monstrous news – monstra festival!

2018 is definitely starting off on the right foot!

A little while ago I got this email:

At first, I thought it was a prank because I had just been talking to my parents and my brother about this festival and how I really wanted to get in.. But no! It was actually legit!

So… this means my first film ever is going to play in like the best cinema room I know – and it’s soooooo freaking massive!!!

I am both elated and terrified!

slight detour to Hong Kong

Joshua Wong, one of the unexpected leaders of the Umbrella Movement

After ENO’s selection of directors, I chose to work for Jodi. I really love her style, and I’m really happy to be working with such a talented lady!

However, things didn’t initially go as planned..

When we presented the storyboard to Chris and Natasha, their review was quite negative and filled with criticism. Their suggestion: go back and rethink the whole thing.

This came as a shock to us since we had no idea what were the reasons they picked the film proposals they did. But after that meeting, it became pretty obvious that they had chosen Jodi for her lovely visual style – not for her story.

We had to go back to the drawing board and help Jodi developing a new storyline that would please Chris and Natasha..

So we had a brainstorm, developed 2 different storylines and sent them for feedback(/Chris and Natasha to pick their favourite). The first version was a very literal narrative about Gandhi’s life and the second version wanted to draw a parallelism between Gandhi’s movement and subsequent civil disobedience movements, like the Hong Kong’s umbrella revolution. This second option was particularly interesting since Jodi is a Hong Kong citizen and is watching her state lose the democratic rights it had while it was colonised by the British.

Personally, I find the idea of recounting a story that has been told so many times (read Gandhi’s story) – and that focuses on something that happened years and years ago – to be as boring as it is conservative.

I understand that maybe the youth doesn’t know Gandhi’s story that well (if that is even the target audience we’re doing these films for..), and I also understand the importance of looking into the past to act for the future. However, it feels to me that looking into the present and referring to the past as an inspiration, would serve as a much inspirational piece for social action on whatever issue we need/should be working on. Especially in the umbrella revolution situation, where its leaders are in jail – just like Gandhi was in jail. This storyline could’ve provided a little beam of hope to the Hong Kong situation, since Gandhi’s perseverance – as much as Joshua Wong’s – produced the needed social changes.

As expected, this was Chris and Natasha’s least preferred version so we ploughed through with Gandhi’s story for the animation. Nevertheless, I did some research on the Hong Kong Situation which I had no idea it was this bad.

I find the UK’s ‘loving’ political behaviour towards China shameful, considering the world knows they are not following the agreement to preserve HK’s democracy. Anyway… Here’s some of the articles I read and a really nice doc (available on netflix) about Joshua Wong.

‘out of truth (and love)’ – pitch

Here’s my (very much) failed proposal for the ENO project:

The music excerpt I have chosen refers to an Indian mythological story about a prince called Arjuna. Arjuna is getting ready for a battle when he discovers some of his relatives and friends are getting ready to fight for the opposite side. This makes Arjuna doubt himself and not want to fight. Krishna, his chariot driver – and also ironically the god of compassion and love – makes him understand that sometimes we need to devote ourselves to causes that might reveal hard to endure personally but will benefit the greater good.

moral of this story? think globally not individually, for a better way to live.

I’d like to focus on an uncomfortable truth, that should be making us all question our current lifestyle. It’s an urgent matter that needs to be put in the forefront of our concerns and we need to quickly start acting seriously on it!

My film opens with an image of planet earth, that quickly zooms out to show it was a reflection on the eyes of a human. This human then falls back into a dark background, a sea maybe. A metaphor to falling into a sea of truth.

When she disappears in the water what comes up is a starving polar bear, struggling to keep afloat and swimming to the smallest block of ice. The image then zooms out to show a vast ocean, depleted of ice. The polar bear is doomed.

From this opening sequence on, the film will slowly but surely increase its rhythm always synchronized to the music – in the style of a video clip – showing an array of imagery illustrating our economic system as the main driver for climate change.

The featured imagery will be decided by the people working on this film but I can give you a list of never-ending examples, such as: the bleaching of the coral reefs, all types of natural catastrophes, the mass production of animals, the proliferation of plastics – especially in the oceans, deforestation and its effect on the adjacent fauna, bombs, oil, etc, etc, etc..

