Friday, 10 December 2010

Shorts on Walls event

Yesterday was the shorts on walls animation event in Birmingham. I had submitted Sentry there which was shown too. Enjoyed the event, felt quite relaxed and quite easy to talk to people, its a shame not everyone turned up due to weather conditions (at a guess about 15-20 out of 60-70 turned up).

Really wanted to submit Beyond but due to submission deadlines arriving alot faster than I imagined I could only prepare a dvd for Sentry.

As for my main project, I'm dedicated the following days to completing all the pre-production work in preparation for next Friday's presentation and assessment. Looking forward to it and showing what I've done so far.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Progress Report 2

Now in the modelling phase at last. I don't think theres any revisions needed for the characters now, besides the mechanical Overlords colour (thats something I'll aim to get fixed before the texturing phase).

An early capture of my work in progress. I have almost completed the face now so next update on the modelling will show a lot more.

With deadlines approaching, I will also begin work on my final 2D animatic (when I say final, I'm talking about the overall quality of the drawings and adding the changes made from latest revisions in the script).

I will also begin work on a 3D animatic, although this will be very rough blocks moving around to represent characters and evironment. The primary aim here is to have the 3D animatic represent the camera angles and positions since the 2D animatic is focued purely on communicating the story.

It's been mayhem lately in trying to get everything balanced out with dissertation, my scientist lip sync and this project but I'm getting there now. With a draft of the dissertation finished, I only have minor edits to do to fix the errors. As for the lip sync, I'm definately going to have to buy my own light box to work with as they are all booked out at university; which I was planning on getting before next year anyways.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Muybridge Exhibition at Tate and British Museum

Back from the London day trip to see the Muybridge exhibition at Tate. Enjoyed it a lot as I had never been to Tate or British museum.

Muybridge Exhibition

This was pretty cool, although I was surprised how small it was (for some reason I thought it was going to be a huge exhibition). Found quite a few good reference photos by Muybridge that would help a lot with Project Enzo; like the studies of the birds and mining poses.

Muybridge's Bird Study

Wanted to buy something related to the bird studies but couldn't find any other than the book so I left with a pose-able wooden hand (<impulse buy and it will be useful for drawing and modelling hands).

Forbidden Planet

We also went to Forbidden Planet, which I've been to before but it was still awesome. Wish I could have got everything from there.

British Museum

I was shocked by how amazing it was, the moment you enter the court hall inside and realise how big it is... felt quite intimidating and felt like I was standing inside something from God of War. Didn't get too see much because of how little time we had (some of us had decided to quickly find a McDonalds which turned into a long search so we had 35 minutes to see as much of the museum as possible). I was glad I was able to see the Egyptian exhibitions as I loved studying ancient Egypt when I was younger (alongside space and dinosaurs). Was quite surprised to see the 'mummified' Cleopatra there too.

Mo, Matt, Gary and me got impatient for my phones camera to work

Disappointed we had so little time to check it all out, but I definitely wouldn't mind going again just to visit the museum.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Thinking of a title for 'Project Enzo'

Most of my animations stick to a one word title as I believe it's easier to remember. This is a tradition that I would like to keep for Project Enzo.

Currently, have a long list of potential title names but none of them feels perfect yet. Of course, I have a lot of time to decided on this so it's not really an issue.

The kind of title I'm looking for should represent the themes of escape, confinement, friendship and relate to Enzo and Bird. It'll be interesting to see if the final title does reflect these themes.


I have recently watched two films: Big Buck Bunny and Sintel which I find amazing! They are both created using Blender instead of an expensive software such as Maya or 3DS Max and the quality of animation and visuals are awesome.

Whilst I enjoyed big buck bunny for its humour and impressive visuals (the colour palette is beautiful) I enjoyed Sintel more. This is the kind of animation project I would love to work on and it kind of reflects what I have already been aiming for in my project: A story about the bond between two characters. If you haven't watched it, head on to YouTube and check it out. It's a 15 min short film.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Connected worlds

An idea I've had for quite a while now is the use of references to past animations I've made which would pretty much function as easter eggs. Those who know my past work may be able to recognise some of the visual cues to existing work.

