29 Feb 2012

MP - White Blood - Comic Concept

I've put together a concept piece showing the general idea of my animation as a comic, as the art style originates from that area. This is to show the art style the animation will adopt in its natural habitat. Once the animation starts the art style will be cel shaded/Comic book. This concept piece is to emulate the look of a comic, which influences the final piece.

The White ship is the White Blood Cell Ship
The Dark Green ships are the Virus Fighters and the Mothership

The animation will be opened with a comic book, with the audience travelling inside it.

My next step is to put together my storyboard and compile the animatic. Whilst doing this I will be adding details to my silhouttes and painting them.

27 Feb 2012

MP - Creating a Title - Moving on from 'Working Title'

So far, 'The Struggle Inside' is the working title of my project. I've been trying to come up with a suitable name for it, combining the different elements of the White Blood Cell animation.

It's microscopic, it's medical, it's sci-fi, it's a massive conflict.

Some current titles under consideration are:

The Smallest Scale, The Largest Battle

White Blood

The Invaders

The Virus

My current favourite, and the new 'Working Title', is White Blood. It's straight to the point, has both a medical and sci-fi feel, and tells the audience the general direction of it.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Colour Palette

I want to use a similar visual technique to Roy Lichtenstein, in that there is a limited colour palette. To do that, I have created representative colours for each part in the animation. The three colours will make up the majority of the colours featured. Because of the Cel Shading, there is also a 'Shaded' Colour there.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Scale Chart

This shows the size of the ships in relation to one another. I made the WBCS visibly larger then the Virus equivalent, due to the size of a real White Blood Cell and a real Bacteria.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Remastered Silhouettes

Redoing the old silhouettes to just clean them up a bit, making the lines smoother and shapes bolder.

26 Feb 2012

MP - The Struggle Inside - Virus Fighter Silhouette (Draft Final)

The same as before, I've combined the aspects that I feel best fit the look that I want the Virus Fighter to show.

The Virus fighter is a lot longer and sharper then the White Blood Cell ship as it represents a different look. While the WBC shoots a while blob that engulfs foreign material, the Virus shoots a dark blob that decays the area around it.

Next I plan to backtrack and just tidy up my silhouettes a little

MP - The Struggle Inside - Virus Fighter Silhouettes

Same as before, this is the different designs I've created to show the Virus Fighter. The main reasoning behind this is that it it fits the look of a bacteria as well as simple shapes and a decidedly 'Evil' look.

MP - The Struggle Inside (WT) - Virus Mothership Silhouette (Draft Final)

I've now combined the different aspects that I like from my Virus Mothership silhouettes into one design that I like and that fits the rules that I've laid out before.

The Mothership is clearly more based on the Sci-fi side then the real world side. The point of the mothership that it is a large imposing vessel that dwarfs the size of all out things in the bloodstream.

21 Feb 2012

MP - The Struggle Inside - Virus Mothership Silhouettes

I have now created a selection of Virus Motherships. To create it, I have combined the look of Bacteria and large Motherships. I also used real life bases, such as Air Craft Carriers, and real space stations such as the 'International Space Station and Skylab'.

I used the same concepts as before, creating different silhouettes and looking across them at aspects I like. I quickly abandoned the 'Tendril' approach, as I had already dropped a similar approach for the WBCS, so I felt it would be out of place here.

Next I plan to combine the elements I like best.

20 Feb 2012

MP - The Struggle Inside - WBCS Silhouette (Draft Final)

I've combined the different elements I like best from my silhouetting into a design that I feel fits the mould of the WBCS. Militaristic with hints of it's source.

As a mix between a fighter and a WBC, I have combined the best parts but kept the style in place.

The engines are based on the real world engines. This is because it has to be instantly recognisable to the audience. The audience knows how the propulsion works.

Torso/Cockpit Replacement:
As a White Blood Cell, I have removed the cockpit aspect of the fighter design, as the ships are autonimous. Instead there will be a circular panel representing the cockpit on the cockpit.

