Fictional Story tweaked.

I kept coming to dead ends with my current Medusa story. Every plot and motivation I came up with for “Grinning Jack” just seemed kind of shallow or farfetched. I used some old tropes to make it more simpler. Now it’s a tale of hero on a quest to save a person (love interest, family member. Keeping it ambiguous and leaving it to the viewer at this point). Jack is a bounty hunter of the extradinary and mythical, he’s no stranger to Gorgon’s and their ilk. He needs a part of Medusa, in this case one of her snakes would do in order to alchemise a cure for petrification, so that he can save his person of interest (Working title: The Gorgan Gunman). I typed in Medusa youtube and watched some videos to see how she has been interpreted in moving image.

Unlike a lot of fiction, this video show’s Medusa as a victim. I learned that Medusa was once a priestess of Athena who had promised to remain pure, but when she was raped in Athena’s temple, the angered Goddess cursed her and turned her into a Gorgon as a result. Greek Gods are fickle. I really like the stone tear drop in this video, when it shatters it’s open to interpretation to whole load of visual symbolism. Does the tear respresent her heart? Has her heart turned to stone? She has a broken heart? Good be all of these things.

Battle sequence from the Original Clash of the Titans. It was interesting to see Medusa has the lower body of a snake, I’ve yet to actaully depict her in animation so this was open to possible redraws of her. I’ll try it, but I’m concerned it will make her appearance more monstrous than human, making her seem a little less accessable/relatable as a person.


Have to ignore the dubbed over music, I’m primarily watching these for inspiration on how the fight between Jack and the Medusa, it’s interesting to note that she uses a bow and doesn’t rely entirely on her petrifying abilities to hunt more difficult prey. I also like how monstrous her face becomes whenever she tries to turn someone to stone. This does leave me questioning whether it’s a passive ability that occurs whenever you simply make eye contact with her, or if she can actively control it and choose -not- to turn someone to stone?

I considered perhaps leaving Grinning Jack’s gender unknown, just so it’s not a complete throwback to man rescuing the woman. That’s still a possibility with the big coat, the big hat and the mask, you assume it’s a man… also with a name like ‘Jack’ but that’s a psuedonym.

Another thing to note in these battle scenes, is there always seems to be an example of Medusa’s power, a hapless faceless grunt that falls victim to her petrifying gaze, to assert herself to the audience so we all know that she is to be feared. Grinning Jack works alone so I’ll have to somehow demonstrate this power, without having a victim to turn to stone.

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Fictional Story tweaked.

Creative Futures – My work is out there

I received an email a few days ago:

Hello Daryl,
Sorry for the massive delay but we’ve had issues getting power into the display case where we needed it.  However, I’m pleased to say your animated film is now on display at Streetlife on a digital photo frame, within the Amy Johnson case in the ground floor Street scene area.
I will get a simple label done for this as part of a batch for an up and coming exhibition.  Could you confirm how you’d like the film described and what your course and college/dept is called?
Thanks for your patience.
Robin
I went to the Street Life museum. It’s not like I didn’t believe him. I just had to see it for myself;
Creative Futures – My work is out there

Fictional story idea

A nameless wild west outpost features a statue of a famous outlaw, a drifter tells the tale of why the town would erect a statue of a criminal; The nameless criminal was known for robbing trains and travellers alike, but life on the run for so long had left him bitter and lonely. He passes through the outpost to find it is plagued by a Gorgon Medusa. Every night after dark, she comes out and terrorizes any dwellers that haven’t barricaded themselves in their homes. The criminal has a duel with her, but without a mirror to avert his gaze from her, he is turned to stone as he guns her down. [Need to flesh out some motivations, the how and the why of certain aspects as well.] Opening shot, night time in the nameless outpost. An old dweller laments on the things he’s seen, lighting his pipe up by striking a match on the Outlaw Statue. He then spins the tale of the Outlaw’s heroic demise, using the smoke from his pipe to stylistically fade in various shots, featuring the outlaw robbing travellers at gun point, identifying him as a criminal… but also high-lighting his motivations for why he does this. [Phantasy Star II trope, a highwayman robs travellers so that he can get enough money together to pay for his daughter’s ransom from bandits. He mercilessly kills his daughter whom is disguised and then kills himself in agony.] I need to highlight that the outlaw is a pained and sorrowful individual despite his nature, hopefully getting the audience to second guess their initial thoughts of him.

