Blog 29

These last two weeks have been spent reworking the framework of my story and the layout of the storyboard. After talking with my mentor over email, I had a better idea of not only what did or didn’t work, but what elements I wanted to stick with and what was unnecessary. The new version follows the same beats and story, but the location and way beats played out were changed to better capture what I wanted to convey. The main theme is still the contrast between energetic enthusiasm and the stifling necessity of self-control.

In addition, I animated the first 30 seconds of the story as a way to shake some ideas around. Spending most of the last month on storyboarding was exhausting, and I’m trying to give myself more ways to be working on the project without getting burnt out on one step taking over my life for a while.

On the side, I’ve been participating in the social media phenomenon known as inktober, which has been a good excuse to draw stuff completely unrelated to my current project.

Blog 28

The past few weeks I’ve spent developing and storyboarding my current large scale project. My first storyboard was approximately 360 images telling two stories that intersect and center around the themes of control and enthusiasm.

The first story is a dream where a ‘hero’ character repeatedly takes down a ‘monster’ as said monster gets smaller and weaker with each defeat. The hero’s methods would start off as cartoonishly over the top and become more visceral and violent over time eventually leading one to question the legitimacy of his moral high-ground.

The second story is a nurse looking over the massive comatose body of said hero and trying to input commands that can control his movements. The body begins acting on its own and starts to cause a lot of collateral damage and only stops at the last moment when the nurse gives an impassioned plea knowing full well he probably can’t hear her.

I showed the storyboard to my mentor who made some suggestions and criticisms which got me thinking about making another draft which is what I’ve been doing this week. Taking the same basic premise, I’m trying to shear off any unnecessary beats, make the characters more dynamic and interesting, and provide a better sense of scenery that can pull the two stories together better.

Blog 27

The past couple weeks have been spent both finishing up my essay for the program and moving forward with my cartoon.  After having decided the angle I would take with the muscle memory cartoon, I started trying to pin down details and began storyboarding.  I have a cohesive structure for the cartoon now and the theming will tackle self-control as an opposing force to enthusiasm.  The man in the unconscious world will express the sort of over the top confidence you would expect from a Popeye or a Bugs Bunny against a seemingly evil force only for his initially appealing energy to turn dark and aggressive over the course of the cartoon.  I want to tackle how audiences empathize with a character's positivity and how that can be used to encourage bad behavior in fiction and real life.  

Today I'm working more on storyboarding and fleshing out how each sequence will go down.  

Blog 26

These past two weeks after speaking with my new mentor for the first time were spent pinning down my premise and approach for one cartoon that I will be pursuing moving forward.  This cartoon will be based on the Virtual Reality premise I was exploring this summer.  To summarize my thoughts on it right now, a physically imposing man is hospitalized and being watched over by a nurse while he is in an unconscious state.  Around him is an unidentified mechanical device that is tracking the slight movements across his body.  Inside his mind, a younger version of himself is taking on manifestations of his life obstacles with fluid and dynamic acrobatics and otherworldly strength.  This affects his physical body where he begins thrashing in his sleep, inadvertently causing mass destruction due to the heft of his form.  The nurse has to manage his directionless rampage as his dream devolves into emotional conflicts he chose to run from rather than confront.  

After talking with my mentor he gave me some advice on how I should be prioritizing a single project right now and ways of making the idea of a physical restriction contrasting with virtual freedom more interesting.  He offhandedly suggested the sleeping man be a superhero inadvertently taking out villains while he slumbers, and while that idea didn't really interest me, it did get me thinking about the implication of form regarding involuntary movements which led me to make the sleeping man a muscular giant.  

As far as how this will impact the direction of the animation work, my thought is that the dream sequences will allow me to exercise dynamic and intense motion and framing while the scenes in the hospital will focus on more subtle expressive animation for the nurse and the sleeping man.  

Still haven't had much chance to really dig into the animation as I've spent these two weeks deciding on the angle and details, but now that I've got a starting point, I'm beginning to explore how the characters move so I can start framing sequences around that.  I'm excited, and wish that I had started working on this project earlier in the semester.  It's tough having a break due to technical and personal reasons and then coming back to work on stuff, especially since the previous semester was focused on making roughs and pitching ideas, now I just want to start making stuff again.  

