The Trailer is Out!

Sorry for the sparse updates, everyone! But here’s a very big treat for all of your patience.

As you may be aware, most of our film is being completed in segments. So a couple weeks ago, Cindy and I decided to crank out the first sequence of our film in order to make a nice trailer. We will be screening this trailer at the BFA Gallery, which showcases all of the Animation/Illustration graduates’ work.

Enjoy the trailer! We will continue to work on the film in future months until it is completed. Also be sure to check out these samples of Visual Development work for our film that is also being posted to the gallery.

BodyandSoul_BFA_Gallery_UndergradThesis from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

Production Updates

…and also a little update in pre-production. Our Visual Effects lead animator made a comment on the smoke trails coming from Anne’s hair. Because her smoke is similar to cigarette and candle smoke, the vapor trails should be floating upward. not trailing out to the sides. Here’s the final result.


We also have final backgrounds approved from Jasmine (top row) and Tara (bottom row)! They’re simple and effective.


Cindy and I have another new animator for our film, Tes Wroblewski! She’s working on getting her rough keys and breakdowns, so this is her progress so far.

TesWroblewski_2-18-2016_Export from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

Below is Brandon’s rough final animation! It’s time to scan it in and start cleanup for this shot.

Louie_Brandon_LGT003_005 from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

Tony (I hope) is almost done with Keys and Breakdowns on his shot. My mentor, Miyuki, has been working closely with Tony on improving each pass of animation. She has been doing draw overs on his animation, which have been incredibly helpful.

VuTony_dance_v08 from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

We also have this pass of animation from our newest animator, Denise Chan! I did a couple draw overs for her, which she said were very helpful. After those few fixes, she might be ready to flesh out her shot, get the poses on model, etc.

Chan_Denise_0501_v04 from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

And last but not least, I’ve been working on inbetweens in Toon Boom Harmony! It is such a wonderful animation program. Where has it been all my life? I would be willing to buy it after my free trial expires.

BessEng_Feb19_RuffInBetweens from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

That’s all for now. I hope that this film comes together like Cindy and I envisioned!

Bacon, Bacon, Bacon!

Cindy and I have been holding “work days” in the Art Building on our campus for our artists to work on their “Body and Soul” assignments. And we’ve made a lot of progress during these work days! Cindy, Tony, and I have been working hard on rough animation, while Tara and Jessica have made some finalizing touches in the Viz Dev scene. Tara has made big progress on color scripting the rest of our film! Extra kudos to her for all the work that she’s put in these past week.

I showed Tara some of the old color comps that Jasmine completed for us; so Tara can improve upon those, and try out some new color schemes as well. Here are some ideas that she came up with.

2nd act color comps

2nd act color comps2

As pretty as the yellow+blue, and the rose+blue color comps on the first page are, they were too reminiscent of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Hercules, respectively.

After looking at these options, Cindy and I decided to keep the orange theme for the Act II portion of our film. So, we told Tara that we wanted a more cool, desaturate orange for the beginning of the dance sequence, and for it to get progressively warmer and more saturate. We first had to establish a value/color scale for this concept. So Tara did these paintings for us.

Bacon scale

When Cindy, Tony, and I looked at these paintings from top to bottom, Anne’s dress reminded us of bacon getting cooked. So this chart has been named, “The Bacon Scale”. We didn’t eat lunch yet while looking at these paintings… Tara also experimented with the specific colors of Anne’s facial features and other details throughout the film; and also made several sheets of swatches for us to use throughout the film.

bacon scale and eye color (1)

color swatches- Act 1_Finalcolor swatches- Act 2- desaturate bluecolor swatches- Act 3_Final

Anyhow, all four of us (Cindy, Tara, Tony, and I) were able to break down the highs and lows in Anne’s mood throughout the dance sequence of the film. We corresponded Anne’s emotions with the Bacon scale.

These are the comps that Tara painted for our Color Script. The very last tile is the “Act 3” colors. Very simple, very desolate, and yet very appropriate.

And then I took these comps and timed them out with the animatic, just to make sure the feel we want is preserved. I think it all works out!

ColorScriptTimed from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

We also did a test in Premiere Pro to see if we can smoothly make these color changes happen over many frames. I think we will be using Premiere to adjust the saturation as necessary for our film.

