Random42 is a medical animation company specialising in scientific communication. They produce visually stunning animations for a variety of pharmaceutical companies.
Random42 have just launched their first ever solely educational virtual reality experience and it is both beautiful and informative. Education is, for me, the most important thing you can give to yourself and to others, and to see that animation can be a vehicle to provide education to anyone around the world is something that is truly exciting and important.
‘Our team of scientists, artists, animators and programmers have collaborated to intertwine the worlds of science, art and technology. The result is an impactful storytelling masterpiece, using detailed and stunning imagery.’ – Random42 Website
Some of the aspects of this experience that I thought were most effective were the use of labelling next to certain models and the narration. This is important because it provides the viewer with a more comprehensive knowledge of the subject, and enhances the communication that is being conveyed visually.
On top of this the animation is visually engaging, the cinematography leads the viewers eye to exactly where the most crucial information is, something which I imagine could be quite a challenge in VR. Lastly the music completes the experience by adding some drama which makes the animation even more engaging, all while not distracting from the narration.
‘We wanted to create an experience that was visually stunning, immersive and educationally invaluable. We believe that virtual reality is the perfect tool to assist in medical education and training, and we want to leaders in this movement.’ – Random42 Website
For those of you who are not familiar my graduation film, which will be ready in June (I pray!!!), will be about a young teenage girl battling with Cancer.
As I am in the very pre-production stage of the filmmaking process, I want to address a few concerns I have about making this film. The primary thing I want to figure out is how to explain cancer in a way that is empathetic yet honest, simple but not patronising, and to find a way of giving as much information as possible, without overwhelming the audience.
The film is supposed to be roughly three minutes long, and in this time a number of things need to be addressed. There are two parts to this film, in my mind, the first is the story of this fictional character and the second is the explanation of cancer.
For the first part I need to show that this character is suffering with cancer, she is a young teenage girl and has just returned back to school after treatment. She is struggling with keeping up physically and mentally at school. She is sporty and is exceptional at football – she is captain of the team. The majority of her teammates do not understand cancer and therefore act in a slightly odd manner around her. One friend does, however understand it and explains cancer to her friends.
The second, and most important, part is addressing what cancer is, why it occurs, what the treatments available are, and how to check your body for any early warning signs of cancer.
Upon looking at sites such as MacMillan and Teenage Cancer Trust it became clear that some of the things that concern young people the most about cancer is that they may have done, thought or said something wrong to cause it, (typically these children are under the age of 10). Children also worry that cancer is contagious. Cancer is a difficult and sensitive topic in itself, but to have to explain it to a young person can be incredibly difficult. The sites I mentioned earlier have good tips on how to talk to your child about cancer. The things they noted was to explain what cancer is, what the name of a certain cancer is, and how it can be treated. Using simple language but also being specific with the explanation can be really helpful. Talking about it seems to be the best solution to ease children’s fear when facing cancer, or when a parent or friend has cancer. I hope that this film can be a tool to help people talk about it to their friends, family and children.
Lastly I am in the process of figuring out how to weave the cancer explanation seamlessly into the rest of the story. (Ideally) The film will be engaging (and actually enjoyable to watch!), I hope to achieve this by creating a strong narrative and creating an appealing and cinematic environment. It critically needs to be informative and correct. Content is King! And without accurate and correct information then no matter how good the story is, the film will fall flat on its face. SO in the next few weeks a fair amount of reading and questioning and analysing needs to be done to ensure the content is accurate.
Will keep you updated with my progress, and if anyone has any tips or ideas of how to better this film or how to talk about cancer please feel free to comment!
A critical analysis of my role on a film for the English National Opera and how this role compares to the equivalent role in the animation industry.
In this essay I will be critically analysing the role I had as an animator on our 90 second film for the English National Opera (ENO). I will be comparing this role to the equivalent job within the animation industry, by analysing the cultural values, hierarchies and working dynamic created in our team and in the industry.
The short film we created is based on Puccini’s opera La Bohème, and focuses on the love story between Marcello and Musetta. In our film all of the characters are birds. Marcello is the main character, he is a kingfisher and is in love with another bird named Musetta. Unfortunately for him, Musetta enjoys to flirt with other birds and desires to be the centre of attention at all times. We were commissioned by the ENO to create a short film to advertise the operas that are currently being performed. The ENO have a strong ‘belief that opera of the highest quality should be accessible to everyone.’ Therefore it was important for our team to create a promotional animation to generate interest in the opera, La Bohème, amongst seasoned theatre goers and new audiences.