Blog 25

This week I worked more on fleshing out new rules and a new structure for the card game I'm trying to develop and pinned down some details for two of the three videos I'm working on.  

I also talked with another professor who was interested in serving as my mentor, and while he still won't be back in Cambridge for a couple weeks I'm going to try and get everything sorted out for that as soon as possible.  

Unfortunately, as I was transferring files and programs to my new computer, a good amount of work from this summer was completely lost.  This included rough animations and storyboards that I had been spending time on as well as some documents where I mapped out the direction of the shorts.  

Beyond that, this has been just another week of trying to find time to work on preproduction and design before I commit myself to full animation.  This has been another slow start to a semester, but I'm feeling much better about the angle I'm currently taking, and I hope to have more information on my progress soon.

Blog 24

After a series of unfortunate events that could only be described as 'tragically zany' my computer stopped working and I was unable to get any substantive work done not long after my previous blog post.  I love terrible things happening.

Anyway, in addition to a scheduled vacation I just got off of, I've spent the time in between working primarily on the card game and directing my path for the semester.  My new computer just came in finally, and after realizing I needed to repurchase certain programs I was using, I'm back in the business of making some digital art.  I met with the professor I was hoping might serve as my mentor but we didn't reach a conclusion on whether or not she'd be right to serve that role for me, so I'm planning to ask around a few more professors from Lesley's animation department to get a better grasp of who I should be working with.

Besides designing a rough draft for the cards and ruleset, I had a chance to put my game to the task of playtesting with some friends and family.  I got some good feedback and will definitely continue exploring the game as I continue this semester.  

As for my plan for this semester, I'm focusing in on the theme of artificial intelligence/the separation of humanity from the human body.  This has been present in my ideas for this program, as well as my previous degree in psychology and I have a good idea of how I'll adjust my preexisting path to better tie into this plan. 

Three short videos exploring enthusiasm, comfort and the artificial mind. 

The first is a moving parts machine animation where a flat world is designed with human comfort in mind, every stick and stone positioned to optimize an unopposed experience of blissful relaxation.  

The second is a study of imagined motion versus real life mobility with a character using virtual reality to relive a physical life he's all but lost.

The third is an exploration in the mechanization of human emotion, with a robot serving as a test subject for humor and enthusiasm.  

Each video comes from the well of ideas I've been sifting through this year, and by taking away the larger narratives and unproductive details, I'm able to hone in on the ideas that I've really gravitated towards.  I'd still like to do more shorts and gifs that may or may not relate to this work specifically, but my MFA focus will be on getting these projects off the ground and moving so that I can be at or near completion with them by the semester's end and spend the final semester focusing on my thesis paper.  

Being away from my computer has left me restless and after my old version of Flash refused to follow me to my new computer, I'm ready to put my newly downloaded collection of Adobe programs to good use.  

Blog 23

This was a decent week getting back into the swing of things.  I spent some time on my first cartoon and got a half minute of rough animation done.  I also spent some time developing some of the finer details and designs for a card game I'm working on.  The premise comes from Commedia Dell'Arte theatre.  Actors would play the same stock characters and perform scenes where they knew what needed to happen but had the freedom to improvise individual story beats.  I had the thought around a year ago that those clear but flexible parameters set for the actors could make for an interesting game, but I set it aside for the time.  A month before the residency I started thinking about it again and realized I could format it around a card game.  Players would use cards that describe an action their character would perform on stage which would either give them or the other player 'spotlight points,' with the idea being that whoever has the most spotlight points stole the show and would 'win' the scene.  On the other hand, if the disparity in points is too large, the scene would be uneven and so everyone would lose.  The resulting cooperative competition is to earn more points while still supporting your teammates so the scene holds together.  

