New Story Idea

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 29, 2010 2 comments

I was struggling with my story idea yesterday but today, with a stroke of luck, a great idea came along, when Phil told me that I could parody the Great Escape. It's one of those things which fit so perfectly but I never thought of it.

I've got a copy of the Great Escape at home, so I'm going to watch a few scenes and try and apply it to my chair in the skip. Below are a few parts which i've been thinking of including:

The chair takes a run up and dives out of the skip, turning on his side, just like Steve McQueen jumping the fence on his motorbike.

When the chair is sneaking away, he gets spooked and jumps in a pile of branches to hide, just like the scene in the film where the two captives jump in the branches in the back of truck.

He eventually gets thrown back in the skip. It ends with him sitting in there, more stuff is then thrown in, including a ball, which bounces off of the side, rolling next to him. He kicks it, and bounces it back. Just like Steve McQueen.

I'm hoping I can blend this all into a convincing story while keeping all the references to the film intact. The bulk of the story will be the chair being furtive, creeping away.


Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, March 28, 2010 0 comments
Today, I will finally get my Storyboarding done. I've been very unproductive on this project for various reasons and last week's Symposium really threw me off, but today I'm going to make a huge pot of coffee, sit down and resolve my idea into a storyboard.

I am struggling with my story though. I have a sneaky chair, which has been thrown in a skip with a bunch of other furniture. It is trying to escape, without being seen. I can think of a few different shots of it getting out and creeping around, I just can't think of an ending. I'm going to think about how the chair can be smashed into lots of bits of wood, to give it a morbid yet funny ending.

Edit: I've got as far as I can storyboarding my current idea. All day I've been trying to come up with a better story, but I just can't think of one. Hopefully it will come to me by the end of tommorow, so I can get it together to show Meg.

Bowling Ball

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, March 26, 2010 0 comments

The Brothers Quay

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5 comments
The Brothers Quay are two American twins who have been creating stop-motion films since the 1980's. They claim that Jan Švankmajer has been a huge influence to them. Most of their films are based around dolls, strange inanimate objects which come to life in a dark atmosphere. One of their recent and most well-known films is 'Street of Crocodiles'.

Street of Cocodiles
The Street of Crocodiles is a short stop-motion film released in 1986. It shows the complicated story of a puppett who has it's strings cut. It uses both real-life and a stop-motion set to show the enviroment, which is in huge amounts of vivid detail. Each object looks worn and perfected and the puppet himself animates very well.

Overall, I liked the set and the enviroment that the Quay Brothers created, but I think the story was awful. It was very hard to follow, and seemed to go off at tangents.. The camera-work of the story was also very strange and some of the shots were awkward. I personally think that the Brothers Quay went through detailed effort with the animating and the amazing sets to put a story that made little sense and had little appeal. Although I can see their contribution to animation, I would not want to watch any more of their work.

Essay Topic: Ray Harryhausen

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 22, 2010 2 comments
I've chosen Ray Harryhausen as my essay choice, not only because I've enjoyed his film the most out of the lectures, but also because I have always been a fan of the style he uses. I'm going to look at all the films he worked on as an animator including Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. I also want to speak about the way his work has inflenced more recent animators and what his influences were (Mention King-Kong and other early stop-motion productions)

Character Concept: Old Man

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 22, 2010 0 comments
This is my first idea for the old man in my story. I won't concentrate on him fully, I will aim to just show parts of him in my animation, similar to the way that the owner is seen in Tom and Jerry, up to the waist. He will be looking for and chasing the chair, but the focus will be on the chair. I'm going to draw ot some chair movements this evening and post them.

Jan Švankmajer

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 22, 2010 0 comments
Jan Švankmajer was an early Czech animator who is known for his surrealist art style. He gained a reputation for using Stop Motion mainly to create animations where inanimate objects come to life. He is well-known partially for his feature-length film 'Alice' which was released in 1988, based on the story of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's adventures in Wonderland'.

We watched his film ' Dimensions of Dialogue' which was broken into three parts. The first showing bodies made out of cutlery, food and metallic items, being refined into a full clay figures. This part is called 'Exhaustive discussion'.

The second part - "Passionate discourse", shows two clay figures, a man and a woman, who begin to kiss and eventually dissolve into each other. The third part ' ""Factual conversation" shows two almost identical male figures, who each produce different objects from their mouths which interact, including a toothbrush and toothpaste.


These animations were very enjoyable as they had realism alongside surrealism. Showing perfect human forms in clay, doing ridiculous and impossible things. The stop-motion is incredible, with very smooth deformations and animation.

