To create this concept for the Marionette Housewife, I simply modified the existing turnaround. I wanted to retain the appearance of the Housewife character, whilst making the transformation quite drastic. I looked at the delightfully creepy giant puppets of the Royal De Luxe for my main influence, as seen below.
I've also designed the Marionette to be economical in terms of production, with changes subtle enough that I can simply modify the model of the Housewife character when created. When it comes to rigging, I will probably split the limbs up into separate components, as they would be in reality, and skin them individually to each joint. I should be able to get away with skinning the character fairly quickly, as there isn't any skin deformations to take into account, the character's limbs will move as solidly as they would in reality. As for the dress, I wondered whether I should treat it as wood also, designing it to move much like that of an action figure or artist's mannequin, although after looking at various marionettes and puppets, traditionally they use clothing to cover up the mechanics and imperfections of the puppet beneath, so I imagine I shall retain this tradition and focus on changing the limbs alone.
This is unlikely to be the final design, so any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
This is my attempt at drafting up a simple supermarket design, taking influence from the images in the last post. I'm on the fence about whether this is a successful concept or not. It feels somewhat like the style I'm attempting to emulate, although its not quite there yet.
I've incorporated the flat, messy colours and that odd, offset outline you can see in many of the images, although I think I need to be a bit more Caligari in the shape of everything, its all too strict and not spontaneous enough. Anyway, let me know what you think.
After watching Chico and Rita, I left with a pretty good idea of the style I wanted to apply to the 3D environments in my video. The moment when Chico is arriving in New York, as seen below, the style shifts quite radically, moving into a heavier, more graphical style, reminiscent of many cartoons of the era.
Chico and Rita: Welcome to New York
After seeing this, I jumped back into a book I referenced heavily for my Commission project, called Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation, by Amid Amidi.
I went through the book, throwing post-its at everything that was remotely striking and that I felt would fit nicely with the mid-century consumerist aesthetic I've been attempting to piece together.
Below are a few examples of some of the animations with a stylistic charm that may carry over into my own project (I apologise in advance for the abuse your scroll wheel will endure when scrolling through the following images).
Rhapsody of Steel
A Cowboy Needs a Horse
Woodpecker from Mars
I've began drafting up some concept artwork around the styles pictured here, some of which should hopefully be up fairly soonish.
The turnaround for the Housewife character is practically finished now, other than the top view for modelling the arms.
I've attempted to retain the Paper Doll aesthetic in the designs by using a dark brown key line for the flesh, shoes and hair areas, as well as using an alternative key line for the outfit.
Below are some colour variants on the default design. When I created the Grey variant, I had the idea to use that instead of the 'Puppet' metaphor that is in the original script. Instead of the colour and branding seeping into the Housewife, the colour would drain out of each of them, removing the colour that made them unique, resulting in them appearing identical. This method would be considerably more economical in regards to workload, as I wouldn't have to design and model a marionette character, nor would I have to work out a method of transforming one into the other, as I could simply animate the textures. Although, this would be a little anticlimactic and I'd feel as though I would be cheating a little if this decision wasn't completely justified.
Anyway, as always, feedback is greatly appreciated.
The images below are from a website I regularly visit called Things Organised Neatly. The site is exactly what you would imagine it is; visitors to the site organise something, anything, neatly in an obsessive compulsive manner, and photograph it for the rest of the world to admire (and scrutinise).
For this project, I've drawn a lot of influence from the images posted on the site, with much of my concept art reflecting this strict, uniform aesthetic. There is a distinct sense of consumerism and conformity in the concept behind this site, which fits my project perfectly. I also get a strong Wes Anderson feel from the focused, centralised photography, which is nothing to complain about, either.
Its a little strange how much I love this website, considering how difficult it is to find somebody more messy and disorganised than myself...
Just a quick update, showing my progress into developing the side view. The proportions appear to be about right at this point, so now its just a case of putting in the finer details (so basically, everything that you can't see in the image above).
Just a minor update in response to Tom's feedback on the last progress update. I've attempted to reduce her muscularity somewhat, mainly in the arms. I've also added a little bit of texture and colour, just as a little test to keep things a bit more interesting for me, really.
I've began to develop the turnarounds for my Housewife characters. When working on the Character Design project, I found it easier to design the character whilst developing the turnarounds, so I've decided to go that way when developing my characters here also. Its quite weirdly proportioned in places, but that should all be sorted as I develop the turnaround further.
I've began to storyboard some of the different snippets and motifs that will be interspliced between the Three Housewives narrative. This isn't complete, but it provides an idea of how the piece will play out. I don't imagine I'll storyboard all of the various snippets, as I like the spontaneity that will come from just creating them, but for some of the more complex pieces, such as this one, will be storyboarded simply to give myself a slightly clear idea of the final outcome.
Just a few simple designs for my Housewife characters. Taking inspiration both from Phil's suggestion of using paper dolls and the cast of the television programme, Mad Men (specifically, the character Betty Draper), I've attempted to interpret my general idea of the stereotypical 1950's/60's housewife.
I'm not sure whether each separate housewife will have a different design or whether, to economise the work involved, share the same design with unique textures. Let me know what you think.
After drafting up the Three Housewives screenplay, I was left with this sort of image in my head. Using the same textures I had used from the V&A in the last lot of concept artwork, I quickly drafted a simple kitchen scene and flatly applied the textures on top, deliberately leaving out any considerable details. I kind of like the way it forces the viewer to fill in the gaps to a degree, as well as its resemblance to the sort of kitchen scenes you see in Ikea catalogues (thanks to the camera angle). This may not be the final style (its a bit too 'in-your-face', I think), but I feel as though it is a step in an interesting direction.