As it stands now, I have the premise laid out, potential character designs with descriptions detailing how they play and a set of usable card designs with their point values and potential secondary effects.  My hope is to have a rough draft of the game ready by the 20th when I'll be visiting family for a week so that I can playtest what I have now with them.  My next steps will be adding more art to the cards and writing out a list of scenarios that would determine what a game would revolve around in terms of its story significance.  I'm feeling good about the ideas I'm working with and this might turn into a potential opportunity for me if everything pans out.

I contacted my potential mentor over email, and she seems willing to move forward with that position.  I'll be meeting with her next week.

Semester 3 Blog 22

Another residency has come and gone, and so another semester begins.

Coming out of the residency, I spent the last week jotting down ideas and getting back into the flow of things at work.  I have a good list of prospective projects however.  After presenting my work and listening to all kinds of critiques and assessments, I realized pretty quickly that I should stop trying to make a long plot-driven cartoon while I'm still working on my own and trying to balance work and personal projects.  So rather than continue to bog down my creative juices with another plan for another extended character study of a frog, I'm going to stick to making short digestible cartoons that are between 45 seconds and a minute and a half.  

I'm currently have 4 ideas for shorts which I'll tackle one at a time.  The project I'm planning to start working on first is a short where a monkey paints a forest fire, and then submits it to local galleries.  I already mapped out a draft of a shot composition sheet, and I have a good idea in my head as to what I want it to look like.  It's a one gag short where the majority of the cartoon is spent following the monkey on this path toward recognition, and then when they're finally invited to speak about their work at a museum all they can say is "FIRE!" before the whole place goes up in flames.  

In addition, I have a plan to further explore nonconventional storytelling alongside these otherwise pretty approachable narratives.  After showing my rough animations from the past semester at the residency, I had a fair amount of people interested in that uncut unfinished aesthetic.  What I think I might do is take the rough animation I use to start the process, isolate it in its own file, and then play around with it to create a new narrative, something separate from the finished product version that I will be working on.  Whether or not I go forward with that is going to depend on how it goes for this first short.

I'm going to be heading in to school tomorrow to begin drafting out some roughs and boards.  Hopefully by next week I'll be able to start some good old fashioned animating!

Blog 21

This week was good in terms of brainstorming for my larger project.  After spending the last week just making little gifs and things, I feel like I flushed the toxins out of my brain space enough for me to review the pieces I had put in place for the frog cartoon.  One of the things my mentor told me during our last meeting was to focus on making it a personal story, something that is more derivative of who I am rather than what I like.  That got me thinking of a number of different small stories from my life.  I tried to think of one that would be the best suited to tell with the elements I had spent this whole semester circling around.  What I've decided on at this point is a story about self-imposed social isolationism and how that relates to expressions of comfort and enthusiasm as told by frogs.  

I wrote an outline, a thesis, an analysis of the outline and a shot by shot cinematography draft (I don't know what the term for that would be) going over what each shot would look like and show.  The story is about a frog learning to take a chance doing something he doesn't want to do in order to start taking steps toward a larger goal of reintegrating himself into society.  I've thought since drafting all that up of incorporating an additional theme of uncontrollable and unjustified rage, but I'm not sure if that would make the story and arc of the character too bloated, so I'm still playing around some ideas.

I'm going to be sending a summary of this story alongside a compilation of all the smaller videos I worked on this month to my mentor in the next few days for our final conversation before the semester is over.

As far as how I'm feeling about this semester, I'm feeling mixed about it.  On the one hand, I think my mentor's regular suggestions and prompts have gotten me to think about the act of creation in completely new ways and I think that will ultimately really benefit me as I move forward.  On the other hand, I had a lot of goals this semester which I can't say I lived up to.  I wanted to have a complete script and storyboard ready to spring off from by the end of this semester, and instead I'm still hammering away at the premise.  I think the additional time I've spent developing ideas is going to improve the final product, but I also want to be sure I'm using my time in this program well.  If I don't then I'm just wasting time and money even bothering with it.  My next semester will be all about getting the bulk of the work done on my final project while doing smaller projects on the side here and there.  I'm predicting my final semester will be spent on cleanup and pinning down the things necessary to elevate the project even farther while also trying to network and find opportunities for when the program is over.  It's all pretty daunting but I keep finding it so much more approachable when I'm actually working on something.  Animating has become something I have confidence in, whereas when I started the program it was something I just wanted to pursue.  The best lessons I've gotten have come from just making things on a whim and showing them to people to see what they have to say.  While I've spent most of this semester just doing rough animations and tossing them aside, I think that's been deeply beneficial to getting me in the mindset of creative output.  

