Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

The latest Hayao Miyazaki’s animation, “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” was opened to the public on the 19th of July in Japan.

Miyazaki has been intimately involved with the hand-drawn animation in Ponyo.
Also, the target of this animation is children and the character of Sōsuke is a five-year-old boy.

I am glad that the latest his animation has something in common, which is a hand-drawn animation for children, with my work. 

He preferred to draw the sea and waves himself, and enjoyed experimenting with how to express this important part of the film.

Sōsuke’s name is taken from the hero in the famous novel The Gate by Soseki Natsume.
In Soseki’s another novel “Kusamakura”, the heroine is overlapped with Ophelia by Millais.
Miyazaki was interested in the painting and visited to see it at Tate Britain.
It is said that he was inspired by the painting and decided he would like to change course from highly precise matureness to simplicity.


Opportunity of Event

Reflective Blog Research Focus Group Feedback

# 1st method – written entry #

I usually store what I should write and what I would like to write because I write in English very slowly and it is a burden for me especially when I have to make up for lost time of my project.

I have to look for how I should express what I would like to convey in English all the time.

If I record in my sketchbook, I can write in Japanese and wrong spelling in English quickly.
However, on the blog, the records should be understood by other people, so I have to look up each spelling I am not sure in a dictionary.

Also, the reason why I am really bad at speaking and listening in English is because I cannot keep up with the speed.
I do not need to mind the speed when writing in English compared with speaking and listening, but it is terribly slow.

If I store the topics, I come to have to write them much more slowly later because I have to search the Excel file of my schedule, the course calendar, and the saved dates of materials such as photos and files and recollect the details hard.

I could not write even the final show reflections on time.
Despite only one week ago it was hard to remember because I had very many experiences and feedback during the show.

Therefore, although I have been uploading the topics that I could not do during Unit3 since when the final show finished, I have not uploaded all the topics I would like to write, especially the topics in May and June when I had suffered significant lacerations to both my palms (dominant hand was worse) when just I had to make up for lost time I spent on struggling to create images for printmaking that I could not do after all.

I realised that I should have written the record in Japanese on time and quickly as just memorandums because I forget the details and it is hard to recall later.


# 2nd method – photographic entry #

I had stored photographic entries as well because I had to complete my project anyhow first.

I stored some materials according to the width of my blog layout and the light size for web.
However, since I uploaded the topics which came to mind just before the date it is assessed in a hurry, I could not upload wholly and I noticed later that I forgot to upload many important topics.

In addition, I always omitted to upload some experiment images that are not good because I had to upload the topics of the Unit evenly in the short time until it is assessed.
Also, I am ashamed to show the failure images to everyone on the online blog though they are vital elements in my offline sketchbook.

Although I have a rough storyboard of A4 size of about 20 sheets including the whole scenes and all actions and it took long time to scan them, I did not also upload them as I am ashamed to show such the rough and poor hand-drawings that only I need and can recognise the contents.

However, I realised that these omissions were bad for reflections when I read Andy’s feedback, “lack a decision making details, and it is this that may be at the heart of the problems you encountered”.

I had done the same omissions through the year.
However, the reason why it was pointed out in only Unit3 of all things is probably because not only was the Unit3 the shortest schedule but I also suffered injuries in the worst timing, so I could upload less materials and more omissions than before.

If I had uploaded all the materials in Japanese quickly in real time, I could have selected the topics that should be translated first by the order of priority, so at least I would not have forgotten to upload the important materials even if I omitted to upload failure materials.


# 3rd method – voice and video entry #

I had troubles to upload these entries because I have used SWF files for my project which cannot be uploaded onto YouTube.

Although I updated my Flash into CS3 in order to export the parts without action script of my animation by MOV files, I could not export heavy and a bit long animation by MOV files.

Moreover, even if I could export the parts without movie clips of my animation by AVI files and the parts without action script by MOV files, they changed into strange when I uploaded them onto YouTube though it took long time to upload.

Therefore, the ways left to show the experimental animation are:
1) To upload the SWF files on my free web account and link them to my blog
2) To export still images or to capture screen images
3) To create animated GIF of the movement

I almost used the second way because it is the easiest way and viewers can see the images without clicking links and seeing advertisements though it does not have animated movement.

I have to use the first way to upload my colloquium presentation.
I did it part way because it has taken quite long time to chop it short and upload each and link files.

