28 Apr 2010

Brief overview

Slime molds and pretty much all micro-biolagy really does fascinate me. The way a tiny, in this case, mold can group together and pretty much overpower anything that in its way.

A key thing I really want to capture in my animation and work is the vibrant colour that the slime mold has. All pictures I have looked at indicate the mold to be a vibrant yellow, which I find very strange and interesting.

So I want to create a two minute animation of a part of a Slime molds life aimed at children 11-12 undergoing Key Stage 2 SAT tests. Time to get cracking.

A side note on my branding and logo:
I've got an idea and plan to produce some drafts for it. The main thing behind it is the fact that my name is Earl Lennon Mills (no, not after John) which initial wise is ELM. The first thing that springs to mind is an Elm tree so I want to incorporate that into logo. It also goes with the idea that I'm still learning so I could use a tree that is still growing. I want it to look like it spells ELM as well.

Slime mold Videos

Some videos that explore the nature of slime.

Slime Molds

Slime mold (or slime mould) is a broad term describing fungus-like organisms that use spores to reproduce. They were formerly classified as fungi, but are no longer considered part of this kingdom.

Their common name refers to part of some of these organisms' lifecycles where they can appear as gelatinous "slime". This is mostly seen with the myxomycetes, which are the only macroscopic slime molds.

Slime molds have been found all over the world and feed on microorganisms that live in any type of dead plant material. For this reason, these organisms are usually found in soil, lawns, and on the forest floor, commonly on deciduous logs. However, in tropical areas they are also common on inflorescences, fruits and in aerial situations (e.g., in the canopy of trees). In urban areas, they are found on mulch or even in the leaf mold in gutters. One of the most commonly encountered slime molds, both in nature in forests in the temperate zones of the earth as well as in classrooms and laboratories is the yellow Physarum polycephalum.

Most slime mold are smaller than a few centimetres, but some species may reach sizes of up to several square meters and masses of up to 30 grams. Many have striking colours such as yellow, brown and white.

Life cycle:
They begin life as amoeba-like cells. These unicellular amoebae are commonly haploid and multiply if they encounter their favorite food, bacteria. These amoebae can mate if they encounter the correct mating type and form zygotes which then grow into plasmodia. These contain many nuclei without cell membranes between them, which can grow to be meters in size. One variety is often seen as a slimy yellow network in and on rotting logs. The amoebae and the plasmodia engulf microorganisms. The plasmodium grows into an interconnected network of protoplasmic strands.

Within each protoplasmic strand the cytoplasmic contents rapidly stream. If one strand is carefully watched for about 50 seconds the cytoplasm can be seen to slow, stop, and then reverse direction. The streaming protoplasm within a plasmodial strand can reach speeds of up to 1.35 mm per second which is the fastest rate recorded for any micro-organism. Migration of the plasmodium is accomplished when more protoplasm streams to advancing areas and protoplasm is withdrawn from rear areas. When the food supply wanes, the plasmodium will migrate to the surface of its substrate and transform into rigid fruiting bodies. The fruiting bodies or sporangia are what we commonly see, they superficially look like fungi or molds but are not related to the true fungi. These sporangia will then release spores which hatch into amoebae to begin the life cycle again.

Unit 6: Commision

And here we are. the final part of our year 1... year. Time to get started.

At the time of the briefing on Monday, I was thinking through ways of how to animate the development of a cell, until Dr Klappa said that the cell was proberly the easiest. So I scraped that the ideas I had and kept the good ones and moved onto the development and life of a Slime mold. This is defienclty the one I want to follow as my head has already got a firm grapse on the ideas of the Slime molds scientifically and how I could produce this into a animation worth someones money, in this case, Peter Klappa's money.

The Life of a Slime Mold
Scenario 2

Target Audience:
Key Stage 2 SATS, Year 6 11-12 years old.

Section of the life cycle:
The feeding Slime mold through to the begining of a new slime mold 'flower' being formed.

The reason I have decided to go with a target audience of 11 to 12 year olds is simple. Its this age that is in flux when it comes to how children want to be treated. There still children and can be 'talked down' to while in the same case they don't want to be patronised with silly voices and other the top colour scheme. Its a time period when I can still display the animation as very childish with keeping it semi sophisticated... well, sophisticated for an 11 year old.

21 Apr 2010

Final Animation

And it's time to upload.
In regards to to my final animation, I'm personally very proud of it. I've been trying to increase my drawing skills and I think its evident here. My one gripe is that there is some pacing issues. Scenes shot up and are gone way to quick but I think its still watchable.
Here it is:

I hope you enjoyed it.

