As we were setting up this project in the first few meetings I was conscious that we needed to design the process of making the animation in a way that would produce a lot of intermediate work that could be used for our respective portfolios. e.g. Ryan wished to produce concept art, and good models. Chaitanya, wanted to produce animation and models. Bernard wanted to display his story development skills and was interested in Motion Capture, Lin was open minded but was interested in learning computer visualisation skills. Liz was unable to attend many of our early sessions and found it difficult to define her interests at this stage.
Personally, I was delighted with the whole idea of creating a film, but I especially wanted to produce good modelling for both organic characters and hard body/mechanical models.
Additionally I want to observe the creative collaborative process and try to implement some things that I learned from my disastrous experience with a former group, where the group became completely avoidant of undertaking any work.
I was concerned to habituate the group into a task centred approach from the very beginning and also to instigate a feeling of ownership of the ideas and a sense of responsibility toward the other group members. So I set the first task immediately in the first meeting I.e.- Making a list of seven things that each person wanted to acieve in the project.
The subsequent discussion about personal interests showed a surprising amount of consensus and were suggestive of the roles we might fall into for the subsequent work.
I explained the overall process of making a short animation to them and I had an example of a story board that I had produced for a personal project to show them to illustrate the process. It was well received and liked.
I was very conscious of the risk that my early ideas might dominate the groups creative direction and hamper the others personal investment in the project, so I was careful communicate that my ideas were no more than an illustration of something we might achieve and that we should develop on from this. We limited the first discussion to addressing themes and decided the theme for our story would be a retelling of the Greek myth of Icarus 50 years into the future.
Many of the ideas contained in the example storyboard fed through into the themes we finally adopted. Our imaginations seemed to constellate around the first coherent ideas. I was struck at how my early introduction of a coherent idea swayed the whole groups thinking.
It was clear that I was being cast/accepted/assumed into a leadership role. This was partly because of my age and personality, but also because I have some experience of the kind of project as well as the greatest general technical knowledge. So, as I was offered some authority, I took the decision to insist that we work in certain ways. i.e. Set up a studio space where we would work together and all attend regular ‘crit’ meetings for the largest part of the process. I also implicitly took on the directors role.
We met and analysed the preliminary tasks to get the project underway.
Ideas and concept generation to direct our creative and aesthetic decisions
Visual research for reference material
Find examples of short animations and short form storytelling that we admired
Producing a storyboard which was critical to understand and organise the subsequent making tasks
Conscious again of centring the groups attention on tasks, I asked them all to bring drawing materials to the first work session, which would be a whole day of drawing and sketching out ideas.