Don’t Have Nightmares 2015 (Revised)

Don’t Have Nightmares was an unfinished project back in March, 2015. An installation was to be incorporated but due to complications, I abandon the idea. Also, the audio was never added as the animation remained unfinished. It was a pity, as Jonny (sound engineer) had worked hard on the audio. So, rather than just abandon the project, I found myself being more proactive over the festive period. I continued working on the animation. First, adding motion tweens, then a few stills, then cyan tones and finally the icing on the cake-the audio. Done!

My inspiration came from the books I’m currently reading and the public information film project I’m currently working on. The idea of using the animation (Don’t Have Nightmares) for a public information project was considered back in June/July last year. The books, The Internet is not the Answer by Andrew Keen and The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, inspired me to use the animation to interpret the argument that privacy is becoming obsolete. The voyeuristic iconic shower sequence in Psycho where the viewer is allowed to secretly peer in at the subject is akin to the way social media platforms are set up. Facebook being the obvious example. That’s not to say we only use social media for a spying purpose, but there is the temptation to do so. Interestingly, Andrew Keen references another Hitchcock film, Rear Window. In his book, he states that Hitchcock’s narrative parallels Google’s dominance in the digital age. I considered a new working title ‘Are Friends Celebrities?’ However, I ditched the idea to avoid any referencing confusion on my blog. Overall, I’m pleased with the end result and thankfully so is the sound engineer.

Audio information from an earlier post (March 2015):

The original audio was severely revamped. Stock sound fx downloaded and manipulated in pitch or speed. Analogue synthesizer used for simple “heartbeat” pulse. Reverb plug ins used to simulate tiled bathroom ambience. Delay with lfo sweep used to emulate water going down a plughole, swirling psycho effect.  Overall, I was very pleased with Jonny’s work. However, the screams were still too prominent for me so I decided to make amendments in Audacity. I reduced the scream amplification and added much more ‘delay’ effects on screams

 

 

Maquette No 2: Film (Part 3)

Filming

The animated rotoscope and motion picture footage were played on a loop while I filmed the interior of the maquette. Around 10 sequences were shot in total. Each sequence being between 15-30 seconds in duration. For continuity purposes, I intended to film all the footage on a tripod. However, difficulties arose with cinematography issues (i.e. framing, filming (blurred vs in focus) and obtrusive light getting into shot). Though filming hand-held gave me more freedom, I wasn’t particularly pleased with the overall tests and as a result, I scraped most of the hand-held test footage.

By filming an area of the bathroom, I could focus on other objects; moving away from the animated/motion picture shower scene. By doing so I could build a tension between object and subject. The inspiration came from Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965). The black and white film is predominantly shot in an apartment. Polanski builds psychological tension focusing on inanimated objects for lengthy periods of time. I experimented in similar style using a penetrating buzzing sound to enhance the tension and to create a disturbing fusion with the soft lounge music and the fierce electric saw audio.

Watercolour and Lighting

The watercolour paint and lighting failed (gloriously!). My intention was for the watercolour paint to slowly drip down the cling film. Slow moving slimy liquids are considered a cliché in contemporary horror films. To fulfil my aim without involving digital effects would be something of an achievement. However, while filming I continually kept painting on the cling film. Due to the heat from the monitor, the paint just dried in seconds. Also, the monitor light was too bright that the paint became silhouetted. I had far better results using the PET bottle. When constructing Maquette No 3, I’ll use the same technique again but employ alternative strategies such as a lighter interior, acrylic paints and my daughter as an art assistant perhaps?  As for the decoration lights, they were far too weak and didn’t have any overall impact though I was encouraged with subtle gentle flickering.

 

Maquette No 2: Construction (Part 2 )

To make the base sturdy, the wood chipboard and shoji paper are taped onto the polystyrene (Fig 7). The wood chipboard side being the base of the maquette (Fig 8).

