Wednesday, 5 May 2010

It’s finished.

It’s been a rather intense few weeks recently, but at long last, it’s finally completed. Not Your Hat! is out of production and is now available for viewing online.

Not Your Hat! from Barnaby Gillett on Vimeo.

I will confess, it has become a bit of a rush job and I found I had made a few poor decisions with regards to time management, however, it has not really affected the final quality of the production, but just boosted the stress I’ve experienced towards the end of the project.

The main mistake of the film is that After Effects issue with the frame rate of the source animation. There’s not much more to say about this which hasn’t been explained before. Where I’ve been able to maintain the correct frame rate, I have done, and a few shots did have to become longer in order for the full animation to be shown. It’s a simple mistake, but I’ve learned of this potential pitfall and I’ll be able to avoid it in the future.

Another particular mistake I had made was to believe I could use After Effects to composite the hat into the quickly after everything else. This proved to be more difficult than I had expected, to the extent that it was simpler for some shots to just draw the hat in. The hat has been composited into some shots, but whenever the hat was interacted with directly, it had to be drawn in. I had to do this in a bit of a rush, so I was concerned that it would show, but as it turned out, it fit in perfectly well.

My experiences regarding the music has taught me be to wiser over the time management on the production of the music. The music which was created for the film I believe is excellent, but it needed work, which we ultimately did not have time for. In terms of the relationship of the music to the animation, I’ve concluded that music and much of the soundtrack should be roughly finalised for the animatic phase. Ideally, the soundtrack should be created for the animation to be alongside. This is my belief from my work on this project, although this is an opinion which may change after further work in the industry.

Throughout the film, there are a few cameos of character’s of my colleagues’ own films. I had intended to include more, but for the ones that had made it, I’m pleased with their presentation in the film. They fit in perfectly and help make the setting seem more populated. Even in the latest version, it seems a little barren, but the suggestion of extra life in the film does a lot for building the atmosphere of the world portrayed.

 Cameo 1 Cameo 2

For the backgrounds, I feel I’ve managed to pick a decent aesthetic for final look of the film. It draw some influence from the work of PJ Loughran effectively, but managed to maintain it’s own identity. I had to create a variety of unique (not to mention processor heavy) brushes in Photoshop to get the watercolour aesthetic in the colouring, and I feel it’s proven to have an excellent result.

Finally, the main factor, the animation itself. I’m very pleased with what I’ve been able to produce. A common danger with student films is the persist with mid shots or close ups. With my film, I feel I’ve successfully avoided this pitfall, featuring a variety of composition, angles and perspectives. The animation of the characters is expressive and fluid. As a result the film doesn’t feel dull to watch and maintains a rapid pace throughout until the calm (if morbid) ending. There are moments I believe the animation could be better and the timing issue would have been nice to have done without, but ultimately I’m happy with what I’ve created, and I hope others will be entertained watching it as well.Opening shotstretch got hat get up stand up impending argh why you omgwhat  final encounterdinner time

Monday, 26 April 2010

Just a lil bit of 3D

  The majority of my film has been created using Adobe Flash and a Wacom Bamboo tablet to draw directly into the computer, applying traditional animation techniques opposed to relying pre-dominantly on various tools provided by Flash and Affect Effects. Most of the animation work has been done by hand, based on my own animation experience and various resources I have available to myself. There is one exception to this however, the helicopter.

Due to the ridge shape of a helicopter, I decided I would need a guide to assist in maintaining proportions and shape during it’s crash midway through the film. The obvious solution for this was to use 3DS max and a 3D rendered helicopter. I did a quick google search and tracked down this model made by Paul Jay Schrenker. With this, I created the animation in 3DS max and rendered it out to be imported into Adobe Flash.

Helicopter pre-trace

Once I confirmed that the animation would fit with the animation of the man, I began the painstaking task of tracing the 3D helicopter to conform it to the aesthetic of the film. Thankfully, I was able to drop every second frame and still maintain a smooth motion, currently resulting in this.

helicopter post-trace

At time of writing, I have yet to clean up and colour this shot, I will post a completed animation of this shot within the coming days, if not later today.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Audio bytes

From the very beginning of the development of this film, I had planned to have a good friend of mine compose the music. He is a skilled musician whom I’ve known for many years.

However, he was also currently under heavy pressure from his own course, which forced the production of the music to be pushed back repeatedly, until it eventually got to a stage where it simply could not be finished in time.

Click here to listen to the initial version of the music he composed.

This first version was the only music we were able to work out together. While it was well timed with the action on screen at the beginning, it eventually petered off towards the middle. The choice of instruments was perhaps not ideal either, and the use of MIDI based instruments did not help either. While we did have the resources available to create a live recording using real instruments, time and personal pressures again disabled us from achieving this.

