Research and Technical- Creating the TV Sound

As mentioned, one of the key sound effects or elements of this short is that of the television. For this I need to make the sound feel like its in the room, bouncing of the walls itself.

I looked online and found this clip which, for me, was a great reference for this type of sound. Being recorded FROM a television screen, I found it was the ideal and perfect reference.

Having no previous experience at all with sound design, I sent Alec the clip and asked what he thought. He replied that this audio would be a mix of reverb, using EQ to cut off some of the bass frequencies- this would make it more like a tv speaker. He suggested I first normalize the sound- tv adverts are usually as loud as possible – this is done through normalisation and compression. All of these things can be done through audition or audacity.

The next step then for me, based on Alec’s notes was to have a look into the different audio software that there are available online. Due it already being installed on the University machines, I decided to go with Audition. I started looking at online tutorials to get used to the software.




Planning and Feedback – Final Presentation

Today was a milestone for me- my final University presentation. I got a lot of great feedback from Alec, Henry, Brian and Aodhan. I wrote a general list of it below, there isn’t anything too drastic so far, which I’m glad for. You can view the presentation from the following link. 

Below is the version of the animation that I showed today below.

Below is a list of the feedback I received today;

-keep updating animation

-punch lines humor off- tv advert wants to change- much more annoying! Banjo advert?

-montage shot working- extra sfx in this

-too much reflection on floorboards

-Cuts to remote in fridge- darkness- cut that out

-throwing sfx- more objects

-fridge shot looking good- push levels- more intense

-living room- flicker – colour variation

-black – static of tv- bg sound effects- brightness going off- car alarms-audience knows! OR TV fall off the wall.

-animation hit table good- what about sofa


-Ryan Beatty- folder SFX- power surge or light pops- sparks blow it up

As said, there isn’t a huge crazy jump for any of the work, however there are a few suggestions I am uncertain I want to follow- including the shiny floorboards. However the rest I am in full agreement with.


Planning- Shot breakdown and build

One of the next major things for me was writing down and keeping a chart to track the stages that the different shots for my short are at. Due to changes as I was making edits, I realised I needed to update this a lot to keep it relevant, and to put my mind at ease.

Using the layouts for charts that I created while at Flickerpix, I made this chart with the traffic light notifications. comp

This will come in greatly handy, especially with balancing renders. In each, I could write notes in the cells- such as what computer shots are rendering on or what percentage they are.

I made a few notes to follow, for each shot. I will keep adding to this list as I continue.

1) Fix bump map on juice box- lower strength



4) fix overlap and update animation

5) rerender the head pop up- more fluid animation in other

6) render clock

7) Revisit Alec’s notes on animation. First pose have character ‘toeing’ under a pillow with foot, before looking up. Have him tap chin to break up the standstill animation.

8) Add more items as per presentation feedback. Remember to continue the background for continuity.

9) Visit lighting in post

10) Power surge


Artistic/Planning/Technical- Scene 01 Asset Creation

When planning the assets for this scene, I kept a google sheets document with traffic light signs to ensure I didn’t miss assets or forget specific steps- such as UV’s etc. You can see a snippet of this document below- and click the link on the side to see the full asset list.


Using the prop designs and this list, I started working through each, one by one. I started modelling the shapes in the bulkier look I was going for, I started going through them and warping them. Below is the render for each of these assets. Some of them, for example the Juice Box, will need to be altered on a shot by shot basis.

















Research-Sound Design in Animation

Sound design is something I had been leaving off as it’s something I have no idea about. I know that this is a crucial part for animation,  and can make or break an animation, dividing it between a great animation and an average video.

One of the major things to consider in sound design is how much audio is needed to reinforce the animation visuals- how much is too much and how much is too little. Researching online, there seems to be no general rule for sound design for animation, however the general sound design depends on the style of it (Squeezed Media Animation Studio, 2019).

I found a great article on step by step process for sound design by Jeff Shiffman from Boom Box Post, who has worked on various animated projects from Ben 10 to The Looney Tunes Show.

When talking on choosing where to add sound design, it is generally used to sweeten the dialogue. This is king, and the last thing needed is for it to go out of context or amiss or become “unintelligible.” Sweetening certain movements of the character with SFX can add character to them, giving extra personality. I thought this would be great when applying to Renny. Although he doesn’t speak, SFX like pops when he removes his arm, and his walk cycle itself would add a lot of personality. This is what Shiffman did in Ben 10: Omniverse, he “sweetened almost all of Ben’s ‘Aliens.'”

Another area Shiffman commented on was the use of comedic timing when approaching sound design. He describes how he’s “seen first-hand how moving a sound effect only a few frames can change a moment from flat to outright hilarious.” He also advises watching comedic material when approaching SFX, find what makes you life and analyse it and replicate in your own work. However, he warns of pitfalls of first time designer, who try to make jokes when there are none.

“Animation grows from pure imagination. Build on that…. And if all else fails, put a fart sound in there.”

