ASU1 – extra

Reviewing the footage late last night, I really wanted to have another go at 3D motion tracking, I had the inspirational idea that I would like to put the title of the film, ‘Just one more place to look’ within the scenes themselves and for the character to walk past them, so have spent all morning, trying to make this work.

In After effects there are many ways of tracking, you can track the motion, the camera, or 3D track either, so I have gone through each of the parameters to attempt to track the background live action scenes in my film, I started with the rotoscoped section, but AE couldn’t even start to analyze that and then brought the original live action sections into AE, thinking that would be better, but although it can track in 2D, I’m mostly doing that by hand, and the 3D doesn’t get it at all… see screen below for what I’ve been seeing all morning!

3Dcamtrack

But still wanting to add the title of the film and to get some more motion tracking in, I decided to hand track the final fade out and put the title at the end.

This is again reinforcing the cyclic nature of the endless walking, round and round, with the perpetual ‘one more place to look’ motto for my main character, I think it’s an improvement on the original, but this is where another crit would have come in handy!

 

….and no Youtube I would not like you to stabilise my shaky footage – it’s supposed to be like that!

shaky foot

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ASU final film

Here is my final moving image piece for the ASU1 module of my MA.

Roughly titled ‘Just one more place to look…’

 I couldn’t leave my film alone on the final morning, so  please also view this page for a final update that I squeaked in just before the deadline!

http://traceytutt.co.uk/2014/01/16/asu1-extra/

ASU Analysis

The Analysis of my short film ‘Just one more place to look’  to complete my submission for ASU1

This film was created using a technique called rotoscoping, whereby the original footage can be either completely drawn over with everything re-imagined or partially drawn over as in this instance.

It paints a dark world of a lonely figure, seemingly endlessly trudging through the streets looking, or searching for something…

The audio has a sad tone and feel to it, it’s all quite low and slow, with rhyming phrases throughout the short poem that I wrote specifically for the film. It talks of unreality, memories, duality and a perpetual cycle for this character to follow day after day, trying to complete or repair their loss of ‘self’ and acts as if we are hearing the person’s thoughts.

The illustrative animation style although not photorealistic – it only uses two colours – gives a great sense of this figure actually walking through and physically reacting to light changes in the different spaces. This was a conscious decision I made to be as accurate and true to the original footage, as I could, even though it might take longer.

What I wanted to represent is the layering of a person’s life, visualised in this piece by the very obvious use of animation over live action.

The character is troubled by a loss in their life which has led to a mental breakdown and this is represented visually as reality fades out and we see him continue walking with his thoughts, getting more disconnected from the real world.

It starts almost imperceptibly between location changes but becomes progressively more obvious.

It’s a very short piece to talk about mental health but I think the strong visual element carries the viewer through the piece, intrigued as to what will happen, unfortunately they are more than likely to be disappointed as at the end it’s revealed that this is what the figure does everyday in the hope that perhaps they might feel connected again.

ASU Learning Agreement

Here is my learning agreement for the module of my MA, either download the word document from the link below, or just preview online in the text below.

Learning AgreementASU1_TT

NUA MA LEARNING AGREEMENT

Course  Moving Image and Sound…………….

Name(s): Tracey Tutt……………………………………….

Unit       Award Specific Unit 1 

Date      10/10/2013…………………………………… Full-time / Part-time (delete as applicable)

NB For collaborative projects please complete a single Learning Agreement, clearly identifying the names and roles of all external or internal collaborators.

Section 1: Description of Project

What are you proposing to do? Why are you doing it? What do you intend to submit?

Give references to methods, research and practices that contextualise your project (including texts, images, artists, designers, etc). For collaborative projects, give details of each person’s role in the project. (max. 500 words)

 

I am going to create a short film using live action and overlaid animation, in this way I will combine a new experience of live filming/editing/working with actors/locations, with my own illustration technique which I will experiment with and transform into animation.

 

After choosing an actor and overcoming the problems with a live location shoot I will be able to rotoscope over the main character to give me more control of how the finished piece will look, and the connection with the viewer.

