Saturday, 30 August 2008

Done (For Now)

Here it is then. Still need to sort some bits out before I send it to festivals and stuff - the sound at the end is a bit shit, and it all needs to be properly compressed. We managed to get the show all set up the other day too, and it's looking pretty good projected in HD, but the colours have somehow become a bit washed out during the compression process which is a bit annoying. Like I say though, I'll sort it out over the next couple of weeks...

You can watch it bigger if you click through to vimeo, and it sounds much better through headphones.

5 from Retchy on Vimeo.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

More Sound

Spent a couple of days this week developing the sound and realising how much I need to work on it. A lot, that's how much. Still, made quite a bit of progress today as I chose to ignore all the annoyances of Logic Pro and just stopped moaning and got on with it.

5 - Rough Mix 2 from Retchy on Vimeo.

I'm going to have to spend the majority of my daylight hours in college working on the rest of the sound, and just do the final bit of animation in the evenings - I should have that finished by sunday...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Very Rough Edit

I just spent the last couple of days putting this edit together, with some reeeeeaaally rough sound. I'm quite happy with it though, and I think I needed to do it to get away from my room for a bit and to see what does and doesn't work. I'm struggling a bit with the next part after the phone - I think I'm gonna keep the smell bit really brief and to the point, with the sound of a match striking and sparking up. I've started work on the taste section, with cakes and stuff, but I'm not sure about that either.

5 - Very Rough Edit from Retchy on Vimeo.

3 Weeks to go!

Friday, 1 August 2008


Here's another nearly finished shot. I've got a few other bits and pieces too, but haven't uploaded them yet. I'm quite liking this one, but I was a bit worried about how it would fit in with the rest of the film as it's comparatively quite visually rich.

Daisies! from Retchy on Vimeo.

So I put this together to see how the colour flows across the shots I've got so far. It's working, I think, but I'm a bit worried about the phone/cotton wool shot now, as it seems a bit too washed out and pale. I really want to go in and tweak it but I can't afford to spend ages on it at the moment - I've got more important things to worry about.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Cotton Woolage

Here are a couple of clips of what I've been working on this week. Some decent progress, I reckons, despite wednesday being wiped out with stupid after effects problems. All sorted now though...

Cotton Wool from Retchy on Vimeo.

Cotton Wool - Take 2 from Retchy on Vimeo.

The shot's not finished yet, but it's nearly there - just need to sort out the colliding cotton wool movement and tweak the camera move a bit.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

New Transition

Just been re-working the transition that I was unhappy with. I've decided to keep the whole film grounded in the hand drawn ink style, with various other medium working alongside it, as opposed to the distinct differences in style I had originally planned for each section.

Better Transition from Retchy on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


I've just wasted a week working on stuff that looks shit. Oh well. I'm referring to the bit, in the clip below, with the string, before it transitions into the phone. It just looks too out of place and breaks the continuity, as well as making the whole sequence too long. I think the transition from hand drawn pigeon to scratched film works pretty well, but the string bit is too detailed, complicated and generally shit looking.

Transitions from Retchy on Vimeo.

The annoying thing is that it's not even a particularly important bit of the film - I should be worrying about other stuff. I think I'll keep it hand drawn and similar to the previous transition now, which should take far less time to sort out.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Frank's Finished

We installed it at the bar last sunday and it's already been taken down. Bit of a short run, but it all seemed to go down quite well, with lots of positive feedback from the bar. Unfortunately the cool balsa wood TV frame that David made was too small and the projector too far away for the image to fit in the screen, so we just had to use the pull down projector screen that was already there. Bit of a shame, cos it would've tied it all together nicely, but these things happen...

Here's another bit of animation from the project, all cut out by hand and animated by David - I just did the speech bubbles.

Frank's Cut Out from Retchy on Vimeo.

I won't bore you with all the other bits, as they're kind of only relevant if you're sitting in the bar they were made for. Don't worry, you're not missing anything particularly amazing.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Proposal Re-Write

Here it is again. It's pretty much completely re-written, which I wasn't really expecting to have to do, but it was probably worth it really - it's much more focused and actually states what I want to do properly this time. I think. I think I thought that about the last one though, until my tutors got hold of it.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Mr. Pigeon

I've been putting this together today, just thought I'd post it to prove that I have actually been working. It's not the finished shot yet, but I reckon it's looking ok - just need to sort out the previous scene so I can work on the transition, which will involve trees and something or other happening with the negative spaces in between the wires...

Pigeon Test from Retchy on Vimeo.

Got to re-write bits of my proposal now. Oh happy joy joy.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

16mm Film and Sound Test

Just put together a test for the telegraph wire abstract bit of my film. I just did a bunch of different tests with various inks and pens and stuff and combined a few of them in After Effects to see which ones would work best. I think the sections where there are more clearly defined lines, where I used a comb to scratch away the ink, work best with the twangy sounds I recorded today - a Slinky stretching and dangling in front of the mic.

16mm Ink Test from Retchy on Vimeo.

The final version will have the film going horizontally from left to right in HD format, which will involve scanning the film at about 1800 dpi, as opposed to projecting and filming it like I did here. I'm working (very slowly) on this at the moment, and I'll also put some more controlled hand drawn animation over the top.

Monday, 2 June 2008

CCTVs In Love

Another little bit for Frank's TV. I'll probably add a title to clarify it a bit more. We're definitely getting there now. David's sorting out all the wiring for the buttons - Tim ended up lending us his dvd player that is already wired up, which makes things a lot easier.

CCTVs In Love from Retchy on Vimeo.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

My Masters Proposal

Here it is. A few more adjustments may need to be made, but this is the general idea. I'm working on a script as well to clarify exactly what happens, and then I'll move on to storyboarding, animatics and stuff. Here's a rough, unfinished version of the script too. I'll update it once it's finished.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Pooing Birds

Just uploaded another bit for Frank's TV. Some birds pooing. It may seem a bit random, but these are pictures they have hanging around the bar so it'll make a bit more sense when you're sitting there watching. Hopefully.