Animation Timeline

A French film maker, Georges Melies, discovered the effects of frame to frame trickery and then subsequently used them afterwards.

The year with the first real use of stop motion, as Arthur Melbourne uses the technique on the commercial Matches: An Appeal.

James Stuart Blackton used stop motion to turn some sketches he had made into objects in an animation called Enchanted Drawings.

Blackton is credited as creating the world’s first cartoon called Humorous Phases of Funny Faces using chalk animation.

Winsor McCay creates an animation based on his comic strip ‘Little Nemo’. The animation was a collaboration between McCay and Blackwood and has since been heralded as a classic. Though it was never actually called ‘Little Nemo’, that is the name it has picked up over the years.

McCay continued his work on Frame by Frame animations by creating Gertie the dinosaur, while Willis O’Brien made a stop motion film about Cavemen. The very first Cartoon studio was opened in New York by Raoul Barre. These men could be considered the pioneers of early animation.

Winsor McCay created the harrowing retelling of ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’ using various techniques he had learnt of the years. McCay used the animation to condemn the action and the people involved.

Otto Messmer created the cat ‘Felix’ under the name ‘Master Tom’ at the time. Felix could be considered as the first mainstream Cartoon icon.

Felix the Cat was the star of the world’s very first Colour animation. It was produced by John Randolph Bray.

Willis O’Brien created a set of stop motion dinosaurs to be used in the film ‘The Lost World’.

This year saw the release of Steam Boat Willie by Walt Disney. It featured synchronised sound and stared the character who would become the mascot for Disney: Mickey Mouse. Disney directed the film. The film premiered at New York’s 79th Street Theatre and was shown ahead of the movie ‘Gang War’

Betty Boop made her debut (albeit in a slightly different form) in the short ‘Dizzy Dishes’ by Grim Natwick who would later work for Disney.

Disney released the first Technicolor cartoon, ‘Flowers and Trees’

King Kong was released. The beast itself was created and animated by O’Brien. Kong was an outstanding marvel a time, with little of the audience having ever seen a creature of the magnitude or animation so seamlessly transitioning from live action and stop motion animation. It become a classic due to its longevity and how it began an entire movement in cinema

Disney released the first animated feature film ‘Snow White and the seven Dwarfs’. It was not only the first Disney feature but also the first American film, the first produced in full colour and the first made by Disney himself.

William Hanna and Joseph Barbera make the first Tom and Jerry Cartoon called ‘Puss gets the boot. Tom is called Jasper in this short.

Disney releases Cinderella to world eight years after its last feature. The very first TV animation was shown on American TV with limited movement.

Hanna and Barbera make the television debut of ‘The Flintstones’.

Walt Disney dies of Lung Cancer.

Water ship down and Lord of the Rings is adapted into animations. The second half of the Lord of the Rings movie was never made. Water ship down fast became a classic and was seen as a hit.

Influenced by Jan Svankmajer, the London-based Brothers Quay makes the grimy surrealist short Street of Crocodiles. John Lasseter begins his rise to fame as he directs Luxo Jr.

The Simpsons make their TV debut on the Tracy Ullman show. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was made by Richard Williams and was seen as a groundbreaking blend of live action and Animation.

Wallace and Gromit and debuted in there stop motion glory but lose out at the Oscars to Nick Parks other Creation ‘Creature Comforts’. The Simpsons earn themselves their own TV series, starting with a Christmas special.

Tim Burton produces the Musical Stop-Motion feature ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’. Steven Spielberg revolutionized special effects with Jurassic Park.

John Lasseter's Toy Story is the world's first feature-length CGI cartoon, heralding the biggest animation revolution since Steamboat Willie. Nick Park's The Wrong Trousers wins an Oscar.

The Matrix and its later sequels blur live action and animation in the presentation of the action (influenced by Japanese animation) and its continual digital manipulation of the image at the level of individual frames.

Aardman releases its first feature film, Chicken Run, in partnership with DreamWorks.

The Two Towers, the second part of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, introduces Gollum, a CGI character whose movements and expressions are based on actor Andy Serkis.

The return of stop-motion, with Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, by Nick Park and Steve Box. The latter wins an Oscar. Chicken Little, Disney's first in-house CGI film since Dinosaur, has a lukewarm reception.

Disney buys out Pixar animation

Avatar is released, bringing with it resurgence in 3D cinema and life like animations that can be brought to life with James Cameron’s new Technology.

Who’s who?
Winsor McCay
McCay was a prolific animator that far outshone any of his rivals, and set the standard for Disney and others to follow. His most influential works are Little Nemo and Gertie the Dinosaur.

