Sunday, 31 January 2016

Fahima Munene & Steven Payne - 'Alleyway' Environment Development

Lately I've been working on the 'Alleyway' environment. I've been attempting to remain faithful to the style of the painting, consciously emulating the asymmetrical features of Fahima's world.

I have found that the rigid, unsmoothed models have sharper edges that are far more in-keeping with the painting and as a result, modelling the buildings has been a lot quicker than anticipated. I simply blocked out major features, using the buildings in Fahima's painting as reference, then I used Soft Selection to deform the buildings. I've struggled somewhat to go against my natural instincts of polishing every aspect to perfection, however I am happy with this more expressive outcome.

Below are a couple of untextured renders with the outline applied.

I have some bits here and there to add in this environment, but once this is complete, I shall move onto the other two, slightly less complicated environments. I aim to have these all modelled by early next week so that I can spend time modelling and rigging the numerous little characters that inhabit the world.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

HELP PLEASE!!! Maya userPref.mel coding

Over the course of today I've been trying to rig the weirdest skeleton I've ever made, but in the process I tried to access my Expressions Editor and ran into a problem. My expression editor box refused to work properly from the channel box. It opened up a 'TextEdit' box instead.


When accessed the long way around from Window >> Animation Editors >> Expressions Editor, I found myself with an interesting error message.

I found some help in the forums. Someone appeared to have the same error message. But the instructions for the solution were a bit vague for someone who doesn't normally play with my computers coding!

Can anyone confirm as to whether I'm doing the right thing, by opening the userPref.mel file in 'TextEdit' on Mac OS and doing as the forum user 'slypojo' says by changing the highlighted 0 to a 1 at the end of the script line ...

-iv "EEexprEdTextEditor" 0

I'm not entirely comfortable doing this and acutely aware of perhaps destroying Maya on my computer playing around in such files. Advice would be hugely appreciated!!!! Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Fahima Munene & Steven Payne - Translating Paint to CG

The majority of shots throughout the animation will be rendered in 3D, however they need to retain the impression that they are 3D realisations of a 2D image. I've found that the Toon shading settings in Maya do a pretty good job of accurately emulating Fahima's style.

To achieve the effect, I assigned shaders that change in response to the angle of the light. This allows me to have objects with colours that dynamically alternate on each side, similar to the buildings in the painting.  

Colours Rendered in Mental Ray

I then assigned outlines to the objects as Paint Effects, using a custom brush to emulate the brush strokes in the painting.

Outlines Rendered in Maya Software

The colours are then rendered out in Mental Ray and the outlines in Maya Software, after which they are composited together in Photoshop (or After Effects when rendered as animation). 

Colours and Outlines Composited in Photoshop

To give the impression that the image has been created using the same materials in the painting, I have tested two different methods. The first was entirely in Photoshop, using a brush stroke and a newspaper texture, with overlay and multiply blending modes. I feel this method does a better job at sustaining the illusion of a painting than the second method.

Paint and Newspaper Effect as Overlays in Photoshop

The second method is using the Light Angle Two Tone shader, with two textures assigned to two ends of a Ramp. One for lighter areas and one for darker. This method produces an image that, whilst visually appealing, isn't as faithful stylistically as the preceding technique. 

Paint and Newspaper Effect as Textures in Maya (One Object Only)

With some refinement, this looks like a promising route to go down. It sells the style effectively and is fairly simple to execute. I think the next step is to highlight some of the more unique elements of Fahima's style and find a way of incorporating them in the render, hopefully resulting in a far more convincing outcome.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Monday, 25 January 2016

Fahima Munene & Steven Payne - Initial Pre-Vis/Animatic

Since my last post, I’ve been working on the animatic for my animated adaptation. The animation is planned to utilise aspects that are both 2D and 3D, and so I have demonstrated this in my pre-vis with a combination of playblasts from Maya and simple animation in After Effects.

