Jan 21, 2012

"Working title", part 1.

Some ramblings about my future animated short film. There's so many things I have deal with and I think the best way to keep on track of the process is to write reports in this blog.

I'm just writing what comes up in my mind so don't get confused if I jump from one subject to another.

So, my animated short will be about a dancing rabbit. Yes. That's about it. The idea came from an old sketch in early 2011 when I drew a rabbit posing like a dancer and wearing a tutu.

Naturally, at first I thought about animating a rabbit dancing ballet. But because I have no experience or good knowledge of that kind of dancing style, I decided that the rabbit will just do lots of  random movements that look like dancing. Brilliant.

Why I chose a rabbit? Just because. It has long legs, the body twists nicely enough and it has ears that can be used in many ways. The ears can flow nicely along the movement or even do something independently.

This was the first concept art that I did for the project. I was trying to figure out the colours, feeling and testing what would it look like if the character had shadows. I wanted to create something minimalistic looking and yet something that makes the character look three dimensional, not flat. Think about the two dancing elephants from the Pink Elephants on Parade sequence from Dumbo (1941):

That is one of my favorite moments in the film and I just love the animation, clean-up and the choise of colours in that part. I don't know exactly why, but I always think that those two elephants are made of glass.

Light and shadows obviously make the character look more three dimensional but all that would take so much time when doing the clean-up. I tried to create a look that would be easy enough to handle during clean-up process.

The character looks very, very flat in this style. But there's actually an advance in it: you can make many impossible transformations and movements with that design and people would still believe it.

There was also an idea that when the rabbits dance, there would be something cool visual things after every move. But I rejected that idea very quickly because I have no experience animating special effects and I don't have enough time to practise that. I only have two and half months to animate this.

After making first concept art, I was thinking about the story. The idea was that there are a white rabbit (the protagonist) and a black rabbit (the antagonist). The Black one challenges the White to dance (or "battle" in freestyle dancing) but the White refuses and tries to run away from the situation. But what ever the White does, the Black rabbit always manages to catch it. Finally the White rabbit has no choice but to dance and then.. well, they dance one of the most intence dances ever. Okay, cool.

I started making the first draft of the storyboard...

.. and left it unfinished. Why?

The problem is that if I include so much drama in the short, it will be longer than 2 and half minutes. And that means that it would take more time to finish the animation. Like I said, I don't have enough time for that. The only way to make this animation is to cut all the drama in character animation and just animate action. Action after action.

Normally I like animating subtle facial expressions but right now I have urge to animate action. Something cool looking. High jumps, somersaults (wow, now that's a crazy word in English), falling, spinning.. all that. But everytime when I plan these cool sequences in my head I always feel like there's something holding me back. Something tells me that "I should make this story more about the characters. There's so many animated shorts these days that are technically gorgeous but lack the story. I shouldn't do something that just looks cool, it has to have a meaning." You have no idea how frustrating that is.

And then there's this thought: "Do I really want this to be my final animation at school?"

Of course I want to create something that I can be proud of. My first animated short was absolutely horrible and I vowed to myself make much better short. But is this really something that I want to do? Two rabbits dancing? Well.. yes. I have to. And.. I want to.. I guess.

Maybe it would be better if there was only one rabbit. That would make the animation process faster if I only have to deal with one character.

The sad thing about clean-up is that if you do it wrong, you will lose all the appeal and everything that looks so great in the sketches. I like these sketches so much but I am afraid that I don't have skills enough to make good clean-up for these. And even if I do, I will lose my mind after finishing the first 20 frames..

There's still some technical problems with the design too. In some poses and angles the head and the neck don't really connect well. In these sketches you cannot really see it that well but the problem is there.

Those ears will also cause some trouble, I just know it. The ears have to keep moving after the rabbit has stopped and because they are so big they will block the view. I have to find a way to make the ears flow nicely and be able to show show the movement and the poses clearly. Or maybe I should just make the ears smaller, I don't know. I like the big ears, though.

It's also hard to decide what kind of eyes the rabbits have. Do they have pupils or not? Characters without pupils are cool but menacing looking. And characters that have pupils in their eyes are easier to relate to and also more appealing.

