Hansel & Gretel - 30 mins Animation WIP

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  08 August 2006
Hansel & Gretel - 30 mins Animation WIP


"Hansel & Gretel", is to be a 30 mins animation of the famous tale.

You can see (on my website) that I have conceived this movie as a musical rhyme. And the whole storyboard, piece of script and a snippet of the music with the voice are there for you. The music and voice of this project is done first. Then production began.

This is the documentation of the way this animation is being made. Why is this animation special? Because, Iím doing it mostly alone, and with very little resources. So, this discussion of my journey may come useful to someone daring to travel this way.

Iíll post every animation for critic. Everyone is welcome to comment on the arts and animation I am taking. Itís only your words that can make this animation a good one.


I donít really know how to put an animation WIP of the entire 30 mins of film online. I donít have that amount of space available to me. So, I intend to upload the first shots, then replace them with new ones. By this way I can use the same space of say 10 mb to show my entire movie. Alas, the old shots wonít be available. Question : Do you have a better solution?

The Men and Machines behind this animation :

Producer : Mohua Lahiri
Producing Company : Asha Audio & Syberworks
The Rhyme Script : Manas Choudhury
Character Designs : Biswajit Paul
Direction, Modelling, Animation, Compositing and Editing : Satyajit Chakraborty
Background Art : Soumitro Kheto
Voice : Nilanjana
Music : Indrajeet

Software Used :
Hash Animation Master Ver. 11.1
Raf Anizovinís The Setup Machine 2
Adobe Photoshop 7
Adobe Premier 6.5

Hardware Used :
AMD Athlon XP 2000+, 512 Mb RAM, 80 Gb HDD, 15Ē Monitor, Firewire Card, CD/DVD Writer.

Not so long ago :

The project of "Hansel & Gretel" was conceived middle of this year. But it was not until end of June that I started the actual animation. That time the models were almost finished, based upon excellent character designs by ĎPaulí. I have rigged (thanks to TSM2) and smartskinned/weighted most of them (except Witch model). Some of them were still to be textured and secondary animation rigs are still to be perfected. But. by any means I wanted to start the animation. Other than the models I had already completed the sketchy storyboard. And, the unmixed track was in my hands. My artist friend ĎKhetoí is already on the BGs. This is going to be painted set & 3D actors. Iím getting addicted to this technique.

So, first of all I started laying off the storyboard on the voice + music track in Adobe Premier. Almost immediately I found my very brief storyboard was vastly inadequate for the animation. Anyway, I didnít do the storyboard in extreme details because I wanted to finish it at one go. Staying in the moment. So, most of the acting work is going to be done during animation. I continued the animatic by repeating the storyboard shots, occasionally drawing new ones. The number of shots in ďHansel & GretelĒ reached about 120.

Present Day :

At this date Iím on shot no. 80. The witch has entered the scene and she is an interesting character to animate. The animation of this movie is going to be somewhat between Ďlimitedí and Ďkeyframe packedí. I have to compromise but keeping the story alive. Please help me on this. My present daily routine is animate by day and render by night. You can see, I have very limited processor power.

Now :

Iím posting the very first steps taken for ďHansel & GretelĒ.

The Character designs

All of the designs are done by Biswajit Paul. And heís done a beautiful job. Next, will come a discussion about the script, the storyboards, the finished model shots and the rigs. Iíll discuss about recording the voice and the music. Then the animations will follow. Iíll showcase the beautiful BGs too. Lastly Iíll delve into compositing the shots.

Keep watchingÖ
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Hansel.jpg (16.4 KB, 70 views)
File Type: jpg gretel.jpg (19.3 KB, 35 views)
File Type: jpg dad.jpg (16.4 KB, 31 views)

Last edited by satyajit : 09 September 2006 at 09:35 AM.
  08 August 2006
The rest of character designs
Attached Images
File Type: jpg stepmom.jpg (16.8 KB, 33 views)
File Type: jpg witch.jpg (18.5 KB, 17 views)
  08 August 2006
Great! Good luck mate!

About the webspace: I don't know how much you can upload but you could create your own youtube.com account.

I'm staying tuned to see how you're doing things.
  08 August 2006
The Script of Hansel & Gretel

The story of Hansel & Gretel has several popular versions other than the original Grimmís tale. Several dramatizations are available in DVD format. Live action, animation and stop motion, every variety. So, this project had to be unique from the script. I visualized the whole project to be aimed at pre-school audiences. May be Grade I/II. And, I conceived the script in a rhyme. Gathering from all the version of stories available, a pretty long rhyme is written. The writer was ĎManas Choudhuryí. He was my art mentor. He did a fabulous job with the rhyme. I knew he has got talents of a poet, but at the end he way surpassed my expectations. I still remember when he got his first few line, I knew it then that he has got it.

