Sunday, May 18, 2008

My First-Year "Film"

Finally, I'm able to show my first-year (aka 'final') film to the world... well... at least the part of the world that's paying attention to this particular site. For our final project in Doug Crane's Animation class, our assignment was to complete a 30-second short film. As always, I decided to do something a lot more difficult than I thought I could handle.

For my film, I decided to animate a little flamingo character (named "Chips") being disrupted by a pesky fly, chasing after it until he gets his own neck caught in a knot & subsequently trying to untie it with failed results. & while my fellow classmates & friends decided to do much more story-oriented films complete with camera cuts, pans & such (you know, like a good film), I decided to do it all in one shot, from beginning to end with no cuts whatsoever. I thought of it almost like he was performing on a stage.

Like I originally thought, the assignment became much more difficult as I went on. I realized animating a flamingo was like animating a rubber hose on stilts. As I animated, I studied Eric Goldberg's flamingo animation from Fantasia 2000 as well as several Goofy shorts (especially Woolie Reitherman's scene of Goofy getting tangled with the chest expanders in Goofy Gymnastics). The flamingo had to be wild & crazy, moving all over the place, with it's neck flailing & stretching all over the place. I always have to do things the hard way.

It took me roughly a month to complete the film, working not only in class, but at home & in the animation studio after hours (several times completely overnight). On the night before the film were due, most of our class stayed overnight at the studio to complete our assignments together. Although it was a long, tiresome & mind-melting experience, it was a lot of fun being there with my animator friends.

At 5 am, after completing my animation drawings (all of 475 them!), it was time to shoot the film on the Lunchbox. Since I didn't have enough time to go back over each drawing & draw a fly on each individual sheet, I drew one on a small round piece of paper left over from a hole-punch, laid it on top of my drawing, shot the frame, took the fly off, took the old drawing off, put on a new drawing on, put the fly back on top, moved it slightly from the last frame, shot that & started over. In the end it took me 2 hours to shoot the film, 2 hours before class started. I discovered that the film ended up being not 30 seconds long, but 55 seconds long, nearly double the assigned length!

When I finally showed the film to Doug, he was ultimately pleased with what I showed him. Sure there were a few slips here & there & some final touches that needed to be done, but it was overall a very satisfactory film to him. "You got the makings of a great animator", he said. A great compliment to end a great first year!

I wish I was able to screen it at the SVA student film screenings this year. Oh well, at least I got this blog to show it to the world, right.

Now before you watch the film, there are a few things I should warn you about. About halfway through the film, the drawings turn from clean to very rough. I didn't have enough time to go back & darken the lines up, so the last half of the clip is all a rough, ball-of-yarn-like pencil test. Also, I shot the film on VHS tape, so the quality of the footage is VERY poor. Just bear with it & enjoy what you can see!

Michael J. Ruocco's 1st-Year Animated Film
Uploaded by FantasiaMan


sagan14 said...

Nice work! That was a lot of fun to watch. I could feel the tension in his neck as he stretched and snapped which to me is always a good sign of good animation and an animator who can convey weight and physics making it that much more engaging.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,
Fantatic! You're account of making the film sounds so romantic, and I'm insanely envius that you have the ability to do that.
Was there any signifigance in you choosing to animate a flamingo? Was the whole thing one deep metaphore?
What have you been up to lately? How have you handled your ridiculously early summer vacation?
Your Fan,
David Spector

BMan said...

Great job! I enjoyed reading the build up and then getting to see the video. Thanks for sharing!

I agree that the neck tension is great!

Matthew Ebel said...

OK, the flamingo film is ten kinds of adorable. :)


~Em said...

this is great!
I love it

Vango said...

I actually clapped when I finished reading, then watched the video. That was fantastic. <3 I'm a self-taught artist and animator, so I'm still studying how to make things as fluid as that animation was. Amazing~

By the way, this is 'Raniko' from DeviantART. :D On his.. not-so used blogger account.

Anonymous said...

MIke, that was really great. I was so impressed by how well the neck moved and everything. Keep up the good work!
Michael, from Michelle and Sierra's party