Sunday, December 19, 2010

Plagiarism sucks!!


I really hate plagiarism, and much to my disappointment, today I found my work being so comfortably uploaded on a website. That sounds flattering, but what pissed me off was that the uploader (some Gaurav) actually claimed it to be HIS! (I've highlighted those parts in the image above with a yellow box). I don't know who that guy is, but this is really disappointing, especially because I had worked really hard on that piece and spent many sleepless nights on it.

I know as of now, I can't really do much about it. I'm just one ME. And anyway this is not some super awesome animation to overreact to. But the point is plagiarism is really a serious problem in our field. Using watermark is a solution, but I think it spoils the beauty of the work. But then I guess that's the only way to protect our work from these plagiarists.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Flying School (Spungella Fall 2010 contest)



Hey guys here's a small animation clip done for the Spungella 100 frame Fall 2010 contest. Topic given was : FLYING SCHOOL to be animated in exactly 100 frames.

Although I had a week-long deadline for it, I finished 'animating' this in 8 hours straight (8pm to 4:30am) because I had commitments for later. There is definitely a lot I could have added to this, but I got hasty! Please pour in your C&Cs. :)

Well I had a lot of fun animating this in a straight ahead fashion. Congrats to the winner Ted Lister!

Note to self: Never try to animate superfast!

Animated in: Digicel Flipbook 6

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Story vs. Storytelling

After getting into animation, I’ve been watching/studying movies (animated or live action) for quite some time and to be frank, I’ve found only a FEW to be actually good. I started thinking why. Quite a lot of the movies that didn’t work for me have actually done really well at the Box office. So what is it that I didn’t find interesting?

I sat and analyzed it, and I almost was on the verge of declaring myself a freak and dialing the nearest Asylum, when I finally saw the light!! It was really the storyTELLING that was the culprit. Ah ah aaaah, please note, I’m not talking about the story or the concept here… but the TELLING part of it.

The more I thought about it, the more it dawned to me. Stories may be great, but if the storyTELLING doesn’t work, it’s as good as a goner! This led me to the conclusion that


“STORY IS KING BUT STORYTELLING IS KING-ER!!” (You can quote me on that... ahem ahem!)


Ask yourselves one simple question. When you were a kid, and your grandparent, mom, dad or whoever used to tell you bedtime stories, what would actually enthrall you? Yes the story had to be interesting. But more than that, it was how it was TOLD that would keep you rooted and glued. The way they would change their tone to express every emotion, describe every situation until you were imagining the EXACT thing they were trying to make you imagine… THAT sold the story. You felt the story because they felt the storytelling!

And this is what has been carried on to the world of film-making. The director tries to convey the SAME feel, only this time instead of actually being there and narrating, he’s doing it through frames (meaning, through staging, colours, lighting, acting, music, all that jazz). (And well, of course there are movies that have a narrator too, like Little Manhattan for instance!). If the frames have normal staging and stuff, then the director is probably telling you THOSE parts of the story in a normal tone. If the frames have tensed staging (and stuff), THOSE parts are where he changes his tone to a dramatic one to express that feeling, much like your elder(s) did while telling you bedtime stories. And if you’ve come back from the movie BLOWN away, then the director has successfully told you his story!

Telling a story is really a feeling. You’re trying to convey a feeling in your heart through the magic of storytelling, be it vocally, or visually. And that feeling can make or break a great story.

Let me give you an example of what I’m trying to say. Let’s say, I have a concept, an idea, and I really wanna tell people about it in a way that they’d never forget…. because the idea means so much to me!

So here’s the idea/concept: “People should be careful when they’re walking alone on lonely streets, lest they get robbed/beaten up by goons”. Man I love my concept! So I now wanna tell a story/ a situation that would enlighten it more. Here goes:


“You're walking from Church, alone, in one of the toughest parts of the suburbs. You're nervous, timid, looking over your shoulder when suddenly you encounter him pouncing from the shadows, the streetlight flashes on something shiny in his hand, no time to think, whoosh whoosh whoosh!” (that “whoosh whoosh whoosh” is the sound he makes with his knife, the shiny thing in his hand… yes he kills you!) [taken from a deleted scene from Liar Liar actually]


So there! You like the story eh? Heck it’s swell! But it’s still in written form. What if I told you the story verbally like THIS?



