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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Directions to Planet X (Final Project TEL-T354 Critique)

For the midterm and final projects, I was required to write a detailed critique of what I set out to achieve, how I achieved it, and the end result. Below you will find my excuses (er-I mean explanations) for "Directions to Planet X." Click this link to watch the video on YouTube from my channel
3 May 2011
Final Project Critique
            My final project was supposed to be a tribute to Mel Blanc’s work. As most people may already know, Mel Blanc is the voice behind numerous Warner Brothers and Hannah-Barbera characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Barney Rubble, and Cosmo G. Spacely. I wanted to do an animated short biopic on his life, but I found that a minute was too short to relate a book’s worth of information to people. Therefore, I decided to do a short animation based on a memorable scene from a Looney Tunes episode entitled “Duck Dodgers and the 24 ½ Century.” Basically, Daffy Duck (alias Duck Dodgers) explains to Porky Pig (Space Pig Cadet) how they are going to get to Planet X. Overall, I disliked the fact that I compromised on my original idea as I planned to add more animations or homages to Blanc’s other roles, but I did like the fact that I deviated from my original storyboard because doing an animation in the style of a Looney Tunes cartoon was much more interesting than moving pictures along z-space or rendering an animated typography.
            Most of the project was rendered in 3D space, and most of it was pre-composed as a beginning, middle, and end sequence to be nested into the final composition. My font treatment, the beginning, and ending were all inspired by the Looney Tunes cartoon intro and ending. I thought adding a beginning and ending would be an appropriate way to start the tribute. First, I made the iconic circle by nesting shape layers of different sizes, colors, and opacities. Then, I pre-composed the final product. Next, I added basic text with some stroke and arranged them around the outside and inside of the circle similar to how you would see the titles displayed in the cartoons. I rotated the text using “Range Selector” from the animator text properties. The beginning was easy, but the ending wasn’t because it had to be timed to the music.
            For the ending, I added an “egg” pattern shatter effect to make Porky Pig “burst” through the circle. I timed the effect using “Radius” under “Force 1.” I used the Puppet Tool to make Porky “talk” and move around. Finally, I wrote on the iconic saying “That’s All Folks!” using a tutorial I found online in class a few weeks ago. Basically, I typed the text using “Brush Script” first; then I masked the letters using the pen tool. After all the paths were drawn, I used the effect “Stroke.” I changed the stroke’s color to blue and keyed the “End” property over time to draw the paths on the canvas. Like the ending, the middle portion was hard too because I had to animate it in time to the audio.
            Like the ending, I also made the middle map portion after I followed a video tutorial. I made a new shape layer and kept the stroke. I took the pen tool and drew the paths onto a simple, cartoony outer space background that I made in Photoshop. After all the paths were drawn, I added the Trim Paths property and animated the “End” over time. The grid was added in After Effects. Finally, I added Daffy and Porky. I animated their positions and opacities, and I made them move and “talk” using the puppet tool. To zoom in closer to the map, I animated the position and point of interest on the camera, but instead of this motion, I would have liked to cut into a close-up of the two characters as they were giving that final exchange, panning the camera quickly between them, but I couldn’t figure it out. All of the audio, video, and images came from Google or YouTube.
            In conclusion, I didn’t like this project, as it was a compromise on my original vision. If I had to redo this project, I would have picked another voice actor who has a shorter biography and who is relatively unknown like Sterling Holloway, Kathryn Beaumont, or Arnold Stang. Had I done someone different, the class and “my audience” would have learned something new as I feel Mel Blanc is very well known because he is popular. However, if I could make the current project longer, I would have added some biographical information and more examples of his voice work (or turn “the show” I had pitched into a short miniseries therefore I could have given my “audience” more “episodes”).

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