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Holes are made into each corner of the polystyrene (Fig 9). The wooden sticks are cut 30cms in length (monitor screen height) and are inserted into each hole (Fig 10). The Vinyl decoration sheets are used as partitions. They are measured, cut and placed onto the wooden sticks (Fig 11). The tin foil lid acting as a shower head is taped to the roof of the maquette (Fig 12).

9 10 11 12

The cling film is painted with watercolour paint (Fig 13). The film is wrapped around a wooden stick 45cms in length (monitor screen length) and is suspended horizontally from each partition.  Interior angle views (Fig 14&15). The decoration lights are arranged around the roof of the maquette (Fig 16).

13 15 1616

The props are placed inside the maquette interior and the maquette is positioned in front of the monitor, side view angle (Fig 17). Watercolour paint is put into the PET bottle and a little water is added (Fig 18). The PET bottle experimentation process will be filmed later.

17 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maquette No 2: Materials (Part 1)

Recently I’ve been considering more about the installation aspect of my project. I’d previously constructed a maquette mainly using polystyrene back  in October.  Looking back and reflecting on this work in my blog has helped me retrace my footsteps. I noted a lot of positives and negatives from the experimentation process. For Maquette No 2, the construction and materials used will be similar but arranged differently. I will include props and emphasize lighting. I will continue to experiment with transparent objects. This time I will use cling film.

MATERIALS

Fig 1 = 2 wooden sticks (3.8″ x 0.2″)/ Japanese shoji paper/ miniature toilet, door & dustbin/ white gaffer tape/retro miniature chair/ cling film

Fig 2 =    2 wooden sticks (3.8″ x 0.2″)/ Japanese shoji paper/ scissors/masking tape/0.5 ink pen/decoration lights/ wood chipboard

Fig 3 = Polystyrene boards x 2 (45cms x 30cms)

Fig 4 = Vinyl decoration sheet

Fig 5 = Watercolour paints/ cling film      

Fig 6= PET bottle

1 2 3 4

5 6

Sparky Shower

Over the past few weekends, I’ve been experimenting with animating water. Before I began this project I didn’t really consider animating water in much detail. Before I began, I checked my preparatory notes. A brief summary below:

Figure(s) details: body colour, hair colour, wet hair colour ,dry hair colour, shadow of assailant behind curtain, facial shot close-up, shading, toning, colour gradients ( sketching loosely for rapid movement, line tool for outline).
Background details: tile colour, shower floor, bathroom wall, picture on wall, bathroom door.
Other: curtain colour, shower head (2 angles), shower rail, shower rail holders, plug hole, knife.

No mention of water, so for a few ideas and tips, I began looking at a few animated watery effects and tutorials  on YouTube. First, I used the paintbrush tool as I can rotoscope fairly fast with it.  I achieved some interesting  slushy watery effects. However, I couldn’t find an appropriate sound bite to match the visuals. I even considered omitting animating the water altogether. Therefore, I would put more emphasis on sound to convey  water. I decided to leave everything alone for a few days, think with a clear mind…another day.

Back to the drawing board the following weekend with a new plan of attack. My next approach was to listen through some sound bites. Why have a watery sound? Why not whistling kettle, a hissing cat  or finger scratching a chalk board?  I came across some electric drills and circular saw sound bites. I got mental images of strobes, neon lighting and sparks from a welding tool. I began to practice with more tools in the Flash software until I found a tool which enabled to produce a strobe, sparky effect. After viewing and considering the sound, still I wasn’t satisfied with the overall treatment. The animation appeared TOO mechanical. So, I decided to add splashes (that look like sparks!)  using the paintbrush.