Blog 20

May 4-May 10

After meeting with my mentor, I was instructed to go back to the drawing board in terms of creating a better base for my larger cartoon project.  Joel told me to try and frame the ideas I had around a more personal story, something taken from my own experience.  I wound up spending the week trying to come up with different ideas but didn't get much work done.

May 11-May 18

Spent this week working on gifs and short animations.  My goal was to get work done every day and have something I could post to Twitter by the end of the day.  As a result, I feel like I got a lot of work done, mostly building walk cycles and other short gifs.  I also made a mother's day card in the form of a ten second video where I tried to emphasize the expressive gestures of a bird telling his mom how much he loved her.  It was a simple project, but I'm very happy with it.  Also I pinned down the larger theme that I've been trying to identify in my work that I can move forward from, that being the dissolution of cognitive dissonance.  

This week has been good as a sort of reboot for my system.  I plan to continue making something small each day until the end of the month or until I've decided on what the final version of the larger project is going to be.

Blog 19

April 14-19

My drawing tablet stopped working as soon as I sat down to start getting work done.  I spent the week working on some basics of water color painting.  I've never had any real experience with the more delicate analog art of coloring so it was a good experience for me, but it also reminded me how far back I am on stuff like that.

I also spent some time trying to clear up the story for the frog cartoon.  As it stands, the story is revolving around the idea of Virtual Reality serving as a representation of what people find value in both in and away from their own personal reality.

April 20-26

Part way through this week I got my new tablet and was able to start working on animation again.  I also came up with an idea for a smaller piece that I may be able to be finish before the next residency, but I'm not sure.  The idea is that hair acts as a reflection of your inner thoughts.  It's a 2 and a half minute short where a guy goes to work and has a bad day but takes the brunt of it without complaining.  Meanwhile his hair is freaking out and making a big scene wherever he goes because it's constantly being ignored.  The climax is when the guy gets pushed too far and freaks out on his own terms which leads to him eventually coming back home and relaxing, his hair finally showing a sign of inner peace.  I'm not as interested in spending a lot of time going over premises like last time, so instead I edited together some music, wrote out the basics of the story and now I'm just going for it, starting a rough animation draft to get the basic beats and actions mapped out so I can go back in and animate over it all if I get the go ahead from my mentor next week.  Besides that, not a lot else to mention. 

April 27-May 3

Continued working on the hair cartoon while ironing out characters and beats from the frog cartoon.  This is a good system, one I wish I was doing more of throughout the semester.  It gives me a chance to just go ahead and make something while also still taking my time with my eventual final project.  It's been a more productive week as a result, and I'm meeting with my mentor tomorrow to talk about what to do for the last month of this semester.  That's all for now.

Blog 18 etc.

*cricket noise*

Well, here I am.  It's been nearly two months since my last blog.  I need to stop this from happening again in the future, I've just been terrible at following through on this side of my work.

It's actually been an incredibly productive period of time for me.  The day after my last blog was the day I first met with my mentor Joel Frenzer.  Since then I've had two more meetings with him and each has provided me with a new perspective and approach to my work.  In order to catch up from where we left off, I'm just going to go through the broad strokes of what I've done, as well as where I'm at right now.

This semester has been focused almost exclusively on process over product.  I know already that I won't have a large finished animation piece to show off at the next residency.  Instead what I will have is a series of studies on the cartoon I'll be completing in the next semester.  

What I'm working on is a cartoon about frogs and about enthusiasm.  That's what I decided during my residency in January.  I wanted to explore the theme of enthusiasm, and my original idea was to frame it through the story of a frog leaving utopia to find fulfillment in the untamed wilderness.  I had a basic idea of what I was going to be working on, and I had notes and scenarios written and scenes storyboarded on note cards. 