ColorChangeTest from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

We also got some Smoke Designs from Jessica! These designs are for Anne and Dean as they appear in smoke form. We are hoping our effects animator lead, Ben Ravid, approves of these designs as simple enough to animate.

SmokeForm_Notes (1)

Anyhow, we told Jessica that we would like a different shape language between each characters’ smoke designs to differentiate their personalities. We also wanted Dean’s smoke to feel heavy, because he is the cause of Anne’s despair.

One last note regarding Viz Dev… stay tuned for the revised and new Beauty Frames for different segments of our film! They are in progress, but not quite ready to show yet.

Onward to Animation! Since the Pencil Test Lab in our building has been locked while school is out of session, our animators did not have access to a down-shooter camera. But not all hope was lost! I built my own down-shooter set up for all of us animators to use! I taped a webcam to a box, and taped a peg bar inside the box. I’m rather proud of it.


All of us animators have been focusing on drawing keys and breakdowns traditionally, on paper. After keys get approved, all of us animators will move into Toon Boom Harmony to in-between and clean up the shots. Cindy actually got started the Toon Boom part of our animation process! Check it out below.

Cindy_INT_RoughAnimation from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

I know my pencil test is super low resolution (for now – I promise to get a higher quality version in a future update). But these are my pencil drawing keys. They got lost in the export, but I indicated a path of action and basic timing of the smoke that Anne breathes out at the end of the shot. Anyhow, this is my shot as it stands now.

06_END_RuffKeys_Bess from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

Tony Vu has been animating the Dance Sequence of our film. He’s volunteered to animate all of it, which is about a third of our film! I hope he can keep up the amount of work he’s done for us so far. If you can recall from a post many months ago, Tony was the one who started giving Cindy and me some dance lessons and designing basic choreography for our film. Because Tony is an experienced dancer, it is only fitting that he’d want to animate the dance of our film.

Miyuki has been instrumental in giving critiques of this shot!

Anyhow, this is the progress he has on the first shot of the dance sequence (the camera for this shot will be adjusted in post production).

VuTony_Dance_Zoomed from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

This last pencil test is from Brandon Louie, one of our effects animators. This will be the puff of smoke that Anne breathes out in Cindy’s shot, listed above. Brandon finished this so fast! Later on, I’ll get him to animate the smoke on my shot.

LouieBrandon_CigaretteSmoke_Rough from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

Thanks for hanging in for this long post, everybody! But there’s one last bit I want to share with you all. Our effects lead animator, Ben Ravid, shared some pieces of smoke animation from his library of reference. We’ll keep elements of these smoke animations in mind while we design the smoke animation.

And this last but not least, our professor Raquel found a beautiful piece of smoke reference for our film! In this clip, we see dancers interacting with the smoke; hitting it away, etc. They are all motions that we would use in our film, and it shows real smoke reacting to these motions. We’ll definitely keep this video in our library of references! The actual smoke reference starts at about 0:27. Also, make sure to check out the new banner for the blog!

Winter Break Progress

Hey everyone! I just wanted to share the latest version of our animatic with you all. For the past month, Cindy, myself, and our animator volunteers have been animating to the newest version of our animatic. Go check it out! Special thanks go out to Hilary Barron (solo), Martin Nobida and Atsuko (tango). Their input, enthusiasm, and talent made them all a pleasure to work with.

Earlier in December, the great and wonderful Steve Hickner came to give a lecture about story and cinemetography to our school. He also came to review a select number of student work, one of which was our very own “Body and Soul”! For frame of reference, Steve Hickner was the director of The Prince of Egypt, and was responsible for countless storyboards for other animated features with DreamWorks Studios. We showed him the animatic listed above, as well as our most up to date “beauty frame”, as well as the size comparison chart for Anne and Dean.

Steve was impressed with our work! He said that we just need to focus primarily on the execution of our film.

Over the winter break, I designed several Layouts for our animators to help them with their shots. To make these, I built basic models of Anne and Dean in Autodesk Maya. I posed them out in their correct places on screen, so the animators have a sense of the characters’ size and location throughout their shots. Here’s a sample of the models I built in Maya.


Tomorrow afternoon, Cindy and I will be reviewing some rough animation that has been completed throughout the winter break. I’m looking forward to everyone’s progress!

