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Presentations

Final Presentation

By | Honours Project | No Comments

My blog has been submitted as part of the Professional Practice module and Honours Project module however I feel the project is not yet complete. I still have things to discuss such as my final presentation and preparation for the Abertay Digital Graduate Show. While this post and those that follow it are technically not part of the submission (and therefore not gradable?) I hope that they are taken into consideration as part of my Professional Practice grade as the Graduate Show has not yet started and therefore I am still working on this part of the module.

Last week was pretty intense with my Honours Portfolio submitted very close to the deadline on Monday night and working day and night to amend and finish my dissertation for Friday evening. There was a big sigh of relief following the dissertation submission but I quickly got to work on my presentation and preparation for the graduate show.

Presentation Practice

All the students who Lynn supervises were invited to a presentation practice session on Thursday afternoon. While my dissertation was still being worked on I managed to wrap together a presentation draft on Wednesday night which I presented the next day.

The presentation followed this structure:

  • Introduction of project – aim and objectives, recap of previous presentations.
  • Show final animation outcome.
  • Show the journey of the project – start with early practical work.
  • Explain how case studies were beneficial.
  • Show how animation discussions led to further findings.
  • Explain some of the stylistic affordances.
  • Show side projects and how they contributed to the research project.
  • Show pre-production of the final animation including story changes.
  • Explain the production process and some challenges.
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the final animation.
  • End with project blog link.

As I didn’t have much time to practice the presentation, like the first progress presentation I completely messed up the plan for what I was going to say and stumbled over many of my words. Even though I had notes, I get too lost to use them effectively to get back on track. However as I had a very visual presentation, other students were able to follow and understand the process behind my project and so despite my mess-up of the talking, I was able to get some good feedback.

The way I structured the presentation was good and I seemed to be spending the right amount of time on each section. I did however rush the evaluation and didn’t entirely conclude what my findings were (what the stylistic affordances actually were) or explain how what I made led me to conclusions.

Again, I was surprised to the positive response to my work. People seemed genuinely interested in what I had made and were entertained by the final animation. Because I spend so long creating the animations I forget there are parts that are funny and an audience laughing reminds me that sometimes I can be funny. I was amused by the reactions to my Lego Batman v Superman slide in which I explained how this side project was a distraction but helped shape the project in many ways. My classmates seemed to find it funny that I did get distracted by that but also seemed to want to see more of it. Lynn described it as a good distraction and it was worthwhile to focus on re-launching my YouTube channel.

Presentation Revisions

Having handed in my dissertation on the Friday I was free to spend more time working on my presentation. I overhauled the design of the presentation, adding a cardboard textured wallpaper, aligning images and improving layout. I also added in the odd quote to make connections to the work I was doing to the literature I was looking at.

Despite revising my presentation in response to feedback, I didn’t address the issue of my lack of rehearsal so when I came to practice presenting in front of my housemates, I completely fumbled while talking and so this was disheartening. But I spent the whole of Sunday rehearsing what I was going to say and added in a few additional slides to keep me on topic.

Final Presentation

With a little more confidence and my latest presentation ready to go I was second to present this morning. While I’m usually critical of my own presenting, I can happily say that I thought I did well on this one. Not perfect by any means but I managed to say nearly everything I wanted to and didn’t fumble over my words (that much).

I will make the presentation slides available to view here once I reduce the file size.

The structure remained the same as above while taking into consideration the previous feedback and revisions I made to it. Feedback was generally positive with David Lyons praising my practical tests as being “terrific” and enjoyed seeing the progression since my last presentation. David asked again about the research question and noted that my approach to using a research hypothesis still allowed me to be creative and explore things I wanted to make.

Brian Robinson asked about the advantages and disadvantages of stop motion’s straight ahead process as opposed to other animation mediums. While I briefly touched on this in the presentation I explained how mistakes and errors aren’t so easily corrected and you often have to commit to the shot once you’ve started. However the subtle changes in light and jerking movements are imperfections which may crop up stay in because you have no other choice but that can add to the charm and appeal of stop motion. Brian also noted similarities to Aardman’s Morph animations which I had always been familiar with but chose to research animators I wasn’t so familiar with.