Shot Breakdown
  • The animation opens with a shot of a piece of cardboard on a distressed, yet otherwise clean, table. The titles fade into the cardboard as the camera moves in. Scraps of newspaper begin to coat the cardboard, blotting out the text and filling the screen with newsprint.
    • The opening (and much of the animation in general) was inspired by the methods employed by Fahima to construct her painting. Newspaper as her canvas. To reinforce the physical existence of the painting, I am considering filming this portion in live action.
  • Panning across, the sky is painted in. Stars twinkle into existence as the shot comes to a stop on the spire of the mosque.
    • The animation will be directly using Fahima’s painting at this point (providing the image I have is at a high enough resolution to properly support this).
  • The camera pans down, as the painting transitions into 3D. The camera pauses at the entrance of the mosque, now fully 3D. Figures are seen entering the mosque. A figure enters from outside of the frame, as the camera follows them into the entrance.
    • The figures will be sort of ‘stock’ characters inspired by those found in Fahima’s painting. They will fit stylistically, without any definitive role or purpose other than inhabiting the world and performing non-specific tasks.
  • As the camera moves through the entrance of the mosque, the scene transitions to a 3D realisation of an alleyway. With the figure still moving through the street, the camera moves up to the rooftops. A man can be seen sleeping on his roof, cats are jumping from rooftop to rooftop and children are running in and out of the doorways. 
    • The activities performed by these different figures are directly inspired by observations provided by Fahima. Unlike the mosque, the alleyway isn’t a pre-existing part of the painting, it is a new space stylistically inspired by Fahima’s painting. I imagine it as the spaces behind the houses. 
  • The camera tracks back to the figure passing through, moving down behind them and following them around a corner. Once again, the scene transitions, this time to the seafront. The camera slows down, as the figure continues to move forward and take a seat on the baraza. Figures cross the camera in the foreground, as dhows bob in the sea. Another dhow drifts into frame and the camera slowly moves in as it is silhouetted against the orange sky.
  • The camera tilts upwards towards the sky as more stars come out. Shooting stars begin to fall in the distance, and another falls close to the camera. The shooting star is followed downwards. The camera comes to a stop as once again, the spire of the mosque comes into view. This time, the camera begins to zoom out, revealing the completed painting in all it’s glory. The camera continues to zoom out, as the painting is seen once again on the table, this time surrounded by scraps of paper, paint and other evidence of creativity.
    • As with the opening, I am considering filming this live action also. 

So far, I am pretty happy with the direction the animation is heading in, however I will likely make revisions to the animatic in response to feedback. In the meantime, my next task will be determining what needs modelling and what doesn’t by finalising the framing of each of my shots, as well as establishing how I am going to render the 3D elements in a way that accurately emulates Fahima’s style.

Louis & Ethan - Ideas

Last time, I posted the result of an experimental technique for converting the following image to 3D. In this post I want to explain how it was done, and then finish by talking about my ideas for the animation.

The main selling point of the effect is that it perfectly transitions from the original picture to the 3D environment. There are two main things going on here. I guess you would call it Perspective Projection Mapping, combined with Displacement Mapping. Normally you model 3D objects based on front and side view images, (orthographic views), however what I have done is projected the image from a perspective camera.

Firstly, I cut the image into separate layers in Photoshop. The hidden (overlapping) areas needed to be filled in. For this test I simply 'content aware filled' the gaps.

The four layers

Then I created displacement maps for each layer. (Although I ignored the background layer in this step.) This can be achieved by converting the image to black and white, and then making many copies of the image at different blur levels, and mixing them together. It's not very scientific, but it works quite well.

Colour vs Displacement

Then it's a matter of positioning the layers in 3D and displacing them. It is important that both the colour image AND the displacement map are projected through the camera. This ensures that everything lines up straight away.

Layers arranged in 3D and displaced

In order for the effect to work well, the displacement maps need to accurately represent the depth in the original image. This is something I am still working on to improve. I know that I may need to re-sculpt areas manually to further improve the look.

Lastly, I used a second copy of the camera to fly through the 3D image and I cross-faded the shaders from using the solid colour of the original image alone, to a fully shaded effect. The result is a seamless transition from a 2D image, to a fully 3D scene.

Dreams are the central theme of the picture. The painted head is the dreamer. Based on Louis's feedback, I need to look into creating dream like effects and morphing. Maybe even disorientating effects (this may also influence the sound-scape I create for the animation). Really, anything can happen in a dream so the possibilities are endless.

The picture doesn't tell a story as such, so I wont be trying to make a story out of it, but I do see this as an opportunity to get creative and let people just enjoy the visuals. I imagine the animation will be divided into 3 phases.

