Monday, September 27, 2010

Animation! Making the Proof of Concept.

Slooooooooooow moooooooooooootion!! This is rough animation for my Proof of Concept animation. Once it's all clean and finished, I'll make sure it plays at the right speed. Look at them fly! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!


Animatic Update, New Story Boards and Layouts

I spent the weekend tweaking my animatic to death. I had some layouts done so I thought I'd throw those in there too. You may have notice that the climax of the film has changed a bit. After some discussion with my mentor, I decided that giving her the choice to join the circus and then forcing her to join anyways was kind of pointless. So in this version, there is no choice. The witch shows her the contract and then works her evil magic. I was also happy to key out a few of the shots. With every update, I feel a lot better about my film.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bakery Layouts

Here's a sample of the new batch of layouts for the bakery in Macey's Windmill. There's a few more to do so I felt the need to stop by one of my favorite cafes to grab a bag of "inspiration"... ^^ Yummy, yummy inspiration!

Whoa boy, doesn't that pecan roll look good!! =D

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yet Another Animatic Revision

I seem to be doing this a lot. Hopefully this is the last one and I won't have to make a lot of serious changes to it anymore. I'm sorry to everyone but this one doesn't have any sound.

New panel from the updated Story boards

Inspirations for the Witch

Miyazaki's Spirited Away and Disney's The Emporer's New Groove are some of my favorite animated movies. I thought that these two Oldies but Boldies have the right stuff to base my witch character from. The big difference is that these two characters are big talkers with big personalities. My film has no dialogue so my witch doesn't get the clever, authoritative, and intimidating speaking parts that these two get, which help flush out their character. The witch from my film is a little more sinister and cold so I'll have to show her personality through her dark demeanor.

Yubaba from Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Yzma from Disney's The Emporer's New Groove

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Designing the Witch

I spent this weekend working on the design of the witch that appears in the climax of the film. She doesn't get a lot of screen time but she is the main villain of the film. The witch is controlling the circus from deep within. She is like the heart, the tent is the body, and the acrobats and performers are the blood. To show her connection with the circus, the curtain walls flow out from her dress and form the tent. I also wanted to bypass one of the biggest villain clich├ęs, which is that the bad guy has to wear dark clothes. There is no black in her outfit because 1.) The tent is red and white so her clothes have to be red and white 2.) black accessories would be too predictable 3.) all the acrobats are wearing black so I don't want her to be confused for an acrobat. Her dress is broken up into sections to allow me a little bit of room to divide up the animation. If her head and shoulders are moving but her waist is stationary, I can get away with only animating from the belt up.

I was surprised how much thought I put into just her hair style. The desired criteria was that the style had to be flashy enough for the circus, simple enough to draw over and over again, and something that an old lady would do with her hair. I decided to go with my original design because it is composed of simple shapes and I found the vintage feathered headband to be a nice little detail.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nippen the Cat

I am a lifelong lover of cats. I have had them my whole life and it would be insane of me not to weave my appreciation of cute kitties into this film somehow. Macey's cat, Nippen, is her friend and her delivery partner. When it's time to make a bread run, Nippen lets his wings out and they fly to their customers. He plays an important role in the film as a personification of instinct and good judgement as well as Macey's fuzzy little guardian.

Choosing a breed for Nippen was no sweat. I had a cat in mind that was big, powerful, sturdy, smart, loving, fluffy, friendly, and had an instinctual knack for the outdoors. It's the Maine Coon.

Nippen has to be a big and powerful enough of a cat to carry a little girl. I know, I know. Even the strongest house kitty on earth couldn't move a human child but use your imagination! It's a movie! I figured that the maine coon was the perfect design for Nippen because of their big muscular bodies, soft fluffy coats, and large expressive facial features. Also, Maine coons are one of the few breeds of the semi-long hair group that come in solid colors as well as patterns. I'm still not 100% positive on the color (I'm thinking white or cream) but I am sure that he'll be a solid colored cat with no markings or patches.

I didn't take the photos. I googled them.

Production Schedule! First Draft

Before I can actually start making everything, I need to plot out my time accordingly so I know when everything is due and how much time I have to work on it. I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that I'm going to have to make some changes to it along the line. This schedule covers up until Winter break in December.


