1.02.2007

Fiber

I said I'd try to be more regular, including small posts like this one, just to give a heads up, discuss baby steps....Over the last few months, inspired by a grand rereading of Lovecraft, I've been dabbling with the history of the pier, and Jennys lake, creating an origin story for the land, not necessarily for Jenny...Last night I started writing, and ended up with half of a storybook tale, telling of the discovery of the lake and the building of the pier, which cracked the earth and freed Jenny...The intro fable will be told in some other form of puppetry/animation, probably 2-d? cel? maybe cutouts? shadowpuppets? It will bleed into the 3-d world in some way, probably with a transition directly from a hand-drawn still into the first live frame of stop-mo....Storyboarding is slightly begun, but led me on this fairy-tale-intro-tangent.....I'll post the tale when its ready (not completed, cause I'll want feedback :) I worry about being too obvious with the Katrina metaphor. We know that Nola=Nola, that Jenny=Katrina, now we've got Pier=Levee...Nola's man-made protection from the murky depths, to keep her on dry land.....its destruction leads to her death.

18 comments:

Sven Bonnichsen said...

Huzzah for the baby-steps post!

Just my opinion, but I don't think you need to worry about laying on the metaphor too thick. Even with a name like Nola, most people outside of Louisiana aren't going to make the connection.

And I'm thinking of this as a film that will have staying power for the next ten or so years: After Katrina's no longer topical, do you want people to still know what inspired it?

The prelude sounds cool -- a great way to add depth to the story. (I've been wondering myself how Jenny came into your film's universe.) ...I do wonder, though, how long it will take to tell that story relative to Nola's narrative -- which seems like it's going to be pretty fast-paced and punchy.

Once you get some storyboarding for the prelude out, might it be time to do a quick'n'dirty animatic? Just to get a better sense of how the timing's going to work?

Tangent:

One of my big discoveries doing "Great Escape" was that the animatic's main function was allowing me to slice up the soundtrack into clips. Once I had the soundclips, I knew exactly how long each shot was going to be, which made everything much more manageable.

Granted, I think you tend to shoot first and then add sound -- but I want to recommend recording sound first (even one that's going to get thrown out later) as an excellent way to preview pacing.

Sven Bonnichsen said...

Oh! I just had a thought...

I was finding on "Great Escape" that the characters' pantomime worked better when I was animating to dialogue. I tried to avoid having actions sync up perfectly with words -- but thinking about the words and where they fell in the sound clip really helped me come up with better blocking...

In a film where there isn't actual dialogue, what one COULD do is write out the thoughts that the charcter is having as each event occurs, and record them as a disposable dialogue track.

Hm. Probably more effort that it's worth... And my pups were gesticulating more wildly than most characters do...

Still -- a neat process idea.

Darkstrider said...

Sven said exactly what I was about to.... first, I had no idea what Nola meant, and second I hope the background info doesn't upstage the actual story. It might be useful just to generate ideas, but it could very well be extraneous to the film istelf.

And Sven, thanks for the insight into how the storyboarding/animatic process helped! Your film and Grant's have really made me start to think about including dialogue, though probably very minimal. I'd still want the story to be told almost entirely visually, but dialogue can really help explain difficult things and set a tone. I love the idea of recording a dialogue track just to animate to and then not using it!

Darkstrider said...

Addendum -

When I went back and re-read Moby Dick my ideas for my ¿Ahab film got all distorted and bent out of shape... I got overwhelmed by the power of Melville's writing and changed my concept to be more like the story. Lovecraft can cast a similar spell... beware my friend, beware!

Ubatuber said...

Thanks guys....ok, I won't stress about the metaphor....I do want people in distant decades to know that this was inspired by Katrina, good point Sven...
The historical fable may end up on the cutting room floor, or as an extra on a DVD, if it interferes too much with the Nola story...I'm thinking 1 to 1.5 minutes for the prologue, 8-12 minutes for Nola...I'll know more after storyboarding.....maybe the lesson here is, don't go off on tangents when storyboarding :)
As for the 2-D approach, I've been reading the Animators Survival Kit (xmas gift) and I'm inspired to try other forms of animation...plus I want the prologue to sort of feel like a pre-history lesson, like cave drawings...
I don't know if I'd describe the film as punchy, definitely fast-paced at the end, from the moment Jenny crawls up over the pier and hisses, but thats probably the last two or three minutes of the short....the rest will be slow buildup and hitchcocky angles....
I like the idea of laying down a track beforehand, but I think ultimately, for Jenny, I'm going to just have to record myself acting out all of the scenes as best I can, and use that for timing....score probably won't come until its mostly in the can, and there won't be dialogue (except for some narration at the beginning, the pre-history)....having a track of Nolas thoughts might help though, thanks...
Mike, as for Lovecrafts spell, I'll be wary :) What I love about his work is the sense that these things have always been here, before us, and will always be here, after we're gone...that his history is of the earth, and not of mankind per se....I think having the little pre-history play would amp the hopelessness of the Nola ending....but again, we'll just have to wait and see...I'll trust you guys to let me know if I'm straying too much :)

Darkstrider said...

I do like the idea of the pre-history, and the length you described sounds about right. I had the impression it was going to be a lot longer!

Be careful with taping yourself for timing.... I've read on the board that it's not a good idea. Puppets have a very different way of miving than people do, and live in a quirky puppet-world. If Nola would move with the same timing as you it would seem like slow motion. Though it can be a good idea to tape yourself a few times just to get a feel for the general flow of a motion or to notice some natural little expressive gestures you might not have thought of until seeing it.

But I believe most animators prefer to just act out a shot rather than tape it. A full-length mirror might help a lot. Taping yourself can work, but I wouldn't rotoscope it for exact timing... just study and then animate.