Based on the advice above, I began to look into sound design on different animations and movies. I found this feature on the design for Wall.E. I thought this video was very insightful, especially when approaching a feature with a largely silent cast and protagonist. Ben Burtt emphasised that this meant there was an emphasis on every squeak, beep and squawk. Emphasis was additionally put on using the right sound effect at the right time in animation. One of the quotes that struck me most in this feature was the below;

“If I find sound isn’t working in a scene, I’ll abandon the science and go with what works emotionally.”

This emphasised what Shiffman had previously said, working on sound design that felt right as opposed to what was expected and real. Again this short emphasised the use of sound to create character. With the character of M-0, for example, he is extremely nervous and loves cleaning, so his motor is constantly ticking in a high shrill noise, constant revving making it sound like he is eager to work. These constant snippets of sound make him frenetic (YouTube, 2019).

I then decided to do some analysis of clips in Aardman shorts to get a grasp for there sound design, as my current short is heavily inspired by them.

This clip shows the opening for Were Rabbit without the background music. It doesn’t imply complicated sound design- the sounds are as expected. I then went on to watch this clip, with them music added. The sound effects are audible above the music, but just about, ensuring they don’t jar.

I started going through my comp and noting the various SFX that I think would add character to Renny. I think in the shots when he removes his arm- squeak and pops would help add to the element of him being a stop motion character. I also find this kind of noises would help in his walk cycle- could his walk have a slap like look to it or as if the clay is still damp on his feet and smacking the ground.

The rest of the general foley, I am thinking of having a general bank from online and then recording ones I can’t find myself. This would allow me to break up the SFX, and not use repeated effects that often, preventing it from sounding gimmicky.

The next step for me to approach how I will be making the dominant sound in my short- the background television sound that takes over the entire short. I will need to make a list of the different ‘adverts’ that need made and how they will need treated to sound like the TV is playing in a rooms. I will approach this in the next post.


Squeezed Media Animation Studio. (2019). Sound Design in Animation – Squeezed Media Animation Studio. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Apr. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). Wall-E Animation Foley and Sound Design. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Apr. 2019].

Technical and Artistic- Renny’s Jumper Lookdev

The next part for texturing Renny was that of his jumper. This shader allowed me to combine both the cloth and clay shader principles to create a fun looking render.

First I started with finding some reference. I had fallen in love with Wallace, from Wallace and Gromit’s, jumper. As you can see from the image below, it is made in clay, as opposed from cloth. I think this adds quiet a nice whimsical feel to it, tying in with the rest of the world around it. This is something, therefore, I wanted to replicate in my own short.



I changed the type of jumper here, instead of the harsh knit stitch seen above, I decided to use the cloth node and played around with it to see what I could achieve. I used the ‘wave attributes’ a lot more here to give a funkier design.


Although the cloth look was nice, it needed a bit of variation. Michael Cauchi suggested a quick set up to give variation of the cloth height, making it look as if it was imperfectly smudged into clay. The below set up really worked.


Basically the ramp remaps the cloth texture, this makes it have more contrast, making it feel more like clay. The fractal is then multiplied over this to make areas feel softer than others, so it feels more like smudgy clay.


I then started layering the different displacements from the cloth and clay set-ups, I listed below what each of them does.

Grey layer- offset correction

File 6/ Dirt and Grunge- this map was to bring some low frequency noise to the jumper, the sort that clay that has been handled has.

Layered Texture node to ramp/cloth and fractal – the variation on the cloth pattern

Fractal 2- higher frequency noise break up

Noise 1- introduce the idea of the plucks cloth gets but in the clay form

Reverse node into noise- give effect of little pits in the clay, as if nicked by debris or tools

Fingerprints- give impression of finger prints on the clay.


Final render of the jumper.


Final jumper shader setup.

I am really pleased with how this jumper has turned out, and I am really liking how it integrates with the character. The next thing is to ensure it fits into the scene ok.


Artistic- Environment 2 Asset Creation

After Modelling the living room – the next task was to model and lookdev the fridge. Looking at my own fridge and different fridges, alongside different prop fridges I came up with a list of props I wanted to include in my fridge. As the animatic requires two shelves, I will need enough to cover both of these and make it feel used.


I used the following images as reference for the props, mainly looking at Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep sets for their shapes and general chunkiness.







I’m not the greatest at drawing and find that I generally model until I find the right look and then push it further. Below are the final modeled assets for the scene so far. When putting them into the environment I found things such as the colour schemes and the bump intensities needed to be altered to work with the lighting so far.











So far I’m happy with how the assets are turning out, especially the pie and ketchup bottle. Much like mentioned in my inspiration from The Line Animation- the environment feels real with a stop motion spin on it, with the assets all working into each other. I am torn on the yogurt label right now- this is something that will need to be further worked within the scene itself.

Animation Progression and camera changes- shot 09

Shot 09 was a shot that wasn’t entirely working for me as of yet. Currently, this shot involved Renny opening the fridge, him looking on the top camera, and then crouching down to the bottom shelf, looking around until he spotted the remote.

Alec had suggested I have the character not actually notice the remote right away, and instead have him close the fridge, and then an audible reaction could be heard. However, I wasn’t so sure about this. I recorded some reference for the scene, below, to see how it felt, and to maybe get inspired.

