Friday, 21 December 2012

Stray short

Stray short film from iAnimate on Vimeo.

Nice little short. I think the timing of the end is wrong, i think the audience should of found out about the dog after the character and not before. However, the reason for posting this is because he shrugs twice, and this has been a piece of trivia within my own practice. At 2.17 he does a very subtle one that is also masked with a sighing subtext, and then again at 4.04. This latter action is more significant because it shows the thought process (Confusion!) followed by a choice. 

From 2.27 the walk he does is almost identical to what i was trying to achieve in that he walks and goes down to knee level to take a closer look. However, his use of rhythm in easing into the object is evident where as mine isn't, and it is this slowing down in rhythm that i want to achieve. From the steps to the floor there is 4 steps in about a second, and from the bottom of the steps there is 7 steps in about 5 seconds which ease out. Something i am going to have to consider in amending my next artefact.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Artefact 06 & 07

Artefact06 from Adam Weaver on Vimeo.

Artefact 07 from Adam Weaver on Vimeo.

Artefact 06 was another test using the animal characteristic method which is a result from the feedback from artefact 04 and the reference material. They feedback was that they wanted it to be slower. Artefact 07 was focused specifically on gesture and not trying to create a personality. It's purpose was to create the sense of being stuck through a singular action (which has been cycled). This worked well and although this isn't directly linked to performance in character terms, it applies itself to the rhythmic and narrative corners of the project.

The revised pieces (Artefact 05) still had issues which may be addressed if time permits but as they are smaller elements of a piece i want to produce for the PGC stage, they could also be addressed directly within the piece. The feedback was that the red ball that shrugs should remove the 't-shirt' (ball of the each shoulder) and focus on performance rather than shape. This asks an interesting question about at what point does an object stop being one and start to become another, and it seems to be that features that are not present in the primary form should either be their permanently or avoided full stop. 

My next step basically involves me drawing back all the information i have researched and experimented with in this initial stage and synthesis this into a piece of animation expressing confusion through performance, which will have a strong rhythm influence which will express character through abstract and non-abstract elements, whilst providing linear and cyclical narrative forms. This is quite a large experiment, but i hope to uncover the limitations of working relationships with all of these elements, and to see if both external and internal ideas can work together to improve storytelling.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Artefact 05 - Changes

Here are the changes to artefacts 3 & 4 as mentioned yesterday.

Duck Reference

For the next animal i am going to try and communicate a Duck through a sphere. I have found these references:

Real ducks moving step by step. Take note of the subtle weight drop on the down which allows the rear to twist left and right with more emphasis.

Donald Duck also does this movement when he moves, this is most notable through the presence of the tail. Notice at the beginning when he is moving left to right between the signs, his feet rotate around the ball of the rear as if he was in water, they moving like mechanical rudders. I'm not quite sure if this can be interpreted into a single sphere but i will give it a go. 

Please see from 4.21 for about 5 seconds! I know, not much, but look how the ducks move. There is a real emphasis on the squash a stretch (only mute, but in comparison) which is more probable for how it will be best to conceive this gesture. 

Thursday, 13 December 2012


For the third artefact the response was that the shrug felt too extreme - the same issue from my first artefact - so i am going to re-do that element of the animation. In the back of my mind i was cautious about ruining the flow of the rubberhose animation.

The fourth artefact they felt wasn't organic enough in the blow-up pose. They also mentioned that the noise wouldn't happen on the jump and would be more suited to the inflating motion. The green shading and audio also influence the audience, so to purely focus on the gesture these should perhaps be void for the purposes of the experiment. I will also make these changes. They also asked if i had used any reference material for the frog, which i struggled to find decent footage (though i did find a slow motion jump taking off, it didn't have the land which was i felt necessary). I imagine it like exploding pop-corn, which i also had difficulty finding decent reference material. With my next experiments i will be sure to apply this feedback.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Artefact 04

So heres a little text of the ball as a Frog/toad. I've used a ribbit sound clip to inspire the gesture. Although this doesn't directly represent confusion, my hope is that it will feed into it later, in some form of abstract representation. Going to see if i can push out one of a dog tonight. If i manage it, the results shall be posted.

"Confusion" ("Путаница")

From the description: 

'Based on the children's story by the famous Russian writer Korney Chukovsky. A bunny tries to orchestrate a choir of animals who grow tired of their own sounds and try out new ones instead - birds ribbit, pigs quack, and so on. The confusion (путаница) grows as frogs take to flying and some wily foxes light a pond on fire.

Directed by Irina Gurvich for Kievnauchfilm studio in 1982'

Although the story is a bit weak in its conclusion, i like the way the visual and audio elements change meaning to imply and produce confusion. The use of audio pushes this, and i wonder if this could of been better if the animals also change dynamics so the pigs sat like frogs and the frogs like pigs etc... a bit difficult for the walks when they're all anthropomorphic. 

This idea of animal sounds as a guide for movement might be my next step in experiments; i really want to play with the frog croak. 

Artefact 03 Reduction

I created the third artefact using my findings from the first two artefacts. I have applied:

  • change in tempo to performance 
  • utilised the concept of a beat so it is more apparent through gesture (visual over audio)
  • applied a similar performance to a reduced form
  • used both linear and cyclical narrative forms


Another short from the french school Supinfocom. The phallic aside, i think this is a decent short. As i've been working like a trooper on another piece ready for tomorrows feedback session and focussing on internal monologue since my first artefact, i think this piece typifies what is really meant by the expression. There is a real aura of subtly in the movements [in this short] that was clearly lacking in my first artefact. The slight micro-movements aid the the tone and create thinking time. The jail scene is a prime example of this. Thinking back to the hand gesture that was causing so much conflict in my work, in comparison to this it is easy to see why - and just like the feedback identified, too much information was being given to the audience. It is important to note that the comparison is part of a full production; the use of location and audio aided the internal monologue - it reminds me of Equilibrium [see video below] when he's exploring the objects of the past and feel inner emotion. So in rationlising back to that first artefact, perhaps i was thinking to hard about the story and confused the inner emotion and the outer action. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tango and Kryielle

I spotted Tango on Cartoon Brew yesterday. Following the discussion with my supervisors last Thursday, and my subconscious attachment to rhythm that influences my practice (to a level even i was unaware), this was a pleasant discovery and well timed. It contains the two fundamental narrative forms i am stimulated by - Linear (Beginning, Middle, End) and Cyclical (see here for post on narrative structure). The evolution of age and narrative through action interwinds poetically - it is well planned, staged and timed. At it's peak with so much action it can be quite intimidating and mentally strenuous. The choice to have each cycle ease in and out allows the tension to be built with the audience before allowing them back to a calm state. 

