Wednesday, 17 July 2013

ACT Collaboration Project - Darius Milhaud's La création du monde

A CG Arts and Animation/ACT/Interreg Live Commission

On Friday, July 12th at Grays Civic Hall, Essex, the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne performed a programme of music on the theme of 'rhythm'. The programme of music explored ideas of rhythm in classical music and in the celebrated jazz of the late Dave Brubeck. The director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, Marc Feldman, challenged the CGAA community to work collaboratively to create an original work of animation designed to accompany his orchestra's performance of one particular example of early twentieth century music that blends classical and jazz rhythms to exciting effect. The animation was rear projected onto a large screen measuring 8.5m wide by 6.2m high, in front of which the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne performed live.

Over a period of ten consecutive week days, the students, staff & alumni of Ba Hons CG Arts & Animation were challenged to produce abstract digital paintings in synesthetic response to segments of the music to be performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne. The CGAA community were asked to listen to a musical extract and then respond to it visually through the creation of original digital paintings in Photoshop. The animation was derived from these paintings and created using Autodesk Maya and After Effects.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Act Revisited - Track 05 and 10

Rendering is complete for all tracks, but whilst I have the opportunity to touch up a few bits, I'd thought I'd upload the two tracks which have been through a lot of changes and discussion.

Track 05

So, this was a piece that needed energy and chaos. The explosive paintings from Phil Gomm provided a great cut in the middle of the piece and the key was to really make the energy and movement get almost out of control. I'll be re-rendering this piece because there are a few changes I've now made but any suggestions would be great.

Track 10

Track 10 was also a complete overhaul and now has an abstract landscape generated from a number of speed paintings. The ending has been tweaked so that it fades away bit by bit. This is very much a final flight following strange shapes across the landscape and will hopefully provide a dream like finale to the piece.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Act Revisited - Track 10 and 06

The final week is almost upon us and the rendering will begin soon. But before all that, it's a manic weekend of final changes, adjustments and corrections. The big change so far is a rework of Track 10. The last version was really lacking, and it just felt so unaware of it's base. So, I started fresh and it's already moving in a much more interesting direction.

Track 10

The key thing was to go back to the speed paintings and really think about what this piece was suggesting. The biggest problem is the lack of source material and notions. The music is very sparse, and thus the speed paintings vary wildly. From dark minimal images, to vivid explosions of colour. It all started with Joey Ku's and Dayle Sanders' images, both full of colour and life. These formed the base of the animation and helped build a strange landscape. The music really gives this impression of flying through a world as it slowly falls into silence. From these paintings, I started to build this abstract world and animate elements to emphasise this slow descent. It felt very enlightening and pleasing, despite it being the end of the piece, almost a surreal and dreamlike state of descent. So, this is the base, it hopefully provides a solid form to work from. The two areas I really want to get fixed this weekend are; to change the wavy coloured lines that act as transitions, and add in elements to help bring some excitements to certain parts. Phil Gomm's speed paintings suggest an almost firework display of explosion, which I think will add nicely to the subtle beats within the sequence.

Track 06

This sequence is another which is still in the works, but I'm uploading it with some changes so that I can get feedback about what could be added. It's definitely a piece which needs something extra, but I'm also wary about adding too much. The music for this part again has a strange wondering sensibility about it, and this is something I definitely want to keep. I've made changes to the end, partly because the previous spiral motif was a default stand in. This is going to require some further thought but for now it is definitely still open for adjustments.

All in all, things are moving towards completion. But this weekend is definitely the time to make changes and get things ready to render. The list below outlines what needs doing on my part.

Sequence 02 - Complete, slight adjustments need to be made before rendering.
Sequence 04 - Complete, again, final adjustments before rendering.
Sequence 05 - Incomplete, reassess and fix issues ready for render.
Sequence 06 - Complete, but additions to be made before rendering.
Sequence 10 - Incomplete - Addition elements and animation required before renders.

So, lots to do but if all goes well, rendering should begin for Monday morning.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Track 1 Update

I never quite explained my reasoning for taking the track in this direction compared to other sequences. It seems like a detour in some ways but I think the music develops so much later on that starting at this point feels perfectly natural. The music feels so slow and contemplative it's like wading through water and the opening track feels much more suited to being a proper 3D space to travel through. It's not super fast-paced jazz. It's slow, methodical and hypnotic. I've tried replicate this feeling through movement The audience will get sucked in.

I'd experimented with using Maya on the very first test for this project using Andriana's speed painting to generate the particles. This is the same particle experiment. Placing a moving camera into the scene, with all the joys of perspective and depth can bring, threw it completely open. A couple sacrifices from the original painting are going to be made because it's a re-imagining based on concept art, and not directly made through the painting like my other sequences. My goal with this sequence is to now just bring a bit more of the painting into the scene.


Monday, 1 July 2013

Act Revisited - Track 02

So, now that I've worked out what is working and what isn't, it's time to go back with a fresh mind and make these pieces fantastic. Track 10 is dead to me, the first draft was a default which lacked just about everything. Tomorrow I'll be re approaching that section and rethinking it from scratch. But today, I've made adjustments to Track 02. Some further adjustments are still to be made, but the notes I wish to hit are there at the moment. Some of the methodology and ideas are laid out below.

Track 02

(The youtube upload has pushed the sound slightly out of sync)

The way in which I work on this project is possibly different to how I original intended, but the approach nonetheless feels like an inherently correct one to me. I first start by looking through all of the speed paintings. I look for notions, colours, themes and ideas that seem consistent throughout the works. I then take the speed paintings that seem most connected to the music and put them all into After Effects. From these I grab elements and layers and start placing them onto a new composition. The consistent notions that are seen become the building blocks for my sections. So,using Track 02 as an example...

The two big themes which are apparent in a huge number of the speed paintings are spirals and explosions of some sort. Circular notions and paint strokes seem to highlight how the music moves. This was the key structure. So the base form of a spiral made complete sense. The music gives this impression of moving through or falling down. The spirals came primarily from Simon Holland, Ryan Leitao, Molly Bolder and Adam Webb's work. The whole piece is a build up. It slowly forms to an explosive moment where the sound erupts out at the audience. This is again, reflected in the artwork. Vikki Kerslake, Lucy Yelding and Emily Clarkson demonstrate this theme within their speed paintings. It feels like an opening moment, the demonstration of a theatre act or the like. So, the spiral transforms into an explosion and reveals this strange spinning world. Many of the elements from Ryan Leitao were used for this section, and even though brief, it is a section that works because of that build up. Suddenly this downward move feels apparent in the music. The notions from my own speed paintings, as well as Lydia Caplan's, were the inspiration for this. Almost as though rain is clearing the scene for the next sequence.

For the final sequences, I'll be reminding myself of this methodology and ensuring that each is thrilling in this sense of reaction. More updates on the other sequences tomorrow!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Track 1 v001

Track 1 is a little different as it's created in Maya, so it's got a real CG look to it. I felt that because the music  tempo is so slow using flat 2D would feel slightly undramatic, so I've emphasised 3D space. I've only been able to render the opening 12 seconds but it's enough to get the point across.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Act Drafts Complete

After an array of power cuts this morning, I've finally managed to upload the 5 draft sequences. From this stage, it's a solid week of refining all the parts that I don't like or simply aren't working. The sequence for track 10 is the roughest so far, but most of the others are very close to completion.

Track 02

Track 04

Track 05

Track 06

Track 10

It will be good to go back and look at each section in detail now that I've had some time away from them all. Crits and suggestions at this stage will be super helpful.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Track 3 Draft

Everyone do the 'Hale-Bop'! Maybe not, but you'll understand when you watch Track 3. Very much inspired by Fantasia and Emma Foster's painting has a lovely brush-stroke quality which I thought would be the perfect fit. One thing to note is haven't considered the transition colours at the beginning or end yet. I'll adjust that for the next update.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Drafts Track 7,8 and 9

Put the initial drafts into a sequence to see how it all plays out in order. Quite satisfying.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Track 7 v003

Another draft of of Track 7. Almost complete barring a few changes later on.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Track 05 Render v002

Here is an updated version of Track 05, it's been something I've been struggling with but this block out at least provides something to work on in detailed sections. I'm going to move on to my final track so that I know all will blocked out and take off some pressure concerning deadline etc. After is all done, it will be a case of revisiting each section and reworking the parts I don't like.

I've also quickly comped the three middle sections so that I can start to understand the transitions between.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Track 9 v005

Re-jigged Track 9 for the new aspect ratio. It's thrown up a couple problems I didn't notice. At some point before the final render i'll go in and fix those problems, along with the ones I want to make regardless.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Track 7 v002

Continuing with Track 7 using Joey Ku's rather seemingly American minimalist inspired painting. There's going to be a lot of big bold white space in the middle section which will definitely mix things up a little bit!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Track 7 v001

First 25 seconds of Track 7. I'm getting a cocktail umbrella feeling from this one so far...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Track 8 v005

After a bit of a slog, the draft for Track 8 is finished. Some of the transitions are a bit ropey but I really want to move on to another track rather than fiddle with this one and let minor issues drag on. The good news is that means I have nearly 5 minutes 95% done and the next tracks are much shorter and easier to manage.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Film Stills so far...

I've also been readjusting work for the new aspect ratio we are working at. Here are some stills of the sequences so far...

Track 05 Render v001

Roughing out the fifth section which is the most abrstract and jazzy part for me. This fills the gap between 2 pieces I've already completed, so I know how I want it to start and end. It's a pretty detailed sequence, so I've started by setting up the first section of this piece and will develop from there.

The sequence before this ends in a very simplistic and 2d world, I wanted to carry this through but start to add colour and more abstract reactions to the music. I'm planning to have this finished by next Tuesday, which will mean I will have 4 out of 5 sections drafted out and ready to test on the projector.  More to come in the next few days.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Track 8 v004

We got the final resolution (2048x768) which is much wider than what we've been initially been working at. I didn't want to crop the image as it's purposefully composed in height. Instead, I've extended the canvas outwards which caused a few problems but is now resolved for this animation. For some unknown reason however, the camera has gone completely wrong in the opening seconds, so keep in mind that bit is nothing like what it should be!

The music is much calmer half way through so I'm keeping the animation style very simple for the second half in order to give the audience a breather before the onslaught of traffic light jazziness in Track 9. It's basic, but hopefully the quality of the initial animations will still provide some visual loveliness.

TRACK 8 v004 from Thomas Beg on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Track 02 Render v002

I've not made any changes to this sequence apart from the adjusted resolution. Already, this format is starting to look more engaging and cinematic.

Track 02 Render v001

Beginning to rework the rough version for Track 02. I'd like to rough out the other 2 sequences in the next week so that I know how the entire thing will play out. Once that is done I will spend the final weeks really refining everything.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Track 06 Render v003

Some further progress on Track 06, this time working on the final part. Even though there is plenty to refine and work out, I've got a good understanding of the break down of this sequence. This acts as a block out of the entire section. I will return to this after blocking out Track 02, but for now this is definitely starting to come together.

Track 8 v003

I've been left frustrated by long render times on the opening section, so that part is currently motion blur-less. Meaning it's looking a little bit strobey which the blur resolves. However, the rest of the piece is pretty much there with the main bulk of the animation. I'm still debating whether to get the middle two scenes onto 3D layers, but my instinct says to leave as is. If only because it's nice to keep certain parts flat while others have more potential to pop out.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Track 8 progress

I wanted to get something uploaded tonight, hence this piece currently being in a slight state of unfinished-ness as some of the animation isn't complete and it doesn't join onto the previous segment (saves render time!) However, I thought I'd give an indication of how this section of Track 8 is progressing.


Track 06 Render v002

Here are some further additions to Track 06. This is the middle section of the track and changes pace somewhat. Again, the driving force behind this piece is a more blurred, blended sequence. I'd like it to be more suggestive and colourful rather than definitive strokes of animation. Tomorrow I'll block out the final part of this sequence and then begin to look at refinements.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Track 8 v001

First 30 seconds or so of Track 8. Still some visual changes I want to make as it's looking a bit flat.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Track 06 Render v001

I've been working on the rough base for Track 6 and this is what I have so far. This section instantly reminded me of the abstract sequences in Punch Drunk Love but also this strange Taxi Driver undercurrent. The animation below represents the base of the piece, upon which, more detail will be added. But overall, this section feels as though it should be more free in its approach. Something less definite and certain in it's movements.

I'll be posting more details on this section soon.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Track 04 Render v003

Adjustments have been made and a reworking of the final sequence. This is starting to approach a much more pleasing state and although I'll be tweaking animation and final image, the overall structure is much more resolved. My methodology was to use elements from a number of paintings, those that felt inherently reactionary to the music, and then fuse them together to make something seamless in it's overall effect.

I will be making further adjustments to this piece, but I will start working on another sequence for now. It's great to see things coming together and I'll be posting new updates in the next couple of days.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Track 9 v004

Moving on to the last section of Track 9. I picked Jordan's piece because as the music ends there's a definite winding down. With that in mind, Jordan's painting has a pixellation effect occuring which I've used to generate the idea of the geometric shapes dissolving as we come to the end. Again, it's not meant to sync up perfectly to music, rather it's supposed to give an overall impression.

For the time being I'm also going to move on to Track 8 and get the ball rolling with that animation, rather than hang around on Track 9 too long. Any changes can be made a little later on with fresh eyes.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Track 9 v003 (no motion blur)

With the middle two sections pretty much there, I've moved on to the trickier opening section. Trickier in so much that there's much more individual stuff to sort out . It's Jake's painting, but it kind of isn't as I've had to go in and recreate a lot of the elements from scratch so that I can animate more easily. Pretty satisfied with it but I may go in and change a few things later on after I've taken a break from it. The music has definitely got the hustle and bustle of moving traffic in a busy city, so I've tried to play up to that idea wherever possible. Unlike the other sections I've kept it totally flat as 3D layers aren't going to enhance it in any meaningful way. Motion blur later is going to smooth out some of the zippier animation going on. The aim will be to get this track 95% there in the next couple days, so I can move onto the 3:30 Track 9 which is going to take a lot longer to make.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Track 04 Render v002

I've been concentrating on refining the opening sequence and it's now starting to move in a much better direction. The camera move is helping a lot and I'm starting to add details to emphasise the smaller beats. The second half of this sequence is still very much in progress and isn't shown in this render, but I'll be finishing it this weekend and hopefully opening the whole sequence up to more discussion. The colour stepping on the background will be fixed, and although there is motion blur I would like to emphasise some depth of field and more texture.

Edit - Also, I've started uploading to YouTube so that you can view sequences in HD.

Track 9 version v002 with Motion Blur

Re-rendered with motion blur. Render times have increased but the animation looks a lot smoother and easier on the eye now.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Track 04 Render v001

I've tried to look at track 4 from scratch and formed a basis for the sequence using a few different pieces of work. This sequence is made from elements of speed paintings by Phil Gomm, Anita Gill and myself. Plus some work from Ryan Leitao and Sam Niemczyk which is yet to be added.

Track_04_Render_001 from Jordan Buckner on Vimeo.

The big struggle at the moment is making interesting visuals when the music is so sparse in areas. There is a ominous drum beat at the bass of the piece which gives this strange war chant feel. That is a theme that I'll be pushing more but put simply, I'd like it to be an abstract representation of the advancement of troops etc. The entire final section is still under construction as it's just not working at the moment, although I do like the dispersion of effects by the fading of rain drops.

Comments and crits will be helpful :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Track 9 version v002

For the time being I've worked on the middle two sequences which use Simon and Phil's paintings respectively. Reiterating what I said yesterday my aim is to keep this sequence as graphical as possible. Tomorrow I'll tackle the slightly more complex opening sequence. The aim is to get Track 9 finished by the end of this week.

Testing Stages

Last week we all met to go through the work so far and start to form a plan of attack. Tom has been creating some pretty desirable content which instantly demonstrates some of the attraction in the project. So, below are some of the videos / images from the early stage of the project. As outlined in other post, it seemed natural to gather the work that connected with the music best. Below, are a series of images demonstrating just this.

Act Sequence 2

Act Sequence 4

Act Sequence 5

Act Sequence 6

Act Sequence 10

As we went through these selections, it instantly became apparent that there were certain colours, forms and gestures which fitted together well. There were repeated themes and notions which we could tap into and begin to form a base from. From this very early selection, I had formed a series of very rough tests. These were more experiemental, free form explorations. Some of them rather useless, but others are now moving towards more complete ideas.

Act Track 02 Test Stage

Act Track 02 Animatic 01c from Jordan Buckner on Vimeo.

This one is currently very simple and lacking, but it feels like a piece with a very good base to work from. The initial idea was inspired by Hitchcock / Saul Bass title cards. I'll be pushing this one further in that direction soon.

Act Track 04 Test Stage

Act Track 4 Animatic from Jordan Buckner on Vimeo.

Track 04 is again a slow melodic beat with an underlying drum. This version is far too simplistic, but it starts to form a colour pallete for the section.

Act Track 10 Test Stage

Act Track 10 Animatic 01 from Jordan Buckner on Vimeo.

Another early animatic style piece, with some introduction of possible animation. It is all a bit flat and smooth, but the idea of matching a thematic gesture to the beat is very important.

Test Comp

Comp 1 from Jordan Buckner on Vimeo.

