Sunday, 30 September 2012

3D Character Animation - Balance

Finally got it to render properly! Here it is! A character balancing on one leg, avoiding an offensive object, in this case, a duck!
It's a piece I am working to improve, possibly try a different pose with.

Keep it locked right here for more things pertinent to Computer Animation and Special Effects!
In the coming days, I'll be showing some of the hand drawn things I've done, plus, some examples of stretching and squashing.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Busy installing 3Ds Max 2013, so please bear with me!


Just seen this, and it's awesome.

A 2D piece about the POWER OF TELEVISION.

3D work and what not!

I've been a bit behind on my updating, working on stuff, not just animation (Some buildings for wargames/scenery) so I've been a bit preoccupied. But in the next couple days, check me out, I should have some 3D (something I've only done recently, scary!!) and some other drawings. Shapes, which I've turned into things like a Rhino, a Gorilla, mad stuff like that.
Keep it locked right here, people!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Belleville Rendez-vous - A Critical Review


Belleville Rendez-vous, c'est magnifique...

... if not a little strange, though.

I've seen a couple French animations in my time, but none were so utterly mind-bending as this little piece of cinematic gold (or should that be a darker palette?) directed by Sylvain Chomet.
Opening up and sucking you straight into the film with a Broadway musical, performed by the lovely Triplets de Belleville (see above image). Heavy tones of Jazz mixed with an art style reminiscent of Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie (1927), all gloved hands, large, friendly eyes, bobbing about constantly, it all makes for a fun opening to possibly one of the most macabre animations I've seen to date.
A fun little fact, during the performance, several people are referenced, Josephine Baker , Glenn Gould and Fred Astaire.
Additional! Despite the Disney-esque intro, there are several "Anti-Disney" pieces on show throughout the film. There is a Mickey Mouse shaped... Leaving in a toilet and a photograph of a character at Disneyland, holding a lollipop with "SUCKER" written on it.

"Is that it, then? Is it over, do you think?"

After the upbeat opening, you hear Madame Souza, the grandmother of Champion, at this point, just a small boy, orphaned and put in her care. You'll notice the art style has changed dramatically, however, from the bold, energetic scene you had just seen, to a more "rough and ready", thin lined, dark palette caricature of the characters.


Champion is given a puppy called Bruno, as Madame Souza notices how sad he is. He is initially happy and spends time playing with the puppy with his trainset. However, his happiness doesn't last long and he lapses back into his sadness. Mme. Souza discovers, however, that he has in interest in bikes! This begins what soon turns into a huge adventure, not just for Champion and his Tour de France dreams, but for Mme. Souza and Bruno...

"The world is strange in Rendez-vous"

The story is split into sections defined by their location. It starts out in rural France, a small village which soon becomes industrialized (through a steady montage, passing time, allowing us to see how Champion has progressed to a Tour de France hopeful.)

Next port of call is a transition, crossing the ocean (albeit by pedalo for Bruno and Souza) until they reach Belleville, the ending setting. Belleville itself is a mixture of several cities, most recognisable however, are New York and Montreal.

Whilst in Belleville, we are introduced to several interiors, the apartment of the Belleville Triplets, a restaurant which is frequented by the French Mafia and finally, the underground gambling ring where several Tour de France competitors who were captured and forced to be the pawns in the Mafia's ill-gotten Cycling race.

Another progressive shot seems to come from Bruno's dreams. A recurring theme has him sat on a train, reflecting on an event that has gone before him, but altered slightly, be it a man barking at him from a window, or Champion pulling the train along on his bike, it is always followed by a change in scenery.

So the animation?

As I expected from French animation, it was nothing short of amazing. The hand drawn characters all had their own style of movement which suited their individual styles perfectly. Bruno was a large, clumsy dog by the end of film, and he had his dog-like characteristics portrayed immaculately, from his incessant barking at trains (stemming from an incident as a puppy involving a toy train), to his eagerness to get his food from Champion, once he has eaten enough. Watching everything, waiting for a bell to ring, having learned a routine.
Champion himself spent the majority of his time (which was surprisingly small on screen) riding a bike, upon which he swayed to keep momentum, shifting his weight side to side.
Madame Souza, however, being the central character in my eyes, had to have all of her characteristics down. From her club-footed hobble to her musical ability (not the piano, however. You'll see,) making steel drums from what she can, and actually making you feel like she is truely playing the music.
That is what I am impressed with from the film. The eye for detail the animators have, making every movement seem believable.
Another, very simple to do, but very necessary to convey that feeling of immersion, was the suspention on the cars. The easing that was used gave the illusion of tension in the springs. It's easy to forget it's there, something you probably wouldn't notice, but it's a needed touch. Go on, watch it again and take notice of the little things!

You hear that?

Unless it's music, you will probably not. Something Belleville does fantastically is convey the mood and tone through not just the music, but through the emotions shown on the characters themselves. The slumped shoulders when they feel defeated, the way their eyes move when they're up to something they shouldn't be, it tells you all you need through these. There are the occasional spoken lines, but they don't really have any bearing, a disagreeing "No", a newscaster at the beginning giving some incidental story. Really, there are only three lines in the film, one of which is said at the start of the film, then again at the end, but we finally hear Champion's voice as he replies;

"I think that's probably it. It's over, Grandma. "

Belleville Rendez-vous had me lost at the beginning of the film, but as pieces began to slot together further in, I realised that it was in fact a Detective Drama of sorts. I really began to warm to it from then, trying to, in effect, solve the case, how Madame Souza and Bruno could rescue Champion and escape the Mafia. Despite the serious tone, there was plenty of humour, finding it's way from cliché, bordering on racist in some cases, views (fat Americans, frog eating French, lumbering Mafiosi with raised shoulders and sunken heads,) to the references to other well known pieces, like Walt Disney's works, Airplane! (at the end of the film, the Pedalo man is waiting for Souza to return, like in the Airplane! films, where after the credits, there is a character waiting for someone,) and a cameo of Gertie The Dinosaur, an animated short from 1914, depicted on a poster in the Belleville Triplet's apartment. Then there is the joke about Citroën's being unable to turn corners, where every car is a Citroën, and in the final chase, they're all wiping out whilst turning.

Something that didn't capture me was that you never found out that the kidnappers were a Mob family and why they were kidnapping people in the first place until the final few scenes. Then there was a long section where the Triplets were preparing food (read, Frogs) I personally thought that the scene was too drawn out for what you learned from it, that they have taken to using everyday objects in their act to create music, which I took to be a symbol of the great depression after World War II, which the film would appear to be set.

"Swinging Belleville rendez-vous"

The film has left a lasting impression upon me, giving me an even deeper love of the French animation scene, their attention to detail is shown perfectly in this, the humour is subtle and extremely well done, the tension is perfect for a crime/detective drama and it has had me singing "Belleville Rendezvous" like a Jazz singer since I watched it.