This last point brings me to a piece of work we viewed in the feedback session called Kyrielle. It follows the same two narrative approaches as Tango, although it has a slightly more abstract elements. This, unlike Tango, has a far more unnerving development. Because these abstract elements are conceived through the action of metamorphosis, and the quantity of subjects is much greater (and so is the sound) i feel it creates a sense of confusion and unease. That could answer one potential question raised during the discussion; can rhythm show confusion?

Monday, 10 December 2012

Artefact 02

Here is my second Artefact. As discussed before the aim of this was to create a more internal performance. In the video you can see the process of development. Whilst filming myself i was listening to Bon Iver which helped myself engage with the mood i was trying to replicate. Looking at the previous post, the image there visually explains the difference between the first two artefacts.

After the offset stage i did another pass which i labelled secondary action. This was a result of the performance being too internal. Without the use of facial expression, the hands become an important tool in communicating ideas and thoughts. Prior to their inclusion i felt not enough was being communicated to the audience, unlike the first artefact in which their was too much.

Before the feedback session with my peers and supervisor, i would like to draw some early conclusions that may or may not change later. Firstly, the pacing - large gestures describe confidence; Small gestures describe  reservation. Secondly, just how much did my own physical space influence the outcome? The locations differed in size, and the distance between the camera and myself did. This relationship being a foundation principle in cinematography (Mid-shot, Close-up etc). In applying this to internal monologue issue that stands between these artefacts, was the reference footage and staging the underlying influence on the gestural spacing? 

With the finger being an issue raised in the first artefact as being too distracting, it might be worth while to produce another pass including the finger action. My supervisor couldn't tell if it was causing over-action and we were all ultimately indecisive. Now im using the goon rig* with better proportioned topology it should be a step in the direction of answering that question. Thats it for now, following the feedback session on thursday we'll pick this back up.

*I've place a basic sphere over the original head of the goon rig. Rather than remodel the face (which will wipe the blend spapes and make it inoperable anyway) it will allow me to reveal the face and thus animated expression onto the gesture at a later date.

Friday, 7 December 2012

What not to do...

Just been flicking through the book 'Ideas for the Animated Short - Finding and Building Stories' and come across this:

Funny that the day after the session with my supervisors i should come across this. What i shouldn't do i did! Anyway, im going to film myself again but this time with the focus of internal monologue and with a much reserved tone, focusing on how i feel inside rather than outside. We'll see how this goes!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

MA Artefact 01

So here is the second pass at the scene i have been working from. As an artefact, this has been built up using the pipeline that is taught at animation mentor. The idea of this first artefact was use reference footage to improve timing and spacing of my animation. The feedback was that the resulting action spaced out effectively but was very pantomime in the gestures. There is quite a bit of over-action and not enough refinement or internal monologue coming from the character. Looking back over the other elements of the artefact highlighted issues with the character design and the reference material. The design of the character did not take into consideration both the aesthetic and movement required. This will no doubt be a result of the character being designed without a specific goal and prior to the narrative I had conceived. There were several issues i had during the generation of the two passes, mainly caused by the size of the hands. The pointing finger dominated much of the scene, which I think is why there is such feeling of over action, which isn't aided by the slight walks in each direction; the latter is a result of the reference footage shot. The footsteps timing was used as the foundation for the performances pacing. A positive offset of this was that the weighting felt much stronger than i have previously done. What was interesting was driving all of this was my own internal monologue; from character design and reference footage of myself.

The other issue i came across was the characters break for the thought process. I noticed while animating that it was far too quick but thought I’d run with it as it kept with the rhythm of the piece. This was noticed by my supervisors, which prompted a discussion regarding my interests. In truth i was waiting for the issue (of the thinking time) to be raised. At the time i knew it was wrong, but my own stimulation from watching it flow overrode (and it represents a good limitation of live-action reference). However, as discussed at the very start of the project that sounds influence on timing and spacing was my primary interest, and after revising it towards my longer-term aspirations, that of character performance, we established that it could actually could be the primary focus of the research, and the others - performance, timing and confusion as secondary purposes that ultimately feed the project. I feel it is good to have made this distinction because it helps build the context and direction towards what I am trying to achieve.

The narrative of the piece was a play on the virtual puppet being given constant (Rhythmic) instructions. Upon meeting the crossroads (A Glitch in the system) he suddenly has to think for himself, which creates the confusion. One question asked was, is the performance right for the story? By this, was the consistent rhythm right? To pull this back to the internal monologue, surely the reaction would be more reserved and frozen up upon reaching the glitch, which is true, I feel it would have been better in that regard also. To conclude, this artefact shows why reference material should be suitable for the narrative. It also signifies the importance of designing and producing a character fit for purpose. It has also highlighted that on some subconscious level I am stimulated and engaged through rhythm through other purposes than just storytelling in a large studio process.

Next step: I am going to produce some really short pieces of a character showing confusion. To increase productivity and to start thinking about how rhythm can be expressed with narrative.

7 Acting Principle - Ed Hooks

Ed Hooks lists seven acting principles in Acting for Animators, which he describes as essential. They are:
1) Thinking tends to lead to conclusions, and emotion tends to lead to action.
2) We humans empathize only with emotion
3) Theatrical reality is not the same as regular reality
4) Acting is doing; acting is also reacting
5) Your character should play an action until something happens to make him play a different action
6) Scenes begin in the middle not the beginning
7) A scene is negotiation

In order to break down their context and relationship to the animator i am going to list where i feel they sit in the storytelling process of studio animation, and where they fit into that process.
1 & 2 are essential to performance and are subservient to the action of the narrative.
3 i feel is significant to the writing stage (but is still vital for the animator to understand)
4 i feel sits between 3 and 1 & 2 and is important for negotiating the action.
5 again sits just after the writing stage but also important to the establishing the chronology of the action
6 Scenes begin in the middle not the beginning. This is certainly true for live action. (In pantomime we always see the decision to leave home but never the actual leaving, we then join them mid journey for example). However, for animation we can extend this into performance.
7 this, as stated by Hooks, is suited to the scriptwriting stage.
Relationship Graph

This graph is my interpretation and breakdown of Hooks first principle. Thinking is thoughts and decisions that lead to conclusions ('I am going to do this'). Emotion (Automatic value response) is feeling and leads to action ('How i am going to do this'). It is a combination of the two that generates performance.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Wall-E and Emotion

Wall-e and Eves love story has quite the emotional arc we are so accustomed to from Pixar films. What i am going to talk about is the scene at the end, where Wall-e has been damaged and is removed from emotive performance and becomes his physiology - a robot. 

