Wednesday, 26 January 2011


I've been practicing Satyrs for a while now so it's about time I moved on to something else to give myself some more inspiration regarding the plot. What confuses me is how bad I am with abstract concepts, demanding rigid structure and narrative in everything I do while surrealism isn't meant to be like that at all. I have some serious mind mapping or something similar to get around to. Even if the animation is unstructured I can rigidly order the research of it!

Following the lecture, I've started compiling the surrealist artists whose work I want to use as an inspiration for the characters and designs. I'd begun looking at Max Ernst as his Fireplace Angel is one of my favourite pieces of art but I didn't know about the collage part of his work which has given me an idea regarding some characters in the project.

I love the mans body language in the picture below. It's so 'mildly interested' at most, like he's saying "Reeeeeeally?"
I'm veering more towards the idea of the characters varying in style from one to the other; or perhaps sections of the cast have different styles i.e the main cast are done in a painter-ly style while background characters are cut out or collage etc.

I first saw Leonora Carrington's style on a video for Erik Saties Gymnopedies and the creepiness of the characters in the images always stuck with me. Most of the images seem very blurred and indistinct without a sharp outline with simultaneously a very distinct use of colour, reminding me of how dreams are both vivid and difficult to remember.

Because he is one of the most famous Surrealists in the movement, I looked at Dali. What I did notice about his works is the emphasis on realistic painting, such as for the tigers and fish below. Seemingly the situation and placement of the more realistic imagery is what creates the surreal imagery.

An idea I've had is that the main characters of the project are animated in a style where their outlines are similar to Carrington's art, soft and blurred but closer to a more realistic style proportion wise. Other characters would be far more strange, made of collage or strange textures with un-natural movements

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Continued Research

Continuing on from my initial research, I decided I would continue looking at Satyrs and Satyr myths. Firstly, I found out how to actually pronounce the word (it's SAH-TER, providing that's not American English although I don't know whether that would affect it or not.) Secondly, I looked more into the general mythology behind the creatures.

The paragraph that I posted previously was actually very accurate as far as consistancy goes as most other sources I've looked at have the same intentions and descriptions (excluding the phallus, that gets omitted in most), so Satyrs always seem to be-

- Followers of the god Dionysus/ Bacchus

- Revellers, consumed with chasing Nymphs, getting drunk and playing music, particularly pipes.

- Forest dwelling creatures

- Always with small horns in their forheads and tailed, although the lower-goat-half thing seems to be more of a later idea and earlier Satyrs looked like regular (albeit very hairy) men from the waist down.

Marsyas, Silenus and Pan are famous Satyrs in myths, although Pan is actually more of a god who looks like a Satyr, rather than being their chief deity.

Silenus varies between being a Satyr and being a Sileni, which is almost a pallette swap of a Satyr as the only real difference is it's a horse lower half with (presumably) no horns. Silenus could prophisise and despite being from a race of literal party animals was rather on the cyncial side, as he answered the question-

"What is the answer to happiness?"

"Not to be born at all is best, but having passed through the gates of birth, the next best is to die young."

He sounds fun at parties.

Marsyas was a Satyr that became masterful at playing the aulos, a type of reed instrument and challenged the god Apollo to a contest. He either lost because Apollo had it judged by the Muses or because he tricked Marsyas into agreeing to play his instrument upside down, which was impossible, but in whichever version Marsyas is always punished by Apollo by being flayed alive. I particularly like this myth as it ties into one of the other cards I have, Live at the Apollo, although only on a name basis. Still, that itself might be enough.

Pan was involved in a few other myths as a god of , but the information that caught my eyes was that Pan particularly liked causing panic and fright and his domain was in forests and caves, taking advantage of the ambience to frighten people.

As of yet, I'm having a little trouble creating a plot that I know will keep my interest for the whole of the project. I'm concerned not so much with the style or setting or characters, but the Live at The Apollo part of it, as that show is just people doing stand up and literally just that. I'm trying to construct something based around the idea of a stage, and being forced to perform for someone elses amusement. Satyr's or men dressed as them would make humourous jokes at the end of some tragedies, hence the word satire, and as drunken sex obsessed hedonists they are very much like most recent comedy protagonists, so they do work well as comedic characters. it's trying to find a new angle on the stand up part of the show that's the trouble.

I have been practicing drawing the characters though. This isn't a specific character, more like a way to practice getting the right sort of look first.

I started off getting some reference of Goats, particularly goats heads to see the way the horns grow. Because of the hairiness of Satyrs, I needed reference of beards and the way they grow so it wouldn't sit cartoonishly on their face. I sketched a few people around the studio and a few from online sources although I think it's pretty obvious which drawings got more attention.

