My Final Project for My Master of Arts in Animation From DePaul University

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in Animation, DePaul University CDM | 4 comments

My journey through graduate school and my stay in Chicago has come to its end. New set of letters. Master of Arts in Animation. My program and the city’s cultural scene and natural environment has been artistically and technically enriching in more ways than I can say. I also really honed in on the value of networking and relationship building. Getting to know people in the wider realm of the arts is so important in order to complete anything of substance and consequence.

I think I really mastered that on this project. I worked with two other artists who I’ve gotten to know over the last 2-3 years and their performances really put extra unique native Chicago energy into it. Visual artist Candace Hunter performed the voice over. We recorded it one day at Faie African Art Gallery in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood on the south side of town. And Samuel Savoirfaire Williams, Jazz Violinist, gave me permission to use one of his band’s songs, Counter Poise from their Ran Out of Time CD.

Hardware and software wise, I used a variety of tools. I recorded Candace’s voice over on a H4n recorder. The animated parts of the film are hand drawn in Flash, the voice over and music clip were edited in Audition and all visual and audio files were edited together in After Effects to produce the film.

It all began last year during the fall quarter and this is culmination of our efforts.


Martin Lindsey’s Master of Arts in Animation Final Film from Martin Lindsey on Vimeo.

On campus, I and my classmates spent the fall quarter in pre-production, giving pitches to each other about three ideas we had in mind for a final animated short. We voted for our favorites of everyone’s three pitches and most of us went with the preference of the room. Then we proceeded with weeks of developing a coherent story then storyboarding it with a series of weekly class critiques and revisions.

Since mine was an adaptation of a part of a poem my challenge was to create what my professor called a “visual language” just for this piece. She didn’t want me to simply animate the words but to illustrate some of the deeper meaning. Well one of my pitch ideas was an abstract animation so I was able to fit some of that style in after all. Developing a visual language for someone else’s writing is no easy task though. In fact it was actually the toughest and longest part of the project. My storyboards changed significantly and I was still modifying them into this quarter before I was able to get started on animating it but the extra time and effort was worth it.

From that point critiques of my storyboard panels were easy to adapt into my evolving sequence of images. Once I got into the activity of creating animated key frames, weekly animation critiques accelerated my process even more. This project gave me the opportunity to experiment with elemental animation in the form of water, clouds and smoke and that part of the creative process was most enjoyable for me.

Thanks to my final project professor Jo Dery for guiding us through the process of pre-production last quarter and full on animation in Animated Short Film Parts I and II over the last two quarters.

Read More

“We Too Are Chicago!” My First Animated Installation

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM | 0 comments

Shining a Light on the Hopes & Dreams of Chicago’s Youth is the subtitle of the new exhibit at HumanThread Gallery Gallery in Chicago. We Too Are Chicago! is the show featuring my wife Ramona Dallum Lindsey and Trish Williams. As the focus was on our youth, they also included a very talented high school photographer Gerald Brown. Gerry is going into her junior year of high school and she’s already an extremely gifted shutterbug. Keep an eye out for her emerging career.

While these ladies of the realm of still imagery were the focus of the show, I had a contribution as well. It was my first non-academic collaboration. I created a hand drawn Flash animation to an original score, including a narration of the poem We Too Are Chicago! written by Ramona. It’s really great the way all this came together. I had been trying for some time to figure out how to network with students in the DePaul School of Music. Only a few weeks ago I created a flyer with tear-offs containing my contact information stating that I wanted to collaborate with music students on future animation projects. I posted it on the bulletin board at the music school and a couple of weeks later a student named Matt Martin contacted me and said he’d like to talk. Take a look at the vid and I’ll give you all the background on the other side.

 


 

Matt and I met in one of the animation labs in my academic building and talked for a while, getting to know each others’ musical tastes. I showed him a few of my old animations along with the music I had selected for each. After talking about how we might work together Matt asked me when I thought I’d like to do our first joint project. I said I was thinking about the fall when I begin my final project for graduation but he might also be interested in putting something together for this project I’m doing with my wife in less than a week in case he had something on the shelf he wanted to try or an idea in his head that he could compose really fast.

