Friday, 30 April 2010

Unit 6- Target Audience changed and its research

I decided to change my target audience, yes instead of going for an undergraduate level, I swapped to a target audience of younger age. Although my thoughts firstly were fixated onto doing a animation for children as I like character design, I chose not to because I felt like I wanted to try something new, and not repeat the past 2 projects. the choice of undergraduate students weren't appealing me at all, because despite the sophistication in the animation, an extra level of information may be needed also. So I decided to go for a more cinematic approach, but yet sophisticated, the GCSE's Students audience, by choosing this age, will be able to produce rather more expressive and dynamic environments conveying the story, good to mention that it is at this certain age that Teenagers drawn more attention to film, therefore, a possibility of science-fiction to be used.
This the change of audience was mainly based on the way I am aiming my aesthetics to be, although following closely to the source materials, it has an extra factor, a likeness to science-fiction.

GCSE's Students range from the age of 14 to 17, at this age, students, if not already, develop an interest to books and films, therefore the use of fiction is essential to appeal the audience. Television being the main vehicle of entertainment for this audience, it is also a good source of research in understanding what they prefer. In film, the interest rises, on one hand, male students better identify with science-fiction, action, horror and comedy films . Female Students particularly develop a likeness for romance and drama films, as well as comedy. Thus, for my project, I have to balance between, the struggles of a spore in becoming mycelium, or the the rapid growth of the same into the fruitbody. Although, no use of real emotions will be portrayed, by the means of camera work these same emotions will be conveyed.

Further research led me to understand what specific TV Shows, or Films this audience likes.

While male students prefer films such as:

Clash of the Titans- Action

- Action

Alien- Science Fiction Horror

Female students have different choices

Twilight Series - Action/ Drama

Also to take in consideration the target audience of this age draws a severe attention to videogames, which ultimately can lead to addiction, though the interest here is to know that teenagers nowadays are able to absorb faster motion pictures, therefore assimilate information faster.

The use of a more cinematic approach will allow me to persuade this type of audience.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Unit 6- Medical Animation Documentaries or Videos

I decided to research also the type of Animation we are asked to produce. Although my target audience, is based around undergraduate students where I'm aiming to create dynamic environments but keeping the sophistication for a better understanding of the subject, I researched medical animation in different audience types, from primary or even earlier ages to a more mature audience.

I'll start the research by age type, and in the end I'll choose what type of animations I'm moving towards to produce.

I started the research by looking at a old cartoon that I used to watch when I was a child.

Once Upon a Time... Life

This series were really appealing for me as a child, maybe because I liked the subject or maybe because the whole process is explained in such a simple way, with friendly characters, that tell the story but also appeal to us.
It is a kind of a cartoon inside the human body, where the happenings are told in a interesting way for children.
These series not only had this time subject, Human organism, but also dealt with types of civilization of the Earth, from Dinosaurs to the humans of today, or a more recent subject related to the Oceans.
I can say this series helped to understand as a child many of the things parents sometimes dare t explain to their kids, like the fertilization of an egg, etc.

If I went this way with my project, having an audience of primary school students, character design would be essential to explain the whole process as it would appeal them much more and they would associate with them.

The Magic School Bus

Later in my childhood, I was presented to other type of educative cartoon, The Magic School Bus. Once again it belonged to the same age type audience, where a group of students would embark in different episodes to most unexpected landscapes, from inside a human body to the water process.
It also was an appealing cartoon, although we didnt have characters acting the story, we had a group of schools kids embarking in them, and their teacher explaining the processes in a simple way.

Moving towards older ages, such as GCSE or A Levels, the graphics to start to be more realistic, but yet appealing to this certain age, where the cartoony look leaves and gives place to rather more science-fiction types. Also the use of film opposing to cartoon animation can be perceived, where is a narrative, behind the occurring actions.
For this purpose, I looked at 3 examples related to the subject of exploration of the human body.

