Saturday, 25 February 2012

Donkey Skin

Peau d'âne [Donkey Skin] (1974)

When the Queen dies she makes her husband King promise to remarry only to one who surpasses her in looks, after searching far and wide the King is convinced their daughter is the only one he can marry. The Princess was willing but her fairy godmother insists it is taboo so the Princess asks for 3 impossible dresses made to her as a condition. When the King presents her with the dresses she asks for the skin of the kingdoms magic donkey and then runs away in the night to live a poor life in the forest. There a Prince happens to spy her and throws a tantrum until he can conduct a test to find his bride: by marrying the maiden who can fit a delicately small ring, fit only for a Princess.

Original Film Poster
Technical specifications   

Donkey Skin was shot on 35 mm film, in mono sound, in colour.

The film utilizes animation film techniques in order to portray a fantastical world. Including live actors performing the roles of statues; castle denizens themselves (and their animals) being the colour of the royalty they belong to; slow motion, reverse motion, stop/start motion, double exposures, and dresses made of reflective fabric so images could be projected unto it.    

A Fairy Tale Collection

I came across the tale of Donkey Skin through the tale of "Color Master" by Aimee Bender, printed in the collection of stories "My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me". The story centers around dye-creators who the King from Donkey Skin asked to make the impossible dresses: the colour of the moon, the sun, and the sky. When reading the story about colours and the fantastical dresses they created I wanted to make an animation myself, one that conveyed the impossible imagery of the these dresses that were the reflection of nature itself. It was from this I discovererf the French film created in 1974 and I was beyond curious to see how they would weave these dresses of wonder. What techniques would they use?  


Effects in the movie

00:21:29 A Dress that Reflects Light (the sky)
01:14:10 Colour Scheme
01:05:35 Double Exposure (daydreaming)
01:05:25 Double Exposure (daydreaming)
00:45:30 Double Exposure (talking to flowers)
00:42:55 Colour Scheme (dyed horses enhances)
00:38:53 Overlapping (magic mirror)
00:37:56 Double Exposure (multiple transformations)

00:34:35 Slow Motion
00:32:14 Slow Motion

00:31:54 Pause Motion
00:26:19 Sun Dress (mirrors)
00:35:04 Freeze Frame except for Donkey Skin moving in Slow Motion

00:01:43 Stop Motion
00:26:06 Double Exposure (Fairy Godmother warning)
00:24:11 Moon Dress (mirrors)
00:06:01 Living Statue
00:05:35 Colour Scheme

I believe finding the basics is important in anything that you do. The animation techniques used in this film, Donky Skin, are simplistic but cunningly beautiful in the context of this fantastical world. The film depicts animation without drawing, with rich and outrageous colour schemes that unite kingdoms and animals alike, outrageous dresses and outfits that by the end of the film seem normal despite how large they are on the figures, and layering effects which must have seemed simply fantastical when this film came out.

Images, live action, and type : design considerations

Source: Motion Graphic Design : Applied History and Aesthetics 
By Jon Krasner

Chapter 6: Images, live action, and type : design considerations

This chapter walked us through the visual properties (form, value & colour, texture & pattern), image consideration, live action consideration (filmic form, filmic properties, integrating live-action), and typograpghic considerations (typographic form & motion, expression through typeface). This chapter studies a wide range of mediums, and would be most beneficial to those planning on creating a title sequence as it deals with type, tone, focus, and many story-board-like examples. On this blog, I try to share as many examples from the textbook as I can, unfortunately I can always locate the material and will substitute my own findings.


o   Geometric Form
o   Natural Form
o   Abstract Form
Rhythmus 23 (1923) 
Hans Richter

by Stan Brakhage

3D Form

Cinema 4D

Blur Studio ID: Venice

Value and Colour

 “Studies have indicated that most human beings make a subconscious assessment about what they see within 90 seconds of initial viewing, and that their evaluation is based on colour alone.” P 171

The components of Colour:
o   Hue
the colour itself
o   Saturation (chroma)
the hue’s purity or intensity or lack thereof
o   Value (tone or brightness)
lightness or darkness of the colour by adding white or black
Emotional, gender, and cultural association:
Men are attracted to dark and saturated colours.
Woman are attracted to cool colours and softer tints.


