"Tales From the Pirate Den" - Artist Statement

This latest animation project, not surprisingly, was pirate-themed. Only this time, I mixed the "traditional pirate" with the "Pirate Den", or rather, my apartment, which has been officially dubbed by that name (with a pirate flag in the den and all).

The basic idea for this animation was to open up appearing to be a serious animation, then jump into something humorous in a college setting.

So, the first thing I did was look at reference images of pirate paintings and pirate reenactments. I grabbed a few ideas, and came up with all the still blue-tinted images. I tried to keep the style consistent for that section of the animation, but I strayed a little bit with the image of the two pirates surrounded by boxes and barrels. I was pressed for time, so I took a shortcut and quick drew everything on paper, scanned it, drew it in illustrator, and then colored it in flash. So, as it turned out, I had to leave the outlines in, while in the other stills, I had no outlines. That's just something that bugged me in terms of consistency. Either way, I'm pleased with the way each of the stills turned out. I think I spent about 6 hours on the single pirate, about 5 hours on the burning ship, and about 4 hours on the two pirates.

The 1800s map image was not mine, but one of those historical map images that are freely available from Google's map service, where they had recently offered historical map images. I found one that seemed to work well for what I needed. And, of course, I had a cameo appearance of the skull I made a while back this semester, tied to the word "terrorized".

Jumping back to my actual work, the scene with the two college students took me a few weeks to flesh out, and turned out pretty well, with the exception of the shoulders. If I needed those characters again for something, I'd definitely redo how the shoulders moved. It was clever the way I made them, but they did not work too well when I raised the arms up high. It looked a little odd.

But, there was a lot going on in this scene. Mouth movements, eye blinks, fully articulated arms and hands, and the hand on the guitar's neck even moved around, which you can see at the very end of the scene. I probably should have just cut that out and shortened the scene since it ended up not being noticeable since the wrist joint ended up being hidden behind the car's windshield border. That seemed to effectively mentally block out the entire hand.

The lip synching turned out alright until about half way, where it went out of synch. There seemed to be a difference between synching everything in the flash work area, and seeing it played back as a swf file. If I had time, that would have been something to tweak a little more.

My original plan was to have a couple minutes with the two college students and their antics. Even though I had already written the script up, time was an issue and I had to cut back the scene to a simple punch line. If I knew that was going to happen, I would've spent less time fully articulating the characters since I never actually used anywhere near their full range of motions in this animation.

Sound was a large portion of this animation. It took me a while to find an opening score that both fit well with the pirate them, and conveyed the mood I wanted to generate. I used snippets from the Pirates of the Caribbean OST and spliced them, which turned out pretty well. The narrator's voice is my own; unaltered aside from some noise filtering (no, it's not my normal voice, and yes, I can hit the Darth Vader pitch and lower). There were a few areas that didn't come out to clear, and a few areas where I wasn't happy with my voice acting, but overall, it seemed to work okay.

For the car scene, I figured it would make more sense to have the stocky character with the deep voice, rather than the skinny one (since I know from experience that most people are usually surprised to hear my voice when I dip down into the lower octaves). This also gave me the opportunity to throw the joke in about who was driving the car. I also probably should have made the skinny character simply grin to increase the impact of the scene/joke (and like I said earlier, trim out the hand movement since it wasn't obvious).

I also would have liked to do more with the opening and closing of the animation, but my main focused ended up being just getting everything I could done so I had an animation that was reasonably coherent. Overall, I think it turned out reasonably well and ended up satisfying what I wanted to show for the most part. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, yeah, there were a number of things I would tweak and change a second time around, but as it is, it seems to work alright.

~ Adam Deutschmann, December 2006