As a result, the music which can be heard in the various animatics prior to this post shall remain in the film. They are all copyrighted music, limiting my flexibility in presenting this film festivals and similar. The music used is as follows, in order of appearance in the film:

1. Overture DeVotchKa – Danny Elfman. From the album Nightmare Revisited

2. Believe Me Now – Electric Light Orchestra. From the album Out of the Blue

3. Au Revoir – Flight Of The Conchords. From their self titled album

Since the music I selected for the animatic fit so well, I ponder if it caused people to have increased expectations of the original music we produced. My friend has already agreed to give it another attempt once his course settles down. We’ll work more closely together and see if we can top the existing music.

That one setting…

A few weeks ago, as I was coming to the conclusion of my rough animation, I happened to notice a issue with some of my animations moving too fast in Adobe Premier. Typically, when this happens, I just have to adjust a setting under ‘Interpret Footage’, to set the frame rate of the animation to 25 frames per second (for some unusual reason, the default is set to 29.97 fps). However, I found the settings were correct in Premier and the source compositions exported from both Adobe Flash and After Effects were also correct, so I came to the conclusion that nothing was wrong, and it was normal.

That was a grand mistake, as it turned out the same setting for the animations I imported into After Effects, was interpreting the animation at 30fps, which the compositions themselves ran at 25 fps. As a result, when I moved the animation into my composition, they ran quicker than they were supposed to, occasionally loosing frames during the faster sections on the animation.

Needless to say, this is a bit of a disaster, as correcting the error would lengthen the film by half a minute and cause me to break the requirements of the brief I had been assigned. This error had existed from the very start of the timing for my film and is deeply rooted and with the time I had remaining, even then, I had no chance to rebuild the film to fit the correct timing. It would be likely that scenes and shots would have to be cut as well, and that's something I cannot do.

I spoke with my colleagues about the issue and we came to the conclusion that while it is a major issue, I had no choice but continue with the error intact. It’s not the most dramatically noticeable mistake, and it gives an increased frantic nature to the film, but it’s not fully what I initially intended and it’s disappointing that I don’t have the time to resolve it.

However, I do intend to create a new version of the film after the final submission, when I won’t be restricted to keep within three minutes. The film will be longer, should have new music, may include some of the shots I had to cut for time and will generally be more polished all around. A Director’s Cut as it were.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The trimming of eyebrows

As I come to the conclusion of my film’s production, I’ve decided to discuss a few things that have been removed or changes to my film in a short series of blog posts. This first one concerns a change in the man’s character design.

Originally, I planned for the man to have these long, dangling eyebrows which would flop around as he moved his head. However, as it came into implementation during the animation phase, it became apparent that it simply would not work.

Here is a sample of the character with the test eyebrows. Man with Trailing eyebrows_1

I found that in order to animate the follow-through animation required on them, they would frequently cover the man’s eyes themselves and become distracting, particularly once coloured. It also seemed unnecessary considering the already distinctive appearance of the character, who has proved to be rather exhausting to draw as is.

This is a preliminary version of the shot due to appear in the final film.

Shot 003_1

As a result, I decided to go with more static eyebrows which have proved to be more emotive for the character and have trimmed down my workload. I still like the idea, so I ponder if I could apply it in a future work, but I’ll have to see.

Friday, 26 March 2010

It's been a while...

Right, it's been a bit too long since I've updated my blog. There's been quite a few changes which will be documented eventually, but right now I really need to get the animation finished.

The bulk of the film is animated now, backgrounds are in, but there's still quite a bit more to do. I'll do a large post before I start cleanups.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Latest Animatic

I was asked to put up my latest animatic, so here it is.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Progress look back

  Going through the script and updating it all reminded me on how much things had changed throughout this whole process over the last few months. With the pre-production deadline in less than 24 hours, I figure it might be a nice idea to look back at the various versions of my animatic and talk about why certain things changed the way they have. This will be a long one I’m sure.


Title shot

title v1    to   title v2

The title shot had to change when the setting of the film shifted from being partly set in a town to entirely on the beach. The title was originally going to be on a billboard overlooking the town and beach with the seagull landing briefly in front of it. Now, in order to feature the helicopter more throughout the film, the title appears on a flag being carried by the helicopter, like an advertisement.

Scene 1

opening shot v1 towhy he no having fun

After the title shot, the film first wiped straight to the man. However, as the attitude of the man shifted from relaxing to working, it was needed to contrast this with the setting. In the finished shot, the beach will be filled with characters playing and having a good time in the sun, when the seagull comes upon the man in the shade working. I’m not quite happy with the composition of the current scene however, so it may change again, but the purpose of the shot will remain the same.

man and bird encounter v1 toman and bird encounter v2

At first the bird simply landed next to the then animal loving man, as he proceeded to draw the bird. As the man started working, the seagull landed on his laptop, distracting him from his work.

man at work v1 get off i'm working

eyeing up the hat v1 grabbing the hat

This pair of shots have been replaced with a single shot still in development. I’ve reversed the angle of the shot to be looking from the bird towards the man after it lands. At the end of the last shot, the man’s laptop blue screened, causing him in the next shot  to express rage, toss it to a side and bury his head in his hands. The shot shifted to not only show this, but to fine tune the events and improve composition.

