Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Great Spring Clean - part 3

Here's my latest discovery - or rather rediscovery - unearthed in the great box graveyard of paperwork from The Last Belle:

 It's a page from the Last Belle script, with notations by actress Sienna Guillory. Sienna came to the recording amazingly well prepared (as did all the cast) and she bubbled up with all sorts of very good ideas to try out during our recording session. The animation process is so slow, methodical and controlled that the recording sessions were, in contrast, an oasis of spontaneity - flesh and blood interaction, running with ideas, just trying stuff... it was a very exciting time.

I'm not a fan of trying to do a wholesale caricature of an actor or their mannerisms. (Why do it? I'm never going to be as good copying an actor as the actual actor is in the flesh - it's no more likely than an Elvis impersonator being better than the real Elvis.) And the Last Belle characters were designed to look so stylized that their mannerisms had to be equally stylised and less naturalistic than the human performer who supplied their voice. But watching a good performer can be a great jumping off point from which you can then invent stuff.

In this section of the script Rosie avoids a potentially embarrassing telephone conversation by pretending that there is interference on the line, which she fakes by crackling and hissing down the phone herself. I'd organised the recording sessions with a great engineer called Tim Lofts who is very creative and very happy to roll with things in a spontaneous way, 'riding' the controls and letting the actors feel free to take things where they like. When Sienna did her first take of this line she really let rip in a very funny way, letting loose a string of hissing, crackling and raspberry noises that none of us had expected.

When it came time to animate this sequence it meant I could really have some fun:

These 'raspberry noise' drawings make up less than a half second of screen time so that you feel them rather than see them. It's surprising just how far you can push a series of drawings and yet still have them feel relatively subtle in motion. And the great thing about drawing this exaggerated stuff with pencil on paper is that you can do whatever you feel - there are no rigs underneath holding you back. If you can think it, you can draw it.

Another trip down memory lane... time to head back to the mountain of boxes to see what turns up next...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Great Spring Clean - part 2

The Great Spring Clean continues... I'm not only wading through artwork for the film but have now stumbled across sketches for the poster design too. It's amazing how you forget all this stuff until you lift a box lid and find it all sitting there, staring back up at you.

This was my first scribbled idea for a poster...

The idea was to base the poster around the
distorted checkerboard pattern used for the
'drunk in the Underground' sequence. I made
this mock-up at A3 size, but then decided it was
too fussy a design to work if it was reproduced
small on a web site...

In the process of simplifying, things got
maybe a bit too crude. Another rejection.
(Incidentally, my giant self-promoting name
on these mock-ups is not an example of my
ego slipping it's moorings but -like the web
address text- was used as a proxy for an
area of finer text in the final. That's my
excuse, and I'm sticking to it.) 

I got Roy Naisbitt in on the act too. Here's
one of Roy's rough sketches laying out the
journey that happens during the film.

Another version. But again we felt this would be too
fussy when reproduced small.

My 'Eureka!' moment, caught on the back of an envelope.

...Which led to this mock-up. I finally felt happy with
an image that hinted at the story, principle character,
feel, and location of the film. And which would read
when reproduced small.

The final image, with a lot of additional digital lighting effects,
text, and details added by my pal Kirk Hendry.
 If I'm honest I found designing the poster way more difficult than making the actual film...