I told him the gist of We Too Are Chicago and themes of perceived “hopeless”ness and striving for “hopeful”ness and achievement. He put his band of musical classmates together and they came up with a nice piece. And as it turns out I wound up gauging my work method to complete the animation. My first approach had been to create my imagery based on the lyrics from the poem but after hearing Matt’s song I decided to change tack and take visual inspiration from musical inspiration. This proved to be extremely helpful proving how music and visuals naturally compliment each other. The end result seemed to fit the spirit of the the poem. I added your Miss Whitney Jackson’s narrated track on top of it all which helped me tweak a few edits of the animated tracks and it all came together.

I’m looking forward to future collaborations with Matt. Special thanks to him and his band of merry musicians, Brett Tolcher, Kyle Licolci,Tucker Glidwell, Brandon Allen and Joe Sanchez. My animation will only be on display through Friday, July 13th, the evening of the Pilsen Art Walk but the work of the featured artists will be on display through August 3rd at HumanThread Gallery at 645 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL 60616.


View Larger Map

 

Read More

The Wrap Up For My ANI466 Cinema, Animation & Art Course

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in DePaul University CDM | 2 comments

I could try to explain the first class of ANI466 in the new Master of Arts in Animation graduate cohort but I wouldn’t come close to doing it justice do here’s the official description from the DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media web site:

This seminar course focuses on animation and cinema from the standpoint of Modern and Contemporary art. Students study the major styles and themes of historical experimental film and video, and relate these topics to contemporary animation and independent cinema practices. Emphasis is placed on theory and criticism, and how it informs experimental work. Students are expected to discuss work and theory in a seminar setting, and to engage the class material in several research papers.

The course involved a lot of dense reading from our text, Art in Theory, 1900 – 2000. We read what theorists from around the world have written, analyzed and critiqued about the arts over the last century or so. It’s written by academics for academics so it’s not a light read you’d check out from the library for fun. It definitely elevated my vocabulary though.

Our professor Alexander Stewart took a virtual approach to our assignments this past quarter. In addition to the text, we had other readings that he had uploaded to our library’s e-reserves site. He also started a class blog in which a couple of students teamed up each week to write a post on the weekly reading assignment. The rest of us left comments on the post and we discussed the reading and the group comments during the following week’s class.

Each blogging team also had to write individual research papers on those subjects. The other virtual piece was the nature in which we submitted our term papers. Alexander had us submit our first and final drafts on a site named turnitin instead of our internal school assignment portal. My blog partner Lynda Rollins and I had the subject of Semiotics and this is my paper. (You’ll have to read it first or you won’t understand the purpose of the clip below.) This paper expands on the topic of our blog post presentation by researching three artists or filmmakers who relate to the original topic, semiotics. Fair warning, it’s written in egg-head-ese so you can’t be tired while reading it. Be sure you’re fresh and ready to think before diving in 🙂

Our final assignment on the last night of class was to show a short clip, 5 minutes or less, of a concept that we found fascinating during the term. I decided to stick with semiotics using the first subject from my paper. This is the video I put together to illustrate what interested me most. The first part is from the first subject I discuss in my paper and the second part is an animated short that I created in another class about a year ago. (You have to read the paper first or you won’t get the point of the clip)

I got a lot from this course including a number of ideas for future projects based on the subjects we covered and the topics the writers elaborated on. The book expanded my thinking on the arts in general and film in particular. I’d appreciate any comments you have on my paper especially if you’re a film fan or semiotics aficionado so fire away!

Read More

Our Final Film for ANI440 Collaborative Short Animated Film

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 2 comments

“Masterpiece” is the final short film produced by my team of classmates for the first course of ANI440 Collaborative Short Animated Film. ANI440 is one of the courses for the first cohort of the Master of Arts in Animation program in DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media. Our professor Meghann Artes grouped the class into teams based on our animation and creative interests. My team mates were Christal Charlery, Deborah Mathis and Petra Sobers and this is our final production.

My roles included drawing some of the first storyboards and creating the first draft of the animatic with those storyboard drawings, animating a couple of scenes (scrolling wall near the beginning and the reveal at the end), creating some of the character’s scene props (chisel, hammer, table, cardboard boxes, box of nails, picture frames, ruler) some of the foley (tools dropped on table, horse sculture tossed onto the floor, the box dropping on the floor, the sound of the wood touching against clothing, the sound of his hand stuck to the wood and popping off the wood) and some voice over in (the form of various vocal expressions including my French impersonation, “Bee-yue-tiful!”).