The anti-hero in this case is known as “Grinning Jack” called that because of the crude toothy grin drawn onto his bandanna. The Medusa drove him out of the outpost at a young age, forcing him to get by as robber, stealing enough to survive. His motivation for returning is more to face his own demons than to free the outpost of the Gorgon’s grasp. The reason no one else has tried to face the Medusa is the fact that even attempting to kill her will most likely result in being turned to stone. Grinning Jack forsakes his own life to end hers.

I’ve decided to do this in a punchy black and white noir style as an ode to spaghetti westerns before colour TV became a thing. Not only that, but I feel it suits the style of story. It’s not a happy tale, but one of tragic redemption.

Shots: Establishing the outpost, Grinning Jack statue, pipe-smoker (narrator) telling the story, Grinning Jack holding up a general store, evading law men, spending his nights alone and bitter, returning to the outpost afterdark, shooting the Medusa, puling off his own mask in his final moments to reveal a sad smile.

Intro:

Narrator “Many knew Grinning Jack as an outlaw, a cold-blooded gunman, known to be as cunning as he was deadly. Utimately, it was Grinning Jack’s callous disregard for his own life that caused his heroic demise at the hands of the Medusa.”

Fictional story idea

Fictional stories… basic points.

Foster Harris identifies the three basic patterns of a plot.

1: Happy ending:- The Hero makes a sacrifice for the greater good.

2: Unhappy ending:- The Hero shies away from the opportunity of sacrifice and inadvertently causes suffering.

3: Literary plot:- A plot that doesn’t hinge upon decision, but Fate. The Hero follows along a predetermined path and arrives at end, where tragedy usually awaits.

All of these have a different effect on the reader, happy, unhappy and strangely empty as the realisation that control is a mere illusion of life sets in. I agree, that most plot points follow these paths, I suppose that is just the bare basics however, as any number of subplots can take place within a story, each with their own different ending/resolution.

Christopher Booker, a Jungian style analysts wrote a book titled The Seven Basic Plots: Why we tell stories. The book goes into detail about the seven basic plots that almost every story follows.

Overcoming the Monster:- A protagonist is tasked with defeating/overcoming an entity.

Rags to Riches:- The protagonist gains great wealth/power, loses it briefly then regains it once more after acquiring some wisdom

The Quest:- The protagonist learns of a task that only they can complete usually with a band of companions.

Voyage and Return:- Protagonist ends up in a crazy/mad world with it’s own set of rules and ultimately triumphs, returning a different and more maturer individual.

Comedy:- Often involves a romantic plot fraught with funny pitfalls and evident dangers, usually ends with the romance blossoming happily.

Tragedy:- The protagonist is a villain and we watch them spiral into defeat.

Rebirth:- The protagonist is a villain, and is able to redeem his nature with an act of honour that saves the day.

Fictional stories… basic points.

Getting my animations out there.

After the completion of my Amy Johnson non-fiction animation, I sent an e-mail to the Hull Museums to see if they would want to use it. Afterall, I created it with the City of Culture in  mind.

“Hello, my name is Daryl, I’m a 2nd year animation student at the school of art and design. I recently made a non-fiction animation about the achievements of Amy Johnson (can be viewed at http://youtu.be/Z6dwYxp2pnU), I thought one of the museums may be interested in using it. Though the Hands On History seemed like the most appropriate choice, I’m not certain where you’d like to present it if at all.
Though if it is something that interests you, just let me know and I’ll send you the video file for your use.
I hope to hear from you.”

