Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The fur blanket and the transition to digital animation


I wanted to post some new clips.

The first one is a part of the fur blanket animation (second attempt). It's not complete yet, but at least I found a better way to do it (I found out that pencil marks are visible in the lightbox even through gouache - so that made it easier to trace). I'll fix the white edges some of the frames have (I'll probably get to that next semester).

The next one is a longer another clip of the blanket sequence. Also at the end there's the transition to digital.

I'll try and move the last drawings a little to the right, to show that I meant for it to be half a face (and it isn't an aspect ratio mistake).

Also - when she says "but that was nice of her" (at the end of the clip) - I was planning on animating lip-sync just for that line. It could strengthen the idea that the story part is finished and we're back in present "reality", but do you think it is necessary? (or does it work well without it too? what do you think?)

By the way, there are two shots in pencil that are not so clear (because of the low quality of the clip). one is of her hand pulling the blanket. the other is of the package falling to the ground.

Now I need to think about the last shots and the ending. It's a challenge - I have some ideas but they still need to crystallize. Thanks so much for the suggestions made in class about this - that was helpful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Hi again,

I wanted to post a few ideas about structure -

I think I'm going to use Prof. Sofian's idea to make the opening and ending sequences of my project using digital animation. I think it's a very good idea because it could really separate the story in the memory from the parts which are supposed to be "the present". It's also very cool conceptually ("new" animation technique shows the present...). What I'm gonna do is trace over my already scanned-in pencil tests in Photoshop and see how that looks.

Here I've made a few test (I think I'll use a darker blue maybe)-

Do you prefer one over the others?


Flat colors


you can barely tell - but this one has a little shadow in it.


this is the same only in black and white and blue (with shadows). It may be more stylized, but I think its also less vivid...

Also - I wanted to post the 2 issues people commented to me about in seminar.

1. What should be the opening question?

It could start with a general "tell me that story again", or maybe I could start with the question "do you think people by nature are good or bad?" (and repeat the same audio at the end).

I think that repeating the audio might be a good idea, but I'm not sure, I'll have to try it.

2. The technique and color transitions.

So, after seeing my bits of animation all together and hearing people's comments, I became a little worried.
I hope the transitions will feel natural and click together when it's all painted and cut together.

I mean, a lot of films move back and fourth between animation techniques. I just wonder how they end up looking so seamless. Well, they are made by pros (that probably has something to do with it...).
In any case, I made a chart that shows how my project is structured so far. Making lists makes me feel calm.

- sometimes I reused a frame just to show the technique is repeated.

Ok, that's it for now.
I'll post the blanket sequence next.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The chickens and the cot

For last class I've finished the dirty kitchen sequence with the three chickens. I'm so glad there are pet chicken owners out there, who not only took the time to film their beloved chick, but also posted the clips on youtube . What a great source that is for research!

I think that the kitchen animation could use slightly extended pauses here and there (where the still images are) - but I'm actually pretty happy with how it turned out.

The animation which appears after this could use some more work (more frames). I'll find a way to make it more obvious that the boots that appear around her are those of the soldiers mentioned (I could make their pants a kind of green perhaps).

Also, I'll try my best to make the next sequences interesting. I hope I can find a good way to build up to the point where the woman brings her the warm blanket, which is the most important part of the story. This part should probably really stand out (maybe by using high contrast in color, or interesting angles?).

But here is what I got so far (the subtitle font has changed - I hope it is more pleasant to read!).

Another question that's on my mind (but there is still time to think about this) is how to make the "present" storytelling graphically different from the story itself (which is in gouache). I'm referring to the very beginning and the very end of my project which is kind of an exposition and conclusion. In these parts she is a grandma making a bed (the idea is that while she is doing this - she is telling me a story).

There are lots of ways to approach this. My original idea was to use really faded water color wash on this animation - but that might be too similar to the gouache. I'll try to think a few good options and make some samples I can post.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A reference to the Holocaust

Hi everyone,

This is the sequence which comes right after the previous typewriter scene. I'm so glad that you could connect with this in class (though I did have my doubts). To take Jake's advice, I'm going to leave it alone for now - and perhaps wait and see if this works in the context of the entire animatic. My biggest concern here is to avoid making an overly simplistic representation that would seem impersonal. I don't want to be spoon feeding this information either. That is the problem with using iconic images, I guess.