There was plenty for the four of us to pack into ten weeks and it was hectic. Our 3D software crashing on a regularly random basis didn’t serve to help us keep pace as we wanted to but we juggled the pieces amongst ourselves and brought it home. We got an A (and it gave a nice little boost to the GPA) and we’re down to the last two courses over the next two quarters in the Master of Arts cohort.

So what do think of our short film? Leave a few comments. I’d like to tell you more about it.

Read More

My Final Storyboard for Visual Storytelling

Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

I had heard the phrase storyboard before but I really didn’t know what one was before taking ANI425 Visual Storytelling from professor Devin Bell last winter quarter. Storyboards are the foundational story building tool before beginning a new film. Sometimes they are used to help pitch an idea and other times they are used to flesh out a film after it has been green lighted. In this course we made our storyboards into animatics, short films made storyboard style to give the gist of a film.

For my final in this class I expanded upon previous iterations of the project that I named “Famborted” (Family Aborted). It required a few more drawings to improve story clarity and continuity. The video shows how it all turned out.

The final was a good opportunity to include movement as well. After Effects has a 3D Layers feature that allows for key framed movement of images on multiple layers to help create the illusion of those images seemingly interacting with one another on one layer. In this animatic I use that technique in the sequence where my character slides next to each picture portrait. Those are a series of PNG files on 3D layers. PNG files are used because they have background transparency built in. This makes it easy to mimic 2D objects sliding in front of or behind each other in the way that 3D objects would do.

This is one of those classes I’m putting into immediate use in all my remaining courses as well as my personal projects. Who knows, I might even give it serious consideration as a career specialty. Give me a shout and tell me what you think of my burgeoning storyboarding skills.

 

Read More

ANI 422 Animation Styles and Techniques Dino Final

Posted by on Mar 17, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

For my first final project of the winter 2012 quarter we had the option of doing something new or enhancing a previous project. I wanted to jazz up my dinosaur so I revised that assignment and retooled it as a loose homage to Windsor McCay (Gertie the Dinosaur) and the John and Faith Hubley UPA (my attempt at minimal animation) style.

The white outline with a gray fill pretty much set the stylization I was going for. Modifications included reshaping the head and adding in-betweens for bent leg motion at the beginning. I also added a few dozen extra Photoshop layer neck motion tweens at the end which were imported into After Effects and sequenced for the animation.

The background was stylized with scanned textile pieces. The mountains were a textile scrap with color adjustments to give it a reddish hue in Photoshop. I shaped the rectangular scrap into mountainous contour by creating a mask with the pen tool in After Effects. The ground was a different layer of scanned fabric. I scaled it down to fit under the mountain range. The lake was four alternating scans of a piece of sheer turquoise fabric that I twisted and reshaped on the scanner table. I masked it into the composition with the pen tool and added a wavy effect filter to each layer for stylized wave motion. Here’s how it turned out.

My professor didn’t want us to use Flash for the final and gave the challenge to use other tools so I had to revert to Photoshop. I love Photoshop for textures and images but it is horrible for animation. It took forever to make edits to layer by layer without the benefit of onion skinning which saves massive amounts of time when tweaking. Nevertheless I chugged through it.

Now that I’ve experimented with textiles as environmental accents I really like the feel it gives. I’m definitely going to use them more often in the future. One final down and one to go before spring break.

Read More

I’m Gettin’ FunGky With My Animation

Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

Yes, I spelled it with a “g” as in Stellar Fungk, an old 1978 funk jam by a group called Slave. As we learned more about the early animation pioneers as well as a few from more modern times I wanted to continue investingating my experimental chops. This time I went completely abstract with no literal imagery. Just wanted to have the imagery moving rhythmically with the music with some tones sliding in between the movements.

Viking Eggeling, Walter Ruttmann, Oskar Fischinger and others as inspiration for this one. I made this one 30 seconds in length. Take a look.

Can’t you tell I had a lot of fun with this one? If I had more time I would definitely have stretched it out. I had a blast with this one and looking forward to more fun with 2D. Stay tuned and see what I come up with next.