Like it now? No?? It sucks?? It almost put you to sleep?? DARN!! All the months and years I spent working on my super amazing concept, went down the drain!!!

Okay gimme another chance! Let me tell you the SAME story like THIS.



That better? Woohoo I‘m back on the job!!

So you see what I’m trying to say? The first one had everything in a monotone. No tension, no buildup, no drama. It only acted as a sleeping pill. Bedtime story indeed!

The second one immediately got you “INTO” the story, simply because of the way he spoke (and why not, it’s Jim Carrey after all!). You could almost IMAGINE the situation he was creating. And VOILA! He got an audience!

So now, instead of verbal, if a director were to say the SAME story VISUALLY, this is how it would/could look in both cases (try it with sound and without).

Here’s the first one:



Blah!! Ain’t it?

Here’s the second one:



Okay still not the best storyboard you've seen, but it's at least a little more interesting than the first, isn't it?

And if you notice, even without sound, you (hopefully) get the exact same feel I'm trying to convey through frames. There's an amazing video on YouTube that tells exactly this from a different perspective. Check it out!

So that’s my whole point! No matter how hard you work on creating a great concept, a great story… it won’t matter a bit if you ain’t TELLING it right! The characters have to evolve, the plot has to thicken, the situations should rhythmically alter between normal to funny to dramatic to emotional, and yes the Pay Off should be worth the Build Up.

One great tip I read in “The Illusion of Life” is to never take away a moment JUST when the audience starts to enjoy it! And to add to that, I’d like to say never DRAG a moment too. It should be a perfect balance. The audience should neither feel bored watching an overpushed situation because they had already anticipated long back what to expect next, nor should they be like “Woah! I was just starting to love that scene, and its gone!”

Maybe this is why many of the SUPERHIT movies don’t work for me. Let’s compare two such blockbusters “Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo” and “Dreamworks Madagascar”. If I write down only the concepts/ideas of both movies, they would be:

MADAGASCAR: A bunch of zooborn animals let loose in a real jungle.

FINDING NEMO: An overprotective dad fish loses his son and goes to find it.

So which sounds more interesting? To me it’s definitely the former. It really opens up so many new possibilities, so many exciting situations, while the other sounds like a lame tale straight out of daily soaps.

But after watching both the movies, I have to admit, I couldn’t help but being moved by Finding Nemo.

The execution was so amazing, the characters were so well etched out, the pacing of the film was so rhythmic, and yes, the storyTELLING was so beautiful, it really held me in awe! At this point I feel forced to mention that when Dory was first introduced, and she said she suffered from short term memory loss, I was like “Oh man! Now she’s gonna annoy me with her ‘forgetful’ behavior by bringing in forced humour.” But no… not even ONCE did I find her annoying. Her memory loss element was so timely and efficiently used in the film that I couldn’t help but laugh my lungs out AND at the same time, care for her with an “Awww”!

Meanwhile although Madagascar wasn’t really that bad, but on the whole it only seemed like a bag of jokes to me. The characters didn’t really connect, the situations seemed forced, all in all, to me, the storytelling fell flat in the face! Only characters I liked in the movie were the penguins and King Julian!

So that made me realize that unless your TELLING is good, your story ain’t going nowhere!

Now you may ask me, “But I’m just a painter, an illustrator, an animator, a modeler, a photographer, how can I be a good storyTELLER? Isn’t that really the storyboard artist’s and the Director’s job??” Not really! EVERYONE can be a good storyteller. It can be through words, paintings, drawings, animations, modeling, sculpting, photography, music, ANYTHING!

If you don’t believe me, check out Pascal Campion’s illustrations, or my good friends Sumeet Surve’s or Roshan’s work. They tell stories in just one frame! The staging, the colours, the energy, the movement, the expressions, all these factors come into telling a story in a drawing/painting. For photography, check out my good friends Varun Thottahil’s or Santhosh Pai’s work. For modeling, check out the awesome Anand PG's work. They tell amazing stories too!