Birds. Pooing from Retchy on Vimeo.

We're meeting Tim Hunkin tomorrow to talk about technical stuff. You may have heard of him - he used to do stuff on telly and cartoons for the Gaurdian or Observer a while ago I think, and also some crazy arcade animation simulator type things that are on Southwold peer which he gave us a talk about. Tomorrow's meeting will hopefully clarify what needs to be done on the technical side of things for this project, as up until now I have been fairly clueless.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

MA Project

I could spend forever looking at other people's stuff and never actually make any decisions about my own bloody film. Everything I see, I want to emulate. One minute it's Robert Breer or Stuart Hilton, then it's Blu, then it's Tim Webb, then it's some music video or other, then it's Semiconductor blah blah blah, so it goes on. One minute I feel like giving up on my own ideas and using some poem or something as a starting point, then I feel like that would be cheating and that I've already started on my own ideas and it would all be wasted time if I gave up now. I wish someone would just tell me what to do!

Anyway, I started off thinking the soundtrack would be leading the ideas for this film, but it turns out not to quite work like that. Ideas just tend to come from all directions, feeding into each other - with that test below, for example, I recorded the sound of the rice crispies first, thinking it would have a nice textural quality, but I didn't intend to use actual rice crispies to represent the photons, or whatever they're supposed to be. Is this the wrong way to work? I dunno, it's probably ok if you've got time to piss about, but I don't. I'm gonna have to make certain assumptions about sound/image relationships I think, and just trust my judgement where I have to.

More ideas have started pushing the old ones out of my tiny mind again. I think these new ones might be the way to go this time though, as they kind of naturally hold everything together. Sticking with the sciencey stuff, I'm "going to" take certain theories, like the quantum electro dynamics stuff, and just kind of take the piss a bit and let my imagination run with the ideas. For instance, I think my opening scene will be a pigeon choking on a rice crispie light particle. Or maybe I'll have little monsters deciding whether to let photons through, or send them reflecting on their way. Maybe there could be a big battle between monsters affiliated to each colour, deciding what colour certain things are.

I'm rambling, this probably makes very little sense to anyone outside my face. Ignore me.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

MA Project

This is the very first test for the final film, nothing finished, just getting some audio visual ideas down. It's all a bit aimless at the moment, and I've finally come to realise that I need to properly plan out a structure for this, or it'll end up a complete mess. So that's what I'm gonna do.

Maters Project First Test from Retchy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Frank's Bar

Here's the pretty much finished menu screen type thing that will be looping whenever nobody's using or wants to ignore it. The button pushing bit is supposed to be a subtle hint to the audience that they should push the buttons on their table to make stuff happen.

Frank's TV from Retchy on Vimeo.

We've had quite a few tutorials about this project now, and have come up with quite a few ideas for the animations and their level of interactivity - it's just a case of narrowing down which ideas we actually want to use and deciding on the structure fairly soon so we can start planing our time properly. We were talking about possibly upping the level of interactivity a bit by somehow introducing multiple endings to some of the mini narratives we've come up with. David filmed one of his ideas the other day about two security cameras finding each other and falling in love - maybe we could have a tragic ending or something as well, and have the audience decide which one they want to see. Or if there are lots of people, have a vote? I dunno. Even these simple ideas are introducing much more technical problems that I wouldn't have a clue how to solve, and they might also intrude too much on the audience.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Frank's Bar

The final taught unit of the MA is all about audience and location - we have to produce 30 seconds of animation with a specific audience and location in mind, and then exhibit the animation in the chosen location. David and I have decided to work together again, and after a bit of brainstorming we came up with a decent idea I think. It's hard to explainf without it sounding a bit rubbish though.

We're basically doing a (non-pretentious, silly) installation for Frank's Bar in Norwich, kind of taking the piss out of those trendy bar visuals you get in horrible clubs. The idea is that lots of little pieces of animation will be unified under the theme of 'Frank's TV', and the audience will be able to change the channels with a little remote control that will be on each of the tables. So far, we've filmed the menu screen which I'm putting together at the moment, and David is filming some people for the staff profiles, which will be Top Trumps style.

Here are some pictures of the bar...

The upstairs bit already has a projector screen and bracket, so setting that up should be fairly straight forward and should pass our health and safety test wot we have to do.

Monday, 5 May 2008

MA Project

Right, it's about time I got back into the habit of posting on here again. I have been doing stuff, honest, just not much to show or write about until recently. I've mostly been trying to figure out what the hell I'm going to do for the final masters project - reading stuff, watching stuff and generally getting a bit worried. I eventually came to the conclusion that I want to make a film consisting of a series of small, interlinked pieces of animation using various techniques (hopefully making me employable) that are unified by a theme of some sort.

The theme I've chosen has kind of been at the back of my mind for a while now, but I haven't really had the time or the opportunity to think it through properly until recently. I read a book called "The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out", a collection of essays, lectures and stuff by the quantum physicist Richard Feynman a year or so ago, and some of the articles got me thinking. I'm no scientist, but reading this and other such books like Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and "The Blind Watchmaker", have opened my eyes to how FUCKING AMAZING the sub-cellular world is. I've always loved watching natural history programmes on TV, and been fascinated by insects (especially Ants) and their behaviour, but those shows tend to cover fairly similar, familiar (to humans) ground. The way these authors write and speak about their subjects just really inspires me and sets my mind wandering, trying to figure out visual ways of conveying the absurdity and wonder of the theories they communicate.