Our film focuses on Marcello’s love for Musetta and shows the story of him trying to win her heart. The story begins with Marcello offering Musetta a leaf, she rejects this gift and begins to fly around the tree, where they live, showing off to the other birds. Marcello dejected, but determined, flies off on a mission to find the most magnificent gift for her. After travelling for months he finds a beautiful pearl and returns with it to Musetta. Intrigued by the shiny new object Musetta delightedly picks up the pearl, looks deeply into Marcello’s eyes, and flies away leaving poor Marcello behind. Although he has been rejected once again, his character has evolved by his journey.
Whilst the intention of the piece was to advertise the opera, this project differs greatly from working in an established studio that creates commercial content for larger companies. This is because we did not have a large production team and therefore we were able to see the production all the way through from start to finish, whereas in a studio an animator would have only been able to contribute to one aspect of production. Unlike a studio working for a large client we did not have a budget and therefore were limited in what we could achieve. Thankfully the artisan style we adopted lent itself well to the opera we were animating for, and therefore a large budget wasn’t essential for this project.
We had to check in regularly with the client in the initial developmental stages. If we were to change anything in the story we would email the client to inform them of the modifications. This kind of client interaction is similar to that of a studio, perhaps the only difference being that our clients were able to give concise notes on what they wanted for the animation, as they have an artistic understanding and are deeply knowledgeable and appreciative of the music in each opera. Whereas in a studio environment clients may not have this degree of artistic knowledge and may be unaware of what they want.
A culture was created through values and attitudes that naturally developed in our group. The main attitudes that were developed included reliability: ensuring that people were on time and were realistic with deliverables, quality of work: as this was a project that each team member had equal stakes in, and fairness: it was important to ensure that no one was suffering with more work than others.
The main value that was essential to a successful outcome was communication, without this it would have been difficult to decipher what had been done, by who, and if any issues had arisen. We began by creating a WhatsApp group, a Google Drive account and a live spreadsheet that the team had access to. This meant that we could communicate freely and keep each other updated on what was being done. Any queries that we had could easily be solved by a quick discussion on our group chat. As well as this type of online communication we all resolved to come in to university and meet in person as much as possible. This was important as we could act things out to each other, question certain parts of the film, and ultimately solve any problems we were having.
Similarly in animation studios these values also seem to naturally materialise. After discussing the culture of a studio environment with pre-vis artist, Prakash Mohanty, it became clear that our team culture closely matched that of a studio. Mohanty, who currently works at Third Floor Inc. expressed that the main values in a studio are communicating effectively, positivity, and thinking outside the box. After working on this film I now understand the value of creative problem solving and the importance of letting go of certain ideas. In the beginning stages the three of us remained very loose with the story, asking for feedback from various tutors and students. In these initial stages the story changed as a result of the feedback, and ultimately the story became a lot stronger. Once the story was consolidated, and the animatic had been tested on multiple audiences we were ready to move on to the next stage, animation.
There were only three of us working on this film, and therefore there wasn’t necessarily a strict hierarchy of roles. The only distinct roles that we had were animator and director. Other roles that are distinct in animation studios such as storyboard artist, editor and junior animator (responsible for smaller animation tasks) were largely shared amongst the three of us.
As the director of the film was responsible for the idea of the story and art aesthetic, it allowed the rest of us to purely focus on specific tasks assigned to us by the director. For the most part this task was animating, but the other jobs, which included story development and editing, were also important tasks that the director needed assistance with.
Prior to this project the only film I had worked on was one that was almost purely my own, as the idea, the direction and the animation were all mine.
When one works on their own idea and on every aspect of production, the whole thing can be stressful and at times narrow sighted, with the lack of a fresh pair of eyes the project can at times feel stagnant and tired. In contrast whilst working on this project I felt quite detached from it, although I was invested in the art and the story, I was able to cut things out and change things readily. A independent animation artist named Veljko Popović commented ‘When you have a project from a client, you really have all of it laid out (and it is less demanding in terms of investing your personal self)’ I found this statement to be particularly true on this project. Having a client and a director meant that most things were already prescribed and all that was left to be done for the animator was to create animated scenes that closely fitted the desired outcome of both the client and director.