We’re all storytellers. And I strongly believe that if told well, we can make the SIMPLEST of actions look interesting. There can't be a better example of this than Bird Box Studios. Check out their shorts if you haven't already!

To illustrate this point further, check out this small clip from one of my favourite movies ‘Swades’.



The situation is simple: the guy wants the girl to hide the cigarette pack so his mom doesn’t see it (she’s not actually his mom but he considers her to be).

The situation could be dealt with in so many ways. It could’ve finished in half the time it takes here, or even less. But the director chose this. Why? Because it not only gives us an easily connectible situation, but also shows the playful chemistry between the girl and the boy which they share in the whole movie, and tells us so much about their personalities. Here’s how. I’ve tried to break down the scene and give the unspoken communication between the actors some speech of what their thought process could be during this sequence (please ignore the mom’s lines, for all who do not understand the language, she’s simply praising the caravan facilities):

Guy: “Hey! Heeeeey!”
Girl: “Huh?”
Guy: “You see those?”
Girl: “What?”
Guy: “THERE THERE!! DOWN THERE!”
Girl: “Ahaa! Cigarettes!”
Guy: “Please put them away, please!!”
Girl: “How about I simply tell your mom about it?”
Guy:”Oh no!! Not that! C'mon a little help here! Put them away PLEASE???”
Girl:”Sheesh! There you go.”
Guy:”Thanks, oh thank you so much!!”
Girl: “Whatever.”

It tells you the guy is sweet because he obviously 'likes' her (he doesn’t get all pissed off and turn chauvinistic when she doesn’t agree to put them away at first), and he respects his mom to the point of NOT letting her know that he smokes; the girl is playful and modern, with her own set of ideals and is not too impressed by the guy or his oh-so-cool caravan (and also later in the movie you realize she actually doesn’t like smokers). What a way to tell so much through such a simple situation!

Even in animation, we have the power to do the same thing. Check out these VERY simple situations done by my good friends Vinay Prasad, Asif Siddiqui and Harish. K (please note, some are not final yet… as they told me):

Vinay:


Asif:


Harish:



Situations are so simple, yet told so interestingly. A passerby trying to eat free pastries but unfortunately paying a heavy price for it, an amateur golfer trying to play golf, a ballman trying to kick a ball away only to see it returning to him all the time.

So there you go! That was what my post was all about. I believe if a story is great, it still is only halfway there until storyTELLING pushes it to a whole new level! Heck good storytelling can even make a senseless story work: The SouthPark Movie or Andaaz Apna Apna for instance (well, yes, they worked for me!).

These are simply my ‘smartass’ thoughts. No way do I wanna say that what I think is the LAW!! I’d actually be obliged if we could have a nice discussion on this in the comments section… throw in your ideas (even if that means rubbishing mine completely), it’ll be great to share your thoughts too! So until next time, this smartass post ends here!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Caricatures

Still new to caricatures, especially when it comes to colouring them. Here are some of my friends most of whom have been a part of my growing up years. :)

The newly weds!

My classmates!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Character animation reel 2010

Hey guys here's my latest reel. Thanks to the 11 Second Club for the great audio clips. They really helped form a major part of the reel! I wanna do some more tests soon, but for now, this is my reel! :)
Dapoon character animation reel 2010 from Dapoon Rai Dewan on Vimeo.
Shot breakdown:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

THE POSE! (11 sec club Sept 2010) 2nd placer!!

Hey guys a yet YET another 11SC attempt! I think I'm hooked to the site! I really had a great time animating this shot, more so because it was like laughing at myself! :D

Well do check it out and pour in your precious C&Cs! (YouTube link, in case Vimeo doesn't work)



The lighting was done again by the BRILLIANT Santhosh Pai. It really pushed the piece to another level! :)

Here's a shot progression of the piece. And yes I used a pencil and an AC remote as the cigarette and the lighter, because I don't smoke! Haha!!



