Infection by Flu Virus now finished pending feedback and critique.
@Phil: I will bring in the original and sort out screen grabs tomorrow, if there is anything in particular you would like let me know.
This is definitely a rough cut, still not sure about the text and text boxes, the three scenes of the virus approaching and entering the cell have to be changed as I hate the look of them. I will be posting a tweaked version today.
T-Cell, B-Cell and Phagocyte fighting bacteria. Renders without post, except the first one which has blur and fog.
The shaders are very reactive to lighting conditions, so sometimes they appear darker and sometimes brighter.
As said before, while trying to make everything seem scientific there had to be at least a bit of personality in the models. The T-Cell is the most aggressive and determined of the group, it's responsible for double checking on infections, raising the alarm (releasing cytokines) and it also has the ability to attack and kill cancer cells.
The second image shows the b-cell which I wanted to show as a large battle-ship type of cell, able to identify pathogens and release proteins that can bind them together. However, since it has to wait for the T-Cell to double-confirm its job it needed to look at bit more developed than the others. The dark nucleus type of inner life came out well to show its more complex role I think. In this shot they have just appeared on the horizon, and now they're approaching the bacteria.
The last image is a bit hard to identify without the post work done. It shows our phagocyte attacking bacteria. Phagocytes are less picky about their enemies and they basically engulf everything that appears foreign to them. We wanted to represent their "naivety" with a marshmallow type of shape. A bit like the silliest kind of ghost from ghost busters. The way it moves also reflects this. Also, it doesn't really have much going for inner life in our depiction. I think its simple "eat and digest" task is represented alright like this.
Slight delay... 95% complete one. There's a glitch with one of the radial wipes, thats already been fixed. Other than that, minor tweaks to the timing following feedback and just the titles and end to go...
I haven't quite finished the Mushroom sequences at the end and it's missing a couple of rendered sequences.
The text cards are still the ones from the original animatic. Will be changing those...
Obviously with the deadline looming I dont really have time to drastically change things. I don't think I need to change things drastically so mostly I'm looking for feedback on the editing and pace of things really.
The way I have chosen to illustrate the immune system relies on showing most of the types of cells that play a role. My inital problems with a 3-5 animation on the subject were about knowing where to draw the line. Certain things can't be included and others have to be. I was thinking that to be able to give a truthful impression of the complexity of the immune system, every gear in the machine needed to have its place in the story. After expressing these problems I was motivated to shift my focus on making an animation that could get an audience excited rather than informed, so I moved away from the science part a bit, more towards an atmospheric approach while making sure to keep everything in a grown up tone. I have kept the seriousness and true information in the animation but stopped trying to explain it too much.
Science and Entertainment
What has come out of this approach is much more freedom for slightly more keen visuals and certainly a more exciting overall feel. At first, I tried to keep the narrator voice in it, but I realized that it makes no sense to try and explain scientific facts with a medium that is meant for entertainment. I'd have preferred to make events in the animation more complete and absolutely logical but this other approach works in its own right. However, I did not want to get rid of all the scientific facts. A narrator speaking to the audience would have represented a third party in the experience of watching the animation and the illusion of a story would have been impossible, thus removing any captivating effect from the animation. Without actually being able to be scientific about the subject, I still wanted to keep the tone of this approach. This would have to translate a bit like serious entertainment, if something like that could exist. The solution would be the choice to include the names of the cells as 3D text in the film. This would present a nice balance between the experience of a story, and a slight Brechtian alienation effect of actual scientific truth. Enertainment, but not too much, truth, but not too serious. (I also found the placement of roles - the story being the magic by which the subconscious would be willing to be seduced - and the scientific content being the Verfremdungseffekt, quite amusing for an audience of biology students). Maybe a subconscious impact could be caused this way, a waking of a sense of magic and eagerness for discovery in the audience in their otherwise often theoretical domain.
In the 3D domain, the view through which everything that happens is to be observed is most often forgotten. I'm not claiming to be an expert on camera work, but I do know how to make relevant choices. Two exteremely important tools in my work are always scale and perspective. While talking about visuals, to me it is evident that perspective and scale are the major controllers of emotion: They can be used to put the audience in a certain place, they dictate whether the world is big or small and which parts of it are reachable. I think they are more important than content and even color and as far as visuals are generally used to affect logic and audio to affect emotion, perspective and scale are the unsung and extremely powerful exceptions.
My idea is to give a sense of exploration to the experience of observing a process that is larger than the ego. I think this is an interesting approach: Magnifying this process what is generally perceived to be much smaller than the ego to make it much larger and to bring out its amazing force. I've therefor chosen to create a cave-like environment which does not specifically represent a certain location in the human body, but rather an unknown spectacular place. I have given the camera a mix of controlled movements of exploration and delayed reaction to movement of the unknown. I've also tried to limit my tendency of creating lengthy shots and overly "floaty" movements. I hope that the movement of the camera will be able to dictate the correct expectations to the audience and lead them into believing that while watching, they are amazed.