I always draw the rabbits without pupils when I sketch them so maybe I will stick with those.

I like the rough look in these sketches. I know that in that one sketch the ear is way too big compared to the other but I still love the look of them.

I also find myself drawing these cool poses but what I really should do is to draw actual movements frame by frame. I have to do at least some tests before I start the actual animation.

And the colours.. Oh, my. I'm very lost when it comes to choosing colours for this short. At first I thought that there would be no colours or backgrounds at all, only black space. That way you could focus fully on the characters.

But because I am curious person, I made few colour sketches just to explore what would the short look like if it had some colours or at least abstract backgrounds.


Now I want to use colours. I mean..you can almost feel the dancer's passion and energy when you use colours! Okay, maybe I am over-reacting because I have been mostly working with black-and-white drawings for the past few weeks but..

The music for the animated short.. This is very awkward but I haven't decided what kind of music I am going to use. That is very, very stupid, because everything about this project: the style, colours, design and so on depends so much on the music that is going to be used in this short film! Aaaaaaargh.

Alright.. I have at least some thoughts about the music. The music that originally inspired me to start this project was Zack Hemsey's Mind Heist, that music from Inception (2010) trailer:

Now I could ask from Hemsey if I could use his music but there are two things that are problematic:

1. I have to pay to him for using his music.

2. People will automatically connect that music to Inception.

But luckily my brother is willing to make music for this short film so I don't have to pay for an outsider to use his/her music. But it is hard for him to create any music without the storyboard of the film and any idea what kind of music I would like him to compose. But I can't decide because there's so many possibilities!

Of course it would be amazing to have very dramatic and intense music, something that big budget movies have. I love that stuff. But that kind of music can be too dramatic and slow paced for this..

Dance music is also one of my top favorite choises but it can bee a bit too fast paced for short animation. But I think Dimrain47's music would work in animation because it creates, at least for me, clear visual images in my head. If I had to choose one of his works, I would take Dimrain47 - R.E.M. III:

Sometimes I would like the music to be something like Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes (The Glitch Mod remix). A little bit twisted and kinda "dark" but I like it:

Yeeeeah... I guess you all now understand why I am so stuck with this project. And I have to start to animate this in next month! Whups.

And, of course, sometimes when I have spent hours drawing those simple looking rabbits, I just want to take more realistic look on them. Not too realistic but something that makes them look organic and not so stylised. Like this:

Aaaargh..! Why can't I just do pencil animation like Joanna Quinn? Then I wouldn't have to care about all the clean-up progress, colours.. Oh, yeah. Because that style doesn't work well with the idea and the music. Dammit!

And for those who are not familiar with Quinn's work, here's her probably the most famous animated short called Britannia (1994):

I don't know. I have no idea what I am going to do. Maybe I should just to the same thing like this guy did:

Okay, maybe not, but you have to admit that's very entertaining!

Lets see if I have decided anything tomorrow. Of the day after that. Or ever.

Man. This post has lots of Youtube links.


  1. Oih! Vaikuttaa todella lupaavalta. Tsemppiä tekemiseen! ;)

    1. Kiitos!

      Tsemppiä tässä todella tarvitaankin. Ihan hirvittää tämä koko projekti..

  2. Vou, pitkä sepustus, mutta mielenkiintosta luettavaa. Näyttää tosi ihanalta! :) Haluun kyllä sit nähä ton. Tuli mieleen noista värikokeiluista, että tietysti teet sen Flashdancen "What a Feeling" -tahtiin ;)

    -- Soile

    P.S. Tarvitsin inspiraatiota koulutyöhön, joten tulin tänne!

    1. Eiiii, ei Flashdancea! Eiiii!

      Kiitos! :)

  3. "First when there's nothing... but a slow glowing dream... that your fear seems to hide...
    deep inside your mind. All alone I have cried... silent tears full of pride... in a world made of steel, MADE OF STONEEEEE..."

    Mun mielestä tiivistää ton sun kuvauksen aika hyvin tai et mitä sä hait tähän.

    -- Soile