Monday, December 9, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Friday, November 8, 2013
- Examples: Wizard of Oz and Tazmanian Devil cartoons
- Thesis: These two films create two different representations of twisters that each break the laws of physics in their own way.
- The Wizard of Oz
- The twister in The Wizard of Oz is one of the best examples of early practical effects in the history of film.
- Three different types of twister effects:
- Wide shot of twister using giant tube of cloth as the twister; glass sheets covered in cotton balls, and wind and debris thrown on the set.
- The house blowing in the storm was created using miniatures.
- The inside of the storm through Dorothy's window was created with their fake wind and smoke footage projected on a screen in the background.
- The twister is considered one of the best practical effects in early cinema.
- Became whimsical as it became a transportation for Dorothy to the land of Oz.
2. Tazmanian Devil
- The Tazmanian Devil is a fun character who shreds through the environment as a violent mini twister.
- Cartoony animation calls for long holds and quick transitions: Taz exemplifies this with zippy, cyclone transitions.
- His twister form is created with a cycle of sketchy drawings animated quick and loose.
- He turns into a mini cyclone that whirls around sharp turns; stop and go, as though it is anthropomorphized.
- Unrealistic, spontaneous twister-forming powers that make for a wacky cartoon character.
- Tornadoes make for exciting spectacles in film and television – and they are often dramatized for a number of effects.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
Animators tend to be magicians on the paper – making things disappear and reappear at will. In doing this, we break a fundamental law of physics. The law of conservation of mass tells us that mass is neither created nor destroyed. This is a core principle across scientific fields form chemistry to physics. It's quite intuitive as well – things can squash, stretch, break and bend, but their mass cannot disappear or be created from nothing. Animated films tend to break this law because animators can determine where and how much mass a character might have frame to frame. In fact, in hand-drawn traditional animation, maintaining consistent volume and mass on a character from drawing to drawing is one of the most essential and challenging parts of the job. Three good examples of animators breaking this law can be found in the films Despicable Me, Wreck-It Ralph, and the TV cartoon, Courage the Cowardly Dog. Breaking the law of conservation of mass is a great use of the freedom of the animation medium.
When two supervillians have an all-out duel to steal the moon, you know some laws of physics will probably be broken. Despicable Me is a fun film with physics that appear to be inspired by the animation of classic Looney Tunes. The film has cartoony physics throughout, but a pivotal moment at the climax hinges on its unrealistic depiction of physics. In the scene, the protagonist Gru uses a shrink ray to shrink the moon down to a hand-held size. He then brings it back to Earth and is able to hold it in his hand. Looking past the made-up science of a “shrink ray,” the shrinking of the moon is a violation of the law of conservation of mass. When Gru shrinks the moon, its mass goes from enormous to minuscule – and when we see Gru holding it in his palm while on Earth, we see that it weighs as much as a baseball. The mass just disappeared. If the shrunken moon was incredibly dense, as though the entire mass was squeezed into that small ball, it would have passed the test. While this alternative could have led the story another good direction, the filmmakers decided to ignore this law of physics and let the story carry on, logical or not.
Another example of ignoring the law of conservation of mass can be found in Disney's Wreck-it Ralph. Depending how you see it, this film takes place in another universe than ours. The video game world is wilder and more exaggerated physically than ours. In the racing game, Sugar Rush, the animators took our laws of physics and gave them an overdose of sugar. The sequences in this game are full of bouncy characters, fast cars, and interactive candy as part of the setting. In one scene, Felix and Sgt. Calhoun are trapped in a pit of Nesquik sand underneath a tree of Laffy Taffy vines. By making the vines laugh, the vines grow down from where they are hanging just low enough for our heroes to grab them and be rescued. This scene breaks the law of conservation of mass with the spontaneous growth of the Laffy Taffy vines. Triggered by laughter, the vines acquire mass out of thin air. The vines did not stretch to reach down to reach our heroes – this would have been acceptable under the law of conservation of mass. The animators broke the law of conservation of mass because it is not an issue with the audience. In this case, it was even staged to enhance the gag and distract you from the physical law they were breaking.
As mentioned earlier, traditional hand-drawn animation can be more prone to breaking this law of physics. This is due to the fact that unlike 3D animation, hand-drawn animation needs to be redrawn every frame, leading to varying forms and volumes from frame to frame. Whether it's accidental or on purpose, traditional animation is a great medium for breaking the law of conservation of mass. One great example comes from the television series, Courage the Cowardly Dog. The show is about a cowardly dog whose family is constantly thrown into supernatural danger. The animators had a lot of fun pushing the physics and shapes of the characters. In the episode “Little Muriel,” Courage's mother Muriel is turned into her younger self. We follow the tiny, bouncy young girl throughout the episode, before Courage finally manages to get her back to her normal size. He does this by throwing her into a tornado – of course. In the end scene, we see Muriel and her clothes grow to her normal self, at least five times the size of her young self. Not only does she somehow lose her mass in shrinking down to her younger self, but she acquires just that much mass later on. Scenes like these can be found in just about any cartoon, and it will never be an issue. Like earlier, the animators can choose to still follow the law of conservation of mass in these shrinking/growing scenes if they are going for a certain gag. For example, if instead of being shrunk, the character was squeezed down to the size of a golf ball: same mass, different size. This goes to show how understanding these rules of physics can drastically change the effect of a story.
