mothers: storyboard

  • pregnant mother
  • mother take eye off her face and goes to inspect her belly
  • her eye says hello to her unborn child
  • they already have a great connection, of course. One is inside the other
  • Titles appear: mothers (working title)
  • the baby is born (would like to show birth but not sure how yet). We see an extreme perspective view of them looking at each other for the first time.
  • we see baby and mother playing and happy and bonding. umbilical chord is still attached.
  • mother takes baby’s eyes and shows her some of the wonderful things in the world, like the nights sky.
  • first time walking in the woods – we see their loving relationship continue. they are happy. the umbilical chord is still attached

  • The daughter has grown up a bit
  • we see them eating
  • we see them doing a puzzle. The umbilical chord is still attached
  • back walking in the woods but this time there is a distance between the two
  • some indication that the mother is not happy

  • The daughter has grown again and her bags are packed
  • she walks away from the house towards the train
  • she gets on the train. her mother is happy to see her grow up and leave
  • their chord is still attached
  • the girl is on the train. the train leaves.


  • Their chord breaks

  • they meet again. The girl is living somewhere else but they are meeting. Maybe having a coffee? maybe reading? indicating the daughter is a grown up.
  • A third time, they walk in the woods. the daughter wants to tell her mother something but can’t. the mother is even more distant and sad. the mother fades away. (not sure how visually yet). Maybe she turns into the surroundings. The daughter is left alone.
  • there is silence
    • we go into the daughters head and it is silent and still
    • grief montage? not sure yet. but if there is then the grotesque view of life after youve experienced death. people talking but you don’t really understand what they are saying. hundreds of letters and flowers flying in?
    • we come back to the daughter.


  • She wanted to tell her mother that she was pregnant but she didn’t get the chance. The cycle of life starts again.

I was thinking about how the mother in my film could take her eye from her face and stretch her arm out to see things closer. This animation above may be inspiring for other ways in which I can play around with distorting their bodies. I would also like to look beyond other animations or perhaps when I am drawing some ideas will come. Pans Labyrinth was an accidental influence.

ways the mother could fade away:
– she could turn into the surroundings of the daughter
– she could fade away a bit each time she gets sad and become part of the daughter or the world around them in some way
– Ines referenced the leaves in pocahontis

Paul Klee puppets. I haven’t quite worked out what my characters look like but maybe klee can help.


new idea: mothers

After trying repeatedly to make a storyboard and animatic for my shapes film I have decided on a new idea. The story is still about loss but it is about loss by looking at a relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Louise Bourgeois has some wonderful images of pregnancy. She has been very inspiring and Kim Noce also beautifully explores the relationship between mothers and their daughters. I had enjoyed both these artworks before but when I had the idea to explore that relationship they seemed more important. Bourgeois uses very simple forms that have great impact which I would like to draw inspiration from. Although this may change, at the moment I would like to take inspiration from Kim and look at the umbilical chord as a representation of the bond that always remains between a mother and a daughter. I have read about this invisible string that remains throughout a mother-daughter relationship. There is something there, always but inevitably as the daughter grows up, a distance starts to appear.

Here are some more initial sketches:

I went to see a really incredible film on the weekend called ‘walk with me’. It is about zen monks and mindfulness. The pace is slow but so impactful. I think silence and pauses need to be used in my film to create impact and sadness where needed. Silence after noise can be so hard hitting.

Sarah Woolner has helped me develop my story for the mother-daughter film. The structure involves having a bonding activity that the mother and daughter do which might be walking in the woods or hills somewhere or eating a meal or maybe doing a puzzle. Whatever my chosen one is, it will be shown three times and each time, the audience will get a sense that something in that relationship has been lost. They become more and more distant. In the final encounter by which time the daughter has grown up and left home, the mother will be completely absent and then fade away (not sure how visually yet). Then we will find out that the daughter herself is pregnant. The cycle of life begins again.


I am currently trying to organise these thoughts and drawings into a storyboard/animatic of some sort.


I think I am going to hand draw this project. I am 90 percent sure but by the end of the week I am going to decide. Either way I love the colours of this Chagall painting above and the way they are quite roughly put onto the canvas.