I hate to upload movies onto YouTube as it takes long time.
When I uploaded just the very short clips of research in spring flowers, it took about 5 hours to upload one of those while doing another work on my laptop at the same time though the Internet of my flat might be bad condition.
Also, although I uploaded my animation onto YouTube by taking time, uploaded animation often changed into strange.

I asked and knew how to upload sound files of experiments for my animation, which is to use plug-in or to upload onto YouTube.
Being able to upload sound files and video images would be a big advantage of blogs compared with sketchbooks, but I cannot stop feeling it is troublesome.

Thursday 17th of July – What I thought about building the show

Ben asked Moshe and me “Passed?”
And then he also asked “Distinction?”

I replied “No-, because I could not help the final show”.
I received the low score I had never ever had.

So Ben said that he gave me distinction.
He had said that he liked my work during the final show.

And Moshe said, “You came every day”.
I could come to invigilate the show every day in fact, but I could not come to build the show for the whole first 4 days.
Furthermore, although I could have the extra days, inopportunely I got a cold and could not get along with my project.
I took herbal medicines that do not give sleepiness and the fever stopped.
However, the sore throat lasted, so I lost my voice when I talked with Andy.

I was going to email “I could finish my project thanks to everyone building the show. I really appreciate you. I could not help build the show very much, but I shall be able to stay at our show every day”.

However, I could not finish my project until the external examiner visit, so I could not send the email because I felt that I could not endeavour worthy of everyone’s kindness and I was ashamed of myself.

However, I should have expressed my thanks to everyone even if I could not complete my project on time and was ashamed.

Also, I feel that I missed the genuine delight of preparing the show with peers cheerfully and boisterously as I really like the atmosphere of such work together.

In addition, I feel sad that the person who submitted unfinished work by using Extenuating Circumstances never have a chance to show completed work to assessors.

Viewers’ Reactions and Improvement points from those

01) Opening Title: Some viewers noticed and enjoyed that the shape of the key-head was cat-shaped.

I did not put a start button, so this animation just loops from the end to restart because I showed an action page using the gamepad as an eye-catcher so that viewers, especially children could be interested in this animation.

02-0) Blinking Icon and Mouse over Icon of “Cat Town” on the Map

If the map appeares, most viewers did not know what they do next and some of them clicked another site.
However, this interactive animation has story and the first scene is “Cat Town” that is a blinking button.
I have to amend the blinking colour so that it become more remarkable.
On the other hand, although I have the trouble that “Cat Town”, “Flower Road”, and “Go Back Home” buttons overlap, I thought I had to manage to create the clickable map because it is easy to understand the operation.

02-1) Cat Town Animation

This animation has the scene that the kitten comes out from the double doors and bells of the clock tower rings 6am. I created the illustration, but I omitted the scene because of time.

03-0) Blinking Icon and Mouse over Icon of “Flower Road” on the Map

A few viewers noticed that kitten’s paw prints appear on its route.
I changed the paw prints from black to brown and smaller for design of map printing.
However, for animation, I realised that the black and bigger paw prints are better for the recognition.

03-1) Flower Road Action Animation using gamepad

Most pepole tended to press the buttons of gamepad quickly without stopping, so I had to amend the time of starting next action 3 times to shorten it and to interact quickly.

04-0) Blinking Icon and Mouse over Icon of “Laboratory” on the Map

I wrote ‘Click a blinking site’ on the navigation sheet, so some viewers clicked the blinking sun and other blinking items. I have to change the blinking colour that I want viewers to click into garish colour.

04-1) Laboratory Exterior

This is just 4 seconds for explanation of the current site.
When the kitten looks up at the building, it rises to the sky.

04-2) Dr. Meow puts a helmet on the kitten

Some of viewers laughed the scene.
The white subscript was hard to read on the white back, so I changed into black subscript.

04-3) Selection of Owl-shaped Aircraft or Dolphin-shaped Submarine

The dolphin-shaped submarine was more popular than owl-shaped aircraft among viewers.
However, since I would like viewers to see both scenes, I added “first” to the selection and I changed it so that viewers can see both scenes in order.

Some viewers did not notice that they had to click the owl or dolphin to select next scene without the navigation sheet, I would put the blinking word “Click” on the both owl and dolphin.

05-1) Owl Aircraft finds a Star in the Space

Some viewers said, “Beautiful” about this scene.
However, the space scene could receive less reactions of them than the sea scene.
Probably because the movement is only owl’s flapping and kitten’s winking while getting bigger and closer from bottom left corner of the space.
I already prepared several handles of different directions and owl’s feet opening and closing to get the star, but I could not edit because of time.
I will need to add the movements that the kitten controls the aircraft and gets the star.