Bomb Containment:
The container for the bomb is found on the bottom and houses the final bomb that starts the destruction of the Virus mothership.

The weapon system resembles a sci-fi approach with the exposed laser shooters. They fire a small white beam that on impact spreads into a gelatinous blob that engulfs that area. On the smaller Virus Fighters, they engulf them completly. The bomb is a large scale version of this.

Trail Emitters:
The trail emitters act similar to real aviation. The trails fade over time but leave a distinct look over the entire battlefield.

The wings of the craft.

MP - The Struggle Inside - WBC Silhouettes

Today I have created some White Blood Cell Ship Silhouettes to explore some different shapes I could use. They are a combination of the real White Blood Cell and a star/jet fighter shapes and styles.

Next, I would like to combine the different aspects into one that I like best. At the moment these are:

The surrounding nature of 1
The rears of 4/5
The bodies of 1/5

18 Feb 2012

MP - The Struggle Inside - Animation Breakdown

To further understand the animation and the direction I want to take it in, I'm going to break down each scene and what its means, how it correlates to the overall piece.

Scene 1:

There are Red Blood Cells with a small selection of White Blood Cells moving down the veins. All is calm and slow in the body, as the cells move along there route.

This scene gives the feeling of calm. There are no fast movements or sudden changes to keep this feeling.

Scene 2:

We start to see the White Blood Cells moving and mingling with the Red Blood Cells as they begin to move towards an intersection in the tube.

Still keeping a calm feeling, but beginning to pick up pace. The movements are still slow but the speed of the blood cells gets more noticeable.

Scene 3

The cells move along at a brisk pace before turning a corner. In the distance, at the end of the tube, is a large virus ship moving along it.


We now get the sense of something bigger. Of an imposing threat as it bears down on the small red blood cells.

Scene 4

The Large enemy ship is hoovering up red blood cells and extending its tendrils into the wall of the vein, pumping its poison in. The vents around the base of the ship is releasing a toxin into the blood flow.


The audience begins to see the damage that the virus is doing to the body, as the colour begins to change and the walls begin to shrivel. The audience should feel the power that this virus has over the body.

Scene 5

With the toxins creeping into the walls, we hear something in the distance. After a second of suspense, a large squadron of White Blood Cell Ships (WBCS) turn the corner. We see the WBCS moving in formation toward the enemy.


The audience should feel that the WBCS are outnumbered but still show a serious threat to the enemy and are united in formation.

Scene 6

The WBCS move towards the ship, aligning there formation into an attack position.


The audience feels that the big conflict is just about to happen.

Scene 7

The Virus releases smaller ships similar to itself to defend itself. The WBCS and Virus Ships fly at one another to start there fight.


As the ships collide, the audience's excitement begins to rise.

Scene 8 +

The ships fight across the vein, flying in all directions leaving trails behind them as they do. No one side has the upper hand as the advantages shifts. The camera and audience are moved around the battlefield, as different pairs of ships do combat, shifting perspective from up close to far away.


The audience is excited and mixed up in the fight as there senses are attacked from all directions with the feeling of battle. They get completely lost in it as the attention never stays on fight for two long.

Scene -9

The vein is full of the leftovers from the fight, as it seems that the virus is beginning to win with WBCS losing there respective fight. The remaining WBCS launch a final desperate attack on the ship.


The audience starts to see that the fight may not be favouring the 'good guys'. But there is a small amount of hope when the rest of the WBCS start moving into position.

Scene 10

The ships attack the virus and one small ship flys into one of the vents releasing the toxin. The small ship flying deep into the core of the virus before releasing a small drop onto the inner shell of the Virus. The ball explodes, acting like the real Neutrophil as it expands engulfing the interior


Scene 11

Outside the virus, the rest of the WBCS release there payloads onto the virus, engulfing it completely.


The audience is happy to see the now small band of WBCS finally succeed. With the destruction of the virus, things start to return to calm.