Eve starts as the robot looking for life forms to bring humans back to earth. Wall-e falls in love with her and cares for her during an unfortunate event (I am cutting a huge chunk of the story out here, because if your reading this, or this blog and you have not seen it yet, im very concerned!) anyway, eve realises that wall-e cared for her and falls for him. While back in space, Wall-e gets damaged and eve returns them both to earth to repair him. Once back at Wall-e's storage unit Eve applies a new circuit board etc. The result is that Wall-e goes into what i describe as auto-pilot mode. He is un-aware of who eve is, what they've been through and their connection. They are eventually re-united and there love resolved in quite a charming way. 

So, how does this work? Wall-e's gesture and movement throughout the film is like that of a nervous turtle, constantly moving his arms and legs back in constantly. However he is a curious guy, and always move to things that attract his interest. (also note the character design - Wall-e is squared off at every opportunity to show brawn and eve is curved like that of a ladies hips). With this consistency in movement and action it allows a juxtaposition to be formed when his memory is removed. Once repaired, his eyes are static, his body movement rigid, his gestures are not cautious; they are systematic. His eyes do not subdue at their far sides and peer in - which he does a lot to eve throughout the film. Basically, he loses his emotion, we lose his empathy and in doing so we gain eves. This transition in very important. Eve trys on last time 'to bring him back' but giving up, she leans in, a spark transfers between them (it happened earlier in the film the first time they both 'connected') and she turns away softly, head down, as if she has lost all hope. As her hand drifts from his, his tense stopping her - his gestures are again un-rigid, it really is a nice storytelling moment.

The change in the gestures movement is what carries the narrative. By becoming completely rigid the audience physically see the change in him. His body language is no longer responsive to his relationships; he is cold and systematic. His eyes do not acknowledge Eve, there is no increased tension, this removes any communication of thought and emotion. However, we still accept he is real. At no point do the audience believe he isn't. This also allows us to empathize with eve. We feel her experience loss, the lower of the head, the shape of her eyes cutting in from the top corners. At that peak moment when she leans in, just before she turns away, her head almost touches his and the electricity transfers through and the result is that her love brings him out of his coma. 

After reading more of Ed Hooks he lists 7 acting principles (which im going to talk more about in a separate post) but this moment covers the first two he lists - 

1) Thinking tends to lead to conclusion and emotion tends to lead to action. 

2) We humans empathize only with emotion.

I've struggled to find a source online with the clip in. I have found that there are many 'FanVidz' online and are just awful. Please watch this video from 3.18 whilst on mute. You've been warned: your ears will suffer. 

Below is one example of a fan vid that has been animated externally as an afterthought. I'm posting the link as it has the same two characters break the two principles listed above and shows the difference between a skilled animator and a not so skilled one...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Le Taxidermiste

I love this little short by Paulin Cointot, Dorianne Fibleuil, Antoine Robert & Maud Sertour. I love narrative concepts - life and death, ritual, preservation even down to the point where out of all the other species that have failed to beat it (and be stuffed) the fly, the insect, possibly to small to join in such practice, that is, to die and be preserved, fails. It really made me chuckle - not that im a sadist. I like the aesthetic, the illustrative textures create a lot of vibrancy in such a dead and static environment. The minimalist movement really helps the pacing of the story, it sets a calm atmosphere which really aid the expression of the ideas - counter balancing the chaotic visual style.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Scriptwriting Exercise - Character observation

The second round of the Scriptwriting workshops required us to go out and study passers by in public and form a character profile which we would later build narrative ideas from. These are from my observations...

Person A

Date: 15/11/2012
Time: 12:28
Location: Costa Coffee, Kings Heath Birmingham.

What is their background?

This person was a female born in the early 1990’s to a lower-middle or working class background. She has dyed dark reddish hair and a slightly orange tone applied to her skin. Her eyebrows are plucked revealing only a slight line. She has a rich red coat partly open, most probably due to heat inside as opposed to being scruffy. She has a green skirt that appears to be part of a uniform. The likelihood of this is reinforced by the time of day and location we are both located.

Where are they going?

Judging by the uniform and the way she interacts with her friend/colleague suggests someone in the early stages of possible social mobility. Whether this is via the class system, demographically or against her companions is open for debate. I suggest this for a number of reasons. Firstly, her make up is of a mainstream look popularised by low-value UK television productions but is reserved. This could be down to several things such as employment restrictions or a drifting interest away from popular culture. Secondly, between her and the friend she was the attentive listener and possible agony aunt, only occasionally responding via dialog. She had a firm but casual gaze when listening and talking. She could have an easygoing personality but with a very structural manner and a seriousness to life. By no means would I suggest she is completely confined or bound by a serious outlook. Thirdly, once settled at her table, she slowly became more aware of her surroundings, more frequently breaking eye contact from her friend. Her role as listener made her appear to be the less dominant and thus offers a potential indication of where she is going. She wants to break away from the confines of her socio-demographic surroundings, some excitement and adventure but with a longing for maturity that exceeds her current surroundings.

Anything else?

She was drinking a Mocha Latte and eating either a cake or toasted sandwich – I couldn’t see past the partition – which aids my assumption of a lunch break. Whenever she stirred the drink she would also sip the remainder of the spoon before placing it back down. This was probably an old habit that she has grown up with, suggesting a reliance on a warm family unit, or at least could form part of the ritual process of habit that she longs to escape.

At 12:42 she appeared to be retelling an event but with some exaggeration and her face really opened up and so did her personality with it. This partly aids the idea that she isn’t completely confined to a serious nature.

At 12:50 she and her friend left. She was making small steps whilst walking casually. She appeared to struggle in her high heals but not overly so. This could be she has been in her job for sometime but not too long. Her shoes did not look brand new.

Possible traits: reliable, consistent, articulate, observant, patient, stagnant, conscious, cautious, reserved.

Person B

Person B

Where: Costa Coffee, Victoria Center Nottingham
When: 22/11/12
Time: 12.50pm

What is there Background?

Having been growing up on the streets after being abandoned at the age of 4, the middle-aged man has grown up misunderstanding the conventions of society. Although he has adapted through a decade of integration, there are many signs that he is not a product of such a systemic and bounded society.

Where are they going?

Having learned life through abstract processes, his ability to build connections, attachments and understandings with objects and nature that typical people would see as immature and irrational, he has been picked up by a group of misfits who believe he is the answer to their acceptance in mainstream society. Our character though has other plans. He wishes to change society, to accept the unconventional as conventional, so he can once again return to anonymity. 

How can you tell?

