Sunday, January 4, 2009

Storytelling - The Birdcage Land

Forgot I still have some old works from last year that I should keep a record. Guess from now I would like to post some 1st year old works before I go back to my recent works.

Ok, so during the first year, we had a wonderful class called
Storytelling for Animation.
Too bad it was only a one-semester course ) =3=)
I really like that class, and we got a very good instructor.
Besides the routine class lectures on film theories and principles in both animation and cinema, the main goal of this class was, at the end of the course, everyone should be able to present a well-development story in professional way.
That meant creating a formal treatment for the story, some character designs, a screenplay, a storyboard, and pitch notes, etc. We had the whole semester to do all that. The instructor would spare half of the class help us with our story after he finished his lecture.

The origin of my story actually had to trace back to a random doodle I made several years ago.
It was a girl prisoner with a birdcage on her head
>> So they were both caged ( -_- )
The character 囚
could be interpreted as prisoner or to imprison.
I somehow thought of that old drawing when we were asked to create a story for class. I pretty like that girl character, so it would be a good chance to develop a story for her, and the idea would pretty much be dealing with being caged and having freedom. The girl ended up not the leading character in my story, but she still plays a important role.

After coming out with a story idea.
We summarized our stories into one-page treatments.
The formal treatment had to by typed in only Courier font.

Here is my story---The Birdcage Land

The story takes place on a lovely morning. A traveling LOCKSMITH rode his motorcycle on a country road in a very good mood. Then, he saw a little bird held in an old birdcage hanging on a tree on the side of the road. The locksmith was a very kind person and felt pity for the bird, so he used his key to set the bird free. He later found out the bird in the cage was a sign of his next destination-Birdcage Land, where the entire country was held in a gigantic birdcage. Everything in the city was operated with the help of birds, and all the birds were held in cages when they were not at work.

The locksmith had fun wat
ching the birds controlling the traffic, dragging people by carriage, and then he went to the top of the tallest building by bird-elevator. The top floor was a hospital where he was impressed by a little patient who stayed in the hospital. It was a LITTLE GIRL wearing a birdcage like a hat on her head. Inside the cage, there stood the girl’s beautiful BIRD friend: The bird was covered with golden feathers from head to toe. Its rainbow-colored wings were tied with ribbons on two bars of the cage, the end of the long wings hung down on both sides of the girl's head. Which made it look like the girl had her rainbow-colored pig tails tied up. The locksmith and the girl became good friends. However, as they sat on the balcony watching wild birds fly freely outside, the locksmith noticed how the girl longed for being free. Just then the locksmith came up with a fantastic idea

Early, next morning when the city was still sleeping, a shadow ran across every street in the city, unlocked every door he encountered with his keys and tools, and opened all the birdcages. As the birds flew freely over the sky, the locksmith showed up at the sleeping little girl's bedside. The pretty bird sat alone in the cage right beside the girl. He noticed that the girl had lost all her hair because of the medical treatment. Gently, he woke her and opened the window for her to see the splendid moment. As the girl walked towards the window, the excited key-maker freed her bird friend from the cage. Before the little girl could take any reaction, the bird flew out the window. The locksmith was so happy and satisfied at what he had accomplished, he failed to notice the sorrow swelling in the little girl’s eyes. Jumping on his motorcycle, the locksmith left the city with hundreds of thousands of birds flying above him. He continued on his journey to the next city, without knowing that he just caused the whole city to stop running because of his “good deed.”

The main point of this story is to show that one person’s idea of a good deed or gain, can mean the loss or suffering to another.
That’s how everything goes.
There is no certain policy or certain solution that will satisfy everyone.
There are always people benefit from one thing, while some suffer from it.
Nothing is perfect.

I made a quick sketches for the city that is held in a gigantic cage

and the bird elevators mentioned in the treatment

Here is what would happens if the elevator is overload... XD

Then the character design for the two main characters.

After all those sketches, I ended up prefer this simple style as my final character design.
Because I want a pure and fresh look for the story.

I actually animated the elevator scene for my 1st year animation class.
It was the final for the 1st semester, and it supposed to be a 30-second short.
I took that as a great exercise of drawing birds XD especially flying birds
Pretty challenging, though.

The walking person in the first part supposed to be the locksmith…
doesn't look like him I know…nevermind
At that time I just wanted to showed the idea,
so all the birdcages didn’t have railings.
(Just say I didn’t have the energy to do that =_= )

I didn't know After Effect during the first year, so the intro part, the ending logo and the music were not included in the short originally when I turn it in as final. At that time we were just freshmen so we do most of the things manually without computer. So I had layers of paper for each frame, which made everything look dark and not clear. And the panning scene in the beginning is also manually so it’s a little bit jumpy.
Not very good quality but still tolerable ^ ^
It was not until the 2nd year when we finally learned to scan every animation drawing, color each frame in Photoshop, import them into After Effect alone with a soundtrack, and make a movie file. So now I can lay my hand back on this short again and add music, introduction, ending and all that to make this short at least look a little bit better XD

I actually made a whole setting for this short but ended up not be able to show them all. The building in the short is the hospital. Its setting was showed as the one picture in the intro of the short, but I'm sure it is hard to see because it is too small.
The entire setting about the hospital's elevator is showed below
(and it's bigger XD)

And this is my originally plan for the 30-second animation,
But I ended up cutting one scene out because that was too much work.

(can't believe I'm still not done with this post...I will still be updating this one later...


fesba said...

Keep up the good work!

Nat said...

I love it! I'm also an animator and love to animate birds, well, all kind of animals
your animations and drawings are a good inspiration to me thanx! you are good