Animators animate. And while I am animating a larger, personal project that is taking forever to complete using Blender, I have nothing yet to show for it and believe me, that’s incredibly frustrating. The 11 Second Club to the rescue!
The contest allows animators the opportunity to create an animation within a stated period of time (1 month), using an audio clip hand-selected by the Club.
This is a great way for the animator to not only challenge himself, but to have additional content for his portfolio, improve his skills with practice and constructive criticism, and most importantly, actually spend the time doing the thing that he loves to do.
The Audio Clip
So I had committed to entering the May competition in mid-April, before the audio clip was released and I really hoped the audio would be something I could dig my teeth into. I wasn’t disappointed. I have not yet figured out how to upload audio to this thing yet, sorry.
Woman: “You won’t tell him, will you?”
Man: “I don’t know. I’m going to have to think about this. But you’ll find out…. one way or the other.”
This comes from the original “House of Cards”, which aired on BBC in 1990. I love the funny accents the actors are using 😉 and the mood is both playful and sinister.
From the audio, I gathered these two characters are perhaps co-workers or enemies or both, and clearly have a history together. There is a common bond between them which is a connection with a third character – a boss, a friend, a king.. I thought it might be Santa, and one elf has a secret and the other has a bone to grind.
I already had some elf characters modeled from another competition, but they’re not rigged and I knew any attempt made to set them up for animation would merely be a way to avoid the actual goal of creating a finished project.
That scrapped, I decided hand-drawn 2D animation was my only way to go. Feverishly I began filling up the pages of my sketchbook. I considered a vampire character, and even blocked in some expressions in my animation program. A female character was also conceived, but ultimately, I never had a firm grip on who they were, what their relationship was and what they might be doing.
And then I searched for inspiration from artist Mike Peters, creator of the comic-strip “Mother Goose and Grimm”. I grew up with this comic and always enjoyed his fun style of drawing. Some of the jokes are reaching, in my opinion, but the art work is memorable. I really love the style and colors.
At the same time, I was jumping around youtube and saw some bloopers from the classic “Young Frankenstein”, and suddenly, I layed an idea on my desk and watched it hatch!
Let’s say Frau Blucher is practicing to be a Beautician’s Assistant and the only one in the castle who will sit for her, unwillingly at that, is the monster, who is conveniently strapped to a standing table! Igor should walk in and catch her in the act to which she says, “You won’t tell him, will you?” “Him” being Dr. Frankenstein, naturally.
I then set forth to characterize Frau Blucher and Igor and after many attempts, finally came up with something worth pursuing.
No crazy camera angles, methinks. Just something simple. I haven’t done a hand drawn lip sync in a very long time and there’s no need to complicate the process with a multitude of angles. I do have a whip-pan, easily created and maybe a dutch angle.
Additionally, I won’t be doing cut-out animation, but will draw each frame. In an eleven second clip at 24 frames per second, that’s only 264 individual frames. Not bad.
Many of the entries on 11 Second Club garnering the most votes often have a gimmick or cheap laugh to make the project seem original or memorable. Being no stranger to cheap laughs, I conceived my gimmick early on, and while it might have worked in the original concept with the vampire, it is too distracting in Frankenstein’s castle.
There is only one musical cue in the audio and I was going to have a raccoon enter the scene with an oboe and play the two notes while staring up at the woman. In the concept below, I subbed the raccoon for just a tiny guy.
So that’s me done for the day. I’m excited to see what I can construct with hand-drawn animation and I’ll certainly follow up this post with my completed submission and the results.