When I talked with Joel, he asked me to focus on the part of the story I really wanted to make, which for me was the cathartic conclusion to the story, in which the protagonist takes on a former bully after having acquired his skills and overcoming his trials so that he could teach said bully a thing or two.  I wanted it to be a brutal cartoony brawl in which the bully is hammered with all the lessons the protagonist had learned over the course of his journey.  Joel told me to stop beating around the bush and just make that, so I did.  I made a two minute rough animation of a fight scene between the frog and his bully set to the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.  It was a blast to be able to just sit down and do that without taking into consideration how it was supposed to fit into some story.  I wanted to focus on the animation over the dialogue, and I really enjoyed myself.  

After putting that together, I met with Joel again and we talked about where I could go next.  He suggested I step away from the story altogether and focus on the characters.  How do they eat?  How do they talk to each other?  What is life like for these frogs?  I had a month before I'd meet with him again, and I took that time to create a series of vignettes.  These were all rough animations (as in just drawing the frames quickly to covey the intended image without cleaning it up) which is a stage I skipped for my first semester project.  As a result, that project wound up looking pretty rough itself, and took far too long for me to figure out how everything moved.  It's been very helpful and I can do it so quickly now that I'm kicking myself for not utilizing it more before.  

As for the vignettes, there were 5.  The first was 20 seconds of the original frog protagonist waking up for the first time in the wilderness and getting slapped in the face with a fish.  The second was 45 seconds of anonymous frogs being invasive and taking food and shelter away from other animals.  The third was a minute long segment in which a poison dart frog is tricked into being eaten by a heron, only for his corrosive bodily toxins to melt him a way out.  The fourth was a half minute scene of a king frog being fed flies before being interrupted by one of his servants.  The fifth was a minute long scene of 4 frogs eating hot dogs in their own ways.  If it isn't already obvious, I've changed the focus of the cartoon significantly.  I made up a larger cast sheet during this time and started focusing on the dynamics of a poison dart frog being introduced into a kingdom of regular bull frogs.  

I met with Joel again at the beginning of April and we talked about what I had done so far and other things to think about.  At this point I've gotten so many ideas and directions from Joel that it's hard to pick a path and stick to it.  Since our last meeting, I've been trying to pin down a central conceit that can bring the frog characters I've been working on together in a way that still reflects my original theme of enthusiasm.  I've been stuck trying to decide on an idea that both reflects the idea I want to work on, and makes coherent sense as a choice for a cartoon about frogs.  I've decided to favor the former priority over the latter.  My current idea?  Virtual Reality!

Now that we're closing in on the next residency, I want to have my foundation set so I can really dive in on the project next semester.  The central idea I've been revolving around this whole time has been the opposing forces of enthusiasm and comfort, and how they both conflict with personal responsibility.  I've been circling the artificial utopia often presented in so many science fiction stories and wondering what would be missing from a world in which everything works for us without requiring our participation to keep it running.  That's why my original premise involved a frog escaping utopia.  At this point I've gotten tired of that literal translation, and have shifted my focus toward a more current day interpretation of the potential of utopia.  Virtual Reality, while still in its infancy as far as its marketability is concerned, has the potential to completely change how we live our lives.  When it becomes cheap and convenient to live life in a virtual or virtually augmented world, what is that going to do to our connection with reality?  It's already a question being asked in popular culture with movies like Ready Player One depicting a dark future where everyone is super into marketable obvious nostalgia and nothing else.  

What I want to do is explore how enthusiasm and comfort can be filtered through virtual reality and what that does to different people.  It's still a cartoon about frogs, and I still want to focus mostly on the humor and visual potential of that medium.  Through those parameters I'm setting up my direction going forward.  

Blog 17

This has been a pretty slow week for me.  I'm trying to build up my twitter and website presence and begin the search for work in my field.  It's been a slow start, but this is something I've needed to do for a while, and now is as good a time as any to start moving forward with it.  