Lynn also thought the presentation was good and that I’d taken into consideration feedback from the previous presentation practice. I still didn’t entirely conclude my presentation as well as I could have and didn’t explicitly state the conclusions of what the appeal of stop motion animation actually is. I explained that my project has identified and explored techniques such as materials, texture, quality of movement, imperfections and the unseen animator’s mark as a number of attributes that contribute to the appeal of stop motion animation and this builds evidence to the longevity of stop motion animation. Lynn also praised my focus on professional practice of focusing on my brand, YouTube channel and other things that put me in a better position today. She agreed that my Lego Batman v Superman trailer was a distraction but a worthwhile distraction (which is a rare thing).

Overall I am very happy with how my presentation turned out and I am pretty satisfied with how my project turned out overall. While I know there were certainly things I could have done sooner, the year has been a journey of self discovery and working things out as to what I wanted to do and what I was going to make.

Other Presentations

At the previous round of progress presentations I stayed and listened to many of the other students’ presentations which I found to be interesting and beneficial as hearing the feedback on other presentations helps to contextualise the weaknesses and strengths of your own presentation.

Some of the projects which I enjoyed seeing the outcome of was Karolina Jacobsson’s animation Yuanfen: A Fateful Coincidence which was a mesmerising dance exploring relationships and destiny and how its not always a fairytale ending. What impressed me the most other than the stunning quality of animation was the collaboration with both dancers, a choreographer and a music composer and the end result that all parties involved were able to achieve. Another project which I really enjoyed seeing the progress of was Connor Cameron’s biocultural influenced monster designs which consisted of a series of monsters each with a role in the monster world he created. I get a sense of fun that Connor had creating gruesome creatures, playing with a lot of different horror themes such as mutations and sexualised imagery. And lastly Yana Hristova’s project impressed me for both her level of artistic ability and use of composition theory. She looked at a lot of films, a few of which are favourites of mine, so the final concepts she created were equally as impressive as the films she researched.

Looking back on the presentations there were a variety of different projects covering a vast range of different practices, theories and outcomes which really shows the artistic abilities of our year on the whole. While my own project doesn’t look nearly as visually impressive as some of the projects, I am pretty happy with my approach, the theory I looked at and the different content I was able to create. For once, I do feel like I am on the same playing field as other people in my year as opposed to feeling my work was never worth sharing. This year has been a year for discovery for me and for many others too. It may have taken a few years to learn how to approach creating work and building the worth ethic but I am glad of where this year has taken me.

On a side note, I’m also pretty happy with the overall design of my presentation. Centering and aligning things, spelling things correctly and being overly neat with my layouts is one thing I can do well. I was also one of the people that utilised the 16:9 ratio of the projector screen so could make full use of the screen. The perfectionist nature in myself comes in handy every now and then.

I would’ve liked to have stayed longer and listen to more presentations but needed to prepare my dissertation for printing/binding and to finish and print my poster. I will probably attend some of tomorrow’s presentations just to see how other classmates got on with their work.

Progress Presentation 2 Feedback

By | Honours Project | One Comment

Today I gave a presentation detailing the progress on my honours project. As I attended early I was the first to present, although only in front of two other classmates and lecturer David Lyons. I also listened in to a number of other following presentations and listened to the responses of those which was beneficial.

Presentation Content

My presentation slides can be downloaded to view through my Google Drive. In the presentation I explained where I was with my project during the first progress presentation, and how I came to my first structured research aim regarding the stylistic affordances of stop motion animation. I explained how I was currently focusing particularly on materials and movement in stop motion animation and how I am researching these through looking at other animators’ work and exploring these myself through practical tests.

I showed a collection of work from last semester and this semester demonstrating my tests with different materials so far. I explained how different materials can give different qualities of motion, and how different qualities of motion can evoke different effects, atmospheres and themes.

Finally I explained my current situation through my showing of scenes from my current story idea. I talked about different options for the ending and what I’d be doing to develop an ending to the story. I also talked about my schedule and how I plan to begin animating the final story very soon.

Feedback

Feedback to my work was positive and those in attendance didn’t have any concerns about the scope, content or direction of my project. I believe I did a good job covering all aspects of my project so there were no queries about what my project was about or what I was trying to achieve.

Again, my character animations that I did from Global Game Jam (which I also included in this presentation) were received well.

I was praised for doing multiple tests on different materials to explore the different characteristics that can be achieved. David Lyons also liked how my research aim was still loose and that by going through my final animation I can make conclusions as part of a “post project rationalism”.

I was also suggested to check out [insert name when I find out who it was] who has done work into visual-only performance that would be appropriate to consider since my character does not speak.