This process closely mirrors the studio environment because each individual is tasked with focusing on a specific component in the production line. There is a long list of roles in an animation studio and each role reflects the knowledge, skill and experience of each individual. At the entry level there is trainee animator or intern, the next level is junior animator which progresses on to mid level animator to senior animator and eventually leads to more leadership roles such as team leader, assistant supervisor and supervisor. Each person in these roles have creative input, but the amount
of creative input increases as an animator’s experience and ability grows. At each stage the animator is responsible for an individual part of the production and so no single person has complete ownership of the film.
In conclusion the animation for the ENO provided people in our group with an opportunity to experience something close to that of working in a professional studio environment. The main similarities between the roles we had in this project and the comparative roles at a studio were culture and values. The cultural values that were created within our group mirrored almost exactly that of an animation studio. We communicated particularly well with one another, which after interviewing Prakash Mohanty, was an apparent critical component in a studio dynamic along with fairness and creative thinking. In both a studio situation and our group project these values naturally materialised.
The main difference between the role we had and the comparative role at a studio was that we had to participate at every moment in the production process and therefore experienced a greater level of ownership over the film than we would have working at a large studio.
Kroustallis, V. (16 December 2016) Creating Your Own Boundaries: Interview with Veljko Popović. Available at: https://www.zippyframes.com/index.php/interviews/creating-your-own-boundaries- interview-with-veljko-popovi (Accessed: 4 December 2018)
Available at: https://www.eno.org/whats-on/la-boheme/ (Accessed: 3 December 2018)
Tschang, Feichin, Ted and Goldstein, Andrea. Production and Political Economy in the Animation Industry: Why Insourcing and Outsourcing Occur. (2004). DRUID Summer Conference, Elsinore, Denmark, 14-16 June 2004. 1-21. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business. Available at: https://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/2853 (Accessed: 4 December 2018)
Interview with Prakash Mohanty. Interviewed by Jessica Galvin, 25 November 2018
This week we had a meeting with a sound designer to help create atmosphere in our film. Initially we found it difficult to decide if we wanted any sounds at all, as the film already felt very complete with the music from the opera. We were afraid that any ambient sounds may not fit with the music and may even potentially distract from the music.
In order for the timing of our animation to synchronise with the peaks and troughs of the music we delayed the start of the music for a second or two after our animation had begun. The only issue with this is that it gave the initial impression to the audience that the audio was not working. To rectify this we decided to insert some ambient sounds of wind at the very beginning to give a sense of the winter environment, before the music starts.
The sound designer added this for us and then faded the sound so that it could just be heard under the music from the opera. This really worked and encouraged us to be slightly more adventurous and try a few more sounds to put softly under the music. There is a scene where the main character, a kingfisher, dives under the water and retrieves a pearl. For this scene we added a few ambient sounds of water splashing and I was amazed by how much this enhanced the scene.
The sounds that we inserted made the characters feel like they were in a real environment, suddenly the film had a lot more weight and texture to it. We only added a few sounds that we felt were most crucial, for example the wind at the beginning to set the scene, a heavier gust of wind when Marcello is battling against the elements, water sounds when he retrieves the pearl and wings flapping when Musetta deserts him at the very end.
It is interesting to note that we only inserted four ambient sounds all at the most crucial moments in our film; the beginning, the obstacle in his journey (difficult weather), the moment he finds the perfect gift, and the final verdict ( Musetta rejecting him once again). This was not a deliberate choice to only pick these moments to add sound, these decisions were made purely on where we felt ambient sound would work most appropriately.
I was really surprised by how a few sounds placed at the appropriate time really elevated the whole feeling of the piece. The characters feel much more grounded in a world and the whole film feels more real, and therefore we as an audience feel more engaged and invested in the story.
The sound designer used Adobe Audition software to put this together as he said it was a much more intuitive programme, and one that would be easy for us to use to change the timings if we needed. He also mentioned that this software worked very well with Premiere.
This was the first time I have worked with a sound designer and I found it to be really beneficial. The session we had really opened my eyes to how important ambient sounds are for an animation, and demonstrated just how much sound can elevate a story.