I have depicted the invisible inside of the body as liquid. Atmospheric density plays a key role in the visual style in this case. The design of cells, the environment and the shading in the short are based on microscopic imagery to reflect the remaining scientific tone. I've tried to move cells just far away enough from their reality so that they could become recognizable and characteristic. There are no direct shadows and no logical direct light sources in the visuals and I've tried to reduce the use of dark areas in general. I have used light and brightness to represent life and a lot of subtle color variation to give a sense of playfulness to the depicted processes.
There are no direct sounds under water and for the first time I'm trying to work without sound effects. Sound effects are a way of creating proximity and the audience uses the auditive clues to assess situations more than through visuals. (The typical example of the horror film without the audio not being horrifying.) Instead of creating impact with sounds cued to visual events I want to hold the audience at a certain distance from the depicted events. This will further ensure that the spectator knows that they are only observing carefully, not interacting and treading lightly as not to disturb the magic.
Without sound effects, music must take on the role of guiding emotions and creating different levels of urgency. Music is being written by my brother Tom Winandy. We have decided on a mix of classical and electronic music to try and create the sound of an epic and modern experience.
Interpreting the unknown
We as humans would like to know in what sign an event stands. I am using color, light position, camera movement, scale and music to suggest these informations very slightly. Mostly though, a subtle distance from the depicted events should ensure that not too much judging and assessing is being done while watching.
I have had much less time to work on this project as I had planned, because important and pressing opportunities have risen up in the middle of production. I have therfor taken on board another designer who is helping with production at this late stage and this is also why I'm not writing the music myself. We are doing our very best to deliver the quality that was promised on time and I apologize for not being able to actively contribute enough to the spectacular science project and blog as a whole.
Slowed down in Premier so it looks a little framey, once decided I'll re-render everything correctly. 60% and 75% seem to retain the speed I want but with less headache inducing side-effects. Thoughts?
Just a few weeks left so I figured I'd get my beta version up for some additional input. A couple of things I'm currently figuring out. I've been mixing music for the last week as well as rendered out some videos and playing around in After effect.
This is the best music I've managed to come up with thus far. Tried five different versions from really ambient/atmospheric to more upbeat/cartoony. Neither where really fitting so I settled on this which is a little of both worlds, I guess.
Another major thing is; does this really need a voice-over to explain the details? I've gotten to a point where I'm blind as far as how first impressions goes. Does the message and phases of fighting an infection get conveyed enough purely through the animation or is more information needed? As in a voice-over.
C&C on all aspects of the animation and how to fix issues and better it are obviously welcome!
I wanted to see what the Basidium will potentially look when rendered with animation. This is lacking shadows to distinguish between the various elements which will be added to the final render but looking nice none the less.
I've been thinking of ways that I can show the transition from the outside of the mushroom into the microscopic level of the mushroom. Using a technique I developed a little while back, I think i've come up with an elegant solution to this problem. In my animatic the transition is an extremely ugly and cumbersome cross fade, which doesn't fit in with the overall editing and visual style. The aim here is to simulate the feeling of travelling up through the mushroom (the concentric circles) to discover the world within.
A quickly made mock up skecth of the opening scene. I'll be remodeling and redrawing everything so this is only placeholder but hopefully it demonstrates the visual style I'm aiming for in the animation.
All righty! Finished a quick alpha of the animations + a quick-edit of the introductions of the characters. Didn't have time to finish the music for this yet, but it's looking good. Going for a non-intrusive ambient track, although I'm still playing with the idea of going all out cartoony with the soundtrack. But I think that might be a bit much in combination with a voice-over. And by the looks of the animation currently, I do believe I'll need some light voice-over in the clip to explain what's happening, even if I'll try to keep it to a bare minimum with the information.
The texture overlay isn't really doing much for me but I like the softness and subtle 3D of these. A whole bunch of them should look quite nice. This is a technique I'll be employing throughout the animation. I'm looking forward to experimenting with render passes and layering up in After Effects.
Issues still exist with the animatic but as Peter noted a lot of the issues are due to timing and letting text linger for longer so at this point I’m confident of fixing these once I’m in Maya - animating and editing footage. In the meantime, I’m keen to move into the production of the scenes that have been established as working.
I want each phase of the cycle to have a specific look with the style. The Basidia section is the one with the most exotic sound. The music at this point makes me think of exotic Arabic belly dancers coming on to the stage at the shift in music, wiggling their hips to the wild applause of the drunken audience.
I’ve established that the animation is black and white, so that rules out use of the lush colours Arabian colours but the dresses often have lovely glittering sequins and patterns. I want to incorporate this extoic aspect into the design and texture of the Basidia.
This is the first stab seeing how I can fit the scientific information into the boundaries that the music has set for me . Issues have arisen and horrendous graphics aside, it feels good to finally see how this animation might work in time based media.
All text, font and animation is placeholder. So if there are mistakes (like where it says basiodispores - urgh!!), don't worry. I'll triple, quadruple, quadriple check all my spelling and facts when the time comes. Basically this is mostly an exercise for myself to see how the animation breaks down, nothing is set in stone.
