Hercu-Liz the Final Trailer

 

Here is my Hercu-Liz animated trailer for this final project for the Foundation course at Farnham UCA.

Please click on the image to view it:

 

Rating

Click here to see the finished Hercu-Liz Trailer on Youtube

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bww3R6yXEj8&feature=youtu.be

My project is based around a strong, independent female character role.  Both my final concepts were always going to be animations. Apart from my initial idea, I did not know which direction to go with it at first. However, I developed the idea from previous projects done throughout the units within this foundation course, I extracted ideas from these works I did previously.

The final choices were between a theme on ‘Survival’ (that would include a female explorer, connected to the survival-kit summer project).  Alternatively, I developed a theme based on the MIP project ‘Ritual’ (originally  in that project I wanted an animation that included creatures from myths.) This  would have either a theme involving sacrifice, or a heroine on a journey pitted against various mythical beasts.

I progressed with my understanding of the area. I researched Greek mythology, fantasy art and stories. Additionally I drew inspiration from concept art in computer games and various comics.

After consideration, the style I was aiming for was an 1980’s cartoon animation, such as ‘He-Man’ and ‘Thundercats’. I knew I wanted to capture a distinctive and clear retro feel. By aiming for a bold style with detailed drawings I felt it could stand out.

 

 

I developed possible plots with my storyboarding and scenes. I then cropped these into shorter lengths as the idea for a trailer emerged. Originally I had planned for one long detailed story. I realised that if I had stuck to that idea of a singe scene I couldn’t have showcased my skills or shown the character. I wanted to show more than one creature, and my choice was then to make short takes divided with the title and characters/creatures to be used.

In my sketchbook there were many character designs that weren’t used in the final piece. I wanted not only  to include only the original creatures Hercules did fight, but also adapted mine to include my favourite mythical creatures.

Research into current and past interpretations of the  Herculean saga and also helped me develop the back-story. I realised that if I was going to develop a female version of the Demi- God, I would need to change some aspects of the plot! In my version not only were creatures different, but I also included an arch enemy. In the end, I removed the villain as viewers watching only a short trailer may have been confused.

To create originality in a subject that has been done before many times was a formidable task in itself.  Ancient Greek myths have been redesigned and reinterpreted repeatedly! So to make new, different versions needed lots of research to help create and avoid imitation of other works.

Without a good sources of research, this project would have been weak and suffered through
a lack of inspirational designs and back-story.  Looking into influential artists’ works, past and present, helped build up my ideas, the styles and methods of how I could create this final project.

I feel my research into the possible theories is integrated into my project in the clothing, armour and scenarios developed. In my final cartoon research is evident through the ‘stone lettering’ which gave it an ancient feel (futuristic fonts would have been misplaced). Also, my research into my interpretations of the Minotaur and Medusa show in the final cut

min 26 3D Minotaur Head

Med 21 blood

 

By watching trailers, that included battles, I edited to show quick scenes for the action and to showcase the story.

My sketchbook helped immensely with character designing, storyboarding, techniques and mediums to use.  More detailed notes have been recorded in my journal which ran alongside my sketchbook, often I found myself referring back to this during the animation process.

I found myself experimenting and exploring my ideas further by influences of cartoons by Filmation (an 80’s cartoon company), plus looking at how animated montages and movie trailers are done.

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Translating sketchbook experimental designs into animated characters was a challenge as I still had all the in-between images to consider and workout.  However, without the original sketchbook works, I would not have had anywhere to work from.

The use of a light-pad was very successful during this project and helped tremendously. When I did a brief hand-drawn animation for the interview project in part 2, I didn’t have a light pad at the time and achieved my work during the day and by tracing against a window. Tracing wouldn’t be recommended technique as I would have been limited to when there is was sunlight glaring on the glass! Secondly, I would have to draw in pencil every time, then re-ink afterwards as using an ink based pen vertically causes the ink to run and the pen nib dry out.To create my minute long animation this way would have been impossible.

Light Pad

Light Pad

 

Light Pad

Light Pad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An improvement that I made during this project was redoing the end title as I was not completely satisfied with its outcome.  I felt that I did not have enough time left to alter it, but I decided to draw up a whole new version.  The current title affected me every time I watched the finished trailer, annoying me as it wasn’t as good as it felt rushed. I decided to redo it.  In the end, I am glad I spent the extra time in doing this, as the result  was more successful.

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TitleScreenshot 2014-04-27 13.40.46

 

My sketchbook designs and illustrations show my strengths, and I tried to capture these in a moving version for the animated trailer.  Research helped my inspiration and highlighted strong and weaker areas, by focusing on inspiring images, quotes and styles of particular practitioners. Some artists I have know of before. Some artists who were completely new to me.

