Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Unit 4: Interim Online Review- Part 1

unit 4 OGR


  1. OGR 14/02/2012

    Hey Joey,

    Okay - your story is just about there, but there still seems to be some indecision in regard to the actual tone of your animation. At the moment, it feels as if it's falling between two stools - both tonally and in design terms. You need to make up your mind re. what 'sort' of animation this is - and perhaps you need to consider its audience. For example, SpongeBob manages to be both kid-friendly and adult-pleasing. There's something about the 'horror' of the final moments of your script that doesn't feel right; it's too much. Yes, your arrogant fish is a twit, and yes, we're pleased that his rudeness gets punished, but the evil fisherman, evil laugh and horrid final screams feel inappropriate. This is Tom & Jerry violence or Coyote and Road runner stuff - not The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I think we need to be amused/satisfied by the ending, not horrified! There is an inconsistency too in regards to your design - with a very simple, stylised character for the 'posh fish' and then a human hybrid fish for the main character - if you look at a movie like a Shark's Tale, you'll see the design there is 'more human' than the fish in Nemo, which are just fish that talk. Which world are you in, Joey? You need to decide. Likewise, you need to think about the production design more generally; for example, the fish hotel - if the fisherman had sent it down to the bottom of the sea, wouldn't he have used seashells and seaweed etc. to make it from, to further disguise it's proper use? You've got your hotel designed in a very 'man-made' way - and that could be absolutely fine, if the rest of your design was more 'man' than 'fish'.

    In your act 1, I think you need to establish the 'fish hotel' more clearly; for example, your story could start with a series of signs sticking up out of the sea bed saying 'Now Open - Luxury Hotel - This Way!' - and you show shoals of fish heading for it; and then you establish the hotel itself with an establishing shot, and then you show the foyer, and then you show the elevator. I think the 'elevator of dreams' doesn't quite make sense, because you've already established that it's a luxury hotel (not a magic hotel), so maybe the lift is to the 'Penthouse Suite'. Your story doesn't change, it just makes more sense this way. I'd suggest too that you need to establish the motives of your arrogant fish a bit more - you should show the audience his fantasy - him in the Penthouse Suite, with champage and lots of devoted lady friends - so we know why he's so keen to be the first in the queue.

    In terms of your character design, I want you to think more logically and more creatively too - in the first instance this means looking again at lots of real world reference - at sorts of fish, and the sorts of fish that might suit an arrogant character, or a posh character (you've also got them wearing clothes - is that even necessary?). I also want you to look at the PDFs on myUCA for some technical guidance on character design and dynamic poses: check out Andrew Loomis's Basics of Drawing Cartoons and Poses and Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation.

    In short, Joey - you just need to tighten up your vision of this 'fish world' and also give some thought to the tonality of your story.

  2. Me again - another aspect of your story that requires your attention is the 'fish vs fish' section - it just reads a bit generically without proper incident or an escalation of events. You probably need 3 specific actions or scenarios for the fish to go through, with the third being the most extreme - so that it builds in terms of drama and tension, and so when the fish finally gets into the elevator, the audience feels his achievement (even though we think he's mean). Again - take a look at the Road Runner cartoons or Tom and Jerry for examples of physical humour and pratfalls and farce elements.

    Re. your written assignment; you need to tighten up that intro still further; you've still got a slight lack of clarity and hesitancy in it - trim it down and keep it really clear. What follows is some general advice, but use it to further edit your intro in a series of confident statements of intent.

  3. 1,500 word written assignment that analyses critically one film in terms of the relationship between story and structure; you should consider camera movement, editing, and order of scenes.

    Okay - so while the challenge of the assignment doesn’t state it explicitly, as soon as you start to discuss narrative, editing or sorts of shots, you’ll be using a technical or specialist language – with specific terms with specific histories and contexts. Therefore, in common with all your assignments so far (and all future assignments!), you need to introduce and define your specialist/technical terms BEFORE you start discussing your specific film or case-study.

    For example, if you were planning to discuss the famous shower scene from Psycho, which is an example of ‘montage editing’ – you would first need to introduce and define the term ‘montage editing’ – and in so doing, refer to its origins and cultural ancestry (i.e. its broadest context). In written assignments you have to ‘show that you know’ – you have to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area by showing that YOU understand its various components. You couldn’t discuss Psycho’s shower scene effectively WITHOUT referencing Sergei Eisenstein (the ‘father’ of montage editing), and, by extension, the ‘rules’ of Hollywood ‘invisible editing’ (from which Eisensteinian editing was such a departure).

    Likewise, if you were interested in the ‘continuous take’ of ‘Rope’ – then in order to discuss this technique in context, you’d still have to introduce and define ‘editing’ in general terms, in order to prove Rope’s distinctiveness.

    If you’re dealing with narrative structures – i.e. the ‘non-linear’ structures of Christopher Nolan’s Momento or Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, you first need to demonstrate your awareness and understanding of the ideas and uses of ‘non-linearity’ in story more generally.

    Another reoccurring weakness in your assignments is your introductions; remember, there is no actual content in your introduction.

    Your very first line should state plainly and clearly what the investigative thrust is of your assignment – and that’s all. “This assignment analyses critically the use of non-linear narrative in film, with particular reference to Christopher Nolan’s Momento (2000).”

    Job done! That’s it. No more – nothing else.

    Next, you list the KEY research sources you’ve used (i.e. the ones your essay will now go on to reference), and your reasons for consulting them (i.e. their usefulness to your argument). You should be specific here – give titles, authors and publishing date etc. Put your titles in italics. There should be no waffle here at all, so avoid sentences like ‘Sources include websites, books and films…’ Also, you don’t need to give the film you’re studying as a source, because that’s been made obvious by the first line of your introduction. If, however, you’re looking at some associated films, then you should include them here – but always give your reason for their usefulness to your discussion.

    Finally – your intro should offer the reader a summary of points – the logical sequence of subject matter that will take your reader from ‘not knowing’ about your subject to ‘understanding’ your subject. This is where you – the writer – must give this ‘logical sequence’ some proper thought – get this bit right and your assignment will flow from one point to the next in a satisfying way.