Also, I was going to create mouse moving action in the stage.
An alien chases the kitten by using mouse pointer position and changing the mouse pointer image.
However, I had no time to create the action as well.

06-1) Dolphin Submarine finds a Seashell in the Sea

The kitten controlling the submarine made viewers laugh.
Although I already prepared the image that the dolphin opens its mouse and gets the seashell, I haven’t edited.
If I edit the scene, the story will became easy to understand.

In addition, same as the space scene, I was going to create mouse moving action in the stage.
A shark chases the kitten.
However, I had no time to create the action.

09-0) Blinking Icon and Mouse over Icon of “Autumn Field”

When I created the blinking icon and mouse over icon of “Autumn Field”, if I changed the colour of the letters, I could not read them, so I did not change it.
As a result, although the autumn field was blinking, a few viewers did not notice where was blinking.
I had better change the colour of the letters of the blinking icon and mouse over icon.

09-1) Kitten finds foxtails on Autumn Field

Although I would like to show the last scene “Go Back Home” the most, some viewers went away in this scene.
Probably one reason is because viewers do not know the animation has the twist in the tale and they would think such animation continues still more as this scene is very heavy bolume and slow.
Another reason is because the animation of this scene has no action, so some viewers who was waiting action scane still holding the gamepad seemed to lose interest.
I was thinking of actions for 1, 2, 3, 4 and arrow keys in this stage on my rough storyboard, but I omitted them owing to no time.

10-0) Blinking Icon and Mouse over Icon of “Winter Forest”

I realised that the scenes of blinking spot on the map which just show the place where the kitten is do not need to be clicked by viewers because these scenes have no selection, action and subscript to be read.
I may have to amend those so that the place where the kitten is at moment is clicked automatically though it is difficult to decide how long the map should be showed.
When I created the video of the explanaton of the story in our colloquium, I used the way of going ahead automatically by the pace that the paw prints appeared along the tempo and route of the kitten twice.

10-1) Dark “Winter Forest”

Although I created the illustration and the test animation of the scene first, I edited the scene last because of the location on the map after completeing the map, so I could not show the scene in our assessment.
A viewer loved the scene and said, “Psychedelic”.
However, I think I need to amend the scene because the backgroung itself is nice, but when it was combined with the trees, the effects of layers of the translucent skies, clouds and moon disappeared.
Also, I prepared actions of selection of the scene by 1, 2, 3, 4 and arrow keys of gamepad in this scene on my rough storyboard as well.

11-0) Blinking Icon and Mouse over Icon of “Go Back Home” on the Map

It seemed to be easy to recognise the blinking area of “Go back Home” because it is wide including the way back and Cat Town.
However, the icons of “Cat Town”, “Flower Road”, and “Go Back Home” overlap, so I could not create the clickable map.
I was thinking that I would make the paw prints of the way back the icon of “Go Back Home”, but the icon was hard to click.
For “Go Back Home”, I would need to create the icon of the area of the way back paw prints and just the kitten’s house.
For “Cat Town”, I would need to create the icon of other cat houses.
So those 3 would not overlap.

11-1) Crying Mom & Dad and Police

I had no time to create a cat-face-shaped table and chairs with cabriole legs in this scene, but the scene was not unnatural.
Also, the scene made viewers laugh the most.

11-2) Mom & Dad run up to apologizing Kitten

The parents running up to the winking kitten appealed to viewers’ emotions and many viewers said, “Ohh”.
I intended that the kitten would open its knapsack and show the treasures it found, but I omitted it.
After I saw the viewers’ reactions to this scene, I thought the treasures the kitten found were not so important, but if the kitten show the treasures, it would become easy to understand the mom’s lines, “Oh, my stupid child. You are my precious treasure!”.

11-3) You are My Precious Treasure!

I clipped and divided the images into the heads, bodys, and arms and prepared the winking eyes in order for them to press their cheeks against their child’s and for the kitten to wink, but I had no time to edit them.
However, despite no movement and having just story in this scene, this illustration enjoyed a good reputation.

12-1) Ending Credit and Treasure box Close

Some viewers went away in this scene started, so I shortened the time of the credit.
I prepared the credit, “Additional sounds www.freesound.org“, but I had no time to use the additional sounds.
In the opening, the treasure box is unlocked and opened while in the ending, it is closed and locked.

