Thursday, 11 August 2016

@Alan Third Year Project: Story ideas and Art direction

So my Premise for this story essentially is a lemur leaving it's troop of lemurs, with lemurs being highly social animals I felt like this was an interesting story to follow. 

I have two main ideas for the story but I'd like an extra opinion, I'm also not sure about whether my lemurs should talk in my animation and how many I should have. Troops often have 7-10 lemurs but I think 5-7 simple but characterful models are a more reasonable target.

Idea 1 - Baby lemur accidentally leaves group

Rosalyn brought a book called Once Upon a cloud to my attention. In the book the girl wants to find the perfect gift for her mother. This story idea follows a similar plot.

A version of the story can be found in the youtube video below.

A baby lemur, just leaving it's mother and able to look out for itself wants to show it's troop that it's a capable lemur. It decides that it will catch some food for it's mother which is the troop leader. While on the ground with it's troop it discovers a cicada/butterfly and chases after it so it can give it to it's mother. The baby lemur has a fun time chasing the insect but then realises it's lost and must find it's troop. 

Idea 2 - Young lemur leaves group feeling left out

A young lemur appears to be born without any rings on it's tail. This makes the lemur feel unwanted in it's troop and therefore it leaves. Later on his rings come in, this is how the troop find it and they feel bad for making fun of it.

I prefer idea 1, but I'm happy to work with either idea.

Lemurs come from Madagascar so I looked into the culture and art to help find an art direction for this project.

This influence map shows some work by malagasy artists. They tend to use bright colours in their work. 

Malagasy people often make their own textiles. They wear them as Lamba. These often feature bright, colourful patterns. 

I also put the influence map through a colour palette picker to determine which colours were the strongest in these pieces. Orange and Blue seem to be key colours in the work.



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  3. Hi Kayliegh. I'm going to be up front and honest in this feedback because there is something more fundamental I want you to consider before September. To put it bluntly there is a 'paint by numbers' approach in this post that I don't think is working...storytelling is more emotional and personal than that. Also your general approach to story development is a little upside down and back to front.

    1) Paint by numbers / Off the shelf: This is when you're trying to construct your story from pre-existing materials (chunks). In this case a book and perhaps series of films / shorts you've seen in the past. Whilst this can be useful it has the effect of glossing over more fundamental storytelling elements - What you want to say and what you want the audience to feel. Another term(s) for that is appeal and personality. We've all seen a paint by numbers film where you simply walk out of the cinema and immediately forget what you've seen. That's because it doesn't connect with you on a deeper more emotional level. In both cases your story ideas miss out on this kind of level of thinking (see below).

    2) Stories come from real life experiences. In most cases your life. Whilst I realise that you saw animals in real life and enjoyed their 'personalities' (external observation) what's missing (as I mentioned above) is your personal experiences (internal emotional experience). A common piece of advice for young writers is to 'go and live' and then write. What that means is understand emotionally first and then write from your experiences. What you don't is to don't try to ape other peoples experiences (existing books) because it's likely you'll write something superficial - It was their experience that they were drawing on.

    Take 'Finding Nemo' for example that was written by writers (parents/former children) who understand a universal fear - losing a child / losing a parent. The fact that its about a fish is irrelevant. The 'fundamental' key to story is the panic and fear that flows throughout the movie, Dory is the only link to the Nemo but has a bad memory (sustained panic) and Nemo is lost and we don't know if he'll be found (fear). Ultimately Nemo is found but the goal was achieved - the audience was kept in tension (fear/panic) as long as possible. All of that came from understanding something emotional. I don't get any sense of that depth of emotional knowledge in your two ideas.

    In an Audience With by David Keefe (link below) the underlying personal emotion is a fear of being 'judged'. David sat in his garden playing his guitar in real life and felt judged when he saw a cat looking at him - A personal real life experience. What we added to his story was a heist (the ending) so that the story could be developed with a fixed ending in mind.

    3) Start with end and work backwards: As I said we gave David a heist ending and therefore he knew that the 'cat's' were going to use 'judgement' as a tool to steal. That allowed David to work backwards from the planned theft working to the first moment of judgement. Story development always starts with knowing the ending and working backwards.

    4) Finally your ideas: Go back to ideas and look at them again with what I have mentioned above in mind. What is the underlying emotion and how does it effect the idea. Do you relate to it personally? If so why and what happened to you? How did it end? Be honest. Look for moments of 'glossing over', for example your lemur 'just suddenly gets his rings' - the way you've written that sounds very bland. Finally look at your ending, combine it with the emotion / conflict and work backwards.

    Note: Don't fixate on your story being about a Lemur....figure out what you want to say first. The rest will come.

  4. Apologies for the reposts - Typo's