Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Outsourcing, A.K.A. 'Passing The Buck'

I'm writing this entry on a plane, having determined that neither 'There Will Be Blood' or 'I Am Legend' are best viewed on a 4" by 3" screen with piss-awful sound. So to pass the time I'm scribbling on what would have to be the most ridiculously overpriced notepad I've ever owned. For £13 it ought to come with annotated and illustrated instructions on how to convince Molly Parker to leave her family and acting career to shack up with me. Instead it has a little leaflet with some hogwash about why it's supposed to be so grand and pricey. Thieving scallywags.

I bet it isn't even made with real moleskin...

I'm headed to New York for what is more a change of scenery than a holiday. My production schedule doesn't really allow for a two-week break at this point, so I've brought my mini-lightbox with me and a whole mess of layouts and dope sheets. That being said, it would be a ridiculous waste to not see some nifty cultural shit, and my sister (who voices the Prospective Lay in 'House Guest') is in a play over there. Fortunately I still manage to take great personal satisfaction in the work required , even at this later stage of the process. I could with no embellishment attribute that largely to my main assistant animator Jo, the quality of whose selfless and consistent hard work is made even better by the fact that she never complains when I put on a Mike Patton-heavy iTunes playlist. That uncharacteristic arse-kissing actually has some relevance, as I'd have long since abandoned the project if it had seen me having to work alongside somebody with whom I didn't get along.

Jo off-duty

While personal opinion of character can be a fairly treacherous impairment when assessing skill and ability, I've admired Jo's work since before we met and have faith that outsourcing a number of key animation sequences to her will benefit the film. During the earlier part of the MA I was fascinated to learn of how animation studios commonly recruit specific animators to work on specific characters, 'casting' them essentially. As a consequence you theoretically wind up with an end result that sees the body language and movement of each character as distinct in relation to one another as the voices recorded for them. Think of all the animated feature films where the hero or heroine (or villain in some instances) move realistically and elegantly to match their idealised designs, while the wacky cohort will carry themselves in a far more 'cartooney', over-emphasised fashion for the sake of comic relief or juxtaposition. In a way the 'subversive' (a word chosen by our course leader which I think was, in the instance, a tactful word for 'amateurish') animation I have so far produced for the Kid, Duck and Hunter is appropriate when considering their characters. They are all, in their own way, minor sociopaths so the jerky and/or theatrical styles of movement fit them well.

As the Prospective Lay is the only 'normal' (if dim) player in the film, I've been dissatisfied with the animation I had produced for her thus far that retained this same style. Having Jo take over the handful of shots which feature essential animation for the character it should remedy the issue by giving her a style of movement and presence all her own. Admittedly it's an experiment, but I'm optimistic as to the outcome. My only concern is whether or not the materials I've given her to work from in my absence are sufficient or even comprehensible. As far as I can tell I've covered all the major bases, having broken down the character design into construction lines and key poses (each accompanied by a more detailed sketch for reference) and isolated each sequence from the animatic so that they can be transcribed onto dope sheets. Lastly I threw together some notes on what type of end result I'm going for.

I'm excited to see how these sequences pan out and am looking forward to incorporating what Jo produces into the final film.
Well, that's eaten up some time. Just looked back at the screen and Will Smith seems bummed out. I hope the dog didn't get eaten by one of those Mike Patton zombie mutants.

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