These Satyr's are more practice so I can fit the style into the character design. I have Surrealism, and I've noticed in the work of several Surrealists like Dali that their work is often drawn or painted very realistically, with non-realistic subject matter.

I'm thinking that the style of the characters in this project will be a different one to the setting of the world they're in- as it's a medieval/ middle ages setting I think I could get away with more outlandish designs for the backgrounds than that of the characters- I'll try to explain this in another post on Surrealism as this one is already quite long. Nothing is set in stone yet so I'll have to see how this idea pans out.

Designing the Satyr's, I decided I don't like the more human-with-horns look because it reminds me too much of Mr Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch and the Warderobe and he's far too nice a character compared to normal Satyrs. I thought if I went for a mixture of goat and human features like a wide, flattened nose,eyes with horizontal pupils and goat ears then the result would be something slightly uncanny, recognisable as having human traits but slightly off rather than being 100% goat or man. Trying to get the right balance between the mixture is quite hard, as if it's too close to a goat it no longer resembles a Satyr but if it's closer to a human my drawing style makes it more cartoony than anything. Not only that, but drawing things that are meant to be slightly odd looking makes it harder for me to decide if I like the design, if that makes any sense.

Of the above, I'd say that the far right and lower right are too goatish, while the top and lower left are further along the human scale and the one with the llama like appearance ceeps me out in particular. The 3 centred ones are closer to how I want them to look. I like both the goat-like ones to the right and below of the centre and also the more human-expression the centre one has, so I'm debating whether to vary the goat to human ration based on these small perimetres.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Picture this...

With the preproduction and post production project, I've chosen to do Pre production as I think most of my strengths on the course are in this area of animation.

With the randomised cards, I recieved-


Live at the Apollo

Surrealism (Originally Picasso but COME ON! I can't work with that!)

Middle Ages

So I've certainly got a lot of things I can research historically. I'm leaving Satyrs for the moment as although I've browsed them online, I'm hoping to get some Mythology books out for something more indepth. However, here is some copy and paste research from a website on them-
"The satyr comes from Greek mythology; they were companions of the Greek god of wine and entertainment, Dionysus. There was no actual female of the species until “satyress” was invented by poets, seeking to make the ever lustful satyr a female companion."

Better it goes after it's own species, apparantly. I haven't found when the term satyress was created yet but it sounds like something much later, so that might fit into the "middle ages" theme for the greek mythological creatures.
"Satyr is the root of the word for satire, which generally means comedy."

Which, if true, woud work very well with the Live at the Apollo theme or at least is worth horrible pun. That and I've been mispronouncing it constantly.

"The satyr was generally depicted as a man with sometimes cloven feet, small or full horns of a goat, large, point ears and a constant erection."

I might not include that last part into the designs. Might.

" In mythology, they are usually associated with comedy, sex drive, mischief, and fertility; they roamed the woods and mountains. Usually, satyrs were quite busy preying on the various forest nymph; minor deities and children of a union between mortal men and women and gods. Satyrs were said to be obsessed with them and are often depicted in different mediums of art as copulating with them, or at least trying to."

Satyrs seem to be work shy, sex obsessed drunks to smmarise them at their most basic, which is the same stereotype as a lot of comedy protagonists. I'm also looking at the story of a Satyr who challenged Apollo to a musical contest and lost sorely which would be a really wonderful thing to use as reference for a story.

What I've been looking at in slightly more depth is the surrealism, although beyond basic artist research I'm not very far with that either. I'll post more on it when the research is done rather than picture links as the upload seems to be broken on blogger right now.

Here, however, are some examples of surrealism in animation I found.

This is a frankly insane series of short animation called Popee the Performer. the stories follow Popee, the guy in the stripey rabbit suit, and his 'friends' Pepee the circus leader(?) and Kedomono the wolf (my personal favourite). The three live in a circus in the middle of the desert and generally don't get on at all. Examples of story lines include anticipating the other persons movement so much they stop moving completely, becoming ghosts to stop someone killing them and creating an imaginary friend to steal somebody elses imaginary friend.

They're extremely random, frequently very funny if you like bizarre humour but 'd say he example I posted above epitomises the kind of surreal atmosphere of the show and the strange setting.

You know, I was checking through my posts to see if I'd already linked to this video, but it doesn't seem like I have. I am surprised!

This is an advertisement for Loius Vitton for a new range by Takashi Murakami, a japanese artist who both parodies and exploits Japans obsession with cute and childish things. This particular advert was directed by the director behind the Digimon film, in case you recognised the style of the little girl.

Anyway the point of posting this is because of the strange way the girl ends up inside another dimension and the general oddness of the environment.