Jan 13, 2012

Trying to make a Short Animation Film: Part I

The time has come.
After a year (almost- give or take a few months) of thinking, re-thinking, and waaayy more re-re-thinking.. I have finally come to the point where I am going to take the call to freeze the story for my diploma film.

Short history here- At NID, we come here for a 2 and half yr course, where 2 years are spent on the learning part, and the half (plus another half) are spent on an individual project where we actually apply everything that we learnt in the past two years. In my case, making a short animation film. So.. I'm on my on the last leg of my time here, and I have less than 6 months left to finish said project.

So, back to the topic.
I've decided to make the conscious effort to document (atleast from now on) all that I am doing, reading, writing, thinking and getting feedback on.
Why? Because, technically I have been working on the story of my diploma film for almost 7 months now, and there isn't an iota of actual moving animation to be seen! and if anyone were to ask me what I have been doing for these months, I have tons of writings and drawings, but explaining them seems just so difficult. And, I do know, that I have to finish my project with a complete documentation report of how I went about making it, justify my time take, the resources spent, the choice of story..everything! So.. to make things easier for me, my blog is about to become my journal. 

Where have I reached till now?
I have a story (almost!)

So I've been reading a LOT! blogs, books, library, notes from other students and classes...
And I realized, the biggest challenge for me, personally, in making this film, is making choices.

Just a few months ago, I worked on a project where I assisted in inking for a short animation film.
There I realized that if I sat diligently, from 10 to 6, a LOT could be done! I mean, we did finish a 7 minute long film in 3 months! Granted, the pre-production was completed before, and the animators working on the film were much senior to me with years of experience, but the actual animation was accomplished within this short span of time! It was a revelation for me! 
Immediately after this project I was to get back to working on my own film once again, and I made thousands of resolutions to work everyday, make a fixed timetable, and actually follow it etc etc,
and well, its almost 2 months now and I have zilch again. And that is when I finally learnt something about myself.

I could work non-stop when there was someone above me to make decisions or take a call on what worked or what didn't. Even though I did get a lot of freedom to try styles and so on, there was always the security in my mind that if I was wrong someone would call me on it.

Here, with my own project, everything is in my hands. Oh, it sounds wonderful, 'You can do whatever you want!' But then bang! comes the problem with that very freedom.. there are so many things I want to do, to try, some might not be appropriate or suited to my story, or those which I like but know I don't have the skills/equipment/talent/determination etc to do and so many other worries.
As it is, I have a tendency to overthink.. about everything! From what to wear to what to eat to myu choice of buying a tablet and so on.
And when something this big is involved, like an entire film, that will later reflect on months of work and has so much riding on it, its just.. so HUGE an endeavor, that it leaves me reeling everytime I think of it.

There are so many steps involved, thus, so many decisions.
Story, script, style, treatment, colour, tone, character design, storyboard, animatic, sound design, animation, style of animation, I could go on for ages!

But what did I learn so far?
That maybe storytelling was not my forte, after all I have taken months to just develop the story idea. But, its a learning process. It is, after all, my first individual animation film. 
And everything I read, I have to stop reading somewhere and start applying those to my work.
But it is still important to keep learning, and keep challenging myself. It is a fine line where I have to decide whether to stick with what I know, which I realize isn't much, or try something new, and broaden my horizons. But when that 'something new' is beyond my scope, or just impractical, I need to stop and decide, and impose some limits somewhere. After all I can't do everything I want to in just the first film.

And this is where I stop this extremely long post, saying that I am trying to learn as much as I can, all the basics, principles, rules... and apply them wherever I can, but in the end, have a complete film.
After all if I have things just in my head and nothing to show for it, what is the point?

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