Before I started this, I did some more research. I searched an online photo archives to look at images of the trains. Also, I found that many Holocaust memorial monuments use the image of the hand in some way.

I also asked my grandmother how she would feel about images of trains. I mentioned that I thought it would be a bit harsh. She replied that "it's the truth, and it is harsh". She's absolutely right, but it's still not obvious to me that this sequence fits into my project.

It must seem weird to you that I'm being so critical about this, but there is a reason.

There are all sorts of ways people express their ideas about this history, and some of them, intentionally or not, seem disrespectful.

I happen to watch a CNN video report last year, which was about a German children's comic book that was made to explain the history of the Holocaust. Personally, I think this comic book is offensive. I find it's a cheap way to show kids what was happening. If you're interested, here is a link (just to warn you - this report has some documentary footage that is difficult to watch):


I don't really think that I'm doing something that is similar to this (also, animation is different from comic books, of course). But I think it's also important to look at something which, to me, is just crossing the line. In any case, I'm just trying to be as respectful as possible.

Here is also a link to the film "Silence" (which we watched last year in Prof. Panushka's class). You can see how the trains were shown there. Watching it for the second time, I think it's extremely well done.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The typewriter sequence

For the passed week I've been working on this sequence and blocking in the timing (this clip has sound - so you can check out if it works).

I'm already seeing a few places where the timing should be a bit different (and one shot has no blinking in it!) . However, I have to remind myself that there will be music as well - so shots that seem too long now might feel more natural with music.

I have another dilemma about what to do next. The next line is "...to say that they(the Polish) have met another Jew that could be killed..". It might seem to be a kind of background remark, but I'm not sure if I should treat it that way. Most of what my grandmother and I talked about then, was really her experiences from the concentration camps. This is what makes this line so serious, and why I'm not sure how to approach it.

If I keep it really abstract (like I have it in the animatic now),that would be the safest way to go - and it could work out really well. However, it might seem like an understatement, or so unclear that it almost wouldn't mean anything.

On the other hand, if I try to explain this in a more graphic way (for example: use images associated with these events) then it would be 100% clear. But I may be seriously unqualified to animate this, and the last thing I want is for it to seem ridiculous in any way.

I think it would be best to find a way that has a little bit of both. I'll definitely have to think about this some more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A couple at the doorway

These are a few shots I've been working on this week. It is the part where a young couple is standing near the apartment entrance. There are minimal lines depicting the space in the rough animation here - I will have backgrounds though.
The timing is also still flexible (I'm pretty sure it will change).
I'd love to know what you think about the cuts.

The next shot will be a wide shot of the house with them standing at the bottom. Then the windows of the house will become the typewriter keys.

Hope this works...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Krakow Ghetto

I've done a bit of research for this next animation sequence.

My grandmother mentions the Krakow ghetto in her story, and I know that it is also where she and her family had to live for sometime (after it wasn't possible for them to hide). So, I think it would be appropriate to refer to that location and find out more about it for my film.

Here I found a photo of the ghetto from the same year the story takes place (1941).

Based on this I made this background and this bit of animation.

Here is the sequence (A few more painted frames are needed but for now this helps bring across the idea).

I will work some more on the holds (since the timing is a bit rough).
I think it's very useful for me to work in rough pencil tests mixed with rendered out painted animation. Working now with the gouache gives me a better idea of what I can do with it, an idea of how the sequence will look, and ideas for the next animation tests.

Also, some transitions (like in this clip) can't really be shown with a pencil - so I think it's not a bad idea to figure out how to do them now.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

camera move

Hi Everyone!

My camera move continues into the apartment. The clip turned out to be a bit pale for some reason (sorry), but I hope that you can see what I meant to do.

I think that this man should definitely put down his arms before the camera moves (right now he's just frozen - which is a bit unnatural...). I'll try to fix this soon.

