Wednesday, 13 January 2016

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. 

1 comment:

  1. for me, there's something about Fahima's painting that cries out to be 'chunky' and artisan - more 'really there' than a 2D approach might muster alone.