Indoors he wears sunglasses, has red nail varnish on and has his trusted companion ‘monkey’ – a teddy bear that rides half out of his backpack and sits at the table with him. He wears a constant earpiece connected to his phone, to which he shakes his head at. He looked agitated, constantly shaking his leg. He sits in constant silence and is disinterested in absorbing his surroundings.

Possible Characteristics: Irrational, Unpredictable, Quirky, Mysterious, Deadly

To conclude...

There were two approaches i had taken in order to maximize the potential later on. The first approach was very analytical. I looked at it as though it would have a slight documentary and sociological outcome, and tried to stick to what was in front of me rather than push my creative license. In the group discussion this was used as the example. In a scene building context we decided that the girl she was talking to had come with her for lunch unintentionally, as our girl (who i observed) shouted to someone else who hadn't heard her, and the girl beside her said she'd go. So there is already a sense of unease between the relationship. During lunch (which i observed) our girl, as i noted, was the majority listener, so we decided that the colleague would be talking about her relationship problems. To finish the scene, we agreed that our girl would turn out to be the ex-girlfriend of the boy her colleague complains about - and she still has feelings. The colleague would be unaware of this. Thinking about life and scene needs, the life need would be to escape this section of society (metamorphosed to escape from this girl), and the scene need would be to get through this lunch.

Person B couldn't of worked out any better. The approach i decided on was to push my creative license, and push the boundaries of the character i was observing. When i sat down with a friend to do this, the person walked through the door. The was such an odd persona being presented and all of the factual information such as the sunglasses, the teddy, the nail varnish amongst others were all true as i had seen them. Having such variety presented on one person really opened up what was possible narrative wise, for which i tailored the back story for. The role for this person was to be in groups of three and receive feedback, for him i received-

He was...
1) Confident due to the nail varnish
2) Pessimistic and doesn't care
3) Not happy - a loser in a comedic sense
4) that he was divorced and crazy

It was interesting experience to really watch a stranger. In the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, it says the brain makes assumptions and judgements on people because its less mental processing work. For creative writing and idea generation, these two examples show how the small pieces of information we extract can be exaggerated for drama purposes and can quickly be turned into a usable foundation for narrative formation. Be warned, if your in Costa Coffee, i could be watching!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Choko Group

I came across this sometime last week in the metro newspaper.

 Although it appears as some kind of boot camp for mascots in this article, i was able to find a longer version on the telegraphs website here. Despite the subtle lack seriousness on behalf of the reporting side, the element of intent from the school shows. The human as puppet is something i am intrigued by purely because of my own lack of physical skill. As the video shows on the telegraph site, the simple gestures and movements are suitable for their audience. The lad talking doesn't say what it is that he's learned/gained since he arrived, which is a shame, but i will keep hunting for specific information.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Storyboard and Playblast

Here is the storyboard i promised last week - been really busy with work commitments and family functions but better late than never.

Also, due to the high schedule of workshops in such a short space of time (and a 2 and half hour commute each way) this has also dented my animating time, however, i have a quick playblast to show you to prove i have been doing something! This is slightly after the Storytelling pose phase as i have been experimenting with the live action reference material for structure. I have been putting footsteps to the top of priority as they tend to separate the time between the action.

Next week is more relaxed in terms of lectures and workshops (meaning more time to work on the animating!) so expect more frequent posts on the stuff i've been looking at (that i have not had time to post) and hopefully some significant progression on the above playblast.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Mapping narrative and action

As result of my investigation into defining confusion, i became aware of the need for understanding the relationships that occur between narrative, action and thought.

'Animation is narrative through movement ... Narrative can be something as concrete as physical action ... the very first questiom is 'why' ... whatever the answer may be, when you animate a shot you must be concerned first and foremost with characters motivation, purpose, intention, drive etc'.

- Aaron Gilman Animation Mentor Tips and Tricks 2 Pg. 19

'Your character should play an action in pursuit of an objective while overcoming an obstacle.'

- Ed Hooks Acting for Animators 2009

Example: Romeo and Juliet: 

Action = Fall in love.
Objective = Get Married.
Obstacle = Their families hate each other.

The narrative I have produced (the key poses i posted yesterday is from a single shot) is as follows:

Our character is a puppet that has spent his whole life following an arrow - this is his equilibrium. He comes across a split in the road, an arrow pointing left and an arrow pointing right - this is the disruption. There is no resolve - yet - as the ability to not be able to decide which way to go creates the confusion. 

Action = Taking clear orders from the road markings.
Objective = To keep his equilibrium: not to have free thought but to serve.
Obstacle = The split in the road; a choice. Having never come across this anomaly before he is forced out of his equilibrium and into disruption by having to make a choice. This is stressful for the character.

The above graph i have created shows the breakdown of the action and reaction in narrative and character performance terms. By filling in the each section it allows the animator to link movement and thought of the character to storytelling poses, and helps aid overall scene planning through developing understanding. Below, i have applied this formula to the key poses i posted yesterday, the action in the poses only describes one shot from the wider context of the narrative. I have produced a rough storyboard which will be posted at some point over the weekend once i have revised it. However, the action in this shot will remain the same although the last action/3 poses has been removed for reason described in the post due to follow regarding today's feedback. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Key poses and Video Reference

Here are the key poses for the take. I have also produced a system for planning a scene so an animator can plan the action and thought processes of a character. I will post this later.

Here is my video reference...

I will start to do the blocking pass over the coming days/weekend and hopefully have it complete early next week.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Starting to define 'confusion'


Confusion n. The act or result of confusing; a confused state.

Confuse 1. To bring into disorder, to mix up. 2. To throw mind or feelings of (a person) into disorder; to destroy the composure of. 3. To mix up in the mind, to fail to distinguish between. 4. To make unclear.

(Dictionary 2001)

Confused adj. 1 Puzzled, perplexed, baffled, mystified, bewildered. Opposite: Enlightened. 2 disordered, disorderly, muddled, mixed up, in disarray. Opposite: orderly.

Confusion n. 1 bewilderment, perplexity, puzzlement, mystification, uncertainty, opposite: understanding. 2 misperception, misunderstanding, mix up, muddle, mistake, opposite: clarity. 3 disorder, chaos, rumoil, upheaval, commotion, opposite: order. 4 embarrassment, awkwardness, disorientation, uncertainty, self-consciousness, opposite: confidence.

(Thesaurus 2002)

Lazarus labelled both confusion and bewilderment as functional mental confusion. He says ‘…they are bound to have emotional correlates and consequences without being emotions [themselves].’ (Lazarus 1991 Pg.83) This corresponds with the dictionary definition that the state of confusion is a result of cognitive processes, and suggests confusions relationship with emotion is that of a catalyst. Function mental confusion must derive from thinking. This is an important element of creating a convincing character performance.