I'm pretty happy with how this is going, but I need a little help with the next few lines. Since I've decided not to go with the animatic on this part (in the animatic you saw them going into the apartment, now you are moving in the apartment), one transition needs to be redone, so hopefully we can figure out a way to solve it.

The next line is: "Sometimes you had to be very quiet there, when a stranger came to the apartment..."

I'm thinking of showing them standing in the room. Instead of showing the stranger, I'd rather show them thinking about that danger (maybe with a few cuts - to show a sort of panic). Now there is the missing link, because the line after this is about her father. In the animatic the stranger became a suit that became the father. Now when there is no stranger, I need to think of a creative way to get to him.

Sorry if this is kind of hard to follow... especially without the animatic.

Ideas would be great!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another clip

Hi, thanks for your comments!

It would be great to get your ideas on this one too.

There is some weirdness with the candles at the very end (to be fixed). And also the ending should be slowed down.

But does it work well with the text?

For the next lines I'm thinking of turning the last image here into a city landscape or a street.

The smoke coming from the candles would be the smoke coming out of the chimneys of two houses maybe. But first I need to make sure this is ok.

I hope this works so far!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Animation test #3 + some ideas

I've been thinking and thinking (and thinking). And over thinking is a pretty frustrating thing.

So what I did is rearrange the beginning (up until the line I mentioned in the previous post: "I have so many memories..."). The dissolving transitions are gone - I don't even know why I put them there in the first place actually.

This first part wobbles around (I know!) - but it will be clearer when the ink and color are in there. I just needed to see if the idea works.

When this gets to the part with the eye (very last frames) it will switch to ink (up until then - watercolor).

Oh - and there is a one word lip sync (= "right?"). there is no sound so you'll just have to trust me that it's in the right place.

Now I still haven't completely solved the problem of what to do next - that is why it has been taking so long. One thing is definite: I have to show something Jewish in the memories, otherwise it is only slightly implied (and that is not enough I think).

The memories are not good. But I also don't think this would be the place for images of soldiers or prisoners (or would it?). But it makes sense to show this person is Jewish (and the rest is left for your imagination).

Also, I think I don't want to use any symbols so I could keep it sort of universal (do you agree?).

Some images I thought could work for this:

- lighting of candles as a Jewish tradition.

- Hand knocking over a glass of wine.

- wind blowing through a window.

- figures running. - to show some sort of danger?

- Hebrew letters in a book on a table - not such a good idea maybe..


2nd option could look like this (these images could appear one after the other- first candles, last window):

I have to say I'm really not too sure about any of these options (otherwise I would just go ahead and pick one).

Do you have a different idea maybe?

By the way, I watched this excellent Israeli animated documentary film a few weeks ago. It made me think about the depiction of brutal situations - how that is sometimes a good thing in a film (because it is truthful).

Anyway, it was really powerful.


Ok - I'll try to come up with more ideas!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Animation test #2

This one is 17 second long. I think I want to start the animation 5 seconds into the recording (it works better with the text for some reason).

The next line of text is:"I have so many memories that sit so firmly inside my mind, so that I will never forget them." (7 - 10 seconds, and I can add a small pause - like a chapter ends).

The pencil test that I have is still really rough, but here are 2 ideas for the next batch of animation (do you think 7-10 sec is a long enough time for a new mini idea?):

1. Keep the face in the last frame and have a few (three?) memories morph from the line behind.
A memory could shown by a different environment or things that are easily recognised (like a wedding or something?).
maybe 3 seconds each? and I could transition between them like I've done until now maybe.

2. If you think this would be unclear -

I could just keep things really slow until the story starts. And when it does start, I can pick up the pace of the animation (just so it moves differently). I'm worried that this slow part would become a bit boring to watch though...

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Researching the 1940s reminds me why I was really hesitant about this project. Whatever information you are looking for - it is inevitable that you'll find very terrible images.

The Holocaust is a part of Israeli (or Jewish) history, but I think that for families of survivors (and the survivors themselves), it is something that still has a sort of presence even today (over or under the surface). It takes some emotional energy to deal with that.

But I'm glad I found a way to investigate people's behaviors from that time, without going into the most violent parts of the story (it would have been too difficult for me).

