Saturday, 19 January 2013

Aarghh. Story Synopsis. Constructive criticism required please.


'Jimmy the Squeak' (world renowned gentlemouse thief) has been under surveillance from his arch nemesis and Cat Burglar extraordinaire 'Whiskers McGraw'.

After a stake out lasting almost several seconds 'Whiskers' has ascertained the hiding place of 'Jimmy's' stash... the big fish tank in the front window, guarded only by a single unassuming goldfish.

Without further ado 'Whiskers' makes his preparations, intent to break in that very night.


We see a deserted high street (main street) in the dead of night and a made aware of a shadow. the camera follows the small object as it scurries across the street, dashes up a side alley and nimbly hops a fence or two. Leaping on a windowsill, the camera cuts to a close up of an extending claw and we hear the squeal of glass being cut. A second later and our burglar deftly enters the rear of the pet shop, triggering a silent alarm.. our thief uses shadow and their innate agility to proceed to the front of the premises where we see our hero drop to the floor behind the tank. The trap is sprung!!


Okay, this is where it gets a little hazy and I need some assistance..

We see our hero either...

- tied to a chair, spotlight in eyes being sweated down by a certain dastardly mouse.. or..

- strung up about some time related device of his imminent doom.

We see the true nature of 'Jimmy the Squeak' as a maniacal mousechopath...

erm... okay, so I need to get from the trap, to the treasure. It would be nice if I could hamstring both mouse and cat and have the fish come out on top... and I still need to incorporate the helium balloon.

This is easy enough if I can demonstrate a reason to have helium. Perhaps the mouse has voice recognition as a lock on a certain part of the building, the cat needing a higher vocal register to gain access.

Perhaps he brings scuba gear to get to the treasure only to find his air switched with helium.

I can trim down the second act greatly if the trap is sprung as soon as the property is entered which leaves motive, escape and resolution for the latter half of the second and third act.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Life Drawing: Jane 15/01/13

Not a bad session, after half a dozen 2 minute warm ups we touched on feelings, emotions and states of mind.




Sack Jump.

He gets a little faint at the end of the animation, this can be attributed to a light concussion.

Bouncing Ball.

I had to reduce the quality somewhat to save to USB, however, enjoy.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Storytelling Unit: Character ideas.

Following on from Phil's comments regarding my synopsis development I agree that the Warner Bros/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer route is the way to go.

This is a tried and tested format for protagonist and antagonist which creates wonderful motives and competitive nemeses to drive the story forward.

I'm reluctant however to mould my characters in the style of the more recognisable duo's

-Wile E Coyote / Road Runner

-Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd / Bugs Bunny

-Daffy Duck / Marvin the Martian

-Sylvester / Tweetie Pie (although this is so, so tempting)

-Tom / Jerry / Spike (again, very tempting)

I shall however be making a call to the ACME lunacy warehouses for some executive slapstick paraphernalia.

The way I see it the story will work well with three character components whether they be classic enemies, victims or generally unaware...

Spider / Fly / Frog 

Dog / Cat / Shopkeeper

Cat / Bird / Shopkeeper

Cat / Fish / Shopkeeper

Lizard / Locusts / Frog

Cat / Mouse / Snake

Character highlighted in red would receive the competitive, carnivorous intentions of the other two.

Character highlighted in blue would be oblivious to the murderous intentions of the other two.

Character underlined would have great 'helium balloon' potential.

Food for thought. As ever please offer feedback.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Thirty second storyboard.

I am proud to present the thirty seconds (32 on film) between 'Superman' beginning the chase of the plummeting aircraft to the point of capture.

I felt this was more significant, challenging and interesting than the final thirty seconds of capture and safe release and it is filled with uncertainty, after all, when Superman catches you, you're caught.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Thirty second Storyboard.

I have chosen from my tiny dvd collection Brian Singer's excellent 'Superman Returns'.

The question is, which thirty seconds?

The Plane rescue after the shuttle release.

Protecting the security guards and the bullet to the eye.

Saving Metropolis after the tremors, resulting in 'Atlas'.

Three fantastic scenes to be sure, all of which ably communicate the strengths of Supes.

Arguably the most intricate to storyboard would be the plane rescue. Tricky to communicate the motion and speed of the pursuit and the chaos inside the craft. Perhaps I shall be brave.

Great scene with the security guards. I don't think any other scene translates the awesome power of Superman better. Repeated large calibre rounds taken on the chest finished of with a 9mm shot fired point blank to the face. None of us can fly, or lift immense weight, we could all however be shot. Never before has invulnerability been communicated with such intensity.

Saving Metropolis? Wonderful scene, very busy and shows the full gamut of his power.

Decisions, decisions...

Animation expression and emotion studies

Elation and 'Boo' type surprise

Disgust, Maniacal Triumph and Sexy

Sleepy and Bored

Sick to the stomach

 Strong like Bull

These images present anticipation, action and recovery of two expressive movements. Sneezing on the left and punching on the right.

Storytelling Unit: Idea Blast and First draft synopsis


Pet Shop

Helium Balloon

I really feel like i've fallen on my feet here, the ideas started flowing well.

