Sunday, 3 March 2013

Specialist Study 2- 'Oh Well'

Well well well (pun intended- sorry). Now that the formalities of the project plan are out of the way, allow me to introduce my final animation!

'Oh Well' is a short stop-motion film following a clumsy native tribesman named Walter, as he embarks on a journey to collect water from a well.

Over the past weeks, the narrative has been refined and honed to be the best that I can achieve within the timeframe I have. I have generated two iterations of storyboards, amended based on valuable group feedback from industry professionals and students alike, in addition to a tonne of design work. The animation is essentially a visual joke, playing on the irony of Walter going to extreme lengths unnecessarily.

The original story sees Walter leaving his hut before sunrise, on the long journey to the well. He finally reaches the well at midday, and by the time he returns home it is dark again. The reveal at the end is that the well is situated directly behind his hut- he unknowingly walks in a huge circle to get to his destination, unable to see the well by his hut as it is always dark when he is home.

The time of day and the sky were going to be used to emphasise Walter's long journey. I created a colour script to establish the tone, mood and atmosphere of the film:

The initial storyboard:

Of course, this was a first draft, and things (some clearly) needed to be refined. Questions arose as to the believability firstly of Walter not knowing the well's location, and secondly the reasoning behind his obscure route. With such a short animation, it is critical that the viewer can watch and understand what is going on easily. I discussed my idea with others, and created the following designs to develop the story:

As you can see, the first solution was to shift the locale of the piece from the African savannah to a tropical island, with a large mountain in the centre. The concept was that Walter knows to follow the shore until he reaches the well, and it turns out that he is in fact walking the mountain's entire perimeter- the well is behind his hut, hidden from view by an outcrop of rocks.

Ultimately, I realised that the shore to contain him within a circular route was unnecessary, for the mountain was reason enough to dictate Walter's route- he could simply follow the foot of the mountain to get to the well! This meant that I could keep my preferred Africa aesthetic. In conjunction with the rocky outcrop to obscure the well, this solved both problems identified with my narrative. As the last page of my narrative plans demonstrates, it was important to tweak the scenes to show the mountain at all times, showing the viewer that he is walking around it to reach the well.

All things taken into account, my final storyboard was created as separate boards and assets to be used for my animatic (the animatic has its own post here).

Feedback so far seems very positive! Unfortunately however (as always with university) time is of the essence, and truth is I don't have time to change things much more- I need to begin making my puppet and sets! Always useful with big projects, I created a time plan and a Gantt chart to measure my progress, and currently I am running a little behind schedule as a result of sorting the story out taking longer than expected.

I have had to take a considered approach to filming due to time restrictions. The scope of the film is quite grand, and I simply do not have the time or resources to build physical sets for each scene. For this reason, I have planned the scenes such that the majority can be filmed against a green screen for simplicity, making it far easier to reshoot if necessary. The backgrounds can be plates of physical models, digital matte paintings or even (if I get the time/assistance) pre-rendered CG animations or stills.   This is something I am still working out. Nevertheless, I have allowed several weeks of postproduction in my time plan to account for the digital compositing that will need to take place.

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