On Saturday I went to see the dress rehearsal of La Bohème. The story begins with two men in a cold apartment in Paris. The two men are struggling artists, Marcello is a painter and Rodolfo is a poet. They can barely keep themselves warm in their freezing apartment and in a desperate attempt to warm themselves they throw Rodolfos’s poems on the fire.A friend then walks into the flat, he is a musician and has just been hired. He brings wine and food with him and is celebrating getting paid, he tells his friends that they should go out and celebrate in the evening. Later Rodolfo is alone in the apartment, finishing some work and is about to join his friends for drinks when, suddenly there is a knock at the door. It is a young woman named Mimi and she is looking for a candle so she can light her way home.
Rodolfo and Mimi speak for a long time and tell each other about themselves, they instantly fall in love. Mimi accompanies Rodolfo to the bar to meet his friends. At the bar a singer named Musetta charges in with an older gentleman carrying multiple gifts (we assume for her). Musetta is the centre of attention, she is loud and is clearly pining for the attention of her ex lover Marcello. Wise to her charm and tricks to allure men, Marcello tries to ignore her flirtatiously parading around the restaurant. After many attempts Musetta finally succeeds in seducing Marcello and the two begin dating again.
Mimi is terribly ill, she has a fierce cough and Rodolfo is aware that she hasn’t got much longer to live. Afraid that he cannot provide the best care for her on his meagre living, and fearful of her being taken from him, he decides to try and break off the relationship. The two have a dispute and decide that they cannot be apart from one another during the winter and, decide to split up when spring arrives.
The men having separated from Mimi and Musetta are carrying on with their lives, it is clear that both still miss their former lovers but are trying their best to carry on as normal. Suddenly Musetta bursts in with urgent news that Mimi is very sick. The men help carry Mimi into their apartment and Mimi and Rodolfo have a moment together singing about their love for one another. The opera ends with Mimi sighing her last breath and Rodolfo clutching her in his arms.
The orchestra were fantastic, the atmosphere they were able to create was sensational. Whilst this opera is about love, death and the struggles of an artist there was still a lot of humour which certainly lightened the tone and showed the comradely the artists had with each other. The set design was really beautiful and portrayed Paris in the 1930’s very convincingly. The transitions of the scenes were also very dynamic, cast members who played people in the crowd would turn the set to reveal a new scene. I found it very beneficial to go and see the opera we are animating because it allowed me to deepen my understanding of the characters. The most helpful aspect for me was to see the scene that we are animating, to see how the characters move and interact was very informative.
I recently watched the short film, ‘The Climb’ it’s a comedy of two friends out cycling together. The story is refreshingly simple and the setting is beautiful. This live action short premiered in the narrative competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It was directed by Michael Covino and produced by Kyle Marvin, both star as themselves in the film.
The film is 8 minutes long and shows two friends cycling to the top of a hill somewhere in America. The purpose of this bike ride is to help Kyle get out and exercising after becoming slightly depressed about his girlfriend leaving him. The story takes an interesting turn when Kyle’s best friend, Mike, gets something off his chest. The bike ride was supposed to be a therapeutic and healing activity for Kyle, but turns out to be anything but.
The story is about friendship and the difficulties that can occur in a friendship. This particular friendship has just hit a bump in the road, and it is comical to see the two try to resolve their differences.
They shot the film in one take, which is effective because they are cycling up a very steep hill, so the exhaustion from the riders adds to the humour and tension of the piece. The comedy value comes from Kyle’s pain in his love life, his struggle to climb the hill and his frustration with his friend Mike.
Kyle’s emotions fluctuate dramatically throughout this piece, he begins quite depressed speaking about his ex-girlfriend, and how much he appreciates his best friend for taking him out on a cycle ride to help him. Mike seems quite cool about helping his friend and mainly focuses the conversation on cycling. Mike then reveals some news to Kyle which is both shocking to the audience and to Kyle. Deeply angered by the news we see Kyle go from being a little hopeless and defeatist to alert and enraged. This is where the comedy really starts setting in, the audience can empathise with Kyle and his frustration, but it is hard to take his anger seriously when he is clearly struggling to cycle up the hill. As Kyle shouts angrily to his friend (who is far more athletic and much farther ahead on the hill) his friend simply replies with advice to help him tackle the hill.
