Notification

 

“Notification” is an animation piece created by Jade Araya and Jussica Ranhotra.  It is meant to depict a common struggle amongst young adults and teens alike: confessing their feelings to their crush.  It is also a rather cheeky PSA which warns the audience to update their computer, to be weary of pop-up ads, and to be careful when downloading items from the internet. The concept itself was inspired by the video game “Emily is Away” as the work is intended to create a very nostalgic and familiar feeling to the targeted audience. Its intended viewers are people in their late teens and young adults.  This is due to the fact that this work is specifically based off of the on goings of messenger apps such as those on yahoo and msn which specifically became popular around the time that they were children and/ or teenagers.

The narrative structure hit on six major points; the exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. Both the dialogue and the typography in the messaging styles of various characters were utilized in a way to emphasize certain characteristics and differentiate them from one another. We also chose to utilize slang and typing styles of the early 2000s to further emulate this era and add to the believability of this piece’s temporal context.

 

The sounds in “Notification” are all a collection of sound effects provided on the Westar audio library.  After importing the audio into Protools, the sounds were then given a “roto speaker” effect in order to add a fuzzier sound.  This is both as a means to provide information that the technology is older than the current electronics, and to create a dream-like feeling as if someone were to recall a memory.   The reasoning behind the absence of music in “Notification” is due to the desire to call attention to the conversation in the messenger window to emphasize the complexities of conversation that can take place in just one window.  

 

In total, 23 illustrator files were created in order to construct the feeling of being on an old computer. Every visual aspect was created after careful observation of older websites and movements (such as the “Azn Pride movement”).  The aesthetic of the motion graphics itself is rather simplistic with its simple changes in opacity, position, and size.  Aside from the actual mechanics of a messenger, it was also meant to help the viewer focus on the narrative. In addition to emulating the messenger aesthetics of the early 2000s, we also took into consideration the design principles and their influence on the artistic representations of background scenery and characters.


In terms of the division of labour, Jade took over the the aesthetic creation of the piece through the illustrator files, audio elements, text animations and overall animation of the first 120 seconds of the piece. Jussica took over the narrative structure, character development, dialogue, typing styles and latter 120 seconds of the piece. We feel that the animation is rather effective due to the positive feedback given during its progress meaning that the work has its intended effect. We achieved the narrative style and visual aesthetics that we were originally attempting to recreate. We utilized the design principles and minimalistic sound design in manner that is complementary to the story.

Inspirations

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A Whole New World! (RTA 312: Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality)

So I’m gonna start off with this: they have a similar effect but ultimately augmented reality and virtual reality are virtual (pardon the pun) opposites.  Kind of think of it like take out food versus going to a sit-down restaurant.

…What?  Did I get you hungry?  Or maybe I just reminded you of that hot date you have tonight.  Okay fine, you can go ahead and enjoy that but come back.  I have stuff to tell you about, okay?

Augmented reality is the take out food.  Aspects of the virtual world are taken and brought into your home.  Generally speaking, this is done by superimposing images onto what the camera of your phone, computer, nintendo 3DS (What, you don’t have one?  Well good.  Enjoy your productive life, normie).  And although I wanted to jump off the bandwagon of it, there’s no helping it.  Pokemon Go is the perfect example of what augmented reality can achieve.

Maybe if you’ve only read up on the information, it would be seem cool but not enough to rally groups  to go to the city specifically for Pokemon.  And yet there I was, down town on the hunt by Dundas Square.  There are so many stories- SO MANY STORIES of people making friends with complete strangers because they were catching Japanese cartoon characters on their phone.  There are stories where people can introduce themselves as gym leader- ACTUAL GYM LEADERS- and find that when they walk back to their territory, the kid had already overthrown them.  There are stories where people actually formed rivalries because they were team Valor, or team Mystic or team Instinct (honestly, more Valor and Mystic, Instinct were more of the underdogs here).  And on another note, there as so many cases where people overcame their depression and social anxiety.  The downfall of this unfortunately started with the updates that Niantic made on the phone app.  What we had was significant not only because of the fact that many got to live their childhood dreams in the real world, but also because we were able to make connections and experience outside the app.

