Sunday, 8 March 2009


It’s been a while since my last post. Hope everyone is good. Thanks to all who commented on the last post. Before I go on, just want to give a shout out to Michael Plummer who I’ve worked with for over a year now. He finally has a blog so check him out. I’ve also updated my links.

Thought I’d do a little progress report on my project...

I decided while I’m In Scotland for a year, I’d try and finish my (or start depending on your point of view) my student film for the following reasons:

To learn something.

To keep the creative muscles working (Though I’ve learnt a hell of a lot at Ink, there’s not much room for creativity in inbetweening).

To finish something (ahem)

(Click here, here and here for related links)

Character Design.

Seeing as I didn’t get too far the last time, I thought I’d give some of the characters a slight redesign. I supposed I could talk about each one but generally, I thought their shapes were similar in some ways or rather their postures didn’t really say much about who they are or how they move. I also wanted to push the designs a bit further but even now I still feel like I held back. Previously, I never reached a final design for Aeneus but when my nephew was born, I wanted to base it on him. Ok, my nephew is black Caribbean an Aeneus is Caucasian with blonde hair, but people who’ve seen my nephew will (or should) see where I got my inspiration.

The model sheets and redesigns were done relatively quickly, and usually when I’m designing something, I worry far too much about drawings. In this instance getting the design done was my main goal so right now, I’m really cringing looking at these, and the fact they were done almost a year ago doesn’t help. I did slightly more drawings of Father Time because he was to be the most animated, and also because friend and colleague Robert Robinson agreed to do a sculpture of Father time for me so I had to give him more information.

It’s actually was the first time I mentally pictured the characters in 3 dimensions and I mean really pictured it. I know that might sound weird to some but it’s true. Since then, if I find it difficult to draw a pose, sometimes I might sketch it from another angle to help me understand it better.

As u can see, beautifully done. I think he captured him better than I can draw him.

Bob then surprised me with another sculpture; a bust of Venus (fits in the palm of my hand)

Seeing it in 3 dimensions showed me that the earrings wouldn’t really work. Bob said I should just cheat it :)

Can’t thank you enough for that Bob. (The 2nd sculpture I mean)

Animatic and storyboard.

(Apologies for the unbalanced sound)

Untitled from Libra Bear Vids on Vimeo.

Redoing my Animatic (click here for old version) might seem like a waste of time but I had a couple of reasons for doing so.

1)I was able to time my shots better and have it closer to what the final thing would look like.

2) I changed the aspect ratio making it 16:9 instead of 4:3.

3) I could use the panels as a rough layout knowing how many levels etc I’d have to use in after effects

4)Practice with brushes in Photoshop

5)Helped me figure things in after effects early on so that I could predict the types of problems I’d have in compositing.

Having the title in the middle where the camera pans up was an idea given to me by Michael Plummer.

Now before anyone says anything, in context of the story and how long the film is Michael and I know it doesn’t work but it was fun to do. Seeing as I had no intentions of entering my film into any festivals, I thought breaking a few rules here and there is fine as this was purely an exercise for me to grow and learn. Besides it stopped people asking me “why does it pan up to the sky at that point?”

Another major change was the lack of music at the beginning. This was of a happy accident when I was putting in the temporary wind sounds. I wanted the first part to be more of a mystery and sometimes music can tell you what to think without you realizing it. Keeping it quiet (in my mind) gave nothing away about father times intentions.

Looking at the animatic now, there are things I would have done differently in terms of timing and shots e.g. Father time approaching the platform clearly doesn’t work.

I still think the Animatic it needs more drawings and less of the rendered backgrounds.


I'm having some problems uploading the music. If anyone can help let me know

Maurizio Malaganini, a student from the royal college of music, composed a score for my film (this was while I was at Central St Martin’s). I really loved his music but the Father Time theme at the beginning felt very warrior-ish and as I said before, I wanted a question. Back then we spoke about him changing it and he agreed but I’ve yet to contact him. I think this piece took him about 2 days, and there wasn’t much conversation between us during that time.

Maurizio did an amazing Job and I just wanted to thank him for his work. Check out his website.

I really hope I’ll get to work with him again one day.


This is Part where I always seem to trip up on. Working on the illusionist I feel I’ve learnt a lot about animation. Taking that knowledge, I planned to do the whole thing hand drawn and seeing as I hadn’t animated in over a year I thought I’d take the least complicated shots first. I started by doing a test on my laptop at work over my lunch break. It took me about 40 minutes maybe be less. Probably took that long because I had to get to grips with flash.