More ideas on the structure of the film – the timings allow for all of them to run over the time I have suggested:

30 secs: First three sections will be like a montage and only one main scene per stage to show them falling in love, dating and getting pregnant
30 secs: Then I would like the family life to start repeating itself so that some sort of routine is set up between the family of three.
1 min: Then the loss happens and I want to have silence. the shock. the end of life as you knew it. Their world starts to turn upside down, look surreal, things distort, I was imagining their strange shape tears to create new shapes or to fill up buckets or to create patterns, we could see the faces of friends trying to connect, they see the missing shape everywhere, things distort into the missing shape temporarily then back again. Then perhaps after all this noise and movement and distress there is another silence or stop.

30 secs: The stop can turn into small, emerging, slow movement as we begin to see the hope and the echo of the lost shape. Maybe the lost shape can become their shadow. Perhaps thats a bit cheesy. Or they can create the missing shape between them. I am hoping once I start to draw that some of these things will become apparent.

Last night Sacha and I went to see the third night of the public choice programme for the British Animation Awards. It is always really inspiring to go and see other people’s work and especially interesting when lots of the directors are there at the end. Putting a face to an animation is great.

I was excited to see ‘The Full Story’ and I loved the mixed media and the live action worked well with the stop motion and it was so textural, which I enjoyed but I was quite confused with the story and we both got confused with the characters as lots looked similar. The Nicolas Menard film was hilarious, simple and beautiful. Have heart gradually won me over and I think it was really clever, engaging characters and everyone was convinced and felt for the story and the main character, ‘duck’. Both the RCA films, attraction and the day after the party were aesthetically beautiful as the RCA films always are. Attraction was my favourite along with Wednesday with Goddard. It was beautiful and mesmerising especially because it works as one with the music and was made, she spoke about afterwards, in conjunction with the music being made. It is really interesting to see such a mixture of films and to see how you react to that mixture.

Have Heart | Will Anderson
Wednesday with Goddard | Nicolas Ménard
The Full Story | Daisy Jacobs & Christopher Wilder
Attraction | Emily Scaife
Johnno’s Dead | Chris Shepherd
Looper: Farfisa Song
Andreya Triana: Branches of Life | Katerina Athanasopoulou
Katie Melua: Perfect World | Karni and Saul
To Build A Fire | Fx Goby
The Day After the Party | Diyala Muir

I think I liked the films best (attraction, have heart and goddard) that were simple, satisfyingly composed, funny, basic or no character, great use of colour, working well with music and engaging but not in an over the top way.

Now I have one day to finish my storyboard and try and get it into an animatic stage to set myself up for starting to animate in February.


These are some pages from my sketch book this week. These are ideas for how the scene can look when the dating shapes go to the cinema. It was helpful to start drawing and I think the storyboard/animatic will be easier to make after this.

This is an idea of how it will look when the couple meet their baby shape. I want to use extreme perspectives to emphasise the size difference.

Above are a few ideas for the day to day life of the shapes. As the shapes are limited in their movement I was also thinking about how other parts of their environment can move for example hands coming out of the bed, lifting up the covers and billowing it over the shapes to imply the shapes having sex. Below I was thinking about how the shapes could move and because it is animation, even though they are 2 dimensional, perhaps the square could stretch to his destination then the rest of his body could join.

I also thought, below left, that when the shapes are looking closely at things their bodies could extend and they could either have lots of eyes or their eyes could move to the sop of their stretched body but they always come back to their original shape.

Below is an idea for their house/environment and the sun passing across the sky to show passing of time. I think looking into their house from a birds eye view could be interesting to play around with. At the moment I can only visualise this project in hand drawn with textured colouring. I would like to figure out a way to incorporate this or maybe do the animating in tv paint and then colour by hand.

more shapes


style frame for ‘shapes’ (working title)

This is a film about loss and grief with a hopeful ending of the missing shape being echoed in the life of the remaining, living shapes. Although other themes will feed in, this is what I would like it to be about. I am wondering if the story beats I wrote in my last post should allow more time for the last two beats – the loss/grief and the hopeful end.