In the first phase, I want to explore the picture in 3D as it currently stands, finishing with the dreamer at the bottom of the picture. (15 to 20 seconds)
Then in the second phase, I want to disrupt things, bring things to life and just mess with the picture in whatever ways I can think of. It's a dream after all! (45 to 55 seconds)
Then in the final phase, I want to transform everything back to the way it was in the beginning. A sort of reversing or undoing effect. (15 to 20 seconds)

I have already decided I want to play with the lighting. Maybe I can try changing the time of day?

I have also thought about taking a smooth (photoshoped) version of the following sculpture and deforming it into it's current, messy, state.

I could also try morphing some of the other sculptures. Maybe changing their expressions or swapping faces with one another.

I have also wondered about those random orange drops of colour.

Maybe these solid drops of colour could splash onto other sculptures and inject them with that colour. Maybe the 'balloon head' thing (not sure what they are, but I'm going to call them balloons) could drop onto the sculptures bellow which then undergo a transformation of colour.

I do have other ideas, but it's not so easy to picture them in words so the next step will be to try some of them out, and then assemble some kind of animatic from them. Keeping the creative process in 3D should make it easer for readers to understand my ideas, and for me to get a feel for their complexity to execute.

Ethan Shilling

Friday, 22 January 2016

Noise Updates

I've been thinking of how to approach the animated side of the painting within Maya. 

I thought that some rotoscoped sketchy 2D animation inspired by the silver lines in Paula's painting may be a good direction to go in. Additionally I think taking away a 'camera' element and working with a still type surface would also make for a more effective animation. 

For the rotoscoping I have done some filming following my storyboard and animatic and improvising the movements a little bit inbetween. 

Basically avoid making the characters/too much of the animation using 3D, or using as little as possible, or incorporating a bit of Maya to help along the way. 

For the 'noise' background I would create a boiling animation loop with the characters animated separately. For the characters I was planning on working at 12fps.

I have made a very quick test piece (key frames only) below, (including getting used to the rotoscoping set up!) based on a draft animatic (below).

Also thinking of ideas for scenes that may make the 'noise' element come to life a bit more. 
below are some designs. My thoughts for this would be fantasia/CAA ACT inspired if used. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Edwin Wainaina // Samantha Niemczyk: Texture Tests

After experimenting with different methods of texturing the model, surface shader and toon outline proved to be the most successful. The outcome resembles the drawing with all the textures removed, which was the idea presented in the animatic. 
Any feedback however, is well appreciated. Perhaps different methods that I haven't thought of?
Below are three different results of performed tests. 

Edwin Wainaina // Samantha Niemczyk: The Woman Model

There's still the interior of the mouth left to be modelled, however the head itself I consider done. Texturing should be a quick process as I am intending to leave it all white, possibly with a black outline.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Churchill and Emily- Animatic Version 1

It still needs tweaking! I haven't had any ideas yet as to how to tackle the slow patch near the beginning. That is my next port of call. I am very much still open to suggestion for it as well. I have since filled out the rest of the track. 
I am certain the end sequence needs a revisit. Its far too empty, more needs to be going on as the features hop into the distance. Perhaps more elements breaking away and coming back, reforming whilst on the move? I have yet to work it out. However, for a break of sorts, I may get into rigging the 3D models for now!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Edwin Wainaina // Samantha Niemczyk: Modelling the Woman .01

After getting initial thumbs up for the animatic from Edwin, I moved to the next stage of getting all the elements ready. Below is the w.i.p of the woman's head. There are still elements that need to be fixed, refined and added, but the work is moving forward. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Louis & Ethan - Daydream

I'm guessing some readers of this blog have completely forgotten about my involvement in this project. This post has been a long time coming, however I am now very happy to present the 'real' beginning of my animation project. As a reminder, this is the picture I will be animating:

entitled Daydream by Louis Tamlyn and Samson Lazima Jali.

I have now established communications with my team-mate Louis and have begun a conversation by asking the following questions:

Can you tell me what your artwork is about? (is there a story behind it? What was your inspiration or motivation? etc)

Both works were a very spontaneous response to what the Mask Prize was asking for. To be honest, not much thought was given into the real meaning of it all. Both works are quite chaotic in their composition and represent dream scenes that are open to interpretation and the spectator has to imagine who is dreaming this dream (a man, a woman, a child?)

