The brief asked us to create an animation with a theme of imbalance. Our project was a short sci-fi piece that was meant to examine the growing imbalance of wealth within the world and the power imbalance that causes. Earth is visited by an alien visitor who is meant to represent the rich one percent . We made him a destructive force that throws around money to avoid any real repercussions of his actions. We made him an alien to exaggerate the difference between the 1% and the 99% and gave him multiple arms to represent his wide reach.
At the end of the piece we wanted to leave it on a message saying that in order to readdress this wealth and power balance the people have to rise up themselves and fight it.
The piece was initially going to be all hand drawn animation but upon realizing our time constraints we decided to use after effects, using key frames with photo shopped hand dawn images to move them. The use of hand drawn images gave the piece a rough and intentionally cheap quality that would help gives context to our somewhat lackluster animation abilities. Giving it a cheap look also allowed us to get away with some of the sillier ideas like having the alien be a giant floating octopus.
The narrative is fairly strong and easy to follow but the theme of economic imbalance may be lost on some people. The shot of the tweets popping up near the beginning give enough framing of the political themes so the audience understands what the piece is about but they may perhaps be not as obvious or overt through the whole piece as they may have needed to be. This could be rectified by making more use of money within the narrative, so we can see how it gives the alien his power. He only hands out money twice in the piece and the effects of this are not really seen.
With the animation finished we used final cut to edit the individual exported shots together to create the final piece. Sound effects and music where also added at this point of the production. All sound effects where taken from https://freesound.org/, they are all public domain and can be used legally with our work.
We wanted to create more dynamic shots, so we figured out how to use the camera tool to do this. You create a camera in the composition as well as a null object. You parent the camera to the null object and this allows you to do simple panning and zoom in shots. In this shot we use to to have a panning shot with the image in the foreground panning slower then the back round to create a forced perspective.
Simple key frame animation was used to move images around the frame. In this shot you can see the line of movement with the alien coming down the coming towards the right.
We made 3 pins for each leg of the front row and two for the legs in the back. We moved the leg every few frames to create 10 seconds of footage that could be usable in multiple shots. We would place the composition of the alien into any shots he was needed in and used key frames to move the composition around the screen.
For the alien it was recommended that we use the puppet tool to animate his identical. The puppet tool allows use to make pins on an image. Each pin acts like a joint, this means we can move part of an image and the rest of it will react and bend like actual joints.
Images where edited to erase the white background of the paper. For characters like the alien or the human characters who had limbs that would be animated independently of the body where made as separate layers in Photoshop. As we can see with the alien each leg and even his mouth are individual layers.
The image on the left is a pencil of a UFO, on the right is it inked.
We are going to be using after effects to animate hand drawn images. These images will be drawn by myself, first in pencil, then inked with a sharpie. Some images will be need to be made up of multiple layers. For instance each of the octopuses limbs will be drawn on an individual piece of paper. These images will then be scanned and edited in Photoshop by Mohamed and Jeffery. Then will then create each shot and animate them using adobe after effects. Once every shot is animated it will then be edited together in Final Cut along side music and sound effects by myself.
Dividing up the work load like this gives everyone the same amount of work to do. Having myself drawn all the images should give the animation a level of consistency with the artwork. It also allows us to, after an initial batch of images have been draw to work simultaneously, with Mohamed and Jeffery animating as I draw the the shots that follow, so there shouldn’t be any part of the production, with the exception of the very beginning and the very end where nobody is working.
Statement-of-Intent, Jamie, Mohammed, Jeffery
The PDF above contains our statement of intent, a synopsis of the piece, a production schedule, some visual references and a storyboard.