Category: Animation

  • Backup!

    World backup day is March 31st. Even though I’m writing this in July the topic seems relevant at any time and the sooner the better if you are not backing up already.

    Stopmotion, or most animation productions for that matter, are very time consuming endeavors. Even though stopmotion productions involve real puppets and sets, a huge portion of the project assets live in the digital realm. A backup plan to maintain and restore hundreds of hours worth of footage and other production content is critical. I have been exploring backup scenarios and recently used gliffy to diagram a plan. I have also been exploring crashplan as an additional backup component during active productions where new footage and files are being created regularly.

    Here is my gliffy backup plan diagram.

    backup-plan-diagram-2013

    The plan contains redundancy to cover failures that might occur at various levels such as device, location and time. I also added the Vimeo example as a form of backup since it allows for the publishing of high definition content (although in a compressed form). There are other network attached storage solutions, external drives and RAID solutions that I may explore further. For example, something like drobo looks like it could take the place of individual USB drives in my diagram.


  • Script Frenzy: Week 4 (FINAL)

    FADE IN

    INT. ANIMATION STUDIO – NIGHT

    An experimental animator posts a final blog update about writing a script in one month for something called Script Frenzy. A printed copy of his final script sits nearby waiting to be read. Empty stage sets from some unfinished stopmotion projects hug the nearby walls. Puppet parts huddle together on a smaller worktable nearby waiting to come to life in some future animated project.

    GRANT
    (typing)

    Hooray! On Friday April 27, 2012 I completed the Script Frenzy at 100 pages! Is it a script? Yes. Is it a GOOD script? Well…that’s another story.

    It was a fun exercise and the process is what I enjoyed the most. When I wrote my final pages I was glad to be done but also a little sad that I might not be visiting my characters or their world as much now. I may have just really begun to know them. Anyway, I’m printing the script and will do a fresh read through to prep for any further re-writes.

    I’ll probably let the script set for some time and then read it fresh months from now and see if anything about it holds up. Right now I’m too close to it, seeing all the flaws or pieces I really like in spite of the whole. I started with a very crude idea and ended up with a first draft including and a few scenes and sequences that I did not envision before writing! To be writing and have totally new scenes and outcomes come into existence organically was exciting.

    The look of the film is something that kept coming up in my mind. I kept imagining it in black and white like a 1940’s horror flick and wanted to stop writing and get to storyboarding. But, pressing on with the writing left me with a 100 page draft of raw material which presumably would make for a better storyboard anyway.

    Thanks to everyone that gave words/tweets/posts of encouragement along the way. I appreciate it!

    The animator posts the update on his blog, gets up, and heads to another room to eat Oreo’s  and watch a movie!

    FADE OUT

     


  • Script Frenzy: Week 3

    Seventy-six pages done!

    I continue to write my script non-linearly. As one scene is written, the dialogue or descriptions will spark ideas that are incorporated into other scenes. Celtx has an index card view that lets you drag-and-drop scenes anywhere in the script. It is a great feature and is similar to moving video clips around in an editing timeline.

    This week, I caught up on twitter and the screnzy forums since other scriptfrenzy writers are sharing their experiences online. It’s comforting to know that other writers in the screnzy have those “brick-wall” moments that I’ve had. The moments when the script feels like it has stalled.

    I usually start a writing session by skimming over everything in the script so far and looking for the parts that interest me at the time and need more work. I just jump in the script and start building it out further, whether it is page 2, 20 or 40. Still, I spent time through the week thinking of specific scenes but also the overall screenplay to see what was coming together and where the holes (and there are lots of them) are located!

    I may have found an organizing concept to help inform the overall structure of the screenplay. I really like to build internal rules in my experimental animations that help synthesize form and content. For example, one of the principles I’m toying with in the script is “vibration”. Therefore, a lot of scenes, details and dialogue will incorporate vibratory elements. I’ll also attempt to incorporate vibration into the formalistic aspects of the “film” via sound effects, camera work, and other editing or pacing instructions. I suppose a pure script wouldn’t have directorial details, but I feel adherence to the internal rules are important for the integrity of the work.

     


  • Script Frenzy: Week 2

    I made it past page 50 this week for Script Frenzy! I spent some time this weekend using MindMeister which helps since I dove right in on April 1st with no real character or plot outlines. So far, the combination of mind-mapping in MindMeister and writing the script in Celtx seems promising.

    The mind map for the film has the characters and relationships on the left and the film outline (acts, plot, structure) on the right. It was nice to be able to brainstorm things visually and freely move things around which should help with writing the next 50 pages. I’m still working non-linearly, writing blocks of scenes for the different acts at different times as more details come to mind.

    Writing a (good) feature is not easy! I’m typically work on short-form projects, so having to craft a story that can sustain and engage the audience over 100 pages is a big challenge. The exercise itself helps me appreciate the talent and skill that good screenwriters have! My script has so many issues right now, but I’m pressing on.


  • Script Frenzy: Week 1

    Sometime on April 1st I learned about Script Frenzy via news feeds and tweets and looked into it further. For several years, I have had one idea for a feature length, live-action film so I decided to sign up for the frenzy to see what I could come up with. I usually storyboard my animation projects instead of formally scripting them, using basic outlines and visual sketches to guide the production. Hopefully, the process of doing Script Frenzy will be educational and may even produce ideas for some future feature.

    I plan to use the frenzy to bang out a first draft no matter how terrible it turns out. As of page 32, there are a lot of problems with the script, but it is also a lot of fun and my hope is that after 100 pages maybe 1/3 of it will be interesting enough to warrant future drafts or other directions.

    On April 1st I used my white board to outline the format of the 100 page script and listed the main characters. I didn’t spend a lot of time outline but just jumped in with the milestones in mind for page 10, 25, 75, 85, and 100 and started writing. The film, in my mind’s eye, is comprised of a few key scenes and concepts and I’m writing around visuals at this point. The dialog is flat and some things are derivative but, and I believe this is the fun part, I keep pushing forward in spite of those weaknesses.

    In order to keep moving I will literally have my characters comment on things like bad dialog or meandering action. They will exclaim that what they are discussing doesn’t make sense and simply walk away followed by a transition or a cut to a different scene altogether. I find that helps me to break out of scenes that don’t seem to be working and get back to the action quickly. I’m also taking notes as I go and during this first week have come up with different directions that characters and the overall script will take. I’m outlining as I go and sprinkling description and dialog that comes to mind along the way. I switch between linear and non-linear writing by writing chronologically but when an idea strikes I’ll add in scenes in Act 2 or 3 quickly and then move back to the chronological order. I have rough place holders already for the milestones throughout the script and have started to flesh them out and rearrange scenes.

    I don’t know if this is how other people write or not but it is how I’m approaching things right now. Ultimately, I am viewing this whole exercise as process over product. The frenzy rules are loose enough to allow for creativity and bad first drafts. The idea is to get a complete first draft done in a short amount of time!

    As for the story? The script I am writing is hard to define since I am letting it emerge during the writing process. At this point I’ll say it’s speculative horror and it is definitely subject to change. This week it’s Jurassic Park and Tom Sawyer meets the Andromeda Strain!