Dongning’s Reflection on Animation

I always enjoy watching Japanese animus, thus it is really exciting to make my own animation with After effects. Though it is much harder than I thought, I still enjoyed the process.

I chose to make an MV for one of my favorite songs, an ending music for the anime Hakuuoki. Last semester when I studied Interactions Lab, I made two funny games with my friend, thus this time I  wanted to kind of challenge myself, choosing to make something elegant independently instead of my usual style. Before making the animation, I have made a 3-page story board, setting a complete story. However, not until I started searching for the sources I need – the backgrounds, and characters – did I finally realize how hard it was to make such an MV. The MV relied too much on the backgrounds, and the elegance of the characters. Otherwise it might look weird and cause people to laugh. Thanks to Google and Baidu, I finally found enough backgrounds. For the character, I used the screen flow to get a part from the original anime, then Premiere to export an HDMI video, and finally the pen tool and color range in keying to get rid of the background in the video in after effects. I feel like the character and the backgrounds just worked as I wanted.

But the most difficult things are the details that seemed to be easy to make but were in fact complicated. There were two scenes that were especially hard. The first was where the tears should have been dropping on to the ground. But since it was really difficult to make the “black tears” look like tears and to make the tears drop like the first viewing angle, I finally changed it to the scene where the character lowered her head and the tears dropped. The other scene was when she should hold her hands with a flower in them. But because of the fact that I wasn’t able to use the pin or more photos to make her hands look like holding, I finally decided to use one hand to hold the flower and the other to cover it. From these two scenes, I learned that when doing the animation, it is not always wise to insist on finding out how to fulfill the existing goal – like the way you wants it to be like. Instead, it may be better to find a new way which has a similar effect. We should always broaden our mind.

There’s one thing I felt regret: I wasn’t able to finish all the anime I wanted to do on time. The animation was harder than I expected, but it was also interesting. Thus Marianne helped me to cut the music to make it shorter. If possible, I would like to try to finish my animation later in the winter vacation.

It is really a great experience to learn this course. Thanks to Marriane, I am able to know knowledge about Adobe Photoshop, Audition, Premiere, After Effects, Illustration (I used it in my animation), Dragon Frame and Audacity, from photos to music, from video to animation. It is also nice to have great teams working on the same project.

Reflection – Sita Sings the Blues

The animation is really amazing in combining different types of drawing together. It creates a work that consists of different stories – an ancient story happened in India and a modern one happened in America, using the different drawing styles to separate them, but also using the same theme to connect them. The modern story uses a really simple drawing, especially that the colors sometimes get out from the lines – like the cat- which seems not carefully drawn. Also, the pictures are always shaking. However, instead of giving a sense of coarseness, such style makes the animation more vividly. Moreover, for the Indian story, the animation used a style that is between fancy and realistic. The eyes of the characters looks like the real ones, but the body is animated. It reminds me of the Egyptian style of drawing, creating a sense of legend.

The content of the animation is also unique. Though its theme is not really new, but the author uses Indian legend, which is a new and creative topic. The use of The Ramayana makes the content abundant as well as combines antiquity with the modern world. This enables the author to  repose her own idea to a famous character, which is easier for people to understand and believe. The use of blues is also amazing. Music is always a good way to contact. Here blues set the tone of the whole animation.

Storyboard – Dongning, Jacko, James and Sapphire

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Above are our storyboards. Basically it is a sweet love story happened on campus. Jacko and Sapphire are going to act while Dongning and James will shoot the video. We intend to tell the story from Sapphire’s perspective on the left side of the screen and Jacko’s perspective on the right, so that there are two sub-stories are told at the same time. We probably will only use background music rather than conversations.

How much can we remix?

It is quite true that “everything is a remix”. As in Isaac Newton’s famous remark, we are standing on the shoulder of a giant. Everything we know now are originally based on the facts found by our ancestors. Therefore, no matter what we “created”, it is an improvement depending on a remix of different ideas and knowledge.

“Remix” does not simply mean to put different ideas together. Something new should be created during such process. When people borrow some ideas from other’s works, it is often called “reference”. Like “Avatar” and “Transformers”, the movies mentioned in the video, they shows a lot of brand new ideas of the directors, telling a new story with unique ways, like using a special language created only for the movie. However, at the same time, some parts of the movies are kind of familiar to people who watch the movies because the movies are using similar plots that have already been used in other works. As the directors are not simply “copying” the plots, such behavior is acceptable. However, someone like Yu Zheng, a director in China famous for his plagiarism, should not be forgiven. He simply takes ideas from many writers’ works, putting them together as well as few ideas from his own, and calls the “copy” work his “art”. If this happens everywhere, how can we get new ideas?