Here are some research images:

1. Cots

After almost giving up, I searched a website that has a record of all sorts of listed patents (of any product you can think of). So I chose a few cots where the mechanisms made sense to me, and scanned in my diagrams (and one photo from a different site).

2. Clothes (fashion)
For this I have 2 sources:
a. Magazine illustrations -
I found these images in a 1940s French fashion magazine ("Le Petit Écho de la Mode"). I'm assuming the general idea about fashion was the same in eastern Europe too.

b. Films

Professional costume designers have researched this decade already. These images are also in color (original photos aren't - so it's very useful).

For some reason I remembered 'The Pianist' as having really realistic costumes. It also a story (true story) that takes place in Warsaw, so the location is pretty close. Great film too.

3. City
Krakow was not damaged by bombings and such, as other places were in WW2. So photos of what it looks like today would be a good representation.
But here I found real photos from 1940 (from the web) and that gives me a lot more information.
This is of course outside the Ghetto.

- Almost no cars. I noticed a horse (lower left).

- 1 car far away
- Flags (in both photos).

I can always go back and research some more if I need specific information.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Animation test #1

So I've started out with a little pencil test (the tracing will be nicer on the final pass!). It is deliberately slow. I'm just trying to be careful; there is also the subtitle text to read and I don't want it to become too much.

This could either be the beginning or a middle section of the first part of my project (before the memory part begins). Where this ends I can make a small transition where you see just the cloth (it will be in color so it will be clearer) and then the hands could reappear from a different perspective.

I think maybe I should start with the hands putting down the pile (it's cloth). That way the animation wont start out with a action that is too elaborate. Plus it would gradually reveal the what this person is doing (does that make sense?).

I've also gathered some research images - I'll post those very soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Welcome to my senior thesis film blog. I hope blogging will help me organize my thoughts, research findings and animation experiments, so that I can start putting my project together this summer. It's now a 5 min documentary of an experience my grandmother had one night in 1941.

This happened in Nazi occupied Krakow (Poland) when she was hiding in an apartment to avoid living in the Jewish Ghetto. One night it was too dangerous for her to go home, so she had to spend the night somewhere else. She had an address of a woman who was mainly dealing with the black market and who also let people spend the night for a small fee. Although she had nothing to pay her with - they work out a deal and the experience even ends well.

The story itself is very very simple, but I think it is special considering everything that happened in the bigger picture (the historical context) and it's importance to the person telling it. When I was in Munich last week I showed my grandmother the animatic. She approves ("sehr gut!" = very good). Others were slightly puzzled at first("so…you're making a cartoon about grandma??!")...

Unfortunately, my animatic file is too heavy, so I'll just make a list to remind you of the different parts of the story:

1. General talk about memories

- In the animatic, this part is all pen and watercolor. It transitions into thicker lines of ink+wash (black and white).

2. Exposition in the memory (when, where, who)

- There are 4 women walking into a room.
- This part starts with ink +wash
- Then turns into more watercolor (maybe in dark green and yellow). That is sort of a new idea -I'll post some images for this soon (so you can tell me what you think).
- She talks about strangers coming into the apt.

3. People in town

- this starts with a description of the father and his relationship to the Jews in the city.
- This part also talks about the people allowed to work in town.
- It is gouache and think the colors for this are red, black, and the white of the paper.

4. Incident starts

- Here the narrator puts herself in the back-story discussed earlier. That makes the color change again (still gouache) into blue/gray/brown.
- There is a problem returning to the apartment so she decides to spend the night somewhere else.

5. Conflict starts

- this happens when the narrator meets the trader woman and they talk. it has closeups and words. gouache.
- then there is the cleaning of the kitchen (chickens etc).

6. Cot

- it unfolds.

7. nighttime
- woman wakes up and brings a blanket.

- gouache.

8. general talk (good people/bad)

- Here I ask her opinion: are people naturally good or bad? The answer is: both.
- This is ink and wash and then watercolors ( as in the very beginning).

This is it for now.

Next time I'll post some images from 1940s research (clothing, city, cots).
There is also much progress on technique research (the gouache mystery).

If you wanna critique: be brutal!