The animation will use the loopy nature of Glass’s work to build its complexity and frenzy into an unbearable level – then there will be again a big zoom out to show that all of these images form out planet. We start and we end with planet earth, but if in the beginning we saw our planet with its natural colours of green and blue, in the end we see it in toxic/unnatural hues of orange purple and pink.

stop the war

This month Sacha posted on our facebook page that Anna Ginsburg was looking for help to finish a short animation for Stop the war coalition – they needed material to show during their Bestival speech.

I was pretty stoked to help, and it was such a great experience overall. Anna was super nice and gave me all the freedom to do whatever I wanted within the style. It was also really good to get to learn how quick animation can be produced, we had a very tight deadline to turn it around so, in the end, a team of 3 managed to produce a 45-second animation in 4 days!

Here’s the final result:

the style issue

One of the things I struggled the most on this last project for The Children’s Society was style.

In fact, I think I’ve been troubled with style decisions ever since I began this master: finding a drawing style, a colouring style… It’s been a struggle and this project was no different.

Here’s a visual sum up of how I got to the final result:


and here’s the final result:


rough cut presentations

I have been neglecting this blog for a while now.. Mainly because we’re at this point where I feel I just need to keep my head down and work. This is quickly turning into a masters in patience and perseverance, more than an animation course – but then again this is probably what it’s going to be like working in animation..

Anyway, today we’re showing what we’ve been doing for the last 3 weeks. It’s quite comforting to see no one is anywhere near finished – so we’re all in this together. Nevertheless, I am starting to stress out about this whole situation. In my schedule, I should’ve had finished animating today but I am still missing 10+ seconds to finish it. And then I need to go back, clean up and colour. I’m dreading the time it’ll take me to clean up, but kind of (not so) secretly hoping for a miraculous recovery on that stage.

I’ve had a hard time last week – I think we get to a point in the middle of production when, maybe because we’ve seen our animation so many times and know all the mistakes and stupid details that aren’t as good as we wished they’d be, that we start to doubt the work we’re doing.

In my case, I got so tired of doing slow moves on my film that I started to doubt the whole drawing style and everything I was doing. It sometimes doesn’t help to look at my amazing colleagues’ work and their great drawing styles.. Definitely, makes me doubt about my own style – if I have one and all that.. But I’m also really lucky that everyone here is as supportive as they are talented, and talking to each other I realised we have the same existential crisis and doubts about our work.

In the end what really matters is having a finished project, so the quality, although we’re aware of it, might not be as good as we wished, but we’re studying so mistakes should be allowed!

Here’s what I presented today

ask me for the password to see it 🙂

Things I’ve learnt/realised so far:

  • Slow moves are one of the most painful things to animate. In the future, I’ll be very weary of them!
  • It might have been a lucky coincidence but I feel like I am animating quicker and more confidently as time goes by.
  • I loved animating the underwater bit, would love to explore more of that in the future!

That’s it for now.

See you soon!

more than words

The last stretch of the past term was focused on making our characters talk. While I can’t show you the last exercise for reasons mentioned in my previous post, we had two lip sync projects to complete. For the first one, we had to animate an excerpt of a little tale told by Clare Murphy, (whereas for the last one we animated a colleague talking about their deal breaker) and then transition it to the person that was animating the following excerpt.

Here’s my contribution for the tale, including the transition to Doreen‘s animation.

All in all, I really enjoyed doing this one, it was quick and easy and I don’t feel like the simple aesthetic made it look worse. I’d like to explore this kind of visual language a bit more.

deoxyribonucleic acid

On the last 2 weeks of the term, we were assigned to a second year to work for. We had 4 days to help them kick off their final project.

I got to work with Joshua. He was really nice and the whole experience was pretty chilled. I got given a blood sequence to work on. The aim was to pass the idea the DNA was mutating/being destroyed by a toxic substance. Joshua was looking for a realistic feel, so I thought this would be the ideal time to start learning cinema 4 d!

After an initial stage of research (I mean, I had no clue how to get from the blood vein to the chromosome so watching some educational videos online really helped) I’ve first done a quick draft of how the animation would look for the sequence.
Password: dna


The rest of the time was spent watching tutorials and adapting the models to my taste. I am not yet proficient with C4D, but I am definitely excited with the amount of possibilities it seems to provide and especially with how easy and intuitive it seems to be compared to Maya!

This was my result:


and here’s my result: password: dna


this particular one took me a while and I don’t think it’s anywhere near perfect. I was having trouble with the animation when I ran out of time to work for Joshua. I think it was a good start on learning the software but I need to watch more tutorials. I’ve watched half of this course from Lynda and will hopefully finish it during the break.. 🙂