P.S. Woohoo!! I finished 2nd out of 206 entries! :D

EDIT: Yay! This shot progression made it to the Animation Progression Reels blog too! Thanks Andrei! :)

Animated in: MAYA 2009

Clouds (my first scape "painting")


My first attempt at doing a scape painting! This was done while flying to Guwahati, Assam when I saw those beautiful clouds outside my window! Clouds really fascinate me. Now if only I could paint right! >.<
And yes I soon ran out of patience and laptop battery! :P

Painted in: Photoshop CS4

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Re-doing a shot: getting rid of the mental block

So how many of you can relate to the poor animator in the pic?

I can!

Like every other animator out there, when I was starting out, I used to face this enormous overwhelming challenge of redoing shots. “What the heck! Now I gotta change all my animation that I almost starved myself to create??” That thought would creep me out (it still does)! However with time and practice, when I somehow pulled this fear out of me (at least to quite an extent), I realized that wasn’t so scary after all! "Maybe it was just me and my silly mental block! Doh!" I concluded.

But nope! It’s not just me! A recent interaction with a friend fairly new in this field made me realise that it’s not as easy to remove that ‘mental block’ as I thought. Much of the lot seems so attached to their work and forgiving of their mistakes that any changes suggested could as well mean murder!

Truth is, the real animation world out there isn’t so forgiving. If a shot needs changes, it needs changes. Get that right or get fired!

The first thing you gotta do is lose the love for your shot. It’s okay to appreciate that you have an ability to create something of this caliber, but kindly keep it to that. ANY shot (I repeat ANY shot) has the potential to be better. A very talented friend of mine once said “An animator never really finishes his work, he simply surrenders!” So unless you’re married to your shot, lose the love.

There’s another factor why animators fear incorporating changes: LOW CONFIDENCE. This applies fairly to the newbies. They don’t exactly love their shots, they know there are problems in them, but at the same time they just can’t seem to gather enough confidence to make changes, fearing it might end up looking worse.

In either case, it’s all a matter of thinking. You need to mentally prepare yourself when you work on a shot, that you might be asked to make changes. And when someone does suggest changes, you should tell yourself over and over again “Yeah I need to change that” rather than “Oh man now I gotta change that??” The former thought process creates a certain uneasiness within you and subconsciously you feel restless until you finally incorporate those changes. It also prevents you from being complacent. Okay I agree it’s definitely human to think "Oh man now I gotta change that??". What makes the difference is how fast you switch to "Yeah I need to change that".

You need to make a start someday. This mainly applies to students and people who are learning on their own. It’s better to get used to redoing shots as early as possible when there’s no one looming over your head with a deadline sword. That way at least you’ll get some practice and later on actually perform better in production when there is someone looming over your head with a deadline sword. Because then you will have gotten used to making changes in your shots rather than freaking out saying “What the heck! Changes?? Nobody taught me that in school!” You become flexible.

Let me give you my own example of how I went about getting rid of that fear.

I am definitely not someone who loves his shots. I was more of the not-confident type. I remember in my animation school (Takshaa), when I was in my first semester (on learning basics), I did two shots as assignments (ball-box, and ballman-ball interaction). I was suggested some major changes to improve them. But I was pensive! “Who’s gonna go through all those graphs again?” Eventually I didn’t make any changes thinking I’ll get used to redoing shots later with time.

I went to the second semester and did some walk/run cycles. Once again changes were suggested. Once again I got pensive, thinking I would incorporate changes in my next assignment, even though all the while knowing that those changes are needed. And sure enough I didn’t make any.

Then I did a jump. Changes suggested again. Me pensive again. Me thinking again “Okay next time for sure”. But this time I had an additional thought “I can’t keep procrastinating like this.” That’s all it took to break the ice. Those 6 words! That thought process created the required uneasiness in me.

So I chose a day and sat down to make changes And yes, it was tough! I hesitated to even touch the controllers. It was a struggle all the way, first to get rid of that mental block, second to actually change the animation. It wasn’t easy also because initially the changed action wasn’t really looking good (animation principle wise), and plus my previous saved version was always there tempting me to give up and be complacent with it!

I still kept going, and finally one fine day it started to look good, or I dare say, even better than the previous version! Below are the videos to show what I mean.


