Assignment 2: Seasonal Synaesthesia: Summer 2020

TASK: Make a short animated film between 1 and 3 minutes long about a season of the year. Use some of the animation techniques covered thus far in the unit to evoke particular qualities such as temperature, light and atmosphere of winter, spring, autumn or summer. This can be a completely abstract film, or include elements of narrative. The structure, medium, technique and approach are up to you.
Do some preliminary research into the condition of synaesthesia and take notes on whether there are specific stimuli that you associate with other perceptions.
See Post on Synaesthesia
Build-up your animation process with short animated tests, photographs, diagrams and, if useful, a working storyboard. It is often helpful to piece some of these tests and diagrams together in your timeline along with your scratch audio
track, or to devise a series of rules that will guide the production process.
Start by making an ‘animatic’. Begin developing the sound-scape for your film and use a scratch audio track. Avoid using music and if you do use it, do not allow it to play throughout your film as this project is not a music video.
Upload your film to your learning log, along with your animatic, diagrams, drawings and a reflection about your process, detailing how you arrived at your idea, any experiments undertaken, and insights gained from your technical, theoretical or other research.

!! Note – unfortunately Premiere crashed as I was trying to export all the clips for the animatic. I still need to sort out the sequences of the animatic, but that will only now be relevant going forward if (as I anticipate) I develop this further for Assignment 5.

This film continues my work on abstract animation about Summer from:

SE2.5 Sound and Image animatic: Summertime

In that project I had started with one image of summer – greens, yellows and langorous water. Then introduced some random colour changes to give something much more lively and dance-like that had not initially occurred to me, but equally represents a different aspect of summer. I therefore find the idea of synaesthesia somewhat problematic. As I obviously do not have that condition I find it very limiting, reinforcing imagined stereotypes rather than the liberating experience that people with synaesthesia esperience.

I also had restrictions under COVID-19 because my daughter was using my art washing space as her kitchen and so any work with physical media like painting or printmaking was not possible.

For this assignment I therefore took a photographic approach, recording and exploring my experience of of summer: real images (rotting apples as well as flowers and butterflies) and sounds (traffic as well as bird song), to challenge my stereotypical ideas rather than repeating imagined cliche.

I wanted to create and build on accidental effects, exploring abstractions of time, colour and non-narrative editing drawing particularly on my study in this part of the course of:

I worked with photographs, sound and video taken over the course of two consecutive days in August when the weather was very hot, followed by thunderstorms. Then explored different effects and editing strategies in Adobe Lightroom and Premiere.

Inspiration

Stan Brakhage

Abstraction of ‘vision without words’ where ‘the untutored eye’ sees abstract shapes and colours unfiltered by language to create a symbolic world of emotional response.

I also looked at:
Maya Deren
Her black and white work is likely to influence my documentary style in Assignment 3 and VisCom Advanced Practice. But on reflection I decided here to focus on colour.

Stream of consciousness motion blur and reflected movement, colour abstraction.
colour abstraction and suggested emotions
Looks intriguingly pixellated on a large iPad screen. Adds to the dreamlike effect.
Inversions and layering opposite movements
alternation of video and abstraction

dogstarman has lots of Inspiration indeas.

Sharpness of line and slowing down out of chaos
‘Classic’ Brakhage rapid sequence of brilliantly coloured image. Use of different edges and textures as well as colour combinations. Pixellated on my iPad Pro.
Khrjanovsky. Combines photographic and drawn animation. To get feeling of butterfly in urban environment.

Process

I started with a rough plan following observation of my garden from dawn to dusk to observe the types of colours and sounds I wanted. With the original idea – before studying Brakhage in detail – of using time of day as the underlying narrative. I then took photographs, sound and video taken over the course of two consecutive days in August when the weather was very hot, followed by thunderstorms.

Then, based on my actual feelings and experiences – real images (rotting apples as well as flowers and butterflies) and sounds (traffic as well as bird song)

  • I started with a rough selection of photos and video that I cropped and sequenced as CRW images in Lightroom because it is easier to change things around. I also experimented with Black and White possibilities. But decided to go with colour.
  • Then I exported the selected images as jpg, and imported into Adobe Premiere and experimented with different effects and editing strategies involving nesting, repetition, different timing etc. (!! I still need to export these)
  • In parallel I edited the long sound files into shorter clips that I could superimpose to better fit the length of the video.
Sound
Dawn
9am
10am
Bees
Butterflies 1

Butterflies 2

Final Concept

I had many different ideas for this video after ‘experiencing summer’ with a new eye. Not only the butterflies on the brassicas, the red hyssop flowers, the sun through the vine leaves on the archway, the shadows on the wall and path, the bees and flies, the wind and storm. But also the undercurrent of lockdown, crowded beaches threatening second waves and burning forests in Brazil and California. This could have been put together as a documentary ‘stream of consciousness’ but that would not have been ‘abstract synaesthesia’. And I wanted to do something more experimental.