Nevertheless, there should be a constrain on how large the pieces of things that are remixed, that is, from each piece of idea, how much we can take from it. I once heard about a law indicating that if a new work has a specific percentage of similarity to an old work, it is called plagiarism. Thus even if we admit that everything is just a remix of existing things, how much it stands on an old work should be limited.

Response to Understanding Comics

Understanding Comics is really a nice and unique book, which helps people deeply understand the form and the spirit of comics via comics itself. I especially appreciate chapter two in which the author believes that the comics which simplifies the image help people, especially children, to connect themselves to the story the comics conveys. The images turns into signs with which people can have a general idea of what it is, and fully use their own imagination to make their own connection to the comic. They know the comics better as if they are just characters in the comics. Via the way of simplifying the image, it only leaves the most important part of the image, making people just feel familiar with the characters or stuff in the comic, but can also have their own understanding of the comics.

I feel like this is why I used to love reading comics when I was a child. I know what the comics is telling by getting a general feeling from the characters drawing with several lines, but I create my own story, or more specifically, my own details of the story depending on the things I read on the book. It is easy for children to understand the comics, as mentioned in the book. However, I think more importantly, children can improve their skill of generalize information created by their own to make it make sense. This can help them a lot in their future life of understanding literature and other pieces of arts.

Response 2 – Dongning

Right or spread? Right and spread

In “On the rights of Molotov Man”, Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas hold different sides: the former is an artist who made her work based on an existing photograph; the latter took the photo and was not willing to let others use it without her permission. I don’t think either of them is wrong, because they are both doing something reasonable. For Joy, she is trying to spread her own idea -revealing the extremes, using the photograph to work for her. But for Susan, she thinks she has the right of the photograph as an author. People should be allowed before they use her photos. So what should we do?

I just read part of my peer’s response to this article and kind of agree with her idea that art is a sort of language. Thus it is actually a great choice to use the photo because with the photo people communicate-they get some ideas and information from the photo. The photo should be spread. I think the spread of the photo is not in conflict with copyright. Joy does need to have Susan’s name on her work as the photo is part of her work. Otherwise the artist would not be willing to create new work- it is almost meaningless to pay effort on something that would never be one’s own. This is a really negative effect.

Therefore, I still want to say: keep balance. The original author of a work should have their rights: others should sign the original author’s name on their secondary work. It is hard to say whether the first author should be allowed to make decision on the use of the photo. If so, it is not conducive to the influence of such a great work. But if not, others may use it casually thus “destroy” the beauty of the photo. I think it may be better if there is a third person who can judge whether to spread or not.

Dongning’s “The machine stops” reflection

Control, or be controlled?

In the story “The Machine Stops”, the author showed us a terrible world in which people live underground, taken care of by the machine. They regard the machine as a God, being afraid of it and relying on it as well. Here the author shows our possible future if people rely too much on technology. The development of technology is inevitable and actually is good. However, people should be aware of how much we are using technology. Too much technology, or more specifically, too much use of electronic devices, will lead to an uncontrollable result that people lose their ability to do physical work, or to improve their relationship between each other. As mentioned in the text, parents’ responsibility for children ends when they give birth to them. This weakens the connection of kinship. In these cases, they are no longer human, but living creature without emotion.

Secondly, the environmental protection is another point the author mentions. One of the reason that people are reluctant to go over the ground is that the earth is full of dust and mud. It results from the over-use of natural resources and the industrial waste. The nature balance is destroyed. Therefore, the improvement of technology is actually difficult. It is necessary to continue the process of technology development, but also important to reduce the damage high-tech industrials bring to the earth. People should consider a lot of existed and potential problems technology raises. We are creating a world for both ourselves and our successors, thus substantial development is required.

Though high-tech may bring a lot of possible problems, the future is still bright. We have to believe that there will always be someone like Kuno, who wants to escape from the control of the machines. As long as people know and be careful in the use of technology, there is always hope in the world. However, this cannot be our excuse for depending on the machines. Do not let us who control the machines turn to be controlled by them.