Bouncing Ball Animation

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, March 19, 2010 0 comments
My first attempt at a Rubber bouncing ball on paper, It could be improved.

Morphing Animation

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, March 19, 2010 0 comments
Here is my first tests with Animation for the workshop today. I can see that the final piece for this unit will be a long process.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, March 18, 2010 1 comments
Stop-Motion animation was very popular as an early form of animation, as seen in King Kong and 'The Mascot', which I posted about earlier in the week. The next major film to use stop-motion and is acclaimed as a classic of the genre is 'Jason and the Argonauts'. The animation effects for this film were created by the Visual Effects Supervisor - Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen was inspired by the production of King Kong and began to work on stop-motion by creating a series of short films, he was soon hired by Paramount. He went on to create the effects for several films, but his 'masterpiece' was considered to be 'Jason and the Argonauts'.

Jason and the Argonauts follows the Greek myth of a hero in search for the Golden Fleece of a ram in the land of Colchis to regain the Kingdom that was taken from his Father. It is an ancient Greek myth from the time of Homer and there are many similarites between the story and Homer's Illiad and Odyssey, both literary classics.

 The stop-motion animation used in the film is ground-breaking for the time it was released. The most notable scene is the finale, where Jason and two of his 'Argonauts', fight a group of undead skeletons who were the victims of the 'Hydra', who Jason had slain. Although quite rough and easy to see the production of, this scene is quite convincing and very innovative for 1960. The scenes involving the stop-motion were filmed with the actors fighting the air, with the creatures added in afterwards, which explains why there seems to be no 'hard-hitting' collisions or sword-hits.

This film was very enjoyable, as the story was a classic and the pacing was very well suited. I'd seen the film several times before, along with Harryhausen's next masterpiece ' The Clash of the Titans', but I'd never really looked in a detailed sense at the stop-motion, I was too engrossed with the story.

Story Idea

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 15, 2010 0 comments
Today, when I wasn't watching a 30ft Gorilla kill New-Yorkers I was trying to think of a decent story idea, and I think just now one popped into my head, as I was watching 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly', no idea how that worked, as my idea has nothing to do with cowboys or Clint Eastwood.

This is the first draft, I made Act 3 up as I went along, but I think it works. If you read this post Phil, some feedback would be nice.

Act 1:
Shows a fire getting lower and lower, running out of wood, an oldish man walks over to a log-basket and peers in to see it empty. They walk off, showing the fire getting dimmer and dimmer.

Act 2:
The man returns, dragging two old tattered wooden chairs and an axe. He begins smashing one up with the axe, with his back turned to the second one.The second chair begins to animate and turns to see what is going on. He then creeps off stealthily whilst the man is chopping. The man chucks the wood into the basket, and some onto the fire and turns to break the next chair, he realises its gone when he turns around so gets up and starts looking for it.

Act 3:
The man is searching the house, looking behind curtains and cabinets, the chair is creeping around, sneakily avoiding the man's gaze by hiding behind objects, at one point he stands behind a normal chair to disguise himself. (The Kitchen scene of Jurrasic park comes to mind, with the velociraptors) Eventually, the man sees the chair, who bolts for the door and runs out of the house, with the man following. The chair runs out into the woods, which is shown to be near the cottage where they came from.

The man is chasing him and becomes tired by doubling over, breathing heavily, he looks as if he is going to faint, as he falls, the chair runs back and slides underneath him, giving him support. The man looks shocked, and then smiles. The man sits there for a short time, then stands up, picks up some branches for wood and walks back to the house, with the chair walking beside him.

As my word was 'Furtive' I am going to make the bulk of the story focus on the middle-section, where the chair is hiding and sneaking, the beginning and ending are explained to cushion the story

King Kong (1933)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 15, 2010 0 comments
King Kong doesn't need much introduction, as it is instantly recognised as being a classic monster movie and one of the first in the genre. It's tag-line sums the film up:

"A Monster of Creation's Dawn Breaks Loose in Our World Today! "

Produced in 1933, King Kong achieved huge amounts in stop-motion and early animation. The Visual Effects Supervisor, Willis H. O'Brien was responsible for the direction of the film and the motion capture, he had earlier used similar methods in 'The Lost World', released in 1925. The film does a fantastic job for it's time of mixing live footage and stop-motion images using metal, clay and fur materials. The story is also a brilliant tale, bringing in many different exotic creatures such as the T-Rex, Stegosaurus, giant lizards and huge birds.