Look Who's Talking and Look's Who's Talking Too

It is a comedy film, the second being the sequel, where the exploration of the human reproduction system is visible in the 1st minutes of the film. As you can see from, the following clips the use of non related sound effects, such as background music, or the voices gives this comedic effect to the process which can be particular appealing to audiences of this age.
Where this audience show more interested to the film itself that the actually process evolving it

Fantastic Voyage

It is a film related also with the inside of the human body, where a crew of scientists embarks on a mission to destroy injury that a fellow scientist has. This film is delightful in terms of visuals, because it applies the abstractedness of the human body to create appealing environments to the audience.


Although, Aliens is not related directly with this subject, its concept art is a role model for the creation of really abstract yet communicative environments. Still inside the cinema field, the use of science fiction is a really good and interesting way of persuading audiences to enjoy the animation.

These pictures show what I mention, the connection with my project, the creation of organic environments beautiful crafted showing the abstractedness of landscapes never seen by men.


This film also is a good example of appealing environments, not only they are vast they also have the appealing factor add to it, this is possible by a extensive research into the human psychic and finding what we actual associate more to our likeness and what we don't.
As an example in this films, the use of fluorescent lights when the environment turns dark, it's one of these factors, the persuasion of our eye by the colour is just so effective that we associate them to what is magnificent and greatly beautiful. In this film, we also see this concept added to the characters, the Na'vi population, was produced after an exhaustive development from the first sketches to the final outcome, because it was influenced by what people associated to being friendly to us and what can be unwelcoming and uncanny. The colour used was also based on this concept, blue is an appealing colour and by make it lighter, it gives a sense of sophistication and association to what is cute.
This idea can be related with propaganda, where the visuals of the film is what really sells it and not the rather simple and many times told story of nature vs. man.

Now moving onto a more mature age, between A-Levels to undergraduate students, where the audience should have a better understanding of the subject presented, a level of sophistication is needed but not losing the dynamism used before, not only to persuade audiences to watch but also help them understand the processes more accurately. For this purpose, I researched rather more specific companies and their work in Documentaries and TV Series.

Hybrid Medical Animation Company

Hybrid is a company specialized in medical animation, where they use CG Animation to explore and demonstrate environments that are not possible to be shown. The idea in their animation is to keep the sophistication of the imagery and being able to send the process message across. Not only they produce really stunningly graphic animations with astonishing renders, but also they use the animation to communicate effectively.

Nucleus Medical Animation Company

Nucleus is another company related to the same type of work produced by Hybrid, the use of CG enables people to create the most abstract of the environments and actually animate them with a power of a click.

BBC Documentary- Science & Technology

BBC is also a good source to look at some really fascinating environments, they use medical CG Animation to create really interesting documentaries that can be watched by people of different ages, though the target audience is a more mature one, with a certain knowledge of the subject already.

stepping onto a more familiar field, is TV Shows or Music clips, this two examples can range from, GCSE Levels to undergraduates depeding on what each individual finds appealing.

Firstly is the opening sequence of a well known series of today's television.

House MD.

This shows a really distinct approach to the subject in which we are about watch, not only setting up the theme of the TV show, but also giving the sense of sophistication, almost saying "yes we know what we are doing". Once again the use of medical animation is visible to convey places only perceived by a microscope.

Also throughout the series is a infinite number of the same technology used, medical animation, though I could not find on Youtube.

Massive Attack- Teardrop

Most people know this musical group by listening to this song, though I mostly know them by using this video clip to accompany it, even though it doesn't have to relate necessarily, the use of really abstract environments to more familiar ones such as the reproduction of the human, are a different approach into the music field.

Finally for this project, I decided to go for a sophisticated and accurate approach to the subject, targeted to an undergraduate audience, though the creation of dynamism through environment and camera work is essential, not only to help understand the cycle, but actually persuade them to like the subject.

Unit 6- Process 7: Growth of the Appendages and Dispersion of the Spores

After meiosis takes place, where the diploid basidias change to be haploid basidias with 4 haploid nuclei, these haploid basidias extent and form 4 appendages visible as being 4 "sacs". these appendages are called basidiospores ( the ones will later land and germinate again on the ground), with the creation of these 4 appendages each of the haploid nuclei moves towards one of them claiming their own, thus now we have 4 basidiospores, with 4 haploid nuclei inside them.
This small organisms can be perceived as the "seed" of a mushroom, because they hold inside them an organism, which will create another fungus.