How was it put together? (What materials were used, what techniques did you employ to assemble it?)

All the figurines in the work were made of clay and other bits and bobs were taken from what the Kitengela Studio (where we were based) had to offer. 

Can you describe any specific details about what's going on in the picture? For example, I can see a window showing the night sky, land and sea. Is it a figure of someone in the foreground? (made up of the newspapers and statues etc)

The ‘forest and red sun’ work is completely detached from reality which strange faces inviting the dreamer into the vegetation.

The ‘blue tinted’ work is based on the same idea of being detached from reality but hints of reality can still be found with the waves of newspaper in the foreground, representing the overwhelming mass media of our century that we try and block out of our dreams. 

The figure in the foreground is the one dreaming, surrounded by his dream. A white dove is sitting on top as a symbol of reassurance an peace. 

And finally; What is it that you would like to see in this animation? For example, How should this animation feel? Do you have any ideas of how you'd like things to move or animate?
(Initially, all my thoughts have been about how to begin the animation.  So maybe things could start to 'wake up' or somehow 'un-stick' from the canvas.)

If I had to imagine this as an animation, I would see it as something quite slow, with dreamlike effects, magical ones, of things morphing into each creating new faces or landscapes. I definitely agree on the things waking up maybe as the figure in the foreground goes to sleep. In the forest one, there is no figure dreaming but the sun can maybe go down to give way to the moon to start the dream. 

As a side note, the second work that he refers to is this:

I wont be animating this piece, but as you can see, it is based on similar ideas and techniques.

Very insightful answers, and I have to say I'm particularly happy about the answer to my last question because it's not far from my own thoughts on what the animation could be like.

OK, I know this has been a wordy post so I would like to finish it by showing something else I have been experimenting with during my absence on the blog:

Just to clarify, this is only a test piece. It was done before we had any conversations about the animation. A follow up post will explain the techniques being used to create this effect. Feel free to leave a comment!

Ethan Shilling

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Churchill and Emily- Animatic halfway point?

Animating this thing is taking a while. I'm working out parts as I'm going along and thinking about the 3D aspect of what I'm making.  Some of it will not communicate in this animatic what with my using 2D versions of the collage in profile as well as front view. Anyway, here is the so far! All feedback would be hugely appreciated.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

What the Noise Gave me: Storyboard draft v.1

This is a rough draft of the potential animation for What The Noise Gave Me. One of my thoughts was to keep the animation abstract, but with keeping a kind of story to it. So far my idea is:-

• Figures slowly reveal their emotions - fear, anxiety, stress, panic, depression.

• 'The Golden Hole' is entered. Revealing an emptiness and representing an isolated state. The figure is engulfed in the 'noise'. 

• The noise moves around and recreates the hole. 

• A hand reaches through. The two figures reunite and reach out to each other representing support, strength, a sense of light at the end of the tunnel (or hole).

• The figures eventually move back into their original poses with maybe a new feeling to the viewer of what the figures are going through. 

Production Thoughts  

• My other thoughts were to play with the colours, and give a sense of light and dark. Also Phil gave a great idea to experiment with sound to represent the 'noise' in the way Paula describes it to be.

• In terms of camera movement - I was thinking of making the space a place where the viewer feels they are moving around in a 3D space. So moving around the figures etc. I was thinking that the noise would have less of a sense of being in a real space. (If that makes sense!)

• For the animation side, I was thinking about how Paula used mixed media for her piece. My thoughts are to go for a similar feel, by maybe importing textures of real things such as fabrics, metals, and gel pen textures. I would also like to combine after effects 2D planes with 3D models. 

• I am thinking that creating 2D polygon planes, slightly extruded out to look like a thin cut out shape may be the way to go, These will be experimented with next!

Edit: Test Model of the 2D plane idea 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Churchill and Emily- Rearranging, Reassembling and Testing

A few nights ago I tried to discern a sort of loose narrative/ series of actions that were timed to the music I remixed whilst covering some of Churchill's vision of his collage being animated. The vaguest skeleton I had written down is featured later in this post, but the easiest way to communicate the sequence will be through an animatic which I'm in the middle of building. Though I have a test run of the opening at the bottom of the page.

