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.

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:

Masanobu Hiraoka + hair

I just found Masanobu and I am in love with his stuff!! The morphing in his animations is out of this world, this is well inspiring for the upcoming short we’re working on – I might try and add some more morphing to my film. Definitely (maybe.. if I have the time..) bubbles to my underwater shots! And I think seeing his stuff actually makes me less anxious about picking a visual style, let’s see how this weekend goes! #excited!!

Also, I got feedback about the animatic+style frame from my lovely mentor, Margaux, and one of the things she pointed out was that she wasn’t too keen on my character’s hair – she advised me to go for simpler shapes. I’m not sure I’m going on the right path by researching into anime, but here are some gifs of flowy hair by the masters of amazing hairstyles:

yeah, they know how to do hair. I might need to go way more simple, but it’s a good reference for movement!

right to say no – inspiration and research

Our final work for this year is to animate a 45-second short film! This is simultaneously exciting and overwhelming.

Working with The Children’s Society, we were given a voice over audio track to base our animation in. Their mission, as stated in their website is:

We fight child poverty and neglect, and help all children have a better chance in life.

The audio track I got is the testimony of a 15 year old girl that goes through an abusive relationship, and with the help of The Children’s Society services she learns that she has the right to say no – hence the title of the animation (see what I did there? ;p)

Right now we’re in the early stages of development: doing research, character studies, thinking about the storyboard and styleframes..

Because my story focuses on a teenage girl, the first visual reference I could think about was Rookie Magan independently run online magazine and book series founded in 2011 by Editor-in-Chief Tavi Gevinson. We publish writing, photography, and other forms of artwork by and for teenagers (and their cohorts of any age!)*

I also found some interesting references on it’s nice that, like this one and this other one.

Here’s a pinterest board where I am dumping all the images I like/find helpful.

I have already done a storyboard, but yesterday I saw my mentor and will definitely take her advice on board. So I need to rethink some bits of it to make it stronger.

Today we’ve shown a style frame to The Children’s Society people. here’s mine:

I am still not totally happy with the character but at least now I’ll (hopefully) have time to draw and develop her to a point where I’m satisfied. Expect some doodles coming soon 🙂


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!

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This was my result:

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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.. 🙂


One of the assignments we had to deliver yesterday was to develop a character and present it/him/her in a character sheet. Since we are doing a counter culture walk cycle animation for the Royal Albert Hall, we were suggested to develop and present that character.

I have to admit this was probably the brief I’ve felt less comfortable working for since we’ve started the MA. The major reason is I am still not comfortable with my drawing skills (or lack of them)/drawing style. And also, because I have been feeling that I’m unconsciously being dragged into a very digital cartoony aesthetic. Which by no means I think it’s wrong, it’s just something that I am not yet ready to commit to (omg, soppy! I’ve definitely been watching too many first dates episodes).

The truth is I’ve enrolled in this masters hoping to find my ‘voice’ aesthetically speaking, but time seems to just seep through my fingers and it’s hard to think about aesthetics and movement simultaneously.

This is something I’ve talked about with my amazing mentor when we met, and she advised me to separate the animation and my journey finding ‘my style’ at least in this first year. To just explore as much as I could aesthetically on quicker projects, illustrations and drawings; and to focus on getting things moving right when it comes to the animation assignments.

I could go on forever talking about her and how lucky I am to have her as a mentor (this would quickly escalate to a very cheesy and probably very boring post!), but she did give me great advice and I feel like it had a big influence in this project.

On Margaux’s (my mentor) advice, I went (and managed to drag Helena) to V&A to get inspiration. There’s an exhibition about the 60’s counter culture/revolution happening and it was just great for immersing myself in that period. The range of subjects that were affected during the 60s/70s was vast. The exhibition savvily finished with John Lennon’s Imagine, leaving Helena and I longing for a similar movement to happen right now.
Oh world, what’s happening to us?

Still! It was both inspiring and mind-opening to see the exhibition, and just when we were leaving, at the V&A shop, I saw this amazing cover for Joni Mitchell’s big yellow taxi 7inch single (read with holly sound):

I mean, it was a sign for me! Everything clicked! You might remember, I had already researched Joni Mitchell, and was pending to develop a character homaging her because she sings about the environment on this specific song! I was so attracted to the simplicity of the line drawing I immediately felt the urge to explore this kind of aesthetic.

Another advice Margaux gave me – so I could have time to experiment with different materials – was to use this walking cycle as an experiment. Get the movement working right on TVPaint, then print the frames and trace them with different materials. I had a mind explosion when she said that! I could imagine how mental/interesting the final result would be, so it was a no-brainer deciding to go for that!

Because I had that intention even before I decided on how my character would look, it just felt right to use a simple line drawing and somehow add colour/texture. So it all came together, and JONI was born (I couldn’t think of any other name, and I mean it’s Joni so..!).