There are many scenes which show the film's and technique's age but overall, it is still enjoyable  and convincing even almost 80 years after it's production, which shows how impressive the effects that Willis H. O'Brien created for the film.

Ladislav Starevich - Fétiche Mascotte (1934)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 15, 2010 0 comments
Ladislav Starevich is an early Polish animator who uses stop-motion to create stories based around animals and insects. In today's lecture we watched 'Fétiche Mascotte' a.ka 'The Mascot' which tells the story of a dog-toy who goes on an adventure to get his owner, a sick girl, an orange as her mother can't afford to buy her one. This animation was acclaimed as it was very polished and well made for such an early animated film, it also contained a huge amount of characters, both evil and good and a huge range of different animation types (E.g Horses, Humans, Furniture).

It is easy to see the influence that Starevich has had on modern animators, notable Tim Burton with his 'Nightmare Before Christmas.'

Animation : Chairs

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, March 14, 2010 5 comments
My object for my final drawn animation is a chair, so I've been having a think about my options and which ones are best to portray the personality that I was given - 'Furtive' (Sneaky and Stealthy) Below are a few different catergories of chairs that I am comparing. I want to have a good think about my story, create some storyboards around one of these specific chairs, to give it a bit of character. Hopefully a good idea will materialise in my head this week!

Basic Wooden Dining Chair

A Rustic Folding Chair

A Modern Office Chair
A Comfortable Armchair
A Plastic Garden Chair

Metal Cafe-Like Chair

Tommorow's Workshops

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, March 11, 2010 5 comments
I'm a bit concerned about our animation workshop tommorow. I ordered the supplies we needed last Saturday and received a confirmation for the order on Sunday but there is still no sign of it being delivered. I obviously won't have it tommorow, meaning I won't be able to crack on with the animating, is anyone else in the same position? Hopefully we won't all be expected to be equipped tommorow.

On the other hand, we start the next phase of character animation with Alan, which I am really looking forward to. It looks like we'll begin to be introduced to rigging and animating limbs, which I cannot wait for, as the animations I pushed out in my pre-viz were shameful!

Disney : Fantasia

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, March 11, 2010 0 comments

This is the first animation of Disney's that I'm posting about, but I'm sure they'll be many more this unit. Fantasia was produced in 1940 and was Disney's third feature-length film, the first two being Snow White and Pinocchio. Fantasia features no dialogue, but sequences of classical music including 'Ave Maria' and 'Beethoven's 6th Symphony'. The animation is fantastic, with rich colours in huge contrast of light and dark, the music fits eprfectly to the events that are occuring with a very stylistic quality.

This was a breakthrough in animation as it told a rich story with no dialogue and plenty of cartoon characters which have their own personalities and vibes. The most memorable of the set of sequences is 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' featuring Mickey Mouse who creates a huge mess afetr using his master's magic (Shown below) This story plays out to :" Paul Dukas – The Sorcerer's Apprentice", which the film popularised.

Fantasia was released as more than a film, but more similar to a full theatrical event, shown in theatres with seating and special tickets. Special artwork was produced and there were sosphicated speaker set-ups in theatres to accomodate.

Lotte Reiniger

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, March 10, 2010 0 comments
Lotte Reiniger is another early animator who was born in Germany. She was well known for her style of showing story through animated silhouette which was inspired by Chinese puppetry. She created a series of short films based on fairy-tales which included Cinderella, which we watched yesterday in the lecture. Reiniger was important in animation history as her films used simple silhouette's to portray a character's personality and tell a story, the animations were very similar to puppetry but much smoother and the movements were better co-ordinated.

Below is her 'Cinderella' short film:

Norman McLaren

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, March 10, 2010 0 comments

Norman McLaren was a Scottish animator who is better known in Canada for creating animations for the National Film Board of Canada. At first, McClaren did not have access to a camera so began creating animations by physically scratching and painting on the film stock. Norman McClaren created many short-films throughout his career, beginning in 1933 with 'Seven Til Five'. Below are a couple of McLaren's films which I watched in the lecture.

Horizontal Lines (1962)

Blackbird - 'La Merle' 

Unit 5: Animation

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, March 09, 2010 0 comments
We've received our breifs and had our first lecture for this new unit, we have also been given our subjects which we will create a minute animation around. Mine are a Chair that is 'Furtive'. Below I have dipped into the meaning of this.

