Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Kids & UFOs: Conclusion

To conclude:

The style of stop-motion animation is extremely flexible. If the objects are being moved instead of being animated or manipulated it means that they can go anywhere within 2D space. The simple 2D drawings themselves are childlike in appearance but also in essence as they represent the most basic form of animation.

Because of the physical involvement of having to use ones hands and fingertips to move every item bit by bit, frame by frame, it is like child's play. The animators hands set the tone of the film.

Everything was done in a way that let the children steer the direction of the film by giving them open questions they were free to interpret as well as letting them express their ideas about the subject through art. The film depended entirely on their responses and the activities were carried out in a way that ensured they were comfortable and happy during the process.

The initial audience for this film was children and the different animations, style and colours should reflect that. The simplicity of the design, though technically complex, should appeal to children and adults alike - or might at least awaken the childlike imagination inside all of us.

You can view the finished film here: https://vimeo.com/163612962

Kid's & UFO's: Digital Drawing Process

For the main body of animation, extra drawings were created using both pen and paper and then digitally drawn in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet. After the drawings were made, the images were scanned into a computer and drawn over and coloured.

The fill tool was used for the main bulk of colour, and then shading added. The drawings on the left were for the 'What Do Aliens Eat?" part of the film.

The original idea was that the food drawings would appear as a tally chart every time the item was mentioned in the interviews. A 'ping' sound would then accompany it.

However after second thoughts, another idea was had:

'A trolley in a supermarket moving along and the items falling off the shelf into the basket - perhaps with an alien pushing it down the aisle?'


So, a supermarket aisle was drawn on half an A3 piece of paper. A single food item was drawn on each shelf. 

Once the image was scanned in and opened in Photoshop, each item was coloured in and then replicated on multiple layers. Spaces were left on the shelves so that the individual items could be animated. The trolley was drawn and scanned separately.

The images were then sent to the animator.

Kid's & UFO's: Title Sequence

Testing and creating the title sequence:


To achieve a childlike style many different drawing styles were looked at to see which would appeal most to children and young adults. The detailed ones were fascinating to look at, however placing too much detail into a stop motion animation would clutter the screen. Simpler drawings with black outlines - similar to the style of Rachel Ryle - were more suited.

Sketches were made and the colouring was tested. Felt-tip pens created too harsh a tone, whilst colouring crayons provided a softer layout that was pleasing to the eye.

The title sequence for 'Kids and UFO's was made up of 147 different photographs. The basic idea was this:

A girl in a rocket is launched into space from her back garden, flying past stars, planets, aliens and ufo's. The rocket then flies away to reveal the title of the film: 'Kids and UFOs'.

Drawings were created on paper, coloured in using crayons and cut out. These were then placed on a coloured background (light/dark blue and black towels) and moved frame by frame. This took about 9 hours in total.

After this, the photos were colour graded and then placed into Premiere Pro. Each photo was 00.04 seconds long. A free 'match strike' sound was then downloaded and music (Pacific Sun by Nicolai Heidlas) placed over the top as the rocket sets off.

Please see here to view the title sequence: https://vimeo.com/163138180
And here for the Behind the Scenes: https://vimeo.com/163684881


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

What are UFO's: Title Animation Influences

The title sequence for the film 'What Kid's Think about UFO's' will consist of paper stop-motion animation, in which objects will be drawn onto paper, cut out and photographed frame by frame.

Here are a few of the influences that inspired this:

1. Paper cut-outs - The drawings in this video are childlike and drawn with pencil. This is the effect the film title sequence should achieve but by adding a little extra colour and vibrancy, it should appeal more to children as well as make it more fun and engaging to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbSbZDnsA-8

2. This film uses coloured paper cut-outs in the form of animated origami. The paper unfolds and refolds to create different shapes and sequences. Added fast paced music also helps to engage the audience and moves with the piece.



3. This animation uses tiny objects to create a short narrative such as pennys, pins and different fabrics. The use of small things adds a theme of innocence to the film as well as emphasising the 'childlike' theme.



4. This animation is far more complex. The filmmakers worked to create three-dimensional sets and props made completely out of paper and then animated them frame by frame. The use of human hands in the animation again adds to the 'small objects' theme.



5.  This film also uses human hands as the main source of moving the paper. Each time the hands touch the paper it spurs on an action - whether it be that the paper changes shape or colour. The film is also extremely colourful and vibrant, which draws in the audience further.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

What are UFO's: The Boy's Interview Process

The team decided to interview a range of children between the ages of 7 and 18 upon realising that a diverse choice would provide various answers and give more insight into a child's mind and imagination.

