Hey everyone, how is it going?
New Year has passed, Chios was nice and I'm back to working on school work. You can follow what I do for school in my Uni blog.
But today I want to talk about what I do other than school stuff. I kinda consider it my first step to my dream project Kompania!, setting in 1040s Constantinople/Istanbul, and a homage to one of my favourite bands (and the one who started it all) Turisas.
So the film is titled Yaroslavl. For some starters info, it's setting in 1040s Kiev, during Yaroslavl the Wise's reign. And yes, that Yaroslavl is the Yaroslavl you see in the film! The specific time frame of 1040s is also not out of random, as the timeframe set for the story is when the "Last Viking King" Harald Sigurdsson/Hardrada was on exile in Kievan Russia, and was travelling to Constantinople to be a Varangian Guard, a special unit in Byzantine Army made out of Vikings, Russians & Baltics, and later Danes, Anglo-Saxons and even Wallachians.
This scene was based on the middle part of Turisas' song Five Hundred and One. In my interpretation, this would be the part were Harald finally sets off to the highly-rumoured, legendary Miklagard, aka Constantinople. I thought the lyrics spoken and sung in that part sounded something that Yaroslavl might've said to young Harald. And that's how I came up with the idea!
This is basically the end product of what I did in... a month or so (with 2 weeks of break because I was back home for winter break) I know for so many people might say; "Wow Öykü, you work on this for a month and it's so... unfinished? It's all a sketch and even the anatomy is inconsistent!! What happened? You got lazy?"
Welp, to this small thought, I answer: Welcome to the land of animation! It's the magical land where something exceeds 10 seconds, can be considered as an instant kudos (and TVPaint starts to get crazy). To see what I mean, let's go through the rabbithole together.
This is were it all starts, the planning. It's the usual things; character design, background research and storyboarding. As the animation has sound and music, I also had to time my thing to connect the visuals. That's pretty much how I approached the storyboarding, by calculating the times where the words are sung and fit the visuals accordingly. Once I was happy with it, I basically put them in TVPaint and started to detail the movement with in basic stops and (or in fancy words, "keyframing"). Meanwhile, I did some research on Russian architecture and studies a few wood buildings to come up with the background.
While I was doing the keyframes, I worked on my background. And I present thee, dear viewer, my first 3D model ever! As backgrounds and perspective is not my strongest suit, I thought a 3D model would help me to achieve a consistent background. I made the model on Maya and rendered the scenes I wanted. I could add texture and colour in Maya but... It was my first time and it was already herectic to build the model anyway so I decided to add the colour on my trusted Photoshop and repainted on top of the model. Now this not only helped with my first thought, but also cut down the work load significantly! Just tried to imagine how much I'd struggle with the perspective and everything, but here we are. A solid background with proper Kievan Russian look.
After rendering the main scenes, the part came to do some challenges: turning cameras.
Now, I can't describe the hardships on how I came to approach it but in a nutshell, I basically made a 'keyframed' sequence out of the main scenes then tried to mesh them in TVPaint, to later take screenshots and remake them in Photoshop with the raw renders. Later, I put all of them in TVPaint and boom, an animated background!
Now, background is only one aspect. How about the actual juice, the characters?! Of course, they won't stay as keyframes forever. Otherwise the animation would look janky. To see what I mean, here's two clips rendered in a week apart from each other.
Now, it's a process we call "inbetweening". Basically, you just add new frames between the keyframes to smooth the movement. How you can approach this, it's up to you, on how you want the movement to be; fast, slow, long, short, list goes on. Meanwhile, I tried to add some secondary action (ex: clothes movement) to enchant the main actions and make the animation more realistic.
I wasn't sure on what sort of style I should go with these two. My general idea for Kompania! is that it's a combination of styles depending on where the character comes from, to represent the diverse cast. Yet, it's how it is on paper- on practice, things sometimes don't go so well. Thus, I made some colouring styles and tried them on a screenshot of the film. (I admit, I was inspired by The Banner Saga's style when I was thinking for Harald's lineart look)
The shadowing still needs some work but overall, I'm confident about the mesh of different styles. Right now, I'm making size/anatomy checks on the characters before I add any sort of colour in the mix. Hopefully the final product will look good with full on lines and (finally) fully opaque background! Even I am excited for that :D
So here it is, Just a peek behind the scenes on what I've been up to in addition to school work. I'm still cleaning up my review for Made in Abyss but it's been slow- while new anime has been coming up. It shall come soon. Soon.
Meanwhile, hope you are doing good everyone! Thank you for reading and let me know what you think so far about Yaroslavl. How is my depiction of such historical figures? Does the style mixing look good? Write all your feelings down in the comments below.
Until next time, have a good day and keep rocking!
"Not all those who wander are lost."
- J.R.R. Tolkien