Friday, September 30, 2011

Animatic, Leo's Take

My initial take on the animatic for The Wolves Within. Be sure to check out Jolanta's too!

A number of changes/tweaks come to mind while putting together this initial animatic, so except some further developments. The sound is temporary for the moment, but it serves to capture the sort of tone we're trying to achieve. Its not fully confirmed yet, but we'll most likely need a sound guy to help create the soundtrack for us (students welcome) - so drop a comment or email if you're interested.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Animated Short Ego (2007)

This morning Alan suggested watching this particular animation
(The quality isn't sparkling, apologies for that)

Animatic for The Wolves Within, J.J.'s Take

to put together an animatic after having discussed the stoyry today,  was quicker than I thought, so here it is.

(A note on the soundtrack, Phil suggested it might be worth trying to find a new, young composer and simply getting them to write it for as the external examiner for the course has requested that any music in CG projects should be royalty-free/copyright free or specially commissioned, otherwise the resulting film's ability to be shown beyond the walls of the University is capped. )

 This sequence embodies a metaphor. Two wolves , which represent the good and the bad side in each of us, race from the unconscious part of our psyche to the conscious one, with the aim to take over and  dominate one's entity . On the way each of the two seemingly take over. However, it all comes to an equal fight at the end, as the legend concludes, there is no single winer, as it is us who decide  which side will take over.

Refined Approach + Storyboard

In transcribing the original Cherokee tale of Two Wolves, our idea now consists of a race between the two wolves of good and evil, as they seek to control and dominate our actions by reaching the metaphorical representation of the human soul/psyche first (currently represented as a Native American Doll).

Throughout the race, we will see the wolves’ effects on the neutral landscape of the inner psyche; where the evil wolf brings chaos and destruction, the later brings harmony and life. Neither wolf will gain a decisive advantage, culminating to a stand-off between the two wolves. This in turn reflects the eternal strife within us where our conscience seeks to guide us to do right or wrong.

With this narrative in mind, Jolanta and I have been working on some thumbnails and storyboards which you may have seen earlier. Here we have arranged our ideas together to form our preferred approach thus far.

Essentially, the race is broken down into three acts: the evil wolf initially takes the lead demonstrating his destructive effects to the environment, then the good wolf later manages to take the lead restoring life to landscape, before finally culminating to a stand-off between the two wolves as they approach their goal.

More to come as we'll begin to form some concept art and animatics.


Some work in progress storyboards

Initial thumbs

Further references

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Freud's Id, ego, super-ego

In discussion of the very core of our narrative, we found that it captures the essence of the conscience seeking to direct our lives and goals, not dissimilar to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis of the id, ego and super-ego. While not straying too far from the point, we briefly drew parallels from Freud’s theories to elements of our narrative.

The evil wolf comes to represent the dark, inaccessible part of the Id, where primal instincts drive the subject to satisfy pleasures and desires in complete disregard to all else. The evil wolf brings chaos and destruction to the environment with its relentless pursuit of its goal.

Conversely, the good wolf can come to reflect the Ego, as it seeks to control the Id’s primal instincts. It too desires to control the human psyche, but to suit long term benefits as reflected in its restoration of life to the surrounding environments.

Lastly, the super-ego is found in the culmination of the human soul and psyche of the Native American doll. Being influenced by both id and ego (the two wolves in this case), it strives to maintain a balance to suppress the unacceptable urges of the id and make the ego act upon idealistic standards rather than on simple realistic principles. It is present in the conscious, preconscious and unconscious.

This helps to discern the essence of what each element in our narrative may come to represent.

Style Approach: References to Native American Art and Design for Theater

The story is taking it's shape, soon we'll work on character and set design and overall style for the animation. Few key sources are informing it: Native American tribe art and (set) design for theater.

Amerindians have a symbolic representations for animals,which do vary slightly , here is an example of wolf:

Examples of Totems, pottery, masks, jewelery and spiritual paintings are truly suggestive for shape, colour combinations, surface textures and graphics

The tale is aiming to represent fight happening inside each of us,  in the inner environment. It  has a more abstract feeling , surrealism, lucidity and secrecy about it therefore, the second big influence, as mentioned above, is design for theater performances.