 

 

Virtual reality is the sit-down restaurant; you’re the one who enters the virtual world for the experience.  A great example of this would be Dear Estheran adaptation of the novel by J.G. Ballard.

Now this is exactly what I meant by being brought into another world.  While it may not have any other mechanics aside from exploring the area, it truly manages to pull you into the story with it’s gorgeous, detailed visuals and the voice of the narrator.  The only way that I could describe it would be the real life equivalent of reading a book and imagining yourself there.  If anything, it reminds me a lot of adventures while lucid dreaming where I mainly just stroll along to see what is present.  Perhaps it could have some more interactive functions but aside from that, Dear Esther is a prime example of virtual reality.

 

It came to my attention after writing halfway through this blog post that aside from my artist’s statement next week, this will be the last RTA 312 post.  It’s been an interesting ride here.  I wasn’t really sure whether or not I would be back here but I’m happy I had another excuse to do so.  I like writing about the process and what I admire as much as I do like observing and creating and chances are, I might be back again.  But regardless of whether or not you find me here, you’ll always find me at the drawing board.

 

Thank you,

Stay Animated!

Jade

The Gooey GUIs (RTA 312 WYSIWYG: GUIs, Usability, and User Experience Design)

First of all, sorry for that title.  I just thought of a homophone and went for it.  You can’t penalize me for that type of chutzpah.

So GUI stands for graphic user interfaces and they are meant to effectively communicate to the user of the app, technology or website the features present and what one must do to use them.  Some of these designs are super sleek and some of them raise a lot of question.

FOR EXAMPLE…

It’s a little bit surprising but I think Snapchat could be a little more comprehensive in its GUI.

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So this is basically what we see the moment you open the app.  We start with a camera, maybe you’d take a picture by tapping the circle, switch cameras by tapping on the camera/ arrow icon or turn off the flash by tapping the lightning bolt.  Everything seems straight forward, but what if our friends never explained to us how it works? How confused would we be?

“What do the two bottom icons in the middle and the right mean?”

” Are those cards? ”

“Are they like the regular camera app and they store all the “snaps” there?”

“Why is there a purple circle with three dots in it?”

“Why does it show me news when I click it?”

What does that have to do with news?

(note: I still have no idea why that icon is chosen.)

“You need to add friends to chat with them but how do you even add friends if there’s nothing on the screen but your face? ”

“How do you do that dog filter thing on this app?”

Many features like calling people’s phones, locating friends on the map, and face swapping with Obama would just seem impossible if you’re just seeing this.  Some suggestions would include some functions being named when one holds down on the icons, and changing the purple design all together to either symbolize the news or the user’s friends.  As aesthetically pleasing as it is, it’s understandable why a lot of people still don’t understand Snapchat.

 

I say this but this is nothing like what I’m about to show you here:

 

…what?

WHAT?

NO!

I hope this is a joke because there is just so much to question.  First of all, WHY IS THIS HIGHLIGHTER GREEN?  I understand that it can be a fairly interesting accent colour, but having that as the background is going to be distracting because this is such a loud colour.  It nearly takes all the visual thunder away from the red words, defeating the purpose of having the words red.  Second of all, why is this a cube?  We could easily have this as a website where it simply scrolls down or have a few different pages.  This cube makes it impossible to look at anything for a limited time.  AND WHY DOES IT SPIN?  WHY WOULD YOU WANT THIS TO SPIN WHEN THERE’S A FORM TO FILL ON IT?  When you have at least three hundred words to read on this website, it would benefit to have the page be stationary in order to allow the user to read at their own pace.  I would also suggest different type faces and sleeker icons.  Although I must give credit where it’s due, it’s got personality and it’s very considerate to put a game in the middle of completing the form in case the user gets bored.  It’s got heart, now it just needs the look!

