Naomi Y Losman
Jan. 15, 2017
A) What I’m going to make:
After considerable reflection regarding my project idea, I have decided to change angles a bit. Initially I had planned to make an animated story using Augmented Reality that would guide the viewer through the city of Shanghai. However, after further research into the work I would have to do to create this experience, I realized that it is not feasible to create such a thing in so short a time, because I would have to model, rig and animate my characters in Maya, then import that work into Unity Vuforia, then create a mobile app connected to GPS in order to get the entire thing working. This is not a job that one person can do in four months.
Instead I have decided to create an illustrated children’s book of about 10 pages which includes AR interactive components. The book will come to life for the reader as they scan the indicated keys on the pages. When this is done, animations will rise out of the book for the reader, allowing them to interact with the world of the book. These animations will be created in either photoshop, as 2d animated pieces, or in Maya as 3D animations, based on time frame. The scanning of the book keys will be accomplished using Unity Vuforia.
B) Relevant Existing Projects:
- iExplore Series by Digital Magic
Carlton Books & Digital Magic, May 2013, London
Carlton books has been release educational AR books for kids with the help of Digital Magic since 2013. Using the free mobile app, readers can play with 3d models of animals, the solar system, mars rovers and much more. These books do not tell stories, but instead promote learning by allowing children a more tangible, interactive example of the things they are reading about. This was the first AR book example I came across and semester to be the most popular out today, as the company has continued to release new content for the last few years. I wish to follow their example in creating something fun for kids to play with, but I would like to make something more imaginative and less predictable than what is essentially a digitally controlled race car.
- Penguin English Library Classics
Back in 2012 Penguin books partnered with Zappar to add augmented reality components to some of the novels in their Classic Books collection. They added a series of text animations and audio clips to the existing stories. However, clearly this manner of augmenting stories has not caught on much, as similar things have not arisen in the following years. I believe this is because the augmentations were too gimmicky. They did not naturally meld into the stories and were more of a cheap passing source of amusement. I intent to learn from this mistake and create augmentations to my story that truly enhance the readers’ experience.
- The Fantastic Flying Books of Mister Morris Lessmore
Book by William Joyce/ app by Gizmo, June 19, 2012, New York
This is successful example of an augmented children’s book it does not require an entire gaming console, and it really draws the reader further into the story using the augmentations. The augments in the books, created using a mobile app that can be used while reading, enhance the story by forcing the reader to interact with illustrations in order to continue the narrative. The app and book are both based on an animated short film, which was released a year earlier. This fact probably made the creation of the augmented app significantly easier, as models and rigs had already been build for the film. I intent to use this project as an aspirational model for my own story and augments.
- Good Night, Lad
Bradley C. Grimm, May 1, 2015, USA
This is another very successful AR book because it allows children to play a lot with how the story is told. The app is also incredibly well designed; it allows the user to navigate smoothly around the book, change the character’s clothing, choose whether to read alone or be read the story and has hidden items for the reader to find. The books is extremely engaging and fun to use. This books is another example of what I would like to strive for with my own project. I would like to use the app to further engage the read just as this app has done so. In terms of merging the AR and reading experiences, I find Good Night, Lad, to be the most successful effort currently on the market.
- Crayola Color Alive
Daqri, July 8, 2016, Los Angeles
Last summer Crayola released a special augmented reality coloring book and app that allowed children to create 4d digital representations of the pictures they colored in the book. Once a drawing has been filled in, the book page and crayons used can then be scanned using the app, then the user can see a the drawing reacting to the crayons used, and even press a 4d button to see a model of their creation just as colored in the book. This is perhaps the most creative use of AR in children’s books I have found. It both promotes creativity and allows the child to interact digital with their creations. I plan to use this project as a reference for the kind of creativity I want to put into my own project. I would also like to encourage children to use their imaginations, and see how technology can feed their creativity, as this app has done.
- Wonderbook’s Book of Spells
SCE London Studio, released 13 November 2012, London
This is an interactive book/video game for the Playstation 3 that allows the reader to move through the contents as their own character. The is based on an ancient spell book written by Miranda Goshawk, and the story was developed for the game by Harry Potter author JK Rowling. The book use the eye camera and “wand” of the PS3 to create a wizarding experience for the reader. This game was the inspiration for a prior project of mine that follows a similar topic. Book of Spells is also a gaming/reading experience to aspire to with my own content, although of course due to time and the fact the I will be working alone, my project will be significantly simpler.
- Harry Potter Novel Augmentation
Casey Judge & Naomi Losman, May 2016, New York
This is a group project I created last spring in my Augmented Reality Studio course while studying at NYU Tandon. The concept was based on Book of Spells; we wanted to bring the interactivity of game and bring it into the reading experience of the original Harry Potter novels. We sought to enhance parts of the story that would otherwise be difficult to visualize for the readers, such as the singing of songs. Unfortunately, due to time constraints the project is not as polished as we might have liked. I intend to use this project as an example for my Capstone project, as a guide for what does and does not work when augmenting a story.