Clear and recognizable structures merge with abstract decorations and fantastic lighting. Volumes interact and start creating something unexpected. Also, it seems one of the major aspects of set design right there is consideration how all of it will play with the surrounding darkness. How the darkens, as one of the key  elements , will play its part.

The following example plays with same setting but different lighting approach, which results in mood changes

Lastlly, all the desicions for reference should now come together and be evident and consistent in our own concepts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Story Concept development, New references

Today's discussions brought new ideas for the project. It is yet to take a more clear shape, regarding how everything would unravel on the screen. The following material serves as reference:

When a man is witness to a murder and takes pictures of the killer, he has to run for his life. During the chase he is able to turn the tables and the prey becomes the hunter. All resulting in an unfortunate ending.

Also a particular music video seems to be capturing some of the intentions:

Lastly, our current focus is developing the story and presenting an animatic.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cultural Perceptions of Wolves

A collection of research investigating some of the cultural perceptions and symbolisms surrounding wolves. This is key in influencing and informing our designs.

With European imagination, wolves long stood as a symbol of bane being uncontrollable nature. The Bible describes Jesus as the shepherd protecting his herd of sheep from the wolf, signifying the wolf as a symbol of sin and prurient influence (John 10:12). Wolves in literature also do not fair well, often being wicked villains as long fanged, terrible beasts, with examples in Grimms' Fairy Tales of the big bad wolf in Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs.

In Roman mythology, the Wolf symbol appears with the founders of Rome with the twins Romulus and Remus. Being cast out by their great uncle Amulius, the two founding brothers were adopted by a she-wolf known as Lupa. Otherwise, they have become as symbols associated with the Gods of war, Ares and Mars.

In Norse mythology, the Wolf is a symbol for victory when ridden by Odin and the Valkyries upon the battlefield. It often includes the legend of three malevolent wolves Fenrir, Sköll and Hati, where the tale suggests that Fenrir will have grown so large that his upper jaw touches the sky while his lower touches the earth when he gapes. Otherwise, the wolves Geri and Freki were Odin's faithful pets, becoming a sign of good omen.

As a Celtic symbol, the Wolf was a source of lunar power. Two wolves drive the time as they chase the sun and moon. Celtic lore states that the Wolf would hunt down the sun and devour it at each dusk so as to allow the power of the moon to come forth.

In Asia, the wolf guards the doors that allow entrance to heavenly, celestial realms. The Wolf is also said to be among the ancestry of Genghis Khan. Grain farmers once worshiped wolves at shrines and left food offerings near their dens, beseeching them to protect their crops from wild boars and deer; where talismans adorned with images of wolves were used as charms to ward against calamities such as fire and disease, as well as bringing fertility to crops and couples.

Native American Culture
Wolves held a special place in almost all Native American tribes, being admired for their strength, endurance and hunting skills. They taught the tribes about sharing, cooperating while hunting and looking after the young, caring and having pride in their tribes. They showed the Indians how to move in the forests - carefully and quietly. The hunters looked for signs of them, for when game was scarce, the wolves would be gone. And after killing the prey, a good hunter always left a piece of meat behind.

For the Cherokee tribe, they would never kill a wolf, believing the spirit of the slain wolf would revenge its death. The Cherokee also believed that if a hunter showed respect and prayed before and after killing an animal, the deer, wolf, fox, and opossum would guard his feet against frostbite.

The Native American symbol/carving of the Wolf:

Symbolising intelligence, leadership, a strong sense of family, guardianship, ritual and spirituality.

Revered because it was a good hunter, the wolf symbolizes cunning and was often associated with a special spirit a man had to acquire to become a successful hunter. As Wolves mate for life and live in close family units usually traveling in packs, they are regarded as a family-oriented symbol in West Coast Native culture. Wolf is the land manifestation of the Killer Whale as they mate for life, protect their young and do not separate from their families.

Upon looking at further symbols of Native American culture, I found an interesting example concerning The Twins.

Portrayed in most emergence or creation stories, they illustrate the concept of duality in life. In the natural world everything exists in balance: male & female, large & small, light & dark & good & evil. The twins are usually shown as boys or short men who overcame great odds to defend the people from all enemies, drought, attack from other beings, animals, or many other problems. Here they are depicted as Father Sky & Mother Earth from a Navajo sand painting.

Again, the idea of twins arises to reflect the duality of good and evil; they are part of the same and perhaps together form as one.