Read More

Emile Cohl Has Me Hooked On Abstract Animation

Posted by on Feb 15, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

Well he’s one one many that have me developing a taste for abstract animation this quarter. One of the cool classes I’m taking this Winter of 2012 is ANI422 Animation Styles and Techniques. I guess since my eye has begun to get attuned to abstract painting over the last few months, appreciating the abstract in digital media should be perfectly natural I guess.

The quarter began with us learning about some of the European pioneers of animation. They came along in the 19th century during the advent of film technology when people were first being mesmerized by moving images of people on a screen. Cohl is credited as being the first to amaze with illustrations that came to life on this new medium. His film Fantasmogorie is the standard reference in animation circles when it comes to how it was done more than a century ago.

His morphing figures make me go “ooh and ahh” now, even with his rudimentary motions, decades before the fundamentals of animation were established. During the quarter our projects are to be inspired by the variety of short films that we reveiw in class each week and our professor Lisa Barcy typically likes us make our shorts 10-30 seconds long. The abstract inspired my so here is my homage to the original master.

What do you think of my first effort? I plan to do more abstract (oftern referred to as “experimental” in modern animation parlance) inspired animation over time, as I continue to learn and research the topic so stay tuned to the blog for more.

Read More

Superhero Storyboard Work in Progress

Posted by on Feb 11, 2012 in DePaul University CDM | 0 comments

Here’s how a storyboard in progress might look when you see it in preliminary, critique phase. I have the basic elements in place and we had in class critiques about a week ago. My professor was impressed with my first swipe at it and my classmates like what they see so far. All gave suggestions on edits to a few boards and ideas on what to add to finish it out. It’s due this coming Monday so you’ll see credits etc by then. If you get to take a look-see in the next couple of days before I complete my revisions though leave a comment and tell me what you think of it so far.

 

Martin Lindsey Storyboarding Project #4 Rough from Martin Lindsey on Vimeo.

Revision B of my second animatic. I went superhero since that’s a genre I’m interested in.

The song is “Streetwave” from the Brothers Johnson’s 1978 album Blam!

Music clip used for educational purposes only. This song does not belong to me, Martin Lindsey, and I am making no attempt to profit from the work of the original musical artists.

Read More

My Path the Rest of the Way

Posted by on Jan 3, 2012 in DePaul University CDM | 0 comments

The new year brings me to the home stretch of my animation program. I have six courses left in the new MA Animation curriculum spread over the next four quarters. This winter quarter the two new classes are ANI 425 Visual Storytelling which is basically a storyboarding class and ANI 466 Animation Styles and Techniques which is an animation history class where we’ll put historic styles into motion with animated projects.

Spring quarter 2012 which begins in late March will bring the next two, ANI 440 Collaborative Short Animated Film and the new ANI 466 Cinema, Animation & Art in Contemporary Practice Course. Fall 2012 and winter 2013 are Animated Short Film I and II respectively. Looking at this final push it seems that there are only three “real” classes and three short films although there may be some degree of instruction involved in the collaborative movie class.

And with only one or two classed per quarter I’m hoping to better be able to mix in some personal work for my company. I’d like to add some animation jobs to the web and social media mix. I’m finally feeling like I’m on the downhill towards the finish line. here’s to 2012-13 and finishing strong.

Read More

My Animation Graduate Seminar in Review

Posted by on Dec 29, 2011 in DePaul University CDM | 0 comments

At the beginning of the past Fall Quarter I shared my expectations of grad seminar as laid out by our professor Lisa Barcy. I wasn’t able to keep you updated over the quarter so I’m catching you up at the end. With our reading assignments and short film viewing in class each week I learned a lot of animation history and along with the background of different types of animation.
Such history makers as Winsor McCay turned out to be inspiration for my exploration of animating water during the term. He was masterful with his realistic representation of the element in The Sinking of the Lusitania. I also enjoyed Daniel Sousa’s Minotaur for it’s creative aquatic animation and the effective metaphorical use of it.

 
Here are my two papers on each of those films in flip book form.
 


 


 
Since I got so much practice using Flash in my Animation Mechanics course I decided to use it for my graduate seminar final as well. Lisa makes sure that we are ultimately producing some work even in her lecture classes and this one was no different. Check out my final project below as I get into my head and look towards the future.
 