swiping the hat v1  to  swiping the hat v2

Simply added colour and the shine to the man’s bald head. The initial struggle between the man and the bird has pretty much remained the same until the man goes down.

the man goes down v1

The current composition on this shot makes it unclear,  lacks focus and is overtly slow. Again, I’m shifting the angle around to look down, past the bird and towards the man as he falls down. The shot of the man running off into the distance has been dropped in favour of having him start running at the beginning of the next scene. It seemed to be an unnecessary shot, distracting from the pace of the film.

man runs after the bird v1 to man runs after the bird v2

Scene 2

Minor changes to scene 2, the opening shot features the man start running from his place on the beach past the bread stall. As he grabs the french stick, the shot becomes slow motion, so to emphasise what is happening at that point.

man grab bread v1 to man grab bread v2

As the town/market setting was dropped, this scene had to be flipped to fit the continuity of the following shots.

Scene 3

Most of the changes to the film occurred in this scene. While the major events remained the same, lots of little things were changed. In particular, the origins of the net gun.

man gets gun v1  to man gets gun v2

At first, the scene opened with the man fishing the gun out of a delivery package, a la the Road Runner cartoons. This was jarring and left the viewer confused over where the gun came from. Eventually, it occurred to me that it could simply come from a market stall. It fitted in nicely and made a lot more sense (until you wonder what sort of beach market would sell net guns).

man tests gun v1to  man tests gun v2

Showing that the gun shot nets also changed. Initially the man tested the gun by shooting a can on a wall. This was tame, dull and did not fit with the man’s intention to catch the seagull with this gun. Instead, when he grabs the gun, he tests it out on the stall owner, tying him up on a tree. It’s an additional gag and shows the man to be a bit more of a jerk. He effectively steals the gun as well.

aim for the bird this gun is the best gun ever

There was a shot where the man is pleased with the gun and looks for the seagull, dropped because it was superfluous. Now, after testing the gun, the film goes straight to the bird as it avoids the nets fired by the man. After the man gets himself tangled up in one of his nets, it’s revealed that his earlier shots have also entangled the helicopter from the title shot.

net hit the helicopter v1 to net hit the helicopter v2to  net hit the helicopter v3

The flow of this shot has varied slightly. At first, the shot panned to follow the still free seagull, past the entangled helicopter when it then tracked out to show the man on the ground stuck with the net. This was pointed out to be an awkward camera movement and also a sort of reflect on the camera’s movement in the last shot. I changed it to start out on the ground, with the man covering most of the screen struggling with the net, eventually moving out the way to reveal the helicopter. This flows more effectively and is a more satisfying way to introduce the oncoming explosion.

rolling v1 to rolling v2

After the explosion, the man is sent rolling along the beach. This shot is due to have a skewed perspective, but due to the complexity of such a shot, this might also be changed so the character rolls past a fixed camera.


man hits something v1to  man hits something v2

Originally, the man rolled into a building, of course with the removal of the town, there was a need to replace the building with another object. At first, I was going to try a variety of objects, but the first one, a sign, instantly led to another solution in the next shot.

that damn bird v1 to that damn bird v3

 lunge at the bird v2to  lunge at the bird v3

At the conclusion of this scene, the man was originally notice the bird land to the side of him, leading him to sneak up on the bird and attempt to grab it after a lunge, causing him to face plant into the floor. While it was pointed out that this was an anti climax compared to the explosion just before, I preferred it this way, as I felt it fitted with the exhaustion of the man as a last ditch effort to get his hat back.

sign is a weapon why cant i hit you

At least until someone asked why he didn’t grab the sign and try to swat the seagull. That was perfect and suited far better for the conclusion of the scene, so I ran with that. Finally as the bird escapes, the man collapses from exhaustion. This bit hasn’t changed, although camera views have.

final escapeto  final escape v2

Scene 4

This scene actually hasn’t changed at all. It simply works, the pace is there, the buildup is nicely timed and there’s no need to change any of the camera angles.hat is a nest v1 hat is a nest v2 I found you v1 I found you v2

daww v1 daww ermm v1 ermm v2

Scene 5

Again, not much has changed here either. It is worth mentioning that in the original storyboards, the man took of his hat to reveal his head covered in bird droppings. While it was a nice final hoorah for the seagull, it was felt that it dragged out the ending and conflicted with the man’s embarrassment of his baldness.

sunset v1 sunset v2

nothing up mah sleeve v1 nothing up mah sleeve v2

evil jerk v1 evil jerk v2


The film is divided into five scenes. This is due to in the early version, the film would fade to black between each scene, showing a passage of time. This soon proved to jar with the flow of the film, so the first three scenes now continue directly into one another.

That covers how the film has changed over the last few months. Right now, I’m working on backgrounds and soon the rough key animation. As things start to come together, I’ll start posting the initial animation tests, but the development side of things are pretty well done.