So that is what I plan to attempt. I am in no way pretending to fully understand many of the concepts and theories that I'll be using, and I will in no way be trying to accurately represent them - they are merely starting points, something to come back to for inspiration when I get lost, and to spark my thoughts off - I will follow them on whatever tangent they choose to take. Feynman's theory of quantum electro-dynamics, for instance, has lead me to animate some Rice Krispies. That's how my head works.

People have done this before of course (the excellent Semiconductor for example) but I think I can bring something new to the subject. Ignorance, perhaps, or just complete misunderstanding. This post has gone on too long already - I'll explain myself better next time, but I'm probably just as confused as you are at the moment...

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Here's a music vid I threw together now I've got a bit of spare time, with stuff I did last year before the MA. Music is by my mates Tom and Will - Tom is talking about re-jigging the track a bit, so there may be an updated version later...and the animation flash compression / conversion is a bit shit, annoyingly. Watch it in HD here if you want, it looks much better...

Frankenjizz from Retchy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Final Mapping Test

This is the result of those last few stressful days of last term. Not very much to write home about. I don't know how much further I'll take this now - I've got new ideas that I'm more interested in at the moment. I'll keep these tests at the back of my mind in case some of these new ideas happen to be suited to the mapping technique. I'm just in the mood to start afresh with something else now...

More Hand Drawn Mapping from Retchy on Vimeo.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Please Let The Writing Be Over...

Right. Time to get my head straight. I've spent the last four days writing up projects - I'm sure you can imagine how mind numbing that can be. I've also got three days to finish my self negotiated project (the one with all the projection stuff) and I haven't been able to work on it for about six weeks (bar a couple of days the other week) because of various fuck-ups, the most recent being a useless bunch of fuckwits selling me something they "don't actually have sir, oooOOoo, it's virtual stock, you see". Honestly, I do despair sometimes.

Anyway, hopefully it'll arrive tomorrow morning (I've ordered it from another website now) just as I wake up, fresh for three days of stress. I'm going to really have to push it to get some decent results before the deadline. This project hasn't made me any the wiser as to how I'm going to apply this technique so far, so I need to try some decent stuff out so I can think about it over the break.

The plan is to try out the two most ambitious ideas I've had for the project, CONCENTRATE AND THINK ABOUT WHAT I'M DOING, be patient, and take my time to do some decent animations while I'm at the factory. The first one is the one that's storyboarded a couple of posts below - I've developed it a bit more in my head though. The other one will involve cubes hanging from the ceiling instead of triangles. Much more complicated and time consuming to sort out but, like i said, I need to push it.

On a side note, these three videos are really good. I want to combine all three styles, plus my work, in future. God knows how though.

ch'ien belgique from depart on Vimeo.

Etienne De Crecy Live 2007 Transmusicales de Rennes from Clement bournat on Vimeo.

Animal Collective - Leaf House from benjamin ramirez on Vimeo.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Sound Re-design - Finished

I heard this for the first time on the proper mixing sound room set up since I'd made quite a few changes the other day, and made the decision not to make any more changes to it. It's sounding good, I reckon. Certainly a lot better than I had anticipated being able to achieve. Here it is...

Sound Re-Design - Finished from Retchy on Vimeo.

Certainly a lot more subtle than previous versions, the changes from the last version I uploaded are probably too small to be noticeable on normal computer speakers though. The main change is in the sound of the repeating, throbbing noise - I've layered it up with two other sounds to soften it a bit, and automated the reverberation and volume settings for each in and out point of every pulse. I've also tidied up the end to make it slightly less unsure of itself, and sorted out the levels for the whole track, which makes a huge difference to the overall feel of the clip - everything just sits together so much more nicely, and the range of frequencies are much clearer now.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

More Narrative Presentations

I got to sit and be entertained today and didn't have to worry about presenting stuff, which was nice. There was some really good presentations today, which made me a bit jealous cos I felt like I could have pushed myself a bit more and come up with something more interesting. Oh well. Anyway, Juliet's was dead good - she just had a table and a lamp set up, started some sort of campfire song playing, and proceeded to lay out a camping scene in front of us with little propped up, cut out drawings she'd made. A really random story about people with Goat skulls for heads ensued, but it just seemed to work with the music. The simple black and white ink drawings really stuck in my mind for some reason.

Who else was good? They were all good, but, shit I can't remember her name (Jackie?), she basically managed to make us all feel like we were four years old again. In a good way. She just told us a nice little story about an embroidery needle, and then revealed that the blanket that had been on her knee throughout was actually a kind of embroidered storyboard of the whole tale. Really simple, but extremely effective. I'm jealous of her grandchildren.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Sound Re-Design

Spent a good few hours cooped up in the sound booth today and managed to make quite a few improvements I think. You won't be able to hear the bass on here very well probably, but the mix is all wrong anyway. I'm just working on getting the flow of it right at the moment and I'll worry about the levels later.

Sound Re-Design - Work In Progress from Retchy on Vimeo.

I quite like the start with the tunnel effects as you're outside the car and the change to a warmer, more muffled sound as you join the character inside. That bit was completely underdeveloped until today. I've also taken out quite a few of the rumbles that happen as the lights flash - there was a noise for every single pulse before, and it was complete overkill. All the sounds are recorded from a transistor radio I've had since I was about 8 - it still has the original batteries in it! - and another old '70s one I got off ebay.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

More Planning

Now that I've decided to spend all that money, I just want to bloody get on with it really, but I'll have to wait until the thing arrives now. I've set up Modul8 in preparation - I think this is how it will work - the DualHead2Go apparently fools the computer into thinking it has a reeeeeaaaalllllly wide (or double) screen resolution so you can span different outputs across it. I think. So I doubled the horizontal output of Modul8 so that it is 8:3 instead of the normal 4:3 aspect ratio. The left side of the screen will go to projector one while the right side will go to projector two. Again, I think.

