About Millie

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I animate, therefore I am a teacher. I teach, therefore I illustrate. I illustrate, therefore I draw on my environment. In drawing on my environment, I am animated!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interview with Kompin Kemgumnird 25/2/14 [Part1] the beginnings of an animator

As part of my on-going research into the Thai-ness or Thai jai  of the Thailand Animation Industry I interviewed Kompin Kemgumnird director of Khan Kluay (2006) and Echo Planet (2012)on 25th February 2014. We met in The Walk, Rachapreuk Road. Kompin is a supremely friendly, positive person. His enthusiasm is energising and it's hard not to get caught up in his zest for life. I wanted to get a feel for where the animators in Thailand are coming from. Kompin and I are similar ages, (late 40's) and I am curious as to how the animation industry here in Thailand has developed. So initially I asked about his childhood and University life.

"Where did you grow up" 

He grew up in Surin Province, North east of Thailand, Isaan , in the city of Surin until 13 years old and moved to the 7th Grade here in Bangkok and lived here ever since. But he still he returns to visit his mum. They have a lot of elephant [in Surin], the elephant tribe, (Kui or Suay) the people who raise elephant, live out of the city in Baan Taklang. Every year in November they come for the big ceremony. The elephants came to town for the big show, elephant fair  [the annual Surin elephant round up]"they would always walk past my house …it was very impressive to see the big animals... elephants are really quiet, but they poop all the time"
 He was impressed by the show where they have the elephant soccer matches. 
"They divide the elephant by 10 each side. The ball is really big, elephant sized. The smaller one [elephant] has more enthusiasm playing. The bigger one’s are slower, but when the small one get’s the ball and tries to make a goal big one, the guard [goalie] he came forward and the small one he just gave up and ran away – it was really funny."
 As a child he grew up with Black and White TV  at home from Khon Kaen broadcasting only one channel, Channel 7 and was really impressed by Japanese Tv shows: 

·      Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー Kamen Raidā?, Masked Rider) is a tokusatsu television series and weekly science fiction manga created by manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori. 1971
·      Tiger Mask (タイガーマスク Taigā Masuku?) is a Japanese manga series written by Ikki Kajiwara and illustrated by Naoki Tsuji. 1969-1971
·      Great Mazinger (グレートマジンガー Gurēto Majingā?) is a manga comic book and anime television series by manga artist Go Nagai and a direct continuation of the successful Mazinger Z series. 1974
And like many kids he liked to draw a lot. He pretty much liked to draw or mimick the characters from the movies or tv shows.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an animator?

He didn’t really draw anything else besides the character his spare time, 
"at school they ask you to draw something like a house, a tree, a leaf or fruit or animals but in my spare time I always draw characters, trying to get the character right. Sometimes from the tv or sometimes from the theatre [cinema] we had like Disney movies came to our town and I remember I tried to get the scenery of Robin Hood 1973 Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman – Maid Marion she was a fox, she looked pretty as a fox ."

"I’m into film and animation but I didn’t get any idea how to produce it but when I was young I collected a film strip and tried to make a projector himself. Using the candle, or flashlight and a lens to try to project it to the wall. Sometimes we did like moving shadow [puppets] when  he was young but the chance to kind of like opportunity to become an animator occurred to me when I was at university. Because we had a movie class." 

Where and what courses did you study in Thailand? 

Almost 25 -30 years ago he went to Silapakorn University after high school to study – Visual Communication – we learned all kinds of advertising, drawing , films and video , some perspective drawing, but they did not have an animation class at that time. They didn't even have computers, or any kind of editing equipment. But they did have a film study class.

           to be continued.....

Monday, March 10, 2014

More work on Dukdik and Lil' Mo... and Billie the teenage mum!

So the planning and ideas for Lil' Mo and Dukdik's story has developed quite a bit...
Here's Lil'Mo
And Here's Dukdik...
Originally the title was 'What's on the Other Side of the fence...?

But this seems a bit too wordy, not easy to remember and not very rhythmic to say. Sot it changed to firstly 'what's that Noise? (too formal)
and finally "Wots that Noise?"
Which has more punch!

I then started working on their personalities, working out what drives them.
Here's DukDik:
And here's Lil'Mo:
With these ideas in mind I worked on their facial features in 'typical' moods and emotions:
These are still quite rough but I really like the differences in their ears. Dukdik'd upright pointed triangles and Lil'Mo's equilateral triangles that shift around according to his moods.
Quick sketches

Dukdik's face is essentially a cube with pointed upright triangle ears and a triangle pointed nose
And Li'Mo is a sphere with two equilateral triangles and a triangle flat nose with a kind of rounded bottom shaped W
Then there is also the cone...

Duk Dik's body is a rectangle box with three legs (front left is missing)with a springy curled tail.
 And Lil' mo is more of an elongated kidney shape with four long legs and a fluffier curled tail.
The missing leg has a scar that looks a bit like the 3i Ohm sign.

Lil' Mo has 4 white socks as well.