The team went in expecting the younger children to be more imaginative and flamboyant than the older kids. But what happened in the interviews turned out to be something quite different.

Each section was approached in a specific way:


Boys Brigade
   The Boys Brigade is a uniformed organisation that is made up of 4 sections:

  • Anchor boys (5-8 years old)
  • Junior (8-11 yrs)
  • Company (11-15 yrs)
  • Senior (15-18 yrs)
To cover a more diverse range of children, the team decided to interview boys from the junior and company sections, along with two senior members. The boys seemed quite happy to be interviewed, though some were shyer than others.

Since aliens and space is seen as a 'boys subject' it was thought that these kids would have much wilder and more imaginative ideas than the girls that had been interviewed. However, this wasn't quite the case.


The boys were interviewed in pairs in the hope that this would allow them to bounce ideas off each other and draw the audience in further, as sometimes putting a kind of relationship on screen (such as friendship) can captivate the viewer more than one individual would be able to.

The interviews took place with an adult volunteer present. The process was simple:

  1. Ask the boys if they knew why they were being interviewed and what the interview was about.
  2. Explain the film to them; what's included, how it will be put together etc.
  3. Have a small chat whilst the camera's being set up.
  4. Start the interview.
If an interviewer stands up and is above the interviewee's eyesight, then a sense of intimidation is instilled. So for the younger boys (ages 8-14), the interviewer sat on the floor at the side of the camera so that they were level to, or below, the boy's eyesight. 

The questions were asked one by one and the boys were given time to think before giving their answers. Some talked to each other and the team to explore their ideas further.

The most common ideas from the boys were that:
  • Aliens came from really, really far away
  • They eat metal or planets
  • The boys would take them to play laser tag, or to Nando's
There was a large age gap between the youngest boys (8) and the eldest (aged 18). In this case, the younger boys were more imaginative whereas the older ones seemed to reply more on logic and scientific facts and conspiracy theories.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

What are UFO's: The Girl's Interview Process

The team decided to interview a range of children between the ages of 7 and 18 upon realising that a diverse choice would provide various answers and give more insight into a child's mind and imagination.

The team went in expecting the younger children to be more imaginative and flamboyant than the older kids. But what happened in the interviews turned out to be something quite different.

Each section was approached in a specific way:

Guides: GirlGuides are a uniformed organisation for girls only, aged 10-14.
   The guides were a little shy at first, but after the introductions were made they were quite happy to sit down with the team and have a chat whilst doing the first activity.

   They enjoyed creating the drawings of various UFO's and aliens, and discussed the topic in depth with their group. This allowed the team to get to know the girls more before the interviews took place.

   Each girl was interviewed individually - which after further thought proved to be a disadvantage as they worked better together. This info was then taken on to the next set of interviews. The girls sat on tables whilst the interviewers stood spaced out a little behind the camera. The Guides were quite quiet and seemed to lean towards scientific fact rather than their imagination.

Rangers: The Rangers are the senior section of GirlGuiding and are aged 14+.
   The Rangers were much more open than the Guides and weren't afraid to voice their opinions. The documentary was briefly explained to them and they were able to run the drawing activity themselves whilst the interviews took place.

   After learning that the interview process would run much more smoothy if they were in pairs, the Rangers put themselves into groups and created their own rota. The girls were sat on chairs whilst the interviewers sat on smaller chairs slightly behind the camera. Many of them had crazy ideas about UFO's and were comfortable being in front of the camera.

Brownies: The Brownies are the second youngest section of GirlGuiding, aged 8-10.
   Knowing that the Brownies were much younger than the Rangers, it was important to put extra strategies in place to put them at ease. Due to the busyness of the evening, the team wasn't able to do any activities with the girls.

   For the interview, a Guider was asked to stay and the interviewers sat on the floor slightly in front of the camera. The Brownies were asked if they knew what they were doing, were told what the documentary was and a simple chat was had before the recorder was pressed so that they could get a feel of how the interview would work.

   Some of the girls were happy to sit and talk, whilst others were extremely quiet. The Brownies interviews were approached in as friendly a manner as possible and everything was done to make sure none of them felt uncomfortable.

To conclude: It is best to do activities with the group as a whole first to allow the filmmakers to integrate and mingle with them, putting both parties at ease with the other.The drawing activity could take place either before or during the interview process, and that the best results come when the girls are interviewed in pairs.
NOTE: Some of the younger girls had never heard of aliens or UFO's.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

What are UFO's - working with children

How to interview children and young adults

Introduction:

There is much taboo about working with children in film. As W.C. Fields once said: “Never work with children or animals.” Sometimes they are too lively or energetic for a director to cope with; they may have short attention spans; they are unpredictable.