Here's a storyboard for the test I'm going to do next week. Hopefully I'll be able to get someone to operate the camera for me, cos this is really a two man job. If you click the picture you'll be able to actually read it.

Friday, 29 February 2008

Quel Surprise, Une Probleme Technicale!

I was working on the assumption that I would be able to use two laptops in order to project both onto the hanging shapes and the wall behind. However, I'm not allowed to borrow the extra one from the college, cos I'm apparently not the right kind of student. I now have to spend money on a solution that probably won't work, or even more money on something that definitely will work. I won't bore you with the technicalities, but basically I need a gadget that will allow me to output two different sources from the same laptop.

The cheaper option will mean I have to have a setup like this, actually physically having to mask the projectors off with card or something, which will be virtually impossible to set up without me wanting to kill something...and I'm not even sure it's possible.

The expensive option would be sooooo much easier and would be guaranteed to work - Matrox DualHead2Go. I have a decision to make.

Edit: I just got my loan through. What's a hundred pounds these days, eh? I'll try and sell some more videogames to cover the cost. It better be worth it though...

Sound Re-Design

I had an interesting tutorial with a sound designer called Barnaby, whose surname I can't remember, today. We went through what I had already done on the project (not really very much), and picked apart what was and wasn't working. He pointed out that the beginning gets far too over the top, far too soon, and lacks the subtlety that is needed for it to contrast with the build up and climax of the rest of the track. I did kind of know this, but was ignoring the fact and distracting myself by tinkering with the minutiae of the project instead of concentrating on the overarching flow from start to finish. He talked a lot about orchestrating all the elements of the track, gradually introducing elements, pulling them back at certain points, synching with the images and then cutting off that relationship temporarily and so on...all really helpful points that have jolted me out of my blinkered focus and made me concentrate on the overall flow of the piece.

Up until now I've been reluctant to get stuck into this project for some reason. I've had the odd couple of hours here and there, but just ended up becoming really frustrated with the software we're using (Logic 7). I don't think I'm the only one either - David had his entire project deleted by the program the other day (!), and Catherine's always saying how much she despises it. I can see why now, it's just really temperamental and completely ILLogical most of the time. I'll have to get over it now though and get stuck into the project - I'm much more up for it after that tutorial...

I may upload what I've done so far next week sometime, so you can see what I'm on about.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Narrative Presentation

I presented Marvin to the class today, and got some feedback from them afterwards. They seemed to get it I think, after a bit of a painful pause before anyone actually said anything. David and another person however, put forward the idea that perhaps the film is a metaphor for ejaculation, the robot sewing his seed across the planet. Hmmmmm. Others thought the tornados were Marvin's "ideas". These are the kinds of things that come out of people's mouths when they've spent too much time at art college. They seemed a bit confused when I told them that it was just, you know, errrr, a whirlwind machine. I'm joking of course (!), it was nice to get other people's perspectives on it - I'm just relieved that they weren't completely bemused by the whole thing. It's a simple idea I suppose, so maybe people just naturally feel the need to read more into it...

Hand Drawn Mapping

Here are a couple of quick tests I did the this week up at the factory. It's really hard to avoid falling into the Tron aesthetic when you're doing this kind of stuff, which is exactly what I found myself doing at first, and being annoyed when it looked a bit shit. So I decided to quickly try out this idea instead, drawing out the projection map by hand.

Hand Drawn Mapping from Retchy on Vimeo.

I thought, although it's a bit rough, that this was a promising line of enquiry so I decided to give it a proper go the next day. Unfortunately I didn't have much time then either, so this is only marginally improved but much clearer I think. I'll have some full days there next week to try out more stuff, like doing some sort of transition from having the video footage in the background to isolating the outlined shapes by fading the background out or something. Or maybe doing some line drawn animation to project behind the triangles etc...

Hand Drawn Mapping - Slightly Better from Retchy on Vimeo.

I quite like the effect at the end when I moved the camera out of position, maybe I can develop that a bit more. I'm going to try and get my head around somehow filming it so that I can project the bit where I'm drawing the outlines away from the hanging shapes, so that it's more obvious what's going on, and then move the paper into position so it lines up with the hanging shapes. The shapes, and their shadows, are getting in the way a bit at the moment. This may involve doing it all backwards. My head hurts.

I'm also going to try filming with my Super 8 camera to see how it looks, and b) to find out if the camera actually works or not. I don't think I have time to try 16mm - maybe it's something to do next term.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Polygon Reprise

After, what, four weeks of fucking about trying to sort out various spaces I've finally settled back into this project and I'm getting excited about it again, which is good. The Perfect Space I thought of on Anglia Square was just a pain in the arse to get anywhere with - I found out I'd need the backing of a charitable organisation in order to get in there, but Outpost turned me down cos they only offer support to work that can be exhibited. This is something I might have been able to negotiate, but I was running out of time. Maybe it's something to bear in mind when I come to ideas for the Masters project. Suzie's been great though, running around for me trying to find somewhere else closer to college for me to work, whilst I've been busy with other stuff. She couldn't get anywhere in town but did however find me a different room in the factory, and I was up there today blacking it out so I can work during daylight hours.

I think it's going to work this time - I've set up a white screen with some big bits of chip board that happened to be there already, so I can do some cool feedback stuff, the ceiling is nice and low and not chicken wire, and it didn't appear to be nearly as cold in there today. Although that could have been me sweating from the bike ride up there.

Some footage tomorrow perhaps...

Monday, 25 February 2008

Marvin - Finished

For the moment at least. I'm not entirely sure that I've nailed the pacing and editing properly, and the soundtrack certainly isn't how I would have done it had I had more time. I was imagining a much more dusty, desolate and wind swept atmosphere to really bring home the isolation of the robot, but this would have involved recording my own sounds and getting involved much deeper in the sound design process - something I'm doing in the sound re-design module at the moment anyway.