There are other neurological conditions that recognise confusion as a symptom. Senility, dementia and delirium are such examples. Zarit & Zarit citing Lipowski (2011 Pg.72) lists other meanings, at least medically, to the word confusion:

·      -Disorientation
·      -Inability to think clearly or coherently
·      -Poor contact with reality
·     - Reduced awareness of environment

Regarding delirium, Zarit & Zarit (2011 Pg.71) describes its onset as ‘… [A] person who has been functioning adequately suddenly develops global impairment in intellectual functioning.’ They goes onto say (2011 Pg.73) ‘Thinking is often characterised by a dreamlike quality with some merging of dream content with reality.’ It’s important to remember that confusion is a symptom of delirium and not the cause. There are other symptoms that could be the driving force or instigator of confusion. Other symptoms include delusions, hallucinations and illusions. As delirium is a driving force for confusion, and confusion being a state rather than an emotion, an animator might be inclined to borrow actions from other symptoms of delirium to portray confusion, such as a series of gestures that make no readable, literal or chronological sense (dream content with reality for instance). I would suggest there is a risk of miss-communicating the action (thus narrative) to the audience. Particularly when the other meanings listed above would appear to have more substance. If we look at the types of delirium it is possible to start to build possible characteristics to apply to performance.

‘The types of performance have long been recognised (Lipowski, 1990; Ross, Peyser, Shapio, & Folstien, 1991). The first type is characterised by hyperalertness and hyperactivity; patients are restless, agitated and vigilant. In contrast, the second involves hypoalertness and hypoactivity. Patients are quiet and subdued and maybe drowsy. The third pattern involves the fluctuations between the other two types … Patients have difficulty focusing and sustaining or shifting attention.’ (Zarit & Zarit, 2011 Pg.73)

The issues for character performance arise when applying these characteristics to characters that are naturally defined by them (hyperactivity for example). However, with the symptoms physiological reactions being at opposite extremes of considered normal reactionary behaviour speeds, there appears to be an option to suit different character beats.

In science we can see examples of what drives confusion, such as neurological conditions, but in storytelling terms, it is the narrative itself that will drive the confusion. If we look into cognitive behaviours rather than neurosis, such as irrationality in practical cognition, we can see an example of what confusion drives, and gain a deeper understanding of where it is situated in narrative character performance.


‘One way people can behave irrationally is by being broken. If a person suffers a stroke, he may behave irrationally. But this is not the kind of irrationality I am talking about … So when I speak of irrationality in this paper, I am only concerned with those varieties of irrationality that arise in intact cognizers.’ (Pollock 2006 Pg 4)

So confusion can drive irrationality, but irrationality is not confined to confusion. The above quote is important because it suggests that the initial driving force does not have to have a middleman. This exposes a problem in storytelling; if irrational choices in performance arrive from an un-established source we could potentially arrive at the same issue as mentioned above, of miscommunication to the audience. We do not want to risk the loss of believability.

To understand confusion in performance, we have to understand the relationships of conditions and states as actions and reactions to narrative objectives. By touching the surface of relationships in and around confusion we can see an action and reactionary sequence. Delirium (action) can cause (the reaction) confusion and confusion (itself an action) can drive irrationality (also a reaction). If we replace delirium, with say a choice to either go left or right as a road splits (action), and irrationality with a decisive choice (reaction), confusion then, still the central component (action and reaction – the act or result) is thinking. So if a character does not think he cannot be confused. 

Definition (So Far):

Confusion is the process of thinking. Other aspects such as how and why are reliant on the narrative. Exploring whether real-life physiological reactions or narrative subtext will be more efficient in conveying narrative will be fertile ground.

I will be exploring the non-verbal non-expression performance first. 


DICTIONARY, 2001. The Oxford Popular English Dictionary. Bath: Parragon.

LAZARUS, R., 1991. Emotion & Adaption. New York: Oxford University.

POLLOCK, J., 2006. Irrationality and Cognition. University of Arizona.

THEASAURUS, 2002. Encarta Essential Thesaurus. London: Bloomsbury.

ZARIT, J. & ZARIT, S., 1991. Mental Disorders in Older Adults: Fundamentals of Assessment and Treatment. 2nd ed. New York: Gilford Press.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Research Workflow...

A couple of videos used by animation mentor to promote their courses. As their workflow is designed to run by an industry process it makes sense to follow this lead in my research. Previously, as highlighted, i followed the 11 Second Club process and the dominance of the audio file heavily influenced the out come of the research, as rationalised here

The first part of the Tips and Tricks series by Animation Mentor says to start by observing, then to gather reference material before finally creating thumbnails. All these are crucial to the planning stage and Shawn Kelly says that planning is 20% of the scene, and underpins its success.

My next stage is to establish a definition of confusion. Once i have done this i will create a scenario to plan an animation to, using the process mentioned above. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Jogging Cycle...

Please turn your sound on. 

Are there limitations to transferring drawn animation speeds into CG?

Monday, 12 November 2012

New Character 'Gangle'

Here is the character 'Gangle' I've been working on. He was modeled in Maya and textured in Mudbox. He lacks any of the facial features (and the actual shaped head) as the initial elements I am researching are body mechanics/gesture so there is no need for expressions. If i was to include the facial features at this stage they would distract the focus of the experiments. The final model differs from the original designs in terms of scale due to the aesthetics. It was personal taste and shows the considerations (and importance) that should be taken by designers in producing characters. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Lack of thought, communication, interaction and Empathy (Sir Billi)

Just checked out the trailer for the Scottish feature of Sir Billi and my first reaction was that this is one hell of an ugly film. This breaks one of the 12 fundamentals of animation - appeal. Once you get over the initial ugly nature - and this is a typical symptom of low budget productions, you realise this could be seen as thinking the biggest part of the iceberg is above the waterline. 

The approach seems to be a focus on producing a natural performance. It appears the whole production staff have only an understanding of the lead character. The affect of this focus has caused severe problems in this teaser (and I'm dreading the movie). 

Firstly, it is a sensitive memory sequence trying to communicate the fond memories of a loved one, so one has to anticipate the softer weighted movements in performance. However, it is apparent the movements have been timed to pace the music, or at least stretched out after the initial blocking passes, causing the movements to feel as though they are moving in slow motion. 