Oh, and I forgot to mention in your last post (got caught up in my Butthead impression) I love the Jenny drawing!

sven Bonnichsen said...

Back at the beginning of 2006 I made a 3min film titled "Explorations in Super8" where I tried out a bunch of different techniques: cut-outs, oil pencil on glass, sand on glass, paint on glass, a little recycled pen-on-paper animation, shadow puppets...

Speaking from experience, I think you would get a super kick out of sand on glass. I'm not sure how you'd feel about the match with Jenny -- but the tactile "slop" of it was excellent -- very much up your alley.

You can see that film here:

http://www.scarletstarstudios.com/blog/archives/2006/01/now_showing_exp.html

Darkstrider said...

One approach that might work nicely is crude little primitive drawings as if done by Nola, perhaps her Grandma has told her about the history of the area, and she's fascinated with it and does little crayon or pencil drawings.

grant said...

I adore prologues and intros and the idea of doing something in another medium sounds really good. I like Sven's sand on glass idea. I'm also keen on metaphor and symbols so I enjoyed reading your posting. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

For Damocles I sort of acted out the words and animated each scene as I went along to match body movement. Then I went into Vegas and recorded an entire draft audio track to start cutting things together. I then re-recorded each scene of dialog to help tighten up the audio to the animations. Sort of chaotic but it seemed to work out. I can see the benefit of what Sven and Mike are saying about those approaches.

grant said...

Oooh, I like Mike's idea of incorporating an oral history/genealogy approach even better. You could mix in some history that way to establish authority in the story (one of Chuck Palahniuck's strategies).

Sven Bonnichsen said...

Hm... The more I think about it, sand's not right. (Though I still think you would have a blast with it.)

For the history of Jenny, you need something much wetter. Oil paints on glass... Or clay painting... Maybe even something crazy like fingerpainting with ink and vaseline!

A drizzly effect, that suggests that the image is being viewed through a rainstorm... A rainstorm of *memory*! Ha!

Ale said...

Yeah, love the idea of an story intro!

I's suggest playing some credits while telling the story, in order to take some 'movie weight' off it (you don't want that intro to be sthe star of the movie, and playing little credits might help distracting a bit)

I wouldn't go with sand, why not wet dirt/soil! I think that'd be a great black, heavy approach.

I love also Mike's idea of Nola's drawings, and with that lil' necronomicon clip, you got some experience at letting a book flip on wind, showing what's inside.

What about if for the first scene, Nola is walking nearby the lake/river and she stares into the water, where we start to see reflections, sort of a flashback she's having? And subtle move under the water might give Jenny a good 'I'm down there' intro.

This year looks so promising for you man!
Keep it up!

Ubatuber said...

Wow, thanks everybody...OK, where to start....Grant, I've been writing a lot about symbols in my sketchbook, trying to work out the metaphor....I'll be posting about it soon...Mike, your idea about Nola-sketches is great (I considered Art Therapy for awhile as a career)...first I thought it wouldn't work, that i wouldn't want Nola to know about Jenny, I sort of wanted her to be blissfully ignorant, but as for the metaphor, it may be better....she knows of Jenny's danger but still goes out.....we've had horrible hurricanes over the centuries but still we live here...I don't know, I need to ponder :)
As for the style of animation, I think youre right about wet being better, Sven n Ale...right now I'm thinking mostly painting, with some shadow puppetry....I've got the story down I think, including its buildup to the titlescreen ("Until there was no one left to remember.......'Jenny Greenteeth'.....music swells, 2-d turns to 3-D as the camera dips under and explores the underwater set :)

Storyboarding the pre-history today/tomorrow, possibly an animatic this weekend...

Darkstrider said...

Hmmm.... Little Nola strolling along beside the lake carrying her folder, unaware that page after page is falling out, landing on the water, and we see it for a few seconds as it begins to get soaked and then sinks.....

(I'm thinking very Svankie here....)

Darkstrider said...

Amnd perhaps they're watercolors? (wasn't it Sven who firsr brought up something about "misty watercolor memories" or something?) (But I'd resist the temtation to use Babs Streisand as the theme music!)

Darkstrider said...

Better yet (sorry, I can't stop myself!) she isn't near the lake, but her folder falls and all the drawings get blown toward it, so natch she has to chase 'em. Maybe the camera follows each dwng for a while, and at some point each one pauses where we can see it, simultaneously hearing Grannie's narration (possibly in Nola's voice, memories don'tchaknow) then each goes into the water.

Darkstrider said...

Hmmm...

Ok, at first everything is hunky dory.... she catches all the drawings, maybe looks at each for a moment before putting it back in the folder, and so far no mention of Jenny. You know... nice sunny day, comedy music etc. She (and we) has no idea she's getting close to the lake, even though we're learning its history as we progress. I was about to say the last drawing is of jenny and goes in the lake, but better YET - the penultimate (2nd to last) is Jenny, she catches it too, but we glimpse the actual lake beyind her (she doesn't see it yet). The last drawing is of Granny, and narration reveals she's dead now and the drawing is Nola's only remembrance of her. I think the rest falls into place neatly....

Hey, it's fun to re-write other people's films!

herself said...

I just caught up with this thread, woo. Your plans sound great, Jeffery. I think using your painterly skills would fit well with the wetness Sven emphasized as being a neat match for Jenny's story. And I love the drama of "Until there was no one left to remember.......'Jenny Greenteeth'.....music swells, 2-D turns to 3-D as the camera dips under and explores the underwater set" I can really feel that as though I'm seeing it and I'm LOVING it!

I like that you transition from 2D into 3D that way, as it brings the 3D to vivid life, is startling to the audiences senses. Bravo!