"taken, done, used, etc., surreptitiously or by stealth; secret"

"sly; shifty: a furtive manner"
"done or acting in a stealthy manner, as if to hinder observation; surreptitious; stealthy; sneaky"
I think a chair can really fit to a stealthy and sneaky manner, after all, it has four tall legs, which can be used to creep around and quickly shuffle from place to place. I'm going to have a think about what a chair's aim or objective could be, and a reason why It would be sneaking.

Winsor McCay

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, March 09, 2010 0 comments

Winsor McCay is an american cartoonist and animator who created a series of animations in the beginning of the 21st Century. His main animations were 'Little Nemo' and 'Gertie the Dinosaur'. He was born in 1867 and spent his life drawing cartoons as well as creating literture. He carried on working untl 1927, seven years before his death.

Little Nemo (1911)
Little Nemo started as a series of comic strips which appeared in the New York Herald, beginning in 1905. These were published until 1911, where McCay created a film which included 2 minutes of animation, a very early and experimental example of the form. The story revolves around a boy called Nemo, who goes into fantasy worlds in his dreams, it is very surreal and dark.

The film begins with live-action showing McCay placing a bet with his publishing friends that he can make 'Nemo' the drawing move, they give him a month to do it. He draws 4,000 frames of images and then projects them onto a screen, showing the two minute animation, featuring 'Nemo' and others characters from his comic including the 'imp'.

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)

Gertie the Dinosaur was McCay's second film which included animation, released three years after 'Little Nemo' it told a similar story to his last, with him placing a bet that he could make the dinosaur move, he was given 6 months and he produced a longer animation featuring 'Gertie' a dinosaur. McCay asks the dinosaur to do things, which it reluctantly does, all animated in  frame drawings. This was a breakthrough in animation as it showed that a story which contained a characters personality and appearance in animated form, opening doors and possiblities for the future.

After this animation, McCay continued to produce other versions of 'Gertie the Dinosaur', with added colouring and shading. he also moved on to more technical animation and comic-strip projects.

 The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)

This animation is on a more serious note, it is a 12-minute short film which explains and portrays the true story of the sinking of the American Ocean Liner, RMS Lusitania in 1918, during the First World War. One reason this was published by McCay when it was, was to create anti-german attitudes and sentiments in America, to create support for their involvement in World War One. The film includes a long scene of the ship being hit by torpedos from a German U-boat submarine and the aftermath as the people are left to survive and escape. There is also a period showing the most prominent people who were killed in the disaster.

Unit 5 : Storytelling Finals

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 08, 2010 0 comments

Alan: This Units Maya

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, March 08, 2010 1 comments
It must be a bit of a pain to search through the blog for all the exercises so I'll link to them all in this post.

Camera Shots

Panning Shot

Roll Shot

Pitch Shot

Dolly Shot




Ball with Rotation






End of Story-Telling Unit

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, March 05, 2010 1 comments
Our 4th Unit has now come to an end with our Crit today, which I think was the most interesting yet due to this unit being the hardest so far. There was a lot of work involved in this unit and time management for me was a bit of a struggle, partially due to our theory symposiums that we had. Time might have seemed shorter also because our last project was about eight week long including Christmas.

This last week has been the most exhausting of the course so far and I've had a day of people telling me I 'look like a corpse' due to lack of sleep. I think I've realised that it doesn't matter how long I stretch my work over in the project (I had worked a lot over the last fortnight) but on the last couple of days I will always burn myself out as for some reason I won't stop working until the last moment, hopefully I can learn to pull away from this.

I was quite happy with my animatic and Pre-viz, I think they did their job of displaying a story in a planning stage and I'm happy that I could portray my tale even if there were a lot of improvements that I could have made. I must admit that on this project I didn't focus enough on pencil and paper, I wanted to sit down and thrash out a drawing style, which I've yet to do. This upcoming project should be the best opportunity to do that, seen as it is all classic paper animation.

I willupload my animatic and pre-visualisation tommorow morning, when I have access to better Internet.

Final Storyboards

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, March 03, 2010 1 comments
Ive finished my set of storyboards as well as my animatic, which I will upload tommorow, when I'm in Uni. I must admit, I'm not happy with my storyboarding at all. I like the pace of it, but I feel like I haven't explored the characters enough and I could have used some more daring camera angles. Had I been given another couple of weeks I would definitely start from scratch with my storyboarding and improve the characters.

Here are my storyboards, my animatic contains a lot more images as I added in more frames. Hopefully it portrays the story well enough. I'm now working on my Pre-viz, which I want to produce well, so tommorow will be a very long day.
Rough Sketches



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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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