Final Animation: Kilian Hauser

Softwares used, Impressions, and thought process:

Adobe Fuse: It is really easy to dismiss the need for a deeper understanding about human anatomy when using Fuse because it would appear it provides all the basics needed when creating a model, however, I have learned through trial and error that despite being offered certain models it still take much knowledge and skill to create a new and properly proportioned human. There are certain rules that one must follow to keep the figure realistic because things can quickly turn absurd. Additionally, capturing the right expressions and attire in a model to convey a certain mood and setting proved to be very difficult. Once having the story written I had a good gist of how I wanted the models to appear, however, I always envision rough outlines of things and when I needed to fill in the details I found myself struggling. For example, do each parents have the same hair and eye color, are certain traits passed down to the child, what is the socio-economic standings and how does this influence their beliefs (this was the most important since my story revolved around the idea of existentialism).

For my character development I decided to have the child in a cartoon style to depict a more rudimentary thought process but also youth, something that is naive to the world and lacking details on the finer points. I had him have large eyes to display curiosity as well as a slender physique and light skin tone to display his lack of movement and exposure to sunlight. The hair is actually a female’s hair selection as to show a rather un-groomed yet somewhat put together aesthetic. Finally, in regards to clothing- despite the appearance of someone to is simplistic and naive this boy asks very deep and meaningful questions to his parents showing a level of understanding that not many kids have at such a young age, although some kids can ask great question the ability to digest and comprehend the information tends to be another story like many of the in class readings have touched upon. That being said, this character did understand the questions (I believe I was reflecting myself on this character when creating the story) and so I had the boy wear clothing I would personally associate with someone older in age- something I interpret as mature and thought out because of the style and color selection (he matches well and does not have graphic pictures on this shirt). Ultimately, despite the seemingly stark contrasts with a mature clothing style with a simplistic physical appearance I wanted the viewer to reach the conclusion that although the question of ones role compared to others seems very complicated- simple questions attack the core of the matter and in the end is the start to understanding things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the development of the parents, they came after the boy and so I adapted his look and applied my thoughts on them. I made the parents more realistic and detailed in features to show their maturity and experience to contrast the boy. I aimed to create what parents who would also look like they would first facilitate their child in coming up with a decision before confronting him about it. It is hard to avoid stereotypes  (like a parent who is more prone to discipline or more prone to isolation methods when handling kids)  when creating these figures but I do believe there is some universal truths behind them some physical attributes and ones habits. Some attributes such as athletic physique, a father dressing more casual, a mother who is dressed more work like, both of them average in appearance are some minor nuances I focused on. Further more I attempted to make the parents look rather similar in appearance to homogenize them in hopes it would make it seem that their opinions and beliefs would also align. I gave both parents some similarities to the child like hair and eye colors, the fathers shirt is the same style as the sons, and the mother has arms more proportionate to the son than the father who has a shorter arm span to make it seem believable that they are related.

That being said, Fuse was real enjoyable to use but requires a lot more information and thought than I previously expected.

Mixamo: Very similar to Adobe Fuse, it is really easy to dismiss the need for a deeper understanding about human anatomy when using this software because it appears to provide all the basics needed when rigging and animating a model, however, through trial and error, importing and exporting the same model several dozen times and manually placing rigging locations- despite being offered certain models and animations it still takes much more knowledge and skill to create a properly animated character. What was even more important while using Mixamo  was visualizing non-verbal communication. There are many ways someone can walk, shrug, get up, or even nod. Non-verbal communication can express moods and tons a lot easier than subtitles or texts and so it took a very long time going through the archives of expressions to capture the right movements. It is extremely useful that Mixamo has so many animations because it would have taken forever to do it myself but even so, planning non-verbal communication to carry the story was a difficult task I did not account for, having a story map to plan all the shots aided me a lot in the preparations.