Scene 12

The enemy ships start disintergrating, as the mothership is no more. The remaining WBCS start to gther and fly along the vein with the red blood cells. The vein returns to its normal state.
All is well again.

17 Feb 2012

MP - The Stuggle Inside - Art Direction 2 - Lichtenstein/Cel Shading

From my research, I've decided to find a style that resembles what a 12 year old boy would like. From the target audience research I've gone for a cartoon aesthetic.

One way of accomplishing this is a technique called Cel Shading in the video game industry, and Toon Shading in Maya.

The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker

It was through Nintendos efforts that the visual style became more mainstream. In an effort to differentiate themselves from other games, make a timeless looking game and different from previous entries in the series.

Nintendo changed one aspect of cel shading and that's that they did not include the strong bold outlines featured in other examples. This look softens the overall image, creating a more friendly looking image.


The Cel Shading look makes the CG look more cartoon like without losing the cartoon image. It makes it more accessible to the younger audience. I also like the use, or lack of, strong bold lines. I think it makes it more accessible for all audiences, expanding my target audience but still keeping the focus on 12 year old boys.


Borderlands is a more recent example of cel shading, and one that caused controversy when it was re-revealed as supporting the style. Considered to children, as the technique made the game look more child friendly but in time it became more or a signature of the franchise. In the opposite fashion of 'Windwaker', which removed the bold lines but kept the shading, Borderlands removing the shading and kept the bold outlines. But even then it was used sparingly and not on all objects. It was used as a way to focus the audiences attention onto certain objects and away from others.


The loss of the 'shading' aspect may have helped the game find the market that they were aiming for, but my target audience is younger so fully adopting this approach would be a mistake, but I do like the way they use selective Outlines. Maybe the red blood cells won't be outlined but the WBC and virus will be..?

I test the style with a previs WBC ship:

Roy Lichtenstein

A man that Phil recommended to me, Roy Lichtenstein is an American Pop Artist.

Lichtenstein clearly uses the style of an old comic book, most noticeably the 50s, to great effect. The colours used are limited, so the image is kept clear and not busy. Another aspect, lifted from comic books and emulated with Cel Shading is the bold outlines. Another element that Lichtenstein uses to great effect is the 'dots' that are evident in his work. Reminiscent of the 50s era of comics, it adds an instant time frame to it.


The limitations in colour and the bold lines are definitely areas that I want to use, but I'm not sold on the 'Dots'. I think it ages it to much for the target audience that would be seeing it. I think the best thing to do is to create an amalgamation.

Overall Art Style

The art style that I'm currently aiming for is Cel Shading. This technique allows the animation to take cartoon qualities without becoming one outright. I plan to use the selected outlines of Borderland along with the limitations of colour as shown with Lichtenstein. The use of Cel Shading is purely to enhance the experience for the target audience, as it combines all aspects that the age group is looking for.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Sci Fi Research

The sci fi element of the animation plays a large part as it's what draws the target audience in.

The Sci-fi spaceships must be a combination of the medical facts (Spaceship + White Blood Cell) with the real world dogfight moves. Of course, the look of the ships must be sci-fi.


Battlestar Galactica:

X-Wing - Star Wars

Tie Fighters - Star Wars

Independence Day

The spaceships in the animation will be a meld of the medical look and the spaceship look, as shown above. There are three different ships to design, a White Blood Cell one, a Virus one and a Virus Mothership. The basic look of the White Blood Cell and the virus/bacteria will influence the final design.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Target Audience (10-15) Research

The target audience for my animation is 10-15, so its an average of about 12. This age is at a certain point in a child's life, as its when there looking for something a little more grown up but still in there comfort zone. For the majority of young children, there comfort zone is cartoons. The 'edge' for a young boy may be more of a focus on action or violence.

Now I will look more into it:

Some great examples come from 'family films' as they encompass a large area of audience.

The Incredibles

The Incredibles could be a perfect example of the family film (as are most Pixar films), but it is also a lot more action focused then many of Pixars other outputs. It is also based on the premises of Superheroes. These elements all point to a more young male focus.

