Recent Viewing: Tower


Last week, I took one night to go and check out an indie movie at a local club. I saw the trailer to Tower and immediately knew I had to go. If you haven’t seen it, check it out above.

The reason I wanted to see the movie, was really two-fold. The topic itself, a school shooting from the 1960s. Being a millennial, I honestly thought the first school shooting was Columbine and never would have guessed that it happened prior to that, let alone in the 1960’s. The other reason, the art style. I have been crazy about rotoscoped work for the last few years now, ever since Flowers of Evil came out.

Tower blends rotoscoped footage with original footage from news broadcasts and other clips from the actual event and interviews. Based on the credits, I believe they hired actors and actresses to play out the more cinematic and rotoscoped scenes that help paint the story of the eye witnesses. I thought this was an interesting approach, obviously that footage didn’t exist so using the rotoscoped footage to create these sequences really help put the viewer into the scene and help paint the actual situation and build that suspense.

The film tells the stories of a handful of people impacted by the shooting, from a pregnant student, a kid delivering newspapers, a teacher and more. Seeing their stories starting to cross and eventually seeing how their story played out to this day, was simply amazing to hear and see. Again, as a millennial, school shootings in our lifetime have revolved around high-powered weapons and typically the gunmen end their own life. Seeing the events of other acts of terrorism and how the police have started using robots and drones, the film also talks about logistical problems of the 1960’s that we simply don’t think about. As you can see from the trailer, the shooter is a sniper in a tower. The movie at one points says that they tried to shoot the sniper from a plane, a method you simply wouldn’t see today.

One thing that really struck a nerve with me in the movie Tower, is hearing the survivors stories about gun violence and how this has been something that has impacted people and educational institutions for 50 years now. Ever since Sandy Hook, I have questioned what it would actually take for elected officials to do anything try and reduce the amount of school shootings. Unfortunately, 20+ kindergarteners were not enough to get any traction.

I really can not emphasize how much I enjoyed Tower, I was in suspense the entire time and it was a pretty intense film that was well crafted from the various people’s stories and also from the blending of rotoscoped footage and archival footage. If you get the chance to see Tower, go. Share it with everyone you know.

Production Update 195: Animation Test Part 2

Another week, another animation test. I love testing out new workflows and seeing if there are areas that I can improve and make more efficient. I’m really excited to test out the potential winning workflow and give it a more in depth look. Last week I explored Adobe Animate or the equivalent of Flash.

This week I dove into Adobe Photoshop to do some testing. There is a tool available online called AnimDessin, which gives the artist more of a traditional timeline and tools set, similar to Flash/Animate. Things such as onion skinning, inserting blank frames with the click of a button and more. The appeal of this workflow versus last weeks is the fact that I can use a variety of brushes to help get a more traditional look, some nice line qualities and importing these files into After Effects is going to be much easier. So far I am leaning towards this workflow but I still have one more to test out.

The remaining workflow is a unique one, using a tool called Paint and Stick in After Effects. ┬áThis tool let’s you draw frame by frame right in After Effects. My initial concerns center around brushes and file sizes. On the plus side, if I have any issues, I can hopefully resolve them right in After Effects.

It was a pretty good weekend to do some animation tests, we had some very frigid weather and snow that needed to be removed when things warmed up ever-so slightly. I went to see an animated documentary called Tower, which I am going to be reviewing this week yet before the holidays. Check out the trailer below, and come back mid-week for a review of the film!

Production Update 194: Animation Tests

I spent most of last week getting caught up on some work and other random things that have been piling up. So my plan this week is to execute some animation tests and explore a couple different workflows. The purpose of these types of tests is not only determine the best software to use but also the most efficient way to layer artwork, composite and the overall look and mood of each scene. In terms of animation, I will still use the same aesthetic or look as the first episode, characters done in 2D and the environments will be done in 3D. However, I want to push the character animation farther and that requires a bit of planning ahead so I don’t come across any limitations in production.

I will release some videos for each of the workflow tests I have been doing as well. Hopefully by sharing these I can shed some insight into other to the animation process for other animators but also if I am overlooking something, then someone can also help me out.

The first animation test I did was a combination between Adobe Animate (used to be Flash) and After Effects. I used to use Flash when I was in college so I have some familiarity with it. Some of my initial thoughts are, while I enjoy the timeline and being able to see the keyframes, I am not entirely sold on the brush or pencil tool in that program. That might be the deciding factor, but we’ll see. Like I said before, I will do a video soon about my exploration.

The next workflow I am going to explore is going to be a new plug in for After Effects, called Paint and Stick. This allows for frame by frame animation inside of After Effects with a visible timeline for each frame. My initial thought is that it also supports brushes from photoshop, so I can have more of that hand drawn feeling as opposed to the clean vector look of Animate. My concern however, with this workflow, is that file size could get out of control. All of the Paint and Stick data is saved outside of After Effects. If my initial testing looks like this is going to be the route to go, I will do a little bit more of an in depth animation test to see if I can gauge how large files could get.

Unplugged Update

It has been about a week since I have posted. I’ve been a little busy getting some life stuff in order. Catching up on some wedding planning and some housing and freelance work as well. I have been unplugged a little bit catching up on those things but I do feel like I have freed myself up to get to my workflow tests that I have planned. As of now I have 3 different programs but about the same approach. I don’t want to dive into that too much now since I do want to do some recap videos on each process and discuss the various workflows and pros and cons of each. I appreciate your patience and look forward to getting you some more content very soon!