My aim is to communicate growing up, which is how I interpret the theme behind Churchill's collage. As a youth you are always trying to find your way to the greener pastures. Young people fall in love are a bit wild and noisy. Hit challenges along the way but strive to overcome them and continue onwards into adulthood.

However to aid the building of this animatic I tried to work out various assemblages of the collage elements to represent a couple of narrative aspects, but potentially emotion and general motion.

Initial Script Outline

0:00-0:20 - Opening musical *slap* see's all collage elements pop into view. Then the elements bounce into life. Bouncing eye transitions to reveal the collage 'walking' or 'hopping.'

0:20-0:37 - The lips enlarge, colour changes to red and pinks to simulate passion. There are close ups of each element gliding in time to the music. Perhaps a slow walk.

0:37-0:50 - Regular speed music has the elements bouncing between different organisations. Evolving. Reorganising.  Bouncing between the foreground and background. Perhaps sliding in and out of shot front all sides of the screen.

0:50-0:55 - Build up to the musical explosion, elements vibrate and shoot apart spectacularly.

0:55-1:03 - Quick, bright colour changes and formation changes, as though at a noisy raving party. Throwing some shapes!!

1:03-1:10 - The elements bounce forward to be faced by lips opposing and growing larger. Appearing to belittle the remaining elements. Discouraging chatter. Meant to simulate if the youth is being shrunk by mean words of others.

1:10-1:12 - Build up to second musical explosion reveals the elements behaving determined perhaps fighting back. Stamp or a kick on beat with the music.

1:12-1:20 - A mix of colour changes, hops, evolutions. All previous motions.

1:20-1:30 - The collage elements bounce along and begin to hop into the distance before disappearing on the end *slap* of the music.

This is a very early script concept and open to all kinds of changes!

Fahima Munene & Steven Payne - Discerning an Approach

Since communicating with Fahima, I’ve been exploring various approaches to the animation. I’ve settled on three broad options that each yield different benefits with alternative strategies.

Below I have outlined the general benefits and drawbacks of each potential strategy in this instance.

Option 1 - Fully 3D

  • Far more versatile with my particular skills and experience
  • Render and export times will be considerably longer than anything 2D
  • The development time for assets overall will also be more time consuming than any 2D assets
  • Example Idea - Fully Realised 3D Environment(s)
    • New, unseen spaces, stylistically inspired by the painting
    • For example, the interior of the mosque, the houses, etc
    • The environments showcase particular locations inspired and driven stylistically not only by the painting, but also the correspondence I have had with Fahima regarding life in Lamu
    • I will create simple characters and animals based on those featured in Fahima’s painting. These will be used to populate the environments and demonstrate simple events in the scenes
    • Whilst there may be music present in the animation, this will not be the focus of the animation
I have attempted some minor tests between Maya and Mudbox to try and achieve a look that is similar to that of the painting. Put simply, I’ve been modelling simple shapes in Maya, bringing them into Mudbox and sculpting on top of them. Whilst this method does yield somewhat desirable results, it isn’t particularly practical. I think if I do end up taking this option, I will have to determine an alternative strategy for emulating Fahima’s style. Below is a very simple example of this strategy.

Simple Example of Sculpting Fahima's Houses in Mudbox

Option 2 - Fully 2D

  • Less elaborate assets in the scheme of things
  • Render and export times will be considerably shorter than those of a 3D animation
  • Restricted animation capabilities with my existing skills and experience
  • Ultimately more time efficient
  • The bulk of the visual content is already present in the original painting, so many of this can be appropriated, providing the animation stays focused on the original painting
  • Example Idea - Moving across the painting, focusing on different elements
    • Zooming into the painting, the painting begins to come to life
    • Audio creeps in, the sounds of Lamu becoming present
    • The camera gradually pans, or transitions, to and from different points of note throughout the painting
    • The events captured in the painting will come to life, one by one, giving a brief glimpse into what is occurring throughout
      • See Exit from Sesame Street, a brief animation where the characters in a Keith Haring mural come to life, one by one (unfortunately, the video of this animation has been pulled from YouTube)
    • It will be people preparing for nighttime, e.g. a person closing window shutters, somebody sweeping up, people going to the mosque
      • Essentially the events and occurrences listed by Fahima in her emails
    • In essence, it would be an animated diorama

