This weeks Kick about over on Reds Kingdom is a delight of colour and symbolism! Firstly, I was gobsmacked by the age of Aquarius song from the musical Hair. It left the hairs standing on my arms with the booming lead singer’s voice being absolutely phenomenal. If this show ever returns to live audiences I would love to see it! The “hippie” people of this era wanted to show their respect and love for the earth and focus on the world around them, while doing it as a group effort to show a sense of community and togetherness. Aquarius is an air sign, and as a fellow air sign myself, they are known to be creative, free spirited, and always seek clarity.
The symbol for Aquarius being the ‘water bearer’, who eternally gives life and spiritual food to the world, while also washing away the past and making room for a fresh start is usually depicted as a mighty figure pouring water from a vessel onto the earth. When seeing the image of the water bearer, I wanted to focus on a previous experience surrounding water that ignited the Pools film from the Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez prompt, which gave me more respect for the earth and the little wonders that happen sporadically, if you are open enough to find them.
These photos show a snapshot of a spectacle that was for my eyes only, where a trickling of snow was melting and forming a mirage of colours in a shallow lagoon of water. It was a joyous occasion to just sit and watch this natural occurrence, and with its dancing display, it allowed me to stop worrying about everything and what the future holds and just be here in this moment. I think experiences like that are important for grounding you and bringing you back to your present reality, where worry has no place, as the hippies in Hair embodied this physicality here and now by dancing and moving their bodies like water…”
I have decided to give the short film Pools that was created deep within the forest a bit of a revamp. Since I had been mucking about with the photography taken where Pools was filmed and really liking how rich the colours ended up I wanted the film to reflect this more so I dialled the photoshop modus operandi to translate over to premiere and balance alongside the edits of the photos. Colour Grading is an untouched realm for me, I have never really delved into the colour editing user interface within Premiere pro or Davinchi Resolve but after jumping in with this edit I can see myself oohing and ahhing at the capabilities of different tones and moods that any different grade can accomplish. Although proving difficult to choose only one I went through a lot of different colour varied iterations and landed on this one which I think is a nice mix of the cooling blues and fiery reds that flourished from the photos.
I was spoiled for choice with this kick about with rural Ireland having a bountiful abundance of botany with textures, colours and shapes of all the flora and vegetation, feeling like an endless pick’n’mix. I always find myself thinking about the intricate patterns and shapes as I snap away, mint green reindeer moss looking like bleached coral under a microscopic macro lens and the swirling and meandering of ice a jigsaw of frozen motion, while twigs, branches and petals looking like spores after some careful manipulation. suffice to say I loved this kick about and loved editing, warping and colour correcting a surplus of photos from recent adventures around Ireland to get a photomontage and mimic Ernst Haeckel’s inspiring Illustrations. I have a real hankering to go on and on with creating more designs like this.
I have been working on trying to achieve a more painterly style with the Oasis world of The Green Glider animated short. To achieve these current renders I collated together many bunches of the 3D trees and plants and rendered them out, I then brought the renders into photoshop and painted over them in three different versions, 1 being the original scratchy and more defined version with clearer visible brush strokes. The second and third iterations blurring them out so they could plop nicely in the background to add more depth. I also made cooler and warmer versions of each painted tree mound and painted some shapes to act as leaves to bulk out areas as seen below.
〰️The Oasis Painted Tress – Clear〰️
〰️The Oasis Painted Tress – Blurry〰️
I then brought those renders back into Maya as alpha maps and situated them accordingly within the scene and added in some of the original 3D trees for the foreground so that it gave more depth of field. To give me more control I used render layers where I added the elements in different collections and rendered them separately – so a render collection for the furthermost elements and a collection for the foregrounds and so on, it means I can have a lot more control in post production if I think something could be blurred further or possibly blend more with the sky colour to give more atmospheric perspective.
There was one caveat – previously all the grass was done with alpha maps which was causing a problem where the scene was so populated with alpha maps that light couldn’t render through them and meant that they were rendering black, I found out I had to dial up the render settings to offset this – the ray depth to be specific which resulted in ridiculous render times! So using what I learned about my Boogie Woogie Jive film and the ongoing Ersilia film, I had a muck about with using Maya’s ancient paint effects which worked wonderfully. Within the many keyframe achievable paint effects parameters there is the possibility to animate a slight breeze to the grass, I will definitely be giving that a whirl and see how to looks. I think with these many trial and errors the Oasis is starting to come to fruition, things can be pushed more but I think I am heading in the right direction.
I have been playing about with trying to achieve a more painterly, soft feel for the Oasis with inspiration drawing from impressionist paintings where colour and light play a massive part in showing nature and landscapes. A lot of trial and error has gone into these tests, mainly because of the colour as a lot of impressionist paintings are influenced by vivid fauvism. I attempted to adopt and get into the headspace of an impressionist, by painting with quick brush strokes of light flickering the water, moving clouds and how the colours would merge together with incessantly moving light, always in a state of flux.
I decided to paint over the render to get the feel before I mend Maya to give me similar results, a lot of which will be achieved by rendering out chunks of trees then softening, blurring and painting over them and turning them into alpha maps that I can plop in place; some of which will be a lot more softened or more crisp to draw the eye to where it needs. I am still a bit unsure of the colour just yet, I don’t know if it’s too much so as always feedback is appreciated.
When this past weeks kick About was revealed I knew I wanted to make a film that was quick and spontaneous, what I didn’t know is that it would be bursting with colour and that it would feel very cathartic and fun to work on. A lot of the stuff going on in the film was a bit of a fluke with the music driving the animation, serendipity was definitely sought after with this film and I for sure felt that; feeling giddy when the renders had finally finished. I’ve always wanted to muck about with Maya’s motion design plugin – Mash and I learned a lot about it with this little animation as for me I think the best way of learning something is to jump straight in and try and make a film out of it!
This kick about over at Reds Kingdom was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed injecting some colour into the greyness that is 2020. Dancing blobs, brush strokes and spirals got me out of a bit of a funk as I think it’s impossible to fret when listening to the tunes of Arnold Ammons who accompanied the vivacious animation by Norman McLaren – The whole Boogie Woogie genre is sure to make you smile.
It’s also proving worthwhile translating what I am learning from the Ersilia project into this little animation as the same old school paint effect techniques of those constricting ropes in which Ersilia resides is used in a much more colourful way with this approach. I apologise for the tragic quality of the video! for some reason it looks like I uploaded it with a microwave… but as this current version is a WIP hopefully I’ll figure out why the crispness is naught… or maybe that works well with the nostalgia of the music? I’ve attached some screen grabs and more experimental renders that are being edited in for the latter chunk of the song.