Untitled from Libra Bear Vids on Vimeo.

It’s very rough but last time I tried something like this, it took me about 2 days. So that gave me a real boost of confidence. I even remember talking to Timothy McCourt on the phone with excitement. Now I was confident and ready to approach my first scene, but on paper this time. It took me about a month to do just the keys and that was on my first pass. (Taking into consideration I had to keep testing at work, and I could only do an hour or 2 a day). I drew roughly 80 key drawings. I then started thinking about scanning inbetween etc. Just thinking about these things started to drain me. Sorry I don’t have the rough test here.

I remember while we were at CSM, Tim suggested I do my project flash. Bob also suggested the same recently and judging by the Amount of time my previous attempt took me thought I might as well do it in flash save time. So I did a clean up test of one frame in flash, with some noise and blur effects in Photoshop, and I was happy with the results.

So I set up flash in a way close to how I work at ink I even put peg holes in So I had a guide to animated off pegs in order to keep volumes consistent. Then began animating.

Untitled from Libra Bear Vids on Vimeo.

This took about 3 weeks. Bearing in mind I was working an hour here, an hour there. There are still lots to do. Breathing, spacing issues, follow through, timing, etc

So why am I talking about this now? I’ve decided to stop working on my film.

I don’t want to be working on this for another year or 2 because that’s how long it will probably take especially with the manpower and time limits I have. I really wanted to see this animated, because I like the painting it’s based on and I also wanted to fulfil the promise I made on my blog a while ago.

A lot of how I went about telling the story was due to the limited time we had to do it in the first place. 3 months to be exact. So I compromised on it from day one which is probably why I’ve been so conflicted in my decision making. (Limited animation, animating on 3s, colours etc)

Knowing what I know now, I probably would have just concentrated on Keys breakdowns and done the whole thing in black n white. So, why don’t I just do that now?

This project is killing me creatively. It’s on was on my mind constantly, giving time to nothing else hence the lack of other things like posting. I would go back to it again providing I could work on it full time and with the help of 1 or 2 others.

If I’ve learnt one thing about myself is that I’ll never take on a project like this or rather approach a project like this by myself again.

I planned to write more of a conclusion and speak about the numerous things that lead up to this decision, but I’ve spent far too much time preparing this post (if you really want to know, I’ll update). I’ve already put off posting for about a month wondering if it’s a good idea or me to expose myself like this, but I needed some kind of closure and to let people know what’s going on.

I’m really sorry for wasting the time of those that were looking forward to seeing this. I’m especially sorry to anyone who helped me or gave me any advice, but I can’t do this now... I will do a short one day when the time is right; I may even go back to this short, if the circumstances are right, but the opportunity to make this film was 2 years ago. Time to move on.

And Again...



messytimbo said...

wow man! There’s a lot to comment on here :)
personally I think given the fact you've been working full time, I don't think redoing this project after you left school was a good idea. i think you should have waited till you came up with a project that really excited you then make that. Like you said creatively it must have been hard to work on something for so long.
But on a positive note i think what you redone was brilliant, the wind in the hair test was amazing! so nice and done is quickly as well! i think you created a great look using flash and it's a genius idea for the peg holes in flash, genius!

the new animatic looked great and i think it was a smart idea to put this amount of dedication into the preproduction stage, it's something we were never really taught at school and i think it's the most import stage of a production.

There’s absolutely no shame in stopping where you at. I can really see you’ve learnt so much. and personally i think you’ve gain more important knowledge doing this part than if you were just animating scenes.

p.s those sculpts are fucking amazing! did you get to keep them?

TORI CAT said...

Cooorrr Blimey Wez!!!
Thats some post!!!
Amazing photos of the model bob made for you. I love seeing drawings/designs made up as real hands on models. Its like they have really come to life.
Its a shame you are shelfing your project, but its completely understandable. If you ever start it up again and want some back grounds/ cloud painting, im ya gal!!! :)
Its great the amount of detail you have gone into with it, like testing the animation with inbetweens on the hair and doing flash tests. Personally, im not a massive lover of flash, but looking at your one rendered frame with the highlights... i thinks it looks really impressive. Im loving your character designs too. I really like your exagerated shapes and sharp angles. I know your a big fan of prince of Egypt (mee too!!) and i think your designs are just as strong as some of the characters in that.