Astheticly, Pixar must make the film appealing to a young audience to draw them in as well as the humour for the adults. This leads to bold colours and strong lines.


The Image above shows the use of a limited colour palette. That use of colour is very similar to how cartoons and comics operate. To make my animation suitable for the target audience, I will follow the same rules and not overcomplicate the scene with an explosion of colours.

Ben 10

'Ben 10', and it's continuations 'Ben 10 Alien Force' and 'Ben 10 Ultimate Alien' are a modern popular cartoon series airing on Cartoon Network. The target audiecne for the 'Ben 10' serieses is a young male audience and it borrows heavily from super hero comics. Again, like with 'The Incredibles' the colour pallete is limited, mainly down to a green colour.

'Ben 10' constitutes the shift in interest in young males. They no longer want a simple cartoon but one that feels more grown up. The action and violence found in 'Ben 10' provided that.

Avengers: Earths Mightest Heroes

'Avengers: Earths Mightest Heroes' takes it stlye from it's source material, the comics that there based on. Due to this, you can see the thick lines and especially the bold colours, predominatly red. This style makes it look similar to the comic books without outright becoming one. It looks like a mix between comic and cartoon.


From looking into shows and films that share a common target audience, I'm able to see what relates them. One aspect is the cartoon/3D approach and the styles that a cartoon offers.

The content that will be found in my animation must appeal to the audience that I am aiming at. The key ingredient to that seems to be violence, but never intense violence. It must be suitable for the age. This is also not to be mistaken for violence 24/7. From a narrative point of view, there must be down times and a break from the action.

From a style point of view, the colours and shapes must be bold and strong lines.. The colours limited to magnify the ones that are there.

From this I will look into Cel Shading (Toon Shading) and the look of a comic book (Popart - Roy Lichtenstein). This will give me an artistic style and make it more appealing for the target audience.

16 Feb 2012

MP - The Struggle Inside - Art Direction 1

While I've been researching my target audience and other aspects, I've been keeping an eye out for any influences for the art direction.

I then came across, and remembered a style I've always been fond of:

Cel Shading (or Toon Shading in Maya)

How does it relate to my project? Well I'll get into that more when I fully research the area, but here is some reasons I thought of it.

My target audience is 10-15, so the average is really about 12. At this stage in a childs life they are predominatly still watching there cartoons, with dabbles into 3D animation and Live Action. Cel Shading is used to create an either cartoon or Comic book look, with its bold colours and thick outlines. Due to the target audience, this would give my animation the feeling and look of a cartoon with an 'edge'.

At the age of about 12, children are looking to broaden there horizon, looking for shows that contains that 'egde'. The asthetics of Cel Shading allow that edge with the fact that its not a cartoon, yet still holds the same quility. The content of the animation also holds a key element, with action featurung heavily into my medical animation.

There are many examples of Cel Shading already, ranging from childrens TV to mature Video Games. This will allow me to look into many differnet areas and why it works and why it doesn't in some cases...

For now though, I've created some simple Toon Shaders on Maya to try and further understand what they are and what they do.

15 Feb 2012

MP - The Struggle Inside - Animation Pipeline

A pipeline from one of our previous briefs that I will be sticking to throughout the duration of the project.

1) Pre-Production: Visualising a World
 Project Start: Finding the right idea.
 Research: Researching the areas found in the idea
 Art Direction: Scene design, colour palettes, shapes, & atmosphere. 
 Storyboarding: Creating a storyboard for the animation
 Pre-Viz: Basic model, shot framing, & camera animation.

2) Production: Building The World
 Modelling of Elements: Objects & Architecture.
 UV Layout & Texturing: Layout maps and texture maps.
 Lighting: Main scene lighting & detail lighting - such as glow elements.
 Object Animation: Animation of scene details / objects.
 Effects Simulation: Effects based elements such as water, smoke, or dust.
 Rendering: Creating Render Passes - Beauty, Occlusion, Glow, & FX etc.

