Malum is done

So my first animated short is done and that means first year is over and done with. This semester went by so quickly, the semester had it’s up’s and its down’s. The amount of things that I’ve learned from from this project was great. Many mistakes were made but they were apart of the learning process. A few things that I thought might help me in the future would be to work on my time management skills and my planning. These two parts of working in a team project are probably the most important. There was times when things didn’t work or things were rushed due to a lack of planing. This caused more stress than needed, hopefully I can sort this for next year. The project itself was great to work on, it being so different from anyone else’s made the work seem more enjoyable and more fun to design. There were some miscommunications while being in the project but in the end the outcome was something that we all made together and each of our inputs can be seen. The project itself would not of been the same if the group had of been different. I was happy with this as my first animation.

So here it is, Malum…

Link to the music is below.

A general breakdown of the animation and the processes that went into the project,


Most of the concepts that went into the preproduction of Malum were mainly of a graphic style, the team agreed on a more visual based animation rather than a narrative base. Me and Caitilin are more graphic based while Eoin and Dervla are skilled at drawing. The combined mix of our work helped create the concepts that got us to the final outcome.


When it came to modelling many references were made and the elements from the concepts were used in the 3d designs. Modelling ended up being more enjoyable that expected. The gears and the mechanical device  were really interesting to make and the research proved interesting. In the beginning I looked a few tutorials but once I got the idea experimenting with the different shapes and sizes of the gears helped create the shape and details for the mechanical device.


When it came to texturing I was able to go into some research on colour palettes and textures. The red colour originally came from an idea on adding a  rusted look but we decided to have a greyscale or a black acid wash metal. Before the final hand in it was to shinny so we changed the texture and turned down the reflectivity. Some of the digital work that was done before were used as textures. we wanted the animation to be contrasting in terms of of the colours at the start and at the end. When we had the final presentation  Yuanyuan mentioned about showing a more clearer story. A way to do that was from the colours, light to dark, warm to cool. This helped the flow of the narrative.

Sound Design

When it came to sound design it was only really when we had the two weeks of feedback that we realised that sound was the main factor in our animation. Originally the sound was made then put on top of the animation but after speaking to Conánn after the final presentation he made it apparent how important sound was, this made us rethink the sound and re design in. We ended making more of a piece of music rather than sound to accompany the animation.


The animating was mainly based of the sound in the redo of the project. Animating became much easier with this as guide for timing and and rotations. The gears were mainly animated to switch between clockwise and anti clockwise. This was to simulate the idea of a broken chain or a glitch.


When it came to lighting we looked at a couple ideas for how the scene should be lit and what colours  we wanted if any. Red ended up being the choice for colour inside the apple, well because it’s an apple. The warm colours of the red lights contrasted with the cool blue colours on the tree and the scene behind it. In the apple the lights are animated with a strobe idea, this was to add some distortion to the model again adding to the broken mechanic theme. When it then came to rendering adjusting and fixing lights took up a good bit of time. Checking shadows, colour grades and just general looks wise to make sure the renders came out the way we wanted. Lighting is an area where I would like to develop in.



Finally when we sat down to edit after rendering we had the music as a template for where clips should go and what the timings would be. Originally we had a lot of cut scenes which were told to get rid of. This then made use the music to help with the transitions. Cut scenes ended up being the main transition we used. Some experimenting came into play when used the glitch. This was too tie in the music and the animation together.


Then finally some stills of from’Malum’.


Cameras and Editing

Here are then the play blasts of scenes I have worked on through the project. These were experimenting with different angles and movements. I can admit that some aren’t the best but I know that now.

These were what way the renders would turn out. All of the videos were used for feedback from the group to work out animation timing and how the lights and textures came through.

When it came to editing me and Caitlin were the ones who were most excited to do it. So once all the renders were gathered on my laptop we began editing. The smaller screens that we used in editing were taken from a previous blog post on sound design. The Michel Gagne piece, ‘Sensology’ introduces shapes and layers with different sounds. So I took the idea and developed it to fit with out project. The split screens were to act like  characters in a narrative. As the short moved forward the screens would keep increasing in size till the screen was filled. As the music peaked the screens will be at maximum size. This is to help convey the idea of scale and the camera constantly moving out from the apple to the tree where the apple is tiny thing compared to it.