Cry of Wolves:
Totem Wolf Symbols:
Meaning Wolf:
Wolves and Christianity:
Symbols of West Coast Native Art:
Wolves Spirit Meanings:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Discussing Approaches #2

There’s been much discussion today over our idea, and here I’ll try to surmise our line of thinking thus far.

Our idea is to illustrate the story of the Two Wolves with an animation that captures a frozen moment of time between the two wolves. Theatrical camera movement and staging of characters and props will be used to unravel the story, akin to Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and animations such as Apnee. This is to reflect the inner space within us, and perhaps the theatrical performance of the stage. The passage of time can be reflected with careful and seamless editing of frozen moments, not dissimilar to the idea of a modern La Jetée of sorts.

Only a select few of the qualities describing the wolves that echo the lines of good vs evil, will feature in our character and environment designs. For example:

Good Wolf
Peace, Benevolence, Love, Hope

Evil Wolf
Anger, Hate, Arrogance, Greed

These will be grounded with Native American culture and influences to reflect the philosophical origins of the tale.

Objects/props can help illustrate the two polar opposites. For instance, a Native American doll is presented to the two wolves where one is shown to care for the doll, the other destroys it, before descending into a final frame of eternal conflict. Acts such as this will help provide resonances of the ‘evil’ twin, sibling rivalries or the Doppelganger into the mix, reflecting the notion of the battle between good and evil raging within us.

Hope this clears things up a bit.

Wolf Sketches/Reference

Just some studies of wolf anatomy as I've been collecting reference material for The Wolves Within project.


Discussing Approaches

After discussions with tutors and in between ourselves it seems we have an idea to transform this legend into a theater play tipe of animation. However there seems to be two ways of approaching this idea.

1. Idea:
As like in a real theater play where camera is representing the audience, it can be positioned in front of the play and be left still for the entire performance to happen in one long take.

The other for camera work is to have it much more involved in the play. Much like in Alfred Hitchcock's Rope , all the action would still be revealed in one long take, only this time carefully both considering camera's movement and staging of characters to tell the story.

The best examples of such idea are these two following videos:

Philips Carousel from The Foundry on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Native American Art and Symbology

American indians possessed rich and varied culture: from fisherman to agriculturist, susbsistence and buffalo hunters. Within diverse environments thei evolved a spiritual relationship to forses of nature, deep concern for animals, understanding of human responsibilities . The origin of the art motifs result from this relationship and observation of nature.

Traditional pattern work, images of animals, objects cary specific meaning

Totem poles  recount  legends, notable events, celebrate cultural beliefs and are  artistic presentations.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Introduction to Self Initiated Project's Idea; Native Americans' legend: Wolves Within

With the start of 3rd year in CG Arts and Animation, starts one of the two most ambitious creative projects.

The Wolves Within

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is
anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed..."


It is a legend told by a Cherokee tribe.Having the basic plot and idea where all is heading (namely, opportunity to develop two wolf characters, environments representing inner space and possibly, if intended, set it all up for future to turn it into an animated short), we also get clues for sources of reference.

As said before, it is a legend told by Cherokee. They refer to themselves as Tsalagi which means "Principal People." It is one of the Better known Indian tribes and also one of the” 5 civilized tribes” because they had assimilated numerous cultural and technological practices of European Americans.

However, sources have indicated that Indian tribes don’t have a distinctive examples of art from each other (at least it is fairly impossible to make such distinctions because of data loss ect.) , so it is considered that what is relevant to Cherokee art is also relevant to all Native American art. Therefore we too reference Native American art in general to further inspire our style.

The project is only yet taking shape and many decisions are waiting to be maid, therefore our focus at the moment is simply familiarize with wolves shapes, anatomy and already created representations.

Initial anatomy and structure studies:

So to get acquainted with "what's out there" I also gathered a sheet of wolves design. Quite honestly, none of the images seem to be similar to what we are aiming for our designs.

Finally, project would build on clear classification of virtues and vice

Welcome to The Wolves Within

Welcome to The Wolves Within! A third year project by Jolanta Jasiulionyte and Leo Tsang, studying BA (Hons) CG Arts & Animation at the University of the Creative Arts Rochester.

You can find our individual blogs here:

Jolanta Jasiulionyte -
Leo Tsang -