Until next time…

Model Sheets, Ahoy!

We finished Model sheets for Dean! Grace finished the turnarounds, then I made some tweaks on her drawings. I also drew the head turnarounds, the face and hair style guide, and the hand model sheet.





The hand model sheet needs a couple tweaks, but otherwise, it is done.

Anyhow, Cindy drew up a style guide for Anne’s dress! I’m glad she thought to make that, because there are so many nuances to get right. Cindy also made the size comparison chart for Anne and Dean.



We also got an update on our Beauty Frame from Jasmine. She softened up the edge of the spotlight, and the outlines have much more appealing colors now.


And now, for the most exciting update! Last week, Cindy and I were able to take some video reference with one of our dancers. A class mate of ours, Paul, is married to a dancer, Hilary. Her work is beautiful, and I’m so glad she was able to help us! Cindy and I reserved a dance room at the university gym so we could have a private recording session. I called out cues for Hilary while Cindy worked the camera. And Hilary came up with great ideas on improving our animation!

Later on, Cindy went through the all video reference and pulled out the best bits, and even timed it out to our animatic! I’m so thankful to be working with Cindy. Check out the work on progress. Later tonight, we will be filming again with a couple of Tango dancers. There will be more updates on this soon!

Anne’s Design is Finaled!

We have a lot of good progress! Cindy took Jasmine’s first pass at the “beauty frames”, and did a draw over to get Anne more on model. The results look great! Jasmine will be taking over this drawing again to soften up the edges of the spotlight. I personally am not fond of the white outlines on this revision. I think each element (hair, skin, cloth) should have an outline color that is the same as their local color, but in a lighter value; or their respective highlight colors. Anyway, check out the progress below.


Cindy also chose a few brushes for us to consider using during the clean up process of our film. I am definitely on board with using some of Kyle Webster’s brushes!


And now we have lots of model sheets up and ready! Cindy took Grace’s original turnarounds for Anne, and simplified some details to make animation easier.


Then Cindy worked on some style guides for Anne. This will help our animators draw her face, hair, and cigarette on model, with less revisions.


Cindy made a similar sheet for drawing Anne’s face and hair as well.


And from these sheets, I made a turnaround specifically for Anne’s head (basically just a zooming in on the turnarounds).


After that, I drew and expressions sheet for Anne. As far as I am aware, her facial animation would be pretty subtle; not too broad and cartoony. There would be more obvious flexibility, squash, and stretch in her hair and dress as far as I know at this point.


And lastly, but certainly not least, I drew up a model sheet specifically for Anne’s hands.


Stay tuned, because our model sheets for Dean will be finished up soon!

Pretty, pretty, pretty!

Cindy and I got some good updates from our Viz Dev artists! We assigned Jasmine to paint a couple “beauty frames” for our film. Meaning, we wanted her to illustrate the final look of our film, what the final product should look like. She gave us two different iterations for us to consider. Both Cindy and I are in love with the second one! I like how the light is designed simply, and graphically. It feels very Art Decco!

We also got a (mostly) finalized Model Sheet of Anne! Grace submitted this just after Jasmine shared her paintings with us. Cindy will be making some tweaks to a couple drawings, but otherwise, this is what Anne looks like! I think she’s beautiful.



Hopefully we’ll get a final model sheet for Dean very soon! Grace said she’ll have the turnarounds for him available tomorrow. I’m very excited with everyone’s progress!

Finally, a Good Payoff!

We have found dancers for our video reference!

Maria Basile has recommended a couple PROFESSIONAL Argentine Tango dancers for us! We actually received an email from the guy Maria recommended for us, Martin Nobida. He is a local Tango instructor, and competitive performer. He even gave us a few sample videos of his improvised Tango performances with his (former) dance partner. But we fear not. Martin has a new dance partner who can accompany him. I’m so happy that the two of them are interested in helping us!

Cindy sent Martin the animatic of our film, and asked if Argentine Tango is appropriate for our film. Cindy also let him know that he has a fair amount of freedom in re-choreographing our film. We do however, need to ensure that the basic cinemetography is preserved, while the solo vs. partner dance moments need to stay in the same points of the song. What the dancers do on screen, however, is open for improvement.