Ideal reaction by Andy’s daughter and wife in Private View

Since I tried to encourage children and parents to initiate lively communication by my project, it was very wonderful that Andy’s wife read the subscript of the animation story to her daughter, asked her how many butterflies she could see, and talked to her, “Look. Cat dance!” and enjoyed together.

Andy’s daughter was the one child who got close to the projection and played on the map. Although another child tried to do it on another day, his father said, “No, get away!” and cautioned. I should have put up “Play Space for Children” and “Children can play with the fabric maps”.

And she had me notice that I forgot to seal the biggest map with tape on the floor because I had just bought tape before our private view and sealed cables with it at long last. The biggest map got out of position. I am sorry about that and thank you so much for having me notice it.

I had enough to do to search printing on fabrics which are soft so that children can cover their shoulders and heads and play with them. I selected the cheapest printing in China that said the fabrics were soft like silk, but Yan found much cheaper printing in her hometown and I ordered it. However, the fabrics are like plastic sheets and not soft, so children could not play with them as I intended. However, as for installation, those fabrics look like ceremonial objects and were not so bad.

Andy’s daughter seemed to love cats, so she liked the character and was interested in it.
I was so happy to see her because I targeted such smaller children as read picture books with their parents before sleeping.

Therefore, I thought that narration such as storytelling was vital to my animation for smaller children to enjoy the story. However, my pronunciation in English is terrible and I had no time to ask native English to record the narration of the story. In fact, some viewers did not seem to read the story, but some parents read the story to their children.

When she was taken away, she said, “Bye-bye Cat!” some times.
I was really happy that she became interested in the character I made.

Although I bought a plinth, there was not my plinth, but the stand caster was good for children’s height.

Final Show – Private View 1st of July

One woman really liked my work. She sat on the floor for a long time and watched my animation several times. She said that she liked the drawings in animation and the cat-face-shaped moon on my maps.

The last woman to visit my work after shutting down asked various things about my work. She could speak Japanese and I enjoyed conversation with her. She said it seemed to be interesting that I intended to put the selection of several languages of my course mates in my animation. She also recommended “The Cat Returns” by Studio Ghibli. Of course I know the animation, but I have not seen it because not Hayao Miyazaki but Hiroyuki Morita directed the animation. However, I shall see the film.

I could not set mouse moving of game-pad on the Mac until the private view, so I used my laptop again. However, the mouse operation by game-pad is quite difficult. In addition, I could set mouse moving and click of it on my laptop, but I could not set arrow keys. Therefore, I had to instruct how to play and tell viewers using arrow keys on my laptop, so I had to stay at my work all the time and could not see others’ works.

Final Show – Wednesday 2nd of July

I decided to use both mouse and game-pad on the Mac and set up those in the morning asking Sharon about Mac. I instructed my work until lunch. Using mouse and game-pad was better than using only game-pad that could not use arrow keys.

I amended my animation last night so that viewers can go from the laboratory and space or sea to the “Go back home” scene because I had not edited the images of “Autumn Field” and “Winter Forest” and those scene were just blinking maps and subscripts of the story.

This length of animation was quite good because viewers enjoyed my animation thoroughly and what I would like to convey the most is just the ending (“Go back home” scene).

Since few people came, I went to lunch and I met Dayoung and Katrin in the corridor.
I came to switch the room for invigilation from studio to IT room on Friday.

I edited “Autumn Field” during the day and returned to instruct my work in the evening. My work was not played and appeared blue screen of projector. I realised I had to create the navigation of how to play the animation.

I also realised:
1) I had to change “Which will you choose?” into “Which will you choose first?” because if the former version, viewers only see the space scene riding the owl-shaped aircraft or the sea scene riding the dolphin-shaped submarine, but I would like to show both scene

2) I had to amend the explanation for game-pad actions because viewers understood to press 1, 2, 3, 4 buttons, but most viewers did not understand to press arrow keys

3) I had to make the buttons of turning a page bigger and the mouse pointer of a paw image smaller because it seemed to be difficult to click, but the reaction of the Mac seemed to be bad compared with my laptop

4) I had to adjust the area where players can move the mouse pointer of the paw image because of the same reason as 3

I amended the above points and edited “Winter Forest” scene in the night.

