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Weekly Update #8-9: Turnarounds and Final Animatics

It's hard to believe only two weeks have gone by. Since the pitch and having everyone join the group so much work has been completed. After some revisions we've created roughly 6 variations of the initial storyboard. We noticed that in the first test, the character her monster are hardly the best of friends, which isn't exactly what we were looking for. Our character is an adventurer, she's already caught monsters herself and so she's pretty sure of herself when it comes to tracking down monsters, however she's also quite clumsy and so despite her ability she's not the greatest tracker out there. Her monster on the other hand is very simple, it's her stalwart protector and will stand up to anything she requires, they've been friends for a long time. It is also quite young though, and so is quite curios and can be prone to being started as you can see in the animatic. There were also some issues to do with pacing and understanding the narrative of the story. This was likely the hardest part of the last two weeks to fix. It required me to draw several variations on the storyboards, adding new scenes, placing them and trying to work out an order for us to explain what happens within the short cohesively. What made this especially difficult however was the the strict time constraints that the animators had now put onto the scenes. Because we had a set amount of animators, each with a set time limit of animation they would produce for our short, severely altering or add/subtracting scenes would cause logistical problems that couldn't be easily remedied. And with pre-production time running out I crammed as much work into the last week as I possibly could so we could nail down our idea. Charlotte our animation director was eager to have this finished up and I pushed beyond the time limit she wanted to impose. We both do feel that our new storyboard is a lot stronger for it and now every animator has been given a chunk of animation and has begun their own pre-production for the project. So here is our final animatic (some sounds included):

Alpha Final Storyboard test from Sam Cullum on Vimeo.

Now we had our animatic down it was time to start really fleshing out the characters, creating rough turnarounds so I could collaborate with the riggers and allow for the easiest transition for our models through the production pipeline I began by taking elements that aren't so easily seen from the initial angle, our characters hair for instance is interesting as a silhouette, but the actual details are extremely vague. I decided to do a few portrait sketches to see a better angle for them, and after talking with the character rigger decided on the bottom one:
Now I could complete the turnaround.
The same was also done for the monster. I had only a basic idea and a very rough sketch. After making roughly 20 variations I showed them to the creature rigger and we decided upon this design:
It was cute, but still felt like it could do some battling of it's own. Later on however the horn was removed from its head so that the book later in the animatic could fly into it's face more satisfyingly.
After designing the character though I felt the creature needed a bit more, it looked plain in comparison, and so during it's turnaround phase I made some slight variations on whether it would be a beast of burden for our main character or merely a steed of some sort.
This is the current version as I'm still in talks with our rigger right now:
We have also gathered a few second year computer animation students, as well as some past students in to help with the environment. I still need to produce some nice environment sketches for our lighting TD and the second years to show them the full scene and work out the logistics. Here are a few quick sketches I produced however:
A lot of colour work still needs to be produced for this project, including a colour storyboard for mood, colour references for all the characters and props also. But right now it's environment sketches that take priority. And that's is for the last two weeks. I hope it keeps on going as smoothly as this well into production.

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