I've been continuing to work on the concept for my larger cartoon, and have found a lot of good inspiration just from my daily walks to work and school.  I feel more ready to tackle the script and continue building out the initial storyboard with more infused humor to elevate the story.  Besides that, there isn't much else to say right now.  And so I won't.

Blog 16

This has been a slow start to my new semester.  I've been actively drawing every day, but in terms of larger projects I feel like I've been dragging my heels.  This past week I started storyboarding my larger cartoon on index cards to get a basic visual story laid out.  I made some good progress there, but there's still a lot to do.  I've also been working on a word document for a couple weeks going over the story and overview of the cartoon from different points of view.  Included are thematic and comedic overviews of each section, distinguished by the rising and falling action of different sequences.  To put it more clearly, I'm trying to segment the different ways I think about the cartoon as far as writing goes.  I started my previous project by writing out different drafts of the script, but I never bothered to break it down into an outline or story beats, which made me feel more restricted by it later on.  By taking a more granular approach to the narrative, I'm trying to give myself a better foundation for this cartoon.

As it stands, the cartoon is split into 9 segments.  Each segment is meant to last a minute or two and cover a leg of the journey for the main character.  I've written out some sample dialogue, but I'm not trying to write out a specific script yet.  I want to focus on the storyboard first and fit the dialogue to that.  I'm also making it so most of the cartoon has no dialogue to challenge myself to tell more of the story visually.

Another hurdle of my work ethic has been finishing my previous cartoon.  All I really wanted to do was add some additional audio effects and tweak some things around, but it took me a while to get the motivation to pick the thing back up.  I was tired of working on it, but I finally finished it this week, and sent it off into the Internet.  Overall, I'm not entirely satisfied with it, but as a project and a learning experience, it's everything it needed to be.  Now that it's out of my periphery, I'm feeling more free to get back into a regular work schedule.

That's all I have for now.  This is a bit of a scattershot post, and that reflects where I'm at right now.  Hopefully next week I'll have a better grasp on my upcoming projects and can post something less 'rambly.'

Semester 2 Blog 15

I have entered my second of four semesters at Lesley University.  The residency where my work was shown and critiqued went well, and while I still have work to do with the audio, I'm happy with my previous project for what it is.

As I begin this new semester, I'm beginning with a new direction.  I will not be attempting to create a full cartoon every semester as I had previously planned.  Rather, I will be taking the next three semesters to put together one larger cartoon, taking none of the shortcuts I exploited last semester, and creating smaller pieces on the side to keep my work from getting bogged down and tedious as I put extra effort into the one project.

I will be doing my best to keep the blog a regular weekly thing with more updates surrounding smaller projects rather than going on and on about the same thing over and over again.

As for what my large project is going to be, I'm now coming up with the basic premise of the cartoon in which a paradise made for frogs leads one of its inhabitants into the bowels of ennui where he tries to escape the structure of his life and finds himself lost in the wild.  The cartoon will focus on themes of comfort and enthusiasm, and I'll be playing around with different styles to represent the different modes of life the frog goes through.  I'm focusing more on research and preproduction than I did for my dinosaur cartoon, and I'm hoping that will result in an overall more fleshed out final product.  I'm also focusing on less dialogue based storytelling and allowing most of the cartoon to be told through the actions of the main character, and not a back and forth script.  

My goal right now is to give myself the time and resources necessary to create something more professional than what I've made previously.  I have the time now to really dig into what I'm capable of, and work toward what I'm not capable of.  Having smaller projects (which may include short videos, gifs, illustrations etc.) as a regular focus will allow me to still crank things out and satisfy my desire to have a tangible example of my work.  I'll be posting to the site as well as my twitter and instagram as I'll be making more attempts to put my work out there for people to see.

Now is the time for me to start thinking about my professional future with my degree and portfolio, so I'm going to be taking this all more seriously.  I'm excited for what this new approach will offer me, and I'm ready to get back to work.

Blog 14

The animation process for my project is finished.  I'm done, it's over.  Now, my next step is assigning and creating sound effects to flesh out the environment of the video.  It will be a messy experimental process, but I'm close to being completely done with the video which is exciting and very satisfying.  