Option 3 - A Combination of 2D and 3D
  • Giving the original painting depth, through matchmoving and projection mapping techniques
  • The same events and occurrences in the 2D option are applicable here, but with the flexibility of 3D (to a degree)
    • The animation, like the 2nd option, will be limited to the content of the painting alone. Matchmoving and projection mapping can provide an illusion of depth as objects pass through the image, however the camera movements will be limited to panning across and moving in and out of the image. Minimal rotation, at best.
  • 3D animation on top of a 2D image
    • Characters created in 3D, rigged as necessary
    • They would also interact with the image in certain ways
      • Opening windows, closing doors, etc
      • Very similar in technique to integrating a 3D character into pre-existing video footage of the real world
The major quandary I’m struggling with is the decision to keep the animation within the constraints of the painting, or to expand upon what is there and create new spaces that fit stylistically, but ultimately refrain from directly integrating the painting. To overcome this hurdle, I have began a pre-vis/animatic of the piece, which will hopefully encourage me to be a bit more impulsive with my decision making. I tend to spend too much time planning and not enough time doing.

An aspect of Fahima’s painting that I am particularly fond of is the evidence of it’s creation. By which I mean, you can almost retrace her creative steps by the appearance of the newspaper underneath the paint and the outlines around the colours. This gave me the idea of structuring the animation around the creation of the piece, starting with newspaper folding into frame, then adding colour to the sky and the ground, and then the houses are ‘drawn’ in. As elements are created, they come to life. Birds appear in the sky and start flying. The mosque is painted in, the call to prayer rings out, and from out of the frame, people come to pray. The animation would be driven by the music, with each action being performed to the rhythm. Much like the game Beat Sneak Bandit.

Trailer for Beat Sneak Bandit

I have taken inspiration for this approach from various different sources, most notably the video game, Tearaway, in which you play a letter trying to deliver a message through a world made of paper.

Trailer for Tearaway Unfolded

Whilst Tearaway builds it’s world with paper, I am more inspired by the manipulation of a single medium to demonstrate a range of versatility. I aim to manipulate the various elements that make up the painting to achieve a similar result. 

From here, I will continue to develop the animatic. Hopefully, doing this will help me to discover the various animation possibilities hidden throughout Fahima's painting. 