Secondly, the women that he so longs for is actually a puppet. Nope, that wasn't a spoiler! She lacks emotional thought or reaction, but not always, and not always in synch. The worst offending shot is the spaghetti shot. At two stages the male lead thinks and reacts to the situation, she on the other hand doesn't. She doesn't blink, her eyes are static, her eyelids contract, but you really have to pay attention to see this - and the action doesn't playout in a recommended speed to convey such a reaction (and especially one she didn't show any signs of thought about doing). This action has to be clear to the audience. They cannot see that she is as committed to him as he is to her. In the shot where they are looking over a crib there gestures communicate their attachment, their bond, and we can see they are thinking. This creates empathy. The last scene, with the titanic impersonation, (which contradicts what they are trying to convey in terms of narrative to the audience) it is clear they have not animated below the waist on her. Even when his big bulging hands grab her there is no influence and it stays completely static - there should be a pull back at the very least (an exchange of weight). When she opens her eyes surprised she doesn't look behind to acknowledge it is her loving partner and everything is safe. She assumes and casually falls back into him. It's the lack of communication between them in almost every shot that is creating the problems.

Thirdly, if we critique the piece from a narrative and cinematic perspective, we can see in the wider context of performance where these issues arise from. I would like you to watch this scene (if you haven't already) from Pixars UP.

First off the co-ordination and interaction between the characters is clear, concise and is meaningful. Sir Billie has taken popular ideas from successful films (lady and the tramp and titanic for example) and tried to use them in a satirical manner. The problem with this is that neither character acknowledges that they are doing it (satire). They act as though they are the first to do it - this makes it unfunny. It kills the humour. What would make it funny, in the lady and tramp scene for example (the spaghetti shot), would be if the spaghetti split half way through, and they acknowledged it. Lets use Up as an example as to explain why this would work. In Up, Carl is accident prone. When they experience an activity together as a couple (to become close in the initial stages), Carl exposes his flaws. Such as his hand print on the mailbox and the cart that floats away. They are both aware that something satirical has happened - if its real to them its real to us. She accepts him despite these accidents. This creates a bond.  The bond is not the humour itself but the acceptance of each others flaws. The acceptance of flaws creates empathy. This is why reflecting a cultural representation of love and repackaging it as satire does not work on it's own. They are not aware they are performing satire, there is no weakness exposed so no empathy can be gained from the audience. In Up the exposed flaws of Carl in a satirical manner allow the transition into a dramatical acceptance of Ellies flaw - she can't have children. That is the empathic and emotional hook that melts the audiences guts and creates a sense of loss that is the central driving force of the narrative - Carls reason for the journey. This does not happen in Sir Billi - we do not care about the reason for Sir Billi's journey because we do not empathise with their relationship. 

It is hard to make a full and conclusive comment without seeing the completed movie in its complete context. However, Up shows you can have satire and drama in the same sequence and make it progress the narrative, as well as creating empathy with the audience.

If this is a direct scene from the film then the blame surely lands at the feet of the director(s). If it was generated for PR purposes (which i doubt they would have the budget for anyway) they need to establish what they are trying to sell. Any film with a skateboarding Grandpa should surely be sold as a fun and engaging film. (if your read the websites synopsis [here], place that against the teaser and you'd think we are talking about separate films!) So if this has been made for PR purposes then the blames lies with them. However, the animated character performances are equally to blame. This film will be counter productive for British animation. Sylvan Chomets' comments regarding the poor quality in British animation certainly seem just at this moment in time if this is what other continents see as our export.

Overall what the movie lacks on every level from director, producer, animator and the action, narrative and characters themselves are thought, communication, interaction and empathy, and i don't shed a tear!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Sound - Narrative Relationship Explored

What is sounds relationship with animated narrative and direction?

In order to establish and develop understanding about this relationship we must look it’s birth. Without trying to open the can of worms centred on the question of which was the first fully synchronised animation and sound audio-visual, the popular – and very much disputed idea – is that Disney’s Steamboat Willie was the first.

To illustrate the passion the topic can produce, I have found a conversation spreading from a book over to the Internet between Stephen Cavalier, Rodney Baker and Mark Mayerson. Initially the conversation begins when Mayerson commented on the errors found in Cavaliers’ book The World History of Animation. The blog post commented:

On page 97, Cavalier says that Steamboat Willie was half finished before Disney made the decision to make it a sound cartoon. This is wrong. The synchronization that is Steamboat Willie's great advance was due to planning the musical beats in advance of animation.’ (Mayerson 2012)

This instigated a response from Baker via his blog that questioned the validity of Mayersons’ comments on this particular subject. Baker says:

‘The most compelling evidence to suggest Cavalier is at least mostly correct is the storyboard for ‘Steamboat Willie’. Note how right after the “-Main Title” there are very specific instructions for a live orchestra. The way it is written cannot be instructions for and orchestra enlisted to record a sound movie because of its suggestion to create various arrangements coupled with its emphasis to hit certain cues. I must say it certainly reads as written for a live performing orchestra. If the film was not intented [Intended] for live orchestra accompaniment then this document’s origin should be considered suspect.

…My thought: Since at this time not all theaters [theatres] were likely equipped to play sound in sync with moving pictures, Disney probably targeted theaters [theatres] both with and without the technology. Given that cartoons were often held onto and reworked until they fit into proper scheduling, I think it reasonable to say Walt Disney originally did not plan the movie to be gifted with sound but saw the opportunity and took advantage of it. (I seem to recall the xsheets/draft indicate several strategic additions to allow Mickey some breathing space…. I’m willing to guess it was for sound).
At a minimum, the storyboard suggests the author’s assertion of the film being half way done before shifting to sound may require further thought. Knowing Cavalier’s reference would certainly shed some more light on the subject.’ (Baker 2012)

Baker goes on to question Mayersons ability to spot mistakes. Mayerson responded:

‘…I need to say that not everything I note ends up being an error. Many times I question things that turn out to be right. Rodney, my system is dead simple. When I'm reading, if I find anything that might be wrong, I write the page number down on my bookmark. Once I'm done, I return to the pages I've selected and then compare the information with other books on my shelf or with information that's online…I need to say that not everything I note ends up being an error. Many times I question things that turn out to be right.’ (Mayerson 2012)

Cavalier accepts and lists the reasons for many of the errors highlighted by Mayerson and says they will be amended for the new addition of the book. With regard to Steamboat Willie, Cavalier says:

‘Steamboat Willie- In the accounts I've read (ie Charles Solomon's Enchanted Drawings, Leonard Maltin's Of Mice and Men), a test screening was arranged with the film, in Disney’s words, 'half finished'. The silent film was projected and the sound effects were produced live in another room. The audience reaction was very positive and they then went ahead with the production. As this was a test as to whether the sound worked with an audience, then it seems to me that the decision about viability of sound hadn't been fully made at that point.’ (Mayerson 2012)