Original version

Changed version (improvised ending)


Okay agreed, the animation isn’t really all that great when I look at it now, but the important thing is, I overcame that fear! It gave me a sense of accomplishment! And that’s when it hit me: changes aren't really that scary! It completely 'changed' my perspective!

And since then, I’ve been on a roll! Removing this fear even made me grow as an animator. I’ve happily welcomed changes in my shots and each time I incorporate them I see that they really push the piece further.

A very prominent example I can give you is when I was blocking out a shot for the 11SC July 2010 contest. Changes were suggested to go for a completely new acting choice and set up, and further below is what it finally looked like.

Original version


Changed version


So yeah it’s really all in the head! You can’t let that simple mental block (which isn’t as scary as you think anyway) get in your way of improvement. Try it once and you'll see for yourselves. Once you get rid of the fear, you’re already halfway there. The other half, where you actually make the changed animation look good or better, is only a matter of time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jurassic Spark (11 sec club August 2010)



Hey guys a yet another 11SC attempt. I loved the audio clip so I just couldn't resist entering! :)
Do let me know what you guys think of it. The lighting and texturing are done by my good friend and an INSANELY talented artist Santhosh Pai! (YouTube link, in case Vimeo doesn't work)

P.S. I finished 27th out of 166 entries!

Animated in: MAYA 2009

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Abused (11 sec club July 2010)


Hey guys another 11 sec club attempt. Not too happy with it, just tried a little hand at doing subtle sincere acting. These guys are a gay couple. Wonder if it came out right! :D (YouTube link, in case Vimeo doesn't work)

The lights are again done by the brilliant Preksha! However unfortunately I could not submit the rendered file for the competition, I simply couldn't make it on time! So I submitted my playblast there!

I would really appreciate some C&Cs. Thanks!

P.S. I finished 45th out of 233 entries!

Animated in: MAYA 2009

EDIT: Here's a shot progression of the piece.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Rest in peace Michael



In the memory of Michael Jackson who left us exactly one year ago...

Drawn and painted in Photoshop (pathetic attempt I know... but it's the thought that counts) :P

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cheek-a-boo

I tried a little 2D animation! Really wanted to get back to 2D to see if I still had it in me! Was fun animating this without giving two hoots about gimbals or graph editor problems! :D

P.S. Don't try this at home :D

Animated in: Animation-ish (Thanks Mitali for telling me about this great software!) :)

(YouTube link, in case Vimeo doesn't work)



EDIT: Here's a progression of the shot.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Facebook addicts!

Hi guys we all know how popular (and addictive) Facebook has become these days! So just tried my own funny take on Facebook addicts!

UPDATE: Here's part 2 of the series!





Creative Commons Licence
Facebook addicts by Dapoon Rai Dewan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tribute to the King of Pop

A little animated tribute to the King of Pop, one of the greatest performers ever to have "moon"walked this planet. Rest in peace Michael, you will live forever through your groundbreaking music! :)

Thanks Preksha once again for the brilliant lighting!

(YouTube link, in case Vimeo doesn't work)

Animated in: MAYA 7.0


EDIT: CUSTOMIZED RIG UP FOR DOWNLOAD: Hey guys, since I've received many requests to share this customized rig with you all, I'm putting it up for download. Feel free to use it and do some awesome MJ dance moves! :) Also let me know if there are any issues with it. Download here (lights not included).


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quick sketches

Hey guys posting a few quick sketches done a while back! I used to go to this mall in Bangalore with the incredibly talented Sumeet Surve and would sketch till late night! It was real fun! Got to learn a lot from him, but as you can see, I still got a long way to go! :)











Sunday, January 10, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!


Hey guys happy new year to you all!! Hope this new year, you all get whatever you dreamed of! Well I know I haven't updated my blog for quite a while, sorry about that! But there's some bad news. I met with this terrible road accident on 12 Nov 2009. I crushed both my legs and fractured my left arm! And I've been on bedrest ever since. However the good news is I'm getting better bit by bit, day by day. My left arm & right leg have almost healed up. The left leg might take this entire year! Don't worry guys, as an animator, I'm keeping my spirits high in this period of low! I'll come outta this and start animating again! Just hang on guys... I'll make it! :)