My handy cameraman (Michael) did quite a nice camera move when recording this, giving it a change of angle. I also liked how the camera was moving prior to the character moving, preventing disorientation, however, this would require some tests.

Camera Test

Camera settles before character

Camera settles at the same time as character

Camera settles after character

While I was testing these general camera moves, I started to block out the main poses for this scene and then worked to get the timings right.

However, while animating these, I still was having issues with the camera angle and wanted to explore the angle further, looking back at the research suggested to me by Jesus Fernandez. I also looked at different stock fridge images for ideas.


I really liked the use of the fridge shelves to guide the viewer’s eye in these and decided to play about with these more. I started moving about the camera until I stumbled across this angle, which I immediately thought helped, I added in Renny to the viewport, to give an idea for the framing of the shot when he looks into the fridge.


I really liked how this was playing out, and decided to test the camera at different focal lengths, below are the renders at 20, 25, 30 and 35. I posted these online, asking for feedback to see which one worked the best, as I was torn between them all. At the lower length, the upper shelves could be seen, giving a nice framing and suggesting that the fridge was more than just one shelving unit. However, I found at the higher focal lengths, although the shelving was no longer in view, the scene felt more compact and still natural as if the camera was in an actual fridge.

So far the feedback seems to be more in love with the shorter focal lengths ie. with the more warped perspective on the remote- as Debbie Tan put it makes “the fridge looking like an infernal cave of whatsits and god-knows whats in there and makes it seem like the cave goes in pretty deep.”

After settling on this camera, I was able to go back and work on the animation once again. I found that as Renny is mainly off of the screen when looking on the top shelf, I had to emphasize the body movement of his turns more, so they were readable to the viewer. Other than this, the actions could remain the same, with Renny ducking down to look at the shelf, the camera remaining at the same angle and position the entire time.

Below is the block out stage of the animation, with the new camera position taken into effect. So far I am happy with the general timing and posing of the character. The next step is to approach the primary inbetweens.








Animation Progression- Shot 02

Shot 02 was the first shot I animated, as I wanted a gentle introduction to animation, to make sure I was understanding the basic principles.

This shot was based on that of the Jaws shot (as talked about in another post). I posed the juice box in Renny’s hand, making sure it was at an angle that was easy to read. Originally when animating I had the arm still, with the camera doing the majority of the movement, but found it was looking a little stiff. I adding some light twitching to the hands to compensate for this.

The rest of the animation was easy enough, given it was just keyframing the camera. I keyed the focal length to match that of the original Jaws clip. I keyframed the camera distance and the focal length to create this look.

Below is the playblast of this movement in motion. I think that it is working well and reading great. The next step, for now, is to move on to the next shot.


Animatic- Crash and Push goal.

Today I had a bit of a reality check with my animatic regarding the length of unbroken animation in the shots and how hard this will be to judge a timing and rendering schedule, if these two minute long shots are slow to animate, I’ll have way less time to render. Jesus and Michael both suggested I look into alternative ways of breaking up my short film into different cuts and adding more gags. Furthermore, they commented that currently, the gags and plot feel slow, and that the comedic effect wears off quickly.

A compromise for this, I realised was to have two edits. The crash animatic (below) has a lot more cuts takes and close up shots, these all help deliver new gags. My plan is to work to create the crash animatic with the animation, however if I discover I have time or I have the animation ability to create the scene, I will do that.

Crash Animatic

Push Animatic

Update/ Further comments

Although I had originally decided to keep this animatic as the main goal for animation, the more I recorded footage and worked on animation, the more I found myself not liking this edit. I found that the added cuts was more interesting, and allowed more gags to be continually added. Therefore, I decided to go with the ‘crash’ animatic as my final short film edit. You can see the various progression in this edit in the following blog post. 


Technical-Redshift- Beginners Learning- finish notes on video

Research- How to Animate- finish notes on video series

Set Creation- Living Room- images for reference for living rooms etc, reporposing the set, go through individual assets and sprucing up.

Artistic and Research- Shot 07 Composition Feedback- add red light to control and render

Storyboarding- The Renny story- how to storyboard?

Research Potential- Single Camera Inspiration- Angry Kid etc- Aardman specific

Technical – UVs- Finish Notes

Technical- Cloth Shader Building- Write post

Artistry- Messy Environment Research

Research and Technical- 3D Scans and Character Modelling.- add section on modelling Renny in 3d using the mesh and how he changed shape.

REnny lookdev- shirt

Artistry-Animatic variations for feedback- animatics for feedback 1 and 2

Artistry and Research- Gag Progression- finish post

Animatic- Crash and Push goal.- finish post

Shot 07 animation WIP and camera changes

Scene 02- asset models

Paint up some colour keys for lighting for both scenes.

Research-Sound Effects

Animation timetable

shot planning- comp etc

Research-Sound Design in Animation- notes on the Aardman clip.

Research and Technical- Creating the TV Sound- notes on tutorial, list adverts needed.

stepped animation- try images from playblast in nuke to step