MOJO (Male Oriented Entertainment Network)
Dark rich and deep colours for upscale male audeince

Decent Days And Nights
The Futureheads  
Florescent colours to express vintage rock

When choosing colour know your audience, gender, culture, time-period, etc

  • Australian Aboriginals: Land, earth
  • Celtic: Death, afterlife
  • China: Good luck, celebration, summoning
  • Cherokees: Success, triumph. Represents the East.
  • Hebrew: Sacrifice, sin
  • India: Purity
  • South Africa: Color of mourning
  • Russia: Bolsheviks and Communism
  • Eastern: Worn by brides, happiness and prosperity
  • Western: Excitement, danger, love, passion, stop, Christmas (with green), Valentine's Day
  • Astrology: Gemini
  • Feng Shui: Yang, fire, good luck, money, respect, recognition, vitality
  • Psychology: Stimulates brain wave activity, increases heart rate, increases blood pressure
  • Roses: Love, respect - red and yellow together means gaiety, joviality
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Divine love, the Holy Spirit, courage, self-sacrifice, martyrdom. A warm, active color.
  • Korea: Trust
  • Eastern: Marriage
  • Western: Love, babies, especially female babies, Valentine's Day
  • Feng Shui: Yin, love
  • Psychology: Used in diet therapy as an appetite suppressant, relaxes muscles, soothing
  • Roses: Gratitude and appreciation (deep pink) or admiration and sympathy (light pink)
  • Ireland: Religious (Protestants)
  • Netherlands: House of Orange
  • Western: Halloween (with black), creativity, autumn
  • Astrology: Sagittarius
  • Feng Shui: Yang, earth, strengthens conversation, purpose, organization
  • Psychology: Energizes, stimulates appetite
  • Roses: Enthusiasm, desire
  • Eastern: Wealth, strength
  • Western: Wealth
  • Astrology: Leo (Golden Yellow/Orange)
  • Feng Shui: Yang, metal, God consciousness
  • Stained Glass (Dante): The sun, the goodness of God, treasure in heaven, spiritual achievement, and the good life.
  • Apache: East - where the sun rises
  • Cherokee: Trouble and strife.
  • China: Nourishing, royalty
  • Egypt: Mourning
  • India: Merchants
  • Japan: Courage
  • Navajo: Doko'oosliid - Abalone Shell Mountain
  • Eastern: Proof against evil, for the dead, sacred, imperial
  • Western: Hope, hazards, coward, weakness, taxis
  • Astrology: Taurus
  • Feng Shui: Yang, earth, auspicious, sun beams, warmth, motion
  • Psychology: Energizes, relieves depression, improves memory, stimulates appetite
  • Roses: Sociability, friendship, joy, gladness - red and yellow together means gaiety, joviality
  • Stained Glass (Dante): The sun, the goodness of God, treasure in heaven, spiritual achievement, and the good life.
  • Apache: South
  • China: Green hats indicate a man's wife is cheating on him, exorcism
  • India: Islam
  • Ireland: Symbol of the entire country, religious (Catholics)
  • Islam: Perfect faith
  • Japan: Life
  • Eastern: Eternity, family, health, prosperity, peace
  • Western: Spring, new birth, go, money, Saint Patrick's Day, Christmas (with red)
  • Astrology: Cancer (bright green)
  • Feng Shui: Yin, wood, growing energy, nurturing, balancing, healing, health, calming
  • Psychology: Soothing, relaxing mentally and physically, helps with depression, anxiety and nervousness
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Hope, victory over ignorance, happiness and gaiety, springtime, youth, good humor, and fun.
  • Cherokees: Defeat, trouble. Represents the North.
  • China: Immortality
  • Iran: Color of heaven and spirituality, mourning
  • Navajo: Tsoodzil - Turquoise Mountain
  • Eastern: Wealth, self-cultivation
  • Western: Depression, sadness, conservative, corporate, "something blue" bridal tradition
  • Astrology: Capricorn and Aquarius (dark blue)
  • Feng Shui: Yin, water, calm, love, healing, relaxing, peace, trust, adventure, exploration
  • Psychology: Calming, lowers blood pressure, decreases respiration
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Wisdom of God, the light of heaven, meditation, enduring loyalty, and eternity.
Powder Blue or Baby Blue
  • Western: babies, especially male babies
  • Astrology: Virgo
  • Thailand: Mourning, widows
  • Eastern: Wealth
  • Western: Royalty
  • Astrology: Gemini, Sagittarius, and Pisces
  • Feng Shui: Yin, spiritual awareness, physical and mental healing
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Justice, royalty, suffering and mystery. With white it stands for humility and purity.
  • Astrology: Virgo and Libra
  • Psychology: Suppresses appetite, peaceful environment, good for migraines
  • Apache: North - source of snow.
  • Cherokee: Peace and happiness. Represents the South.
  • China: Death, mourning
  • India: unhappiness
  • Japan: White carnation symbolizes death
  • Navajo: Tsisnaasjini' - Dawn or White Shell Mountain
  • Eastern: Funerals, helpful people, children, marriage, mourning, peace, travel
  • Western: Brides, angels, good guys, hospitals, doctors, peace (white dove)
  • Astrology: Aries and Pisces
  • Feng Shui: Yang, metal, death, mourning, spirits, ghosts, poise, confidence
  • Roses: Reverence, humility
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Serenity, peace, purity, joy, faith, and innocence.
  • Apache: West - where the sun sets
  • Australian Aboriginals: Color of the people
  • Cherokee: Problems and death. Represents the West.
  • China: Color for young boys
  • Navajo: Dibé Nitsaa - Obsidian Mountain
  • Thailand: Bad luck, unhappiness, evil
  • Eastern: Career, evil, knowledge, mourning, pennance
  • Western: Funerals, death, Halloween (with orange), bad guys, rebellion
  • Feng Shui: Yin, water, money, income, career success, emotional protection, power, stability, bruises, evil
  • Psychology: self-confidence, strength, power
  • Eastern: Helpers, travel
  • Western: Boring, dull, plain, sad
  • Feng Shui: Yin, metal, dead, dull, indefinite
  • Western: stylish, money
  • Feng Shui: Yin, metal, trust, romance
  • Australian Aboriginals: Color of the land
  • Cherokee: Good.
  • Western: Wholesome, earthy, dependable, steadfast, health
  • Astrology: Capricorn and Scorpio (reddish brown)
  • Feng Shui: Yang, earth, industry, grounded