A portion of Script is attached.

Storyboards coming up..
Attached Files
File Type: txt Portion of script.txt (4.4 KB, 18 views)

Last edited by satyajit : 08 August 2006 at 03:32 PM.
  08 August 2006
very nice story and sketches, this thread will be exciting specially when the animation part comes. good luck.
Find Beauty Inside your Imagination
" F L A M I N G L O W "
  08 August 2006
The Storyboard

Storyboarding is a very important step to me. May be the most important. This is the only time I look at the story as a whole, without any built up notions of the characters, the animation and the voices. Also, my storyboards don’t look like storyboards at all. No exposure sheet, no script tags. Nothing. Just comic book like panels. And, through the panels I try to design the flow of the story. The drawing is very important too. Other than staging and framing it incorporates various other important things like BGs, expression of the characters, the situation, and the overall mood. If a frame doesn’t feel sad or happy or violent, suiting my entire story, then it’s not working for me. The drawing cannot be rough, depicting just lines of action and compositions. Lines of action and compositions are important, but my panels must hold the moments in its entirety.

In every sense, storyboard becomes a guide to the storytelling more than animation. My every coming step must respect and learn from this storyboard.


3D Models Coming up …
  08 August 2006
Wouldn't coloring the storyboards be even better for the purpose you're looking for? Then you know if you want to add bluetints or whatever to suit the 'feel' of the scene.
  08 August 2006
Originally Posted by Harregarre: Wouldn't coloring the storyboards be even better for the purpose you're looking for? Then you know if you want to add bluetints or whatever to suit the 'feel' of the scene.

You're right. Coloring the storyboard is a good idea. Anyway, I didn't do the groundwork for the lighting during this phase. For this movie, I had pre-chosen some lighting templates for this movie. There are basically three main templates with minor variations. My lights are all three point lights. I'll discuss about the lighing later in details.

  08 August 2006
The 3D Models of Hansel & Gretel

While designing the characters I tried to develop a specific look. Somewhere between claymation models and soft toys. The costumes are consulted from various books. Biswajit ‘Paul’ came up with the characters pretty quickly. I remember we got a little stuck on the witch design. But we got through it. Paul did a great work. Then it was my turn. I began modeling them. Starting from Hansel. I tried to develop on the style Paul maintained throughout the characters. It took a month to model and rig them. Meanwhile ‘Kheto’, my other artist, came up with the color chart for the characters. Characters are looking lovable. And that’s the point. Question : Do you find the characters inspired from something? We took lot of care to maintain originality. Is there anything we missed?

The Music & Voices coming up …
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 3dmodels.jpg (45.1 KB, 129 views)
  09 September 2006
The Voice & Music

The voice artist is Nilanjana. And the music is given by his husband, Indra. Nilanjana works as a Radio Jockey. Indra is a professional Keyboard player, popular in local rock bands. They came recommended by the producing company Asha Audio. When we met, I discussed about the script and we both listened to some musicals. I remember we all liked the way ďBoundinĒ by Pixar was composed. They took some time to come up with musical concepts and home recordings. Nilanjana has a little husky voice and I think that goes well with storytelling for kids. Indra composed some music loops and a nifty little signature tune of the movie. I sounded sweet to me.

At the recording studio, Nilanjanaís voice was to be recorded first. After taking some time to cut out unnecessary huskiness and other defects were all set. I told Nilanjana to make it as expressive as possible. Indra was there throughout the recording. Sometimes, I intervened to give suggestions of dramas into the script, to make it expressive. Indra took care in helping Nilanjana during difficult voice modulations. After about two recording sessions the voice was done.

Then Indra came into the scene, loading his homemade loops from his keyboard into the Recording Studio Tapes. The loops were all separated into tracks. After that, the recordist and Indra sat together to compose the tracks in Adobe Audition. Occasionally, cracks were discovered in the voice of Nilajana and those portions were retaken. The main problem with this type of process is that composer doesnít have a clue, when to hold moments and when to pass. But here, since I got the movie in my head, I sat with the storyboard, listening to the music and giving cues where to hold the music, to indicate passing of time.

After the music was done, we did a rough mix and I had in my hand the voice track, the music track and the rough mix. I can start from this.

Listen to the unmixed track

Animatic coming upÖ
  09 September 2006
Hello there, i like that storyboards you've drawn it gives nice feel to what you are about to make, i also liked the sound track alot is it original and recorded specialy for your story or you purchased the story with the sound and you wanted to do it using 3D, while for me it realy doesn't matter you took that story from somewhere else or you did it yourself the matter is your 3d and the final look of your short film.

good luck very nice so far.
Find Beauty Inside your Imagination
" F L A M I N G L O W "
  09 September 2006

Originally Posted by FlaminGlow: is it original and recorded specialy for your story or you purchased the story with the sound

The script and soundtrack is original and recorded specifically for this animation. The script and recordings are concieved and directed by me.


