Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Here we go....

Hi there, thanks for stopping by. Welcome to my BA Animation blog, this is where I will document all of the work I do for my 3rd and final year of animation at Ravensbourne College. Enjoy!!

So at the moment everyone in the class is supposed to be creating their own individual pitches as possible movie ideas for our 3rd year animation shorts we're going to be making. What we have to do is come up with our own idea and present it to the rest of our class, and once everyone has done this we'll agree on the most practical and exciting ones, get into groups and then begin making the chosen pitches into short movies. Only a handful of ideas will be chosen so we all have to work our butts off if we want to turn our pitches into reality.

My ideas for a possible animation have been all over the place, I was originally inspired by the work of Koji Morimoto to create something very industrial and gritty, with the initial idea focusing on themes such as humanity, extinction, life and death but all from the perspective of a lonely, child-like robot; however after developing the idea and discussing it with a few friends I came to the understanding that although it's an interesting idea to explore, its just a bit too depressing and dark to work on so for now i'm putting it up on the shelf to use sometime in the future.

My second idea was more fantasy based and focused on a gremlin/goblin like creature who works in an evil castle/fortress and is constantly bullied and abused, until one day when he tries to make a daring escape. The animation itself would be about the escape itself and how the gremlin/goblin extravagantly breaks his way to freedom, however whilst working on this idea I found that I wasn't 100% committed to the idea, something was missing which was preventing me from giving it all me effort and attention...and thats when I just isn't interesting! If it's not interesting to me and i'm the one who came up with the idea, then theres little chance that anyone else would be enthusiastic about it, so what was I supposed to do about it?

I started researching about story telling and the best ways to get the audience hooked on your work and the most common answer I came across was to build suspense. A lot of sources I looked at which said this were in reference to writing stories or short novels, but the same principles apply to what we're doing. I then began to research how to build suspense in film and was surprised to find that suspense doesn't need to be directly in the script but can be built up by the filming techniques used e.g. the types of camera shots used and how they're edited together can be incredibly powerful in building suspense for the audience and keeping them hooked on what they're watching. I've been reading about the filming techniques of Alfred Hitchcock and taking note about the ways in which he builds suspense and then trying to apply that to my idea about the gremlin/goblin. Unfortunately the story still didn't hold much weight or interest for me so I decided to scrap it and continue researching to see what I could find, I knew I was bound to come across something which would give me the inspiration I needed to create a compelling idea.

After much researching and many days thinking I would never be able to come up with an interesting idea for my pitch, I suddenly remembered back to when I was doing Media Studies for my A levels. One of our units was about analyzing horror movies and working out how they build suspense and keep the audience hooked on the edge of their seats, part of that is knowing that the on screen characters are in some sort of danger, but because of the way that a lot of 70's-80's horror films shot with 'steadicams' (hand operated camera systems) which were frequently used to show 1st person perspectives, it helped put the viewer in the movie and really push their nerves to the limit, especially when you anticipate something is going to happen and you keep waiting for it, expecting it to happen at any moment. Besides  camera language, sound also plays a heavy role both through the soundtrack such as creepy music as well sound effects such as footsteps or heavy breathing. Both of these elements work together to build suspense, and with the genre of horror, it's taken to a new level where the audience is continually gripped and intrigued to find out what happens next.

The current idea i'm working on was born out of the research that i've just explained. I want to do something that follows that same rules and connotations associated with the horror genre, but I thought it could be fun if I tackle it from a kids perspective. So what sort of things scare kids, I could've made a list of all the typical things that you would expect a kid to be scared of but instead I thought that I would make it more personal and base it around my own childhood fears. When I was young I used to have terrible nightmares, these weren't an everyday occurrence for me but when I did have a nightmare it would really shake me up, they left such a mark on me that I can still remember some of them from when I was around 2 years old like they were permanently engraved in my mind, and each nightmare was set in my home. I think the fact that these nightmares were all in or around my house made it more scary for me back then because the home is supposed to be a place of safety and peace, but in my nightmares it was a place that held nothing but fear and anxiety and I was always trying to escape from it. I think that if I could mix the idea of a childs nightmare with the filmic language of the horror genre with a more child friendly visual style in terms of character and environment design, then I could end up pitching an idea which in a sense is fairly original to some extent but still holds the ingredients to make an engaging and entertaining (and hopefully suspense filled) animation which can be easily related to by anyone because everyone has nightmares.

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