Finally, Mayerson responded with:

‘No one disputes that Steamboat Willie had a proof of concept screening when it was half finished to see if the idea of synchronized sound would work with animation. However, on page 97 you wrote, "The movie was already finished as a silent short before Disney had the idea to make it a synchronized sound film." The decision to make Steamboat Willie with sound was made before the short was started, as everything in the film is animated to a musical beat.’ (Mayerson 2012)

The significance of the subject and the way people define the different areas of audio present in animation could be causing the confusion. Mayersons last comment doesn’t expend on what type of sound was decided on, though he hints that it was a musical score [albeit through tempo] rather than a sound effect. This is important for a number of reasons; a live orchestra could play a musical score. Sound effects, one would assume, would be more difficult, as a musical score playing at a certain tempo could keep in time with the animation if it, and Kaufman (1997) confirms this. Meaning the music may not have been pre-determined in its finished form, but merely a foundation for a score to be produced from. In his book Animators Survival Kit Richard Williams describes the process of sound synchronisation development in two phases:

The first - ‘The Felix cartoons led straight to the arrival of Walk Disney, and in 1928, Micky Mouse took off with his appearance in Steamboat Willie – the first cartoon with synchronised sound.’ [Emphasis added on the latter]

The second - ‘Disney followed Steamboat Willie with The Skeleton Dance. For the first time, action was co-ordinated with a proper musical score.’ (Williams 2009 p.18)

Steve Roberts talks about the relationship between sound and animation and also makes the assertion that Steamboat Willie was somehow the first animated production.

‘Ever since the very first animated productions, Disneys steamboat Mickey and Fischinger’s abstract film Brahm’s Hungarian Dances, it was clear that there is a strong relationship between animation and music. This relationship can be explained on two accounts. First both elements have a basic mathematical foundation and move at a determined speed. Second, since animation is created manually frame-by-frame, it can be fitted to music in a very exact manner. It is further able to capture its rhythm, its mood and hit the beat right to the frame. Most animation makes good use of this advantage.’  (Halas and Whittaker 1981 p.130)

Where Roberts uses the term production, it’s difficult to establish if he means a production with sound or production in general. If it’s the latter this is incredibly hard to believe considering Felix the Cat and Ko-Ko the Clown had been produced since 1924, whereas Steamboat Willie was produced in 1928 (McLaughlin 2001). J.B. Kaufman highlights the ambiguous nature of the topic further. In the paper, The Transcontinental making of the barn dance, he states:

‘It is an unbroken rule in film history: for every film that has achieved recognition as a classic or milestone, other equally noteworthy films lie forgotten in the shadows. The early “Mickey Mouse” cartoons of Walt Disney are a case in point.’ (Kaufman 1997 p.36)

Steamboat Willie did have two predecessors, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho, but these were not released until after Steamboat Willie. The reasoning was ‘that Disney could, technically, approach distributors with three sound films…However, of the three, only Steamboat Willie had been designed to exploit the sound medium to maximum effect.’ Referring to the previous discussion above between Baker, Cavalier and Mayerson, this ‘design’ was that of a pre-planned beat.

‘Dinner Time [by Paul Terry] (1928) is perhaps the most significant cartoon in animation history that no one has ever seen. It was one of the few synchronized sound cartoons produced before (though released after) Disney’s Steamboat Willie. It played a small but pivotal part in Walt Disney’s creation of his first Mickey Mouse sound cartoon. It was this film, shown to Walt in New York on the cusp of recording his track for Steamboat Willie, that gave him the confidence to press on with his plans.’ (Brewmasters 2008)

There is however another that claims to be the first sound cartoon, and that is Max Fleischers Ko-Ko song car-tunes. Some had been made and recorded with the Phonofilm sound-on-film process in 1924 (Furniss 2007). However, watching these back one can clearly see that animation and sound isn’t synchronised effectively and doesn’t inform the timing or pacing of the animation. The only aspect synced with any unified purpose is the ‘famous bouncing ball’ (as it states on the DVD casing). The process for creating the effect of the bouncing ball is told by Bernard Fleischer (son of Lou Fleischer):

‘They worked out a situation where they put the lyrics on a drum, which would be turned as needed, and my dad had a laton[? Stick] which was all black except it had a white ball on the end, and he wore a black glove and he would actually bounce the ball and the drum would turn to the next set of lyrics.’ (Fleicher 2002)

The only truly synced part of the shorts was not animated. This explains the expression of calling them series ‘The first sound cartoon ever!’ This is an important distinction. The term sound, void of synchronised, is the first and opposing stage of the relationship between action and audio. Audio has no influence on performance and is merely an accompaniment. This stage would also include Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho because they had been animated with no pre-planning for audio synchronisation, as the idea to include this was an afterthought (Kaufman 1997). The second stage could be seen as what Richard Williams calls the First phase, where sound and action are synchronised at a predetermined level. The second stage can appear quite ambiguous, especially when you could consider both Steamboat Willie and The Skeleton Dance to be in the latter despite having clear differences. Although Williams says The Skeleton Dance followed Steamboat Willie, in this regard he means in animation innovation as opposed to a chronological release and production. As Kaufman (1997) highlights there were other Mickey Mouse releases after Steamboat Willie such as The Barn Dance.

The Silly Symphonies, as Williams (2009) describes, sees music take a more central role rather than the extended accompaniment previously. According to Mayerson (2006), a reason for this is ‘because the marriage of picture and sound was one of the main selling points of cartoons in the early '30's, directors had to deal with musical beats in order to make the films work.’ To find what ignited the prominence of music as a central driving force for the action we have to look back to Steamboat Willie.

‘He [Disney] knew that, if steamboat Willie did achieve a popular success, it would be essential to follow it up immediately with other films… The first, unsuccessful recording session for steamboat Willie had taken place on 15 September and, after hearing results, Walt had a much better understanding of post-synchronization. The main problem was not synchronizing the music – which rolled along at a steady, predictable tempo – but synchronizing the sound effects, which popped up at random intervals and difficult to anticipate.’ (Kaufman 1997 pp.37-38)

It was only natural that Disney would evolve into the Silly Symphonies. Disney was very conscious of not repeating gags and staying ahead of the competition (Kaufman 1997) and this is not surprising.