Last edited by satyajit : 09 September 2006 at 03:12 AM.
  09 September 2006
The Animatic

During the development of the animatic with the voice+music track in Adobe Premier, the storyboard proved mostly insufficient. So, I have to duplicate the frames and occasionally draw new frames to accommodate the camera cuts. This movie is not going to have many moving camera shots. I mean, shots like dolly and crane are limited. Most of shots being made are still shots and track shots. And, there is a significant difference between the timing of still shots and moving shots. In moving shots, camera itself becomes one of the actors and helps immensely to guide the eyes and mind of the audience. Itís a vital tool for the director to have the camera on move. Also, it uses the parallax to stand out the subjects and their relative distance. Whereas, in still shots, the camera becomes dead. And all the killing camera moves becomes totally irrelevant. In this case studying traditional animations (Disney, warner bros., anime) becomes helpful. And soon I began to discover the beauty and power of this technique. Iíll discuss more about this later.

Now, Iíll return to the animatic. The reason I got into this topic is, it requires understanding of this difference while doing the shot divisions. Animatic doesnít incorporate certain things. The time of one shot with a moving camera looks faster than the shot of a still camera. And again, the movement of actors in a scene makes shots shorter or longer. But, animatic is always still. And while designing a fast paced shot division, it becomes difficult to determine shot lengths. It requires understanding of the craft. Until one goes through the exercise of storyboard-animatic-animation several times, itís difficult to develop this intuition. Anyway, I do not claim Iíve developed the intuition, but I noticed that Iím getting better with practice.

My animatic is finished with about 120 shots in total. Timing and pacing is critical in telling good stories. Iím not that experienced in making a full proof animatic. During animation, I use to go back several times to the storyboards and re-edit the animatic. In this phase, the animatic becomes a rough sketch of the story. And, Iím all ready to get into the animation.

A portion of The Animatic

But thereís a little step to be taken in before that. I have to rig, smartskin (weight) the characters. And have to give them expression/lip poses too.

Iíll discuss about the rig next. Iíd pick the witch model for dissection. he heÖ

The rigging coming upÖ

Last edited by satyajit : 09 September 2006 at 02:07 PM.
  09 September 2006
The Rigging

The discussion of the rig will be relatively short. Because I depend entirely on the rig installing software by Raf Anzovin called The Setup Machine (www..com). Having used a few rig. I must say Rafís TSM rig is not the most complex, craziest rig. There are rigs with better controllability of the mesh. The squetch rig of Hash inc is one of them. Rafís rig, although customizable to a vast extent, keeps it simple while animating, and thatís why I like it and canít live without it.

Rigging is an important step. For me, whatever magic functionality the rig may offer, while animating, the controls must be simple and minimal. This is very important. As I work alone, I constantly have to balance the quality in complexity and speed of production. So, the rig mustnít have unnecessary controls that are seldom used. Extra control means extra time taken for animation. When the project is of 30 mins, an extra click while animating a frame counts. So, the rig must be sleek. Extra controls like squash-stretch can stay hidden from my view. I want to have a clear view of the character without lots of controllers floating here and there. But the question arises, does the quality suffers by keeping it simple?

Not necessarily !

Iím a storyteller (or at least trying to be) more than an animator. To me, if the character carries out the story as I want it to, I can do without that extra facial bone. The point is, knowing when to stop pushing the rig.

TSM 2 is a fabulous piece of software. Itís possible to dig into and customize the rig suiting your animation. In my case I use the stretching sliders seldom. Also, I never use the auto CG functions, doesnít work for me. Apart from that, Iíve taken some steps to speed up the production time during rigging and posing/morphing. Iíve made a hand pose/morph for each hand from fist open position to close position. I can build up most of the hand animation using just these, for the others I can animate the fingers separately. The brows and face animation are done through pose sliders. I use only four Phoneme shapes Ė M, A in one slider and E, O on another. The eyelids are controlled through a single slider. Secondary animations of hair locks are done by Dynamic constraints.

Thatís it ! Iím not using a facial rig or special scripts. Mainly to speed up the animation production. But does that affect the storytelling? I guess only the animation itself can verify that.

Acting during animation coming upÖ
Attached Images
File Type: jpg witch_rig.jpg (53.2 KB, 91 views)
  09 September 2006
Links Broken

The links to your site seem to be broken. What hosting company are you using that you don't have enough space to post your animations. I have Ipower Web and I have 2000 megs for just under 100 bones a year. It's a really good deal and its even better now. I've had them for a while and they've increased the storage space for new customers alot.

I swear I don't work for I Power Web.
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