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Editing photos

BEFORE

AFTER
This is the result of slaving over a hot GIMP for an hour. I took some shots of Blanche when I interviewed her and the result was less than brilliant because I failed to factor in the light from the window. Even though it was getting dark at the time the camera metered for the scene outside and my subject ended up underexposed with the white balance set for daylight. The tungsten lights in the bar gave B a reddish cast. I tried to sort this out in GIMP giving me the BEFORE image above. Still a bit of a funny colour I tried some test printing and the faults glared out at me!
However, a bit more work in GIMP and the cast appears to have gone, with a bit of dodge to bring out B's eyes and face. Still think the shot looks a bit grainy but I doubt I can solve this as the original shot must have been noisy. As they say, "garbage in, garbage out".
I chose to use this shot because the expression looks smiley without being scary and there's relatively little motion blur compared to the alternatives.

half started

I really wanted to put a lot more feeling and expression into my sequence after seeing the animatic I produced (see below). I started out with a few ideas for close ups and editing some of the narrative out for effect and ended up practically redoing the storyboard altogether! Some valuable lessons about project management to be learnt...expect the unexpected kinda sums it up! This is not how I anticipated making progress but it has been a thorough process which gives me much more confidence that the finished article will live up to the terms of the brief. I've given a cartoony feel to the imagery and employed a few comic strip devices (as they did in early 20th century animation) like movement lines to emphasise action. Zooming in has proved an effective way of highlighting important themes. I hope it comes across well cause it's almost impossible to evaluate something you're standing so close to.

For All You Cat Lovers...

This charming little clip illustrates a common experience for cat owners everywhere! The creator has done a terrific job, I think, of expressing the cat's motives and character without slipping into the Disney trap.

Scaling the dizzy heights of CSS

Really pleased with the tutorial on CSS in Dreamweaver that Simon gave us yesterday. Crystallized a lot of stuff about designing for the web in a very digestible way. Props! Just found a handy article in a mag called .NET that explains how to scale your page to suit the myriad browser and screen resolution options that are now out there. It uses the idea of setting type in em values and applies it to the other page elements so that when users employ the zoom tool it maintains the columns and box sizes that you have set for the design. Brilliant! This could turn out to be incredibly useful for my brief for Communication Design, From Paper to Screen.

Who framed Richard Williams?

I caught the classic movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" over the christmas break. It's difficult to appreciate sometimes what a ground breaking project it was for the time. There was a choice at the time between Disney cartoons (which seemed to have run out of ideas) and Japanese anime (which was still very new to western viewers) on the big screen and not much else. It was a revolutionary idea to combine cartoons and live action in a feature film and for these reasons (among others) the film was a massive success. On a personal level it's so much fun to watch as they got everything right. The story is fast moving and tense, the characters and dialogue are sparky, the photography is atmospheric and, above all, the marriage of film and animation is magical and brilliantly executed. The movie barely looks dated even 20 years on! The director of animation, Richard Williams, has written a book called "The Animator's Survival Kit..." which I've found invaluable for researching the techniques that help to give character and emotion my own animation attempts. He explains concepts like timing, spacing and weight succinctly and illustrates his arguments with detailed drawings. Personally, I found his break down of keyframing and spacing really useful as he makes it clear that organising your work saves a lot of time and effort in the end. I"m now discovering some superb analysis of emotion and drama and how to introduce it to my own work. The book is an essential practical reference to the techniques used in the industry everyday.

Top ten for research.

This article in Computer Arts got my attention back in April. It breaks down the process of researching a design project really well and gives plenty of links to useful websites. It's all presented in digestible chunks and I've found it invaluable for initiating inspiration and developing my own ideas.

Jellyfishing

This is the advert for Zune as it's been trailed in the design rag: Digital Arts. I am sure these are the same men o' war that appear in an advert for Mazda that's on tv now and the pop vid I commented on below. The article says it's stock footage so presumably it's inspired more than one creative recently!

Half Finished...

I've been working on an animatic for my animation brief, Relationships. The result, above, is a flash movie that should help me figure out timing and spacing on my final product. Flash is completely new to me and I find the control and interface incredibly intuitive. It's easy to pick up and get started although I can see that the trade off here is that it is more limited than say, Maya, as an animation tool. For the purposes of the Relationships brief I think that it is appropriate as I don't want to struggle with the modelling in Maya or stop motion at the expense of the real focus of the task. I will find it easier to concentrate on the movement, weight, spacing and timing if i am not being distracted by considerations like texture, lighting and rendering. Maya looks like a challenging and enjoyable journey, but one which will need a commitment of years to get fully to grips with!

Pending like Beckham...

I've been reading a lot about a new game that's in development at the moment. It's being trailed as (potentially) the first massively multi-player online game (MMOG) to cross over to the mainstream. We've all heard about World of Warcraft (especially since they started advertising on telly!) where you take the role of a character in a Dungeons and Dragons style game in a persistent online world. Virtual worlds like Second Life have advanced the genre but still appeal to a limited audience of creatives and computer enthusiasts (geeks!). The latest offering will give the user the role of a player or manager in a football oriented universe. Gamers will be organised into amateur tournaments through to professional leagues with a degree of autonomy yet to be seen in any other football simulation. There will even be an element of the football lifestyle included (flashy cars and hot chicks) to keep even the most jaded player happy! The prediction is that this game will attract a much wider audience than any previous virtual world and could therefore become a truly massive global phenomena. This will be dependent, of course, on how well the gameplay is implemented. The risk is that because the players will be accessing the game through all sorts of internet connections and on computers with different processing speeds that it will be difficult to keep the game moving in real time. Second Life is well known for it's temporary glitches and rendering lag which would be disastrous in a fast moving game of football. Imagine the game crashing just as you are squaring to shoot on goal! Cybersports, the developers, are confident they can overcome these problems with a release date set some time this summer. You can read more and register for updates and as a beta tester at footballsuperstars.co.uk. You can even have your goal celebration immortalised in the game!

Jellyfish!

I really like the effect achieved at the end of this video in the underwater sequence. The whole thing was done on a very limited budget (under £1000 apparently) but it has a very professional slick look to it. Is it just me or is the footage of the jellyfish being used in a lot of creative projects atm? There's a Mazda advert that appears to be using it and an ad for Microsoft's Zune seems to have used the same stock images. Are they all using the same footage or have they arrived at this idea independently? Hmmmm....