Marvin from Retchy on Vimeo.

I'd definitely like to go back and re-do the sound at some point. I think it's interesting how the sound design can really affect the pacing and feel of the narrative - something we've not looked at in much depth in this module. Even with this kind of placeholder soundtrack I've done, I still think it helped shape the story and certainly gave Marvin a lot more character than he initially had., which is possibly the most important aspect of the film.

I always find it really hard to take that step back when I'm doing narrative based stuff and assess whether the story actually makes sense or not. I feel I can do it on a purely visual level, but I guess I just don't have the confidence in the structure of my own narrative ideas for some reason. For example, is the build up to the point where the machine stops shaking and relaxes long and tense enough? I don't reckon it is, but I reeeeaaaaally can't say that with 100% confidence. I had no such qualms when I was putting together the Lyre Of Orpheus piece, mainly because the structure was laid out in front of me already. It'll be interesting to see how it comes across on Thursday when I present it to the rest of the class - I'm going to deliberately say nothing about it beforehand and then ask them for feedback after, and see whether they get what's going on or not.

Not that it's bloody War And Peace, like.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Marvin - Half Way There

I'm half way through my intensive week of Marvin production, and this is what I've got so far. It's just lumped together in Quicktime so the pacing and editing is blatantly rubbish. It's going ok though I think - I'm making alterations to the storyboard and structure as I go. I'm a bit worried about how the button sequence and the build up of the machine getting out of control (here's the script again, if you have no idea what I'm on about) will work without being just a boring sequence of button pressing and rubbish close ups of Marvin's face. It should all become clear when I start editing the shots together properly though.

Marvin - Work In Progress from Retchy on Vimeo.

Another concern I have is the difference in styles between the intro and the rest of the film. Does it make sense, or does it seem a bit pointless and incongruous? I dunno - I think I might use the shot as bookends to the beginning and end of the film. We'll see...

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Sound Re-design

Here's the result of my first week or so working on the project.

Sound Re-Design - First Go from Retchy on Vimeo.

Pretty shit really. I've laid down the basic sounds, but it just lacks any subtlety at the moment. And I really don't know what to do about the start. Or the middle. Hmmmm, I need to record some more stuff I think, and attempt to fill the space more convincingly. That repetitive sound is far too, err, repetitive - I'm trying to build up the tension with the beat of the pulsing image, but I don't think it's really working at the moment. I'll try fiddling with the automation on the EQ and reverb I think, see if I can make any progress going down that route...

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Marvin Intro Finished

Here we go, I spent all week tweaking and editing and masking this, which is far too long because I have to have a film finished in three and a bit weeks. It ain't going to happen if I carry on in this style. However, after an encouraging tutorial with Joy today, I have come up with a stripped down, workable storyboard that I should be able to get done in time. I've kind of been forced into coming up with a way to communicate the story using as simple a style of animation as I can get away with, and with as few shots as possible. So to get in the right frame of mind for this, I fooled myself into thinking that I would definitely be performing this live with an OHP and acetates so that I'd have to simplify everything. And it worked. I think.

Marvin Intro Again from Retchy on Vimeo.

Like I said, I don't have time to film everything like this as well as go through the editing and post processes, and do the other two projects that I have on the go as well. I've decided therefore to lock myself in my room for the whole of next week with my copy of After Effects until I have all of the shots animated, edited together and ready for putting some simple sound on the week after.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Marvin Mumblings

I've been trying to storyboard this today and have realised that there is actually quite a lot of animation in the script. The plan was to do the intro and the ending using live action bits like the test below and to animate the rest properly, but I really don't think I'll have the time to pull this off to the kind of standard I want to. I think I'll have to keep it all very simple, almost animatic style animation like I did for The Lyre Of Orpheus, but a bit more controlled. This isn't going to be assessed on the animation after all - it's about narrative structure.

This post has mainly been for getting my head straight.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Marvin Intro Test

A quick test for the intro to the film - this is really rough at the moment, I'll be changing a few things when I film it properly on Monday. The title will be put over the top in After Effects because it's causing problems when I come to wipe the ink away - that was supposed to happen a lot quicker than it does here. I'm also going to try doing it all in one take and have the planet stuck up while the screen is blacked out as opposed to being there from the start.

Marvin Intro Test from Retchy on Vimeo.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

The Seven Basic Plots

I've been skimming (it's a biiiig book) through 'The Seven Basic Plots - Why We Tell Stories' by Christopher Booker. I had heard of the theory before but didn't realise anyone had actually taken it this far. I've been trying to figure out which category my script for the narrative project might fall under. I guess it's kind of like 'overcoming the monster', or 'man vs machine' as other lists would have it, but in it's most basic stripped down form. My story is more just something that happens, although I guess it does have a hero of sorts.

I don't know about this theory anyway - there are others that claim five, twenty or thirty-six plots, but Booker claims that they can all be broken down to include certain elements or combinations of elements of these underlying seven ideas. It seems to sanitise it a bit as well...I'd rather just read or experience stories and be sucked into their world, regardless of where they happen to fit into this theory...

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Sound Re-design

This is what I've ended up going for for the sound re-design project - just up until the bit where it changes drawing style, not the whole thing. I was a bit unsure about it to start with, but the more I've thought about it the more I reckon to the possibilities. I quite like the fact that it's a music video, because it means I don't have to fight against a proper sound track that's already there.

'Curare' by Bulgari

Obviously there's that pulsating beat to contend with, but I think it'll be interesting to play about with certain sounds building up, repeating and coming in and out with each burst of light. Initial thoughts involve radio static. And you can't get much more exciting than that for an initial thought...

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


I've had this idea for ages, since I saw footage of dust devils on Mars like this on The Sky At Night a few years ago.

