Artistry- Messy Environment Research

With the development of creating a messy environment, I wanted to search for some images to use for inspiration.

Living Room

I like the idea of the room being messy, but not to the extreme. The stock image of the girl sitting on the sofa, for me, was a great reference. The idea of discarded plates and misshaped furniture has a nice charming appeal.

Kitchen/ Fridge interior 

It’s important for me that interior of the fridge is messy but not disgusting, as if Renny is a very disorder eater, with left over take away and half eaten food. I grabbed a few images below just for some ideas.



Artistry-Plot feedback

Regarding plot and story development I am rather clueless so I went and got some much needed outsider feedback.

Chester Sampson kindly had a glance over my first animatic and give me great critic. I’ll summarise what he said.

Conflict is established through using a characters intentions and the obstacles stopping them are the most important part of the narrative. The characters goal needs to be established as soon as possible, and then the obstacles they face need to be made clear.

For my film, we have the character, Renny.

We have his intention – to switch the tv channel.

We have his obstacle- he can’t find his remote

Chester expressed for films like this that the gag is enevitable but surprising. The idea is that it makes sense in the created universe but still leaves an interesting twist. He gave the example of Blue Zoo’s Avacado short.

Chester commented with this in mind, the characters intention and obstacle are not coming across to the audience.

He suggested first to establish the character, through the acting, character design and environment design to ensure viewers know he is a lazy mess.

Then establish the conflict. An incident which takes the character from his peaceful neutral state into chaos. Making it clear what they need to go back to peace.

After that then add the gags. Making them progressively bigger and more mad.

To summarise

establish character—> establish conflict —> escalating stakes—> twist ending.


In response to feedback from Chester and that from my previous presentation, I grabbed a whiteboard to try and plan changes for the animation.

Establishing character- To create a lot messier character I first tackled the environment (this is in more detail in a separate post), making it more worn and messier, this work will be done a lot through texturing. Acting, I had the suggestion of making the character certain in his actions as if a daily occurrence of him making a mess, and then subconsciously grabbing a remote that could be a different object entirely or no remote at all. The character design, I tweaked it to make Renny more at a disadvantage and give cause for more havoc (again in more detail, in a separate post).

Establish conflict- to establish conflict more, I think, for me, I will do a live action test, to ensure that, as Chester pointed out, there is a gradient/increase of intensity of obstacles to ensure his rage continues in a linear progression.

Twist ending – I’m going to do two variations here for further feedback. The first iteration is the same as the animatic, Renny opens the fridge, buts milk back in beside the remote, closes the fridge, you hear him walk away and then, realising his mistake, shouts in anger. The second iteration, which I’m more draw too now. Renny opens the fridge, looking at the contents for something to eat, the camera pans down to the next shelf, where he again looks. He pans the shelf until his eyes find the remote, where he passes over it, then suddenly looks back realising his mistake. The camera cuts to black as he yells.

During the presentation, due to my section of off screen animation, and that a person rigged my character, I needed to extend my animation. Alec suggested a post credit scene, which I decided would be a good way to further mess with Renny.

Alec suggested I show Renny fixing the TV, possibly cellotaping the cracks, and then sitting down, enjoying his show finally. However, I did not want to finish on such an easy note. Instead, I though it would be funnier to add a open ended obstacle. For this I thought Renny could sit back, change the channel a few times, relaxed, and then the low battery sign flashes on the remote, before ultimately turning off.










Research and Technical- 3D Scans and Printing

3D Scans and Printing in Stop Motion Animation

Already aware that 3D printing is used regularly, I wanted to investigate into if 3D scanning was used in stop motion films, where scenes that require 3D manipulation are needed. I found this test online and found it rather intriguing.

Although this is rather complex a test for what I want to achieve, it got me thinking a bit.

While led working at Flickerpix, Johnny Schumann explained to me that for a development slate for Renny, an alternative use for 3D scans was used. They created a model for Renny in house. This model was then scanned and a 3D mesh was generated. This was to ensure that the wonky handmade look was obtained, texture maps were then extracted too, to ensure again it looked ornate and created by hand.