Unreal Engine: Having previous experience with Maya, I can say that it was quite enjoyable for me to then jump to unreal. This software is endless, I would say in the future that Landscapes and individual model development will be done in Maya, however, creating games and filming would be done in unreal. When thinking of a setting I was at first unsure where this would take place, I created the story to be dated in the olden times but there is a vast time and design spectrum I could place it in. I eventually focussed less on the logistical timeline of when a story like this could exist but rather have the location play onto the story. The story heavily relied on the boys content with doing nothing but reading and so I wanted to isolate him from everything- establishing that it did not matter where he was or what time period it was but rather the act of reading a single book in a dungeon satisfied the boy. It does not matter really where you are but rather what you are doing. With a dark and eerie setting it juxtaposed this cheerful and studious little boy which in my mind built onto his resolve that he truly does not mind anything because he can read about it. It is one thing to say you do not mind when you have some luxuries, but it is more meaningful when you are void of everything and still do not care. I was planning another location to be built which was a very modern (18th century living room) but this was all lost. Cutting out this portion of the story made me simplify the story which I believe actually helped to prevent adding too much into the story.

The first time using unreal on a project was rather problematic and I did not give myself enough time learning the software properly. Despite taking a week to go over the fundamentals of building a setting, I did not realize I would encounter so many difficulties with texturing when importing characters or filming certain scenes. I too had major difficulties with lighting which is really evident when watching the video, however, I had an enjoyable time learning the basics and will continue to learn.

Adobe Premier Pro: I edited all my clips in Premier Pro, my first time using this software unfortunately. With limited scenes and non-verbal communications I had to improvise the story board and narration technique. I eventually placed subtitles on some aspects in which I was hoping to add speech bubbles or scenes when I really wanted to use non verbal communication but the communication was lost while looking at the animation. Post production was difficult because I was learning as I was going when producing this video and I am sure I could have made the transitions and and plot more cohesive. Further more, I never placed much thought behind the music I would place. I was too consumed with the story plot, character appearance, shot selection that I did not account for how large of a role music could and eventually did play in the story. I place a piano song in the background and it set the wrong tone for the most part during the movie. If I had more time I would probably make a custom sound track in reaper but as it stands I ran out of time. In the future I will keep an conscious effort in how along with the expressions and cinematography, music can impact the meaning and tone of the story equally.

Reflection:

All and all the class ended very quickly and I did not give myself enough time to learn the software of Premier Pro,Unreal Engine properly or sound design, however, I am not dissuaded. I believe there are many holes in my story and the visual execution is extremely rough but it is a start.

Looking back I believe this story would have been best told in standard book format because it would play on the irony of the reader. If I were to redo this project I would either change the story to make it less metaphorical or adjust it more to the medium that I used to convey the message.  An example of how I would change my story is that I should or could have adapted the story to a kid who is addicted to the internet on his tablet with the internet and over the duration of time the parents limited his access to some websites but regardless he was content with staying inside on his tablet. I am content with my story but its execution and its place in the world has yet to found and polished.

Story Creation and initial ideas:

Thoughts going into things: I initially started this class using the “Dragon and His grandmother” as a fairy tale I was going to adapt. Over the class periods I came to realize I manipulated the story so much that it has hardly distinguishable, I change the story so that it was focusing solely on the themes that I took away the most. Feeling rather bias and heavy handed in the story I thought contemplated my right as a writer to change the story in such a way and so I decided if I was going to change the story so much I might as well make something ‘original’ or at least try to.

I wanted to write an original story around a quote. Having a journal full of them I wanted to expand one so the moral/ lesson learned is singular in focus contrary to my complicated and lengthy adaptation I wrote previously. The difficulty would first revolve around what moral I wanted (content) and the form in which I wanted to present it as.

Quotes under consideration:

Ayn Rand:

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me”

Helen Keller:

“Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”

Carl Gustav:

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do”

Abraham Lincoln:

“Actions speak louder than words”

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that counts. Its the life in your years”

Antoine de Saint Exupery:

” A goal without a plan is only a wish”

Iscorates:

“It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for accomplishment”

Mercedes Lackey:

“Change or stagnate. Keep moving or die”

Thomas Jefferson:

“If you want something you never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done before”

Charles Caleb Colton:

“The true measure of your character is what you do when nobody’s watching”

Danielle LaPorte:

“Don’t let perfection become procrastination. Do it now”

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin is serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense”

Albert Einstein:

“Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’

Mat Kearney:

“It’s not the circumstances that determine who you’re gonna be but how you deal with these problems and pains that come your way”

Unknown: 

  1. ” I do not fear death, I fear not living to my fullest”
  2. “Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect”

Starting with these quotes and attempting to dissect them for a cohesive story line that did not hinge too much on words or symbolic actions was difficult but it helped me start creating a narrative. I believe many of these quotes are rather similar, revolving around action- more specifically one’s current state is based on their previous decisions and so if you want something different you must do something different. I am not sure what this says about me but I believe it is an invaluable and rather obvious call to action but something many people do not want to face. No one wants to acknowledge that they are solely responsible for the position the currently in because by doing so they have to acknowledge their short comings. That they could have done more if they truly did want to be something and so no matter if you are starting, in the middle of, or reflecting on ones life and choices this narrative has the ability to touch all ages and stages (In my opinion).  It is different from the cinderella “rags to riches” because although it is always nice to see someone else accomplish something great by doing nothing, mine story, not necessarily a variation is more selfish in natures about how one’s efforts directly impact them. “The harder I work the more luck I seem to have” – Thomas Jefferson.

Draft of story:

Once upon a time in a far off land there was a little boy who never left his room. Too Frightened of the outside world he would spend his days reading in solitude. His parents tried to convince him to go outside but no matter their explanation he would never leave.  Eventually they decided to bring him books hoping that if they couldn’t convince him a story might. At first they brought him fairy tales but it had no effect on the boy. They then brought him myths and epics but that did not work as well. As more and more books had no signs of an effect they started to bring anything they could find in hopes that something- anything would inspire him to leave his room. Eventually the parents made a last effort to get him to leave his room. Hoping to scare him out they gave him horror books.

As time went by the parents ran out of books to give and so they finally decided to make the boy leave his room by force. Walking into the room shocked the parents, a library they had never seen before and a little boy in the middle who was clean and smiling. Uneasy that the boy was willing to come outside with them-they walked together outside as everything fell into silence. For the first time in quite some time the Bright eyed boy spoke,  “everything is so different from what I expected”.  They replied ” what did you expect, why were you hiding from the outside for so long?” The boy walked around fascinated, ” I can read all about it, why would I risk going outside?”. The parents looked at each other and wasn’t sure what to say other than: “what are you afraid of? Aren’t you tired living someone else’s life?” The boy finished looking around the living room and quickly replied once again: “what if I don’t like what my life becomes, what if something goes wrong”. Both parents looked at each other:”What if you do not try- you will never know what you can do. What if you can do better?” The boy slowed down in response, “what if I do worst”. With a grin on their faces the parents gave the boy a hug, “you don’t know that”.

Contemplation:

I wanted to create a simple story that would not be too abstract in meaning. Although setting up to the climax to many degrees can be complicated in itself, I believe there is one apparent moral of this story is: What if you do not try- you will never know what you can do. The idea came from my neighbor who, ever since she was 3 was addicted to her iPad, so much so that the outside world vanished and she would not leave her room or acknowledge anyone when she was watching something. The modern version of a book I believe is a video- both can be extremely useful or limiting depending on how it is utilized and so I wanted to create a scenario where It was an inhibitor in comparison to something that facilitates someone. People interpret stories different and we assume everyone sees it only at face value because it is so simplified but what if someone doesn’t look at cinderella with praise? There are other possibilities to be assumed and so I kinda of wanted to play on that and create a short story that can be interpreted very differently. Although my execution is rather poor I am still working on it. That being said the medium in which I will use will be equally as important as the story and since this is told in 3rd person there will need to be words in my mind and so I can or should animate several scenes on repeat. In respect to the art form I am leaning towards unreal because I want to work with that software and so despite the discord between the story and medium in my mind it might be able to be pulled off- I guess I will have to try and see.

Execution 

I will have 2 locations, the room the boy is in and the living room where the parents drop the book off every day as well as the final scene will take place. My aim is to keep the little boy in a cartoon styled room and look to feel childish and fantasy based while when he leaves the room everything is more realistic in appearance like his parents aesthetic. I want to illustrate how the art styles and perception of things change- this divide will help the narration draw the line between reality and imagination to some extent.

 

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