As promised, this post is about the 'Funny in 15' group project we were set at the beginning of the term c: What follows this is my written production report for the project, detailing the processes myself and my two team members went through whilst creating this animation.
This year started with us being handed our second ever group project, our task was to create a 15 second animation that makes people laugh. This task was set in order for us to work on timing and plots in animation. Unlike our previous group project, this project was to be done in pre-determined groups, not ones that we picked ourselves, like last time. I got placed in a group with my flatmate Bradley Spice and another member of my course, Rhys Harvey.
This project was very open ended. We were allowed to do anything we wanted, as long as #1. It was funny and #2. It was 15 seconds in length. This gave us a lot of scope to work with, so my team mates and I began by meeting up to discuss themes for this project. Our decision was to each go away that night and find short animations/films on the internet that we found funny. We created a facebook group for correspondence, that we posted these videos to. Some of the ones we looked at were ASDF Movie, Eddsworld, Purple and Brown, Bumming Crew and a bunch of 7 second videos known as ‘Vines’.
We determined by looking at these, that we wanted to play on the ‘unexpected’ side of comedy, similar to how things like ASDF movie handle things. We met up again to draft out some ideas that we thought could work, coming up with 3 or 4 ideas each. We narrowed all of these down to 3 main ideas that we thought would work decently.
These three ideas are as follows:
Idea number 1 involved two guys walking towards each other down a corridor. They end up stopping and stumbling over each other deciding which way to pass. They take a couple of steps and break into the dirty dancing dance move, the music cuts out half way through and the one of the guys stops, drops the other on the floor and walks on.
This idea played very much on the surprise aspect, along with being relatable to every day experiences. There aren’t many people who can say that they haven’t ended up in that situation in a corridor when both you and the other person are trying to go the same way, ending in that awkward, ‘which way are they going?’ dance. The dirty dancing move is also one that many people know, so it plays kind of on common interests too.
Idea number 2 begins with a pretty looking girl standing in an elevator. A scruffy, greasy looking guy walks in beside her, causing an awkward pause, it is completely silent during this time and the two exchange weird looks with each other. We played with the idea of the guy doing something awkward like scratching his butt. Suddenly the lights flicker and go off for a few seconds. When they come back on the two have switched clothes and the guy, after admiring himself up and down, walks out with a happy prance, leaving the girl to just stare, to wonder what just went on.
Once again, this idea focuses on the unexpected and also on familiar situations. Travelling in lifts with strangers often leads to long awkward silences and being in close proximity to somebody who maybe doesn’t bathe as often as they should, so we felt this idea could be relatable to many people.
Idea number 3 was more taboo than the others, which played more on awkward situations. This idea was based around toilet humour and focussed on two people in toilet cubicles. Loud farting noises can be heard from these two cubicles and they seem to be in competition with each other. The cubical doors and lavatory floor shaking more and more each time. A guy walks in, planning to use the urinal and gets knocked out by the stench. The noises stop and one of the cubical users emerges, turning out to be a well-dressed woman.
This idea, along with being based on the shock factor (as the previous two were) was based a bit more on taboo and already identified bases for comedy. ‘Toilet Humor’ is something that has been around for centauries and is universally thought to be funny, if not a little immature. The other thing we played on was challenging preconceptions made by society. Society as a whole tends to have the view that women don’t fart/women are always pristine, pretty, well kept ect. This idea challenges that and I think it’s something a lot of people would find funny, with the extra gag of the urinal guy fainting from the smell, just in case.
The three of us each took one of these ideas to animatic stage, I chose to do the elevator scene, which was incredibly challenging to figure out, due to the complex timing needed to make a situation awkward, whilst still fitting in the rest of the gag and keeping it at 15 seconds in length. We couldn’t decide between these ideas, so we took them to our lecturer Derek, who suggested we carry through with idea number one, but push it further, making it more taboo. Derek didn’t think we needed the character to be thrown on the floor, saying it didn’t add much to the gag. He talked about us playing more on taboo, maybe adding a gay kiss scene to the mix, something we thought would work and decided to go with.
Our idea was now a business man running into an angry sumo in a corridor. The sumo charges at him, looking angry and viewers will expect him to try and attack the business man. Instead the business man picks him up, holding him in the air in a dirty dancing style, here before the two share a romantic kiss. The gag ends with a cut/disk scrape sound and the sumo falls on top of the business man, crushing and killing him.
This gag once again plays on the unexpected as well as playing on the taboo (which although more accepted nowadays, being gay unfortunately is still classed as)
We were all very happy with this idea and Brad began by re-making the animatic and adding the kiss scene into it. We showed this at one of the bi-weekly production meetings to get feedback from Andy, who told us to work a little more on the timing, holding the kiss scene longer and shortening the part when the sumo runs up to the business man.
We did this and once both we and Andy were happy with it, began sketching out character designs. Rhys designed the business man and I designed the sumo. We decided for a very flash cartoon-like line art style, with simple cartoon faces. The background was to be in a more painterly style, so it didn’t clash with the animation. Rhys began drawing out the backgrounds for this project whilst Brad finalised the animation in the animatic, so we could work over the top of it when coming to do the final animation. This short relied a lot on the perspective of some of the shots, so this was really helpful when coming to produce the final thing.
Rhys and I decided to take a character each, in order to keep style similarities when animating. I chose to animate the sumo and he chose to animate the business man. Our team worked well together, exchanging flash files regularly and updating each other on progress. Brad compositing the final thing together and adding sound/music to the animation, exporting and uploading to the group regularly so we know what worked and what didn’t.
For the most part, we stuck closely to the rough animation Brad did for the animatic, this was in order to keep the perspective right but also because we felt it worked well. Rhys and I worked over the top of this, adding extra animation where necessary and giving life to the characters in terms of style and expressions. As a group we were able to complete the animation on time and I’m very happy with the result. I feel we’ve worked superbly well together, very good communication between all of us, no fallings out and all deadlines were met on time.
The biggest challenge this project gave me was working with a human character, although Flash is a program that I’m experienced with, human animation is still, is unfortunately, pretty alien to me. This is something I hope to improve and practice on in the future. When animating the sumo, I stuck more heavily to Brads animation guidelines than I’d have liked, because of this. Animating the run cycles and getting the movement of his body fat was another huge challenge for me, and something I don’t think I pulled off as well as I was hoping. Although I think the animation is enough to convey our gag, I think I could’ve worked into it a lot more, adding more squash and stretch and overlap to it, to make it feel more lifelike as I feel the animation I did for the sumo feels kind of lifeless and static. Something I wasn’t so happy with, in the end. If I had more time, I’d go back, add more key frames and work on better applying the basic principles of animation into the sumo animation.
Overall, I really enjoyed this project, I feel that it’s helped me better improve my communication skills, work to a deadline and I enjoyed the challenge of getting the comedy aspect to work. I think this project has helped me better understand the production process as well as helping me a lot when working with others and improving my time management skills. I enjoyed the freedom this group project gave us, as unlike the Sea group project, which had predetermined audio, this one was done completely from scratch, which was both fun and a challenge in itself. If I was to do this again, I think I’d try to better implement the 12 basic principles of animation, to prevent my work from looking too dry and lifeless. I think my team and I worked outstandingly well together and I’d happily work with either one of my team mates again! I’m quite happy with the final outcome of the film, I think it portrays the gags we wanted it to portray well and I’m glad we were able to meet all the set deadlines for production and complete it on time, even if it is not necessarily my favourite piece of animation I have done so far.