 

Well I’m dizzy.  I’m going to sign off for now.

 

Take care and stay animated,

 

Jade

The New Age of Cartoons! (RTA: 312 Animation and Modern (Digital) Motion Graphics)

So I guess it’s easy to believe that I am fairly familiar with modern animation and motion graphics.  I grew up with a love of Looney Tunes (note: I DISTINCTLY remember it as the Looney Toons but I digress) and anything from Hanna Barbera (remembered THAT as Hannah Barbra but that was just from the inadequacy of my four-year old brain).   In addition to all that, I also grew up watching shows like Adventure Time, Bee and Puppycat.  I’ve been alive for the Disney Renaissance, the Cartoon Renaissance and the fall of Nickelodeon.  Generally speaking, I’ve seen a lot of things come and go in my long 19 years of life and things get really interesting!

 

Here for example, is one of my favourites Welcome To My Life.

 

Design-wise, it’s very simple and effective.  All the colours of the characters and items are all very earthy tones.  Not only is that extremely aesthetically pleasing, the palette is cohesive and leaves a very soothing tone perfect for this short.  The style itself is very reminiscent of children’s books, it adds a hint of nostalgia in spite of this only coming out a few months ago.  The changes in the character’s faces when talking are subtle and yet they manage to effectively express their feelings.  I also notice that the animation is very detail oriented down to Douglass’ twiddling fingers and shifting eye gaze.  One would think that the realistic background would clash with the cartoon models but for all of the reasons mentioned before, it manages to blend perfectly.  Regarding how it could be improved, I suppose that the mouth could be more in synch with the dialogue but aside from that, it’s a nice, wholesome animation to a nice, wholesome pilot.

 

And now, my attempt to make it to Derek’s disturbing list.

I have a good feeling about this one:

 

Note: I considered talking about Brother’s Grunt but you’re a good person.  You don’t deserve that. 

No worries, I still have another animation up my sleeve.

 

 

‘Tis the season.  So this is one of the more recently found treasures known as Rapsittie Kids: Believe in Santa.  I’d understand this better if this were made a while ago, but this was just released 15 years ago.  That may sound like it was very long time ago but we’ve have titles like Lilo and StitchIce Age, and Treasure Planet that came out that year.  It also had talents such as Mark Hamil, Grey Delise, and Nancy Cartwright acting in it.  This was meant to be a syndicated series but they pulled it off air almost as soon as it was broadcasted and I can see why.  The colours are poor choices with nice splashes of highlighter yellow.   The textures are very reminiscent of Minecraft, pretty much copied and pasted on the models.  And what a pity it truly is, everyone looks like they were made of chunky clay.  There are also a bunch of 2-D designs randomly pasted in the background.  Animations are awkward, everyone is stiff and they all move like robots.  But if it does anything correctly, it sure gives me that good, wholesome holiday spirit.

 

Happy holidays everyone!

 

(Oh wait, not yet? Well dang.)

 

Stay  animated!

Jade

 

 

Mind MELT: Another Artist’s Statement (RTA 312 Real/Unreal)

          Mind MELT is an animation meant to both create as well as depict the feeling of the mundane and the sudden rush of panic.  Inspiration for the first half of the animation came from older promotions from MTV and Nickelodeon.  MTV’s promotional work often has very abstract imagery and shifts from one scene to another in a faster pace.  Nickelodeon’s “splat” logo was my inspiration for the brighter colour scheme and the melting imagery.  The second half was highly influenced by the vaporwave internet culture, specifically the video Anxiety Online and the album cover Blank Banshee 0.  Those artworks influenced me to implement a human figure which was capable of metaphorically bringing the viewer to the uncanny valley.  The reasoning behind this was to communicate the experience of a stressful period in life where the time seems to go slowly and this was believed to effectively create the feeling of underlying unease.  Mind MELT’s intended audience is for people who enjoy the absurd and have a slightly dark sense of humor.

