Visiting the Children’s Hospital

14th February 2018,

10.00am

We were kindly invited by our main clients Niall and Aideen to visit the Children’s Hospital in Belfast to get a better understanding of the daily life of the Hospital for creating our animation of ‘Daisy.’ Niall took us on a tour around the majority of the place  to see the art work created by children staying in the Hospital and explaining some of the history behind the Hospital.

We had the chance to take pictures of anything that interested us and inspired us:

 

Niall kindly bought us all hot drinks in the hospital café and we all sat down to share and discuss our ideas together. We finally got to share some of our concepts with him and find out his thoughts. He seemed to really warm to our ideas and be inspired by our designs which was extremely encouraging!

We also got to meet the original designer of the character of Daisy, Aideen (an anethetist in the hospital) who created the character spontaneously to encourage the staff in the hospital to remember both health and safety and quality of service when working.

It was a really fun, informative and encouraging visit with Niall and Aideen overall. We now have a better idea of what environment Daisy was inspired by and where she lives which is going to help our design process even more.

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The Post (2017)

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15th February 2018,

– First few scenes there is a typewriter – establishing what the entire movie/story is about from the get go.

-A strong and reoccurring use of lens flair (unusual to be seen in Spielberg’s films) from the start.

-First few scenes focus in on a briefcase with little camera movement to the characters’ faces making it the focal point, also reinforcing the secretive nature of what is happening,

-The scan light in the printer machine illuminates a character’s face in a cold, eerie blue/white colour while he is printing off the Pentagon Papers in secret. This is a close up camera shot which forces the audience to read his expression closely. During this scene there are flashbacks going over facts through history while the papers are being printed.

-Cut to black screen with ‘Washington D.C. in a particular typeface then fades out to next scene (emphasising the newspaper theme/graphic design)

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-As you can see above, there were constant visual references to the subject matter of the entire story placed in scenes (newspapers) in both the foreground and background of the mise-en-scène.

-One thing I noticed while watching the character interactions on screen between Kate’s character (Meryl Streep) and others was that, during one on one conversations, some conversations involved over the shoulder shots and some were a wider medium shot of both characters in frame looking straight at each other. As I got to know the characters and their stories, I have guessed that this is maybe a technique used to show how close/intimate the characters are depending on which shot was used or how open the characters were being with each other (the second technique being the more intimate set up).

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-During moments of tension and hurriedness, e.g. the scene with an intern character running to the New York Times building on an errand, the camera is jerky to illustrate the anxiety of the characters and the nature of the scene.

-I thought it was interesting to note that Kate’s character always was carrying around a heavy briefcase and a pile of books. There are even two scenes where she wakes from a nap, emphasising how hard she is working and how big a business she is carrying.

-There are quite a few high/low shots where Kate is sitting down and male characters are standing above her throughout the movie emphasising her lack of self-belief and her male counterparts negative view of her. It’s interesting to note that by the end of the movie there is a key moment where she moves from this kind of shot while sitting, to a standing position where she is equal with all around her (also emphasised in the camera shots).

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-During a scene at a small party at a house, there is a strong contrast between the men and women’s topics of conversation; the men are arguing about politics, whereas the women are discussing politely the subjects of women’s fashion and books to read. This distance in topic of conversation is emphasised through the physical distancing of the two gender groups splitting into different rooms altogether.

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-There are a few scenes where men from the Washington Post tend to be in threes while exchanging information/ learning new information together. The scene which comes to mind is the one where three men are rushing out to buy the latest New York Times newspaper to read pages from the pentagon papers. There is a shot of the three of them in a line, all reading with unflinching attention while the cold, early morning wind blows away “unimportant” pages from their hands.

-During a wide shot of a character from the Washington Post on a public phone making a furtive phone call, we can see two police cars ride by and make siren noises creating dramatic irony as the character is doing something which is questionable in terms of the law.

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-I thought it was interesting to note that Kate’s character often wears gold, or shades of yellow throughout the movie. It made her stand out in the crowd when surrounded by men in dark suits. I felt this helped create the character’s presence on screen and made it clear to the audience that she was a force to be reckoned with; her inner strength so to speak.