Once again these pictures show a great potential to create really science fiction types concept art and landscapes. also the following pictures will help me to see it in a more 3D land and further develop into my own style without losing logic.

When mature, these basidiospores are more than healthy to leave the fruitbody, However this action wouldn't be possible if the environmental cues didnt act, The basidiospore is able to disperse from the basidium, through weather conditions such as rain for instance or when reach a really mature age. when dispersed the spores reach the soil or ground and so it begins the whole cycle again.
Finally is good to mention that each mushroom can release millions of basidiospores, though they are so minimal that we cannot see it but when they reach the ground they become a strong organism, a sort of connection to the surrounding soil.

This allowed me to understand the whole cycle in more detail, from the germination of a small spore to a creation of an extensive network, called mycelium or from the growth into a fruitbody to all the processes occuring inside its gills . But this research also helped me to understand how fungus are so important to nature and to the world, because they use and help other plants animals or even organisms to survive as well as controlling the soil around them.
With this cycle idea set I'm more than happy to start concept art, I have already good ideas for my concept arts, but also for story-boarding the story, though a script will be needed.

Unit 6- Process 6: Meiosis

Meiosis is a process that occurs after karyogamy, and consists almost on its opposite. while karyogamy joins the 2 haploid nucleis inside the basidias, Meiosis happens when the diploid basidias divide the diploid nuclei into 4 haploid nuclei, this process occurs to prevent the cells to have too many genes, these process not only occurs in fungi but also in animals or plants. when the cells are divided thay are ready for the next stage.

Unit 6- Process 5: Karyogamy

The full grown fruit body of a mushroom underneath its cap is formed by gills, a kind of vents -like look characteristics where main processes of reproduction of the mushroom happen. For this purpose, I returned to my science classes, firstly started in my GCSE Levels, and with a example of a mushroom that I had at home, I started by cutting it and taking some photos of this specific part to see how it looks like and how abstract I can produce it. Although, I dont own any , microscopic camera, the use of the macro helped to define the subject matter in the picture excluding the rest.

This pictures show how this can be rich visually creating kind of alien structures, although to better show the process, these photos are not enough as it happens in microscopic proportions, not visible by this camera.
A further research on the same part of the fungus was made to better understand the environment, in which this process occurs.

These pictures allows to see how these organisms, called show dikaryotic basidias look, and also in what they hold inside them, 2 haploid nuclei. Leading to following process to happen.
This process is called Karyogamy and happens inside the gills of the mushroom at microscopic proportions, it consists in a swallow by the 2 haploid nuclei, by the lack of space in this capsules the haploid organisms form into a diploid basilia. This basilia now consists in the genes of the 2 haploid nuclei forming the diploid body.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Unit 6- Process 4: Growth of the Fungi into its Fruitbody

After the Plasmogamy process, extensive masses of mycelium is formed, this mycelium grows even more and concentrates in specific points. At these points also called hyphal knots, a compact form of organism is formed, which can be seen as the beginning of the growth of the "fruit".
Fungus not being considered plants, but rather belonging to the fungi group, they don't have actual fruits , however, we can assemble the name "fruit" to the outcome or offspring of the the same hyphal knot.
Even this growing process has different stages, it is divided in 3 main ones, the growth into a pinhead, the growth into a primordium and the final growth into a fruit-body, the actual mushroom as we perceive it. this process is only possible due to environmental cues.

This process can be seen in the following videos, although they are time lapsed, they give an accurate visualization of how the actual fungus grows.

For this animation, despite this life cycle is visible in most of the mushrooms with some exceptions, I decided to choose a specific mushroom that can be visually appealing but also able to convey the narrative well.

I looked at some types of mushrooms

and the ones which caught my attention were the poisonous, maybe because they have a more appealing look, despite no connection between visuals and poison.
I choose the most common look of mushrooms, because the audience will be able to identify it immediately as well as looking stunningly and friendly.

