Saturday, 27 April 2013

An important update.

Following yesterdays session i'm concerned the point of this current script i'm working on is being missed. I was reminded of what was said about the previous script, that the character has to believe where he is etc. I would argue that the character in this current script does believe where he is -  he knows he is there, he does doubt its validity though. 

This new narrative does not follow a moral. An example being 'The herd is stronger together' like in The Incredibles. The purpose of this script is to raise questions of authorship. The character is confused because he doesn't know where he is, and ultimately doesn't know who he is. There is a twisted pun on behalf of the creator (how can you have a story without these elements?). The previous script was chasing empathy. As i am going to menton in my presentation on weds, time and budget play massive roles in this. I'm not sure if three minutes is enough time to create empathy, it could be, but i have moved on. 

Script 1 - Sitting on a cornflake - He is not aware
Script 2 - Exist - He is aware
... that his environment is not 'real'.

He does however remain in conflict with his environment in both. 

Exist has outrospective objectives. I reiterate the piece is about authorship. I want the audience to be active co-creators as opposed to the passive co-creators of major productions. The puppet is in narrative purgatory. He has been left their by his creator, the animator. His conscious is part complete. The creator has given him enough cognition for him to have awareness of his situation. One of the last lines, 'how can i define anything if i don't know who i am' is not only the puppet having an identity crisis. It is also a pun on designing characters, because in this instance, we do not know who he is and the audience, being co-creators, will be asked to create that backstory. Even I, the first half of this co-creation, do not know who he is. I have a very limited idea of who he might be. 

We join him after he as already been their for a long time. I have tried to make this clear when he tells the audience he does not know how long he has been there. I want to avoid questions of why isn't he striving to survive (I can hear Ed in the back of my mind). At this point i don't want him to be running around trying to find an exit. This is set after he has been searching for an exit. I plan for him to be out of breath initially, to indicate he has tried to escape and perhaps given up. 

I think what is missing from the script is the action half. I am going to give it another re-write this time with the action. I am not afraid to cut the dialogue back. I also feel he needs to be more reactive to the objects that appear and disappear. 

One more little twist. These objects (other characters), having been placed by me, the writer, the co-author, as part of my embodiment of the protagonist, will be presented to my co-authors as his creation, as his creative distribution. They will have to be suggestive but not conclusive. Their design will be crucial to how much the audience is led down certain lines which is something i do not want to do as this is in conflict with the pieces purpose. However, when i begin to write the action, i will have a conscious awareness of what the objects might be. These will be provoked by the thoughts this character might have. In this instance, the characters designed mind, the puppet, will also be the co-creator. 

I have attached the current script. It has penned in changes from the last recording session. It has penned in changes from after the recording session. It also has the thoughts that i had whilst cooking yesterday after the morning session with my supervisors. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Script Update, Ideas, and previous versions animatic.

This has been taken from an email i have sent to my supervisors, it has a lot of important information that i felt pointless re-editing for the blog, it is in its original form. A little backstory on the presentation of the work in the exposition (because otherwise you might not get it). I plan to present the animation on a kind of kinetoscope which has viewing goggles. The animation will run on a 16mm style rectangle, and there will be a miniature model of the set. The animation will play act as the projector in the animation. The update script follows the email. Firstly though, is the animatic i produced for the first version of the script, and of which Lee Saunders is voicing. 

Andy, Sean,

I have updated the script. I have tried to make the beginning half consistant with the latter. The beginning is slightly off with the anecdote but there is good reason for this - it is the foreshadowing of the end, the idea being when he screams 'who am i' it will act as the lungs releasing the oxygen - his mind releasing his last retainable memories. 

It purposely switches from past and present tense. I want to tease the audience and make them uneasy while they are listening. I feel it is important to creep the audience out and make them sense it is 'odd'. I have removed the over descriptive nature of his interaction with the other characters (the chair table etc) and plan to have these objects act the way they did, with him asking 'did you see that' refering to the mug falling through the table etc. The doubt about the chair has been reduced because it was killing the flow of the dialogue in the previous version. I plan to have the action played with more wide shots, so perhaps slowly panning left to right and having the characters, objects, move and change and he talks. I'm really hooked on tobias's idea that they have different styles and seans idea about having different stories as they change, so he could be at an art deco table one second, and at a mondrian style table the next, and then another made of an army supply crate on the next for example. 

I have decided i want push the audiences interaction with the piece further during the exposition. This is why he directly addresses them (but still left open so he could equally be addressing another person within or external to the scene). I think it would be nice for there to be a sketch book or question sheet where i ask them to draw his face or invite them to tell me who they think he is. I think this could be a way of further testing Craftons critique of Disney, in that he never understood that embodiment takes place equally with the audience. If they respond with imaginative variations, on who they think the character is, this will back up Craftons idea, and if they don't, it will allow me to speculate what that could mean, not in suggesting Crafton is wrong, but what was missing from the dialogue or action or design of the work. This is going to heavily influence the design of the character, as for this purpose he shouldn't have a suggestive form, but at the same time should be aesthetically sophisticated to compete with the professionalism i need to be aiming for.