The concept of this animation all came into place once the song Relinquish by Pretochines was found and chosen.  Relinquish is very unique as it switched between slower, meditative music and faster, glitchy beats.  To further enhance both extremes with audio, a tape cassette sound effect was added to create a more serene beginning.  The musical breakdown was also brought earlier in the timeline to give the piece more energy.

Imagery was made to both pair and enhance the calm and the chaos reflected in the music. Brighter colours and simpler designs for the human figure and items were selected because they were meant to balance out the odd visuals.  A radio was chosen as the main object of focus in the first half as it is often something that people listen to very passively as it fades into the background of everyday events. All of the other objects (a clock, phone, and piece of paper) already appear to be melted and morphing together to act as a physical representation of daily events all being a blur. The person who absorbs all of the everyday activities is purposefully lacks any particular striking features as both a means to further represent the mundane and to make sure that the viewer could easily identify with the tired face.

Mind MELT is a combination of 2-D and 3-D animation.  The first twenty-five seconds are created by utilizing 3-D layers, a camera, and a null object for zooms, and rotations on the z-axis and the x-axis.  All this was done in order to create a vortex out of the everyday objects and to allow it to transition into a tornado-funnel hybrid.  The biggest challenge when creating this was finding a way to blend the 3-D and the 2-D elements together without it appearing abrupt or obvious.  This was accomplished by stacking a 2-D transition layer in the same place as the 3-D layer and fading the opacity of the 3-D layer to 0%.  The rest of the fifteen seconds were all achieved by altering size, and opacity at a rapid pace to achieve the effect of having a video game glitch.  Mind MELT was finalized after taking in feedback from other and after its final tweaking.

Watching the animation after its completion, I am satisfied with the result.  There were a lot of aspects of animation that I have learned through all of the trials and errors of creating this and according to the feedback received, it has certainly payed off.  I was hoping to create something surreal and according to my viewers, I have created the desired effect.  It is believed that through the animations and stylistic choices, Mind MELT was capable of the pure emotional expression that is capable of luring the viewer in a unique visual trip.

IT’S SUPER VISUALLY EFFECTIVE!!! (RTA 312 A Closer Look at Visual Effects)

Corridor Digital, Freddiew, and GakAttack: three youtube channels that sparked my interest in digital effects.  Another thing that I discovered in my childhood is that whenever it comes to visual effects, there’s good and there’s…

well there’s this:

R-REALLY? 

It looks like someone copied and pasted something on ms paint and called it a day.  THE SIZES OF THE BIRDS AREN’T EVEN CONSISTENT! There are scenes where the birds are not even a metre away from each other but for some reason, three out of eight birds are five times larger than the rest.  They’re all the same type of bird species too, I don’t understand.  The way that they’re animated is not effective because they’re just hovering in front of people, kind of like the way that people hover when someone is in front of another person but they don’t know if if they should step to the left or right to walk past them.  Honestly, I feel like the characters we actually scared about how bad these special effects I’m scared too.  I’ll admit that I’ve been harsh, so I’ll say one thing: the exploding birds were pretty rad.

 

Meanwhile, there’s works like this:

 

 

I ‘m specifically referring to the scene where Barbra Gordon and Dick Grayson are taking in the apartment at the beginning.  Oh the hub (the hologram screen)? It’s gorgeous in it’s sleek design and beautifully plays homage to old school video games.  Great contrast with the background, visually cohesive, and the layout effectively communicates the use of each computer window to communicate that a lot is going on in Grayson’s mind without cluttering the screen but that’s not what I’m referring to.  Look at the apartment and that view behind the screen.  Pretty nice, right? What if I told you that that was mostly recreated using digital effects?  Whaaaaat?  The creator even explains that he made the window completely out of post.  It’s one thing when you notice some excellent digital effects but it’s a whole different thing when it’s so good that you don’t even consider the idea that visual effects were used!