Top left: shower angle 1, line tool (black line) /Top right: shower angle 1, line tool ( white line) / Bottom left: shower angle 2, line tool (white line), edited in online photo editor/ Bottom right: shower angle 2, line tool (white line), edited in online photo editor

1 Black Water.jpg 2 White Water.jpg 3 Grey water White background.jpg 4 Shower 1.jpg

Left: shower  angle 1 with figure ( pen tool/ paint brush) Right: shower angle 2 , (pen tool/ paint brush)

Psycho Shower Scene (frame 91 shower front view) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 132 shower ariel view)

Test 2

Animation Duration: 11 seconds (120 drawings approx) ;  Water effects: shower angle 1, paint brush/ white water. shower angle 2 grey water, white background. Visual effects: ripple effect

 

Lounge Music: Bruno Nicolai-Spy chase ( music ends before animation);  Sound bite: Deafening Whispers (Overdubbed whispering. Very intense. This sample loops seamlessly. Recorded, edited and mixed using Audacity and Zoom H2) ; shower cues sound bite.

 

 

Dont Have Nightmares: Test 2

 

 

 

 

Test 3

Animation Duration: 11 seconds (120 drawings approx); Water effects: shower angle 1,  line tool & paintbrush/ white water. shower angle 2 line tool & paintbrush, white water, grey background.

Lounge Music: Armando Trovajoli- The Getaway (music ends as shower begins);  Sound bite: Machine Band Saw, (sawing hardboard with a band saw). Pack of power tools recorded in carpenter’s workshop in Savijärvi, Tavastia Proper. Zoom H4n. Shower cues sound bite.

 

Dont Have Nightmares: Test 3

 

 

 

Rotoshop experimenting: Step 3

STEP 3: Designing. Over the past week I had been designing the background and considering colour schemes. Originally, the shower area and figure would be white. However, as I will probably animate white water, I altered the shower area to an ash grey. The figure’s hair will be expressive, gradients of chrome auburn red, cobalt blue or emerald green. The colours are not yet decided.

Psycho Shower Scene (frame 1 blue read chrome shower area) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 1 grey chrome shower area) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 1 grey shower area) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 24 multi-coloured hair) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 24 red hair) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 64 blue hair)

Today I rotoscoped about 5 seconds. Below is a test

Rotoshop experimenting begins (Steps 1 and 2)

STEP 1: After finally deciding that I would choose the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho (1960), I scanned various sites to find a HD version of the footage. A HD version helps me during the rotoscoping process as I can map the outlines of the form with more speed and less difficulty. At this stage, I don’t get bogged down with having to improvise objects and movement. From experience, that part of rotoscoping can really slow down the process and the outcome might not be the desired result. On the other hand, improvisations can create unintentional digital masterpieces! Considerations. Below is an audio version of the Psycho shower scene. Time: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

STEP 2: I will be animating at 1 second per 12 frames so my next aim is to edit the footage down to around 1 minute 20 seconds (960 drawings approx. ). I’ve not done very much in the way of film editing since my university days. It will be interesting to see if I can still maintain the impact of the scene though it’s not a pre-requisite. From analysing the footage, I note framing composition, visually very clear and the manner in which the tension builds; subtle edits from animate objects (woman) to inanimate objects (the shower head). The tension manifests in a series of close-ups and montage. I keep track of times, shots and areas in which I could exploit, distort, exaggerate during the post-edit phase. Time: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Maquette No 1 (Part 3)

Last night I drew a few frames and went through the following procedures: Testing the thickness of brushstrokes, determining the %s to magnify areas of the image, considering colours and gradients. All provisional but it gives me a platform to work on. This morning I set up the polystyrene maquette and used the images to continue with my experiments. Each image is clearly marked; the image number is in the bottom right corner. Details of each image are noted below:

1 Maquette with vinyl window decoration as curtain. Ice blue colouration for image.

2 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles, close up, no curtain. Ice blue colouration for image

3 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles, and cling film as curtain. Ice blue colouration for image

4 Maquette with cling film as curtain. Ice blue colouration for image.

5 Maquette with just washed PET bottles. Soft grey gradient for image.

6 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles, and cling film as curtain. Mixed hues of browns, nectarine colouration for image. Lighting effect used.

