Joe Sparrow / Illustrator - Animator - Designer / 07758224292 /

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


I haven't really written much about what I actually do at university right now, so I figure this might be a good time to start. I'm spending a lot of time in the university computer suites completing an animation project we were set; the brief is to make a non-narrative (abstract) sequence which uses text and image to portray an anagram of some sort. Since I'm spending so much time making this right now (and I'm sort of pleased with the way it looks) I thought I'd put up some screenshots or something.

Basic jist = the whole thing is in ascii (see here if you don't know what I'm talking about). As with a lot of things, Beck did it already but the way Adam Levite (director) made his version looks a little boring at times. It's a little like Richard Linklater in Waking Life or Scanner Darkly in that it's a nice-looking effect but it's essentially just a filter placed over filmed images. I want to animate mine in a more structured way, not photographed from paper but physically animating the text in After Effects (the program we had to learn recently for this project) so there's more of a grid to it.

The first thing I did was to take a series of photographs of a paper crane (as a test for the process) to see how Levite went about making his video. I used an ascii converter online to convert the cut-out images into text, and then put them into AE to animate them, and they looked okay - I had a basic image of a crane, spinning, in ascii. Ascii relies on using fonts with fixed width characters: every character has the same width, regardless of the actual width of the letter - for example:



Fixed Width:


notice that in all of these rows, there are eleven letters in each. In the top font, however, the fonts aren't fixed-width, so the lines don't line up. This is mostly easier to read, since there isn't any "redundant" space inbetween characters. However, fixed-width fonts (such as the example here) fall into perfect vertical columns, which makes them excellent for uniform ascii designs and also means that they're used in coding to make it easier to see how the lines of code line up. Apparently. ;_; I wouldn't know.

I made a couple of experiments with regular-width fonts to try and mess up the ascii pattern in an interesting way, and it made for some interesting animation.

See how it sort of looks like sound waves or something? But it didn't really work in a compositional sense, so I tried some other stuff. Less generated, more typing it out myself.

The letters here form the word "tutankhamun" type themselves in ascii, which looks really nice. The anagram is a sort of lame one - "Tutankhamun" becomes "Thank Autumn" - so the words form, start to degrade, and then change to orange and dissolve completely.

I also animated this egyptian eye thing.

I'll upload the finished movie when it's done.

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