I don't know if it's any good or if it makes sense to anybody else, or whether it needs lots of development etc, but I kinda like how it is in my head. It's simple, but probably a bit obscure for anyone to get what it's about - I mean, does anyone actually watch The Sky At Night? Or does it matter?

Anyway, here's the script I wrote ages ago. I'm working on a re-write to get a bit more of a story in there, but let me know what you think...I'm thinking about taking this on for the second part of the Narrative module, using similar techniques to The Lyre Of Orpheus thing I did, but with more traditionally animated bits.

Sunday, 3 February 2008


Just had to draw your attention to this bloke's stuff, it's awesome. Here's his blog, and this is one of his films. Check them all out though - it was impossible to choose just one.

fantoche from blu on Vimeo.

I love how he manages to control the camera moves in those. It looks like he's making another one of these at the moment on a much bigger scale. Can't wait to see it...

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Sound Re-design

I don't really have much of an idea about what I want to do for this at the moment. I need to choose a clip of animation and re-design it's soundtrack. There are a couple of films on Vimeo that I'm thinking about using (if their creators will let me of course), but I'm still not sure there's enough about them to get stuck into. Here they are...

Lo Fi from Fayce Booke on Vimeo.

LiGnE from nikodio on Vimeo.

I really like both of them, but the first one's a bit too abstract and the second one doesn't really vary too much visually - I want something that has a bit more grounding in reality as well, so I can do more things with it and change it's context and meaning. I've started a thread on Vimeo's forums to see if anybody's got a film they think might be suitable and they wouldn't mind letting me use.

Edit: no takers on there. Oh well. One bloke did PM me though and pointed me towards this weird film. Not really what I'm after though...

Friday, 1 February 2008

The Lyre Of Orpheus

This is the first project for the Narrative: Forms and Structures elective. I screwed up a couple of bits because I had rehearsed it as a front projection and this ended up being projected from behind, which meant it was all reversed for the audience. Other than that, I think it went pretty well. My decision to use the Nick Cave song restricted me a bit though - I was maybe too tied down to the lyrics and trying to figure out how to represent them all on screen, as opposed to using the song as a framework for my own interpretation. Having said that though, Cave's vocals and the structure of the song do kind of demand your attention and it probably would have ended up a completely confused mess if I hadn't taken their lead...

The Lyre Of Orpheus from Retchy on Vimeo.

I really enjoyed the whole process of this project actually, after much pissing about trying to decide what I was going to do for it. All the preparation was done in about three days, most of which was spent just working out how to tackle each verse of the song. Then I rehearsed it, taped it, and changed the bits that blatantly looked shit. I'll be developing this style, with a different story, for the next project in the module - maybe using cut out animation and incorporating some sort of live element. I think this ohp process would also be really useful for producing quick animatics for other projects. Or maybe not, I dunno.

Other People's Stuff. We had a really cool morning watching everyone else's performances, and we all seemed to approach the storytelling differently, which was interesting. There were a couple that struck me as working particularly successfully - David and his two collaborators used images within images and constructed a kind of dream sequence for Little Red Cap, which was actually relatively complex in terms of narrative structure. I think everyone else went for a fairly straightforward chronological approach, but they still varied enormously in their style and presentation. The other that stood out was the lady (I can't remember anyone's name) who used ash to perform a version of Ashputel (that's Cinderella to you and me). There were some magical moments in her performance, where her drawings seemed to move and animate in front of our eyes, just through the manipulation of the ash she made with her hands.

Even these fairly underdeveloped ideas and presentations were really enjoyable and occasionally moving to watch - there's just something about puppetry that gets to you (or me anyway).

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

More Ideas Destined To Failure

Stop Motion Triangles. This one won't work. I'm so sure it won't work that I might not actually even bother. This may seem very defeatist, but I'm basing it on what I've learnt from my previous tests, and I had this idea a while ago. It'll be bloody impossible to control the position of the shapes with any acuracy. The next couple of ideas are far more promising. I think. I've thought before though.

Involving Film. This one is a bit more complicated, and it could be awesome. I'm trying to get away from this really graphic style that I've just fallen into out of convenience in the past, and I want to root it in some sort of reality. So I'll have some sort of desk set up where I'll sketch out a shape on a bit of paper, film it, and then project it so that the shape I've drawn is outlining the same shape hanging in front of the projected screen. Then I'll film that as it's happening, straight-on to start with then moving round to reveal the trick. In theory. I might start playing with 16mm at this point too.

Overhead Projector. This idea is kind of just repeating the first test I did before Christmas but with on OHP and a lot more effort involved. It will have to be done using stop motion (although I may film the process at the same time and see what happens if it's speeded up), which is something I dread. Having just done some tests with an OHP for my puppetry project, I now know how easily they can be knocked out of position, especially if I'm having to draw on it.

I have just had a thought about how I could use it in conjunction with more traditional animation though, which could be incredibly cool. I'll do another sketch innabit.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Lyre Of Orpheus

I've changed my mind, I'm going to use the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth for my performance on Thursday - here are the lyrics. I've listened to it a fair few times before, but never really paid the lyrics too much attention - they're quite dark, as you'd expect really, but also quite funny. And I like dark and funny. The story is also completely laid out for me in the lyrics, so I'd imagine that I would come up with something rather different if I used a less literal song, as I was considering, and had to fit my own interpretation of the story around it. Daniel Johnston was a possibility for a while, cos he's got lots of weird love songs (which is essentially what the Orpheus myth is - a love story) and I was thinking about using a similar drawing style to his artwork as well...

...which has ended up bleeding a little bit into the drawings I've made so far for the current idea. I'm keeping the style simple, mainly so the images will be readable, as they will be on and off the screen fairly rapidly I think. Here's one of them, a bunny bashing his brains out!