After throwing some ideas around, dropping some and picking others up, I've decided on using a minor narrative component to help carry the video somewhat. The main idea I've generated is one that I've been throwing around since the beginning of the project, although it has evolved quite considerably since then.
The general development of this idea has been in favour of economising my assets, and whilst at first I thought this may restrict the overall visual impact of the piece, this somewhat stripped back approach should hopefully work in my favour (going from the design direction I appear to be heading in).
Ultimately, what this idea requires is three characters and three sets. This would typically be a fairly ambitious task (especially at this point in the project), but as with the Narrative project, I have constructed the piece in a way that I am able to reuse a single character model and simply retexture it for each separate character. The sets may be entirely two-dimensional, as the idea is strongly in favour of fixed camera angles, and if that is the case, I can generate these in Photoshop and composite the three-dimensional footage in a two-dimensional scene, although this will be decided after I have experimented with the different options at my disposal.
I plan to have a loose storyboard of each scenario established soon, alongside some finalised concepts for the general appearance of this element of the video.
Below is the loose screenplay for the idea. It is incredibly rough, but I feel it gets the point across at this stage. As always, feedback and critique are appreciated.
Three Housewives, identical in appearance other than the colour of their clothing, going about their daily routine. As they interact with various branded products, they are physically influenced, with the colours, text and various other components bleeding into them. They succumb to the influence of the brands, ultimately becoming literal marionettes of consumerism and corporate manipulation.
Housewife One (#1)
WIDE SHOT, #1 Entering kitchen from the right, the camera slowly panning out
CUT TO CLOSE Up of #1 opening cupboard
Series of CLOSE UPS of interaction with several branded products as she prepares breakfast
As #1 continues to interact with the branded products, the patterns begin to transfer into her skin. The patterns gradually move up, across her forearms, ultimately replacing her skin with the labels and branding of the items she had handled.
The branding begins to toughen, forming a solid shell and giving the housewife the appearance of a lacquered ventriloquist dummy.
CUT TO WIDE SHOT, the same shot as the beginning, as the now puppet of consumerism slowly turns to face the camera, fixed expression, sunken human eyes behind a varnished facade.
Housewife Two (#2)
EXT. High Street, simplified in appearance
WIDE SHOT, #2 Strolling down High Street, glancing into shop windows as her feet hit the floor with the gentle rhythm of the music
Something in the window catches #2's eye, as she turns to look through a shop window
CUT TO MID SHOT from the inside of the shop window, as #2 leans in to view an item.
#2 places her hand upon the window, as she continues to lean in. As with #1, the patterns begin to transfer into her skin. The patterns gradually move up, across her forearms, ultimately replacing her skin with the labels and branding of the items behind the window.
The branding begins to toughen, forming a solid shell and giving the housewife the appearance of a lacquered ventriloquist dummy.
CUT TO WIDE SHOT, as the now puppet of consumerism slowly turns to face the camera, fixed expression, sunken human eyes behind a varnished facade.
Housewife Three (#3)
WIDE SHOT of an aisle of shelves, that stretches the length of the shot. #3 Enters from the left, pushing an empty shopping trolley. Her transition across the screen is rhythmically in tune with the music.
She turns to face the shelves, gazing toward the products with a distinct numbness. Her head drops lightly to one side, as she reaches out to pick up a particular product.
CUT TO CLOSE UP of #3's hand, reaching for the product on the shelf. An ethereal haze vignettes the screen, drawing focus towards the gesture. Further down the shelf, another item pulls into focus, as if to grab #3's attention. Her head turns to notice the item, as her attention is driven towards it.
CUT TO CLOSE UP of #3's hands, grasping the items, from her own perspective. The itmes are completely identical in appearance, other than their label. Her hands shift from left to right, indicating her decision making process.
As with #1 and #2, the patterns begin to transfer into her skin. The patterns gradually move up, across her forearms, ultimately replacing her skin with the labels and branding of the items she had handled.The branding begins to toughen, forming a solid shell and giving the housewife the appearance of a lacquered ventriloquist dummy.
CUT TO WIDE SHOT, as the now puppet of consumerism slowly turns to face the camera, dropping the items into the trolley, fixed expression, sunken human eyes behind a varnished facade.
Using samples of genuine 1950's fabric patterns supplied by the V&A, I created these three small bits of concept artwork. I am quite drawn to using these simplified patterns throughout the video, as they resonate both with the period and somewhat with classic product packaging, as seen in the sample of Sainsbury's packaging below.
After looking at a bunch of different examples of packaging, advertising and album artwork, I made a quick patterned concept, just to see how it could turn out if I incorporated it in my work. It resulted in this unusual, doo-wop inspired... thing, with a sort of Saved by the Bell vibe about it. I have no idea what will come of this experiment, although one idea was to create models in Maya and then texture each of the models with a flat, tessellated pattern, making the models distinguishable as simple shapes alone. I may not use this style for the whole video, but I can certainly incorporate it as a snippet somewhere in there.
Harking back to an earlier idea, this is a concept for a 'Puppet of Consumerism'. Originally, I had put this idea to one side pretty early on in the project, although it feels as though this somewhat Lynchian, Svankmajer-esque approach may be suitable once more, to help develop and reinforce a general narrative, where the consumer gradually becomes part of the thing they are buying into. This is a very quick concept and by no means a final design, but any feedback regarding any aspects of the concept would be appreciated.