This module 'Going Live', is our industry module where we are given a brief from a company in the industry of animation. The company working with our year is Wild Child Animations, a studio based in Stirling, Scotland. They are a BAFTA Scotland award-winning company that is steadily growing after the joining of two different studios in 2020 founded the company. I am particularly interested that they produce both 2D and 3D work as I'm coming from a 2D background, learning 3D.
The brief given to us was to make a short ident for the proposed educational branch of their company, Wildling Studios, with a limit of 30 seconds. An ident is a short and sweet introduction to a brand, usually a studio or something that works with creative media, the best example I thought about when considering idents were the old Channel 4 ones that would display large '4's in a scene.
Above is part of the concept I presented to Wild Child Animation in the pitch stage.
The concept that I discussed and developed with ideas from Kelly Clayton and Luke Coventry, was the idea of a POV shot exploring the inside of a maze that eventually leads to an opening that reveals the words: "Wildling Studios". The maze is formed of different tools and icons of typical animation software user interface (UI), these references help suggest the maze is the journey an early career animator may face. There are so many different options to go down when you are starting your career in the industry, the solving of this maze to reveal "Wildling Studios" is the light at the end of the tunnel to help early-career animators on that journey.
To better illustrate this concept I drew out an animatic which we also presented to Wild Child.
Relating to my Masters Film
This coincidently was informative when designing shots for my Advanced Production project, the way the corridors in this maze grow dauntingly confusing as well as the useful practice with the changing perspectives with a moving character's view, were qualities I will be using within the short film.
Stills from Box Project WIP animatic
Indent Pitch Feedback
However, it is this particular daunting and confining nature of the animatic that Wild Child had the most feedback about when presented with it. Rightly so, they commented that being within the walls of this maze was a bit too confined and conflicting for the idea of the ident. Idents are to represent the brand, usually with a few fun and interesting visuals to help the brand stand out, so this feedback was definitely understandable.
Despite this, out of the 6 ident concepts that were pitched to Wild Child, the Maze concept was one of two that were selected to be completed this term!!
Adapting the concept
It felt amazing that Wild Child could see the potential of this concept, even with their points about the confined POV of the original animatic. So, having been given the opportunity to respond to that feedback, I and my team had to try and adapt whilst still maintaining the original concepts that Wild Child was drawn to.
The main concepts to maintain in the new plan are:
The idea of solving a maze like a puzzle
Wild Child specifically said that they liked some of the references we showed in the pitch mood board that displayed a maze from more of a birdseye point of view.
this lead me to think of maze-like puzzles that could be solved like a jigsaw or a Rubik's cube
The various animation software, UI references
They liked the idea of the UI being used creatively.
Making these otherwise very industrial, lifeless, functional icons and imagery into something that shows the results of their function.
We also wanted to get in the idea of growth
something connecting the process to growing and learning
The final thing must show the brand title Wildling Studios as the reveal
From this, the team have been looking into the idea of having this puzzle, similar to a Rubik cube, suspended in space, and being solved in front of the viewer. As it is solved we see the letters of Wilding Studios line up across the puzzle to reveal this is the answer. To display the letters and show reference to the original pitch, and the idea of the animation industry as a 'maze', we kept the pattern of a maze fixed on the outside of the puzzle.
The way we would show this puzzle went through several iterations from a sphere to a small world of mazes, but between us, we decided that a puzzle inspired by a Rubik cube would be the most recognisable form to take.
However, we did some concepts and a storyboard of the solving of a standard Rubik cube and I couldn't help but think that seeing it in its simple cube shape the entire time it is being solved was a bit visually uninteresting. I started to wonder how we could make it look more unique and satisfying as a whole animation. Something important to remember however was that it had to still be physically possible to work the best in the viewers' eyes. This is why I turned to research different shapes and types of Rubiks cubes as I knew these would always be solvable and make physical sense.
I first looked into a Rectangular Rubik which would take on different right angles and different blocky angles in its solving, it would then show 'Wildings Studios' quite nicely on its long side when finished. However, this was when I also came across the 'Mirror Cube'.
I thought the way it looks when it is in the process of being solved was beautiful in its own way, The way its final form takes it back to a simple cube regardless of how different it looked whilst being solved, to me, felt like the process of any creative project. No matter the shapes it takes in the process, the final thing can be just as you meant it to in the end, or better! This, I feel also created for a much more satisfying finish visually as well as meaningfully.
Concept exploration drawings by me
When deciding how to incorporate the Animation UI tools within the indent we tested a few different ideas. The original was to have the UI appear first and form the maze itself with other references sprinkled in and around the maze. however, with this idea, the UI would start off in a 2D style and we had trouble planning out a smooth and seamless transition from 2D to the 3D model of the maze cube.
To simplify this, we will just have references to UI icons on the cube itself. This also went through several iterations and techniques. There were multiple routes we could have gone down. There were tests to show the UI has an animated texture, with aspects moving and glowing across the cube. We also tested having the UI within the 3D geometry of the cube, this looked good but created questions about how the cube sections would seamlessly move against each other. In the end, we are going with a texture constructed from scratch by Kelly Clayton in Substance Designer.
There was also a question or where the UI will go on the Maze Cube. Would it be hidden details within the sections of the maze? Would it be floating around in space? Looking at the concepts we are developing for the unsolved look of the Maze Cube, there are large sections of the cube that will ultimately be facing inwards but whilst being solved these sections would be visible. In concepts, we had been giving the outside facing points of the cube the bright brand colours from Wild Child's brand guidelines, and we had been leaving these inside facing sections grey. By creating some concept art to illustrate the idea I pitched t the group that this is where the UI elements could be displayed. Like a lot of points within this project, I feel this idea worked on multiple levels. The reference we are making to the animation UI is to display the tools we as animators are so familiar with; this, as well as being the connections this ident is making to the animation industry, is displaying what is on the inside of a production, the 'behind the scenes' that isn't displayed on the final product.
A concept a drew from our 3D animatic to help show where the details will be
The Vines and Growth of Nature
Something we were keen on getting within the scope of the project was the connection back to 'growth' and nature. This was particularly fuelled by positive feedback on those aspects from Wild Child! It made sense to try and relate it back to the 'Wildlings' and 'Wild' life nature of their brand.
The main idea we were pursuing for a while was vines growing around the cube and through the mazes. We also thought to have other styles of nature popping up. However, something that became apparent in another talk with Wild Child was that we had to be careful not to have the nature looking too much like it was overgrown and unkept, like moss and vines growing on an old abandoned building. To rethink this we dialled back on the number of vines growing around the cube and keep it only in the areas of the Letters. This helped cut back on the processing time needed on the animation as well so was useful.
Despite this, we still wanted to figure out a way to show a big burst of growth to be the result of completing the Maze Cube and finding Wilding Studios. So we moved the majority of the nature growth to burst out at the end within the lettering of Wildling Studios. This quick burst, rather than slow, helps to show the energetic, childlike nature of this company and not an old ancient one.
To help clarify the concept to the team before production on the main 3D model began, I used stills from the simplified animatic and filled in the FXs that the cube will eventually have.
We are in production with the final cube model and animations being put into place and looking forward to showing Wild Child Animations in person soon.