Sunday, April 22


Recently, I've been focusing on trying to make the sting look as though it was hand-drawn and shot onto film. This was the way it was done in the era I'm mimicking, so I thought it'd be nice to somehow imperfect the inherent sharpness and consistency that you get with Flash animation.

I exported the sting as it is at the moment (90% complete, I'd say), popped the Quicktime video into After Effects and added veeery subtle flickers and grains to the footage. Now, even moments of stillness are given a slight energy by having no two frames be exactly alike; it's as though each frame is an individually printed still on a film reel, subject to slight photographic changes that you wouldn't get with a digitally-produced video.

In addition, I blurred the video slightly, to remove that distinctive Flash animation sharpness. To retain the detail of the original footage, however, I made it so that the blurred version of the video was overlaid over the original, using the 'darken' blend setting.
Don't understand? I'll give you a hand!
The image above should help to simplify matters a bit - like the hand, I've increased the size of the blur so it's easier to see.
Picture (A) is simply a picture of a hand, drawn in Flash and exported as it is. It's very nice and all, but it's very clean. Clean can be a good thing, but when you want to subtly obscure the fact that it was made on a computer, such perfect sharpness can be a dead giveaway.

If you're trying to reduce the sharpness of the image, the next logical step is to blur the image, as demonstrated in picture (B). You reduce the sharpness, but you also lose the resolution. Leave it like this, and you might as well reduce the resolution of the video. And that's a big no-no. All that work, wasted on a low-res video where many lovingly-crafted details are indistinguishable! Imagine that! Gah!

So! That's why I settled on the method employed on picture (C). As mentioned earlier, I overlaid the blurred image over the original, setting the blend to 'darken'. The blur's still doing it's thing, darks blending into lights and lights blending into darks, but the original outlines can still be seen clearly. It's a happy compromise, and I really like the effect it has on the sting. Combined with the grain and the flicker, things look more old-fashioned and filmic.

Here's the video, by the way. Due to YouTube compressing the video, the blur and the grain are hard to spot, but the flicker's visible (watch in 480p).

Tuesday, April 17

Wolf Concept Art

Hey! Here's an early picture of the wolf I found.
It was as much about getting the look of the wolf down as determining the look of the background - I imagined it being very detailed and textured, as the detail of the tree, and the texture of the ground and sky, show.

The tree above's fairly detailed,
 but the camera lingers on it for a while.
The background didn't end up as detailed as this, as it had to be a long image for the camera to track across. To spare the agony of such a large task, I simply retained the textural look. This helped to make the background and the animated characters/objects in the foreground distinct from each other, to give the impression that the sting consisted of inked and painted cels laid over a hand-painted backdrop.

You can also see how much more muted the general colour scheme was going to be at the start of the project. Sean was right - with the slapstick and general fast paced comedy and action, it made more sense to be as loud with the colours, so the overall vibrancy was cranked up considerably.

Oh, Mr Wolf!
The concept art sums up the wolf's personality quite well, too. Nailing the character of the wolf so early on in the creative process was a good idea, as it helped me to add little nuances to his performance as I animated him. He's a typical cartoon villain - determined, angry, but slightly incompetent and bewildered.

Saturday, April 14


The novelty of the acronym may be waning, but the workflow certainly isn't!

Everything will be stitched together in the next couple of days. There are lots of chunks of animation floating about, being completed here and there, but this is how the mothership currently looks. This is the stuff I've done.
Pay extra attention to the animation of the squirrel! There's no interesting fact to follow that request - I just really like the animation...

The squirrel is finished now. That's something that can be permanently scribbled out of the to-do list in permanent marker for all I care.

He finally has a tail! I wanted to animate the body first, so that the tail could then be animated to drag slightly as it reacts to the movement. Also, the existence of the tail makes the big, climactic gag easy to see now.

I've also included shadows to all the characters instead of just the Roman. It draws less attention to the fact that his shadow is only there for dramatic effect, without dampening the impact of his appearance.

The boom mic's finally finished. I was daunted by the idea of animating it, as it's a fairly rigid form with bits that pivot in pseudo-3D directions, but it turned out quite well in the end! I did end up copying and pasting the upper bit of the boom mic pole, repositioning it for different frames, but it gives the animation a bit more solidity and consistency. I forgive myself for that one.

Also, the fight cloud's been enhanced with stars and scraps of fur to enhance the sense of violence, and it breaks up instead of vanishing, revealing the wolf slightly more gradually.
Note the remaining scraps on the wolf's head, cementing the notion that there's more or less no way he's going to explain his way out of the situation he's in - he's blatantly the culprit, no matter how much he tries to smile his way out!

Oh, Mr Wolf!

Tuesday, April 3


Right! Hello! Good news! I've finished the end of the sting!

The other bits just need doing now. Nearly finished, though. Here's another GIF.

In the final sting, the fight cloud will gradually break up to reveal the wolf instead of just vanishing abruptly, and there will be a few stars and exciting lines and shapes emerging from the cloud as it whirls across the set. There will also be tatters of the helmet's plumage flying everywhere, each piece individually animated (more fun than it is difficult, I assure you) so that they flutter to the ground and stay there. This makes it funnier when the wolf stops and realises his mistake - the whole set's covered with the remains of what is definitely not the squirrel he was after.

Oh, Mr Wolf!