Ethel Red

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Ethel Red was an original character created by DC Thomson, a rebellious Viking girl who wanted to be a warrior just like her father and uncles. I was given the brief of updating this character and creating an animation for a modern generation.

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I fell in love with the spirit of the character and would have loved to build upon her world further. Tasked with creating a short animation within 10 weeks I set upon rejuvenating her aesthetic, creating a more impactful and fresh character for a more modern age.

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I still wanted to keep what was the core of her character, but bringing in some modern aesthetic choices that had become popular thanks to tv shows such as Vikings (M.Hirst). This project was the first I had ever decided to model and rig my own characters, quite a daunting task considering the short time frame.

I wrote a few different versions of scripts and storyboards for the project. I adapted numerous times after concerns for scheduling and scope, my original pans may have been slightly too ambitious, perhaps even all of my plans had been too ambitious. But I was determined to give this project everything I had.

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I took this original concept and narrowed the story down to what I felt like was the most important. This story at it’s core was just the relationship between father and daughter, the innocence and love that joins these characters marred by the inherent lack of understanding of one another at times. The Father character has trouble reprimanding his daughter for her ferocious appetite for chaos and fighting because he wants the same in his heart. This dynamic between the two was the core of this animation and I hope that remains with the audience.

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I had originally intended the scope of this project to be much larger, as such I developed several tests and models for the Viking village that were dropped as part of the final project. These included the land mass for the village, consisting of a beach, mountain-scape and a section of open ocean. I also modelled a few different versions of buildings and props for the village, although these were not used in the final film, it did help in setting the scene and developing the world for the characters.

The characters themselves were developed from original concept to fully modelled and rigged characters. This was my first attempt doing this and I believe I have developed my skills considerably since the beginning of this project. Both models are designed with good topology and edgeloops, with deformation in mind and contain possibly 4 triangles between them.

In creating them and developing throughout this film I have found a passion for the technical side to building characters, I encountered many problems with each stage of the process and have overcome each of them through creative responses and perseverance. I relied heavily on two books for this, Stop staring (Jason Osipa) and Rig it right (Tina O’Hailey), Whist the former didn’t prove to be too helpful for me in this project, O’Hailey introduces the process of rigging in such a simple and exemplary method that I found myself returning to it on a daily basis. It’s filled with great exercises and shows an enthusiastic approach from the perspective of a teacher who is well versed in the issues encountered by students. To finish this project in time I had to skip a lot of the useful exercises she designed and adapt her methods to apply for my project but I really can’t recommend it enough.

I also had access to the animation technician at Edinburgh college of arts, Michael Mullin who was able to explain some of the more advanced processes and helped monumentally in understanding the deeper mechanics and importance of certain processes. Perhaps one that will live with me more than any other is to delete your history! I encountered a couple of problems due to this, surprisingly though, not as many as I probably should have considering my lack of knowledge.