This past week has been like standing in a field of flowers trying to build a bouquet. There are so many options; however, when you throw too many things together, it can sometimes become jumbled. Because of this, I find myself re-evaluating what I have done and what I need to do moving forward to make a cohesive piece that addresses some of my objectives in my thesis thread.
At the moment, I am looking at two of my objectives…
- Understand how to break down and apply horror film techniques by removing them from their traditional context and applying them in a nonconventional way to animation
- Understand how contrasting and merging environments from realism to fantasy in animation represent and create an understanding of the mental and emotional shift in a child’s life due to trauma
As I think about these two particular objectives, I now know it is important to understand the genres and their rules before taking them outside of context. This is starting to make me want to focus in on that second bullet of looking at shifting environments to show a shift in child trauma. However, now comes the tricky part of figuring out which elements are best at conveying that.
I still intend to create a title sequence because I like the idea of the montage of shots that each have heavy symbolism and a quick glance at a greater narrative. I have gone back through to look at what people have created as well as viewed links on how title sequences are structured. I had originally aimed to make a one minute animation. However, because of the function of title sequences in a larger body of work, most are around 30 seconds since it is meant to be brief and quick, and at one minute, this type of imagery can become repetitive. As a result, I have been trying to figure out the best approach for this.
I think the biggest thing for me is not necessarily the length, but what the images say and the composition. As I go through a lot of the title sequences, I am intrigued by what is being used in the compositions. With film, there seems to be a lot of found footage pulled. I don’t know why my first thought after film was to look at a title sequence from a video game, but it actually started getting me to think about layering and the potential that creates by having viewers connect objects.
In terms of styles I am looking at, I am inspired by the use of shadows in Se7en and the overlapping images in the video game Until Dawn. With Se7en, I am intrigued by the use of shadows and their use as another layer in the framing of objects. Horror genre lighting seems to like to utilize underexposure, chiaroscuro, and shadows, so I am intrigued by ways in which I can creatively use darkness and shadows to indicate a dark shift in a narrative. Until Dawn I absolutely loved the overlay of images. Something about having a structure with a setting and objects overlaid on top seems both beautiful in a collage sense and haunting in terms of what components are played together to inform the viewer of what is to come. As of right now, I am thinking of having an animation being composed of six main scenes. Each layered with two to three different components per scene.
Following the previous storyboard from two weeks ago, I have redone it to address some of my new research on title sequences. I began bringing attention to what objects I was utilizing and the movements as well. The biggest thing was understanding pacing and how each shot would flow into the next. For the first shot, I imagine a slow pan to the right for the classroom as crayons or colored pencils (acting as the child’s journey) drop from the left side. The camera follows these colored pencils as the camera pans down revealing a clock that is reversing in time. It almost has an Alice in Wonderland feel of falling through the hole. The clock is meant to act as a symbol of the past and the need to reexamine. The sad truth being we cannot turn back the clock, but we can hope to be more aware to a child facing trauma in the future and take preventative actions. Following the crayons, one eventually hits a hard surface to reveal a desk with colorful papers and dreams of a child scribbled upon them. It is suppose to feel so magical with sun beams and a warm glow. Then, the scene shifts again to a beautiful neighborhood that pans to the left and a layer on top of a children’s drawing that is shifting. This is where I want some sort of subtle glitch that shows the drawing becoming almost demonic. The happy neighborhood now has one house changing to indicate the events are not focused on a whole society but a single component. Child abuse typically within the domestic setting. Here I want the emotional tension to arise from the lighting techniques used in horror, such as underexposure in certain areas and intense shadows and spaces for darkness. Especially in the last two shots, the pacing will be really important set against the dark colors to feel tense. There are multiple swings in a row with one broken. It is to draw attention to the lack of care in relation to something associated with play for a child. The pills being something more adult and dangerous in contrast to the swings. With the final shot, we are once again brought back the the house that shifted. The house’s shadow being a scene that will never fully be acted out. By that, I mean that there is an action in motion that stops right before it is anticipated by the audience.
Because a lot of the elements of lighting, color, framing, and sound are important to the emotional arc, I have returned to the idea of color scripts again as a new starting point. This time also taking into consideration lighting from artwork and films. I am interested in utilizing color and lighting as a way to direct the shift in child trauma. In relation to fantasy, there is something really captivating about the yellow and warm light with beans of sun coming through. In contrast looking at Guillermo del Toro’s films, the blue and green redirects the emotion as something intense and sinister. There is also still a big factor of whimsy as his works below are threaded through horror and fantasy based worlds.
When looking at La Noria, there is clear contrasting colors (warm vs cool tones) in the story. I feel like it is a really good example of the environment mirroring the traumatic experience of a child and the calm then frustration and realization the character goes through. This is probably the closest to what I am envisioning with the visual journey of my work. However, with La Noria, the emotional arc is rise, fall, rise compared to mine which is rise, fall.
At the moment after 3D modeling a small portion of the storyboard, I added an HDRI map into my Arnold lighting and then added a spot light. I realized this tone matches up with a lot of the darker scenes of inspiration that I pulled and does not feel scary, but it feels sad and dismal. So the next thing is looking at intense shadows. However, in this particular scene, I will want to flip the colors to warm and inviting. I think another thing that has been playing in my head this past week is the idea of “negative space”. In the Korean arts class I am taking, there was a discussion around the elements of performance, specifically the term ma. With ma, it is the idea that great energy comes from empty spaces, which the example given was when a dancer raises their arms and the gap in the body has a profound meaning. As odd as this may be, I started linking it back to the ideas present in horror. I watched a behind-the-scenes for The Invisible Man, and there was mentions of framing scenes to have large gaps to create intensity. Despite being empty, the idea is that our mind wants to place someone or something there, which creates an intense emotion in the viewer and gives great power to nothing. I really like the concept of a space and the potential for something to happen.
One of the issues I am still working through is what is my definition of fantasy and what does that mean in contrast to what I define as horror. I think as of right now, fantasy is grounded in something that feels ethereal and makes one step back and dream. Also, with this new storyboard and planning, I feel like there is a lot more subtly and less intensity in the use of horror, and I am not sure if I am still hitting all my objectives. So I am wondering are there elements that need to be added or intensified?
The next step is to start going through and making the models. I want to make sure that I have a clear amount of time to work on lighting and color as I am really unfamiliar with these aspects. As I play out this project in my mind and start to lay it out on paper and in diagrams and in writing, I know that there is still a lot of other things to consider in relation to my thesis thread. I am hoping in the end that through the focus on lighting and color drawn from horror to invoke emotion, I will walk away with stronger skills that can lead to the next portion of my thesis thread.