I started to explore different editing strategies inspired by Brakhage, going through his videos again. Following Brakhage I did not want to produce a structured animatic, but to work in a much more responsive way to what emerged from editorial experiments in combining sounds and images to complement or contrast each other.

I also considered other formats eg square to give a sense of claustrophobia I felt. But in the end I decided to go with more widescreen and immersive.

I had a lot of contrasting material from different times of day that could have provided some sort of narrative. Dawn I had found particularly interesting with its more pastel blue colours, shadows and birdsong. But again as this was a synaesthesia project, I decided to go more with my instinctive visions of summer after all. Then go back to the other material later.

What I was aiming for was something very abstract. of flashing lights and darks of mid morning/mid-day when our garden has tree shade shapes around pools of bright light. Using the clips of midday butterflies.

I decided to use Adobe Premiere and experiment there with some of the layering and blending experimentation from Project E2.11 Setting Rules.. I focused particularly on the Lumetri colour filters, layering the video clips, scaling and moving these against each other with multiply, screen and difference blend modes to get different shapes. Whilst editing it was difficult to get a clear idea of what the video would look like because the multiple layering and blending needed separate rendering and would not play back in real time.

I focused on highlighting the butterflies getting different colour combinations. But what I discovered as I watched the resulting experimental video once it had been properly rendered are the moving faces – one or two eyes sometimes a head silhouette – and animals like munching rabbits and frogs I see between the shapes. I could play more with this layering of meaning and interpretation – the hidden things in the shadows under the bright cheery butterflies.

I added sound in two tracks of birds, but also my own shuffling and rustling. Possibly it is better without sound.

I enjoyed working in this way, but need to think a lot more about what I might be trying to achieve – while still retaining the ‘accidents’.

E2.12: Choreography, animation sketch

There is a strong relationship of mutual influence between cinema and dance. Both art forms seek to communicate with an audience through movement, syncopation, shape and rhythm.

Walk cycles and movement are a key part of my work for my Visual Research module, creating animations in TVpaint based on community drawings. That research is still ongoing and can be found on:

Here I am just posting some of my preliminary work in TVPaint, experimenting with blending duplicate layers in different ways to produce ghosting effects with interacting figures. I think the approach has a lot of potential, but obviously need to spend a lot more time learning figure animation to improve the figures themselves. I plan to take this further in Part 5 of the course after my animation skills are improved.

TASK:
How could you devise a dance or movement based animation? This could include a body, hands or feet in shot or merely the traces of their movement. If the latter, consider the ways in which particular materials influence the way you move when using them as well as the scale that you can work at. Create an animatic in your chosen editing program to your ideas.
Make at least one, but no more than three, animation tests to explore your ideas and load these to your learning log along with a brief description of your intentions and findings.
Extend this exercise by using one of your animatics or experiments to develop into an animation. Upload this to your learning log.

A TVPaint experimental animation using a line walk cycle gone wrong. I duplicated the walk cycle layers, altering opacity, blur, scale and timing. Overlaying a blended layer of a gouache painting for the brown texturing.

A second TVPaint experimental animation taking the process a bit further. I duplicated layered walking armless silhouettes from my first walk cycles on a painted blended qouache background. This time altering colour and blend modes and adding a mirror effect on one layer. I like the general idea, but need to improve the original silhouette and soften the outlines and general effect of the white figure.

Other completely different approaches, building on the work of Maya Deren would be to focus on photography and video of shadows and reflections on water. It would be interesting then to combine these with drawn and painted animation effects.

Inspiration

See post on May Deren used principles of choreography to dictate her choices as a film-maker.

Norman McLaren, Len Lye and Mary Ellen Bute used the principles of dance and sometimes dancers themselves as the basis for their animations.

https://www.tintypegallery.com/exhibitions/unstilled-life-artist-animations-1980-2020/
George Eksts, Rehearsal, 2017, Courtesy the artist and Tintype, London. 7.34 mins
George Eksts worked on a project with Animate in 2015 which opened up the possibilities of using digital space. Working with with a choreographer and dancer to perform, record and then animate the human body, Eksts chose to place this figure within a digitally created ‘white cube’ gallery. As one of the selected artists for the 2018 Whitechapel Open, Eksts invited other artists in the exhibition to position their work in this digital gallery ‘set’.
Erica Russell
Some of the more dimorphic sexy stuff is a bit too much like African tourist hotel art for my taste – many real dancers in Africa are older larger women who really know how to move. Many men are actually very small and nimble. I think also it could have been more powerful with a disruptive narrative around relationships. But I really like the Vorticist style parts, and the watercolour texturing is beautiful. And the general movement animation is amazing, also the way she switches between styles and colours.