My ideas so far:

------References to Beyond------
- Posters of the piloted robot could be placed on one of the walls

- At the ending when Enzo looks out into the world, somewhere amongst the establishing shots a white cube
will be seen where one side of it falls out.

------References to Sentry------

- A picture of the tiny sentry bot could be placed somewhere or actually be present in physical form as a deactivated machinery where other robot parts may be kept.

- The other sentry designs could be placed somewhere as blue prints in the construction site

- A picture of the environment at the beginning of Sentry could be placed somewhere as landscape painting

------References to Beat's Audition----

- A portrait of B.E.A.T and V1RU5 could be placed somewhere as a poster for the advertising new entertainment for the Overlords

- Pieces of B.E.A.T could be stored with the tiny Sentry bot


Of course, this will be something I'll only put in once the core animation is done.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Finalised character designs - True Overlord

This is the final design for the true form of the Overlords. Small, goblin like critters that bark orders from inside a mechanical body. They are well aware that they are weak compared to the slaves, however their knowledge of technology has given them the advantage. Now they roam about in their robotic forms showcasing their superiority.

The True Overlords.
In comparison to their towering robotic forms, these guys
are tiny (barely reaching Enzo's knee)

In traditional stories, Goblins have loved treasure. The Overlords are similar, the mines contain godly amounts of valuable ore, gold, diamonds etc and they wont stop until they claim all of it for themselves. Of course, the slaves do the digging whilst the Overlords sit back and pick one of them to attack for fun. They have a habit of constantly keeping track of numbers which represents how wealthy they have become.

Behind the scenes, away from the working portions of the mines, the overlords enjoy their luxurious life away from the robotic forms such as night clubs and gambling.

I will post their robotic forms soon. It's still a work in progress as I'm not happy with the colour for the armour at the moment.

Monday, 15 November 2010


Seeing as I've posted so much about Project Enzo, I think it's best I post the synopsis now to clear a few things up. My current synopsis, I want to edit this near the deadline a bit but for now its not a priority.
A slave is freed by a small bird and taught how to enjoy his life. As the two become friends, the bird falls prey to the toxic atmosphere of the steam punk mines. It is now the slave’s turn to help out a friend as he attempts to find the entrance to the mines. The Overlords are out hunting the duo, determined to stop the slave from leaving. As the bird is freed into the outer world, the slave is dragged back by the Overlords for execution; however their plans are stopped by a swarm of birds that strip the Overlords of their mechanical armour. The true form of the Overlords are revealed to be small, goblin like critters that immediately flee the scene leaving the slave to follow the birds and his friend into the outside world.
I won't post the treatment just yet but the majority of the animation will be 3D with the exception of the credits which will have a 2D approach. I'll be starting the modelling of the characters very soon which I'm eager to start.

doodle of Enzo and the Overlord. good times...

I'll also have two animatics: one as a story focused 2D animatic and the other a 3D animatic that focuses the choreography and camera angles of each scene.

As for the credits animation, I will save that for another blog entry.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The background of Project Enzo

The majority of the animation takes place in the mines where the slaves are forced to work day and night under the watchful eyes of the Overlords. The Overlords enjoy their superiority and will some times dish out punishment for their own amusement.

The Overlords are large robots who order the slaves around and are obsessed with obtaining all the precious ore from the mines. Their greed for riches never being satisfied.

The slaves are born in the mines and die in the mines, the dirty air they breath has no effect on them. perhaps evolution has given them immunity but for any outsiders the environment is lethal.

One bird's curiosity to enter the mines will change everything...

A friendship will form and grow...

and for the first time in the history of these mines, one slave will escape to see the outer world...

This is the second setting of the animation, which will be pretty fun to create and render out. It will feature gigantic plants and flowers and a surreal landscape. Instead of the reds and oranges of the mines it will showcase greens and blues in contrast.

Although most of the animation takes place in the mines, the design will gradually change. What starts off as a very rocky, natural cave will evolve into a facility like environment with small remnants of the caves remaining. Metallic rooms will be present instead of the large mining caves.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Flip Festival - impressions

With Flip Festival over it's back to work but here's my thoughts on the festival.

Thursday - Birmingham: Millennium Point

A little disappointing in attendance as I imagined it to be busier than the main festival days at the Lighthouse. My film was shown too, although it had to be restarted when the projector switched off and the screen saver appeared. Quite a scary experience when only the sound effects could be heard. Luckily, the reaction at the end of the film made up for the mistakes made during the screening process so it was worth it.

Although, I hope they have a bigger screen next year for the launch party screenings as it was only a fraction of the size of the screen at the lighthouse (as the Thursday screenings were shown on a small lecture room sized screen).

Friday - Wolverhampton: Lighthouse

Definitely my favourite day of the festival and was the busiest of the three days. I was part of the volunteering staff for this day and Saturday so it meant I had something to do in between the waiting times. The screenings were great but my highlight was definitely the media molecule talk. It felt like a really fun studio to work in, in terms of the atmosphere and the way they worked. It was great to see the development of Sack boy too.

Back to the screenings, I was amazed by the amount of stop motion animations and how awesome they all were. My favourite of these was Savage Mountain and Lucky.

Saturday - Wolverhampton: Lighthouse

Another great day although very disappointed that Andy Gent never turned up for his talk (hope he's ok though). The international shorts were great, my favourite being Urs which combined 3D characters against beautiful 2D backgrounds.

The student screenings were cool too. Unfortunately, my uni didn't make the top 3 animations but the ones that won were exceptionally good so congratulations to them.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Gorilla's shortcut

Been working on this piece over the past 3 days (perhaps around 8-12 hours was spent on this, not sure).

Anyways, it started off with the face which I designed on a cushion when watching TV. By design, I mean using your finger to change the direction of the pillow material so that the light and shade forms a picture...if that makes sense. I will always find a way to keep drawing and designing even if i dont have a pen and paper.

So I scribbled the idea down on paper before i lost the cushion's version but had no idea what to use it for.

Well, then I thought why not have the Gorilla surf on a giant banana...right?

Click for bigger version....
The Best Shortcut
As the sun sets and it gets late, the Gorilla takes a shortcut...

I will always find time to paint (digitally) as I find it's great way to take your mind off other pressures like work. Sit back, listen to music and draw...that's my way of relaxing and keeping my motivation high.

Now...back to work.

(Also posted this in my deviant art gallery too)

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Finalised character designs - Enzo & Bird

Happy Halloween!!!

Anyways, now that I have posted the developmental sketches for each character I can now start posting the finalised concept designs for them. To start it off, here's the design for both Enzo and his friend,  Bird.

Enzo and Bird

Enzo Design process

Enzo was born in the mines as a slave. He has never seen the outside world at all.

I wanted his design to some what resemble a bird but still be humanoid. He has feathers poking out of his helmet and his face has a sharp chin to look a little similar to a bird.

I wanted his skin colour to match the mines so that it seems as if his race's skin colour has evolved to resemble the colours of the mines they are confined in. The logo on his chest plate is his identification symbol and will also be a part of the animation's title logo.

Bird Design process

Throughout mining history, birds have had a connection to the mines to indicate any anomalies in the atmosphere. However, Bird is not that type of bird. Instead he is a resident of the outside world where the mines are something new to him. I wanted his colour to be something that stood out in the mines to emphasize that he does not belong here.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A film about Power, Greed and Slavery

This post will focus on the themes of power, greed and slavery that will be explored in 'Project Enzo'.
Whereas my previous theme related post focused on friendship which reflected the story of Enzo and the bird, these themes are the existing themes present in the world of Project Enzo. They are represented by the intimidating Overlords.

Rule 1: Overlords are the masters!

Primarily set in the underground mine world, the Overlords are the rulers whilst Enzo and his species are slaves. The Overlords are fond of  valuable ore that are found in the mines, the feeling of superiority and dishing out unnecessary punishment to the slaves for their own amusement.

Rule 2: Overlords are happy as long as they get richer

These themes are already in place and make the world seen in the animation. It is this group of themes that will become obsolete by the end of the animation thanks to a simple frienship between a bird and a slave name Enzo.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Meet the Scientist

Now that you've seen the Zombie concept sketches here is the design for his creator, the Scientist.
This character will be speaking towards the camera talking about his creation. During his glorified speech, he realises the experiment has escaped its cell and paranoia and fear creeps up. The animation ends as the experiment leaps on to the scientist (just as he finishes talking).

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Original Character Designs part 3 - True Overlord

Scans from my sketchbook showing the first sketches of the Overlords in their true form.

Overlord Concept sketch

The Overlords in reality are just small, weak goblin-like creatures who barely reach the knees of the average slave. They built the huge mechanical Overlords to appear intimidating and keep their control over the slaves. They sit inside the belly of the robot and control from the inside, enjoying the pain and misery they deal to Enzo's kind.

It will be an awkward moment when Enzo learns the truth as the tables are turned. Here's a Size comparison chart between the robot and the real overlord.

You all look like ants from here...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Original Character Designs part 2 - 'Bird'

Scans from my sketchbook showing the development of Enzo's avian friend, 'Bird'.  (Most imaginative name EVER!!!).

My sketchbook is full of pages of bird drawings so I've only scanned a selection of them. Before this, I struggled a lot at drawing birds so its pretty cool looking back at my sketchbook to see the improvements. I looked at a ton of bird photos and videos to understand the anatomy and movement.

At first, I went with the a realistic wing but slowly deformed the drawings back to a more cartoonish style to fit the original idea of a having a small, cute bird. Despite, yellow budgies having a big connection to the mines, I wanted to have a small blue bird to emphasize that it doesnt belong there.

Bird was strangely enough the most difficult character for me to design and finalise and you can see the concept drawing for him below.

Finalised sketch concept for Bird

The animation for Bird will be even harder as so much emotion needs to be shown from this character. Here's hoping I can pull it off.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

'Project Enzo' Original Character Designs part 1

Scans from my sketchbook showing the very first concept designs for Enzo and the Overlords.

Designs for the Overlords and Enzo

Came up with these designs surprisingly fast, especially the Overlord. I think I was able to get the design down straight away for their mechanical forms. It took me about 2-3 different character designs to reach the version above for Enzo.

Should be interesting to see how my final designs look compared to the original designs, which I will post soon.

Meet the Experiment

Character Design/ facial expressions for my 11 second club's October entry.
This dopey zombie will escape his containment cell and capture the scientist in charge for lunch.

Nick named "Zombeh"

Currently still planning the animation out with the hope of starting it either end of this week or the start of the next.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Progess Report

Project Enzo

I'm making good progress on this so far. Just finished my colour script a few days ago which I'll post in the near future. The colour script has been really helpful as my weakness in conceptual art is environments so doing a colour script really helped lay out the colour and form of what the scene will be like.

I still place the project in the scripting phase as I'm constantly thinking of ways to improve the story and scenes and cutting out as much filler content as possible. In it's current state it will last between 4-5 minutes which is a big improvement over the original 6-ish minute length.

I also have my current animatic version on my vimeo account uploaded but this will constantly be revised to match the latest script edit. I love writing stories so this process does not annoy me at all. I hope to begin modelling the characters over the next few weeks, providing work for my other modules come to a close.

Professional Animation Project

For this semester, I'm working to the brief of the 11 second club (specifically the October competition) with the added benefit of having more time to work on it. Quite confident with this project and I hope it goes just as smooth when it comes to animating it. I hope to start animating it by the end of next week since I have the animatic done.