3) Post-Production: Combining the World
 Compositing: Combining render passes & refining the shot(s).
 Final Shot: Editing and exporting.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Dogfight/ACM Research

The crux of the animation will be the 'ariel' dogfights that take place in the body.

Dogfights in movies are based on real examples and situations and my animation will be no different. The movements must fit and the manuveres used must be correct. So lets get started.

A dogfight, or dog fight, is a form of aerial combat between fighter aircraft; in particular, combat of maneuver at short range, where each side is aware of the others presence. Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of the airplane. Until at least 1992, it was a component in every major war, despite beliefs after World War II that increasingly greater speeds and longer range weapons would make dogfighting obsolete. Modern terminology for air-to-air combat is air combat maneuvering (ACM), which refers to tactical situations requiring the use of individual basic fighter maneuvers (BFM) to attack or evade one or more opponents. This differs from aerial warfare, which deals with the strategy involved in planning and executing various missions.

This image instantly stood out to me as a spectacle. The trails left behind by the fighting planes leave an image even after the fight.


In regards to the project, this would mean a lot of debris and leftovers from the fight. This would create a striking image in the fight area.

Luftwaffe's Black Monday

This footage of a Nazi attack shows some early examples of Air Combat Manoeuvres. The basics of an aerial dogfight is outmanuvering the other and getting that slight upper hand.

This video showcases how fast the tide of battle can change. With a few quick shots, the battle ends.


This shows me the basics of how ACM works. In a real world context, dogfights are rather slow and methodical but with Hollywood sheen added it becomes a different game.

Advanced Air Combat

An excellent video showing different techniques and when pilots use them, all though a little basic looking.


This video can really help with the animation of the video. It details all the differnet real world manourvers.

Hollywood Dogfights

Top Gun - Maverick VS Jester

Iron Man - Fighter Jet Scene

Green Lantern - Fighter Jet Scene

BattleField 3 - Fighter Jet Scene

Independence Day - Final Battle

These videos all show the difference between the old archival footage of real footage and how Hollywood interprit it. The main difference is that we can see a much larger field of view, allowing us to pull back and see the entire fight playing out. Another key factor that it shows is how close it can get. We can dive right into the cockpit and chase down the enemy.


The new Hollywood sheen of aerial combat will play a large part. Being able to pull out and see the collosal battle before us is incredibly important to show scale, but I will also be able to dive right into the WBC ship POV and show the fight from a different perspective.

Next I will look into more Sci-Fi conventions of the aerial dogfight as well as refined Target Audience research.

I will also be doing an 'Animation Breakdown'.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Refined Proposal

After the talk with Alan, I feel that my idea is a lot more refined.

It is like an 'Independence Day' take on White Blood Cells attacking a virus. By this I mean it will have all the spectacle of the final conflict in the film, but with a medical twist as it takes place in the body, with ships taking the place of WBC fighting against the evil behemoth that is the virus invading our home, in this case, our body.

To further understand, I will look into these areas:

Dogfight Research
Sci-Fi Research
Medical Research
Target Audience (10-15) Research

I will also write up an 'Animation Breakdown' showing how each scene will break down and how the audience should be reacting to it. The research will help me write it up.

MP - The Struggle Inside - Medical Research

My project is very medically based so its very important that the facts are in place. So, here is the research:

White Blood Cells:

White blood cells (WBCs), or leukocytes, are a part of the immune system and help our bodies fight infection. They circulate in the blood so that they can be transported to an area where an infection has developed. In a normal adult body there are 4,000 to 10,000 (average 7,000) WBCs per microliter of blood. When the number of WBCs in your blood increases, this is a sign of an infection somewhere in your body.

This insert says that the WBCs travel with the blood cells, and not seperatly. It also says that the amount of WBCs increase with the presence of an infection or virus.

In regards to the project, this means that at first that will be a sparse number of WBCs and increasing when the threat is made present.