In terms of additional materials for my critique space, I haven't had as much time as I would have liked to create these.  I am planning to have a little picture book set aside to highlight the absurdity of this past year with out of context quotes from noted political figures recontextualized with silly cartoon characters.  I'd like to have a few additional still pieces to hang around the space including some concept art for my next project, but that's up in the air right now as the deadline is closing in.

As for my next project, I've had a change of heart regarding my labyrinth hydra idea.  I may return to that, but I was inspired when I was visiting the Murakami exhibit at the MFA to create a project that plays around with the format a little more.  My idea is a cartoon centered on a frog set in a hypothetical future world where everything is perfectly designed to give these frog people a theoretically 'perfect' life.  Everything is automated, everything fits into everything else, and all of their basic needs are met with relentless efficiency.  I'm going to show this by designing the world with a modern minimalist style where everything is composed of basic shapes of color that intertwine perfectly.  The story of the cartoon is the frog in some way faltering in his role as a citizen (I'm thinking the ground is laid out with perfect grooves for their feet to fit into and the frog slips, knocking over an endless row of identical frogs behind him).  He is determined mentally unwell due to his species' unfortunately imperfect design requiring additional stimulus outside of unrequited satisfaction in order to function properly, and is sentenced to a mandatory weeks vacation in the 'untamed' or something like that.  The untamed is exactly that, where not only is there no automation to provide for the frogs' every need, but the art style is much messier and unorganized.  Here the frogs shell of protection breaks and he has to fend for himself in a wild setting to reconnect with his natural roots before he can return home.  In the process he also sheds his minimalist simple shape design and reveals the haggard animal inside.  This segment would feature the frog having to learn to catch flies, flee from predators and eventually overcome the challenges of a world not designed for him to succeed, but one which he himself was designed to survive in.  The cartoon would end with him having grown accustomed to this free lifestyle only for him to be thrust back into his modern world of cleanliness and convenience.  Here, his new design would persist making the world built for him no longer fit.  I'm thinking it would end with him noticing other frogs with a similar problem of not fitting in anymore because they've been exposed to the real world.

There are a lot of themes that went into this idea, and I don't think I can fully express them here, but the overall idea is questioning how the design of convenience may be acting against our natural predispositions as animals evolved to survive in an un-sanitized world.  I'll have more to say about this as I move into next semester.  For now, I have some more recording and audio work to do.

Blog 13

I am in the tail end of animation.  Backgrounds and final lip syncs are all that remain in terms of the visual aspect of the video.  I've been spending some time focusing on the setup for my next project, an action oriented cartoon about an adventurer exploring a labyrinth while running from a hydra.  I'm coming up with potential encounter scenarios and how the finale will play out.  

Beyond that, there isn't much to report.  I'm planning to spend some time with some still image pieces during the month of December amidst audio work as I finalize the video.  I'm also planning to have a workbook with descriptions of my video and the process spent developing it to include in my display space.  That will be another smaller project to work on.

Blog 12

I'm currently at another point of transition for my life in Cambridge.  Due to some particularly bad roommates and opportunities arising for better living conditions elsewhere, I've been devoting some of my time toward finding a new apartment this week.  Whether or not that goes through is still up in the air, but it is once again getting in the way of me being able to be as productive as I'd like.  

But I'm pressing onwards with my project.  I've started the process of lip syncing different characters and implementing the suggestions made by my professor during my last trip to her critique class.  The primary animation is done for everything but the background characters in a few shots.  Then I'll get into backgrounds and audio editing etc.  I still feel pretty good about being done with most of this by the beginning of December so I'll have more time then to dedicate toward smaller illustration projects and formatting my display space.  I'd like to include a few supplementary materials around the projector showing my video to better contextualize it for people when they walk by, as I found that was one of the more effective ways for time based media to be presented when I was visiting the MFA earlier in the semester.  

Besides that, I'll be visiting another critique class today to show my progress since last time and will continue to plow away at what remains.