With professional practise in mind, I kept the e-mail as straight forward and to-the-point as I could. I hadn’t heard anything in a while, but I eventually got this reply;

“Dear Mr Farr,
Thank you for your e-mail and for your kind offer to let us use your excellent animation on Amy Johnson.  We think there may be an option for us to display this temporarily in a small display we have on Amy Johnson in Streetlife Museum. 
If we were able to display this it would be on a digital photo frame for initially 6 months as a trial.  It would be without sound as the frame would be behind glass.  We would credit you next to this.  An MP4 file would be helpful, and if it cannot be e-mailed, then on CD is best for us, as our council system does not allow us to use drop-boxes etc. 
If you are willing, and we are able to install this, we might then consider putting out a press release to promote both Streetlife and you and your course.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Best wishes,

(names left out for confidentiality)

I immediately exported a video file with the sound removed to fit into the 25 MB limit given on e-mails. Though I specified if it’s not up to standard that they let me know as soon as possible so I can rectify it.

“I’m very pleased to hear this. I’ve sent you an MP4 copy without sound, just let me know the dates and I can promote it as well. If there’s anything I’ve missed please let me know. Hopefully the quality will suffice, but if not, I can run in a higher quality version on a CD.

Regards”

Which was met with this reply:

“Thanks Daryl,
 
We’ll be in touch in the New Year once we’re in a position to install this.  It may be mid-January or later because of other things we have on, but don’t worry, we’ll be in touch.
 
Best Wishes,”
So, around Feburary, keep an eye out for a blog posting featuring me videoing my animation in place.
Getting my animations out there.

The Achievement of Amy Johnson, a non-fiction animation.

At the beginning of this semester we were tasked with creating a non-fiction animation around a subject of our choosing. Having so much free reign, I toyed with a few ideas. Initially, I was going to do an animation of most successful and most unsuccessful space launches, depicting the facts, the spacecrafts and showing what happened. Though this would’ve required a great deal of time consuming research, the number of space launches since 1950’s documents in the 100’s and that doesn’t take into account the unsuccessful ones. I’d also have to draw the various rocket ships and their intricacies.

This idea fell through, it was a lot of work for not a very interesting piece. I thought with the City of Culture thing still going on I could leap onto one of Hull’s Heroes and perhaps look at their lives. Two immediately sprang to mind, William Wilberforce, a man that abolished slavery, and Amy Johnson, Britain’s finest female aviator. Given how much of a spot light William has compared to Amy, I decided to animate her story.

I whittled down the facts of her life to the important details, the 11,000 mile flight that made her famous, and her tragically early demise.

I thought of a few ideas, including a moving timeline to keep things simple, but I ended up story boarding something that appeared a little more dramatic.
Amy storyboard
Amy storyboard
With the initial idea on paper, I got to putting the animatic together;


This was to simply give me a basic idea of timings and movements. I spent a good five days of non-stop working to get this piece finished, including adding in the text after flash in premiere as well as some visual effects to give it a more realistic flow. I went to incompetech.com to get some royalty free music and eventually decided on a piece titled “Americana”. The theme and style best reflected the time period in which Amy lived. “For the Fallen”, “Private Reflection”, “Eternal Hope” and “The Descent” also made the short list, but I felt these pieces were either too modern, too epic or too melancholic for the animation. Americana best reflects the tale of inspiration that is Amy Johnson’s life.

I’m very pleased with the final outcome, though some clipping and lack of finesse is noticable in the moving parts, I may go back and correct those in time.

An interesting thing to note, was when I moved this into Premiere, the entire thing had been shot almost entirely on twos (Essentially it was made at 12 frames a second). This was for ease of timings, for small movements frame by frame isn’t necessary. However, it did effect the outcome negatively for Jason’s take off and the Bail Out scenes, I slowed the action down in premiere to give greater emphasis on these defining points, but if you slow 12 frames a second down anymore, the gaps become incredibly noticable. I reopened it in flash and edited the frames in those scenes, inbetweening until it was at a full 24 frames a second, just for those two scenes. The result is a much smooth finish when the time is slowed down.

I e-mailed Hull Museums about this piece, I figured simply having it sit on youtube isn’t enough, so I got proactive. Hopefully they’ll get back to me with some enthusiasm for showing it, I’m just not sure where, Amy Johnson doesn’t have a dedicated museum unlike William Wilberforce.

The Achievement of Amy Johnson, a non-fiction animation.