Most of the camera shots in the film are wide, which is effective as it really shows the vastness of nature and the beauty surrounding them. These wide shots also help the audience to appreciate the steepness and difficulty of the hill. As tensions arise the camera cuts in closer to each actor, helping the audience to really see the emotion of each character.
I enjoyed how much story the actors were able to convey in such a simple setting, the script is well written and I really enjoyed the juxtaposition between the two characters; one quite dynamic and competitive the other laid-back and funny. It is clear that the two care about each other greatly, so even when they are arguing it is evident that they both want to reach a happy solution. This adds to the comedy, because even though the film has a lot of tension, the nature of their relationship causes it to become more lighthearted.
Would thoroughly recommend people to watch the film, a great way to spend 8 minutes of your time.
With a growing interest in medical animations and explainer animations for patients, I have decided to create a graduation film that is effective in communicating difficult concepts and incorporates a medical theme. It can be very scary for people suffering with any illness, most people do not have a medical background and can feel in the dark about their condition.
Cancer is a disease that affects many people worldwide. Due to the nature of the disease it is something that affects adults more than children. For adults it can be very overwhelming and scary to deal with, but for children it can also be confusing. For some children (mainly under the age of 10) they worry that perhaps they have said, thought or done something wrong that has caused the disease, which of course is incorrect and can be incredibly upsetting for the child.
I was fortunate to know a brilliant person who sadly faced cancer at the very young age of twelve. I was the same age and for me then (and now) it was difficult to understand that someone so young could have developed this disease. There were many questions and frustrations that I felt about the situation and I was lucky that I had people to talk to. Naturally, I think, it was hard for adults too, to talk to a child about cancer. For me creating something that could act as an aid for educators or parents is very important.
My objective with this film is to inform, educate and reassure children about cancer. It can be difficult for children returning to school after being diagnosed, or after having treatment, as they may be asked difficult questions by peers and may struggle to keep up with the workload and sports activities. I would like to try to address these issues so that children suffering understand what is happening and feel equipped to answer peoples questions.
My main concern with this film is that it is addressing a difficult and upsetting topic; childhood cancer. I want to ensure that the film I create will be an aid to these children and their parents. Another concern is making sure that the content is correct and that I’m not spreading any misinformation. In order to make sure the facts are correct and that the language and images are suitable for the audience, I want to get in touch with medical professionals and cancer charities.
I was particularly inspired by the BBC series ‘When I worry about things’ in particular, ‘Annabel’s story’. The short documentary is about a child suffering with severe OCD and depression. The narrative was very clear and the images were very suitable for the content. The child speaks about when she was at her lowest point, and how she recovered and got help. The images illustrated the issue well, without being too upsetting for viewers.
Stills from the short films: ‘Annabel’s Story’, ‘Cancer: Knowing, Preventing and Beating it’ and the film ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’
A breakdown of the initial story idea.
Start midway through a high school basketball game. The captain, Georgia (11 years old) is clearly exceptional at sport. We can see that she is battling with cancer, and at certain times throughout the match we can see that she is struggling to keep up with the other girls, and gets quite frustrated.
Her team loses the game. There is some conflict with a team member. One girl asks if Georgia is still capable of playing and also acts immaturely because she wrongly thinks cancer is contagious (during my research I learned that this is quite a common misconception amongst young children).
The coach sees this and decides to intervene, she wheels out a TV and puts on a video.
The video starts with a presenter introducing himself and the video, it then goes into a medical animation explaining cancer. The camera zooms into the TV to show the video properly.
The presenter reappears at the end and addressessome common concerns children face when going through cancer, things like cancer is not contagious and reassuring children that nothing they did, said or thought caused the cancer.
At the end the girls are much more aware about cancer and we can see this by the fact that they now no longer treat Georgia differently.
The main character in the film will be a particularly sporty girl, she is exceptionally skilled and enthusiastic about basketball and is the team captain. From a few short videos I have seen of children and teens speaking about cancer, one worry that comes across is that they don’t want their cancer to define them. I want to make sure that the main thing that comes through is the child’s character, that she is kind, bright and sporty. The cancer doesn’t define her as a person, but is something she is battling with.
A still from my first attempt at creating a medical animation. I used Maya with Arnold renderer.