As Andy already knows, i have hired out the sound booth tomorrow and will have the actor with me from about 2.30 onwards. I would like to get your thoughts on the script before then, to make sure any parts that need addressing can be addressed prior to recording. You are both also welcome to drop by tomorrow if you have the time and think you could offer more instruction or ideas to the actor on how this could be vocally pushed. I would really value your feedback tonight if possible.

Thanks in advance,

How you ever found yourself waiting? Can you remember where that was? I had no idea how long i had been there. It was as if time had escaped and the end would never arrive. Like lungs chained to the bottom of the ocean, waiting to release like a vacuum above sea. but deep down knowing that moment will never come. 
I however will remain optimistic. Come to think of it, i have no idea where i am. I'm having a coffee which is really weird because i hate coffee. It's only natural that i would reject it. Did you see that? Is it possible? Is that table an illusion? am i, am i tripping? This stool seems real enough. But wasn't i sat on a chair?
It was at this moment i started to consider the rationality of the situation. I couldn't work out if i had control or not. Was it random or predetermined? I mean, you, your right here, right now, as i speak and as you listen we share in this moment. Wouldn't you agree that our meeting is both random and yet, predetermined? Do you know where i am? Where are you? Is this, a dream? A waking dream? What does this mean for past and present? How do you define a moment? 
Am i remembering, dreaming, or am i living? is it a combination? It's like i'm around the corner and i have no idea where that corner is. What about existence, the universe? Theres stars, planets, all kinds of matter, no-one truly knows where any of this comes from, and i have no idea what any of this im experiencing is. 
I started asking myself, is that really here? what if this whole place is as real as the table. What if everything is conditioned to perception, and how we interpret the illusion of experience, and right now that mug, the table, even myself are part of that experience?
What if chance was predetermined, and everything you see right now was meant to be and, i try to think, try to remember.. but it's fragmented. I try to give this place some kind of meaning. but this place feels soooo soooo fragile. It's a purgatory for the forgotten. How did i even get here? How did i even get here. am i high? am i dreaming? Is my neurology deluding me? and then, and then i remember, i finally remember, i don't even know who i am. How i can define anything if i don't know who i am.
Who am i? Who am i? Who am i? Who am i?

Friday, 19 April 2013

Script for 'Exist'

Lee Saunders has been kind enough to donate his voice for the character in my latest piece. Here is the script Lee has been working on. 

I was sat down, like this, on a chair, or a stool, no, a chair, it doesn't matter. The only light i could see was coming from a 16mm projector output reflecting back at me. I have no idea what was on. I had no idea how long i had been there, i mean seriously, my sense of time was so flat. and that was it, the projector, it kept counting down, at different speeds. There was a table. There was nothing on it and it was right in front of me. I was having a drink. Nothing alcoholic just some coffee, and i mean i hate coffee, i had no idea why i had coffee, so, thinking 'why have i got this' I go to put the mug on the table, and it literally falls through the fucking table onto the floor. I couldn't make sense of what i had just witnessed. And i start questioning the tables existence. I mean, if i was tripping or some shit i wanna know about it. So i take my hand, like this, and slowly, i push it down, and as it meets the table, it vanished. I'm on this fucking stool, i mean chair, and the mugs on the floor, and everything's just black. And this thought comes to me. Is this random or predetermined? and this is where it got weird. The projector starts playing this exact moment im in. and i can see myself.

I start thinking, am i remembering or living this? What if its both? It's like i'm around the corner and i have no idea where that corner is. I start contemplating existence, the universe. Theres stars, planets, all kinds of matter, no-one truly knows where any of this shit comes from,and i have no idea what any of this im experiencing is. I started asking myself, is that really here? what if that mug is as real as the table. What if everything is conditioned to perception, and how we interpret experience through perception, and right now that mug, the table, even myself are part of that experience? What if chance was predetermined, and everything you see right now was meant to be and, i try to think, try to remember.. but it's fragmented. I try to give this some kind of meaning. but this place feels soooo soooo fragile. How did i even get here? How did i even get here. am i high? am i dreaming? Is my neurology leaving me? and then, and then i remember, i remember, i don't know who i am.
Who am i? Who am i? Who am i? Who am i?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

New Script.