7 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles. Mixed hues of browns, nectarine colouration for image. Lighting effect used.

From my experiments, I gained many ideas and different possibilities for future maquettes and images. It was obvious from Fig 1 that I needed to consider softer transparent materials in order to project imagery through layers. Also, I found out that the maquette was too wide so I altered the shape to cube and as a result, the maquette looked more compact and structurally balanced. I thought about abandoning the curtain idea altogether and use transparent objects. PET bottles worked fine but looked a bit flat by appearance so after cleaning them, I got some interesting effects with the drops of water (Fig 2). I thought about a transparent material. Rhiannon’s drawing on cling film and tracing paper gave me the idea to use cling film (Fig 3). I think I’ll use tracing paper next time. I removed the PET bottles but the effect wasn’t particularly interesting visually (Fig 4). Next, I experimented with colours and photography effects. I used greys and blacks and continued with using the PET bottles (Figs 5/6/7). Using multiple layers worked well for me. Next time, I’ll consider glass, tracing paper and other materials for the maquette.

1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg 7.jpg

Maquette No 1 (Part 2)

9 Shower Rear Elevation with Curtain.jpg
Shower with curtain: (Rear view)

The length of the shower curtain was a bit short as you can see; the size information IS written on the packet. Consider next time. I chose the multi size pink polka-dot design for a few reasons. 1/ I wanted something retro, a bit like the anatomical designs in the 50s. 2/ Staying with the eerie theme, I though the design gave the look of infection, disease or blood splats even. Perfect, I thought.

I considered using wire hair pins for the shower curtain holders. However, as I couldn’t find any, I abandoned the idea. Drawing pins worked perfectly well.  I had problems fixing the aluminium cup to the upper surface of the polystyrene. As you can see, it looks a bit skeewiff. Something to think about for a future maquette.  Finally, I fixed the metal net over the monitor screen. Hopefully, I can get some interesting visuals when I’m rotoscoping tomorrow. Incidentally, can you see The Language of New Media and Digital Art propping up the shower? I knew those books would be useful!

Shower with curtain: Front view
Shower with curtain: Front view
Metal Net on Monitor
Shower Room Maquette in front of the Monitor
Shower Room Maquette on Monitor: Side view

Maquette No 1 (Part 1)

Materials n Tools 1: 6 A4 Polystyrene Boards, Scissors, 1 Craft Knife and 268 Aluminium Cups
Materials n Tools 2: Steel Ruler, Masking Tape, 60 Chopsticks and a Polka Dot Table Cloth
3 Tools (3).jpg
Materials n Tools 3: 2 Metal Interior Nets an 1 Vinyl Window Decoration Sheet

This morning I considered the tools and materials for making the maquettes. However, when I got to the nearby 100 Yen (57p) shop, I discovered more interesting materials such as polystyrene, vinyl and aluminium so I ended up getting all sorts of materials and functional objects that I could experiment with. Bar the pair of scissors, the total cost for the tools and materials came to, 1,080 yen which is roughly £6 quid…bargain!

I measured the monitor which gave me a rough idea when cutting the polystyrene boards. Fortunately, the boards are A4 so I didn’t need to spend a lot of time cutting and measuring. I wish I had my voice recorder with me, the acoustics in my apartment when cutting and breaking the polystyrene were absorbing. I purposely didn’t work to music like I usually do. As a result, I could think about new ideas while I was cutting, sticking, measuring.

Left: Base with drawn plug hole Right: Upper surface with dotted aluminium Cup improvising as a shower head
Shower: Front view

I liked the eerie aesthetic of the polystyrene. I was considering marking in square tiles, glad I went against the idea now though the orange masking tape spoilt the effect and bugged me so much that before uploading the photo, I digitally wiped it out using extreme contrast.

7 Shower Rear Elevation.jpg
Shower: Rear view