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Animation – Shots 4 – 8

The train sequence was probably the one I was least prepared for. I completed the secondary animation for the train about a month ago, when I was designing the artwork, but the platform back plate had not been completed. I had to construct this in Photoshop, utilising sections of some vintage images, including the one attached below. It is a bit unusual but it is a bit more interesting than a hand drawn platform.

The train and carriage entry was the hardest part of this sequence – what I thought to be a simple roll in and roll out turned out to be ten times more complex. Because the nested composition of the train spoke was 2 seconds in length (2 large wheel rotations, 4 small wheel rotations), the train had to move slower across the screen than anticipated. The composition had to be increased by an extra 6 seconds. This hasn’t done too much to the overall length, as I have axed the newspaper shot that was meant to sit at shot 8 (originally there was a transition planned between the newspaper on the track and the newspaper Nellie held in the carriage, but she now has a book instead). The extra length was primarily due to the fact that I had to repeat the train composition four times across the screen, moving inch by inch. For whatever reason, I couldn’t convince it to just loop indefinitely and had to stagger duplicates instead. This was painful as the whole environment was set in 3D space and the train had to be repositioned and resized for each duplication. I also found that if the duplications happened back to back with no frame overlap, the animation would “flicker” at the cross over point. The process had to be repeated for the carriage as it was a separate composition again! Still, you do anything to make it work! My skills in Particular are improving all the time and I’m gradually beginning to experiment. Most of the effects I am using do not start from presets and are built from the ground up. I’m learning to control direction and speed a lot better and the effects are becoming a mess of key framing (I am a bit of a perfectionist sometimes). Once steam and smoke were added to the shot all the hard work with the train wheels was partly obscured…

A bridging sequence had to be installed to compensate for the ditching of shot 8 so I produced a short 6 second cross-country shot recycling elements from the later parts of the animation. It was also a chance to show off the train and carriage a bit more. I tried having elements in the foreground passing in front of the camera but they proved to be a bit distracting and made the train seem too slow. I feel there is enough to look at without concentrating on enhancing depth of field.

The interior carriage sequence was very quick and neat to construct. Admittedly there is a bit too much to look at for such a short sequence but this was AFTER I simplified the shot out the window. I’d planned for a sweeping landscape of Europe in perspective from the train line. The train would head into a tunnel and the ferry would come out the other side into white sequence. I even had aerial versions of the train ready for this. But with everything that is going on in the carriage itself, it would have been overkill. Instead, I’ve gone with a black-and-white vintage image reel of various European locations, ending on a 1900s dock shot to simulate the transition to the ferry. I’m quite happy with the look, even if it is a simplified version, but it all goes back to the idea of “suspension of disbelief” and sometimes you just have to rely on the viewer to close the gaps. Symbolism is great for this, and the stereotypical landmarks can evoke a country better than anything else. The images have been left in various shades of black and white so they don’t compete with the browns and reds of the carriage itself. The carriage “bump” was added to replicate the rock of the train body in the earlier sequence. I intentionally offset the bump a bit so that it didn’t always land on a Nellie position change. The lighting change in the carriage is meant to suggest a passage of time as this shot covers the most ground in terms of the storyline.

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