I’m excited! The day, time, and location we will meet is TBD. Hopefully we will meet up before Thanksgiving weekend!

Try and Try Again!

Cindy and I have been on the lookout for a dance choreographer. With the help of a professional dancer, we can iron out any kinks in our animatic. Also, a professional dancer would make the perfect animation reference for us!

We first contacted Heather Cooper, an associate professor of SJSU’s Dance Department. Unfortunately, she was a little too busy to help us out. We then contacted Maria Basile, who also teaches for SJSU’s Dance Department. She expressed interest in our project as well, but has not followed up with Cindy and I for a meeting.

So this afternoon, Cindy and I decided to email Tanya Gunton-Carroll. Tanya is Raquel Coelho’s former dance teacher, and currently teaches at the Academy of American Ballet. Tanya is experienced in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, and lyrical dance. Her experience in jazz and lyrical dance will help us tremendously! Let’s cross our fingers, and hope she is willing to help us out.

We also have another small artistic update. I’m happy to report that designs for Dean are finalized! Well, his base human form, anyway. Check out the drawings by Grace Chen!


We told Grace that she can move onto turnarounds and poses for Dean. We also told our artists, Jessica Tang and Tara Mueller, that they can use these drawings to do a few paint overs. We have Dean as a human, but now we need to add the smokey elements to him so he becomes a smokey apparition.

Grace also gave us another design pass for Anne.


Working from here, we would like Grace to incorporate some of the elements we liked from her original ideations. We would like her to replicate the longer face of Anne in the ideation below. We also like that her facial features are not scrunched so low on her face in this sketch.


We also do not like the truncated feeling of Anne’s dress in the newest sketches. Instead of having her body divided into distinct, horizontal sections, her dress should have a much more linear, vertical feel to it. Each of the sections and lines should flow into the next. We referred Grace back to the original sketch below.


Cindy and I were also able to share Jasmine’s newest color scripts with Raquel. I know I posted them before, but I think it will be helpful to see them again.


We told Raquel what we liked about each of the color scripts, and were unsure of which one would be most appropriate for our film. Raquel actually gave us a great idea! She suggested that we can permeate between each of these three color schemes. The dance sequence itself is very dynamic, emotionally. The colors can slowly fade between each scheme, providing the exact nuanced emotion within each section of the dance. The color changes should feel like a sunset, imperceptibly fading from one color to the next. I just have no idea how to execute that effect right now! We’ll see what happens.

Raquel also gave us an important note to consider. Although all the color scripts look great on a computer, the colors always darken when screened onto a projector. We will need to remember to ask our artists to provide brighter and lighter versions of their paintings, so they will look good on a projector for an audience.

And now for some scary news; Raquel informed all of us, as a class, that she would like our Thesis project to be completed by March 30th. It is our current goal to have our film ready to ship to festivals by March 19th.

Cindy and I planned out a new and improved Production Schedule! And created a more detailed Shot list. We posted these in the sparkly new Google Drive we created for the project!

Check out the new and improved Production Schedule and Shot List here!

Production Schedule – Sheet1 Shot List Progress

Wish us luck!

Super belated update!

I know I usually try to get an update every three or four days. I’m sorry I’ve delayed updating the blog for so long! We got a couple small updates for you.

We applied the critiques we got for our animatic last time, and we’ve made improvements! I, unfortunately, was having a lot of technical difficulty with my Premier file, as well as exporting issues. Cindy was a super hero and cleaned up all the mess I made in Premier, and got my half of the animatic working again. Thank you so much, Cindy! Check out the newest version of the animatic below.

BodyandSoul_Animatic05_v3 from Elizabeth Eng on Vimeo.

And also, we got some color script updates from Jasmine Wong!


Of the sepia thumbnails in the left column, I like the bottom one. The warmer color of the characters makes them stand out, and also provides a warm, positive feeling to the nostalgia. Of the red/purple thumbnails in the center column, I also like the bottom one. The characters’ colors are more harmonious with the background. The red/purple color combo has a very sultry feel, while the orange thumbnail the right has a very passionate feel. Anyhow, we gave Jasmine these comments, and then asked her to do another thumbnail of the sepia background, but with the characters having desaturate red/purple colors. I think from there, Cindy and I can decide on exactly what color scheme we want for Act II!

Until next time…