I'm forgetting about the sand idea, obviously - far too messy and hard to pull off. Instead I'll be using a mixture of drawings, text, string, cut-outs, ink and my big beardy face on an OHP. I think it will be a bit frantic, trying to fit it all into a live performance, but we'll see how it goes.

Friday, 25 January 2008

More Crap

Oh bollocks, it's all gone shit again. I spent two days preparing all the animations and stuff for this idea, and it still took me about seven hours of fucking about and battling tiredness to get this footage. Which is shit - and these are the best parts. Being stuck in the kitchen at the moment is also really pissing me off - I had to stay up 'til 5.30 on Thursday morning to get this done and there just isn't enough space to move with the camera in there.

More Failed Ideas from Retchy on Vimeo.

This stuff is just too complicated, not to mention completely pointless. So I can make drips of ink stop at the edge of a triangle? Big deal, I already knew that, try thinking of something that might actually look interesting instead of attempting to prove how bloody clever it all is. Not that it is. Clever that is... I'll stop now.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The Perfect Space

I spent about seven hours in this place invigilating the SwanQuake installation when I volunteered for the Aurora animation festival last year. I can't believe I didn't think of this place earlier - it's pretty goddamn perfect. Low ceilinged, already blacked out so I can work during the day, projector bracket (hopefully) still in place, and a wall for projecting onto for feedback stuff. And Kelly from Aurora has already put me in touch with the right people, about an hour after I emailed her!

The downside is that I probably won't have such free and easy access as I did at the warehouse, but I'll just have to make the most of it if I manage to get in there...

Monday, 21 January 2008

Oskar Fischinger - Komposition in Blau (1935)

Saw this the other day for the first time. Just goes to show, it's all been thought of already.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Polygon Project? No!

Why polygons? I'm limiting my ideas by calling it this. I'll call it the Projection Tests or something from now on. I'm gonna do some night shifts in the kitchen and come up with a proper sequence by the end of next week. Involving feedback, cos that was fun. I need to stop moping about and move on to better things!

Soundtrack Analysis

I've decided to go for something a bit more conventional in the end, although it's not that conventional. It's a clip from one of my favouritest films eva - Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind! Sound design by Eugene Gearty. I know this film pretty much inside out, so I went straight to the scene I knew would have some interesting sound designy stuff going on - the bit where Joel first starts to have his memories erased, with all the funny technology being introduced. You know the bit...

And there certainly is a lot going on. Weird how I kind of knew that having not consciously ever paid too much attention to the sound tracks in films before. Which in itself sounds rather ignorant considering I'm on an animation and SOUND DESIGN course. Anyway, there's a good mix of diegetic and non-diegetic (fancy words for on and off screen) sounds going on, and a fairly confusing sense of space (although not really that confusing when you watch the film without your analytical hat on and just take it all in naturally, which is interesting), with stuff going on inside Joel's head, inside Joel's head, inside Joel's bed. There's also some nice bits of recurring music that I am choosing to interpret as representing Joel's battle with the process he's being subjected to - the tune becoming less discordant and scrappy as he gains momentary control of the situation. There are moments of counterpoint as well, when he begins to drift off into his memories, before being snapped out of them by the banging down of the next item in front of him.

This all happens within about a four minute period in the film, and it seems like an awful lot to be crammed into such a small amount of time, but it just works and comes together soooo well. It's amazing how much the brain can absorb and understand (news flash, I know), and it'll be interesting to see if I can shovel as many ideas into my own re-design project and still be anything other than an utterly incoherent mess. I doubt I'll be working on something as visually complicated though...

I shall be presenting my analysis, in a much more professional and formal manner of course, to the rest of the class next week.

PS. I realise this will mean very little to you because you can't actually see the clip, but I have to make a record of this stuff for my tutors (Hi guys!).

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Polygon Project

This is quite possibly the worst start to the project I could have had. It just looks shit. Simple as that. Three days pissing about to come up with this pap. Here it is, including classic artist tantrum...

Polygon Test 2 - Shite from Retchy on Vimeo

I've had time to think about it in between the frustrations of last night and editing the footage today, and I think I've just made it too big. The spaces involved at the warehouse are too great to get any decent camera angles or quick enough changes in perspective. The projector has to be too far away in order to span the distance between the far left and right shapes, so I can't get in close with the camera without casting shadows. The setup is amateur at best and far too wobbly and fiddly to achieve any kind of accuracy with the placement of the shapes. I'm also crap at making things, as this proves.

There are other more practical excuses I could come up with, like being far too bloody cold up there to be able to animate, or that, having searched the entire warehouse (with the help of another mystified man), the switch to turn those lights off behind the projector remains resolutely hidden. But they would just be excuses, and would be missing the point really. I think the whole idea is flawed. Or at least situating it in the warehouse. Something I probably couldn't have known until I'd tried it out though.

I don't know what to do now. Maybe just a few more things in the kitchen until I can find a more appropriate space...


I have a presentation coming up in which I have to do a performance of some sort, depicting one of a selection of classic fairy tales. I think I'm going to go for Little Red Riding Hood as it's the one I'm most familiar with. And it's the darkest of the small selection. It's really up to us how we do it but it needs to be a live performance, so I thought I'd have a go at this technique...

...which is nice and everything, but I reckon that example is a bit too slick for it's own good. Luckily, I'm shit, so my version will be much much less slick and fit in with my aesthetic stylings perfectly! What a happy coincidence.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008


This is where I'm working at the moment. I can feel their stony gaze, even through the walls.

Scary Warehouse from Retchy on Vimeo

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Polygon Project

First proper day in the warehouse today and, as you can see from the last picture, I managaed to hang a triangle! I spent most of the time trying out different ways to hang them so that they don't wobble all over the place. Think I've sorted it now, but it'll mean having to re-wire everything for each part of the project I do, which is a bit annoying. I'll have to spend the whole day in there tomorrow until I get something filmed as the camera and projector have to be back on thursday...