The law of conservation of mass is fun to break. The idea of something disappearing or shrinking, appearing or growing, is an instant gag great for animation. For traditional animators, it's as simple as changing the volume of a character from frame to frame, whether it's intentional or not. For 3D animators, it involves changing the pre-defined masses of your characters. Either way, it is a law of physics that is constantly broken. Being aware of this law can benefit an animator in creating scenes like the ones explained here.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
- Conservation of Mass: Mass can neither be created nor destroyed.
- Body 1: Wreck-it Ralph
- Scene: Laffy Taffy vines grow from the trees and rescue Felix and Sgt. Calhoun down below.
- Laffy Taffy vines grow and shrink from nothing – simply from the power of laughter.
- The mass they gain would need to have been acquired from something else, but that's not the case.
- Body 2: Despicable Me
- Scene: Gru shrinks the moon, holds it in his hand, and takes it home.
- The shrunken moon is significantly lighter than its full-size, as if all its mass went somewhere else.
- It would have passed the Law of Conservation of Mass if it managed to be incredibly dense: as though the entire mass was squeezed into the shrunken moon.
- Body 3: Brave
- Scene: Under a spell, Queen Elinor turns into a huge bear.
- If she turned into a bear of the same exact mass as her, it would pass – but in this case, the additional mass comes from nowhere.
- Audiences are fine with all three of these cases because they rely on magical or sci-fi conditions we're already familiar with in the stories.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
For this animation, I set up my computer's webcam directly in front of the wall. On the wall, I planned out the physics of a leaf/paper drop. This meant drawing the path of action and putting down marks for the spacing. I factored in the slow-out of free-fall, and the slow-in of the apexes. I then utilized the adhesive qualities of a band-aid, sticking it to each of the marks and taking a picture. In the end, I made some frames on 2s and some on 1s, to make it more believable.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
In Pixar's 2007 film, Ratatouille, we follow a rat named Remy as he follows his dream of becoming a chef. The film is set in Paris and emphasizes being in our world. The great premise of a rat becoming a chef is driven by our view of rats as pests, so it was important to emphasize just how real and seemingly ordinary this world is. By portraying very accurate physics, we can connect to the world created and know what to expect. However, this is used as a way to contrast the whimsical and exaggerated physics we are introduced to through the brilliant powers of Remy the rat. Ratatouille seems to be very physically accurate until its comedic premise – a rat rising in the world of cooking – pushes the story forward and exaggerates the physics.
The first point in which we see exaggerated physics is the strength that rats possess. Remy in particular is unbelievably strong and nimble. For example, Remy is often seen handling spatulas and spoons meant for humans. Not only do they exaggerate his strength in order for him to operate these things, but they make him nimble enough to use it just as quickly and effective as a human. For example, in one of Remy's first cooking scenes, he manages to utilize a large stirring spoon and stir it as though a human were putting their whole arm into it. Similarly, Remy dances around the kitchen like a hurried human chef might. Things like these keep up the comedic pace of the story and are believable enough to keep it going. Another example of exaggerated rat strength is in an early scene in which Remy and his brother Emile try to escape an old lady trying to kill them. Emile finds himself on a huge chandelier and needs to get to safety. He pushes the hanging chandelier like a swing and manages to swing the entire thing in just a few pushes. The gradual momentum needed to get the chandelier swinging seems very accurate and believable – just the fact that a rat managed to get it going in three swings is a bit unbelievable. This further displays the anthropomorphic powers of rats in this film. The most ridiculous example of personification of rats in this film is when they manage to chase down, tie up and kidnap the health inspector. Several dozen rats manage to stop a moving car, tie up and gag a full-grown man, and proceed to throw him into the fridge. Maintaining the level of believability the film had established, this ridiculous scene happens mostly off screen and is just a small gag.