"The audience always looks for the adorable young child or animal - they steal every scene. "many stars will never appear with animals or children in the belief that no adult can compete" has been cited in print since 1931, in a newspaer article indicating that this film tradition carried over from the stage."
       - Barry Popik (2012), "Never work with children or animals" (Show Business Adage)

But something special happens when you place a child in front of the camera, when you let them take centre stage and unleash their imagination. In taking away the pressure and the script, a filmmaker can use that unpredictability to create something wonderful.

Research/Discussion:

"Consideration of the child's welfare, physical and emotional, should be at the heart of the production."
       - Channel 4, Producers Handbook, Working and Filming with under 18's guidelines.

As not all children are good at fully expressing themselves or are able to voice their ideas, it’s important to put various strategies in place to help them. Such as:

1.    Cutting up information into bite-sized chunks so that they can easily understand them and work through the interview one step at a time without using long, complicated words.
2.    Making the atmosphere comfortable, and breaking the ice before doing the interview. Sometimes an initial meeting can take place so that the child can get to know the interviewer and vice versa. Creating common ground and a sense of trust is essential.
3.    Being friendly.
4.    For younger kids using word/image cards; letting the child create their own visuals.
5.    Avoiding leading questions; asking open-ended/indirect ones that allow them to expand on their thoughts.
6.    Making sure the interview doesn’t last too long, and asking simple questions that are age specific.
7.    Familiarity - Making sure the interview takes place somewhere the child is comfortable and familiar with. It’s also important to let the child become comfortable in front of the camera; letting them play with the equipment or showing them how it all works would be a way to do this.

 "Rather than interviewing children at a clinic or office... meet children in places that are already familiar to them (e.g., homes, day cares, classrooms). When they are accommodated, youngsters are less likely to feel threatened and are more likely to engage..."
       - Effective Interviewing of children, Unique Children and Circumstances, Page 94/95.

8.    Giving them the opportunity to ask questions and expand on the subjects; listening more than talking.
9.    Consent - Making sure that you always have the child’s and the parent’s consent before any interviewing/filming takes place. No filming of children under the age of 16 should take place without parental consent.
10. Ensuring that the child understands what they’re involved in and being asked.
11. Sitting at eye-level with the child; not above them.
12. Always making sure that there’s someone else in the room that the child knows; whether it be a parent/guardian, teacher or youth leader.
13. Using first names.
14. Being aware - Ensuring the filmmaker is aware of any behavioural, mental or health conditions the child may have so that they can undertake the appropriate strategies. Just because a child is a certain age doesn’t mean that they are at that developmental age.
15. Addressing issues - Any issues the child or parent may have, any worries about problems that may arise, should be identified straight away. If the interview topic might reveal any problems, the parent should always be aware of them before giving consent. If interviewing a child about sensitive subjects, it’s important that the filmmakers understand the child’s background and that there are no issues that could potentially arise.

“A child's resilience and vulnerability can vary significantly depending on factors such as their age, gender, maturity, cultural, ethnic and religious background as well as their previous life experiences.”
-        Channel 4, Producers Handbook, Working and Filming with under 18’s guidelines.

Measures should also be taken to assess a child’s suitability, whether through initial meetings or with the child’s carer (i.e. parent/guardian, teacher, youth leader etc.) If the interview could impact on the child’s mental/emotional health, the filmmaker must undertake a risk assessment to identify any potential harm depending on the child’s age/gender, religious/cultural backgrounds and life experiences.

References:
      Barry Popik (2012), “Never work with children or animals” (show business adage). Available at: http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/never_work_with_children_or_animals_show_business_adage
      Channel 4, Producers Handbook, Working and Filming with under 18’s guidelines. Available at: http://www.channel4.com/producers-handbook/c4-guidelines/working-and-filming-with-under-18s-guidelines
      Effective Interviewing of Children: A Comprehensive Guide for Counsellors and Human Service Workers. 1999. Michael Zwiers. Patrick J. Morrissette, Unique Children and Circumstances, page 94/5. Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=kYt_AAAAQBAJ&pg=PA96&dq=how+to+interview+children&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiYsazD943LAhWIPBQKHY2PBqUQ6AEIMzAE#v=onepage&q=how%20to%20interview%20children&f=falsehttp://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/BestPracticeGuide/FAQ15.aspx
      News Lab. (2009) How to interview children. Available at: http://www.newslab.org/2009/12/17/how-to-interview-children/

      Canee.net. Maria Keller-Hamela. Nobody’s Children Foundation. The Child Interview: Practise Guidelines. Available at: http://www.canee.net/files/The%20Child%20Interview.%20Practice%20Guidelines.pdf