Dark Circus Production Schedule

Film by: Erin greener

Semester: Fall

Sept 19- Finalizing Animatic (story edits, finish boards, final cut)

Sept 20- Begin character concept art (orthos, color studies, anatomical breakdowns, etc.) Begin all layouts.

Sept 18- blog update

Sept 22- Artist statement and bio due

Oct 2- blog update

Oct 8- Background layouts due. Begin scanning and setting up for Photoshop coloring

Oct 13- Resume and cover letter due. All character concept sheets drawn and colored

Oct 15- Character layouts due. Begin background coloring in Photoshop.

Oct 16- blog update

Oct 17- Shot List, progress chart, and blog updates

Oct 18- Begin keying animations

Oct 20- Thesis Presentation/ midterm critique (updated schedule, Artist Statement, Bio, Resume, Cover letter, blog). All Concept art due.

Oct 22 to Oct 24- Ottawa International Animation Festival. Continue filling out production sketchbook.

Oct 25- Begin work on Dark Circus Trailer and promo art

Oct 30- blog update

Nov 13- blog update

Nov 22- Promo art due

Nov 24- Demo Reel and trailer rough cuts due

Nov 25 to Nov 28- Thanksgiving break. Prep for possible work suspension until Monday

Nov 27- blog update

Dec 11- blog update

Dec 12- All Preproduction due. Work reel with scratch track.

Dec 15- Final Deliverables due. Demo Reel, blog, Updated documents

Dec 18 through Jan 9- Winter Break. Have all backgrounds colored before classes resume.


As pre-production rolls along, I'll have a better feel for many assets I have to make and how long it takes me to make them so I will try adapting a system of weekly checklists.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Revised Animatic: Hold the sugar.

If you recall, my last animatic was more than 5 minutes long. Well, I guess that my advisors said that it was too long and I had to shorten it. Dark Circus had to be put on a diet. In the business of filmmaking, extra things added to the film to make it look more "spiffy" are called sweetening and Dark Circus has a lot of it. Sadly, I had to cut a lot of it out to make my film shorter and I had to re-story board some parts. If I have the time I will add some sweetening back in but the important thing is finishing the film.

More Macey Studies: Poses and Color

My first colored illustration of Macey. I might change the colors but I think that blonde hair just might be working for her. If anyone has any suggestions then leave a comment because I greatly appreciate the input.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Most Important Filmmaking Supplies

Over the summer I began stockpiling the necessary tools and supplies I would need for working on this film. I think this might get me through the preproduction....

Now I just need some French Vanilla creamer.

Macey Figure Studies

I've been thinking a lot about the anatomical structure of my main character. One of the lessons I learned from my last film endeavor is that if you're going to be traditionally animating a character for an entire year then you better design something that you'll like drawing hundreds of times. For my last traditional film (which was sadly never finished) I designed two characters that were very human-shaped in terms of their anatomy and I paid the price for that one because so much extra effort had to be put into making their animation look good. But with the slightly more cartoony structure I've given Macey, I have a lot more freedom with her motion and expression.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Acrobat Studies and Inspirations

Cookin' up some character studies! It's one of my favorite parts of a project. Drawing those acrobat poses were really fun. Even though there are many acrobats in the film, I can't help but think of them all as the same character. I had a lot of fun doing these figure studies and I can't wait to animate this creature.

The acrobats in my film aren't exactly your typical circus performer. I guess if you cross a gymnast with the Shinigami from Death Note, you would get something like what I'm trying to make. Creepy, yes?

Acrobat from Bravo Parties

Ryuk from Death Note

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Starting the Layout Drawings!

Just a few of the layouts that I had been working on over the summer. I know that I'm going to have to make a few more story boarding tweaks to the second half of the film but the first bit is pretty set in stone so I got crackin' right away. Now I can finally scan them because the scanner I have at home wasn't quite substantial enough for these.

The Treatment

Every film has to start from writing. These quickly conceptualized written plans are called treatments and are a basic run-through of what the film is like. It only has a fraction of the detail put into a script but still gets the point across.


