The other day we watched, for the very first time, 25 consecutive minutes of "My Love Affair With Marriage". It was something of a shock - and a good one! - to see the animated images merge with the actors' voices. The script that took us a year to write is coming to life!
Fully colored image: Elita, the perfect girl, and her schoolmates
But animation is a cruel medium. There are numerous steps to complete before an animated scene is fully animated. The 25 minutes we watched were in a variety of unfinished states. Some scenes were only animatics - sketches to test visual ideas and see how the characters might interact with the backgrounds and vocal track before animation begins.
Animatic of Zelma (16) and Lauris (17) taking a walk in the park at night to explore kissing
Animatics are usually drawn quickly without the precision of final animation drawings. They are crucial to our process. We do not take down a set and its lighting until satisfied with the animatic of the scene. We may need to photograph the background set from additional angles.
Some scenes that we watched were linetests which we use to lip-synch the animation to the actors' voices and check the character's movements. For these we use low-resolution black and white pictures of the backgrounds so that the line drawings of the animation stand out better.
Linetest: Zelma, 12, stands alone on the hallway stairs of her Soviet school.
In the picture above you see the students walking in front of the railing and not behind. We will address this once the scene is colored and composited in After Effects. That's when we'll do masking and tracking.
Other scenes we watched were fully animated, but not yet shadowed or colored.
Animated, not colored: Zelma, 13, screaming for mom after discovering blood on her sheets
Once satisfied with the linetest, Signe pencil-shadows each drawing. Shadowing is like handwriting, Signe says. To keep consistency, she is the only one who pencil-shadows.
Here, shaded in pencil, is one of the three Mythology Sirens
Our team scans each completed drawing and sends them to our sister team in Riga, Latvia, who color the drawings in Photoshop and composites them in After Effects. When we are under deadlines, as we are right now, the Brooklyn team joins in.
A Siren fully colored. The Mythology Sirens are shape-shifters and appear differently in each of their scenes.
The color blends with the pencil shadowing to create a sense that the characters are 3-dimensional so they will fit seamlessly into the 3-dimensional, stop motion environment.
Recently an arts organization gave us feedback on an unsuccessful grant application that we submitted a year ago. While the committee was impressed with much of our application, they were confused by the unfinished work samples. "We're not sure what we are looking at," they told us.
2017 sample footage: Zelma, 8, approaches her Soul Mate
There is another important grant deadline coming up for us in July. We have been furiously working to completely finish three work samples while moving ahead with the rest of the film.
Our goal for December 31, 2018: to have 25 consecutive minutes of finished animation fully colored, composited, masked and tracked. AND an additional 25 minutes of new scenes in various states of completion. Waiting for us in 2019: the final 40 minutes of animation.
This is an ambitious goal, but we are working hard to get there. Wish us luck!
And thank you for your support! We couldn't do it without you!
Sturgis, Signe, Roberts and the whole "My Love Affair With Marriage" Team