When it came to the breakdown of the editing I worked 0-30 seconds, the editing of the glitch was added by me and the logo at the start was a combination of previous concepts put togteher. I thought this was a good way to show we all had inputs on the project itself.

Some research into editing styles and what way to do and not to do.


So I was introduced to this by Aimee in final year, I was asking her about drum machines and industrial sounds. She linked me to This is where I got some of the sound clips that I used to edit for the music. But while looking at the rest of the website I came across more of the artist work.

These  amazing mechanical animations. These were the type of references that I needed to help my research. The first one ‘Transparent Machines’ was just amazing, the light and the textures are done to such a good level. This was a reference in terms of the modelling but then the camera from the short helped with  the cameras and editing in our outcome.

The next short is called ‘Zero Day’, this was just incredible. The music  told the story and added so much to the mood and atmosphere of the scene. The animation fits perfectly with the music. The almost fluid movements of the robotic parts are synced to the mirrored counterpart. The lighting was the thing that made it for me. Going back to my lighting post when I was talking about contrasting warm and cool colours this short did it in the way I would like to be able to. It reminds me of the portal colour palette, the reds and oranges against the light and dark blues really makes them stand out compared to each other. Almost like two different ends of the spectrum.



This is then the link to Beeple’s soundcloud. All of the songs that he has made or edited are there. This was just an awesome way to see the different projects he’s worked on the different type’s of music he has made.




These pieces of work are a bit different from the ones above but again these are all animated and synced up with the music, from researching into sound and looking at artists like this you can see sound can add to the animation itself.

Sound Inspiration

So when re-designing the sound after the final presentation we realised the importance of sound, especially in our project. When having feedback with Conánn he showed us a video by an animation named Michel Gagné. He created this animation named ‘Sensology’. Link is below.

The concept behind this piece of work is to show the narrative through the music. Design the music first and then the animation is based on the song. In sensology they are no characters to introduce or show a narrative, but instead the music can be described the characters. A song is a narrative within itself. A piece of music has a start, a middle and an end just like a story.

When designing the sound we want to be able to tell a story. ‘If you can picture it with your eyes closed then it works’. A point that  Conánn made that helped me get what way the project should be directed. With that me and Caitlin then began to revisit the old sound and see what we could to improve it. We wanted to keep Caitlin’s original piece music as it suited what they ended should sound like. So from that I built around that adding more of an industrial and mechanical sound to it. The music should express what mood and tone we wanted to come across.

A link to the music.

Caitlin’s original music.


Musical Characters

An example of sound introducing characters is the Star Wars films.

So from the  videos above you can hear how differently each character is perceived due to the music that accompanies them. For example Darth Vader’s music is much more tense and bass heavy while Yoda’s is much more melodic and light. These differences make the character’s personalities chow more. This idea is what we wanted to have in the sound to introduce the gears, apple and the finally the tree.

Jamie xx – Sleep Sound

“Music is a a medium formed from silence and sound.”

“Here we can explore how music can be created by having silence and creating sound with the use of imagination.”

General idea behind the music video was to visually show the relationship between sound and movement. The song was revisited when Sofia Mattioli was approached by a girl who was deaf, she handed her a note explaining that she was deaf but she could feel the music from his movements. This inspired him to revise the song sleep sound.

The music features people from the Manchester Deaf Centre who believed they could feel the same as the the girl did. With this idea the video was based on them and how the felt while the song played.

The editing of the video is synced up with the beat of the music, although they could not hear the music they could fell the vibrations from the air that the song gave off.

The idea of ‘feeling’ the music can be of an abstract meaning but if air and vibrations from a song  can make you feel something how can it said to be different from hearing the music?