Well any who, thanx for sharing all your lovely work with us wez!! Your going to go far, i know it!!! Hopefully we can work together again some day..... (and i'll get to be a little more creative than scan and paint.)

Take good acre and see you soon!!
Chow for now,
Big hugs,


Kristian said...

first off.. oh my! that was lengthy. Nearly my entire lunch break went on reading that.
Butit was worth it. This is a great body of work. Its very substantial. Awesome sculpt by the way.
My favourite part is the 3 versions of flash and ps colouring. Great drawing complimented with fantastic colour. (I prefer the first one)
Animation wise. My what a beautiful piece of weight distribution. Love it. Just colour that section..pretty please. If you do I'll post some animation

Paul said...

Wes, I may have to go against the grain here in saying that what you have done on this project is much more than a student film and I wouldn't want to shelve it if I were you. I understand the task may have become a bit all consuming and that you might wanna take a break from it for a while, but the character designs, the story, the animatic, the levels of meaning and how those meanings are portrayed through the characters, the acting, are really superb, to the point where I would say forget about thinking of this as a student film, its a professional film and could win awards easily. I wonder if talking to Nickelodeon (you know the lady who came in to do a talk?) about taking it further, could be an option? If not them, then say A History or Educational programme maker? Gods were really the archetypal super heroes, living awesome lives in parallel to men and interacting with them. There would be so many great stories to tell, and your style really creates the link between ancient history and modern taste in fantasy. If it takes 2 years, then so be it, We'll wait! I'm trying to draw a 3 part comic, and finding the time to do that is just as hard to the standard that I want, but I'm not too hard on myself. Its a hobby at the moment and there need be no time limit. But I could really see this as a stepping stone to you doing something awesome which is uniquely yours.
I could crit the animatic, it is marginally too long now, but in general benefits from the slower pace, and I think you picked up on where it could be tightened yourself.
In summation, go work on something else for a bit. I think you'll come back to this with renewed vigour some time. Lets be fair you got the hard part down, its just the drudge of actual production that seems daunting at the moment. Break it up into managable pieces and go for it!

Maarten Rijs said...

OMGGGGGGGGG gold mine of inspiration. the level of your work is unbelievable. wow. im in love with those designs man, and the animatic is amazing.

I wish I could give you a comment with more depth to it, but as you know, im just a rookie. just know that im really blown away by this and it really inspires me to keep practicing my own drawing.

im so happy to see that sculpture. its so f ing awesome!!!! ive been waiting for the photos ever since you promised them. damn, really cool.

anyway, I understand your decision. I love this project but I think you should do what you feel is right. i think i know what you mean by that it kills you creatively. there are other ideas that can be drawn and concepts that can be realized.
er... not sure how to put it but you know what i mean.

by the way, who did the voices in your animatic?

RAWLS said...

Uhmm..... what's the word?... uh, oh yea... AWESOME!!! Dude, seriously, you've got mad talent my friend! Keep it up because you're goin places bro! Really fabulous job. Hats off to you.

Josh Frost said...

Nice! Looks like you spent a very long time in what you have so far! it looks great!

Oscar Rosales said...

Hey man, this is some killer stuff! Awesome, Awesome work! Very cool character designs, cool animatic, great post! I know how you feel about not finishing your project, but hey, your right, sometimes you just got to move on to bigger and better things. Good luck with your future projects!

libra bear said...

Timbo: Thanks Tim. I definitely could have been more productive with my year, but live and learn right? and I agree about the pre production stage. If your animatic doesn’t work, then your film doesn't, period. As for keeping the models...HELL YEAH. Don’t know how I’m going to get them back to London though.

Tori: Thanks Tori, This influenced by prince of Egypt in many ways. Love that film. As for using flash, I'm not a big fan myself, but used in the right way it can look as appealing as hand drawn (I think)If I ever do have the opportunity to start up again, Your definitely getting a call :)

Kristian: I’m flattered that you blitzed your lunch break reading my rambles, LOL. As for colouring that animation, I may do it after we reach the illusionist deadline. I plan to put what I’ve think I’ve learned to good use. I may do it faster if you put some animation up :)

Paul: I’m blown away by your confidence in the film. I feel bad now. To be honest, I want to see it made also, but going about it the way I have wasn’t smart. I’ll do it providing its full time and I’m working with help. Tori (above) has offered her services, and she is a stupidly talented layout artist so who knows, maybe, when the time is right, I’ll try again. I’m just going to recharge for a couple months and work on something short and sweet.