-During an extremely tense moment in the movie, the camera tracks in a very fast motion in a 360 around Kate after she finds out she has the decision to publish more of the pentagon papers but could go to jail if her source is the same as the New York Times’. This adds to the distressing and emotional nature of the scene.

-During the interoggation between the Washington Post’s lawyer and one of the key workers who got the source for the Pentagon papers, there is a very strong lens flair over them both- creating almost a spotlight. This adds to the extremely tense nature of the scene.

-The importance of the subject matter of the entire story is highlighted by extreme close up shots of the printing presses in the Washington Post. The fast paced cuts from one stage of the printing process to the next and the building music all helps to build up tension in the scene.

-When Kate gives the go on printing the pentagon papers, we as the audience see a character typing on a typewriter in the offices above the printing presses and being shaken by the force of the printing going on below. This could be said to represent how big a story they were printing.

-Lastly, Kate’s love of the paper and the Washington Post can be seen in the last few scenes when she watches quietly the process in the printing press rooms.

After watching the movie in the cinema, I decided to research Steven Spielberg and Janusz Kaminski’s take on the creation of the film. I found it interesting that when I was watching the movie, there were filming techniques used which I’d never really seen used in Spielberg’s films so it instantly made me question if he had hired a different cinematographer. However, after watching the interview above, Kaminski expressed his wish for filming The Post like someone else had shot it and it all made sense.

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http://collider.com/janusz-kaminski-interview-the-post-steven-spielberg/

This is just a snippet from a really interesting interview with Janusz Kaminski:

There’s no explosions, there’s no big set pieces, but one of my favorite shots in the movie, towards the end, features a bunch of men huddled around a table while Kay is carefully considering a decision. And that plays out with the tension and the thrills of a big action set piece. I was wondering if you could talk about how that shot came together and the blocking and staging of it, because I think it’s really terrific.

KAMINSKI: You know there is a painter who Steven loves. He owns several paintings by him. He was considered to be more of an illustrator when he was doing illustrations—the name will come to me later but maybe too late. But you know there are several images that Steven has of this painter and they’re always very—men caught in the moment of importance. So we didn’t use that painting as the blueprint but there is a certain aesthetic that Steven has and we don’t fight our aesthetics, you know, and Steven’s aesthetics are such that like, shot of relevance. So you have Kay sitting at the desk with men huddling around and there’s a conversation with Kay and Tracy Letts. There’s this tremendous sense of importance and a little secrecy. What are these men talking about? It must be important because they all huddle in their little group and it feels a little spacey at first, but you forget that really quickly because of the significance of what they’re saying.

It was a great way to space the scene because the content was so important. It’s woman against men and men are standing. It’s not really even the men against the woman, it’s the attitude of that particular time period. Men were in the condition of decision-making and women were always subservient to the men and often, if not always, serving position to support the men and make the men better in terms of facilitating the needs of the men. In this case, Kay is making the choice, very strong choice, by saying, “This is not your paper, this is my paper and this paper in fact is not even my paper. It belongs to the citizens and I’m going to make the decision I’m going to make.” But before she makes that decision, there is a whole big, beautiful conversation. It’s a straight, wide shot, as you stated. And it’s really great because you see all the participants, not necessarily making the decision but being affected by the strength of Kay and her ability to not finally step up to her position, but making the choice to be less of a subservient or what’s expected of her and become a stronger leader.

Consequently, she stands up and the rest of the dialogue is delivered with her standing, which means she’s not in the lower position of the frame, she’s equal to the man as a visual metaphor and now she’s going to make a decision in terms of how she’s going to conduct herself as an owner of the newspaper.

An interesting selection of interviews with the main cast and crew which was both informative and entertaining! It’s always fascinating to hear the reasoning behind shots with the director himself.

Image References

http://movies.wikia.com/wiki/The_Post
https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/breaking-down-a-crucial-phone-call-in-the-post/549245/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/08/movies/the-post-meryl-streep-tom-hanks-steven-spielberg-trailer.html
https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post
https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-post-2017
http://time.com/5074756/the-post-journalism/

The Brief

January 29th 2018,

First day of semester two and we already have a big task ahead of us.

Exciting.

But big.

