Friday, 5 October 2007

The final animation

It was all very busy, and I didn't have much time to update this blog.
But the animation is finished and uploaded on the National Gallery web site here is a link:

The course over, it was great fun.

I am planning another animation. A 2D one this time.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Backgrounds and rendering

I left the building of the backgrounds for the end of my timetable. I wanted to make sure I have enough time to finish the animation and the structure of the short film before I start concentrating on the details.

The backgrounds and the lighting create the atmosphere of the scene.

So I went back to the painting to remind myself of the feeling that I am trying to create. I was looking at other paintings by Rembrandt as well.

I also used photographs of rooms and furniture of that period and river landscapes (with and without swimmers).
I don't think I will get everything rendered on time, but I will have all 3 spaces :
the room , the river and up on the tower built and visually solved.
I am rendering the jump off the tower now, I hope it will be finished by tomorrow morning...


I found Youtube and Google video very useful for finding all kinds of reference videos.
The availability of video cameras and the free space to publicly show videos results in a fantastic library. People are filming anything they can see, from simply people walking on the street or their own pets to acting out scenes, and most bizarre things.

Here are some I used as reference for different movements and situations in my project:
for the strangling bit

for the swimming
swimming in a river 1

swimming in a river 2

Friday, 8 June 2007


Here is an update of the progress on my animation.

rough cut update from maja on Vimeo

Thursday, 7 June 2007


I have been thinking a lot about cinematography. I once felt guilty about using other director’s films as reference and inspiration, that all changed some years ago when I read an interview with Quentin Tarantino in which he explained just how many films he watched for inspiration while making his movies.

I have found that there are many ways to watch a film, you can study the script, mis en scene, the lighting or the cuts and camera movement. I have recently been looking at the camera work, how angles and movement are tied into the acting and sound.

I have been using different films as reference while working on this project. Rear Window, Saving Private Ryan, The Game, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Generals Daughter, The Governess, Asoka and a host of other films have all been consumed for various elements. From Rear Window, the Hitchcock classic comes the act of looking, Private Ryan the intimate struggle and ensuing horror, The Governess the lewd expression, O' Brother the expressions of lust again, Asoka for water bathing and so on.

At the moment I am managing to consume at least one film each day and I feel the benefits are returning ten fold. I still need to work on some camera movements, but I'm getting there.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Light tests

I have been working on the lighting a little bit. Here are the first light tests for the room.


As well as publishing videos on YouTube I have now also started to upload my still images to Photobucket. I will use these 2 sites as a general repository for some examples of my work.

Saturday, 26 May 2007


We had a rough cut crit yesterday.

roughcut for Little Louise from maja on Vimeo

It was very useful to get feedback from different people and to see how far everyone else has got. It's reassuring as I am working from home to see that it's not just me...

Our projects are so different and it is always fun to see them all together, it's always inspiring and I often get new ideas from them.

The voice over is great, I was very lucky to get the services of a professional voice actor who was perfect for the role. This is first time I have seen how the animation looks like with the voice assembled.

It still needs adjusting. I have more recorded voice and I think I will add some more.

The first scene lasts too long , the mayor is walking a bit too slow and I am not sure his pain shows enough. I think I should cut it earlier.

Also when he is in the corner I plan to pan to a close up on his face.

Some of the later scenes that are not animated yet will last longer and have voice over.

Music is missing now. I didn't have exact timing so far and the musician couldn't finish the music. I hope that will happen faster now as it will take the project to a whole new level. I can't wait for this as the composer studied at the Royal College of Music and I really like her work.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Animating ...

Today I was animating the girl getting in the river and swimming a little.

getting in water1 from maja on Vimeo
It is only a playblast.

Last week was all about the mayor in his room, getting scared and paranoid, but I still need to fix these scenes.

Tomorrow I will do the scene where the mayor spies on the girl in the river, and possibly the murder scene.

We also have the first recording of the voice over.

The actor has an amazing voice, and I think it works very well with the animation.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Voice Acting

I have had many offers of help for the voices in the project. I need 2, one for the Mayor and one for the narration. I don't know whether or not to have just one voice covering both parts, so at the moment I am getting people to record both parts. Today we recorded an actor who was simply perfect for both roles in the National Galleries recording studio. As a result I might just use this recording for both parts. I have a very tight production schedule laid out and it simply doesn't offer too much leeway in going to and from the studio.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Still working on the text, I had thought it was ok, but now I am making some more changes to it, particulary the order of some scentences and their length. I am starting with the animation although I am not finished with the background.

