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.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

VJ Puppets! (Sort of)

Check out the videos at the bottom of this page - www.imagin1son.com. In fact, watch all of 'em. I might do something along these lines for the Narrative: Forms and Structures module, which is being taught at the Puppet Theatre!

In fact, the Puppet Theatre is at risk of losing it's funding because of the fucking Olympics. This ENRAGES me, as it should any normal puppet loving human being. Please join the facebook group and sign the petition (if you can find it, I can't).

Friday, 4 January 2008

Polygon Project

Here are a few of the ideas I'll be testing out soon...

Video Feedback. I think this is how it'll work - so you've got the hanging shapes in the middle of it all which will be projected onto and animated etc. with projector 1, and then the camera will be filming the shapes and feeding it's output into projector 2 which is projecting onto the wall behind the shapes so that they are in between the camera and it's output. That should create video feedback that I can play about with by moving the camera around and animating the polygons.

Hopefully I will be able to produce something half as beautiful as this piece by The Audio Visual Orchestra. Unfortunately I can't seem to find any of their videos online... the pics at the bottom of the photo page are the kind of feedback I'm talking about - they perform with a dancer holding candles where I would have the polygons.

Lazy Stop Motion. This idea was born of my lack of patience and desire not to have to build loads of bloody boxes. The original plan was to do some stop motion stuff a bit like the cubey bits in this cool video by [[- charetteprod -]] on Vimeo, but with mapping.

stop mo' studies from [[- charetteprod -]] on Vimeo

But then I realised the beauty of mapping is that things don't have to appear as they seem, so I could have a similar or perhaps better effect by only using two boxes. So in the example below, I would be animating one box coming out of the other. Normally, if they were solid forms, I would need to create multiple boxes of varying sizes to animate the smaller one coming out of the larger one, using stop motion. Using a hollow box however, I can mask the projection so that it projects one constant colour or tone onto the inside surfaces only, creating the illusion of a solid face to the cube. Then the smaller box is animated coming out, with a slight alteration to the mask so that it isn't projected onto.

Got that? Good. I bet it doesn't work though.

Backlighting. Back to the hanging shapes, errr, yeah... backlighting. Maybe play with coloured lights or something. I haven't really thought this one through yet...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Polygon Project

A quick After Effects test to demonstrate my thinking on one of the ideas for the Polygon Project. The only movement is in the position of the camera relative to the shapes and their forced perspectives. The points where the camera stops will be the 'scenes' where other stuff happens - these are a bit random at the moment so my next AE test will be to compose pre designed shots for the still bits.

This probably won't be as easy as it sounds, especially when I do it in analogue land.

Scene Shift 1 from Retchy on Vimeo