After writing the second version of the latest script (not the one i have been progressing with Jools and Ed), I have stripped it back and placed out the central ideas on a visual map, with no designed linearity. The working title of this piece is called 'I, Exi t'. The focus of the piece, as discussed in previous posts, is to created a figurative and embodied performance centered on Donald Craftons idea that character is built equally on behalf of the audience as much as the designed performance and narrative created by the auteur. The embodied performance will be pulled back to the dialogue. Although the theme is about embodiment the character does not refer directly to my conversation about performance, but rather, his own conscious insecurity based on the confusion of not understanding his environmental experience - his confusion. The reason for the pulling back of embodiment to dialogue is for two reasons. Firstly, i want the audience to believe the character, and prove that Crafton is right about embodiment being internal and external to the performance. That performance in animation, and of animation can be used to create an embodied character without relying on a fully embodied performance. Secondly, the last line is the most significant.

'and then i remember (he has been confused throughout by this point), i remember, i don't know who i am'

For him to finally remember that he doesn't remember, both allows the confusion to remain central to the theme and also allow the audience to emote with him. By having rational thought throughout the dialogue driving embodiment, his performance can remain figurative with some emotive gesture. So the second reason is the concealment of facial expression - when he remembers he doesn't know who he is, his face will be revealed to be blank. 

The content has been inspired by figurative narrative ideas that drove Betty Boop - mock, figurative stories that suggest her background was of our world (documentary as if having relationships with other human performers) as Crafton describes. And significantly by Ryan directed by Chris Landreth, which i will discuss in more depth in a later post. He interviews Ryan Larkin with abstract and surreal environments and actions that explore his life. The interview component of the narratives is used in my piece, the character is talking, but we never really know to who (the audience, another concealed from the narrative or himself), and as you may well of worked out by now from the above graph, is about confusion, perception, existence, experience and memory. I will post the reworked script later.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Waking Life and Shave it

This clip from Waking Life is one of the influences for my latest piece. Although the dialog focuses on social problems, the energy of performance and use of colour that corresponds to the internal emotion. This is something i wish to incorporate, and could possibly be driven by the hair strand as well as the lighting set up.

and while the colour design in Shave It is over intense and extremely pleasing on the eye i think at this time it would be too much of a push to achieve something similar (just check out the credit list). Still, a joy to watch, even with the predictable ending.

Friday, 5 April 2013

PGD stage final

To summate the PGD stage i have wrote a piece that aims to tackle a number of ideas that have circulated during this phase. I want to combine both figurative and embodied performance, that tackles the issues Disney hadn't anticipated when striving for embodiment. Donald Crafton in Shadow of a Mouse says 

'The great irony of Disney's desire to achieve emotional depth and emotive power in his films is that, although his films were wildly successful commercially, beloved by generations of moviegoers, and formatively influential on the industry, aesthetically his urge was something of a noble failure when it came to remaking animation in a new image. The figurative model often overwhelms the embodied. He did not seem to grasp that embodiment did not take place by funnelling resources into the most skilled animated acting possible, or that personality alone could not be created on-screen by skilled drawing alone. Whether identification and engagement took place was ultimately something that happened with the movie watcher - or not.'   Pg. 54

I have wrote a script for a voiceover to read. It is a mock story on the theme of surreal happenings that cause confusion - or, as we find out, could it be confusing happenings that cause surreal experience? The character performs as if he is the voiceover, it will remain concealed until the end. This will hopefully capture both figurative and embodied performances. I hope to provoke a similar question to the quote above, does embodiment take place in performance in or of animation, or is it both? There is little about the character that will be defined. He will be confused, refer to his potential age - we will never be sure - though the voiceover will play an influential role. I plan to voice this myself currently, though this may change depending on time. I plan to use the Moom rig with the hair dynamic i created which will hopefully play an important role as a secondary support with other abstract performances. It will use confusion as a platform to explore existence, illusion and identity. I will post the script over the weekend. I will start the piece early next week. I am unsure whether to create a storyboard (time being the major factor) this time would be better spent creating assets and maybe a blocking pass is a more realistic option.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Shadow of a Mouse - Chapter 1

Iv just finished the first chapter of Shadow of  Mouse by Donald Crafton. The chapter is call Performance in and of animation.

There is much to discuss about the chapter on a whole but i am going to list the parts i have highlighted. They are mostly based on the discussion of Figurative (extroverted) performance and Embodied (introverted) performance. 

Figurative Performance

Pg. 27-28 

'Betty [Boop] is in part a star by association. She shows us how she is a figuration of "the star" by importing celebrity charisma into her Tooniverse. Her personality is an infectious composite of acquired details, more like a collection of poached traits than a complex expression of inner drives and motives. As a figure, she lacks an interior core of emotion or individual expressivity.'

Pg. 28

'Alongside Disney's mid-1930's quest to endow cartoon characters with personality, individual character, and what the animators likd to call the "illusion of life," other studios continued introducing characters that they hoped would compete with Mickey but also continued to produce figurative performances.'