The Type of WBC:
The six main types of WBCs and the average percentage of each type in the blood:
  • Neutrophils - 58 percent
  • Eosinophils - 2 percent
  • Basophils - 1 percent
  • Bands - 3 percent
  • Monocytes - 4 percent
  • Lymphocytes - 4 percent
Neutrophils are the one of the body's main defenses against bacteria. They kill bacteria by actually ingesting them (this is called phagocytosis). Neutrophils can phagocytize five to 20 bacteria in their lifetime. Neutrophils have a multi-lobed, segmented or polymorphonuclear nucleus and so are also called PMNs, polys or segs. Bands are immature neutrophils that are seen in the blood. When a bacterial infection is present, an increase of neutrophils and bands are seen.
Neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils are also called granulocytes because they have granules in their cells that contain digestive enzymes... neutrophils have a faint blue-pink color.

It's clear that the WBC that will feature in the animation are Neutrophils. This excert clearly describes the look and style of the WBC. Not only are they the majority of WBC found in the body, they also deal with the bacteria and virus found in the body. 
The description of the Neutrophil will help when designing the ship.

The Way Neutrophils Attack Invaders:
Neutrophils and monocytes use several mechanisms to get to and kill invading organisms. They can squeeze through openings in blood vessels by a process called diapedesis. They move around using ameboid motion. They are attracted to certain chemicals produced by the immune system or by bacteria and migrate toward areas of higher concentrations of these chemicals. This is called chemotaxis. They kill bacteria by a process called phagocytosis, in which they completely surround the bacteria and digest them with digestive enzymes.

Neutrophils destory bacteria and viruses by engulfing them. The process of phagocytosis means that the WBC complete surrounds it and and pretty much eats them. Chemotaxis is the signalling of the WBC. They move towards areas of high concentration. This is how the WBC find there target.

Neutrophil Chemotaxis

The above video show the Neutrophil chasing after a micropipette that is producing the toxins that they are drawn to.


12 Feb 2012

MP - The Struggle Inside Storyboard/Concept Video

A storyboard to show the basic outline of the animation.

Paired with this is the Concept Video showing a more detailed explanation of the animation:

I call this a concept video as it doesn't quite fit being called a previs. It's more showing the concept behind, because the the animation itself is not refined enough (such as camera movements).

This is not a Pre-Vis. It does not represent the final timing, framing or animation of the final piece.

6 Feb 2012

MP - The Stuggle Inside - Proposal

Major Project

I've uploaded this now, because I'm not sure how the Snow and Ice will play with my travel tomorrow. I'll have to wait and see.

5 Feb 2012

The Inside Struggle - Collection of reference videos

I've collected a selection of videos that are similar to how I want to procede with the project. These are fundamenly reference/research videos that further help me understand the subject matter.

The next step is to produce a previs and storyboard. I also want to design the look of the 'White Cell Ships'.

3 Feb 2012

MP - Body Battle Research

Here is some research for the animation 'Body Battle (Working Title)'.

The spaceship scenes will still be taking place inside the body so the surroundings won't transition, only the white blood cells.

White Blood Cells attacking a virus, surrounded by Red Blood Cells

Dogfight Scenes for 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi' edited together

1 Feb 2012

MP - Proposed Idea

Over the last few days, I've been trying to come up with an idea that would best suit my final project and how I would approach it. I've decided to focus on an area that I believe has helped me create the best results in the past.

I will be making a transcription, or more specifically, a Medical Visualisation.

I want to create an animation for my final project as I think its a fitting way to end the year, as well as showcasing my animation and modelling skills.

So, what is my MV?

I want to create an animation based around the White Blood Cells fight against an invading force... but with a twist. I will aim the animation at 10-15 year old, so it will be medically accurate but periodically throughout the piece, it will transform the White Blood Cells into defending Star Fighters and the invading virus into a giant organic force. This will help show the children a clear comparison of what they are familiar with, and the new information they are learning about the body. It will swap between the two at certain points, showing both the medically accurate way the White Blood Cells handle invaders as well as a more action orientated look.

Next I plan to write a full proposal as well as splicing together footage to show exactly what I mean.