Willis O’Brien
O’Brien pioneered Stop motion Animation and perfected it to some degree. His works include King Kong.

Walt Disney:
Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator and entertainer. His is famous for his influence in the field of animation. It was due to Disney’s talent and dedication that he was able to found one of the most powerful companies in the world.

John Lasseter:
Lasseter is an American animator and Director. He oversees the Development at Pixar and Disney. Lasseter has worked on all the Pixar films to some degree, but the highlights would include Toy Story and Up.

Nick Park:
Park is an English Film maker and Stop Motion artist. Over his career, his has been nominated for 6 Oscars and won 4. His most notable creations are Wallace and Gromit.

James Cameron:
Cameron is a Canadian director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Cameron created 3-D Fusion Camera System that was used in his 2009 hit Avatar. Avatar was Cameron’s first feature film after Titanic. His most noticeable works are Titanic, Terminator and Avatar.

Movie Madness + Maya Tutorials

Lines Horizontal:
This is a hard one to review and also rather easy. As it’s a five minute video featuring the movement of lines, it’s all about becoming lost in the movements and the sound as opposed to following a story or some form of narrative. The animation itself looks rather simplistic but I’m sure it wasn’t as simple as it looks. The music works wonderfully with Animation building in tempo when the animation lines up. A short movie that shows that simplistic design can really excel.

Le Merle:
A different sort of animation from McLaren this time as it focuses on a small character and the characterisation that is present. A rather surreal animation where a small bird splits apart and reforms with more parts allowing McLaren to add more to it, meaning that any items or objects that show up have a viable reason for being there. The music once again fits well into the animation, building up and slowing down when needed. The animation is very smooth and portrays the character well.

Pas de Deux:
A ballet film created by McLaren again, showing his usual style. It features a ballet dancer doing what she does best but McLaren has created a form of silhouette that is left behind. The dancer then reforms with or it disappears. It all adds up to a surreal feeling that the dancer is dancing with herself. A mirror perfect version of herself. Eventually a man enters the fray and the splitting continues leading up to a moment where the female dancers surround the male in an orgy of spectral apparitions. We even have parts where it’s as if an outline is being left behind after every moment, which to be honest, messes with my mind. My favourite shot comes near the end when the male is holding up the female and slowly lowers her and it seems like there melting together.

King Kong:
Possibly the movie that launched monster movies into the mainstream, even though it was masquerading as love story, when we only want to see a big monkey get angry. The movie isn’t a short film obviously, meaning bigger and better animations are needed, and this is evident in the titular ape. One scene that stands out to me for me is the fight between Kong and the Dinosaur on the island. I think it really showcases the power of animation and whether you think it looks fake or not, you can become enthralled by the action on the screen. Of course the other key moment here is Kong atop the Empire State Building shouting at planes. I think this is iconic now because we all are aware of the impending fate of our hero. That concrete isn’t soft. A lot of establishing shots are used to showcase the size and scale but I love how Kong really looks like its climbing, including the laboured stopping to emphasise the fact that this is a huge beast. All in all, King Kong is really brought to life by the animation team allowing the beast to feel large and powerful even though it’s properly a figure no bigger than my hand.

Jason and the Argonauts:
Now we are in the Harryhausen territory. This man did more for cinema that George Lucas and his Sci-fi epics and James Cameron and his 3D camera.
Back on Topic, The animation in this film once again expanded on the stop-motion effect to great detail. Possibly the movies most famous moment and certainly the one that showcases the animation most is the Skeleton fight. You could argue that other scenes were more impressive, but when you factor in the amount of time to create that amount of enemy combatants, then to have them fight real life counterparts. A lot of time and effort but there’s no denying the fact that it defiantly payed off. The attention to detail is nearly unmatched and shows the length that we have to go to create a convincing world and threats for our travelling heroes. The animation is smooth and fits into the action and portrays to the audience that the creatures are a plausible threat, not a small model.

Dimensions of Dialogue:
An animation created by Jan Svankmajer that explores decay and the cycle of life. This is an animation that doesn’t contain a lot but leaves you entertained, like the new ‘Star Trek’ Film. It starts with ‘full’ creatures that gradually degrade as they are eaten and then thrown back up. This pattern continues with the ‘better’ of the two meeting faces eating the other. It gradually comes down to nothing. The animation and especially the detail in the models are incredible. I can’t fathom how long this took to make. To gather the objects and assemble them in the perfect way to interact with one another, meaning it really keeps your attention.

Street of Crocodiles:
Oh. The one animation that we looked at that I didn’t engage it. I not sure what it is but I feel that the animation wasn’t clear to me, meaning that I couldn’t follow what was going on except on small parts that I looked at on its own. For example, the undoing of the screws in the dust, the bugs (Damn it, what are they called?) unravelling in the dust. I was mainly fascinated by the use of dust or decay in the film but the overall thing I thought was lacking. Sorry...
No I’m not. It’s my opinion.

Jiri Barta Animation (was it called Club of the abandoned?)
This was another slow animation, but I enjoyed it more than ‘Crocodiles’. It features a group of old manikins that no longer needed going along with their makeshift life. The animation was very fluid and clear and it really portrayed the movements of the manikins in there decaying state and how they are affected by age. The only issue I have is that the new manikins moved it the same way. I thought the old moved like that because of degradation but the newer ones where very similar to a certain extent.

My second favourite Pixar film behind the glorious Toy Story, Up is film that is just as much about story as it is animation. I won’t delve into story but I’ll say that it is powerful and that it fits into the world that Pixar have created. It has the emotional tugs as well as the action and with a huge helping of Comedy. It’s rather hard to review the animation of a Pixar film because it can be summed up by saying ‘Perfect’. The characters are modelled to perfection, whether it’s the way the character looks or has to move. There animation is even better, really giving the viewer a feeling of ‘Solidarity’. The characters move and interact as they should in relation to the created world. Can they do what they did in real life or in a live action movie? No, it would look weird and out of place, but in the film the movement fits with the characters and world really giving you a sense of plausibility that is unmatched in a lot of animation films. The animation is fluid and fits together with no jerky shots or characters magically moving to set up another action. Plus there’s the fact that the movie looks gorgeous anyway, the animation really looks spectacular. It succeeds at making you think that it’s a real movie, you forget that it’s an animation and enjoy the ride. I defy the most cynical critic to not enjoy this modern classic. The question though is:
Can Toy Story 3 surpass it in anyway?

Maya Tutorials:

Walk Cycle:

Down Walk Cycle:

Contact Walk:

Bounce Walk:

Eye Rig:

I know the eyes texture is messed up, but I'm going to rectify that when I get home today.

Tail rig:

Hand over:

Mech rig:

Character Rig:

18 Apr 2010

A Concept Art walkthrough

Not related to the unit or work but still interesting. I just preordered a special book detailing the entire development of the game 'Uncharted 2' for personal and uni use as it goes from concept to final product in great detail as well the art of the game. When I preordered it I was given a download link to this. Its a video with various concept art walkthroughs from the team in great detail. Its 22 minutes long (skip along if you want) with no sound but really shows what goes into making a fantastic piece of concept art.

17 Apr 2010

Cleaning up

Wow, that took a while. I've been working for the best part of the week on animation and the final hurdle is in sight. God knows how many sheets of paper I have. I REALLY hope it all comes to together. It just takes one frame to fudge it up. On Monday I'll be scanning all my drawings in and compiling them all together. Then I just gotta finish my essay and uploaded all my stuff to the blog ready for friday. I think I'll have Sunday off and rest. Thats what Jesus would want I guess. Hard thing to believe is that after this unit, we have one more and thats the end of Year 1. That's incredible.


How is a yellow Dalek scary and imposing?


10 Apr 2010

Clash of the Titans- Then and Now

THEY ARE NOT TITANS! The Kraken and Medusa are not Titans!.
The Titans consisted of:

to name a few.

The titans were the parents of the gods. The Titans feared there children as they themselves took power by killing there ancestors. Chronus was the father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Chronus had many sons but ate them to try and preserve his power. These three escapes. When the Olympians gained power, they usurped the thrown by killing or imprisoning the Titans in Tartarus. The Olympians then became gods, and divided up there new world and created Man. Man then rose up and took control for themselves.

History lesson over. Kraken was created by Poseidon, the Medusa was a cursed woman. Yes, I am interested in Greek Mythology. But I digress:

Clash of the Titans (1981)

The original from way back when, it is highly regarded as a classic but for what reason. Would it be the special effects or the magical journey? Possibly elements of both but more so the Animation. Even to this very day, I believe the effects stand up. They fit so well into the movie. Yes the movie looks old, and so does the Animation but that is what makes it fit so well onto the screen.

The movie tells the story of the Greek myth of Perseus, and it starts at his birth. The king of Argos (not the shop) locked his daughter away to protect himself from a supposed curse. Zeus fell in love with the girl, and Baby Perseus is born. Fearing for his life and with anger of her betrayal he sentenced the two to death. Angry at the King, Zeus unleashed his rage and destroyed the king along with the City.

Fast forward...

Calibos was son of Goddess Thetis, and was destined to marry Princess Andromeda. Calibos was cruel man and hunted down Zeus' prized animals, causing Zeus to punish him. Angry at Zeus but unable to take any direct action, Thetis put a curse upon Andromedia. The move is Perseus' quest to save the woman he loves after taking one look at her (mmmmm, ok?).

Calibos and Thetis take the villain roles but never really live up to it. One is God, but she amounts to anything, she has no power. Zeus and Poseidon have the real power but seem to be push overs. Come on man! Your King of the Gods!

Perseus on the other hand is a fine hero. He comes across as a likable character, and lives up to the hero roll. A man you want to see win. To bad he didn't have a villain to play of. One downside is that he never really becomes to god or Demi-god he was born to be.

All in all, a good film that features a magical, high fantasy adventure across Ancient Greece with animation that still stands out today by the master, Ray Harryhousen.

Oh, and there was a robot owl.

Clash of the Titans (2010)

What does this version share with the original? Name. That's about it. The characters are different. The story is different. The basic premise is all that remains. Zeus has a kid....

I won't go into to much detail here for Spoiler reasons, but the story DOES manage to keep you interested and lead you onto the next set piece of action. The story in the new incarnation is that Hades (Who wasn't even mentioned in the first) attacks men, as they begin to defie and belittle the Gods. In one such attack, Hades kills Perseus' adopted father but leaves his alive. Zeus is unaware that he has a son aside from Apollo (Not sure where ol' Hercules is). One difference is that Calibos and The King of Argos are the same character in this version. Angry at the defilement, Zeus strikes the king and he becomes Calibos. Wanted revenge against Zeus, he signs ups to Hades evil boot camp of evil people. Zeus is lot more evil and Dictator like now. I felt that the Laurence Olivier Zeus was a kind of push over. This new, Liam Neeson version is allot more calculating and manipulative. This is evident when the king Marches on Mount Olympus itself to over throw the gods. Zeus disguises himself as the King and goes to his wife to make the King suffer the ultimate betrayal.

Saying the animation was good is like saying the Sky is blue...

With the Hades attack, it turns the story into one of revenge and saving the world, as opposed to the a quest to save the one you love. The question I have is: Did the studio just attach the 'Clash' name to bring in viewers, or was the old version really outdated in comparison to today's cinema?

Why so many Changes?


Notice how heroic 1981 is? He was wrote to be a hero and to be an icon. The shield and sword glimmer as he stares into the distance. 2010 was made to be a soldier. Pure and simple. Even down to the Haircut he was sporting in Avatar. 1981 has the better Perseus for sure.


Lord of the Rings Armour aside, The new Zeus is better. As I have said, 1981 is a bit of a push over when it comes to Thetis, but in 2010 he stands up to Hades and is allot more ruthless. 1981 is more of a father figure, while 2010 can be a loving deity, but if you cross his or any of the gods, he will let you know about it. I prefer the dictator approach when it comes to an Omnipotent being that can create and destroy. And in the end Zeus still has complete control. 2010 wins... wait. Where is the white beard!!!!!!!?????


Hades, hands down. Thetis never lives up to anything. She appears, threatens some people then goes. Hades takes an active role, actively manipulating both the gods and the mortals and even getting down to some killing. A real manipulator, while Thetis does what her son asks and orders Poseidon and Zeus to be her bitches.

Saving that for Harryhousen essay.

Both have there qualities. 1981 has a better Perseus and story, while 2010 has a better Zeus and Hades and Action. 1981 is a magical, fantasy adventure, 2010 is an action romp with swords and the guy from Avatar.
So which do I chose as the better?
Both. Yes I can chose both as its my blog. Get over it :)

9 Apr 2010

Animatic + Edit

Movement + Sound = Win

It turns out I'm stealing from Sony for the use of the music so the video is banned in Germany. Oh well. Thats why you'll see ads on it. Its an agreement to allow copyright use.

7 Apr 2010


I'll proberly refine this once more but here is how it stands a the moment, now I can move on with the animatic and then finally it begins...

The drawing.

6 Apr 2010

Thumbnail Storyboard + Character design

And I'm back after Doctor Who and Ashes to Ashes weekend... Sorry, I mean Easter weekend (Matt Smith has really put me off custard).

Heres my thumbnail storyboard that I drafted up last week. Remember, it's a thumbnail sketch.

Here are my character designs. I wanted to keep it to the basics of a teapot.

Also, I went to see the new Clash of The Titans movie yesterday (purely for Essay reasons :) ) so I'll be posting my review of the old classic and this new one soon.