Done in natural media with a mixture of paintbrush strokes, coloured pencil and charcoal. Possibly based on actual film footage? Maybe with a bit of compositing at times for the backgrounds.
Towards the end of Triangle, and for a lot of Feet of song, maybe a stencil technique is used with some kind of spray paint. Shots around 7:15 look like watercolour paint, paying careful attention to negative space to look stencilled. She changes the paper stock on the paintbrush scenes to something a lot more thick and durable so that the paint doesn’t bleed.

See also Triangle which I prefer.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1143358079171564&extid=6fmj6y6tx9NZpDKu

NB!! Look at sandart

E2.11: Setting Rules, animatic

“Serial art is art that adheres to a strict set of rules to determine its composition or to determine a series of compositions…. Some serial artworks are modular and are based on the repetition of a standard unit, like Andy Warhol’s soup cans or Joseph Alber’s coloured squares, while others offer variations on a theme, like Sol LeWitt’s Serial Project No.1 which showed all the different combinations of an open and closed cube.

Serial art has its roots in conceptualism and minimalism and gained popularity in America and Europe in the 1960s as a way for artists to create art without resorting to personal expression. (In the 1960s artists began to challenge the assumption that their role was to create special kinds of unique art object, in an attempt to bypass the increasing commodification of the art world).”

Art Term- Serial Arts. tate.org.uk

I have studied serial art before and it is not really my area of interest. But I have been fascinated by the systematic abstract colour experiments of Joseph Albers because of what they say about the nature of perception and the implications for design.

TASK:
This exercise has two connected parts from which you will produce an animatic:

  1. As a Research Task, read up on the serial art movement. As a starting point, some background research is provided below. Identify one or two artworks you find interesting and analyse the process by which they were made. Document your research in your learning log.

2. As a creative exercise, set yourself rules for the creation of an animation, inspired by your chosen artwork. Go about planning an animated sequence that could be made using these rules. Create an animatic in your editing program to visualise your idea.

Remember that an animatic can be made up of anything – still images, drawings, notes and written words – laid out on a timeline along with a scratch audio track. Upload your animatic to your learning log.

Sequential Effects Experiments

I decided to use Albers’ colour studies as the basis for experimenting with animated effect filters and blend modes of different colours in TVPaint. There were many possibilities, but I decided to focus on exploring the Distortion filters to understand differences in how they work and how they can be combined.

I got pretty immersed in changes and blends and was not always able to retrace my steps. I need to go back through all the TVPaint file history and work out exactly what I did.

1) Perlin Waves: I started off with the Perlin Waves Effect using to generate a moving yellow and brown abstract image, keyframing also the colour curves.
2) Add layer and merge colour.
3) Duplicated and Flipped: I then duplicated, flipped and overlaid these on separate layers to get multiple colours.
4) Difference and Add blend modes merged: I then changed the blend modes to get more different colours and put in a pink pong loop.

This ‘accidental accident’ version with the mirroring has a Celtic feel. But I need to go back through the TVPaint History dialogue to work out exactly how I arrived at this.

5) Adding mirror and background layer blended.

E2.7-2.10: Pose to Pose Animation

Direct animation
vs Pose to Pose

Direct animation

‘Direct’ animation is an open-ended ‘adventure’ that starts by drawing, sculpting or photographing the first frame of the animation and then capturing each subsequent frame, progressively building up movement sequentially. This is the workflow of animation methods like Stop Motion and the Visual Music experiments. Although the process may follow some sort of storyboard and underlying narrative idea, the relationship between frames is not easy to control without a lot of practice, and not all accidents are ‘happy’.

Pose to Pose animation

‘Pose to Pose’ animation is a more more controlled and considered approach to movement devised to ensure that the animated process can be planned for ahead of making; easily revised; and split up into a division of labour in commercial studios. It is possible to anticipate where a particular action might end and how long a particular action will take- useful when working alongside sound and in planning the overall rhythm and structure of a sequence. In hand or computer drawn animation, it is possible to make continual changes to the movement itself, returning to a sequence to insert or replace frames. A very jerky leap up and down can be changed to a slow glide into the air or a sudden crash downwards can be avoided by simply adding more frames into the upward movement and taking away a few frames towards the end of the movement. Or crashes and disasters exaggerated by removing or changing position of frames.

E2.7 Time Chart

To use pose to pose you draw the beginning and end of each main pose and any interesting ‘extreme’ poses between them (all known as keyframes) and then go back later to fill in the less dramatic frames in-between these keyframes (known as ‘inbetweens’). The more in-betweens you insert between an action the slower, and smoother it will become. It is not however the number of in-betweens between keyframes that matters, but their spatial and time distribution. If the in-betweens are equally spaced in time and distance then the resulting movement will be at a constant rate. If the spacing of time and/or distance is irregular then the movement will be more dynamic and lively.

A time chart is used to plan out the placement of the keyframes and in-between drawings.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cg_mi4ani_Timechart.jpg
Three key poses are pictured: 1, 7 and 17. Drawings 3, 5, 9, 11, 13 and 15 are planned on the timechart below the drawings. Note the distribution of in-betweens planned for frames 1-5 and 9-17. The dog’s head will move quicker between frames 1-7 because the spacing is further apart in the same time. It then slows down toward the end, between 7-17 with much less distance covered in the same time.

TASK
Draw an animation time chart indicating key poses and placement of
in-betweens for two movements from the list below:
● A leaf falling from a tree
● Pin dropping on a hard surface
● Piece of paper being torn in half
● Coffee cup being knocked over
Marble rolling off a table
Ice melting
Upload the charts onto your learning log.

Drawing showing the different factors that influence the behaviour of a marble – none of these timings are fixed but depend on how strongly the marble is rolled, the height of the table and whether the marble is big and heavy or small and lighter. See Post on Bouncing Balls and E2.9 below.

Ice Cubes

!!to do. Much more gradual. But do Inunclude all the details of the sudden cracks?

E2.8 Keyframes and
In-Betweens

TASK: Draw the key frames and in-betweens of one of your chosen movements. Scan or photograph your frames to make an animation or animated gif. You may want to add extra frames or play the movement backwards and forwards making it into a loop.
Upload the result onto your learning log as well as any amendments you made to your drawn diagram.

Drawing of the keyframes and in-betweens based on 2 second animation and the time chart.
TVPaint animation with handdrawn Keyframes in red and in-betweens in blue using FbF with speed adjustments to follow diagram. No squash and stretch was applied because marbles are hard and do not squash. I could have got more consistency in shape and size by pasting copies of a ball Custom Brush instead of handdrawing.

E2.9 Interpolation

Digital key frames and Interpolation

2D computer animation is built up from key frames. If starting point A and an end point B are set as ‘key frames’ most software (Adobe Animate, TVPaint, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premier and Final Cut Pro but not eg Procreate or Corel Painter) will be able to work out all the in-between stages needed to move from A to B. This process of filling in the in-betweens is called interpolation or ‘tweening’.

There are two types of interpolation:

  • Linear interpolation will move an object from A to B at a constant rate as if the in-betweens were plotted on the time chart at equal distances from each other.
  • Bezier interpolation allows adjustment in the curve of movement so that the object will move at a variable pace: speeding up and slowing down.

Software specifically designed to 2D animation enables either direct frame by frame drawing and/or importing drawings and images that can then be combined and animated with fine control over the interpolation curves.

TASK:
Watch the tutorials on linear and Bezier interpolation on the Khan Academy website:
https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/pixar/animate/ball/v/a2-quick
Complete the featured exercise ‘Animation with Linear Interpolation’ using their interactive animation page.

I did not find the Khan Academy explanation particularly detailed compared to work I had done on another on-line animation course with Howard Wimshurst.

I started by doing more thorough research on You Tube about the physics of Bouncing Balls and different approaches to animating them. Adobe Animate has much more precise and user-friendly motion tween features. But TV paint also enables motion tweening and some degree of control over the speed curves. Because I was interested in marbles for this project, again I did not add squash and stretch – though some motion blur might have been good. The Red Ball animation was done as part of my Howard Wimshurst course using Frame by Frame animation in Procreate on my iPad – a softer squishier ball using squash and stretch.

See detailed post:

Research 2.4 Bouncing Balls

TV Paint animation using Motion effect and tweening comparing linear interpolation, Bezier C curve and Bezier S curve.
Earlier animation using Procreate on my iPad

E2.10 Keyframing

TASK: Use digital software to animate one of the movements from the same list as in Exercise 7.
● A leaf falling from a tree
● Pin dropping on a hard surface
● Piece of paper being torn in half
● Coffee cup being knocked over
Marble rolling off a table
● Ice melting

Marble falling off a table using TV Paint motion tween features. I used the original keyframe drawing from E2.8 as a hidden layer. Because the speed controls in TV Paint are quite complex, designed for much more art-style animation rather than motion graphics, I found it difficult to control the interpolation speed at each keyframe. Adobe Animate would be better for this task, or TVPaint Frame by Frame using a ball Custom Brush to maintain consistency in shape and size. But the exercise was very useful in helping me familiarise myself with these features in TVPaint.

E2.5: Sound and Image animatic: Summertime

Visual Music

“All of a sudden it hit me – if there was such a thing as composing music, there could be such a thing as composing motion. After all, there are melodic figures, why can’t there be figures of motion?”

Len Lye, edited by Roger Horrocks and Wystan Curnow, Figures of Motion (1984)
Auckland University Press, Oxford University Press.

Abstract animation, also known as “Visual Music” and “Absolute Film” was a
twentieth century development pioneered by the animators Mary Ellen Bute,
Hans Richter and Oskar Fischinger. These artists developed methods and devices
to translate visual imagery into and alongside sound. See:

There can be said to be three key ‘movement strategies’:

  • evolution
  • deconstruction
  • patterned movement.

As no story arc is present and the structure is more like music than literature, the mind is able to wander and the viewer enters a different type of experience.

Research 2.3 Visual Music

TASK:

Find a short piece of music and use drawings, photographs or other means to create an animatic for a proposed abstract animated piece.

Listen to the music and think about what kinds of images, mark-making, materials, patterns or colour might work well with it. Try drawing or photographing while listening to the music. Be playful and experimental in your approach. Consider whether you want to find complementary visual forms or contrasting ones, and how the pacing of the music might suggest movement, layering, or visual interactions. Try out different variations to see what works best. For example, bu using found images to go with your sound as well as ones you have created.

Use this material to develop a short animatic and scratch track. Upload your experiments, the final piece, and your reflections on your creative process on your learning log.

Inspiration

Music

The main track I used for this animation was Vivaldi Four Seasons: Summer from the first You Tube video on the left. My interest is in the contrast between the very langorous feel of the first movement, with its birds and flickers of light on water through trees, with the very energetic and dynamic music of the storm.

Vivaldi Four Seasons. Summer. The visuals consist of an apparently rather random sequencing of animated still images of well-known paintings of sea, seaside, flowers, sunsets and nude women. Mostly dry sandy browns, reds, dark browns and some pastel blues, greens and greys. Although many are evocative in themselves of feelings of summer, the compilation bears little relation to the music. And detract rather than complement what is quite beautiful piano. I am glad I watched these visuals after starting on my own animation using just the extracted sound.
A much more langorous version on the violin. Visuals are just of the violinist and orchestra.
Piano only version of the most energetic part of the piece. It has interesting visuals above the keyboard showing the visual representation of the notes – much like Normal McLaren’s work.

My vision of summer was also influenced by the jazz blues of ‘Summertime’

My Summer Paintings and Prints

The Seasons have been common projects in earlier OCA drawing, painting, printmaking and illustration courses. I had particularly enjoyed working with watercolour and water-based inks, watching the pigment flow lazily and sensuously down the surface in patterns of light and shadow with river reflections and dragonflies between weeping trails of willow branches. Summer, swarms, dragonflies, butterflies, particle effects, kaleidoscope. From my prints and paintings.

Visual Music animations

Sitting by an open patio door with breeze in the garden at the end of July on the hottest day of the year so far I re-explored and played with different feelings of summer suggested by the Vivaldi music.

Focusing on building up patterns, I used this assignment to explore TVPaint mark-making with wet brushes and smudge brushes, using autopaint effect on layers building them up as I listened to the music several times. Then I experimented with different layer blend modes to combine the layers into different interpretations

In terms of timing the animation still needs quite a bit of sorting out. Autopaint was interesting, but needs a lot of practice. Also because of lag in playback, it is quite difficult to get everything synchronised. So this is still a work in progress. I could extend my experimentation beyond moving build-up patterns to more varied evolution and deconstruction.

But I really enjoyed the process as one I would like to practice more. I am particularly interested in the potential of blend modes and layer effects in TVPaint and the potential for discovering accidental colour effects that are very different from my original concept, but equally valid responses to summer that broaden my creative and emotional response.

My first green, black and yellow version was rather similar to my paintings.
The second version was blue – more like the jazz versions.
This last version surprised me – I replaced some of the colours and overlaid them in difference blend to give this much hotter, more vibrant and energetic version. Like a hot jazzy New York night with lights and music – far from the green willows of Cambridge.