Here is a breakdown of where my thoughts have led me.

Burglary is a no brainer, I wondered however of any burglars motivation for breaking and entering into a pet shop.

- Is the thief so inept that he breaks in by mistake?
- Does he break in to prevent apprehension by the authorities?
- Is the thief interested in purloining a specific, rare breed animal?
- Does the thief originate from the pet shop? Could it be a cat burglar? (pun intended)

Then there is the question of the balloon. An object not normally associated with a Pet Shop.

- If the burglar was in fact a kitty or even a smaller animal it could be that they use a balloon as a means of transport or escape.
- Perhaps a balloon could be introduced as a means of giving the burglar their comeuppance.
- Perhaps it is the Pet Shop itself that is the object of the thief's desire. Leading to an impressive robbery in the style of Disney Pixar's 'UP'.


A burglar successfully breaks into a speciality Pet Shop with the intention of capturing a rare and exotic animal for resale. A bird would be suitable a McGuffin.

A motivation shot once inside clearly informs the audience of the thief's intention. He is unaware however that his every move is being watched by the shops animal inhabitants.

He gets agonisingly close to his prize when all hell breaks loose. I like the idea of his assailants creating unease through background movement, suddenly and violently attacking him whilst remaining hidden to the camera, similar to the pygmies in 'The Mummy Returns' or the prehistoric birds in '10,000 B.C.'

I think this could effectively create drama and comedy by concentrating on the Thief's reaction. His gathering awareness of his peril and injury, could if correctly scripted be very entertaining.

The territorial and protective creatures could leave him trussed up with balloons for the police or a very confused shop assistant to find.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Life Drawing: Jane

Some standard warm up's. Six two minute studies.

The following studies concentrate on feelings, poses chosen by the model and the feelings chosen by Chris. 

Immediately below is sorrow. I tried to convey the weight, accentuating the curve of the models back and the negative space between limbs and torso in an attempt to represent emptiness.

Nervousness is represented below in a 25 minute study. I taped the pencil to a paintbrush and sketched with arm outstretched and slightly off balance to represent the physical and emotional effects of the condition. 

Sorrow is represented in this standing study. I used minimal mark making and completed the study quickly, content that I conveyed the emotion in a competent way.

All in all a good evenings work I feel.

Animation Form Studies 14th November 2012

Here we took the opportunity to make brief studies with each other modelling. The objective of the exercise was to quickly get down form, with specific focus on the 'line of action'.

The middle image represents a study of screwed up paper drawn three dimensionally from my perspective completely without looking at the paper.

Life Drawing 13th November 2012

A selection of from studies. Model by the name of Craig. A rather unremarkable evenings work.

Film Review - La Jetee - 1962

La Jetee (The Pier) is a delightful and curious creation that seems to polarise opinion. Most hail it as fiercely innovative and influential. Some, vehemently disagree. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times writes,

'I find it tediously pretentious, but there are striking images in it, and it does get across a vague impression of Frankensteinian meddling with the brain.' (2005)

a rather damning critique, but I am sure Mr Crowther would have to agree that La Jetee leaves an impression whether positive or negative. The use of stills throughout burns images to the retina's of the audience. This is perhaps what contributes to making the film so memorable as the audience is subjected to the same treatment as the protagonist. the feeling that somehow one is being experimented on for some hitherto unknown greater good delivers a delicious, riveting unease.

First time viewers will take a while to acclimatise to the experience. Having been used to suckling from Hollywood the sudden introduction of La Jetee's solidity requires an element of weaning. Those who embrace the change will be rewarded.

The story develops awkwardly at first. The omission of a first act throws the audience into a bleak, post apocalyptic future with all the brutality of a splitting atom. From here they are forced to come to terms with their new world as if they inhabit the subterranean Parisian sewers. The premise that this future's higher echelons are experimenting with time travel is a little unclear at first, as are their motives. When Terry Gilliam breathed new life into the plot with his wonderful 'Twelve Monkeys' he took care to nurture the plot's intentions, leaving no room for confusion. A momentary leap of faith is all that is required with La Jetee, any gaps left in the plot are filled by the unforgettable and at times quite jarring soundtrack. The menace of the 'masters' and the disorientation of our hero are palpable throughout.

'It's a stirring, emotional film about the unique hold memories have over people's lives and how experiences themselves are fleeting.' Melin E., (2012)

The use of memory to instigate time travel raises interesting notions about the scientific principle. The use of memory to recall past events is an undeniable form of the scientific principle, even if mathematically and logically the theory falls over. It is this ingenious application that gives the film gravitas, and the plot twisting paradox adds to that sense.

Whether the film inspires, influences, infuriates is academic. There can be no doubt that Chris Marker's work will be remembered long past his death and into a future filled with nuclear uncertainty.

To conclude here is Cole Smithey's appraisal of Marker's masterpiece that succinctly surmises is as,

'Lovely.' (2008).

Critic Bibliography

Crowther B., 'New York Times' (May 9, 2005)

Melin E., '' (February 23, 2012)

Smithey C., '' (January 5, 2008)

Image List

Poster Image: