Wednesday 3 August 2016

YPGTTO: Murmurations and Character

Another kickoff post of sorts. This one regarding our character set. Already, this one is proving a tricky challenge, but I'm confident we can find an interesting and unique solution. Essentially, we want our characters to reflect and represent the musical notations used within Britten's piece, but how overt or abstract these should be is yet to be figured out. So, some early sketches to get the ball rolling.

These depictions are a little alien and some far too sinister. But some stand out as interesting possibilities. Most notably, 5 and 7. They share a recognisable form that we can read as bird like, but also feel abstracted and elegant. Perhaps using musical notation in the detailing and textures this type of design could become something more attuned to the world of our film. Certainly these two are design options I'll be developing further through sketching.

Some of these more developed forms derived from cruder sketches. These below are influenced by Norman McLaren's La Merle. Forgive the roughness of them, but they at least reflect the most obvious solution. Even though I feel this aesthetic is wrong, I do feel that this approach reflects the child like quality we want in our characters.

There is certainly some charm to the McLarenesque approach, but I do wonder if this is too overt in its depiction of sound. Or perhaps it just feels too easy and obvious.

Obviously more sketching is required, none of these feel quite right yet, but they are sparking some ideas going forward. For now, some other references that might inspire.


  1. Fascinating video of the starlings!

    From the cruder sketches, I particularly like the top right 2 characters. One in from the top right looks so cute and slightly mischievous! The top right looks more superior.

    From all these sketches I get the feeling that our characters should either be thin and papery or thin and wiry... ie not full bodied.

  2. I'm going to put my cards on the table and just say that the 'cruder' Le Merle-inspired sketches are really doing it for me - particularly as the animation is gunning for that 'mid-century/modern' vibe - I'm loving all the squash and stretch potential of those, plus the fact that we get to animate faces and expressions, because, as the script develops, it does feel as if we need to be able to read the feelings of our protagonist. I'd like to see this method taken forwards - maybe something like an expression sheet/model sheet which seeks to maximum variance from the same limited number of shapes - in the knowledge that those shapes can be deformed and stretched as required. And those videos... wow, my excursions into the old dark house suddenly seem a bit boringly static, don't they?!

  3. oh - forgot to add, that in terms of that first sheet of explorations, the last section of YPGTTO is going to have these firework bursts of musical notes above the city, which should be much more than just collections of sprites behaving like Maya fireworks - I'm seeing how these shapes derived as if by long-exposure - sort of more 'smeared' versions of the recognisable 'note' shape could certainly play a role :)

  4. Hey folks, thanks for the feedback. Ok, so lots more sketching to be done but I get what you are saying. Will see what I can develop. It will also be interesting to see how the characters develop alongside the landscapes they inhabit.