Texture & Pattern

Promsite in Motion
by Ritxi Ostariz


House M.D. Opening Credits

o   Tone and Contrast
o   Lighting
Key Light
Fill Light
3-Point Lighting
o   Depth of Field and Focus
Focal Distance
Deep Focus
Shallow Focus
Racking Focus
o   Camera Angle and Shot Size
Shot size
Establishing Shot
Medium Shot
Over the Shoulder


Altered States (1980 film title)

Black Day to Freedom (opening)

Thaumatrope's by Nicole Wilk

Practical Experimentation

A small paper disc attached with two strings that when pulled in opposing directions spun quickly and gave the illusion of merging the images (popular in Europe in the 1820s).

In order to view the designs below you must click on one:

Rabbit and the Moon by Nicole Wilk 2012
Mild Mannered Hero by Nicole Wilk 2012

Girl & Corset by Nicole Wilk 2012

Thaumatrope and the Persistence of Vision:
Animation is based off the concept of persistence of vision, that is, that the mind holds an image longer than it is actually there (think closing ones eyes after looking at a light bulb). As a thaumatrope is the repetition of 2 images constantly alternating our mind begins to blend the two images into one when seen in rapid succession.


Rice Paper (decent transparency)
Lightbox (though I have a compact one I like to use a large glass table with a lamp)
Referance images (helps the process go quicker, you may also trace or rotoscope)
Something to consistently draw a decent sized circle with (I used a jar lid)
Scissors (or exacto blade)
Colouring tools (I used Pantone Markers)
Sealant (I used nail polish with varying shades of nude colouring)
String (I used elatic bands)
Cardboard (or stiff paper)

Before I began I researched thaumatrope's that others have created in order to conceptualize my own designs. The rabbit jumping over the moon is a thaumatrope cliche so I altered the concept. As I was already using nail polish as a sealant I made the moon out of two shades of silver polish and then removed circles to give it depth.

I wanted to make my thaumatrope's seem as if they were created in the 1800's so I tea-stained my rice paper prior to beginning and used a tinted (sepia feeling) sealant to protect my finished work. I chose art styles that are aged and have a nostalgic feeling of what you'd see on aged and yellowed paper. 

Though not an issue for the rabbit, lining up clothes to an invisible figure takes accuracy. I had issues with my Superman design as he refused to line up, resulting in him losing half his body by the finished work.

My future thaumatrope's will be an extension to the superhero series, a blooming tree, and two silhouettes kissing. What images can you think of?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Cake Countdown Stop Motion by Nicole Wilk & Roshanth Nadesapillai

Practical Experimentation

Cake Countdown
by Nicole Wilk & Roshanth Nadesapillai

Countdown stop motion projects are a guseful way to realize how much information is within a second of filming. For this project we used a birthday cake as numbers and counting already contain an association with the imagery.


