This past week has started a new joint project on the theme of ritual. I had the opportunity if working on my own, but felt that from my experience on the first project brief I wasn’t confident enough yet with my editing skills. I’m paired with the very talented & witty Mr Mestre for this project who not only has excellent editing skills , but is an expert in Photoshop and great at choosing colour- what a great person to be in a team with!
Tuesday, I had a taste of Premier Pro– I found this difficult, firstly as I’d never done any editing in depth before and secondly as for those of you who use Adobe products ( amazing as they are) they aren’t designed for the casual user! My hopeful Xmas present is a subscription to Adobe online.
From the original brainstorm of ideas for Ritual we thought of several options : sacrifice, hunting, celebrations, religion, festivals and many more. We quickly decided on a theme of the ‘Day of the Dead’. For those who are unfamiliar with this celebration, it is yearly Mexican originated festival that like Halloween has the dead returning from the grave to reunite with their loved ones. Unlike Halloween, this is a joyous festival of love and fun, rather than scaring, haunting or terrifying others.
Wonderful face painting, scenery and costumes are used. Central to the festivities is food and drink of all kinds- check out http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/dod/index.html for some beautiful sugar skulls.
I began researching Voodoo halfway through the week, as I’d mistakenly jumbled these thoughts in my brain. I have a soft spot for snake dancers and I was a wee bit distracted…. I had Salma Hayek in Dusk til Dawn in my mind. Anyway, I will use this later on in a different project.
Looking in to famous Mexican Artists, led me to the work of Frida Kahlo- http://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org. ( Salma Hayek also played her in the film adaptation of her life.) The use of colour within her portraits and paintings, I feel dilutes the darkness of her oftenemotional work.
Colour and character design has to be central to our plot development so far. Currently we’ve divided up the project so that I will be responsible for character design and Mr Mestre for the backgrounds. We’ve both contributed to the storyline and are now developing our Storyboards for comparison to start the making of the project this week. Below are some character designs I have come up with so far…
Our plot was originally very long- too long! It involved a little girl, who loses her mum and when she arrives at the families sepulchre in a graveyard she finds her mother spirit rising to meet her from the grave. Along the way she sees parades of people and cars.
After consultation we decided that it would be too long, and not showing enough focus on the day of the dead. Too much detail would have to go into the development of unnecessary detail.
So version 2 involved a much simpler approach. The little girl walks from her house on the left and using a side scrolling pan shot we had her moving through the town, entering the graveyard. This distilled approach allowed us to complete quickly, but focus on smaller details for movement of characters and features.
We divided up the work: Mr Mestre. worked on the background for the stills. He drew, then scanned and finally edited in Photoshop. The smooth texture and quirky perspective made this a highly suitable background for our project. On reflection, I think it draws some of its influence from Lowry. ( see his picture below).
It also reminds me of the work Friz Freleng did on the Pink Panther show. (Unlike the theme tune I didn’t agree with the statement ‘everybody loves a panther that’s pink’ – I would only watch it as a child as it was A) a better choice than the Waltons and B) it was a cartoon.)
A Village Square by L.S. Lowry
Pink Panther show by Friz Freleng.
I developed the character designs using foam board sheets. I see my research on the day of the Dead to inspire me and give greater detail.
The final cast
Signor Rossi was a cartoon , which I loved as a child with a far better theme tune than the Pink Panther Show tune! The abstract backgrounds, psychedelic colours and catchy music I feel are reflected in our final pieces.
The final Videos. After capturing with Dragon Frame the video was edited using Final Cut Pro.
A still from the video- the undead mariachi band. Click on the film for a real life version!
Our Final Colour Video
Click above for the colour video
The video was then edited into black and white. I think in this style it looks reminiscent of Disney’s Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance. When shooting it we wanted it to be set in the 1920′- having a vintage, blurred atmosphere.
Click to see full Silly Symphonies
Our Final black and White Video- click above
Overall, The videos simplicity worked in its favour. I did realise that simple does improve things sometimes! I thought it would be quicker using foam board as time could be saved in colouring each individual piece, however the fiddliness of manipulating these tiny pieces in the animation process slowed us down. Looking back- these were quite awkward to animate and even though I loved the end effect I may not use them for a while!
- The Day of the Dead & The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo (clairemca.wordpress.com)
- Dia de los Muertos – or Day of the Dead – and Frida Kahlo (rhapsodyinbooks.wordpress.com)
- Day after Halloween is the Day of the Dead (wholesalehalloweencostumes.com)