Final Show – Thursday 3rd of July

I updated my animation in the morning. However, it worked well on my Windows, but it worked strangely on the Mac, so I could not have curators see my work. I had another strange problem yesterday, but when I re-exported the SWF file and restarted the Mac, it recovered.

However, today could not. Andy said that it was Flash problem.

However, when the Mac itself worked strangely, I asked Moshe and he shut down and restarted it, so the strange movement recovered.

I checked the animation thoroughly and it was ok, but when viewers played, he could see the sea scene only not the space scene. I learnt that when looping, action script does not initialise at the beginning, so I had to initialise the selection of owl or dolphin just before the selection.

After amending it, I went to IT room to create the navigation of my interactive animation until my invigilation 13.30. I completed it just 13.30, so I returned our studio area quickly.

Although my invigilation was from 13.30 to 20.00, I did not have lunch on the day, so I asked another invigilator Ryo that I would go to buy something to drink and snacks. I was afraid that Andy, Moshe and Katrin who were at the lobby might have thought I ran away from my invigilation.

A man delighted that large screens in the corridors were from his company. He liked the “Flower Road” scene with game-pad actions and asked me how he could return to the scene. I realised that I did not prepare back buttons.

I was happy that school children (quite big) said, “lovely” and all of them took my personal cards with them.

Some viewers pressed the right button of the mouse and when they could not play well and when dialogues appeared, they got away before I explain. I wrote not “Right click” but just “Click” in the navigation sheet. However, most people did not read it very much, so I just needed a one-button mouse for some people especially small children to play my animation comfortably.

I needed the two-button mouse as well to do right click and select “Open with” to open flash player. However, I did not know where an extra one-button mouse was.

We needed to move the mouse for Jessica’s work on Windows per around 10 minutes, otherwise we had to put password and log in again. I thought that it was good I could not install a new flash player on a Windows computer because it was troublesome for invigilators if I had used a Windows.

Moshe said if I could invigilate the IT room from 5pm because Dayoung had been doing there since yesterday and she would be able to go home today. Since I needed to talk with her about tomorrow’s invigilation of IT room, I went to Dayoung at around 15.30.

When Dayoung went home, she said, “You save my life”. How hard work she had done! Thanks a lot.

Invigilation of IT room was great. When I instructed Dayoung’s work, viewers asked, “It’s your work?” because I look like a Korean. I replied “No, my work is downstairs”, so they talked me a lot of feedback about my work because all of them visited downstairs first.

Also, Dayoung’s work and sound work in pillows were easy to be instructed and viewers’ reactions were interesting.

I really admired Moshe. He sometimes came to see if everything is ok. It was reassuring in the alone IT room.

Final Show – Friday 4th of July

I updated minor changes such as misses of script, timeline, and movie clip in the morning. Although I also updated “Autumn Field” and “Winter Forest” scene files, “Autumn Field” file did not work on flash player of Mac, I kept the skip of the two scenes.

I did invigilation from 10.00 to 13.30 at studio area. Few people came during Friday morning.
Most people asked same questions about my work:

– Is it a game?
No, it’s interactive animation.
I tried to combine the advantage of picture books with that of animation films.

– Why cats?
I wanted to use animal characters because animals are hard to distinguish male or female, so I intend anyone to get into the character’s role.
And then I selected cats as a familiar animal because I like cats rather than dogs.

– Did you draw these pictures?
Yes, these are my illustration.
I used hand drawing, painting, and pasting.
Some of them are added digital effects.

– How long did it take?
It’s one-year project, but in fact, creating animation itself took about 5 months.

– Which program did you use?
Adobe Flash and Action Script

– What is the material (about maps)?
These are plastics.
I ordered these from China because it was cheapest, but these were different from what I intended.
I would like to use fabrics generally soft.

I decided to create an explanation sheet about my work to put up it on the wall in the night. However, I realised that I could not use university’s printer on Saturday and Sunday, so I gave it up.

I did invigilation from 17.00 to 20.00 at IT room.

A couple who already saw downstairs praised for my illustration of animation and recommended me to bind the animation into picture books.

Although I tried to combine picture books and animation films, picture books seem to be more popular among people.

In addition, another reason why they thought so is probably because I could not add effective sounds and narration which are one of big advantages of animation films.

A Korean man who already saw downstairs asked about mainly work process. He was surprised that I had not learnt films. He asserted that learning films first is useful and vital to create digital animation, so he recommended me to learn films in Japan when I come back. He said that he learnt films as well and all RCA communication art students learn films. He also recommended Hayao Miyazaki.

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