Initial research I did before meeting with the group:

  • The Royal Belfast Hospital for sick Children is the only hospital in Northern Ireland dedicated specifically to the care of children
  • There are approximately 107 beds
  • The emergency department treats approximately 33,000 children each year
  • There is a school within the hospital for the children
  • The hospital has been in existence since 1889

Working with my team members Lauren, Maggie, Glenn and Emma, we have been set the task of working alongside Belfast Trust Children’s Hospital in Belfast to create animated shorts using their previously designed character, “Daisy” the Cow; mascot for health and safety in the hospital. We are going to create videos along with motion graphics to help the kids learn about safety on the hospital wards using this character, alongside other animals we are going to design.

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http://www.belfasttrust.hscni.net/about/2688.htm

We were contemplating going for a barnyard style animal selection for the rest of the characters we create, however, it might be more interesting for the children if the animals are more diverse!

List of animals we are looking into for designing new characters alongside Daisy’s :

  • Bunny
  • Dog/ Sheepdog
  • Sheep
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Goose
  • Pig
  • Horse/Pony
  • Turkey
  • Donkey
  • Bull
  • Goat
  • Mouse
  • Lamas
  • Alpaca
  • Cat
  • Fox
  • Owl

More wild animals to think about:

  • Cheetah
  • Monkey
  • Lion
  • Hyena
  • Penguin
  • Giraffe
  • Elephant
  • Tapir

A man named Niall from the Children’s Hospital is coming to see us to tell us more about what is expected of us in the next few weeks, so as a group, we’re all trying to think of good questions to ask to better understand how best to fulfil the task.

Are we able to change/stylise the main character, Daisy significantly in her design? 

Are we able to weave a narrative throughout the safety information we need to convey in the videos, to make the animations more fun for the kids?

How many extra characters are we allowed to create and use in the animations?

What is the “blue” style character you communicated you wanted to include? Can you tell us more.

What kind of age range of children are we targeting when creating these animations?

What are the most common injuries/ health and safety topics that we need to address in the animations?

What kind of animations come to mind that you would like to emulate for this safety animation?

Are we designing this animation to convey safety messages mainly for the children or both the children and their parents?

How long would you like these animations to be?

Would you like the animals to be barnyard style to match Daisy the cow, or more diverse in type to appeal to the diversity of the city of Belfast?

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection

One of the first things we had to do this semester was explore body mechanics with pre-made rigs and I had the opportunity to explore my own creative piece with part of a made up ballet dance. I had so much fun finding out how to animate a human rig in dance form! It was challenging but really helped me understand the basics of animating a character and key framing to create subtleties in movement. I have much to learn in this department but I am excited for the next projects which involve more animating.

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The next bigger project was working on a team to create a 3D room in Maya which tells a story. In this project, I had the opportunity to explore photoshop more to create a vintage style poster and got to expand my knowledge of modelling 3d models in Maya. I also got to use my passion for cinematography to direct a lot of the camera shots in the final animation. This project definitely pushed my photoshop skills (which are basically non existent lol) and learning more key skills in Maya which is always helpful!

Finally, I have been working on my final group project for this semester on a short called ‘Inua’. The story of a young Inuit girl who travels the icy landscape of Canada to find her spirit animal. This project has been both incredibly exciting and terrifying at the same time. I have pushed myself completely out of my comfort zone by taking on the tasks I have never done in a group project before – designing, sculpting and rigging a character from scratch. This could have gone horribly wrong and I felt a great weight on my shoulders undertaking such a great task of developing the design of the main character. However, I can honestly say I have come out the other end with much more self belief in my ability and pleasantly surprised by the results of my labour! I also can say I have used software I have never used before (like ZBrush) which is broadening my horizons and developing my skillset.

Finally, as a personal project I decided to further my design of the character of the little Inuit girl, Amka, by painting her in Substance Painter.  Once again, I was picking up new software and trying new things! I felt it was only right to see through the entire design process of the character, from first sculpt to final texturing. Substance painter was tricky for me to use, especially at first, as I struggle to work with layers when I’m so used to traditional means of painting. However, after spending more time watching tutorials and playing around in the programme, I got more into it. I am excited for using this software in future projects and pushing myself creatively even more next time.

 

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This past semester has been a whirlwind of new experiences for me. Each task has stretched me creatively, throwing me into the deep end; and I believe I have learnt a great deal in the process.

Bring on 2018 and all its new experiences.