Inspired by the colourful work created for sequence 10, I then started creating smaller experiments with form, depth and simple animation. Despite this being very limited, it became apparent that the sense of depth and parallax could really help capture the audience. There were a number of these experiments which at the moment I haven't uploaded purely because they don't show a huge amount of new ideas.

Now that discussions have taken place and ideas are starting to emerge out of the freeform workflow, new ideas will begin to be posted. I'll be uploaded a selection of work in the next few days, but for now, ACT is very much in the exciting production stage.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Track 9 version v001

I'll do my best to upload at pretty every stage. For Track 9 I'm going to start by transitioning from Lydia's Track 8 painting, because I can use the pinky purple colour palette to move reasonably well into Jake's as he's used a pinkish background. The music is so jazzy that it just seems right to keep it as graphical and geometric as possible without using too much extra CG.  I'm finding the best way to start is to just pop layers in one by one and see if anything sticks out as being particularly punchy for that moment in the music. As much as I'd like to, I can't stick too rigidly to the timing of the music because it's going to be performed slightly differently on the night. It's very free form as I'm searching for a one size fits all approach. At the moment it's all simple stuff and a bit of a mess admittedly. However, it's starting to make a lot of sense in my own mind about how things can be animated properly. The last painting was hastily put scrambled together to get something uploaded today, so ignore that one for the time being.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Working Order

This graph is probably incredibly confusing to anyone other than the ACT team members however I shall do my best to explain it's purpose. In truth, this may end up being the least exciting post in the history of this project but it's all good stuff. We'll try to keep things as outward facing as possible throughout, even if you might end up falling to sleep at the end of it!

After a meeting on Tuesday it was decided to just push forward and start creating the final content. We've both done a few tests using various methods and progress can only really be made if we just knuckle down and start producing this thing. As I've blogged before, we are working in alternate sequences. In order to establish a non-convoluted workflow, we decided that we need to know before-hand the beginning and end of our respective sequences so that the transitions between tracks can flow smoothly. Otherwise we could have some abrupt shifts in colour and mood. To knock off a massive chunk of the animation we will start with the two blocks of three (7,8,9 for me. 4,5,6 for Jordan). Though it sounds odd perhaps, I will be starting at the end with Track 9 so that Jordan knows how Track 10 begins. Jordan will start on Track 4, so that I know how Track 3 will end. Which just leaves me to work on Track 1 to establish how Track 2 will start. 

Next post will be visually impressive and rich, I promise!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Third Test - VERY ROUGH!

Another quick test, this time using Max's Challenge 7. I'm not totally happy with this as it stands, which of course is still very early. It's working to some extent, but I feel like the animation could be 1000 times more dynamic considering the qualities of the original painting. It might be a case of having to separate the ray-like shapes so that I can control them more independently  Right now all the shapes are just on two layers which limits my options for animatiing.  Also - the particles still look way too much like snow!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Second Test - VERY ROUGH!

Testing a few things with Andriana's Challenge 1 Speed Painting.  Finding a balance between 3D and 2D is going to be key. Sorry for the low quality, it's to save render and upload time!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

First Test - VERY ROUGH!

A super early and very tentative animation test using Chrissie's Challenge 8 painting, Bearing in mind this was made with little or no consideration to detail or anything approaching finesse! The aim was to have a play with the PSD files in After Effects and how to manage the various layers once they are in a comp. I've just put everything onto a 3D layer, pushed the layers around to create depth and then pulled a camera through. Hey presto, something interesting already emerges! For future tests which are intended to contribute to the final piece, I think there's going to have to be a balance met between using the elements which already exist, and recreating some others so that they are usable for animation.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Initial Painting Selections.

I've drawn up a rough selections of initial paintings which may or may not form the content for the final animation. The challenge of selecting paintings which are subjective representations of music, is that my own experience of the music is also subjective. I've run with my instincts rather than dwell on analysing what the music potentially means universally. I've either tried to see as everything as recurring themes. Whether that be the type of shapes used, colour or potential movement for animation. 

These selections will change as I continue to re-listen and reassess the music, and work out what the animation itself needs. Right now I'm listening the music as is, in recorded form. On the night it's going to  be very different so that will also change how things progress. At this stage everything is very much wide-open! Which makes this a tricky initial phase. Some of the pieces of music are short, while others a quite long. It’s going to take some time to make sure the choices are right for the music, and not be overly democratic. I’m also missing a few potential ones which are currently sitting on Dropbox. However, once this process is more refined, I can start to produce some animation tests.

Warning. A large set of images incoming!

Set 1

Set 3

Set 7

Set 8

Set 9