Pg. 29

'Standardized character model sheets not only helped the animators working in the figurative mode to maintain a consistant look in scenes, but they also provided a formulary of poses and facial expressions. The studio apprentice system, whereby experienced animators taught standard practices to the newcomers, perpetuated ways of signifying character through pantomimed gestures that had been current for a century in theatre and painting. The need to establish nonverbal techniques for expressing emotions and meaning was linked to the material circumstances of dramatic presentation. Without electric illumination of the stage or amplification of the voice, actors learned that they must communicate with their bodies. furthermore, the range of these gestures had to be of limited number and easily understood by audiences. Actors and theatergoers absorbed these somatic signs. As it had been practiced in gaslight melodrama, the actors move from pose to pose, conveying throughts through conventional broad gestures of face and limbs. Audiences grasp the message by training or by intuition. ... The name of associated with this approach is Francois Delsarte.'

Pg. 30

'Figuratively performing characters don't try to hide that they're manufactured beings; they are happy to show us the process of their making and how they got to be cartoons, often in a funny, self-mocking way.'

Pg. 33

'The term re-performance was inspired by performance theorist Richard Schechner's claim that all performances are "restored behaviour." Discussing social practices and rituals, which include organized public performances such as plays, performance art, and films, he deploys a cinematic analogy: "Restored behavior is living behavior can be rearranged or reconstructed; they are independent of the casual systems (social, psychological, technological) that brought them into existence. They have a life of their own. The original 'truth' or 'source' of the behavior may not be known, or may be lost, ignored, or contradicted-even while that truth or source is being honored and observed." ... They are "arrangements," that is, materials that have been transformed from ordinariness by repeating a prior behavoir/performance with a different purpose, by declaring them to have a special significance, or by calling attention to their arranged status by framing, marking or heightening them, or through other means. Schechner might describe the animators' use of repetition as a rehearsal. It is the work of rehearsals to prepare the strips of behavior so that when expressed by performers these strips seem spontaneous, authentic, unrehearsed." ... The idea of rehearsing in order to create the appearance that a behavior is unrehearsed describes another distinction between performance in and of animation. One of Schechner's conditions for a performance is that it is not extemporaneous original behavior or improvised gesturing but instead adheres to some agreed-upon map, scenario, or pattern. The conditional performance seems spontaneous, authentic, and unrehearsed, like any other screen performance. Nonetheless, the on-screen actions follow the templates designed by the animators.'

Embodied Performances

Pg. 36

'Embodied acting is introverted. It is the philosophy and practice of creating imaginatively realized beings with individuality, depth, and internal complexity.'

Pg. 40

'Director Dave Hand advised young animators, "We have been pretty stock-minded in the past. We always made a walk in the same way. That is one thing Don [Grahams] action analysis classes are doing-at least did for me. A few years ago there were only two walks-a regular walk and a felix walk. Then we began to think and now we find a walk for every different kind of person."'

 Pg. 42

'Embodied performers have discernible interior as well as extrinsic traits - idiosyncrasies, Mauss might say. This completed character, as Graver described it, "is the body that western audiences are trained to look for first and gaze at most intently. Its ready display of both inside and outside makes it pleasing object of contemplation..."... The studio's self-analysis made it clear that personality drove the narrative.'

Pg. 42

'[Don] Graham taught that the timing and clarity of these commutative moments in the animation were part of the conceptualization of the work: "Gestures don't happen in animation; they are purposefully drawn."' 

Pg. 44

'Eventually Disney conflated the embodied acting approach with narrative. "I look for a story with heart," he told Bob Thomas. "It should be a simple story with characters the audience really can care about. They've got to have a rooting interest...Everything should be related to human experience in storytelling."'

Pg. 47

'The story [Clock Cleaners], then, shows neoteny, a reverse evolution from fully embodied to disembodied characterizations. Mickey, Donald and Goofy travel back to the days of figurative performance in cartoons. The system itself has become a figure clockwork industrialization of the animation process that asserts its own implacable regime under the ironically opposed signs of time and liberty.'

Pg. 48

'The animators and Graham were pursuing a Stanislavskian ideal of embodiment, trying to inject human thought, motion and emotion into their formerly figurative hieroglyphs, but the result was more complicated than they intended. They constructed lifelike movements and gave their characters the illusion of sentience, free will, and human frailty without the visible strings to the animators or their techniques. Inadvertently, though, they introduced ambiguity and increased the likelihood of unintentional meanings.'

Pg. 53

'Conditional performance - one might even call it pre-performance - thus involves not only imaginatively experiencing the drawing' movement before they're projected to an audience, but it also involves the animators ability to see the audience's reactions in their mind's eye. This is highly theatrical.'

Pg. 54

'The Tooniverse is a meeting place where the performances of the toons (the characters "there," on-screen, but also off-screen as my imagined beings), the animators (also "there," but off-screen and in the past), and my embodying performance (physically "here," off-screen, and cinesthetically"there," on-screen, in the present)...'