 

With time limitations I will not be making a fully rotoscoped film, such as Linklater’s Scanner Darkly or Waking Life, so concentration on the character and only using two shades of the same colour will allow me to apply my illustration skill, in the knowledge I can complete it in the time given.

I will also use the rotoscoped section by themselves and play with the ability to fade the live action out, so he appears to be walking endlessly, as my core idea for the film is to do with loss of reality.

 

I will also be composing a short poem to give my character a voice within the film.

 

I will be submitting a short film, with a vocal narration of an original poem.

 

Section 2: Learning Outcomes

Explain how your intended submission for the unit will demonstrate that you have met EACH Learning Outcome.
  1. Identify and apply concepts and principles associated with your subject to a range of contexts and environments.

I went through a lot of different starting styles and processes until I came to my chosen one of rotoscoped illustration – what I call a ‘digital cell’ – over live film.

  1. Employ appropriate methods, processes and materials to produce experimental and finished work relevant to current and alternative practice in your area .

Once my style of film had been selected I took a look at what was out there and chose to push it slightly further by using the alpha channel on the digital ‘cell’ animation rather than always overlaying it.

  1. Examine complex problems in your area of study and articulate a range of solutions.
  2. I found Rotoscoping to be extremely time consuming and to make sure I could complete my idea I trimmed down the look to two colours and minimised key presses with shortcuts and the use of a programmable wacom tablet.
  3. Evidence your understanding of contemporary practice and the creative industries relevant to your subject area.
4.I will be logging all of my research and experimentation in my online blog, which makes it easy to reference outside influences and demonstrate findings.

 

Section 4: Resources and Schedule

Provide a plan outlining your project schedule and indicating resource requirements where applicable (this may be attached as a separate sheet).

 

Week 1: story ideas. Week2: location recce. Week 3: photographic storyboard, Week 4: test filming with equipment, (steadicam, DSLR), Week 5, 6: live shoot, editing. Week 7,8 & 9: rotoscope and export images (all 2572 of them). Week 10 & 11: convert back into footage, edit together, produce sound and final render.

 

Section 5: Risk Assessment

Outline any potential risks, particularly Health and Safety and/or ethical issues that could affect the project. It is recommended that you seek the advice of your tutor and relevant NUA staff, eg the Health and Safety Officer, before completing this section. Continue on a second page if necessary.

 

I must take care when filming at night, for my own safety and others, fortunately I will be with my main actor for most of the filming.  Also camera equipment does not perform well in the cold, so will need to take extra batteries.

 

Section 5: Tutor’s Comments

 

 

 

Student(s):        Tracey Tutt………………………………………………….   Date:13/01/2014…

Course Tutor:    …………………………………………………………………..   Date:…………………

Personal Evaluation of ASU1

With hand in day tomorrow, I have finally given my film a title, as a nod to the original script that I tried and tried to write, my films title is ‘ Just one more place to look’.

When we started back in October doing our soundwalk, I only intended to try making a film, after all, I may not get the chance again to script, film and edit my own cinematic piece. The things I over heard influenced the whole feel and tone of my intended film, my favourite soundbyte being the two guys running past me, and all I heard was, “there’s just one more place to look Danny..” what was Danny looking for, would they find it? It seemed exciting and full of opportunities for me to make a script out of this golden snippet.

But try as I might I couldn’t put together a script for this to work in.. I had visuals and scenes popping into my head, the main character and that it should be filmed at night, but no real substance to plan to film, not without a completed script anyway… So rather than struggle on I went and did a photographic recce and pulled  a loose storyboard together.

DSC_0084

This shot summed up what I was after, visually at any rate.

My script went through different stages and changed and came back, but I just wasn’t happy with it, I couldn’t find a reason why the character would have a reason to use the line, there’s just one more place to look…

ideasP1

I had such a clear vision of how I wanted the film to look that I started doing some test footage with a main character. This was a great testing ground as I discovered many little problems that I hadn’t thought of. Firstly the small and light camera with the little lens that I wanted to use on my steadicam rig had no manual control over the video side, which I only discovered out in the freezing cold with my actor jumping up and down to keep warm. Then the battery only lasted about half an hour as the temperature just zapped the power, and trying to use my fancy HD mobile phone video discovered that you can’t control the focus or exposure, so got shots flicking in and out of focus, most annoying.