Fahima Munene & Steven Payne - Expanding Upon Fahima's Vision

As the subject of Fahima’s painting is her home town, many of the ideas I have had for this animation have revolved around the culture and activities that occur around Lamu. With this being the case, I asked Fahima to expand upon life in Lamu from her perspective. Once again, I asked simple questions and the responses I received have been great. The detail that Fahima has gone into is wonderful. Her observations of Lamu are far richer than any I could ever make of my own town.
  • You mentioned that many things happen in Lamu at night. What are some of these things?
    • After people pray at the mosque, families eat dinner in the restaurants
      • People go home to eat, watch television, listen to music and talk
      • Shops and market stalls are closing, others are opening for the night business
      • The donkeys bray and finish their work for the day, the walk alone at night or meet their families
      • Old men sit and talk loudly, drinking coffee or tea from the street vendors. There are special seats on the seafront made from concrete called barazas, you can sit on these in the cool of the night and the breeze of the sea creates fresh air
      • There are little swallows that return home to their nests tweeting and fruit bats flying around the trees
      • The restaurants grill meat sticks and fish on the barbecue outside
      • The men and women sit and chew Mira (Chat) on the seafront and outside of their homes
    • Where are your favourite places to go in Lamu?
      • I like to go to the restaurants and eat chicken and chips and banana milkshake. In the day, I like to walk to Shela to the beach for a swim in the sea and run in the sand hills
    • What does Lamu sound like? What are some sounds and noises you hear everyday?
      • Donkeys beating and hooves running
      • Hawkers shout to sell things like samosas, fish (semaki), calamari, matumba (second hand clothes)
      • People greet one another (“jambo”, “mambo”, “salama”, “habari”)
      • The mosque’s call to prayer
      • Men shouting to make way for a donkey or cart
      • Women talking loudly and babies crying
      • Sometimes people play music or watch Bollywood movies, because they like the songs from the movies
      • People shout at the television and watch football
      • During the day there is the the sound of lots of boats and boat engines
    • What materials did you use to make your painting? I can see newspaper and paint, but is there anything that I’ve not noticed?
      • I drew using charcoal
    • Does your painting tell a story? If so, what is it?
      • Lamu seafront and Lamu life in general at night
    • Is there anything happening in the painting that can’t be seen? For example, what are the people in the houses doing?
      • At night in the house, the women make tea for their husbands on their jikos (cast iron stoves) burning charcoal. The women have now removed their black buibui and wear clothes for the house and small head coverings. The women attend to their babies and breast feed them. Children go outside to play hide and seek in the streets, which are darkly lit narrow alleyways, so a lot of doors and entrances to hide
      • Some people take a shower and put on make up to go out for a walk on the seafront
      • Some people make beds ready for sleep
      • Others are watching Bollywood movies
      • Women are praying at home whilst men pray at the mosque
      • People watch the news on the big screen projector on the main square walls. Many people stand whilst others sit under the big trees
      • Women take garments from the clothes line
      • Some people go to sleep, whilst others stay up all night talking and drinking sodas
      • Cats jump from rooftop to rooftop looking for meat
      • Street vendors fry oil for chips and light the barbecue for meat sticks
      • Because the inside of the houses is too hot, sometimes people pull the mattress up on their flat roof and sleep, or sometimes the men sleep outside their houses on baraza
      • The doves and pigeons fly back to their homes and their masters will feed them millet
      • The big boys from the street are bullying small children by pulling their ears
      • The shooting stars fall down into the sea and dhows (traditional sailing boats) rest near the seashore. The lights on the seafront come on at night, using solar power to shine on the water of the ocean and the reflections of the boats shine at night
      • The woman on the seafront is angry with her small child because they are late to go home. The child was playing on the street with her friends. so the mother beat the child and the child started to cry loudly. They go home and have dinner, but as a punishment she wasn’t allowed to watch television
      • The woman on the seafront wearing yellow is carrying a basket after visiting the shops on the main street to buy tea leaves, milk and sugar
      • Other people in houses put out their lights, the houses to the left of the mosque have electricity, but the ones next to the palm tree only use candles and lanterns

    On receiving these responses, I was also provided with information about Anidan, the NGO that takes care of Fahima and their arts program, the Anidan Arts and Crafts Centre.

    I got to see photographs of the children participating in all sorts of creative projects and it provided me with a perspective I simply wouldn’t get from the painting alone. The genuine pride seen on the kids' faces as they display their artwork is refreshing and inspiring. Generally, the impression that was consistently left on me was one of community, opportunism and a true sense of joy as a result of creative expression. 

    The diversity of actions and occurrences listed by Fahima is an animator’s dream. Lamu is an incredibly active place, and I wish to accurately represent this in my animation. However, I have been sort of stuck as to how I could demonstrate all of this dynamism. For whatever reason, I’d found myself shirking off the possibility of animating to music, however as Lamu is a place of cultural celebration, using music as a driving force feels appropriate. I have found a couple of pieces that I’m fond of;


    I have been using Tie Ba Te Djigui in my animatic so far. It has a good rhythm and, going by my research, possesses a similar sound to acts found at some of the cultural events in Lamu. Lale Lale is less complex, however I am fond of the long opening and it has a sound that fits the painting, and yet doesn’t sound too cliche either. I’ll have to setup both pieces in the animatic and see what works best with the visual content.

    My next step is to complete the animatic and determine a specific, technical approach to bringing Fahima’s painting to life. I will go into detail about the options I have determined in a follow up post. 

    Tuesday, 12 January 2016

    Churchill and Emily-Textures and Background

    I have been UV mapping and texturing the model to the best of my abilities and have pretty much completed the model. except for the white oval inside the mouth. My only concern is creating as high a resolution a background as possible to use as the stage for the creature/character. Currently its a bit of a problem.

    Cleaning up the lips of seams

    Here were adjustments to the nose texture. I had to alter the UV mapping so that the small pieces of paper were the same scale all across the model. (They were not previously.)

    Finally I had mapped and then textured the leg and boot. this part was the quickest piece to map

    But now you can see an awfully pixellated background. I tried to take the original collage background and tile it in such a way I could create a large background panel to stage the model in. But the picture was so small and the colour difference from one corner of the original image to the other so different its proving rather difficult.

    I'm not sure what options I have to try to create an exact copy of the original collage. I am very much open to suggestions!