 

The highlight of the term was our almost weekly guest lecturer. We had great visits from guest animators like Wayne Brechja the owner of Calabash Animation. This is a legendary Chicago based animation company so it was a real treat having Wayne share his insights on how they do their thing.

Some of our professors talked to us as well. Had a roaring time from Devin Bell who told us about his start in school. He showed his old student project Crank Balls that landed him into a career at JibJab. Meghann Artes shared some of her work with us including student film from her days at U.C.L.A. She’s worked at a bunch of places including Sesame Street. Jo Derry not only shared her unconventional, don’t-plan-it-all-out-before-you-start approach to animating her work, she answered the all important “How much do animators charge for a project?” question (thank you Jo, I’m revising my pricing structure as I type).

We gave presentations to each other as well. It’s always interesting to see classmates talents and learn what inspires and motivates them to do their art the way they do it. I’m pretty sure some great future collaborations will come of it. I have some REALLY talented classmates.

We did lots of reading and wrote a paper a week. One of the more interesting pieces of reading was Colourful Claims: towards a theory of animated documentary. It’s a philosophical take on animation as documentary tool, whether animation can be considered legit documentary since the characters portraying the action aren’t actual living beings.

 
We had a variety of animation related events that we could write about as well. One that was particularly interesting to me was the CartoonInk!: Emerging Comics In Context exhibit at one the the Art Institute of Chicago’s galleries in the Loop. It was an exhibit of alternative comics with a variety of subject matter, artistic styles and methods of print publishing. I have never seen such a wide variety of book styles.

One paper was an out our comfort zone paper focusing on an artistic style that we didn’t work with. I chose a recent mosaic Reaching Back; Moving Forward, Lest We Forget the Song of 47th St. Its a bricolage mural dedicated to the African American history of the neighborhood. Here are a few pics of the piece. Listen to the lead artist, Carolyn Elaine, tell you more about it.

 


 

 
This was a great seminar and I have a lot of conceptual take-aways that I use for future projects. The Winter Quarter lies ahead. I’m ready to rock and roll with the next of the two new classes in the cohort.

Read More

My Animation Mechanics Class In Review

Posted by on Dec 26, 2011 in DePaul University CDM | 0 comments

I posted on being part of the first cohort of this first course back in October in the middle of the fall quarter. I learned lots more since then and wanted to share it here. We continued using The Animator’s Survival Kit(this is the link to the more recent Expanded Edition) and Timing for Animation as our main texts There were three projects since that last post and I’ll give you some background on each.

This short was a study in vibration. We used a leaf at the end of a long stem blowing in the wind as the example to animate in class. It involved alternating a series of frames and repeating some of them to mimic a back and forth motion. I extended the principle to show the roaring dragon’s head moving back and forth. I felt like I was really beginning to get comfortable with Flash by the time we got to this project at week seven of the term.

 

 

This next film was more practice with the vibration principle. I used an alternating sequence of two sets of lips to create the effect of fluttering lips. One set of lips was a series of frames that extended away from the mouth. The other set of puckered lips were in-betweened with the first set of lips to create the exaggerated cartooned effect of snoring.
The original project was a few seconds shorter than this due to the turn-in deadline so I went back into the file and duplicated the lip sequences a few extra times to make my snoozing character more lifelike.

 

 

The final project though, is the work I’m most proud of so far. Our professor, Scott Roberts, introduced us to a new book, Elemental Magic, The Art of Special Effects Animation, by Joseph Gilland. He’s known for his expertise in drawing and animating natural phenomena like fire, smoke and water. I’ve always wanted to study how to represent water so this book was a golden find for me. I recommend it for every animator in addition to his most recent Elemental Magic, Volume II: The Technique of Special Effects Animation which is the one I used the most.
Needless to say I made it a point to include it in my final project below. The objective was to incorporate four of the principles we learned along with a narwhal. I think Scott was just challenging our story telling talents with that last detail. I included A) winged flight, B) vibration (the tent), C) fire, D) water…and the narwhal.

 

 

My animation skills definitely went up a notch this fall. Can’t wait to continue on the development of my during the winter quarter in January.

Read More