After a while  I felt the stories needed the occasional appearance of Billie the cat, as she is so much part of their story in real life:
She is a tabby can and her markings will present something of an issue in repeated drawings so I played around with possibilites of simplifying and controlling the design.
She has a great fingerprint like markings on the centre forehead. I decided this could work as a swirl.

She has kind of stockings and I wanted to play with this in her design.
Along with the stripey rings on her tail
She is naturally very flexible and there is a lot of possibilities with the stripes helping to exaggerate the different positions. Together the three designs can be quite fun:

I started thinking about their world, which is initially always dictated by the fence/gate barrier onto the outside world.

 I then began to experiment with their runs. Dukdik's being quite and unusual gait:

This first attempt was also an experiment with using Animator desk on my iPad and using an iPad pen. It was OK but it seemed quite hard to draw detail with as it is hard to be precise. The onion skinning worked but the image did do the gradual warp with things growing and shrinking. But for a basic tester it was fine.

I haven't got around to testing Lil'  Mo's run yet. 
Finally I have started to work on a rough outline for the beginning of each episode. This is very likely to evolve but her is the first outline and a rough thumbnail storyboard:

That's all for now.... this has been a few months working here and there to this point....more to come.

Monday, March 3, 2014

More on Character Design 1 class

In teaching this second year class I spend the first two weeks filling the students with information and inspiration in order to dispel any preconceived ideas that may be lacking in true thought and personality. A case of not just drawing on what you know but what you can add to what you know not just what you think you know, if you know what I mean!
Key to all good characters is of course STORY! The mantra of PIXAR studios. I was lucky enough to go to one of their Masterclass workshop's with Matthew Luhn and Andrew Gordon in Melbourne at Deakin University and co-hosted by Van Arts, from Vancouver, Canada this year, and was filled with a brimful of inspiration.
So to start the students on their mission I got them to use Matthew Luhn's story spline to help them analyse their favourite animation character and explain their story.

  • Once upon a time…  INTRODUCTION        How and where do we meet them?
  • And every day…. WHAT IS THEIR NORMALITY?
  • until one day….   HOW DOES THIS GET CHALLENGED?
  • and because of that…
  • and because of that…
  • and because of that…
  • until finally…  WHAT FINAL CLIMAX EVENT OCCURS (that brings them home/ or to the end of that journey)
  • the moral of the story is… CHARACTER ARC (What change or development of their character occurs because of the growth or learning that the  journey has given them?)
The story spline works really well to also decode and analyse the resulting characters within their narratives, which can continuously be used to develop and check a story is working in it's creative process. 

We had quite a range of characters, from Howl (Howl's moving Castle), Chihiro (Spirited Away), Woody (Toy Story), Wreckit Ralph, Rapunzel (Tangled), Ben (Ben-O), Amuro Ray (Gundam) to Doreamon.

It soon became clear to the students without my press ganging the idea, that their choices reflected similar universal themes that related to them and their age group. Themes of breaking away from parents/family, loneliness/insecurity and individuality/rebellion.
Fairly typical themes that the students here connect with.
Then I ask them to do a quick sketch of the character and asked:
  • What is the significant memorable feature?
  • What is the silhouette like?
  • Can you draw them?
  • What makes them so good/memorable?
  • Visual? Voice? Actions?
  • How are they distinct from the other characters they are with?
  • What does the voice sound like?
  • How does this play a part in their character?      
Depending on the characters chosen and the individual's skills this was relatively successful in getting them to see for themselves what makes the characters they relate to stand out and the problems they will need to resolve in their own design.

Continuing with the analysis using more prompts from the Matt Luhn workshop, they were asked to explore the five key elements that go to make up a character:
1.FEARS: Fears from past experience that are still present to this day  eg illness/heights/strangers
2.STRENGTHS: Not talents but character traitseg leadership/positive attitude/calm/humanitarian/stamina
3.FLAWS: Things said behind your back /character weaknesses… eg drinks too much/gambles/lazy/stubborn/angers easily/rebellious
4.DARK SIDE: Worst character trait/ lowest low….  eg gives up too easily/ blames others/will kill to win/lies/cheats
5.Traits they admire in others: Not talents but character traits…  eg leadership/positive attitude/calm/humanitarian/stamina

inner conflict and outer conflict 
The crux of the story should be the characters inner conflicts not the outer (circumstantial) conflicts.
There is no story if there is no conflict. Characters need to be willing to put up a fight (metaphorical or actual) for their convictions (beliefs /desires) . They need (internal or actual) strength, stamina and a will to see the story (what ever has caused the conflict/change in circumstance) to it’s logical conclusion.

Ultimately Simply  Ask:

what do they want, 
what are they thinking 
what are they are doing there and 
what will they do next 
(and sometimes what have they JUST done) 

So with guidance in hand they set off to design their characters and create a bible consisting of :
background research and development
log line and synopsis
model sheet
how to draw
colour chart
facial attitude
So after a few weeks here are a few examples of the students character designs:

Akira Phatanakul: Grimsley

 Naphat Lee (Heejoo): Curt

 Vipada Piyawatin (Fooky): Rabby

 Sarin Singhaseneh (Kati): Charlie

 Jeerawat Udomsataphol (Joe): Lil' Pluggin'