movements are robotic and jerky and there is currently very little facial animation. I think the heavy breathing towards the end of the shot works well to show her emotions and I plan to build this up as the texts continue to come through and The Lady’s  distress increases. The timing of the Lays head movements will also need work to make sure that the movements stays smooth but is fast enough to portray fear. The back step as The Lady throws the phone was a suggestion and I think it helps to compound the feeling of fear The Lady feels towards the phone. She wants to be as far away from it as she can.

I will continue to polish this scene and add the text alerts and the sections of poem to help wit the characters reactions. I also need to start working on the mirror smash for the final render.

Filed under shot 6 final shot pass 1 3D animation animation

0 notes

Tangled Case Study

I decided to leave the Black swan case study alone for a while and focus on the others case studies so I don’t get confused with the findings from the first case study attempts. I am just going to post the case study here as anything I could say about it I have already said in the case study itself. Going through this process did however help to fine tune my critical framework and it has proven much more effective than the first case study I developed.

Tangled Case Study

65.40 Minutes to 66.28Minutes

Aim of the Case Study:

Character performances should tell the audience what the character is thinking and feelings at that moment in time. The aim of this case study is to analyse a performance to find the emotion and thinking of a character and how they are portrayed to the audience. Through analysis of the Objectives and Actions in the scene should in formation such as the characters motivations should also be revealed.

Character to be analysed:

  • The Queen

Action:

  • Preparing to go out to light the lantern.

    • Makes small adjustments to his clothes, almost fussing with them. Her movements are slow but firm. There is no hesitation.

    • She stops to comfort the King: She holds his cheek, wipes away his tears and gives him a small smile. Her movements are small, slow and intimate.

Objective:

  • Her objective is to go out and light the lantern, but also to remember her daughter and guide her home.

    • How do you know this?

  • The Queen lets the lantern go with her husband and starts the event, proving the objective.

    • What does it tell you?

  • Neither the King nor the Queen have forgotten their daughter, they still hope that she might come back one day.

Conflict:

  • The conflict in the scene is with the King, another character.

    • How do you know this?

  • The King is upset and the Queen stops preparing for the ceremony in order to comfort him. They do not proceed outside until she has cheered him up.

  • The conflict is overcome when the King proceeds to light the Lantern with his wife.

    • What does this tell you?

  • The Queen offers strength to the King and she cares about him. He is important to her and she wants him to be happy. It also shows the audience that this is a difficult time for both the King and the Queen and that they are relying on each other to get through it.

Circumstances/Context:

    • What is the Context?

  • The King and Queen had a daughter who was stolen years ago, they never found her. The day in the scene is their daughter’s birthday. Every year they light a lantern on her birthday to remember her and help her find her way home.

    • How does the character react to it?

  • The Queen tries to distract herself and keep herself busy even if there isn’t much to be done (She keeps fussing with the Kings clothing). When she stops to look at her husband he tries to comfort him, she doesn’t focus on her own sadness. She copes by looking after her husband and being strong for him.

    • What does this tell you?

  • The Queen is an emotionally strong person and she puts others before herself. She deals with her emotions by doing; she doesn’t wallow in her sadness. The loss of her daughter still affects the Queen but she does not allow it to pull her down.

Subtext:

  • The subtext in this scene is not hidden very deeply, it is a very intimate moment between the two characters and they are not trying to hide anything from one another.

  • The Queens subtext would be that although she is putting on a brave face she is still affected by what has happened in the past and what day it is. She is still upset and misses her daughter.

Summary

Although this is a relatively short scene it reveals a lot about the Queens character and her relationship with the King. The way that the Queen immediately stops doing her task to comfort the King shows that he is more important than what she was doing. The gentle manner in which she touches him make it clear she is trying to comfort him. The Queens actions show how much she cares for the King and that they have a very close relationship.

This also reveals traits about the Queens personality. It is clear from her facial expressions and her fidgeting that she is still upset but she is working through it, she does not allow her emotions to overwhelm her. The small smile the Queen gives the King is meant to comfort him but it also shows that although she is sad for her daughter, she is happy that her husband is there with her.

Based on the results of the case study I will tweak the Critical framework and move on to the the next case study.

Filed under case study Dissertation Tangled The Queen

0 notes

I filmed more reference footage before I started the last scene. I had similar problems with my performance that I did with the previous footage but he footage was not as helpful as the last time. However, acting through the movement helped to plan the animated performance, especially when The Lady throws her phone. I had originally planned an over arm throw in the storyboards but I found that it was an anger driven movement and that is not what I wanted for the performance. I changed the throw to an underarm throw that jerked away from the body as I felt that would better portray the Lady’s confusion and fear. I will test this out in the first pass of the last shot and hopefully it will work as I want it to.

I filmed more reference footage before I started the last scene. I had similar problems with my performance that I did with the previous footage but he footage was not as helpful as the last time. However, acting through the movement helped to plan the animated performance, especially when The Lady throws her phone. I had originally planned an over arm throw in the storyboards but I found that it was an anger driven movement and that is not what I wanted for the performance. I changed the throw to an underarm throw that jerked away from the body as I felt that would better portray the Lady’s confusion and fear. I will test this out in the first pass of the last shot and hopefully it will work as I want it to.

Filed under reference footage