I intend the viewer to be able to experience the detail of both the hand drawn stills and the motion of them when in animated form.  I would like the audience to also notice the 80’s influence within the style, and that it resembles cartoons of that era.  I have not uploaded my project online at all, and don’t intend to until after the assessment, but I have shown it to close friends, and friends of friends.  Their response has been what I was after in that they stated: “It looks like He-Man”, in a positive tone.  I was very happy with this answer.IMG_4575

The emotion I feel viewers will have are varied. Depending on the generation I am hoping for nostalgia, enjoyment and humour. However some may feel shock or offence. I am aware and happy that  it may only appeal to a certain audience.

Hercu-Liz Project: HERCU-LIZ

Hercu-Liz

Hercu-Liz

Very first designs of Hercu-Liz

Very first designs of Hercu-Liz

 

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Hercu-Liz.

The whole concept to how this project was born, constructed and based around my character who is the female version of half-god hero Hercules.

She has no fear.  No mortal weakness.  No remorse for slaying deadly beasts and isn’t bothered when having to clean out the largest, malodorous stables known to man.

I wanted to create a brave, strong and loyal female character to be in the league of influential characters such as Wonder Woman,  Xena (Warrior Princess) and Red Sonja.

Hercu-Liz is calm natured and always there to help, but she is not to be pushed around or taken advantage of.  Step out of line with her and she shall dish out the pain.  When designing Hercu-Liz, I went into deep details of the star-sign that she was born under.  Making her a ‘Libra’ as this is a sign of balance, which shows her heroic personality of right & wrong by slaying creatures to save others.  I also wanted this to relate to Greek symbols, as the horoscope sign for ‘Libra’ is very similar to that of the Geek letter ‘Omega’ (meaning ‘great’ or ‘great O’) which I found very fitting for the character.

I am hoping to include this as a symbol for her, maybe adorned on her breast plate, or shield (if I design one?).  I would like her to wear different outfits during the scenes, even if it is just two or three different designs it could add a bit of versatility to her?

Should Hercu-Liz use or have weapons?   Hercules used a club, sword and bow & arrows in some of his labours, but he seemed to have strangled and throttled his enemies to death most of the time.  Should Hercu-Liz use the same violent approach?

 

 

 

Hercu-Liz Project: The Lernaean Hydra

Hydra art

Hydra art

IMG_4757Another one of my all time favourite mythical creatures is the hydra, an almost immortal huge snake with many heads.  Some portray hydras with two or three heads, where as the Lernaean Hydra that Hercules fought had seven.  Most of the paintings done in the sixteeth-century of hydras were given an almost dragon style look, where I wish to keep it looking more snake-like.  From my designs I wanted from the start to stick with the heads as very distinctive serpents, no ear-fins or beak like mouths as past versions looked.  Even though I experimented with different head designs, I still preferred the straight forward common snake look.

Some hydras also had lion-like bodies, but I really don’t like that method, so I’m am giving my hydra a complete snake form, like my Medusa.  To me this feels more serious, more threatening and more dominating as opposed to a mammal section which to me looks quite silly (apart from ‘King Hissss’ from He-Man, as that worked well).

I spent a great deal of time deciding on how many heads my version the hydra should have?  I originally wanted seven as that is the number of the Lernaean species had, and I was going to add a theory behind this as each one being one of the seven deadly sins.

Eventually, I have gone with five heads as it became too complex and complicated to draw, even still image designs-let alone animating it!

Hercules was accompanied by a friend, Iolaus when they both killed the beast together, however I am not intending to have an extra character help Hercu-Liz with this situation.  Reason being is that it would add more time, and might confuse the viewer as all the scenes are going to be short and quick like trailer clips often are.

I might have close-up shots of Hercu-Liz despatching each head inbetween scenes?

Hercu-Liz Project: Stymphalian Bird

As I mentioned before on the part one of the Medusa project post, I am not fond of drawing feathered wings of birds as I just find them tedious to do.

The Stymphalian Birds were flesh-eating birds of prey with sharp bronze beaks, talons and feathers.  How I am going to try and animate this scene?   I plan to avoid any wing flapping motions as it would drive me mad in the process of this hand drawn scene, so I want to have the shot to be cut straight to the scene of Hercu-Liz having one of the birds in her grasp.  This would be to save any ‘swooping in’ motions as I find it may prolong the short scene too much?

