I began to collect different images for the concept of the ant, looking for images of close up folliage locations and various other depictions of ant characters in media. Namely; Bugs Life, Antz and Ant Bully. I also looked at Ants themselves. Upon further looking I found that I wasn't really too keen on the idea, and creating a believable foliage environment would take some extra work on animation. Though I considered lattice deformers I decided a heavily animated background would be quite time consuming.
Ant Concept Mood Board
I decided it was time to take some drastic changes and explore new ideas. So I removed myself from working digitally to go back to my sketchbook and work out some new elements.
I find my sketchbook at times can be better for thinking even though I am more comfortable doing digital artwork at times.
During the process of sketching down characters and considering how they may fit either clip I then decided to write down various notes on the dialogue in the clip, breaking down both a literal storm and the idea of a storm being a metaphor for another upcoming event. I also noted that the character talking doesn't appear to have as much concern in his voice as what he is implying the other characters to have, thus giving him a sense of not being affected by said storm.
Some further thought and listening to the clip I decided to think back to things that have portrayed well the anger that comes across in the audio clip. I thought to the film Whiplash and upon looking at some images, I had a moment to wonder whether the audio clip itself was from Whiplash. I didn't want to check whether it did or not so I am still completely oblivious to the context of the clip but the idea of the storm being that of an upcoming performance was an interesting recontextualisation and I realised that I could almost turn the clip into any emotional moment within any profession. I.e, perhaps politicians about to be hit by a wave of bad press.
Upon my new searches I came across this image. This inspired me because I felt I could see the character performing my dialogue, even though there's aspects of his character design that are not directly correlating to the clip. At this point I realised that my character could be ANYTHING and chances are, I could contextualise them within their universe so that the dialogue makes sense.
I began to create silhouettes. Unsure of how this would go I just kept going, working from thick brush to thin, block shapes and then sculpting detail. I found myself creating a range of characters that I felt would fit either the storm clip or the lebowski clip, opening up my options.
I like each of these varying designs, but the one that peaked my interest the most in regards to character and something I'd want to create is what I am calling the Chicken Dwarf. At first I intended to use him as a character for a future side project as I didn't know a way he might fit this one, however, away from my work I had an epiphany about a context that would also solve some issues I was having with the storm audio clip. Using the Dwarf Chicken, talking to an audience of actual chickens I could avoid having too much to animate in an audience to the dialogue. Given the storm dialogue addresses multiple individuals I was finding it difficult to justify depicting them, though through my new idea of using passive and less sentient creatures I can reduce my animation requirements for the crowd.
From here forward I am going to be exploring more into Dwarf Chicken and his Chicken Crowd. Considering various concepts of the environment and what the storm is represented by.
So amongst doing various character exploration I decided it would be valuable for me to asses what I want to achieve by the end of pre-production and schedule in the time I am giving myself to complete such tasks. This has lead to me creating a Spreadsheet that outlines a number of tasks I wish to complete and the timeframe in which I have to complete them.
This has significantly improved my productivity and focus. Working narrowly on each task rather than broad across everything at once.
Once I had the chicken character in mind I felt it would be good to begin recording reference. This did not go completely as I'd hoped but given my little experience in acting out reference it was definitely a valuable place to start in getting used to the concept and overcoming some of the various hurdles I may no have expected to encounter later.
Montage of Various references and early recordings. Recording reference started very stiff and awkward but felt the more I began to feel comfortable tackling a new aspect the more natural it became to slowly sink into character without it feeling like a sudden uncomfortable change.
Refined reference with audio overlay. This is definitely much stronger than my initial starting reference, but still will require reshooting once I start to board out shot progression.