Other Presentations

I stayed around for another three hours listening and watching other classmates’ presentations. In addition to giving them my own feedback, I found the feedback they received from others to be beneficial myself. I was able to see what things people are looking for in a variety of projects, and if anyone had information missing, other people would ask for that information. From that, I was able to understand the successes of my own presentation.

I found the other animation projects to be the most interesting and I was curious to see the other aspects people are exploring in animation. There was a project focusing more on narrative and characterisation, and a project focusing on animation pipelines and character performance. From the feedback those presentations got, I came to the conclusion that my own animation-focused tests have been greatly beneficial on gaining a greater understanding for the scope and schedule of my final animations. The projects I mentioned hadn’t looked too much into the production of the final artifacts so were considered to be too large for the time we had left.

Afterthought

I felt more confident with this presentation compared to the last, probably because I was more prepared and had more work to show, in addition to having a greater idea of the direction I was aiming towards for the project. Because of my enthusiasm to present, I was first to present, and therefore not all classmates were there to watch my presentation and give feedback. With greater attendance I might have received more varied feedback. However the feedback I did receive was positive and gave me confidence that I was more or less on schedule and doing an adequate amount of work.

Progress Presentation Feedback

By | Honours Project | No Comments

Earlier this week I presented the progress so far regarding my honours year project. The presentation can be viewed via Google Drive.

In the presentation I explained my background in stop motion animation and that it is something that I’d like to try in university. In explained how I started with a lot of questions which have guided me so far but many remain unanswered and that I was not certain on my research question for the project just yet. However the rough direction I was going in asked the questions:

  • What is the appeal of stop-motion animation?
  • Why would an animator choose stop-motion over other mediums?
  • What are the processes behind stop-motion animation?
  • How can I use stop-motion animation to better my skills at animation and filmmaking

It is my goal to make a short animated film in second semester but I’d be focusing more on the animated craft rather than narrative or characterisation where I am not as skilled. The film would include things I’d learn through researching throughout the year.

I described some of the techniques that Barry Purves had mentioned in his book Stop Motion: Passion, Process and Performance such as the use of texture and lighting.

I showed some of the animation work I’d done so far such as the short fight scene and the rover on the alien planet animation. I explained how I’d tried to understand how some elements of using stop motion are unique to that medium however I was aware that some of the animations were made purely for the sake of making and that I’d hope to uncover questions to ask by animating.

I also mentioned how I’d started to study films by identifying common themes and elements and comparing them to other films I’d studied. I was building a framework that would help my analyse other films and I’d build upon it to get an understanding of the visual appeal of stop motion.

Some examples of texture and materials were shown and I described some ideas I had for the coming weeks for what to try next. Finally I showed some further reading material that I was interested in looking at. Examples of which can be found in the presentation slides linked at the top of this post.

I received feedback from tutors Lynn Parker and Simone O’Callaghan. The response was overall positive and the feedback was informative, the main points being:

  • They both seemed to like my presentation and thought I’d put in a good amount of work. Lynn and Simone both have a soft spot for stop motion animation so the familiarity with the subject helped them to see how I may continue the project in the future.
  • I talked a lot about focusing on the process of stop motion, but I should perhaps read more about the others aspects of stop motion and the exploring the process will come naturally.
  • I should expand more upon the imperfections of stop motion animation and what affects they can have on the quality of the animation such as its style or influence on genre. There is potential on this path if I choose to look further into it.
  • I mentioned the potential creepiness stop motion can evoke but I only scratched the surface. There are particularly grotesque stop motions by people such as Jan Švankmajer. I had mentioned Quay brothers but admitted that I hadn’t explored their work as much as I’d liked. I think it’d be good to look at all of the mentioned directors to understand what kind of darker animations can be made with stop motion.
  • I was suggested to also check out a documentary about Cosgrove Hall and a film called Tale of Tales (1979) which is considered by some to be one of the best stop motion animations.
  • Begin to look at concepts and ideas for the final outcome.
  • I could use questionnaires or interviews to question other animators about the quality of motion in an animation.

Overall I am happy with the presentation and feel more confident in the work I am doing. For my next presentation I will start it earlier and talk with a tutor beforehand. A lesson learned from this presentation is that I left the slides and practice too late which led me to be pretty nervous and I’m aware that I must have seemed like a nervous wreck while talking.

Looking forwards, I can begin to think about new practical exercises to do, and what purpose I have for doing them that relates to my project aim. The next hand-in is the project proposal which is where I will better clarify my intentions for the project’s direction. I will also need to come up with a more concise research question.