C) What I’m going to write:
For the written portion of my Capstone, I would like to explore the relationship between animation and art. In today’s world, animation is often overlooked as an artform, both by gallery based fine artists, and particularly by the film industry. I would like to explore why that is, delving deeper into the matter in order to find a better answer than simply, “animation is for kids.” I want to look into why it is that Hollywood insists on wrongly naming animation a genre, instead of the unique, extremely versatile artform it is.
I intend to write from the perspective of an experienced animator, as well as someone who has worked with filmmakers and as a fine artist. I believe that due to my nuanced experience with all three sides of the issue, as well as my well-rounded knowledge of the history of animation and various means of animation production, I can argue that animation is in fact among the strongest art forms in the world. I intend to do search on the perspectives of all sides in order to prove this thesis.
Note: Here ‘animation’ refers to character animation
D) Texts Relevant to My Work:
- ‘The Animation Manifesto’ by Paul Wells, Nov. 16, 2016 (peer-reviewed)
In this article, Paul Wells, a director of the Animation Academy in London, discusses the lack of recognition animation receives an an artform on its own. He talks about the fact that animation is often praised for its process work, i.e the drawings done for concept art, the narrative, but seldom for the animating, the actual movement and the work of the animators themselves. I intend to use this article to support my point because Wells, like me, feels that animation does not receive enough artistic recognition.
- ‘The Effects of Animation of the Socialization of 5-6 Year Old Chinese Children — Finding Dory’ by Jing Huang, Oct. 2016 (peer-reviewed)
This article explores the role animation plays in the development of children. It addresses the importance of animation in the lives of young people (and adults) the world over, and then uses the reactions of children in China to provide examples of what kids take away from animation. This article suggests that animation plays a vital role in how children learn and grow. I plan to use this article to show that animation in an extremely important artform because it is so influential to how all people grow up. Animation is among the few artform that play major role in raising children.
- ‘Motion Painting: “Abstract” Animation as an Artform’ by Lorettann Devlin Gascard, 1986 (peer-reviewed)
This article addresses the methodology and validity of abstract animation as an artform. It also looks into what sets animated arts apart from more traditional mediums and how the motion it offers can affect the viewing experience. I intend to use this article as a means of establishing how the fine arts world looks at animation, and to talk about what sets ‘fine arts animation’ (often called experimental animation) apart from character animation. I want to impress that though character animation is focused more on conventional narrative than shock-factor, it is still an artform.
- Animation: The Whole Story by Howard Beckerman, Feb. 28, 2012
In this book legendary animator Howard Beckerman recollects his experiences working in the animation industry. He discusses the animation process, and the artistry of the medium. Beckerman goes into vivid detail when addresses every part of making an animation, going over everything from concept art to soundtrack. I intend to use this book to demonstrate the variability and depth of animation.
- Understanding Animation by Paul Wells, June 26, 1998
In this book Paul Wells, animation theorist and historian discusses the details, and technical theory and process. The book also delves into the issues of animations public perception and art status. I plan to use this book to further argue my point that animation is an under-appreciated artform.
- ‘The Problem with Animation and the Academy’ by Stephen Erlandsen,
Feb. 24, 2015
This blogpost written by an art student at Fresno State University. In the post he discusses the biases of the Academy regarding animation, how animated films are always treated as a genre, instead of a medium of storytelling and artform in and of itself. I plan to use this post as a source to indicate the manner in which the film industry addresses the animation industry.
- ‘Definitive Proof That Academy Voters Are Ignorant About Animation’ by Amid Amidi, March 2, 2014
This is a brief article that shows the relationship that Hollywood has with animation. Animation is often completely overlooked by ‘serious’ folks in Hollywood as a ‘genre’ for children and waste of time. The behaviors of the interviewed Academy voters, which are shown in the article, prove this fact. I intend to use this as a source to show Hollywood’s attitude towards animation.
- Waking Sleeping Beauty Directed by Don Han, Sept. 9, 2009
This is a documentary about the Walt Disney Animation Studio’s journey into the ‘Disney Renaissance’, spanning from the 1970s into the 1990s. The film depicts how the company came to enjoy the booming popularity it gained in the 1990s, rising from the ashes of Walt Disney’s death and the loss of the Nine Old Men, Walt’s trusted team of animators. The film is a kind of team-based coming of age story, showing how the new wave of young animators found their own voices and style of storytelling in animation. This documentary beautifully depicts the nuances and complexity of the animation process. I intend to use it as source to site just how complicated the process is.
- Life, Animated Directed by Roger William, October 11, 2016
This is a documentary that focuses more on the viewer than on animation itself. This film tells the story of Owen, a boy with autism who learns to relate to the world around him through Disney animated films. I want to use this documentary as a source to describe the importance of animation and its unique virtues as an artform. I plan to use it to support my point that animation is a superior artform because it is transcendent of the high-mindedness of other artforms. It plays a much more important role in our lives because it touches us at such an early time.
- Quote by Brad Bird (Major Director in Animation Industry), 1997
Here Brad Bird complains about the manner in which animation is viewed by the film industry. I plan to use his quote to show how animators feel about their field and Hollywood at large. Animators are so marginalized and underappreciated in the world of cinema that even the industry’s biggest names can feel it.