I finished the model of the girl she just needs some hair and cloth but I will use the Maya cloth for her shirt and add it once I have animated her.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Gannt Chart (yuck)

Gannt charts are not my first love (or close), but I find them an essential evil. Those who don't know project management are forgiven fo rnot knowing Gannt charts, there are just another name for a production schedule. I see them as just some of the boring administraton that is so important in any project.My animation schedule is going to be very hard for me and as there is a lot involved and a close deadline I cannot afford to get stuck trying to achieve perfection in any one scene. Each element has to have a 'window of oppurtunity', after that it's finished and onto the next scene. All my backgrounds and textures come at the end as does the final assembly. I am hoping to get ahead of schedule so I can buy myself some time for extra polishing, but really I'll be glad to just hit each stage as planned.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Animatic Crit

Yesterday we had our animatic crit.
Here is my animatic.

At first i was planning to start with the mayor writing the letter in which he admits to the crime. Then as he writes we see what happened. Here is that version of the animatic.

But i cahnged my mind and the next version starts with the mayor beeing haunted by the girl's ghost, remebers the day of the crime, unable to cope with it he decides to set a trap for himself and writes the letter.

If anyone has any opinion on the animatic please tell me, I appreciate different opinions.

I am still working on the text to be added to the animatic.

I have just started communicating with an excellent composer. She likes the project and I love her work. I think it is dark and passionate.

Now I am working on the characters in Maya, in particularly the mayor.
I am also looking for an actor for the voice over.

This is a drawing of the tortured mayor, and above is also the mayor in his room peeking through the window knowing that the ghost will appear.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Major Project for the National Gallery

I am undertaking a Character Animation course in Saint Martins in London. My past is in fine art; drawing, painting and making exhibitions, but even my paintings are dealing with movement.

I paint outside mostly cityscapes, movements of people and lights at night... I don't have much time to paint at this exact time. I am working on my final project for the course and I just had a baby :)) A little boy that insists on full attention.

My task is to make 1 minute long animation, inspired by a painting in the National Gallery.
I choose a painting that I have always liked, its 'A Woman bathing in a Stream' by Rembrandt.
It immediately reminded me of a story i have read a long time ago. A shocking story by Guy De Maupassant that i only partly remembered.

I looked up the story and found out i have forgotten bits of it. Here is a link to the original story 'Little Louise Roque'.

In summary the mayor who is also the biggest landowner in the place during a walk in the woods one day sees a young girl having a bath, he looses control and rapes her. He comes back to his senses when she starts crying and screaming. In trying to silence her he strangles her.

The murderer is never found. The mayor of course helps with investigating the crime, he owns the woods where she is killed and he is a friend of the magistrate.

Months pass, and he is tortured by nightmares. He is not a person who normally has a conscience, but hallucinations of the dead girl haunt him.

He can not sleep or eat. She is behind the curtains in his room and coming through the fields towards him..

He tries to commit suicide but just can't shoot himself. So he decides to set a trap for himself.
He writes a letter to his friend the magistrate admitting everything. So he will have to kill himself once he has sent the letter. After the letter is written he already feels better.
He sends it in the postbox and the whole mental anguish is gone. He feels new and strong.
And he was about to die, because he was afraid of a shadow.. So he changes his mind and doesn't want to die anymore.

But the letter is sent now, so he decides to wait for the postman and convince him to give him his letter back. The postman, notices that the letter is for the magistrate and doesn't want to give it back. The mayor tries to fight with him but the postman has a big stick. Finally the mayor runs off in distress and throws himself off the tower..

I only have 1 minute so I will have to severely shorten the story. I can only use the very main parts of it. In the story the girl is very young and the painting is a much older woman soI will probably make the woman younger.

I will only have 2 characters: the girl and the mayor. I was sad to get rid of the postman scene as it contains a lot of action, but it will make the animation far too long.

Here is my first sketch for the character design of the young woman. It will change because i have decided to make her younger since then.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

My Background

My past is in fine art ; drawing, painting and making exhibitions, but even my paintings are dealing with movement. I paint outside mostly cityscapes, movements of people and lights at night.

I don't have much time to paint at this exact time because of my studies but I will paint again over the summer.

For the more than 10 years now I have slowly been spending more time working in digital art, mostly 2D and 3D although I have tried a little video and photography as well I prefer digital animation. In 3D I began working with 3DS Max but quickly moved to Maya as I was told that it would produce what I wanted.

My main employment remained as an oil painter, although I undertook various 3D commissions as well, such as book covers and TV adverts. I made the decision to study in the UK in 2003, a masters degree in Interactive Media, my degree having been in Fine Art this would be a new direction. So I moved from my home in beautiful Paris to my unknown future in Southampton.

Little did I know that as well as meeting a lot of very inspiring people I would also meet my husband a lecturer and photographer. My main work here was my

Since finishing my MA I have been balancing a variety of different roles, University Lecturer, Web Designer, Artist, the list goes on. Life has been very kind to me, my University work keeps me thinking and exploring, web design pays my bills and art keeps my sane and pays for my holidays.

Now I felt that I need some training in animation, everything to date had been self taught and I knew there were gaps. After some research Saint Martin's seemed to be the winner so here I am and it's been very worthwhile so far!