The Fly Agaric or Fly Amanita ( Amanita Muscaria)

Amanita Muscaria is a commonly known mushroom that can be seen in open woodlands, especially under birch and conifer trees. It is recognized as being the type of mushroom used by many artists that to stereotype the fungi world. The cap is rounded when young, but it flattens with a upturned margin. Viscid when wet, it peels easily.The torn veil remains on the upper part surface of the cap as thick patches or warts, though sometimes it is absent in some old specimens from being washed away by rain. the gills are crowded but close to the stem. The stem is scaly, and have narrowed from a wider base.
Although its stunning look and being used to illustrate many children's books or animations, it also is a fungi in which you dont want to eat as it is poisonous, looking a femme fatale in the shrooms land :).

Colour: Bright Scarlet Red or Orange Red cap, with white or yellowish cap patches, the gills are white or yellow and with a stem varying from yellow and white colours.

Height up to 10 inches and up to 7 inches cap wide.

Unit 6- Process 3: Plasmogamy

Plasmogamy is a process in the fungi reproduction cycle which consists in the encounter of 2 haploid mycelium of opposite matting types, this happening leads a creation of a new membrane, a dikaryotic mycelium, this new organism is the offspring of the junction of these 2 haploid organisms. Having gather cells from its parents the new offspring is healthy, helped by the weather conditions, it is able to grow much faster than its parents, forming complexes structures of hundreds of myceliums. These structures look beautiful and once again a possible choice to create astonishing abstract landscapes where these thread-like organisms interlace and form irregular yet fascinating structures inside the ground.

These pictures are just amazing, showing a vast network that not only gives life to the mushroom fruit, but also connects to the rest of the earth, helping the environment around the fungus to be healthy and developed.

I have found this video, where Paul Stamets a mycologyst, explains the importance of mycelium to the world and how the connection of the mycelium to the surrounding soil is so important to create the forests we see today. This video I can admit was a eye opener for me because I was unfamiliar with all this knowledge about mushrooms.

Unit 6- Process 2: Growth of the Basidiospore into a Hyphae Forming Mycelium

This process occurs just after the germination of the basidiospore,who evolutes into a hyphae. A hyphae is a long, slender, usually branched filament part of a fungal mycelium. A Mycelium is a outcome of the growth of the spores, they have this thread-like look, that interlaces and forms the most abstract and random forms. This undergoes the process of Plasmogamy, when two Mycelia (Mycelium) of different matting types encounter.

As I mentioned before, the pictures above are the visual reference in which I will take further and apply to create most abstract of the landscapes. As you can see they already look real alien to us, something out of a science-fiction film. Is hard to believe how a so fascinating microscopic being inhabits with us, but we are not able to see it with a naked eye.

Film: Fantastic Voyage, 1966, RIchard Fleischer

Fantastic Voyage is a 1966 science fiction film, based around the exploration of the human body and how alienate it can be. Its story evolves a group of scientists, who plan to go on a mission inside a fellow scientist body, who has suffered from an injury near the brain. This mission consists on a crew embarking in a specially customized submarine, which has to be shrunk into microscopic proportions so it is able to enter the human body. The objective is to fight the so called injury and extinct from the scientist's organism. Although, it seems a easy trip inside the human body, it becomes really difficult when everything seems to go the wrong way, provoking the mission almost to abort several times.

What really struck in this film was the visual, although is visible the use of composite of 2 planes, background and foreground that can appear quite outdated, the background images were just delightful the use of fascinating colours with really weird organisms were a really eye-candy, creating abstract atmospheres never seen by men. It can quite relate to the Avatar of that period. with all those fluorescent abstract landscapes. Also the use of a quite modern and abstract soundtrack, such as sound effects or music, was key to help conveying the action and in fact emphasise it.

The down part of the whole film was the narrative, not that I disliked it but I found quite simple, and were a lot of faults in the way the action was carried through, from the slow initial stage where it takes 5 mins to shrink the submarine to a distance felt when the actual characters were in danger( maybe more a camera work fault).

Overall, it will help me to understand how I will be able to create similar environments, and how I will apply dynamism to the camera movements to produce a rather more interesting animation.

Unit 6- Process 1: Germination of the Basidiospores

After understanding the whole cycle, I decided to take my research even further to each of the steps of the same cycle. As it will allow me to not only understand it more, but also help me visualise the environment upon these processes occur, as well as help me to customize them, without stepping away from reality.