It's scary in there on my own in the dark! I had a dream last night that there was a swimming pool full of ghosts on the floor below. Not that there is a floor below. I hope...

I ended up attaching a wire to each corner of the triangle and taping it to the floor as well as the chicken wire. It seemed to work ok, but it did ping off the ground a couple of times because it was tied down too tight. This would have been mildly irritating if I had spent hours animating stuff to it's precise position!

I was planning to do it further from the walls but there's quite a bit of light coming from outside even at night, so the bluescreen absorbs any light there is quite nicely when I'm filming. I think they'll be far enough away to avoid the kind of reflections I was getting in the kitchen.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Polygon Project

Tomorrow is my first day in the warehouse so I thought I should have some sort of plan. This is a mock up of the first test I'll be doing - keeping it nice and simple to start with, but not just repeating what I did in the kitchen. That would be a bit pointless. So I'll be playing about with patterns within the hung shapes and how they're revealed. The outlined triangles here won't actually have anything projected onto them so they'll be relatively invisible...

Polygon Test 2 Mock-Up from Retchy on Vimeo

I'll also be testing out boring technical stuff, like the best distances between projector and surface, and the accuracy of M8 (VJ software) in masking at different distances.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Polygon Project

I had a tutorial with Suzie the other day where she offered to lend me her Bolex 16mm camera and teach me how to use it, cos I don't have a clue about taking light readings and stuff. I had originally thought I'd try filming in Super 8 but realised they need lots of light that I necessarily won't have, then Suzie suggested 16mm a while ago and it's been at the back of my mind ever since. I think it'll be interesting to bring the footage fully into analogue as that's really where the initial idea came from - to recreate computer generated, digital 3d in an analogue space.

All of the test footage so far has also had a kind of clean, sharp edge to it that I want to get rid of somehow. I think it's had a lot to do with the animations I've been projecting onto the mapped surfaces - so far they've just been quick mock ups to demonstrate how the technique works, but I need to put more thought into this over the coming weeks. I need to work on more textural, rough animations to project I think.

Speaking of which, I had another look at Legoman's site today and realised how great his work actually is - for some reason I hadn't paid it much attention before. He creates 3d projection spaces with transparent mosquito nets as screens that you can walk amongst. I think the texture of the nets actually lends a lot to the overall feel of the installations. For some reason. Maybe not. Maybe I should play around with my projection surfaces a bit more - paint some washes on them or something. The foam board I'm using is possibly a bit too shiny...

Friday, 11 January 2008

Soundtrack Analysis

I need to choose a clip in order to analyse it's soundtrack for a presentation in a couple of weeks. My instinct, as usual, is to go for some sort of AV, VJ type stuff, but I don't think there'd be much to talk about really. There's a person's work on Vimeo that I was thinking about using. Here it is, I love this video...

Singing Matinkaari Bridge from Luka Dekleva on Vimeo.

I might ask him how the sound was recorded or produced actually. I think from looking at one of his other videos that the sound was all recorded from the actual bridge that's featured in the visuals, but I'm not sure. If it is then it might be quite interesting to look at in terms of diagetic and non-diagetic relationships - how does this work when the sounds that have been recorded at the time of filming are so distorted and remixed that they don't necessarily directly represent the images on screen anymore? Hmmmm? And if the images themselves are processed to a similar degree, which I guess they are here, do the relationships remain intact? I dunno. That's about all I can think of to analyse though, so maybe it's not very suitable. I'll see what he says...

Polygon Project

I decided to ditch the stop motion for now and have some fun playing with video feedback instead. My little setup sketch from one of my previous posts turned out to be right - I will need two projectors and laptops for future tests because with this single projector setup, the actual feedback projected on the wall is blurred as it's focusing on the lines of the cube which is about two meters in front, and this will only be amplified with the bigger spaces involved at the warehouse.

This footage is all a bit samey, but in future tests I'll be able to control what's happening on the cube (or polygons) while hopefully somebody else will be able to help out with the camera work. It takes a while to get used to the ridiculously subtle camera movements that you need to be able to control the feedback, but it's so much fun when you get in the zone. Earlier footage was all over the place until I figured out the best positions to get into.

Mapping Feedback Test from Retchy on Vimeo

Apologies for the music, but I didn't want 6 minutes of silence. It makes it all seem so profound, doesn't it :)

I don't know where the green comes from by the way, it wasn't intentional. Maybe the projector was just slightly off balance and the extra green was amplified to infinity. And beyond. Or something.

Edit: I wasn't far off with that actually. Luka Dekleva wrote this on the Vimeo thread - 'Btw the green is probably a result of a colour temperature diference from projector to the camera. Green is 7200K (neonlight) Daylight is 5500K, and Tungsten is 3200K. you can see that your feedback is only gradualy becoming green. So the diference is acualy small maybe 500K (projector 6000K and camera 5500K) but it gets multiplied trough feedback.'

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Polygon Project

This is shit, but not quite as shit as my other attempt last night which is so shittingly shitty I refuse to show you it in motion - there's a photo below that doesn't look quite so bad. It's just really hard to get enough accuracy to be able to animate the mapping smoothly. It kind of worked better with just solid garish colours like this, but still isn't what I was hoping for.

Stop Mo' Mapping Test from Retchy on Vimeo

So this is how I tried it first. It looks ok when it's still, but in motion the edges where the small box emerges jump all over the place. Maybe it was just my impatience with this kind of animation though - I think I'll give it another go tonight and perhaps it'll turn out better now I know what to expect. Although having said that, I'm struggling to see how I'm going to use this technique for anything other than rubbish looking 'tests' in the future.