I had to rethink my rig (merlin Steadicam and Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm lens), light though it was, it couldn’t cut the mustard

So the next night I could co-ordinate a shoot saw me taking out my pro Nikon, the D7000, but I could not manage – or balance – my beautiful pro 18-55 f2.8 lens, so took my nifty 50mm prime to cut down on weight.

This was a much more successful shoot,  although the 50mm meant I was much closer to the figure I realised that these were the shots that worked the best in the previous recce, nice and tight, not giving too much away about the character.

I got all of the night shots I wanted done after a third night out in the cold, and planned to include cutting in some daylight shots too, to ‘remind’ the character what life was like before the constant searching in the darkness took over.

I wanted to show the footage in a slightly unconventional way so had  a play with visual placement of the footage but binned this idea as it didn’t work, although some of the group liked the daylight shot I showed in the crit, but I think it’s best for the film to leave this idea behind, which I did.

Still trying to work a script, which by now had turned into more of a narration it was suggested that I try the cut up poetry technique by Burrows, which I duly had a go at, but found it came out with most unsatisfactory results… I now endeavoured to actually write a poem, specifically for the piece.

At this point, inspiration struck, one of the parts of the film that I was really unhappy about was the way that my actor’s jacket had branding on the back that occasionally would really show up, this bugged me and I couldn’t think how to change it as I had already used up a lot of pre production time, struggling with the script and cold issues. Then one of the guys showed a film which was rotoscoped, about a teenager with autism which had been given to many different artists to interpret the original footage in a graphic way… entitled Snack and Drink it sent my imagination into overdrive and I really wanted to use it in my film.

Knowing how long it takes to animate though, I didn’t now if I would have time to complete it, but again, eureka moment, I could just rotoscope my main character, thereby removing the nasty branding and going back to animation, but using my own personal style of illustration to do it – perfect!

See post the digital ‘cel look: http://traceytutt.co.uk/2014/01/15/the-digital-cel-look/

Then it was just  a case of time and effort to edit my footage down so that I would be animating economically, and drawing my character on each and every one of the 1286 layers that I ended up with in Photoshop.

market_roto_143

Time raced away from here and I was all absorbed with the rotoscoping process, and whilst working my way through them I visualised different parts of the film, with no background at all,  just the figure walking lonely in the midst of nothingness, mirroring the mental state they were in.

The poem was going well and I had 5 verses complete, and a backing song I really liked, so once the rotoscope marathon was over (approx 60hrs for the 2 minutes!) I put the separate images into after effects to make a full sequence that I could show to others in the final crit. Feedback  mostly came from the sound, ie, it’s too quiet and there is too much audio space so I revisited the poem and tweaked the rhythmn of it and inserted another verse.

I re-trimmed the visuals, losing about 10 seconds of footage and made the decision to remove  another short bit entirely (which I used over the credits) this took the film down to just over 2 minutes in length, the longer audio (re-recorded with my voiceover guy) and the shorter body of film fitted really well together, and I even got to add in a bit of text tracking.

So what do I think overall? It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, I’ve reverted to type and gone on the visuals but doing the rotoscoping actually made me smile – apart from the bit where I realised I’d missed a whole section and had to restart the whole video into layers thing in photoshop – and I love the way it looks. I’m proud of what I have achieved and I would love to use this style and technique, for something else. I just wish I could have had a better script, as I’m unsure of the quality of my poem, or if it’s all gone a bit too arty…

The digital 'cel' look

I have spoken quite often about the technique I used for the illustrative animation style in my ASU1 film roughly titled ‘just one more place to look’ , I work on  a wacom tablet, and have done for years, as this gives an intuitive and freehand feel to any kind of graphics that I might create, many years ago when I first used illustrator I remember struggling with the anchor points and the vector pen tool, but now it’s almost as if I am drawing with a pencil.

