Invention of Love Animated Short

I discovered this piece while on a search for different styles of digital 2D animation.

It was created as a student project by Andrey Shushkov (Андрей Шушков) in 2010.

What struck me the most about this work was the very unique and stylised visual style, with every character and background element of importance portrayed as a silhouette, with a rich and intense lightsource flooding the background in a strong and vivid bloom, providing depth and dimension to the scenes through various tints. Personally, I’d say that the visual style is the most powerful asset of the animation- it’s unique and bold, and it only enhances the piece.

I feel the quality of the animation, the kinematics, is of a lower standard than the visuals themselves; despite the puppet-like aesthetic of the video, the motion periodically appears quite choppy, though it is possible it is purely due to the YouTube encode (I have seen this happen quite often, with 60FPS encodes being the prime target). If the motion was smoother, the stylistic aesthetic would’ve been a great asset for this animation; I’m not a fan of this style, but I can’t hold it against the author as it’s a deliberate, subjective choice- it simply would not be fair to put that much stake into subjectivity.

Where the animation suffers greatly, I feel, is sound. Neither the soundtrack, nor the effects really add to the experience for me here. They’re there, and they help, but they don’t particularly embellish the scenes or enhance the atmosphere. They’re definitely better than the video simply being mute, but the sound is sparse, and the silence in between is quite bothersome, drawing more attention to how sparse the sound actually is, making it a very vicious circle indeed. The sound assets almost make the animation seem unfinished; not quite, but close.

Overall, I felt that the animated piece has its flaws as well strengths; it’s not for everyone, but I’d recommend at least a single watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTdzCAGH3lU

Quirky animation styles

On my search for quirky and unique animation styles, I remembered that there exists a wealth of Gorillaz music videos, with their own unique blend of surreal, at times flat-out weird, and yet fully achievable animation.

Below are the videos for ‘Melancholy Hill’, ‘Clint Eastwood’ and ‘Feel Good Inc.’. I like ‘Melancholy Hill’  the best- its aesthetic really stands out to me, and still, my favourite parts, which are at the very beginning of the video, are perfectly achievable. In other words, I love both the style-and-execution, and the fact that I really feel I could do that myself.

Soundworks Collection – Gravity

While on the Soundworks Collection website, I came across the absolute gem of the behind-the-scenes look of the sound production for ‘Gravity’. 

With the setting of the film being space, and as such, a vacuum, the approach and philosophy of the sound for the movie was quite a different one. A vacuum not transmitting sound was a massive factor as to how the final cut of the film sounds, with the main philosophy being that while in space, the actions are ‘felt’ rather than heard, and this video illustrates the thought that went into the sound design incredibly well.

A part of the video deals with surround-sound tech, and is not really applicable to my needs, however, there is more than enough of how they made that unique, ‘tactile’ quality of their sound design.

http://www.soundworkscollection.com/videos/gravity

Soundworks Collection – Hugo

I was looking for more inspiration on sound and how it helps shape the atmosphere and feel of a scene, and came across an in-depth behind-the-scenes look of the 84th Academy Awards winner in Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, Hugo.

It’s a great video, offering a wealth of information on the process and the decisions that make it sound the way it does. The commentary is provided by the crew.

I’ll leave it to the video to do the talking instead of parroting it all here. It is quite long, however, so clear 40 minutes to watch in a single sitting. There is a some self-back-patting present, but it’s both expected and perfectly acceptable.

http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/hugo

More animation inspiration

First up is the LUMAD Digital Studio demo from 2008. I came across it while looking for some Gorillaz style of animation.

This looks a bit more digital than Gorillaz style of animation, but that’s more of a difference in style, rather than an actual negative. It’s nice and bright, quirky, has a very deliberate style, and a good degree of polish. I quite like it, I have to say.

Shinjuku: The Film (Chapter 1)

This one, I’m quite a fan of. It has a a very clear comic book style, which normally I’m not too much of a fan, from colour palletes, to the linework, to the style of the subtitles, but it all blends together incredibly well, constructing the unique feel, style and atmosphere of the universe written for the piece. I’m also a big fan of the sound here. The ambient noise, ever so musical, sets the tone perfectly, and manages to stay out of the forefront, not drawing too much attention towards itself, and yet is the carefully-designed glue that holds the ingredients together, at the same time embellishing every detail onscreen. The almost Mark Morgan (Fallout 1/2) approach used here, fits the character of the setting perfectly.

The deadpan, omniscient narrator is perfectly cast too- she is merely the storyteller, not a character, and as such, she tells the story in a descriptive and visual, yet emotionally-unnatached and casual manner.

The Shinjuku series continues through three more installments. Each one different than the last, they are highly recommended.

Shinjuku: The Film (Chapter 2)

Shinjuku: The Film (Chapter 3)

Shinjuku: The Film (Chapter 4)

DC Nation Short – “Wonder Woman” Preview 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEFfuc6hVCc

The last is a preview of a DC Nation short animated film on the DC Comics character Wonder Woman.

Done in a ’70s exploitation film style, this animation has a very distinct and very deliberate B-movie vibe throughout, from the overall visual style, to the tone, the sound and the style of humour.

It was made by Robert Valley, the same person behind the Shinjuku: The Film series. As expected, it is of  very high quality, and also has his signature graphic style.

The full version of the video is available in the related videos section to the side, but I feel the teaser version is more than enough to convey the quality of the full piece. I really like the overall quality of the animated short, and can’t focus on any negatives in particular, not in my eyes, at least.

Developing the Walter White Story

After a little bit more digging around in anything related to Breaking Bad, I have discovered a small, yet no less valuable, treasure chest of information, all related to the writing process of breaking bad. This article opens the door to some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of writing for the show, providing links to some great resources resources such as scripts for episodes, a look at the process of writing for the show from the perspective of the writers themselves, and a little more. This is a terrific resource as the only way to get better at something is to both, study and practice, and the insights and information provided are detailed, clear and honest.

This is not a “definitive step-by-step manual to making BrBa”, but it should not be viewed as such, either. While we don’t get the scans for the character development sheets for Jesse and Walt, we get to see the personality traits, the decision making process, the emotional evolution and more, as it all develops and interacts with eachother in the script- we are not provided with all the answers to the questions, but rather, the means to arrive at the answers ourselves; just like transcribing the song by ear yourself will truly teach you the song and its inner workings, in stead of simply reciting it from a page with some notes on it, I honestly think that the information provided is a great way to reverse-engineer, as such, the aspects that made the show work the way it did, and in turn, commit that new information to the brain in a way that will enable it all to be applicable and useful.

Full Scripts:

Direct download of the Writers’ Room Breaking Bad episode (S01E01) – Linked video in article is region-restricted