Film references:
A film I have watched that deals with this theme is ‘Father and Daughter’ by Michael Dudok De Witt. The loss in this film happens right at the beginning. It is incredibly beautiful and sad.  Another film which I had in mind was the film ‘nuggets’ which through a very simple aesthetic and narrative, very effectively deals with the heavy topic of addiction. A different theme but similar in some ways in terms of a simple depiction of a tricky subject matter. Norman Mclaren’s abstract films are another reference. They were my first experience of watching an animation that wasn’t Disney as a child and continue to be an influence. There is something about the energy to them and use of colour and shape that inspires me. These three films have very different aesthetics but perhaps I can take something from each of them. The story telling, theme and repetition of ‘Father and Daughter’, the story telling and simplicity of ‘nuggets’ and the use of shape and colour and music of Mclaren.

Here is an article about animations that have depicted loss and spoken about death. I would like my film to be able to be watched by children, I think. I guess this may change as I make it but at the moment, I would.

still from ‘Father and Daughter’

still from ‘dots’ by Norman Mclaren

still from ‘nuggets’

Thinking about medium:
I really enjoyed working in this medium so I am thinking about keeping in mind the sorts of things the technique inspired us do when working in tv paint/hand drawn. For example when our character (we named him John) reaches up to bring his family in for an embrace the arms just grow and grow in order for him to do that. The space is quite abstract but those sort of movements – extensions of body parts – could be fun to play with in my new film.

This is something I have ended up doing a lot over the last year. I don’t think It is currently an animation technique in it’s own right but I think it should be! Working with a real life environment and placing characters on top, particularly line drawings, is a really interesting contrast and combination.

hand drawn
I always come back to enjoying the look of hand drawn animation more than on the computer. I am considering animating the film in tv paint but then colouring some of it using hand drawn… I would love to be able to colour using small index cards like Joanna Priestley used for ‘Voices’ but I think time restraints may mean I don’t do this…

Above is a Klee painting. For a long time a print of this painting has hung above the bath in my family home and I think this is partially why I like it so much, because I am familiar with it. I also like it because of it’s use of colour and line to create a whole landscape. I have been using little marks a bit like the ones in this painting recently for example the poster below. When animated these sorts of lines can also be satisfying. This could be useful when building simple environments for my shapes and their world.

Another recurring influence is Charles and Ray Eames. I love their use of bold colour and shapes. Looking at these images of their various toy designs has made me think of how I can combine the different shapes to work together.

I am going to try and get a very simple animatic for next week so I can work out a few things and test out what exactly the shapes will be doing.



SHAPES: graduation film

My idea is about a family of shapes
Theme of the film: loss
Story beats:
1. the wooing One shape meets another and tries to woo them – tension between them
2. the romance They become a couple and enjoy dating activities
3. the pregnancy One shape becomes pregnant. Q – how to make a shape pregnant?
4. the euphoria early family life the addition of the baby shape. the three start life together and a repetition of various day to day activities begins
5. the loss One day only the baby and one of the couple are there. one shape is lost.
6. the echo of the lost shape In a way that I am yet to decide, the shape that is lost will remain with the other two. Perhaps as they have to rearrange their routine around the missing shape, the lost one will be visible. Perhaps in their (the two left) negative space they can make the lost shape.

I now understand what the structure of my story is but need to decide what my characters look like exactly and what they will do within each section. The theme of the film is loss and I would like to audience to come away with not sadness at the end necessarily but a sense that the lost shape will always remain in the lives of the remaining two, in some way. It is also about how shapes can be visually pleasing and how they can work together. Here are a few pages from pages of my sketchbook of collages of things I could find in with shapes involved for inspiration. At this moment, I am hoping my film’s audience could be both children and adults however this may change as I start to make it.

Below is an initial thought on what shapes they will be. I think the mother/lost shape will be a triangle, the father figure a square and the baby a spiky circle. After having our day with Sarah Woolner, the script writer, I have realised I need to give more depth and back story to my characters so that I know them better. That is something I am going to work on this week.

One reference I was recomended when I first had this idea was ‘The missing piece meets the Big O’ which uses shape as tools for story telling. It is very effective in it’s simplicity and universality.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O: Shel Silverstein’s Sweet Allegory for the Simple Secret of Love and the Key to Nurturing Relationships