I am well excited to make her move!
Along with a couple more projects for uni.. I think I’ll be pretty busy these holidays..
(oh.. so many mixed feelings about this)

late for the party, but i brought a killer rainbow


Oh hi! It’s been a while I know! So long I didn’t get to round up week #6 nor #7 so here’s an update of what’s been happening for the last couple of weeks in my life, aka uni work I’ve been doing.

Apparently deciding to take a week ‘off’ for my birthday was not a good idea. By the Tuesday of week #6 it suddenly dawned on me that we only had 4 weeks until assessment time and that gave me cold cold sweats.

I had done the weight lift exercise using a puppet, but we are being marked on that specific exercise and I felt I should do it in 2D as well. Mainly because although I am satisfied with my puppet animation, I thought I could do better than that, and also I should practice as much as I could because how am I going to get better otherwise?!

Oh and practice I did…
ok, maybe not as aggressively but I swear it was hard times

Anyway, I went ambitious level +100 with it and have been closed at home for the last two weeks working on my lift. Good news is that it’s done, the bad news is that I am still a week’s worth of work behind.. oh well, let’s focus on the positives for now shall we?

I don’t really know how I got the idea for my lift, I started by drawing a cutesy little fat unicorn, which was followed by a girl.. And then I got bored of all the cuteness and decided there had to be a twist to the plot. Unicorns don’t exist, the girl and the unicorn could never have lived happily ever after! Anyway you’ll see what I mean when we get there (if you haven’t already skipped this whole blabber and just watch the videos already).

I’m finding that for animations to work smoothly you need a lot of movement references. I am not going to share footage of my ridiculous acting, but it exists and it sure helped a LOT. The unicorn doesn’t really move that much but he jumps so I got lost in youtube watching videos of horses jumping in slow motion. Thank you youtube. And then I used One punch man for an impact reference/more of an anxiety relief (although I kind of ended up doing my own version of an impact).

Ok let’s just get to it! Here’s my FINAL draft:

and by final draft I mean I have done versions and versions of this animation, I don’t really want to deal with a unicorn anytime soon. It was hard work to get the movement flowing to an acceptable standard.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-00-08-03 as you can see, it was a process..

Mid way this draft mess, I showed the work in progress to Steve, he wisely told me to simplify it. Which I kind of did.. But I was already in too deep to go back/let it go. Oh so stubborn.

Anyway you can’t really (I think!) present a draft-y looking animation on your assessment, so I then went to clean it up.

Honestly, I’m with Helena when she says she feels her animation lacks character. I feel the same about mine, I think cleaning it up made it lose a lot of the personality so (in the future) I might need to rethink either my way of drafting or cleaning up.

I had done the clean version yesterday (pyjama Sunday), and showed it to Steve today. I managed to make him laugh but he then said the sizes were not consistent, and that in the end she was too big. He told me not to worry about it and just move on. But inside I was like
and then got home to finish it (I needed to add the rainbow smears at least!) and got like
so I quickly tried to amend it, and here’s the final result. That I-won’t-touch-anymore-because-I-have-other-stuff-to-do-and-nothing-is-ever-perfect-and-I’ve-tried-my-best (this on repeat until I’m convinced).

To sum it all up once and for all (I really need to move on to other assignments!). Although a hard test to my patience and perseverance, I have tried to apply everything we’ve learned so far in this exercise. Follow through, smears, squashes, anticipation – you name it! It was great practice, and although I might have gotten lost oh so many times(!), my stubbornness to keep on doing it paid off (I think!). At least it’s done and I can move on. I’ve learnt a lot about the process of animating and how it works best for me. I’m probably going to start listening more to Steve, but then again if you don’t do it you’ll never learn. 🙂
It’s not like I think it’s a perfect piece of animation, I’d love to have the time to properly colour it and beautify it but I think it’s ok, and I’m pretty happy with it. It was just a very slow and enduring process and that makes it harder for me to be all hyped about it. Right now I just want to sleep!

Which is what I am going to do!

I’ll come back soon, I promise 🙂
(“please don’t!” – you beg)

one punch man

Just rewatched the whole season of One punch man today (I know.. get a life..).

I was in desperate need of references for spectacular attacks/falls* and after a quick youtube snoop around for Looney Toons and Dragon Ball I remembered this sweet sweet animé series. My brother introduced me to it (and to all the animé stuff I watch, to be honest..), and I just love it! The series follows Saitama, a total anti-hero superhero. Saitama is so powerful that he’s always bored he can’t find a challenging opponent. It’s refreshing in the sense that you always know he’s going to win, but the plot is still super entertaining and filled with good puns. The episodes are around 20 minutes, and there’s only 12 so get in quick before it becomes a chore to watch the whole series (hey One piece! I’m talking about you…)!

It also has an openly gay character, that just happens to be bad-ass-awesome. There are not a lot of animés (that I know) this inclusive!

That’s it! 🙂

* I’m working on my lift exercise, I’ve done it with the puppet but we’re being accessed on it so I’m doing a 2D one..