 

Hercules used a bow and arrows to despatch the birds, but I want my heroine to handle the matter without having to use long range weapons as I want the main character (Liz) to be in every scene.  I could still have a back view of her firing the arrows into the air, or a small image of one of the birds in the distance as she does this?

I’ll have to go back to the storyboards for this, but either way I was very influenced by political artist Gerald Scarfe in the designing of these bird creatures.  Looking through some of his great books like ‘Drawing Blood’ and ‘Monsters’ really inspired me to try and imitate his style in the designs.  Also researching into what breed of bird I can use to work from shall be a test in itself.

 

Stymphalian Bird

Stymphalian Bird

Hercu-Liz Project: Medusa pt. II

My Medusa design

My Medusa design

Back to Medusa.

After lots of quick sketches and then more detailed versions in my sketchbook, I eventually came up with a final design for my Medusa.  This is the version I liked most, mainly because I overcame the laborious task of animating her serpentine hair, by replacing how ever many snakes she has, into one slightly larger and more aggressive one.

Not only was I satisfied with that look, but also replacing her bow and arrows (which Ray Harryhausen equipped his Medusa with), but rather a giant python to aid her.  It was a tight choice between this or a menacing trident of which I thought would be a great weapon for her.  I think the python pet would suit her more, the trident-although a mean looking weapon, have been used before with characters such as Neptune/Poseidon or even the Devil.  Having the snake as a weapon would be more of a challenge for Hercu-Liz also be a ‘two against one’ scenario.

 

I really like the idea of this battle in an animation form.  I shall try my best to do this with what skills I have, but I know it won’t be an easy task.

Hercu-Liz Project: Zeussanna the Amazon Queen

 

Zeussanna designs

Zeussanna designs

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Zsuzsanna=Zeussanna

Zsuzsanna=Zeussanna

After all the beasts and labours Hercu-Liz must conquer, I wanted there to be an eternal challenge for her.  A main rival, of equal or even greater godlike powers – like Skeletor is to He-Man.  Mumm-Ra is to Lion-O.

I was looking at Muscle and Bodybuilding magazines to copy and draw the muscular physiques from, for my Minotaur designs.  I found in the issue I brought an advert for ‘Scitec Nutrition’ with a bodyfitness champion modelling for it.  What caught my attention (apart from her inspiring form), was this female bodybuilder’s name: Zsuzsanna Toldi.

As soon as I saw the letters, it was like they all moved around and jumbled up to create the name ‘Zeus-Sanna’!  I thought this was the perfect name for my main enemy for Hercu-Liz, with the ‘Zeus’ part of the name being a personal connection to her.

There is potential with this character design as I wanted to include some Amazonian Warriors in this project, as this was one of Hercules’s labours in which he had to obtain the girdle from the Amazon Queen.  Zsuzsanna Toldi being a female bodybuilder/fitness champion helped with my sketchbook designs and artwork as she is practically an amazonian herself.

 

Hercu-Liz Project: Medusa pt. I

Medusa design sketches

Medusa design sketches

Hercules did not fight with the Medusa, It was Perseus that was sent to slay and bring back her head.

However, as Hercu-Liz is my very own version of the demi-god hero, she can battle a whole variety of mythical creatures.  I really like the idea of Hercu-Liz out to slay the Medusa herself or even some of her Gorgon sisters even?  The other Gorgons differed to Medusa as they were described as having wings (like Harpies), and talon-like claws as hands.  I prefer the actual design of Medusa because of her snake-body replacing the legs, and I am not too fond of drawing feathers wings, especially if I am to animate this.

I could however, overcome this task with the wings if I changed them for feathers to bat-like wings, that should be slightly easier to draw and to animate?

The Medusa is probably one of my most influential characters still to this day.  Her design as a character.  She is versatile in ways of defeating her foes, and she is unique in a very haunting way.

Medusa designs

Medusa

 

Hercu-Liz Project: Minotaur

Greek mythology and the creatures involved in the mythical tales have been a big influence on me since watching Ray Harryhausen films and Dungeons & Dragons cartoons as a child.  This mixed with my passion for strong female characters has merged together in this project for the final part of my Foundation course at the Farnham UCA.

Digging deeper into researching more about the ancient Greek myths than I had known, inspired me to add more characters to this Hercu-Liz project.

Hercules (Roman)/Heracles (Greek), did not actually fight with the Minotaur, Theseus was the man that was sent into the labyrinth to do the brutal task of slaying the hulking beast.  As Hercu-Liz is my own equivalent of the great hero, I can change and choose who and what I would like her to fight against on her journeys.  Although I would like to stay true to the myth of the actual labours that Hercules had to do, there are some fantastic creatures that I find most inspiring that he did not face.  The Minotaur being one of them.