I have been watched a lot of making of videos and I believe that this technique is used in other productions to. The making of video for the BBC Christmas advert. It shows a premodern puppet with a stand still face, the face was tracked and additional expressions added in post. However to ensure the faces fit the original model, I assume they created a scan of the model prior.





Creating the Scan

One of the things I wanted to create a test for the character model, by doing a 3D scan of the character, which I would create from sculptey.

I created Renny, sculpting his arms, legs and body/head separate. To join the body together, I’ll bring the exported scan into Zbrush, clean up the mesh, join the arms to the body, and then create the topology.


One of 105 images I took of Renny’s body. When looking online, it recommended that not to take the photos in areas which are dimly lit and have shadows (harsh), I confirmed externally that soft shadows were OK (Artec Support Center, 2018). Due to the weather outside, I used the atrium area to take the photos. I ensured that I covered all angles of Renny, including the top and bottom of his head.

Additionally, I added ‘X’s onto the mesh, so that Agisoft would understand the orientation of the mesh.

I followed Agisoft’s online tutorial for beginners to create the scan.

The first process was to align the photos. I then had to alter the bounding box on the data, to remove any irregularities.


The next step to to build the dense cloud. Based on the estimated camera positions the program calculates depth information for each camera to be combined into a single dense point cloud. The cloud on my scan worked out pretty well in certain areas, especially that on the jumper and collar, however the head isn’t quite as neat. I’ll have to take this into Zbrush to neaten.



Artec Support Center. (2018). Lighting conditions and specific 3D-scanning scenarios. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Oct. 2018].

Research- Silent Protagonists

For this short I wanted to keep Renny silent, not for an ease thing, but more that I have a long standing belief that so much more emotion can be created through silent characters.

Looking as far back of the ear if silent films, stories were entirely told through a specific style of acting. This is theatre/stage acting, due to prior to silent films, actors were trained for stage- with highly melodramatic actions. An excellent example of this is known as a point, where the actor had a protracted moment of “intense physical or emotional action which was momentarily frozen in a powerful attitude or tableau (→, 2018).

To modern audiences this style of acting could be interpreted as over the top and a bit mad- look at the clip below from The Thief Of Baghdad (1942). It’s also important to notice the sound quality here, the music is patchy, therefore further emphasising the need for clear facial expressions and body language.

I found an interesting list of things to consider in silent acting, I listed the ones that were appropriate to my film below.

ACTION – When the director gives you the word for action at the start of a scene, don’t wait and look at the camera to see if it is going. That will be taken care of and started when the action settles down to where the directors think the scene should start.

EYES – Use your eyes as much as possible in your work. Remember that they express your thoughts more clearly when properly used than gestures or unnatural facial contortions. Do not squint. You will never obtain the results you are striving for if you get into that very bad habit.

MAKING EXITS – In making an exit through a door, or out of the picture, never slack up just on the edge; use a little more exertion and continue well out of range of the camera. Many scenes have been weakened by such carelessness.

GESTURES – Do not use unnecessary gestures. Repose in your acting is of more value. A gesture well directed can convey a great deal, while too many may detract from the realism of your work (→, 2018).

I find these principles work beautifully with modern mute characters, especially, the likes of Gromit. In Aardman’s productions the silent character speaks volumes, with Wallace it’s his over exaggerate exasperated eyebrows which constantly move. Although not as extreme as the above stop motion acting, it still is heavily influenced by them.

The clip below shows this style of animation that I am talking about.



→, V. (2018). “Do not squint”: How to Act in Silent Films, Circa 1910. [online] A Smile And A Gun. Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2018].



Research and Technical- IOR- The basics

Index of Refraction is the measuring of the degree of bend of a light ray when it passes through one medium to another. If i is the angle of incidence of  refraction in a vacuum, and r is the angle of refraction, the index of refraction (n) is defined as the ratio of the sine of the angle of incidence to the sine of the angle of refraction; i.e., n = sin i /sin (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018).


IOR explained (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018).

Some IORs worth remembering, air- 1.0003, water- 1.333, diamond- 2.417. For each material, there are different IORs- these can be found simple through googling, were different blogs have been collecting them eg. this one.