When text appears in the final animation it will be integrated into the scene. The transition to a new scene will be much more seamless, rather than the hard cuts here.
First things I notice straight away:
Intro text lingers for too long,
The karyogamy and meiosis scene goes on for much too long. This is the biggest problem with the whole animation. It will be relieved slightly when I add start adding some dynamic animationa, camera moves and editing. But wont be fixed completely. Need to work on a solution for this.
I feel like the pace is working well and the amount of information feels suitably meaty. When I start integrating the text it'll open up plenty of scope for including lots of scientific goodies. Heavy on content when all is said and done.
I’ve been chipping away at researching the scientific aspects and in conjuction with listening to soundtrack, trying to work out how the information could fit into the music.
Doing so made me acutely aware that the soundtrack was much too long for the information needed. I want to inform greatly but I don’t want to bore my audience . With the music being the way it is, it could also irritate if it outstays it welcome. I’ve cut the soundtrack down by half. Though drastic it actually makes very little difference because the half I cut is actually a repeat of the first. At just 2 minutes it feels a lot tighter than the original running time of over 4 minutes. Have a listen:
I’m a lot more comfortable understanding the scientific aspects now, than before when I picked the soundtrack. Knowing what I need to convey, I’ve been able to break down the music into 4 significant sections, just about the right amount for the information I have.
1. Intro/Fully grown mushroom
2. Karyogamy/Meiosis stage
3. Basidium/Badiospore stage
4. Mycleium stage/Mushroom Growth stage.
This will need a bit more tweaking, as right now the Karyogamy/Meiosis stage feels overly long but I’ll work on that. I’ll be uploading an animatic in time for 31st of August Pitch deadline.
I’ve been thinking more about how the animation is going to play out in conjunction with the music. One aspect of the track I don’t like is how it goes in the main belly of the music without much opportunity for an intro. I’ve been pondering how to ease the viewer into my 1920’s Jazz-inspired world.
I like the idea of a classic American prohibition radio newsreel announcer introducing the animation. He’s talking in cryptic terms about illegal havens of wild partying and debauchery but of course, he’s actually talking about Mushrooms. Then the music and animation starts.
The music probably predates the era of public radio by a few years or so but I don’t think it matters too much. I don’t intend for the animation to be historically accurate (scientifically accurate though!), but more to evoke the feeling of an era.
Here’s an example of the style I’d be going for:
Obscure reference, but this is only example I can think of right now where it’s used in a film. From the intro of Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill Kill!
I think the animation should be in black and white, to evoke the era and the feeling of a classic animation. The Silly Symphony animation ‘The Skeleton Dance’ for example:
I'm throwing this one out there as well. I like both but this is one is a touch different from the previous. It feels a touch quirkier. It's called 'Make That Trombone Laugh'. Clearly Harry Raderman had a thing for euphemism's.
After some searching I think I've found my soundtrack. It's public domain and royalty free so no worries there. Have a listen:
It's a 1922 Jazz song performed by Harry Raderman's Jazz orchestra. Some interesting stuff from wikipedia, not about this song but about the era in the general:
"Prohibition in the United States (from 1920 to 1933) banned the sale of alcoholic drinks, resulting in illicit speakeasies becoming lively venues of the "Jazz Age", an era when popular music included current dance songs, novelty songs, and show tunes. Jazz started to get a reputation as being immoral and many members of the older generations saw it as threatening the old values in culture and promoting the new decadent values of the Roaring 20s. Professor Henry Van Dyke of Princeton University wrote “...it is not music at all. It’s merely an irritation of the nerves of hearing, a sensual teasing of the strings of physical passion.”"
The track definitely evokes the kind of wild parties of the speakeasy. It's has a sexual, naked legs flying everywhere, sensual, flash your knickers, fuelled by alcohol, rambunctious dancing rhythm. Not surprising considering the actual track is called 'Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me' What could that possibly mean? I love the energy of it. Lets not forget I am dealing with what can be basically described as the sex life of a Mushroom.
I think a visual style and evoking the feeling of this era could be pretty fun. Thoughts?
As mentioned in a previous comment, I have a mid 20th Century American visual influence and one of the great influences on visual artists at the time was Jazz. I get the feeling that music of Miles Davis and his ilk is perhaps too raw. So I've gone further back to the early pioneers of Jazz and big band music.
I have concerns over the type of music I can use in terms of copyright and so on. What is the situation in regards to this?
As per Phils suggestion I've gone back and had a slight think about the visual direction of my piece. I'm currently in a mindset where I'm just subtracting real world textures and replacing them with arbitrary texures of my own. It works, but needs resolving to a greater extent. The idea of a non-cg aethetic needs to embraced further and to effect the entire style and language of the animation. Phil recommended Charley Harper - famous for his highly stylized depictions of birds and wildlife.
I'll follow up with Mary Blair who produced the concept art for many Disney films.