Another central theme that is exaggerated to give it special attention on screen is food. Many cooking montages and scenes exaggerate the physical properties of food to appear beautiful, delicious, and comedic. One example of this comes when Remy and Linguini are first learning to cook together. With Remy's help, Linguini is flipping a light, soft tortilla with a pan. When they slip, the tortilla flies high up in the air and crashes through the glass window. The light tortilla was given the weight of something with much more mass so that it could crash through the glass in comedic style. Another example comes in a later cooking montage. When the rats are working together to cook the final meal, a rat is seen surfing on a slab of butter and using a pan as a half-pipe. The rat is able to grip onto a piece of melting, almost-liquid butter and endlessly ride it back and forth, as if the rat has no weight and the butter is solid despite being liquid enough to be slippery. This is just another gag that does not add much to the story. One example that does effect the story involves a fat rat eating grapes. Full of grapes that he had secretly been eating in the kitchen's storage, a fat rat falls to the ground and is squashed by a falling melon. The melon squashes the rat's fat belly which manages to shoot the grapes out of his mouth, one at a time like a machine gun, at the human Linguini. Instead of killing the rat like it should have, the melon manages to squeeze the rat like a whoopee cushion. These examples of exaggerated physics in food show how the film meant to give special attention on screen to the central theme of food.
Finally, one of the largest diversions from realistic physics in the film comes from the ridiculous premise of Remy controlling the human Linguini like a robot. The film uses this as a central gag to get Remy into the world of cooking. Remy manages to control Linguini's body by pulling his hair that seems to remotely control the Linguini's muscles. Ignoring how impossible this system is, the altered physics of Linguini are interesting to notice. When they first learn of this tool, Remy and Linguini are uncoordinated and the new Linguini has no sense of balance. In one scene, they try to stir a pot of soup but end up bending over forward and backwards with no sense of balance. When controlled by Remy, Linguini's weightlessness is exaggerated to the extreme, as he flails around without falling over. Another issue that comes from this is Linguini's chef hat. As Linguini flails about, his hat which is precariously placed on his head, manages to stick on despite gravity's best efforts to make it fall. Many scenes even features Linguini leaning his head over 90 degrees to let Remy sniff their soup from inside the hat. At such an angle, the hat and the rat should fall into the soup. Keeping the hat stuck to the head takes away from the realistic feeling from the film just a bit, but it comes at a time in the film when we are too distracted by the fun and even more-ridiculous antics of Remy-operated Linguini. One instance in which this is not the case comes when Linguini is driven away on Colette's motorcycle. Still wearing his chef hat, it flies off as soon as they take off. This scene shows that the hat was not stuck too his head, and should fall of just as easily. The change in the properties of the chef hat show that the animators are able to make objects and their physical properties work for the goal of the scene.
Like most Pixar films, Ratatouille is firmly set in our world. In this film especially, they wanted to emphasize the reality of our world: chefs are humans, rats are pests, and the laws of physics are limited. Like any good story or work of art, Ratatouille eventually forced it to contrast: A rat can be a chef, and the laws of physics can be exaggerated. Though one of the more subtle examples of this, Ratatouille shows how animated films can bend the laws of physics to enhance humor and story.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
- Hypothesis: Ratatouille seems to be very physically accurate, until it needs to be comical.
- Rats can be unbelievably strong and nimble.
- Remy handles spatulas and spoons, and does great stunts to get around the kitchen.
- Emile manages to swing a huge chandelier he's sitting on.
- A gang of rats stop a moving car, and proceed to tie up and kidnap the health inspector.
- When controlled by Remy, Linguini moves with impossible balance and weight.
- When controlled by Remy, Linguini flails around like he does not have a human's weight.
- Linguini's chef hat and Remy stick to his head, even if Linguini is completely bent over.
- Contradiction: Linguini willingly takes his hat off many times with ease, and it even flies off – but only when he's riding a motorcycle at a high speed.
- Food changes properties as they need it to.
- Linguini flips a seemingly soft and light tortilla, and it ends up breaking through the glass window.
- A rat surfs on a slab of butter, and rides effortlessly back and forth on a pan that he is using as a half-pipe.
- A melon falls onto a fat rat who ate a bunch of grapes, which rapidly shoots the grapes out his mouth one at a time, like a machine gun.
- Ratatouille breaks the laws of physics only subtly, and does not depend on it.
- Because the physics are done right, the story feels like it is in our world – we can better connect with it.
Friday, August 23, 2013
I'm in my fourth year at San Jose State University, studying Animation/Illustration. I'm focusing on Animation, so I've taken 2D and 3D animation classes in addition to illustration, design, drawing, and 3D modeling classes. As far as science goes, I've taken Human Evolution here at SJSU, as well as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science in high school. I want to go into the film industry, as a CGI animator for live action films.
Here's an animation of a character I made this past semester in ANI 114:
Here's an animation of a character I made this past semester in ANI 114:
Here is a spread of figure drawings from my portfolio:
Finally, here is a forest illustration I made last year in ANI 113B:
Have a great day!