In search for the differentiation to separate the two types of predetermined sound – action relationships (stage two), the Warner Bros offer a similar reflection. Maureen Furniss cites Scott Curtis

‘… He finds that ‘ostensibly’ the Warner Bros. series split worked on the same principle as disney’s, that is, action taking precedence in the Looney Tunes and music guiding action in the “Merry Melodies” … He also indicates that, while most of the scoring for the “Looney Tunes” series was recorded after the production of images, the music director was still consulted at the beginning of the process, so that timing could be indicated on sheets of written music.’ (Furniss 2007 p.104)

The two statements present the central difference. Music guiding action can be seen as the third and final stage. Where action holds narrative importance, such as Steamboat Willie, it should be seen as action taking precedence, and The Silly Symphonies, can be seen as music guiding action. Although Steamboat Willie was designed to exploit sound with the pre-planned beat, it only holds up for part of the film and falls back to be freed from the musical structure, allowing action to be timed freely. The Skeleton Dance however, uses both musical timing and pitch as a means to manipulate movement from start to finish, and although with a linear narrative structure (start and end), the importance of the action is secondary to the music, and it’s the last statement that defines the third stage.

However, music guiding action was not without its issues, according to Maureen Furniss who cites Chuck Jones in Animation Aesthetics (2007), the concept of sound driving action developed the expression ‘Micky Mousing’, which was ‘being used to describe a situation when sound and visual elements are deemed to be too tightly matched.’ Thus, ‘music guiding action’ became a limited technique and is often saved for more abstract and non-linear narratives. It is still important for budding animators to learn as John Kricfalusi points out:

‘I'm convinced that the quickest way to learn the basics of animation is to start by animating fundamental animation techniques using rubber hose designs. I mean Hell, it worked for all the greatest animators in our history. It could work for you too and you the advantage because you have their stuff to study. They didn't have any reference. They were making it up from scratch through trial and error. Animating to a regular beat teaches you: … Rhythmic timing: it feels better- imagine a song with no beat, it wouldn't be much fun. It would meander. General timing - you get used to what different amounts of frames feel like - what 12x feels like as opposed to 8x. Classic animators and directors were like drummers. They automatically thought of their scenes as rhythms and that helped make their timing so crisp.’ (Kricfalusi 2007)

Just as the first conversation above illustrates, it can produce a heated discussion among animation historians. And although Cavaliers information was incorrect, it is still the ambiguous nature of the topic that causes such debates. Searching the question ‘what was the first animated sound film?’ and one is presented with a variety of responses, each claiming to be correct – and all could be – depending on the interpretation of the definition of the word synchronised. Paul Wells suggests the narrative and action relationship could be seen as the Chicken and Egg question, he says:

‘In arguing for the autonomy of the composer and music itself, Halas fundamentally drew attention to animations ‘Chicken or Egg’ question – Should music be written and recorded before the animation, or synchronized after? In the first instance, the soundtrack essentially delineates the nature of the visuals, as evident in the more abstract works, which have often used music formally as a creative stimulus or a kind of illustration, either of the lyrics of a song or of a popular, often narrative based or symbolically charged instrument melody. In the latter instance, the soundtrack is always subservient to the needs of the visuals with regard to the post-dubbing lip – synced dialog, diegetic sound or atmospheric, mood-determining music.’ (Coyle 2010 p.45)


In searching for a place to start my master’s program, I first had thoughts surrounding where my previous research had ended. Sounds relationship to narrative and performance had influenced the results, and my curiosity and need for further understanding of why it played such an influential role seemed a logical place to start. I had anticipated this would be where my research this year would lead. After further rationalising I realised the sound – narrative relationship in all its forms (abstract, linear and non-linear) would be too big from initial research. Realising I want to use this opportunity to produce a piece of animated character performance to a portfolio standard, I decided the best approach would be to explore the first steps of sound and animation synchronisation and move on.

The relationship between sound and animation was an evolving process. Evidence of this is apparent by the multiple ideas expressed from various sources explaining which was the first synchronised sound animation. Each of the ideas can be acceptable, but only through merit with clear definition (which most have struggled to define). Through the course of the document the interpretations have been categorised into three stages:

1)   Action and Audio = no pre-determined concept of sound integration with action, but sound can be added later. The narrative takes complete lead over action. (Max Fleicher’s My Old Kentucky Home; Disney’s Gallopin’ Gaucho and Plane Crazy; Beuren Studios’ Dinner time)

2)   Co-ordinated Action and Sound = some pre-determined concept of sound in the planning stage, but action/narrative takes majority lead role. (Steamboat Willie)

3)   Music guiding Action = Pre-determined concept of sound in the planning stage and takes lead over any narrative forms and ideas. (The Skeleton Dance (Silly Symphonies) and Merry Melodies)

Each process can be interpreted as synchronisation. Each stage involves a relationship between the visual and audio senses. In the quest to answer ‘which was the first’, further into the discussion (outside of this document) one can see how technology allowed progression onto the next stage. This can also influence an individual’s response to the question. This has been purposely avoided in this discussion because the overall objective was to rationalise sounds influence on narrative and establish the different forms of the relationship. These forms were explored and evolved when sound was exploited for market purposes.

In answer the bigger question, why did the audio affect the outcome of the animation in my previous research? It is clear by the three identified stages that the third stage had been used as the process. Using pre-recorded audio had shaped the action, timing and performance. I had highlighted this at the time, but what I didn’t understand was the context of the process and its relationship with other processes. Now I understand the context, my future research and practice will produce better-informed choices.

Baker, R., 2012. Steamboat Willie: The Sound of Transformation. Newartofanimation [online blog], 17 January. Available at: [accessed 20 October 2012]

Brewmasters. 2008. Cartoon Brew TV 3: Dinner Time by Paul Terry and John Fisher. Cartoon Brew [online blog], 29 September. Available at: [accessed 1 November 2012]

Coyle, R., 2010. Drawn to Sound. London: Equinox.

Furniss, M., 2007. Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics. Revised ed. Eastleigh UK: John Libbey.

Furniss, M., 2008. The Animation Bible. London: Lawrence King.

Kaufman, J.B., 1997. The Transcontinental Making of the Barn Dance. Animation Journal, 5(2), pp.36-44

Kricfalusi, J., 2007. Animation Course Level 1, Lesson 1 – The Beat – Kali Does Bosko. John K Stuff [online blog], 5 August. Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2012]

Mayerson, M., 2012. Review: The World History of Animation. Mayerson on Animation [online blog], 15 January. Available at: [accessed 20 October 2012]

Max Fleischer’s Ko-Ko Song Car-tunes, 2002. [DVD]. Morley Avenue, Michigan: Inkwell Images, 2002. [Region 0]

Mclaughlin, D., 2002. A Rather Incomplete But Still Fascinating History of Animation [online][accessed 27 October 2012]

Halas, J. and Whittaker, H., 1981. Timing for Animation. Focal Press.

Williams, R., 2009. The Animators Survival Kit. Expanded ed. London: Faber and Faber.