Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Head of the House - Let's do this thing!

The short film: the art student's dream/nightmare. Almost every animation/film student creates a short film, either as their final project or for personal pleasure. For some, this is their dream - an opportunity to create and entire tale that is entirely their own and do with it as they please (a luxury that is not given to animators working on a commercial film). For others, the short film looms ahead as an impassable mountain; those animators just want scenes to animate and don't want the hassle of story creation/layout and the long nights of animating more frames than any sane person would volunteer for. For me, well... I was a little of column A, and little of column B.

I loved the story portion of the short film. When it came time to pitch my ideas, I had 6 different stories ready to go, each one with its own complex ideas and "money shot" animation scenes (I still want to create them as well, but I am so far behind on my projects as it is, I don't need to add another 5 minutes of animation to the list). My mentor narrowed down my ideas to the first one I pitched, which also happened to be the first one I wrote one year before I needed it. I dove into the animatic, AKA moving storyboard, then built the set for my layout, and finally spent 3 months of heavy animation on the minute long film.

For the purpose of my education, I was "finished" with film. I passed the course, graduated, and while I wasn't happy with final short I knew I could work on it on my own time. Although, after spending 6 solid months creating it I needed a break. And a break I took...

Now, 3 years later my film is still not finished. Sure, it is "animated" but it isn't very strong at all. It needs a lot of polish. Over the years I attempted to animate it again, but life (ie 3 kids) happened, I grew distracted, and also I realized I could get more for my reel by creating all new pieces of (shorter) animation.

But not anymore! I have my reel. I have my immediate future life plans set (as much as realistically possible), and I have budgeted time to spare for the foreseeable future. I mentioned in my retrospective that I wanted a new reel by the beginning of next year. Well, I have modified that goal; instead I want to polish my short! With eight months left in the year this seems possible. Sure, it may not be "finished" by then either, after all an artists work is never finished it is just taken away from him, but I at least want to be proud of it and the same level of quality and enthusiasm with the animation as I do with my pitch and animatic.

So, in accordance to the theme of this blog, I am publicly stating my goal to incrementally improve my short over the next year!

For reference, check out the various stages of my film:

The Pitch

The Animatic

Layout (rudimentary animation used block out camera movements, music beats, and scene flows)

The "not-so-final" animation

Recent polish to the "Jump" scene (as detailed here)

And maybe when this is finished I can start on the next one...

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