Film: Dark Circus (working title)

Director: Erin Greener

Medium: Traditional Animation

Character Descriptions

(Main Character)

Macey: A young girl of about 9 or 10 years that lives and works in the bakery at the top of a giant windmill with her family. She is small and agile with conservative clothes an apron for baking. She has become bored of her routine, safe life with her normal family and dreams of a way out to a life with adventure and thrill.

Macey’s Family: A Father, mother, and older brother that also work in the bakery. They love Macey very much and support her. They don’t know that Macey secretly wants to run away from home in search of a more thrilling life.


The Witch: The old woman that runs the traveling darkling circus currently stationed in town. She is so old and sluggish that she cannot even stand on her own and remains seated at all times in her comfortable throne. She controls the acrobats and performers and keeps all the profits of the circus to herself. The witch is the one that transforms unknowing people into the darkling circus performers, robbing them of their free will and memories so that they become puppets for exploitation.

The Circus Performers: The darklings that maintain and perform in the circus don’t do so of their own free will. They were once normal people that have been transformed and brainwashed into acrobats and clowns. One of the acrobats lures Macey from her home to the circus tent so that the witch could transform her too.

Setting and Tone

Town: The town in which the film takes place (which is currently nameless) is a cheerful and trouble-less town. The feeling is warm and sunny with the perfect weather. The town is pre-modern times so there are no television or current day technologies. There is a feeling of magic when we are introduced to the gigantic Dutch-style windmill standing in the center of the town. The windmill is easily twenties stories tall with broad canvas arms. It’s at the top of this windmill where our main character and her family live and work. Even though it’s at the top of a giant windmill overlooking the rest of the town, Macey’s home and the Bakery are cute and quaint. The home is decorated with family treasures and very old fashioned. The Bakery is welcoming and well taken care of. The warmth of this family’s happiness as carried through the motif of the yellowy sunshine that pours inside the windmill from outside.

Circus: The circus, unlike the town, is very dark and sinister. The ominous appearance of the tent adds to the mystery of the show inside. The tent itself is not completely settled on the ground. It appears as though a villainous hand-shaped tree is holding it up in the air. The circus tent is just outside of the town and stands tall enough so that it towers above the rest of the buildings much like the windmill. They are like opposing giants in the town but the windmill is pure and stately like an angel and the circus tent is curled, hunched, and dark like a demon. Inside the tent is like an evil fantasy. In contrast to the warm yellowy light of the town, the circus is lit with greens, reds, and violets. In the very back of the tent, the witch’s office hides and represents the heart of the evil circus.


One Liner: Macey learns an important lesson when she runs away from home and sees a darker world.

In the sunny and gentle town where the story takes place, a giant dutch flour-grinding windmill towers above the rest of the buildings. At the top of this windmill are the bakery and the home of a loving family. The main character, Macey, is the ten-year-old daughter in this family and works in the bakery with her father, mother, and older brother. Even though she is pampered, protected, and well-loved, Macey is bored of her safe and routine life with her family and dreams of a life with more thrill and adventure. She wants to join the mysterious darkling circus that has set up tent just outside of town but her parents won’t let her anywhere near it. Macey just sulks like a child. That night, a flying acrobat slips into Macey’s room like a shadow and convinces her to come with him to the circus. She accepts and is excited to finally escape from the norm and do something thrilling with her life. The acrobat brings her to the circus tent where Macey sees the other circus performers and she starts to feel uneasy about her choice. This circus is more frightening than a normal circus. She is brought to the witch that runs the circus. The witch agrees to make Macey into a circus performer but explains that by joining the circus, she will never be able to see her family again and that she must obey the witch. Macey realizes that coming to the circus was a mistake and wants to leave. But the witch grabs her by the wrist and begins to transform her. The skin of Macey’s arm starts to blacken like an acrobat but she is able to escape from the witch’s grasp before it spreads any further up her arm. She is narrowly able to run away from the circus and return safely home. Her family is none the wiser that Macey tried to run away to join the circus but she has to keep the secret of her personal sin by hiding the black skin of her arm. That black skin will remain as a permanent reminder of her almost bad choice. She now has a renewed love and appreciation for her family and is much more grateful of the happy life that she has.