Blog 11

The time has come for me to bunker down and start making some real strides with my project again.  As I mentioned last week, my output has been unfortunately low this past month.  While the meat of the character animation is done, there are still segments I still must finish and adjust so that I can move into the final stages of adding additional sound design and backgrounds.  My goal with this month is to finish the animation of the main characters and begin work on mapping out the backgrounds of each shot.  I'm planning to draw out the shape of the backgrounds in the flash document and then 'paint them' in on a sketchbook pro program with more detailed brush options before putting them back in the original project.  

Once that's been done I can export the whole thing (which will probably take the majority of a day) and put them into a video editing program so I can start putting in the sound effects as well as the audio tracks for the dialogue and music.  I'm close, and I've been burnt out this month, so now I need to push forward and make those last strides to complete this whole thing.

I visited my mentor's critique class again, and now that I had a more complete draft to show them, I got a lot more productive criticism, largely focused on making it clear where everything was taking place in relation to the two trees being focused on.  Also, the tree I'm currently using as the stage doesn't read well, so I'm going to hack it off, and leave only the raised stump for the debate stage.  That'll make it easier to see the cliff behind the debaters for when they're eventually knocked off it by the T-Rex.  

I'm off to spend the day filling things in and clearing things up.  I'll write again next week hopefully.

Blog 10

It has been a month, not a week.  That's a bad habit of mine, I haven't been updating this blog weekly like I'm supposed to.  And unfortunately this hasn't been the most productive month in terms of my work.  I've had to take more shifts at my job, and it's been getting much busier there, so I've been less inclined to get animation work done after coming home.  

I've been continuing to fill in animation throughout the dinosaur video and updated the light commission project sending in a final version to the client.  Most of what's remaining with the former is the lip syncing which will take some time but requires only some simple drawings and playing around with the frames, and the backgrounds which is an aspect I'm much less comfortable or familiar with.  Still, I have an idea of what I want everything to look like, it's just a matter of biting the bullet and jumping in once the animation is finished.  I shouldn't have any problem getting this project done by January, but it will still take some time.  

I have a solid idea for what I want to do for my next big project.  I was inspired from a few different places to make a cartoon about an adventurer traversing a labyrinth and avoiding the snapping jaws of a hydra.  The arc of the story would follow the adventurer gaining and losing ground in their fight with the monster and their search for the center of the maze where a treasure is rumored to be hidden.  When they finally make it there, its revealed that the hydra is standing over the treasure.  Each hydra head emits a dissonant tone whenever they see the person, and when they reaches the center, all four heads come together and the resulting chord is harsh and upsetting.  Just as the adventurer braces for their doom, the tones shift creating a major chord, and the hydra heads proceed to jump into a barbershop quartet version of 'I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire' originally by the Ink Spots.  The tone of the scene changes and the adventurer sees that the hydra is offering them the treasure.  When they open the chest, a band poster for the hydras is all they find.  They smile weakly and make their way out as the hydras continue to sing.  

I might replace the band poster with a 'spare change' sign or something like that.  I don't know, the basic idea though is to create a series of dynamic action sequences that escalate into an anticlimax, allowing me to practice and produce a different type of work then the squash and stretch comedic animation I'm more used to.  I brought it up with my advisor and she liked the idea.  We had talked about how the way I've approached projects in the past is limiting and can keep me from going above and beyond my current skill set, so I asked her what she would suggest I start doing in preparation for this new project.  Her idea was to start with a board game that maps out the architecture and path of the labyrinth in a way that grounds my approach before I start animating or writing.  I like the idea, and so I'm going to be working on that and some concept art as I'm wrapping up this dinosaur thing.  

In addition, I want to have more still images for my next critique, so I'm going to play around with some landscapes and technology work, things that I'm less familiar with then character design.  I'm still trying to branch out and away from my comfort zone.  This semester has largely been me taking the extra time this program allows me to really make something bigger then what I've made before, and I've been relying on my developed skill set to make that happen.  As I start transitioning into the next semester, I need to be mindful of what I'm doing, and what I could be doing differently.