In the video above, Danny Shepard goes more in depth about the effects that he made for his fan-series Nightwing.  Go check it out!!!

 

That or take a look at some of the visual-effects heavy videos I have listed below which are pretty entertaining in my opinion.

Well, stay gold and stay animated!

 

 

Jade

BONUS VIDEOS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 6: Call Me an Animatic ANIMANIAC! (RTA 312 Storyboards and Anamatics)

Storyboards! Do I know about storyboards? Of course I do! I’ve stayed up until 4am making them a few times!

So basically things such as storyboards and animatics are part of this wonderful animation process which all contribute to something beautiful like this:

Starting from this:

 

Their function is to map out the animations and so that afterwards the animators just need to fill in the gaps in between.  Story boards are a series of simpler drawings which (quite literally) sketch out the big movements in a scene.  Animatics are a step up from storyboards.  In fact, according to Adelie Studios, they’re basically “storyboards on steroids”.   They try to give the most precise idea to the animators as possible by showing more “transition” sketches.

I believe that a good storyboard does not only comes from showing pinpoints but the ability to tell the story on its own.  This is from one of the most striking scenes that I’ve seen from the show Avatar: The Last Airbender:

 

Azula Storyboard

Here is where longtime antagonist Azula begins to really show her cracks as she cuts her hair in a fit while the hallucination of her mother begins to torment her. There’s just something about it with the way that everything is framed and the expressions on her face that really adds drama to what’s going on.  The panels where she grabs the scissors and cuts her bangs are emphasized in details like the little hair strands, the dark lines for the scissors, as well as the placement of her hands help create this big swift motion. The next three panels after the hair has been cut contrasts with the previous eight as it  manages to feel still and unnerving.  The storyboard artist chooses for the viewer to observe the chaos that took place (represented by the hair) and watch it all fall to the feet.  These choices help us understand Azula’s point of view by literally placing us in it.  The fact that there’s a panel of her staring into something right before her mother shows up helps communicate to us that this woman is unexpected and startling.  From here, we can really see Azula’s emotions through her face: anger, regret, shame, and sadness, with her eyes literally darkening as we reach later panels.  In the end, proximity is used to end the scene with a sense of loneliness as she breaks the mirror. And while I love it, I think it would have been more useful to add more background in the panels for visualizing purposes. But overall, it’s amazing because in 28 drawings we’ve gotten to understand so much more about this villain as well as the motion (literal and metaphorical) in the scene itself.

 

Speaking of motion, I remember my friend showing me this animatic made on youtube to a soundtrack of a musical called Be More Chill and I haven’t stopped watching it ever since.  Here’s a young man being frustrated about his best friend ditching him.

 

What can I say? It’s awkward, emotional teen hood drawn out in front of you.  Even though these are a series of still drawings, it still manages to sync perfectly with the song beat by beat.  Considering how this was created using the limited visuals of theatre and audio, it’s admirable just how creative the mind can be.  I feel this artist does an excellent job emphasizing the character using contrast with the darkness of the lines as well as using a darker background at times.  Not only does it keep focus on Michael, it also adds an emotional impact depicting a dreamy feeling.  In the animatic, Michael is very expressive with his actions and face.  Even though I haven’t seen the play, listened to the entire soundtrack, or read the original book, I can see how he’s feeling, I can feel bad for the poor lad.   And can we talk about how fluid this is?  It gives so much information about the motions in between that at times I forget it’s not fully animated!  I guess if anything, I’d say that I’d keep the fluidity more constant but aside from that, I think this excellent!

 

So I’ll probably be reading Be More Chill or at least singing Michael in the Bathroom constantly until I’m writing for next week.

 

Until then, stay animated!

 

 

Jade