What is a Forest? Final Animation

For my Survey of Animation class, the students were required to create an animation based off a prompt and some research on a chosen animator. When choosing my animator to research, I decided that I would look at the works of the animator Hayao Miyazaki. After choosing my animator and thinking about the prompt, which was “What is a Forest?” I started working and researching for my animation.

When thinking just about the prompt, I felt that the question itself was quite difficult to answer in simple terms. I found that this was because a forest is so vast and can create so many different moods based on the context. Thus, I decided that the best way to answer “what is a forest?” would be to show the many different sides of a forest. I start off with the theme of “new beginnings, life and growth” by showing plants growing and blossoming all around. Next, I wanted to display the vastness and endlessness of a forest by moving to an aerial shot, putting the size of the forest on display. After showing this, I move on to try and create an image of how active, yet still it can be in a forest. I did this by creating a quick motion over the trees and falling, then making everything much more still and calm once the camera returns to the ground. The following scene is used to create the mood and scary feeling that someone can feel within a forest. You enter this sequence by going between some bushes, giving a small sense of feeling cramped as well. Finally, the animation moves past all of this and lands on a waterfall,  a scene that I used to convey the idea of hidden beauty within all forests.

Moving on to the production, I created this entire animation using traditional full animation. Using blank note cards and my trusty pencil, I ended up drawing over 375 frames for this video. After this, I individually photographed the images and composited the video. Overall, despite the tediousness of the full animation, I am very pleased with the result. Specifically I think the animation of the first plant growing is pretty strong. It is simple yet I tried to incorporate not only the animation principle of arc in the growth itself, but overlapping action as well with how the leaves fall at different rates. I also tried to add anticipation before big movements in the “camera” angle. This can be seen at the beginning, before moving up the tree, and before falling back to the ground at around 0.11 seconds. Overall I also feel that the staging of the plants and even the birds, is fairly solid as all of the different plants are distinguishable and their movement is clear to the viewer.

In terms of adapting to may animation, along with adding an aerial scene, I tried to add what is known as “ma” to my piece and give my background a lot of detail in some parts. Giving my work parts that showed “ma” or emptiness was something I had never thought about. However after researching, I began to see how this could actually help an animation. Ma helps balance out fast action with a moment of stillness. My animation demonstrated this at quite a few different parts including the tree at around 0.05 seconds, looking up from the ground at 0.14 seconds and the final scene at 0.25 seconds. Creating fast moving animation and movement was easy for me, remembering to allow the scene a moment to “breath” was something I had to constantly remind myself to do. Aside for this, I attempted to give certain parts of my animation more detail, at least more than I would have normally drawn as I was working in full animation. While I know that Hayao Miyazaki works with cell animation and thus can create elaborate backgrounds for his films without having to redraw them every frame, I wanted to try and include this idea into my work. Granted I did not draw at that complexity for long, only really attempting it at around 0.14 seconds. In the end, researching Hayao Miyazaki and implementing his ideas into my animation has given me a lot to think about in future creations.

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