Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eight--animation-inaugural setting still

I have been busy here in Arlington working on oil paintings. Indoor and outdoor. Haven't wanted to share as immediately as in the past. When I have a strong grouping I'll post. Shouldn't be too long.

The other project I have been working on is that back burner animation, Eight. (See "One" and "Four" embedded on the left side of this blog. All are from The Boxing Lesson's Fur State) I had revised the planned story many times over since "Four"'s completion early last year. As I became more proficient in my choice of medium, (yet still very primitive to other animator's work: both in experience, and knowledge and availability of high tech tools: Photoshop CS and a semi obscure cheap program called Photostage Slideshow. Photostage works well enough for me who understands the basic concepts of how animation works, without a steep learning curve that becomes a major project in of itself. It's almost like Windows Movie Maker, but with more bells and whistles in the tools and effects.) I wanted to spend more time on the storytelling.

One was a play it by ear experiment. Out of it came three cats in a chewed up cardboard box riding into deep space chasing and meeting ghost like lifeforms. Kitties went underfoot (as cats tend to do) here and there in Four, which was a more developed story. The Boxing Lesson also gave me creative reign on the latter video, but with only one specific request...that it was racy/adult in nature. So I wove together a tale of an alien woman in human form who attempts a seductive bait and switch (involving an extraterrestrial flower)  on a human male in order to reproduce. Her manipulations of mind and nature in order to achieve her goal succeed.  In the last moment of the video, we see the human/alien hybrid baby has matured and ripened in her flowerpod.

I wanted to dive right away into Eight, but there were some issues in the way.

First and foremost, there wasn't a budget for the animation work. The band were struggling artists themselves. At the time I did happen to have a small income coming in from another source, and I considered the work performed as training for hopefully future paying gigs . Being a newbie at the medium, that was a fair enough arrangement for me. The work earned some very modest attention and a few requests from other people...for free work. By that time, my other income source dried up and I couldn't afford to do that. Despite my newbie status in animation, I do have 20 years experience making art, and I did invest 5 months straight of waking and sleeping hours to make the first two works ready for a deadline release date. It was an excellent education and opportunity I embrace and appreciate. However future work/collaborations  must be compensated from this point on. One exception are personal labor of love projects, which can be worked on as time permits.

Eight currently is that project. Although I would have loved to be able to have had it ready for promotional purposes for the band at the time, I knew it the quality of the project would take a serious hit. I didn't want it to be a shoddy anticlimactic piece made with little time and fewer personal resources available. Finishing it was never far from my mind though.

As I put Eight aside, I kept a notebook nearby for ideas revised the plot several times over. One constant was that it would start with the human/alien hybrid girl turning eight years old and witnessing the End of the World. It was going to be more spare and stoic in my original versions.

Tried some various 3d programs and more sophisticated software, but realized that would be another hurdle. So I decided to keep to what I know but upgrade my ancient computer which was dying anyway.

I spent the spring and summer making paintings, having odd jobs, and occasionally jotting notes for visuals to Eight. Then late in the summer my mother was diagnosed with leukemia and breast cancer which metastasized to her spine. By early October she had passed. My sister and I were both devastated at how damn fast it all went, and then having to deal with our father, whose long term illnesses were coming to a head, without Mom there to be his buffer and caregiver. Things were also beginning to feel stagnant in Austin. Jan offered me an opportunity to work on my art on the East Coast while living with her, and helping out in whatever form needed. Had to deal with two moves..first from Austin, then from sis's old apartment to our new one in Shirlington.  With the added perspective of finally feeling settled, her company and the chance reconnect as family has worked out well.

So I've been building up artworks for future shows (and I hope sales), and feel settled enough to finally tackle this project. (However painting is still a daily priority.)  I made the final revisions to the plot, and already tested the length of scenes with sketches inserted in a timeline to the soundtrack in Photostage.

A few tidbits/details I'll share about  Eight:

The girl loses her mother at eight years of age. The same age my mother lost her mother. Her mother was 42 at the time, which was the same age I was when I started this project.

Cancer makes a very prominent appearance, but not in any way one would expect.

There are more ghosts, cats (including lions!), flowers, and another alien world.
It is still The End of the World on Earth. Only for humans though. All other creatures survive and get a nice big breather from our absence.

Don't worry about the little girl. She manages to find her way despite her loss and silent home.

Through the little girl's journey the main themes will be isolation to connection to unity.

I realize at this late in the game and also based on the limited exposure of my previous efforts all this (my writing, my plans) may seem over the top and ridiculous. That is if anyone pays attention in the first place. It may be, and certainly wouldn't be the first time. But I eventually finish what I start. The freedom of being generally overlooked and unimportant is that (under the right circumstances) I can do as I please.

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