Whilst on my BA degree course I did a lot of life drawing and my favourite technique was just picking two colours from my oil pastels to denote the planes of the figure in front of me and I was so successful at this, one of the examiners asked why I was doing animation when he thought my life drawing was the star of my degree show.

Now with these many years of the above techniques under my belt I can very quickly interpret figures into coloured planes with a highly stylized and effective result.

IllustratedStudents2

IllustratedStudents1

 

these images were created to show the diversity of courses at City College for a poster campaign and show my technique at it’s best, not photographic, but recognisable with a style all of their own.

This is where the look for my animated character in the film originated and throughout the 1286 hand-drawn frames I tried to make each and everyone as a beautiful ‘cel’ in it’s own right.

market_roto_143

 

A still from the market scene.

churchwalk_roto_049

Still from the church walk section.

slope_roto_091

Still from the slope rotoscope section.

subway_roto_122

 

Still from the subway section.

ss_thumbnails_roto

 

Above is a screenshot of some of the hundreds of thumbnails I produced.

 

ASU film – sound

After re writing the poem I needed to re-record it and this I did again using my H1 zoom recorder, being more aware of how it sounded over the film, I thought it best to go through the whole poem section by section with my voiceover artist so I had more flexibility in the edit. I made sure all the inflections were how I wanted them to sound. In so doing I got a much clearer recording, very close to how it sounded in my head… well worth re-doing.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 21.14.41

This new recording then went back into logic with a new visual output to match it up to.

Through editing in After Effects I have removed and re-ordered some of the film so it is now shorter, which ended up being a bonus as the music track now fits much better, I added in the footstep recording in another section to reinforce the constant journey of my main character and made sure the transitions were smooth between the 6 different ‘ambient’ sounds I recorded whilst live on location on the actual filming nights.

Getting back to grips with Logic was something I really wanted to do with this film, although at times I considered just doing the sound and editing in premiere, but overall it served me really well, and it meant I could work on two separate pieces of my film on two machines at the same time!

So here it is, the sound bed used in my film.

 

ASU Film complete? – maybe

I am just rendering out my final film for this ASU module, I’ve re-recorded the voiceover and as well as adding in an extra phrase I have separated the verses of the poem out so that they sit in a better rhythm with the visuals.

Tweaking the visuals in after effects to lessen the greyed out sections so that the viewer is not too disorientated.

When analysing the film today I decided to remove the section where the character walks away from us down the small alleyway, it just didn’t fit with the look and feel of the other sections, so not to totally discard the hours rotoscoping it, I used this as my end credit sequence and motion tracked the walk in After Effects with my name and the piece of music that I used in the background of the piece.

ss_tracking ss_trackingText

I really like the way the film looks, I love the style of the animation itself, all sharp lines against the out of focus bokeh of the background.

Hurrah it’s finished rendering.. oh blimey it’s come out at 21GB.. better re-render that then…

I’m not sure if I want to put in tracked text sitting in the background, firstly against the poem I don’t know what to put, even though I really like the idea Mark Wilsher had for using the narration as the main character’s internal monolgue and the appearing text as another voice, or question, but secondly I don’t know if it needs it now the extra narration is there.

If I have time I may do a short test, I only envisaged the text being one or two words at the most and now that I’ve tracked the credits it will be a similar process, although it does add more nested comps into the equation…

Left to do…

Evaluation proper

Learning Agreement

Hand in!

ASU film poem – final version

After the feedback from the group crit I decided I should add another verse to the poem I had written for my film, luckily a few verses had not made it too the final version, so I was able to tweak them so that they fit better in the final flow of prose…

ASU_film_poem

 

Walking, walking not quite alone

Searching, looking on the way home

a shadow of me both revealed and lost

my life is split, no matter this cost

 

The colour drains from every place,

Only shadows appear upon my face

Round and round my life does grind

Focus front, all else is blind.

 

This route I take I know it well,

if my memories could speak what mine would tell

of me, or me, of both of us

 

lost in cycles spiralling down

our fate is framed by constant frown

The call we answer isn’t real, it’s in our heads, it’s what we feel,

day after day we tread this road,

our never ending mental load.