Encyclopedia Britannica. (2018). refractive index | Definition & Equation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Nov. 2018].

Artistry and Research- Focal Length

On thing that was mentioned to play with during the last presentation was both the focal length and the depth of field. So, I thought I’d have a research into what these both were.

To begin with, I’ll research Focal Length, and apply it in different ways to my scene. So what is focal length?

Focal length, usually represented in millimeters (mm), is the basic description of a photographic lens. It is not a measurement of the actual length of a lens, but a calculation of an optical distance from the point where light rays converge to form a sharp image of an object to the digital sensor or 35mm film at the focal plane in the camera. The focal length of a lens is determined when the lens is focused at infinity (Length, 2018).

Basically the focal length informs us on the angle of view- or how much or the scene will be captured, and the magnification, or how large/small the elements are.

The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification  (Length, 2018).


Diagram showing the effects of focal length on a camera (Hollier, 2018).

A gif showing the importance of focal length. (YouTube, 2018).

Focal Length in Stop Motion 

I researched a bit and found online that in newer stop-motion productions 35mm-50mm are used, whereas older productions would have used 75mm-80mm. These longer lenses create a more compressed appearance- something I thought would be interesting to introduce, especially given my inspiration of older Wallace and Gromit movies.






The last image (80mm) was my far favourite- I loved the more squished look it gave the set, it also made the environment feel a lot more miniature look. Due to the focal length change, I realised that the distance of the camera back would need to be altered, to show more of the scene. This added distance/height would mean possibly story changes, which I believe I found solutions for. For example the higher height of the camera makes it harder for Renny’s face to be seen when he’s up close to the camera. The emphasise his height disadvantages, I decided to add an off screen step, which he will move to under the TV to reach. Additionally, due to the increased distance between the camera and the sofa, when the TV falls, it is apparent how far apart the furniture is.  So instead of having the TV fall, I will have a crack spread across the screen. This will allow some facial animation, the eyes following the crack and a gulp before the TV cuts off.


Length, U. (2018). Focal Length | Understanding Camera Zoom & Lens Focal Length | Nikon from Nikon. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Dec. 2018].

Hollier, T. (2018). The three main attributes of a camera lens | Relentless Play. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Dec. 2018].

Artistry-Feedback on Lighting

So I got some external feedback regarding my lighting on this project. During the last presentation I have feedback from classmates that suggested I look into pushing the lighting from the TV more, making it stronger. This agreed with other feedback I was given so I decided to push it more.  Another area to be addressed was that of the lamp shade/lamp light. Jesus Fernandez, whose tutorials I’ve been using for the duration of this project,  noted that there is a lot of distraction from the RHS of the image compared to the LHS. I decided to do some tests, turning this off.

I found some further references online. I realised that the blue lighting on the sofa/TV lighting is very strong.

Below are the lighting changes. Image 1 showing the lighting as originally. I did a few different tests for the lighting. One thing I realised was a weakness was that I wasn’t taking an extreme and pushing it, instead I was only minutely changing settings. Once I started drastically increasing the intensity and colour, I began to get something I liked.

Below you can see the changes in this lighting. The fourth image is the current look, I think it’s a tad too dark however, and will be experimenting with brightness/intensity to achieve the look.

So what actually changed? In the first image- there are 4 lights in the scene. A point light in the lamp, an area light through a doorway on the RHS, an area light from above (simulating how stop motion sets are lit) and then the final one from the TV. For the fourth image there is only one light- that of the TV.


Technical- Layered Texture

One helpful node that I learnt about for texturing was the layered texture node. This helpful little node can be used in a variety of function; layering two materials together, imputing maps across multiple UDIMS, layering displacements or bump maps and applying iso maps.

This little video I found online shows a basic of what the layered texture set-up can do.


Layered Texture Node (YouTube, 2018).

Use with Multiply Divide

This set of nodes is a god send with procedural shading. This set up allows for more control. In the case of this set up, I used it mainly for bump and displacement.

The multiply divide node controls the overall strength of the entire bump/displacement. The layered texture- this is were the different fractals/files are connected- allows control of the strength of each individual one, this is done through the alpha slider.