 

 

Minotaur Designs

Minotaur Designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hercu-Liz Project: Brainstorms

Brainstorm
Brainstorm

My animation is to be based on Greek Mythology – but with an interpretation of the Greek hero as a female character my own concept: ’Hercu-Liz’, a portrayal of Greek heroines, mythical beasts, place and settings.  The designing of weaponry, armour, clothing as concept art.

So far I have developed brainstorms of influential artists, characters and mythical creatures to aid me on this quest of creation.

 

Brainstorm

Brainstorm: Influential Heroes & Heroines.

Brainstorm

Brainstorm: Influential Villains & Villainesses.

Places

The last part of this pathway was to work on an extended project called Place. We had to ‘foster a sense of place’, introduce lighting techniques and experiment with developing the sound. We also had to research contemporary and historical practitioners who capture different environments.

After watching a clip from Oliver Twist by David Lean, I was inspired with possibilities for this project. I originally wanted to base my work on one of my favourite games ‘Shadow of the Beast.’ I love the impossibility of the formation of the rocks in the picture as well as the futuristic, yet almost primitive environment.

Shadow of the Beast II_Front

The artist Roger Dean was renowned for his rock album covers of the 70’s for bands like Asia and Yes. In 1989 he developed the game cover art for Shadow OTB. The sequels for the games heavily drew on his fantasy style. Dean made other games covers but it was his fantasy land that drew me to research him further. If you have time, check out his website. 

I briefly toyed with the idea of basing my work on War of The Worlds after visiting an exhibition at the lightbox art gallery in Woking. The Martian theme was again appealing as I grew up listening to the Jeff Waynes album. Art covers on the album were again an influence as a child.  http://www.thelightbox.org.uk/events1/october2013/15oct19janalieninvasion I reluctantly decided to leave this theme after the heavy weather made me doubt the feasibility of working outside in Horsell Common!

 

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Photos for wasteland for potential Urban Battlefield theme

 

Third attempt on ideas I team up with another student Petros aka Guildmaster Wigglytuff.  He had thought through the project and wanted a teammate in developing his detective/ secret agent scene set in Farnham. I’ve worked with Petros before and knew we could be a good team.

We took various photos at different times of locations around Farnham- alleyways, graveyards, the castle and the river. Knowing we needed to create atmosphere we revisited the places at different times of day and in varying weather.

 

Farnham castle was interesting, but not the right setting. 

 

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The location settled on was a  graveyard in Farnham. The atmosphere at night and during the day are clearly different- and exactly what we wanted. The area was ideal for the story as it had both an eerie vibe and an uncomfortable them at night- like most graveyards it was pleasant during the day.

WE needed several alleyways for locations- below is  photo of one we used for the wanted poster scene.

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Locations decided and analysed this helped build up the basic plot. Knowing we were going to do a detective / spy theme led to research on  Hitchcock. I’m not a huge fan of every piece he’s done but I love the tension created in Rear Window by choosing  limited locations. By telling the story in one area the eery feel develops. Perfect for our movie as we certainly weren’t flying of to the Bahamas…

Inevitably as we were filming in a cemetery research had to be done on Horror movies- who better than a man who could contend to be  the King of Horror Movies- John Carpenter. A fabulous director ( from The Thing to The Warriors to Halloween) I wanted to recreate some of his dramatic  suspense and tension through use of  dim lighting.  Assault on Precinct Thirteen develops the fear of the unknown akin to Rear Window as characters are trapped  in a claustrophobic Police Station and forced to survive. Elements of this are recreated with our slightly cheesy good agent vs the inhuman and deadly emotionless killer.

 

 

 

 

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The dim light at night helped our mood- corners and poorly lit alleyways are great for atmosphere.

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The Paint-stain / mark on a garage door became central to the plot as it was highly distinctive.

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Dressed as the killer who we originally called ‘Snake’. This was changed for a better name at the last minute  ‘Diablos’


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We filmed during the day and at night over 7 days. Our main enemy was the cursed weather ! Filming outside in January storms with very expensive night vision camera equipment on a shoulder cam and tripod was treacherous.  If  we were to recreate it would be in August….   We had many hours of filming early when it got dark at 5- until our latest shoot which finished at 3:30.

I’m really proud of our final piece. With Petros’s musical overlays and editing skills the storyboard I drew for our plot developed  came to life. I feel it has a genuine spooky feel reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes meeting Jack the Ripper.

 

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Click to see the final video.