It's going to be a 2D animation which i've wanted to do for a while since alot of my work has been digitally made or not a traditionally drawn animation.


I seem to be coping with this fine as well in comparison to past essays where its usually taken me around two months to really get going. I have a clear goal at the moment and know exactly where I'm going with this. Finished my proposal for hand in for next week so it's now down to the research.

For my disseration I'll be analysing and comparing the narrative structures between an animated film , Sky Blue and four games (each with their own narrative structure). These are: Heavy Rain, Half Life 2,  Fallout 3 and finally Flower. As I have a huge interest in story writing, this dissertation should be enjoyable.

Friday, 22 October 2010

A film about friendship

This post will focus on the theme of friendship that will be explored in 'Project Enzo'.

The protagonist, 'Enzo', and 'Bird' will meet each other early in the film and become friends, willing to protect each other from any harm. Enzo is a slave working in the underground mine world when he is introduced to Bird, who gradually teaches him how to enjoy his life and smile.

Enzo attempts to smile for the first time; thanks to his new friend, Bird.

 Indebted to Bird, he must now return the favour by releasing his small friend to the outside world when the atmosphere turns poison.

One of my goals for this film is to successfully show their friendship and how far a friend can go to save the other.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Flip Festival's west midlands animation screening

Stumbled across this today on google:

It's the programme for the west midlands screening for the FLIP festivals launch party. My film will be shown right in the middle of the screening. Here's the synopsis on the programme:

Sentry (Ravi Maheru) 02’ 00’’
An over confident space hero enters the scene to get his hands on a valuable gem stored inside a facility, guarded by various sentry bots. With his trusty blaster he begins his mission. A stop motion animation using nothing but cut-out card models.
Doesn't seem like they edited anything in there as apparently some festivals create their own synopsis/ descriptions. Anyways, can't wait to go there. It will be interesting to see if it causes any reactions or feelings (preferably something close to laughter ).

Also noticed my lecturers (Sam Moore) animation is there too, 'An Eyeful of Sound'. Looking forward to seeing this as I have only seen the trailers/ previews until now. The Brothers Mcleod also have a showing there (who were at last years FLIP festival too). I feel really small now and out of place to have my film shown in this programme, well more nervous than anything.

('A fistful of pasta' sounds interesting :D)

Friday, 15 October 2010

'Project Enzo'

Code named Enzo for now (one of my favourite character names, I think it was from a sci-fi 3D cartoon in the 90's, does anyone remember it?), this is my main project for my animation course.

I had done alot of the pre production work before the semester started since the idea has been cooking in my head since last Christmas. It follows the adventure of a Slave and a bird as they attempt to escape the mines. The focus of the film is the friendship, the sacrifices they are willing to make to eachother and how they understand eachother without speaking the same language.

It's definately my most ambitious project (Im sure I end up saying the same thing every semester) but it's not going to be easy. I want to make sure that my vision of the project is created perfectly, but with time ticking by I hope I can achieve it without compromising anything!

I'll be keeping this blog updated mostly with my developments on this project.

At the moment, I'm constantly revising the script to make sure the story flows right with as little filler as possible.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sentry at Flip Festival

Sentry will be shown at Flip Festival next month at the launch party in Birmingham, millenium point.

This is my first time having my work shown off infront of a large audience so its quite exciting and scary at the same time.

The launch party for animation is from 7pm - 10pm on November 4th. Having gone to previous Flip Festivals I have never been to the launch party so heres hoping its good.

A little gutted that my animation won't be entered into the student screening section although this is due to the fact I entered it as a private animation and didnt have it entered through the University. Oh well, maybe next year I can do so.

Friday, 8 October 2010


Decided to create a blog at last, especially since its now my last year for my animation course. So for now, this is just me testing everything out and I'll start posting about my progress and what I have done up until now as i get used to everything.