Charcoal Fish by Nicole Wilk

Practical Experimentation 

Charcoal Fish (2012)
By Nicole Wilk

After viewing the work of William Kentridge (seen at the end of this post) who used the subtleties of erasing and drawing with charcoal to create animation I was compelled to try a similar process myself. As this was an experimental piece I picked a fish swimming in a jar because the remnants of the charcoal left over from the previous stages of the animation would be accounted for in the swirling of the water. 

1st Sketch
1/3 through animation
3/3 through animation

The charcoal stop-frame technique utilizes an image alteration process. The artboard is one that has been drawn completely with aspects that change within. My art practice used 22 frames to complete the animation cycle ie. the fish completing a lap of swimming. Initially I wished to draw 2 fish  but decided it would be advantageous if I created another fish in the editing process.  As this is an experimental piece I played with editing options within Premiere,  overlapping, inversion, and frame rate.

22 frames total in the animation


I used a half sized piece of artistic paper (graphite and charcoal friendly) and taped it to a flat surface so that a) I could erase without worrying about scrunching the paper, and b) so that the paper would not shift during the photo process. I attached a basic point and shoot camera to a tripod in natural light, careful to place the tripod so that it was not in danger of accidentally being knocked. Then I drew the bowl and the fish. I would erase the charcoal fish as I progressed, and take a photo in between.  As Kendridge says in the video below, the taking of the photo is a physical process that refreshes your mind to the present image before you, it is a necessary process. 

William Kentridge on his Process
by William Kentridge


Self Portrait by Nicole Wilk

Practical Experimentation 

Self Portrait
by Nicole Wilk
audio by Valerie Ho

This self-portrait stretches 21 frames (3 shy of a second in film/animation) into a 20 second animation. The motion is repeated and manipulated using frame transitions to fade in and out of itself at set times. What could have been a fatal flaw with the shifting of the camera has been utilized to work with the beat, which utilizes a quickened tempo to offset the jerkiness of the animation itself which follows the intent of this project: to create myself as a manipulated doll.

The 21 frames in the Self Portrait

Prior to the animation techniques the images were loaded into Photoshop and framed to size, colour corrected, aligned, and manipulated with action sequences. The colour correction was necessary as the images themselves were shot in a room which had less than ideal lighting.

Unedited Photo From the Animated Self Portrait
As this is a self-portrait I wished the piece to be a reflection despite using it for experimentation purposes. As it should be properly assumed, everything that happens in the video was by design. The room is the MultiMedia Lab at my University and is therefore my second-home. Despite the poor lighting I am a graduate of the Graphic Arts and relied on my Photoshop abilities to not only adjust the lighting but to create a more fantastical and surreal environment which is a reflection of the general theme of my works. The audio was recorded by myself in a sound studio and reflects my love for the violin. I kept the faults of this piece in (the moving of the camera) as I believe that strength and weakness are the same, it's merely how one is viewed, in this thought process I made deliberate manipulation of the camera movement in the editing process.

I believe any self-portrait that you watch or consume that is immediately understandable is a failed portrait and cannot possibly be a reflection of their self, rather what they want you to see.

Don't Look Back Motion Study by Nicole Wilk

Practical Experimentation 

Don't Look Back
by Nicole Wilk

During an in-class exercise to help us learn about contrast in motion I used charcoal to distinguish texture within a spatial frame, though I drew the girl considerably smaller than the caterpillar, she has been blown up larger. That the only 2 characters in the study do not share the same line dimensions indicates that one of them is of an irregular size, likewise the movement aspect differs as the animation plays out when something occurs that alters the changes and contrasts movement within the piece. In this experimentation I used After Effects to differentiate the speed of motion, as well as direct movement within the time-based program.   
Walking Silhouette
by Roshanth Nadesapillai

The following is a paper silhouette printed with ink, cut out, then photographed, cut again in photoshop, and then added to After Effects where the pieces were animated by Roshanth in After Effects, under my tutelage. This was Roshanth's first brush with After Effects and the and the goal he had set was to animate the motion of walking in a time-based application. Here, he likens his silhouette figure to a paper-cut-out-doll and manipulates each piece within a timeline, not obeying the natural joints of the human body but by creating a separate motion due to the technology he has at hand.