Tuesday, 18 December 2007

"Oh, it's ON, bitch..."

I've followed in the footsteps of a fellow MA student and decided to recruit some help with the production of the film. This is actually encouraged and pretty beneficial for a number of reasons - it saves a lot of time that I don't have in huge supply and it provides essential experience of working with others. I say 'essential' because, as far as they're concerned, if they can put up with a cretin like me then they can put up with any potential employer, no matter how obnoxious. As far as I'm concerned, well, any human contact helps stave off the hallucinations. After years of living alone I keep seeing the corpse of Lady Di outside my window, mouthing threats soundlessly and pointing directly at me. Closing my eyes and counting to ten used to get rid of her, but more and more I find that she just won't leave me alone!
What do you want, you ghoulish spectre?! What do you WANT?!?
What the hell was I talking about? Oh right, the film.
Thinking about it, I've actually had lots of help so far. Obviously my course tutors Chris and Rachel are excellent resources for information and always good people to turn to for for constructive criticism. When trying to shave time off my script (it originally ran a half hour long) I got a lot of help from two MA screenwriting students, Hanna and Verity. For the voice work Tom Bower and my sister Erica did a fantastic job. Along with the fellow students who have helped either as contributors or as a test audience, I've actually gone and built up a substantial list of credits without realising it.
Currently I'm being helped out tremendously by Jo Hepworth, a former UWE student whose BA film was, by happy coincidence, one of my favourites of her group's.

Style-wise we're poles apart but she's been graciously giving her time to help out with the inking-in and colouring, which can be very time-consuming. Not only does this give me a chance to do more animation work, it also makes for some nicer finished visuals as she has a far smoother line than I. There have been occasions when I've felt my inking-in has rendered some quite nice pencil tests shaky and rubbish. With Jo they always seem to retain the original feel. I thought I'd put up the first shot we worked on together, which was a bit of a leap forward as far as my grasp of animation goes. Having been mostly inspired by John Kricfalusi, I've always drawn my characters flat. This works fine for the comic strip, as they never leave a 2D environment, but I've found that fuller, more 3D-conscious animation makes for a more pleasing visual. So for this shot I decided to not just have the Hunter lip-sync his line, but act it out through head movement. It takes more work but it looks a lot better, and it's a nifty thing to see a flat drawing suddenly possess some depth and shape. Keeping the visuals dependent on a sphere for the head, once the construction-line animation has been worked out the details come with ease. The video below includes the line test, pencil test and finished shot.

I think it came out surprisingly well, again with thanks to Jo as my line work may very well have killed it (in fact, the only thing I think warrants improvement is the stubble, which I added). It's little bits like this which really encourage me to persevere and put in all the effort I can. With enough of the right kind of help this could be a neat little film in the end.

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