Drum Machines downloads

So I know the videos above are all techno but when making the sound for Malum I used these are references for the build ups and the layout. The songs above are all made in them same way but each has it’s own mood and feeling. From just small alterations you can create the sound of the song therefore changing there charcterisitcs.

Lighting References

So below are the tutorials and guides that I used to help me understand what each of the lights do and how to set them up properly. Each of the tutorials helped me in different ways, while watching them  I took notes then worked from my notes, this proved easier to me.

The one below was a general tutorial I looked at, this was just explaining things and helped me get a grips with the lights.

The next few tutorials were for volumetric lighting, this was originally suggested to us by Edward, we showed him a few stills and he suggested we look into this. So after speaking to Edward I research into volumetric lighting and what it does.  So after looking into them I can say they are very effective and a make the scene look awesome. An idea for the volumetric lighting was to add a 3d fog texture over the red light to distort it more and create a more cramped feeling. But in the end time wasn’t on our side due to a lack of planing. I know for next time to plan better.

Below is then an example of how lighting makes a scene. This is one of Edward’s animations. This one does not have a light source put on so there is no shadows or highlights making the scene look flat.

But in this second video you can see the added light adds to the scene and makes it look much better, from this you can see how effective lights are when setting up your scene.


Some more tutorials that I looked over the project on lighting.



Portal was a suggestion from Cassie due to the colours and the contrast we were looking. So I took her advice and research into it. The colours of the lights used in portal fitted into the idea we wanted to have in our project. One thing would be make the red lights more dark rather than having the orange tones. These then against the metallic and shinny surfaces made me think of how the lights should act with the texture. Should the lights be reflected of the device or should they just be in the background. After speaking about it the group we were still not sure if it would be too much. So for now we’ll leave it in greyscale and if needs be it can always be changed during feedback time.

As you can see from the mages below the robots and the environment around them are mainly in a greyscale style. The the contrasting lights that the robots have almost give them characteristics based on the colours. So when you see the orange light yo think of the orange one and vive versa for the blue. Again I like this idea for the lighting in our project.

2001 Space Odyssey

I’ll have to admit this was another suggestion by Cassie, she had used this as research in her project but then suggested we use it as a reference for the lighting we wanted to do. I think this ties in with the portal lighting. In 2001 Space Odyssey the contrast of the warm and cool colours are done to an amazing level. The lighting changes from warm to cool or cool to warm really changes the mood. This is a good method to shift what you want the audience to feel when watching the film or short.


Looking at the images above you can almost see the colour palette that was used in the making of this film. Seeing the different shots side by side make you see how well they complement each other although still contrasting at the same time.

Final Presentaion

So this was the last presentation before the final hand in. So we did get a lot of feedback which was awesome, this is the only way to make the project better. A general theme from the feedback was the narrative was unclear. This was something that I agreed with, due to bad planning as a group this draft ended up being rushed and wasn’t done to the standard I would of wanted.

Other things were said to be changed like textures, too many shinny surfaces and too much patterns. I’ll admit I was glad we could of changed the background, with all the other patterns I thought it was too much in the rendered version.


A link to the final presentation

– Malum-


A general plan of actions to take to ensure the feedback is taken on board. Hopefully we can get the animation done on time will all the required changes. One thing that really stood out to me from the feedback was the issue with sound. Sound is one of the main aspects of an animation and I forgot that due to stressing about other things. This is something that I want to personally fix and make better for the project.

Tree Textures

These are then some rendered images from the tree, the tree was originally modelled by Eoin then Dervla textured it. Although while Dervla was texturing it she came into some problems so I experimented with some of the previous concepts and textured them to the tree. A few were tested but one really one was liked by everyone. The first image was the texture that we used for the tree.


These were the tree when was still in process and textures were still being agreed on.


Above and below is then some renders from my attempt at texturing the tree. The almost unrealistic look is what we wanted to go for. As the apple wasn’t exactly an apple we wanted that to carry on with the other models and textures. I was happy with how it looked and how the colour and lines in the image added a slight contrast to the edges in the tree.