Generally when people think about animation they think of cartoons, but animation has many more applications than storytelling such as medical animation, scientific visualisation, VR, special effects, educational videos, architectural renderings and visualisations. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, which has the potential and capability to help educate people from all around the world, no matter their background, culture or location.
Education through animation is something I am so interested in and am avidly trying to seek out more information about. Over these next few posts I want to share my findings about education and animation, and have a go at making my own medical and educational videos…(of course the content of the animations will come from experts in the field, as my scientific knowledge is rather minimal. Content is King. If the information is wrong then no matter how good the animation, it is redundant).
Whilst I still love animation for its ability to communicate a compelling story well, I have become increasingly interested by the way animation can communicate challenging and difficult information incredibly concisely and effectively.
In particular I am fascinated by medical animation. Medical animation essentially consists of visualising things that happen within the body using 3D animation software. A medical animation could show the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Or it could demonstrate how DNA replicates.
An article in Healthcare Business Today said ‘ 3D animation, aided by computer modelling and other techniques, is an increasingly indispensable tool for teaching, patient education, planning of complex surgeries, and the marketing of drugs and devices.’ I completely agree with this as I believe 3D animation has the ability to show complicated information very clearly and effectively, and improves greatly upon vastly oversimplified images and diagrams that have been used in the past.
‘Increasingly, instructors have turned to technology-assisted materials such as animations to provide students with the most accurate representations of these processes and techniques.’ Instructors and educational institutions are not alone in adopting animation as an effective communication tool. Surgeries and clinics have also begun to use animation to help explain surgical procedures to patients. Oftentimes the information about a certain surgery or condition can be difficult to understand, especially as some of the terminology and names are foreign to most people.
As an article in Flatworld Solutions said ‘Visual learning is always considered the best form of learning new things and understanding complex concepts.’ 3D animations can aid doctors explanations of a particular health condition or surgery and help to put the patient at ease. As medical animations contain lots of information and are easily accessible to people it creates a chance for patients to process information and to think of questions before they see their doctor, increasing the efficiency of consultations and doctors time.
Janet Iwasa, a molecular biologist, is someone who sparked my fascination and curiosity of medical animation. I found her Ted talk about molecular biology and animation very fascinating.I never really knew animations could be so beneficial for biology. If you haven’t seen her talk I definitely recommend doing so, it’s a fab way to spend five minutes of your time!
Towards the end of her speech she said ‘I believe that animation can change biology. It can change the way that we communicate with one another, how we explore our data and how we teach our students.’ I really believe in this, and it makes me so happy to think that something connected to the arts can be so helpful for the sciences!
Hello this is a pitch I created for the English National Opera, who were looking for a 90 second animation to accompany music from operas they are showing presently and in the future. The purpose of this was to reach out to the public and invite them in to the world of opera and become slightly familiar with some of the amazing stories these operas are telling.
Pitch – Presentation
A rough outline of the speech I gave…if memory serves me correctly:
Hello my name is Jessica, I have chosen the song ‘Che Gelida Manina’ from the opera La Bohéme.
Before I explain the synopsis of my idea for an animation, I would firstly like to tell you a little about what is being said in this particular song.
Mimi and Rodolfo are in Rodolfo’s apartment looking for Mimi’s key. Rodolfo finds the key but doesn’t tell her, instead he begins to serenade her and tell her about his life and what he does.
I wanted to replicate this in the animation by showing Mimi and Rodolfo leaving a Parisian cafe. On the way out Mimi drops her key, but neither of them notice. The door of the cafe swings shut and the open sign swings round to show that the cafe is now closed. A cascade of moonlight beams through the window and begins to work its magic. All of the objects in the cafe are brought to life, including a radio that begins to play the opera, and we see Mimi’s key (a representation of Mimi) looking upset and lost.
The key is desperately trying to push the door of the cafe open so that she can find her owner. On a table nearby is a candle (a representation of Rodolfo) he see’s the key struggling and wants to help her. He is excited by the prospect of making a new friend and invites her to take a tour of the cafe with him. He introduces her to his other friends, shows her the views of Paris from the window and imitates poses in the posters that adorn the cafe – to try to make her laugh. The door swings open and the objects in the room assume their natural positions. It is Mimi and Rodolfo looking for her key, when Mimi see’s her key she shrills with delight and hurriedly leaves the cafe. A sad candle looks on at the friend he has just made and lost.
