Saturday, 9 May 2020

Why Animators Need Mood Boards

Mood Board for "Animal Lover" 
Mood Boards are an important part of the process of making an animated film.

Mood Boards allow the director and art director to get a feel for what a film will look like, long before the animation and lighting is complete.

Mood Boards are essentially a research project, at this stage you are not creating original artwork, just finding useful references of what sort of visual style and influences will inform the look of the film.

PR5001 - Studio Project
Our second year animation undergraduates are currently working on Studio Project Module PR5001, where students collaborate to work together on group projects.

Module PR5001 is a film-making module, the culmination of the second year of study at Escape Studios.

In this module students work together in teams, and the skills involved are just as much about film-making as they are about animation.

Who makes Mood Boards?
Mood Boards are an important part of the development of any short film. Mood Boards are usually put together by the art director or production designer, working with the director to establish a harmonious style and colour palette. A Mood Board is a kind of digital collage, pulling together inspiring images that can be used to create original artwork.

Animal Lover
Right now our 2nd year undergraduate animators are collaborating with one of our MA Storyboarding students, Anastasia Gurova, to create the short film "Animal Lover". It's a short story, just under a minute long, based loosely on Anastasia's childhood experiences growing up in Russia.

To give the film a Russian flavour, Anastasia put together mood boards of Russian landscapes and costume to keep the story rooted in a particular time and place. The Russian steppe is flat, with a low horizon and few small hills.

Landscape Mood Board
On the right you can see some of Anastasia's Russian landscape reference images. Important choices have to be made - where are we? A village? A hamlet? What time of day is it? What will dominate the colour palette - warm colours or cool colours?

Costume Mood Board
Anastasia also prepared a reference board to help with the clothing and costume design for the women in the story.

As you can see from the images (see the mood board top of the blog), country people in the 1990s in rural Russia had a particular look to them. They didn't dress fashionably; their appearance was not a priority as they had hard lives and had to work the soil.  The women dressed in long skirts mostly, often in hand-made textiles; with no jeans or trousers.

Children would be randomly dressed, usually in hand-me-down clothes, and a bit dirty from playing outside.

Anastasia Gurova
Mood Board - The First Step
Anastasia's work has paid off because the team now has a clear guide for the look and feel of the film. This informs the costumes, the landscapes, the character design, and the lighting of the film.  This groundwork is helping to give the film a special flavour, based as it is on Anastasia's own personal story. This is a tale that only she can tell - because it is about her own life experiences.

For anyone working on a short film, and trying to find a visual style for the project, a mood board is an essential first step.

Film-Making Resources
Film-making resources at the Escape Studios Animation Blog:

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MArt starting in September 2020, follow this link

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