 

Appearances can be deceiving, eyes, feet, walk, all misleading.

Life was once bright and clear,

but now I trudge along in  fear

of who and what and where and when

we know our lives can’t fly again.

 

Now released into the wild

our minds are dark, unfurled, defiled

but walk this way we must repeat in case our life we find replete.

 

…it’s centred around duality, schizophrenia and guilt, but open to personal interpretation…

Alpha layers, sound and final feedback

After finishing the digital ‘cell’ animation (all 1200 of them) I put them back into after effects into separate sequences, which I bring into a top level composition to assemble. It was at this point I realised that one section of live action had not been rotoscoped… Unfortunately with the final feedback session due the next day, I knew I would not be able to turn the extra 138 layers into vector animation in time for the crit, so decided best plan of action was to carry on with the draft assembly, knowing I would complete the rotoscope animation later.

Next I assembled all of the alpha png files into separate comps to overlay over the full cell animation so that I could fade the background in and out, adding to the film another level of disorientation.

png_alphalayer

Making the alpha files is a fairly easy thing to do after I have done the full cell illustration, it’s just time consuming… I isolate the alpha layer and save it out as a .png, which supports an alpha layer when brought into other adobe software, and again, repeat, repeat repeat…

png_saveas

another 1200 files later and it’s ‘comp’ped up into after effects, ready to play with.

ss_aftereffects

Sound

I had tried and tried to create a script for this film, but was unhappy with the results… After reviewing the footage against the little bit of music I felt it needed a poem or a short narrative voiceover and after playing with cut up poetry, looking on all manner of poetry websites, finding snippets of prose that I liked, sometimes just words, or figures, or rythmns, and after much deliberation I have been able to produce a piece to use for my voiceover…

Walking, walking not quite alone

Searching, looking on the way home

a shadow of me both revealed and lost

my life is split, no matter this cost

This route I take I know it well,

 if my memories could speak what mine would tell

of me,

or me,

of both of us

lost in cycles spiralling down

our fate is framed by constant frown

The call we answer isn’t real, it’s in our heads, it’s what we feel, day after day we tread this road,

 our never ending mental load.

 

Appearances can be deceiving, eyes, feet, walk, all misleading.

Life was once bright and clear,

but now I trudge along in  fear

of who and what and where and when

we know our lives can’t fly again.

 

Now released into the wild

our minds are dark, unfurled, defiled

but walk this way we must repeat

 in case our life we find replete.     TT 2013

I worked on the sound in Logic Pro, I recorded my voiceover at home using my ZOOM h1, rendered out only the audio layer from the original scenes in Premiere and imported this live sound from each section, to this added the track from bonobo which I had in mind from the very beginning, I wish I could have recorded my own version, but time was running away.

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 15.50.14

I quickly output a movie file from aftereffects of the visuals so I had those to work too for timing, but I only had time for a quick mix, but after outputting my bounced file into after effects it was time to fade the background visual in and out – this is only experimentally done here – check the sound, check the timings were correct and render a copy for the feedback session.

The first render…

 

The feedback I received from this were mostly to be expected, the sound mix was extremely low and I think people found it hard to hear, but they liked the tone and inclination.  The visuals – I thought – looked great, actually people didn’t really feed back what they thought about how it looked, ie, the style. Comments were mixed with regards to the fading in and out of the background, mostly positive, but the fades were testing it here, so all good. I need to look at the voiceover itself, the poem I think is too short and as a viewer you’re left too long without the narration, so I’m hoping to add another ‘verse’ in, which should fit the timing better.

The text I had quickly added was disliked, even though the intention was to track the last line of each phrase onto the screen, but it was felt it would work better perhaps as a conversation as the poem is written from the character’s point of view, so this could interact with the the audio…and to try not tracking the figure, but for the text to be on a wall, which the figure walks past…

I will be implementing most of the changes, all positives to my finished film, time is short, but I am focussed on getting the best result out of this, although I am slightly worried it may end up as a bit of an ‘art’ film…which is not me at all…