Maarten: I’m glad you’re inspired and that you like the project, but don’t feel because you haven’t drawn long you can’t comment or crit my work. I think you have great observational skills and I’m sure there must be something you think I can do better. Hope you’re good, I keep checking you blog and no posts, wassup wid dat? :)

Rawls: Thanks man. I hope I get somewhere in this crazy industry. You just never know. I know Agent Orange is going to be big that’s for sure.

Josh frost: Appreciated Josh. I really hope I get a chance to finish this one day.

Oscar: That’s the idea, moving on to bigger things but like I said, I may return to it.

Thank you guys for the encouragement and support.

gemini82 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gemini82 said...

Sorry to hear that. Glad you decided to post what you posted, it really is a gem.

I had to grab a cup of coffee and sit down and read it.

Mark Jackson said...

Great designs, I'm intrigued to try more experiments in flash now.

Maarten Rijs said...

thanks for helping me out there wes. i have a tablet by the way. not a wacom (too expensive haha). a medion, but it works great, im not sure if there are any differences between the two?
anyway, if you could help me out one more time.. i just posted an update on my blog, with the theory that if i want to improve i need to know where to improve. maybe you could check it out and give me some pointers.

allright, again thanks so much for the advice!

Daniel M.C. Alvite said...

Wooww man,, This is not a post it is a show case. Ual it great, Its like a breath fromm deep inside of yours, Innit?
Were there new drawing in the animatic? Looks i different line now.
The flash line test looks ice though.
I was shock whe I see that maybe I could been seing the Decre...ohhh.. I want to see this one finished,, hey.. and I bet i goes to gold.

Good to see you find time for yourself.

I'm going, What about you...hi

Kyri Kyprianou said...

Bumper post! Solid work here, I like the character designs- those baby sketches were very cute. Can't wait for the illusionist! That must be a trip..

Olivier Ladeuix said...

oh man, what a long post!!! I will have to come back to finish reading it! It is great to see all that amazing work again. I obviously love the sculpts too. Are they to buy? ;-)

TH3DEN said...

wow! regardless of your final decision, i still feel very blown away by all the stuff you've accomplished! Making a film is hard work and i understand why most people never get around to it after leaving school, there's just so many factors.

In any case the animatic is solid, the mood and pacing is brilliant. I find myself feeling like I just watched a really kick ass intro to a movie.

If you ever decide on tackling this film ever again and need some extra hands i will gladly offer my assistance. I've been itching to animate on paper again since leaving school, the computers are never the same! :)

Before i go i want to say that this did not feel like a student film at all, i hope you know that you've taken this thing to a whole new level, epic is the word i was looking for.

Great job man!

Oh and really great job on the designs, Some of the best i've seen in a while!!

Leocartunista said...

Wow.....i live that.
Very cool characters design.
Greetings from Brazil.

Al said...

Bout time you posted this stuff!

Looks great - real shame you're not seeing this through but i totally understand. Thumbs up from the big al

Maarten Rijs said...

sup wes, got a question. ive been struggling with editing methods of my drawing. i cant seem to find a good way of inking and clean up. just wondering how you do it? for example in the drawings in your very first post of your blog.
allright thanks man!

polllak said...

big expectations maaaan!
i can't wait to see it done!

messytimbo said... what happened to this post we talk about then???

Jamal O said...

Looking good. If have the tenacity, its lovely to make a film. I am often more interested in the expression of one Artist, rather that a huge studio.

good luck!


Abz said...

one heck of an uplaod! :)

Wouter Tulp said...

nice work!!

Craftmused said...

Wez, that did not just look "closer" to what the final thing is, as far as I'm concerned it is the final product, I think that it's good enough to be a final product.

There is the big studio films and the inde/web films, and many times inde stuff doesnt have as much layers of refinement on them, simply because of resources, but one thing makes them feel as if not more refined than big films, it's the fact that everything that IS there, is completely crucial and enough.

You might not have it all tweened out but all I expect of something Inde is the perfect keyframes and that's what you have. Look at mad-popular stuff like Mspaint adventures, it's far more crude and with far less depth, this is fine for the online medium. You should do it more often (with new projects)