As mentioned before the germination of the Basidiospores occurs after they are dispersed by the basidias on the gills of a full grown mushrooms. Although this germination is quite similar to of a seed, it happens microscopically not perceived by the naked eye.

The picture above, shows the simple process of germination, while the picture bellow helps to understand in which this same process occurs, on the soil the germination happens towards inside it and forming this threads of organisms, mycelia.

Although, I could not find a specific video of these happening apart from the whole cycle one, posted on the previous entry.

I researched something different that somehow relates to the process, the germination of a seed, despite the difference of sizes, the process is pretty much similar. The process shows the mycelia ,or in these case the seed root, germinating and growing randomly towards others. Note that this video is only use in matter to know how the animation will occur in this process.

Unit 6- Reproduction and Life Cycle of a Mushroom

After I chose my topic, I didn't want to waste time around so I started to look at the overall process, yes I think I'll be ambitious to the point that I want to produce the whole cycle and not only a small portion of it. For that I have to be careful, on the timing of the animation as well as emphasize the main processes inside the whole cycle.

But first things first, I had to understand the processes and how they function. So I started my research by looking at the over all cycle.

From what I read and remembered from yesterday, the mushroom cycle is continuous one so I could start to explain the cycle by any point, although it is more logical if I start to explain from the dispersion of spores in the gills of a mature mushroom. This will allow me to create an accurate life cycle where the first scene of the animation is connected to the last and so a whole loop is created.

By starting from the dispersion of the spore by a mature, or grown fungi, the cycle carries on the following order:

- With the dispersion of the spores ( haploid basidiospores) made aided by the natural conditions such as wind, it travels into the surrounding ground of the previous mushroom, and so it starts to germinate. (8)
- Germination of fungi spore is done towrds inside the ground and consists in the germination and growth of the same basidiospores into "young" haploid mycelia. (1)
- The short-lived haploid mycelia encounters another mycelia from the opposite matting type, so then we have two opposite matting type mycelia connected that will lead to Plasmogamy. (2)
- Plasmogamy consists in the creation of a dikaryotic mycelium by the connection of the two haploid mycelia, this dikaryotic mycelium can be seen as the "baby" organism, that is healthy enough to grow faster than the parent mycelia, this growth is only possible due to environmental cues, such as weather temperature, rain and seasonal changes. ( 3)
- These environmental conditions helps the dikaryotic mycelium to form extensive and compact masses that develop into a visible mushroom. (4)
- This mushroom have gills underneath the "cap", that by using a powerful microscope show dikaryotic basidias around the this same gills, each of these basidias hold 2 haploid nuclei. (5)
- By the process of karyogamy, these 2 haploid nuclei swallow and form 1 diploid nuclei inside a new-called diploid basidia. (6)
- By the process of meiosis, the diploid muclei is divided into 4 haploid nuclei, the diploid basidias grow to four appendages, and each of these 4 haploid nuclei enters the appendage and it forms a basidiospore. (7)
- when mature, these basidiospores are liberated by the power of the environmental conditions and the whole cycle starts again. (8)

This video accurately shows the cycle of the mushroom, despite it is being done well, I will use it as quick reference as I dont want to copy it at all.

Reading this cycle made understand it but also, it gave me already some ideas in terms of narrative structure and where the main processes of the cycle lay.

Unit 6- The 4 Possible Scenarios

Yesterday, we had really helpful and profound lecture with the Dr. Peter Klappa, who is to be our client for this project.
Also we had the chance to be presented to our 4 possible scenarios that can be chosen.

How Cells Develop?

The Life Cycle of a Slime Mold

The Life Cycle of a Fern

After an insightful presentation around the subjects, it started to make more sense how things actually exist and reproduce. With this project we are asked to produce around 4 of the processes of the chosen topic in CG Animation.
Having a basic idea of the scenarios, I have chosen mine already and yesterday I stared to do some research.

My choice will be The Life Cycle of a Mushroom or Fungi, because as soon I was presented with the scenario I saw lot of potential characteristics to be transfered into concep art and CG.
Also, I will go for a Undergraduate target audience, as instead of creating more toony characters as I did on the last 2 projects, I will produce rather more mature, landscapes and organisms.

With everything set I'm already on research/ drawing stage.