In summary I want this animation to reflect the overarching theme in La Bohéme which is essentially dreaming versus reality. This is a story about dreamers and artists all striving to reach their potential, but struggling against the demands life brings. This animation shows a small window into the hope and wonderment cafe objects have in their moonlight hours before reality comes in to end the dream.
I really appreciated the feedback of the panel who said the storyline was strong but struggled with a few details which I will share now.
One point was that they felt it would be difficult for an audience to empathise with a key and candle, which is a valid point and something I would have to work hard on in my character design, acting and scripting of the 90 second animation.
A second point which I had overlooked and is something I am glad that was brought up, was that they felt Mimi should not be represented as a key because she is constantly battling with illness and eventually dies in the opera. Having something as durable as a key doesn’t demonstrate that her moments in the story are fleeting. I think the reason I had overlooked this is because I felt that because Mimi (the woman) was taking the key away from the candle this sort of simulated a parting, such as death. Only on reflection do I see that this isn’t really strong enough and doesn’t really make the audience worry that the candle and key will never be reunited again.
If I were to pitch this idea again I would have switched the roles so that the candle was the representation of Mimi, constantly flickering and spluttering, as it is a more fragile object that ultimately will burn out.
Overall it was a positive experience which helped me practice presenting my ideas clearly, concisely and enthusiastically. I also learned a lot from my classmates who all had excellent pitches and took note of the charisma and research that students brought to the pitch.
I recently watched Pixar’s Coco and thought the visuals, story and music were sensational, here I provide a brief synopsis of the film. Be warned there are some spoilers! If you haven’t seen it yet I strongly recommend giving it a watch.
Coco tells the story of a budding young musician named Miguel. Unfortunately for him he is part of a family who has a generational long ban on music. Miguel has to keep his passion private from his family, who immerse themselves in the family shoemaking business.
The family are horrified when they learn of Miguel’s secret ambitions and, in a fit of rage his grandmother smashes his guitar. Miguel, in an act of defiance, signs up for a music contest but without a guitar he is unable to perform. Miguel urgently goes about the town trying to see if any musician will lend him their guitar, but they all say no. In a final act of desperation Miguel heads to the mausoleum of the world renowned musician Ernesto de la Cruz. In the sacred mausoleum Miguel finds de la Cruz’s guitar, he picks it up and plays a chord. Unbeknown to him, the guitar of de la Cruz has magical properties which allows Miguel to enter into the spirit world. Miguel is now invisible to all living people and can only interact with spirits.
He meets his ancestors who are thrilled to see him but, anxious to help him return to the living world. For him to return to normal he must receive a blessing from one of his family members. All are too afraid to, apart from Mamá Imelda, who gives him her blessing on the condition that he can never play music again. Miguel refuses, and upon discovering that Ernesto de La Cruz is his grandfather goes on a journey through the land of the dead to ask for his blessing. Along the way he meets Hector who agrees to help him find de la Cruzin exchange for Miguel to put up a picture of Hector on the Ofrenda, so that he can return to the land of the living to see his daughter and not be forgotten. For someone to be forgotten in the land of the dead is a very bad thing, they fade away and no one knows were they go.
When Miguel and Hector finally meet Ernesto de la Cruz they discover an unsettling truth about the stars past, and what he is willing to do to attain and keep fame. Ernesto refuses to give Miguel his blessing and throws both him and Hector out of his mansion, it is here that it transpires that Hector is in fact Miguel’s great great grandfather.
Ultimately the two have to overcome a few more challenges in order to help Miguel return to the world of the living, but they succeed in their task. True to his word Miguel places the picture of Hector up on the Ofrenda so that he can visit the family once a year for the festival of the dead.
This is a very brief summary of the plot and there are many more nuances and story that I have left out. It is a gripping tale that people of all ages can enjoy.
Not only was the story brilliant but the visuals and music were exquisite. Mexican culture is known for its vibrant use of colour and many Mexicans cultural values are centred around food, music, art and family and this is very well reflected in Coco.
So much thought has been put into the environment designs of the film, for example the land of the dead is very colourful whilst having a constantly dark sky. The houses are higgledy piggledy and all stacked on top of each other with numerous extensions and add ons to houses. The reason for this design is that there are always new additions to the world of the dead that will never leave unless they are forgotten.