    3D render (front)
     3D render (angled side)

    Original artwork

    Monday, 11 January 2016

    Edwin Wainaina // Samantha Niemczyk: Animatic Draft.02 (With Sound)

    Below is a second version of the animatic. It's still very raw, but I will be refining it as I move along with the project. I think the main music theme suits the concept, but I am still unsure about the beginning and end.

    My next step on the list to do is either the 3D model of the girl or creating keyframes for the 2D boil animation.

    Friday, 8 January 2016

    Paula | Vikki: What The Noise Gave Me - About the Artwork

    I asked Paula some questions about her piece 'What the Noise Gave Me'. I found her responses fascinating and I can visualise how the animation may look much more. 

    'What The Noise Gave Me' By Paula Karanja

    1) What inspired you to make the artwork?
    "What The Noise Gave Me" was inspired by a personal experience. I wanted to isolate a time that was pivotal in my decision of what I was going to do after high school graduation. What was I going to do with my life when I grew up? Was it going to be socially acceptable in earning a living? How was I going to start?Those were some of the questions I'd ask my self over and over again. That was the noise. The angst about following what I wanted to do and what I was expected to do. It was a dark and confusing time and the 'Noise' clouded my thoughts and being. 

    2) What message did you want to get across to a viewer?
    This piece was based on a subjective association. However, I hope to incite the viewer to make new personal associations.
    Being a personal experience, the composition revolved around my academic life and the decisions I had to make after graduation. The 'Noise' was my fear of failure,confusion,depression and loneliness experienced in my final year and what lay ahead of me. I was conflicted between pursuing something  considered worthwhile and following what I earnestly longed for; a career in expressing myself in the most fulfilling way. Did I eventually come to a decision? What the 'Noise' gave me was a choice. Each choice with it's own consequence that I'd have to live with.

    3)Why did you pick those colours/prints?
    As I said, I isolated a movement in my life, to reveal the various emotions going on then. By emphasizing on the aesthetics of the composition I wanted to formalize my conscious. 
    The black background shows the darkness and lonely feeling I experienced. My thoughts were negative and were clouded with fear.
    The gold specks represent the choices or windows of opportunity that come our way. Because of the overpowering darkness we can't really see anything positive from the situation.  
    The golden hole represents the pathway or overt direction the choice gives me. A window of hope or failure.
    The silver patterns are the meditative periods it takes to make a conclusion.  The battle or contrast between the gold (choices) and black background (the noise). Drawing each swirl or bend is a therapeutic reminder of the journey. The movement of events.
    The abstract forms in the foreground appear to be engaging in an activity,but are partly attentive because of the 'Noise'. So what does the 'Noise' give them? Does it cloud their judgement or do they see the light at the end of the tunnel?The fabric simply identifies the forms as humans,granted with the ability to reason unlike an animal.

    4)What art medium did you work with?

    I like the flexibility and experimentation of a mixed media composition. Therefore, I used paper as my surface,and layered the piece with gel pens, acrylic, gold dust and fabric to give it a 3D surface.

    Thursday, 7 January 2016

    Churchill and Emily- Model Tweaks and Optical Adjustments

    I've spent today tweaking on the model build, in particular the shape of the nose. Churchill felt it should take on a more rounded shape and having since added it I am inclined to agree!



    I have also begun to UV map part of the model to test out the application of Textures. My concern is not mapping them correctly to exactly match the original artwork. But I will do my best to match them as closely as I can.

    I'd been toying with the idea of bump mapping the texture of the small pieces of paper used to make the collage. But I personally feel it looked better without a bump map. I also think it looks better with a surface shader over a lambert.

     Lambert shader                                 Lambert+Bump Map

     Surface Shader

    Finally I had a bit of a brainwave about the eyes and how they could blink another way. I don't like the way I've built the eyelids, I'd like the eye to appear perfectly spherical from all angles which is currently not what I have achieved. So I've tried out a method of interchanging two separate eyeballs, each with a different texture. It would be simple to create a control to toggle on/off with its visibility.

    (Above: Eyelids that I don't believe have worked well. Especially when seen in profile.)

    This version does have a more cartoony nature about it. but it could possibly work better.



    (Above: Pure spherical eyeballs that switch between an 'open' texture and a 'closed' texture.)