I thought it would be best to start refining and working on improving my drawing abilities on paper before I jump straight in to drawing digitally with lots of multiple layers and colours. This will ensure my final animation is drawn to the best of my abilities and coincidently improve the over all success of the project as a whole.
Now that I am confident my drawing skills have reached a point that I am confident to start working on my storyboards I can begin brainstorming plot ideas. It is crucial that I make my plot as engaging as possible so the audience enjoy it as much as possible. The way I’m thinking I might do this is by lulling the audience into a secure and comfortable feeling and setting and then shocking them with an unexpected ending.
I would like the lonely hedgehog at some point to meet someone he loves like in Wall-E which would be the turning point in the film and make the audience fell happy. I could have a lovely montage of the couple in romantic locations like these scenes with some uplifting romantic music in the background to compliment it. This would be a nice thing to happen to the hedgehog and would be perfect for making the audience feel comfortable and happy for the couple and for the hedgehog who found true love.
The boat scene here reminded me a lot of a scene in the Notebook and has given me the idea of maybe referencing a montage of iconic scenes in love films which lots of people would recognise. This could also have potential for making the audience laugh; furthermore, increasing how entertaining the film is.
This montage idea reminded me of these few scenes in Shrek and I remember watching it for the first time and laughing at how silly it was that these two ogres where having such an amazing time. If I had my hedgehog character meet and fall in love with another hedgehog then I could potentially have something like this in my film and hopefully make audiences laugh.
This sort of shocking technique can be seen in lots of famous films and animations. As seen in Bambi the audience is lulled into a very comfortable frame of mind and are loving the scenery and character; when suddenly something doesn’t feel quite right and the audience begin to prepare themselves for the worst. This ‘pre warning’ can be achieved with some unsettling music like Walt Disney productions did in this scene for Bambi. However, I don’t simply want my audience to feel emotional and melancholic I want to present them with a shocking twist which will make them laugh. The scene will still be sad but the audience will laugh because I will hopefully resolve the animation at the end leaving the audience feeling ever so slightly better. If something was to happen to the main protagonist then my audience would never forgive me. However, if something tragic was to happen to someone which my little hedgehog had only just met, leaving him feeling sad again, then the audience may laugh.
This sort of ‘dark humour’ is perfectly demonstrated by this video ‘Bunnies can fly… proof’ which went viral a year ago or so. This video perfectly sets up this tragedy which shocks the audience and makes them either speechless or hysterical. There is no reason why the audience should expect something like that to happen to such a poor innocent creature. Yet when it does the audience can’t help but laugh. This is something which I wish to set up in my animation. If I can get a reaction like this from my animation then I will consider it a success.
Before I start story boarding I thought it would be a good idea to pick a name for my animation so I can stop referring the main character as ‘the hedgehog’. I wrote as many names as I could think of which would be suitable for the animation and then asked around what people thought would be the best choice.
Mostly everyone decided that Harvey was the most suited name for the hedgehog so I will go with that one. The alliteration in ‘Harvey the Hedgehog’ works really well which is useful because I would rather my animation’s title was easy to remember.
I then proceeded to do a break down of each of the three characters which would feature in my animation as it stands so far.
The bumblebee was an idea for a character I got while I was researching a woodland area first hand. I knew that some how Harvey would have to meet his true love and I thought the best way to do this would be for another character to befriend him and lead him on a journey in search of love. This would set up the joke and form the opening of my animation into a nice narrative as opposed to just having him walk on his own which wouldn’t be as interesting.
I want to start my animation with a slow moving title scene shot of a beautifully drawn wood which the words ‘Harvey the Hedgehog, a hedgehog’s tale.’ would gradually appear from the background and then dissolve away again. I thought of adding tiny fireflies as well to make the scene a bit more interesting by adding something with movement. It will also make the forest appear more alive and atmospheric.
I then want the first scene to be of the bumblebee by himself flying around in a little loop. This will hopefully be accentuate the gradual reveal of the main character Harvey and help start the build up of events which will end with the shocking end. The bumblebee will then fly into a small burrow by a tree which is when the audience will first see Harvey; sitting, crying to himself in a dark, empty hedgehog burrow with no one to talk to. The bumblebee will then make friends with Harvey, non-verbally and lead him out of his miserable state and into the journey they will share together. It’s important for me to establish the strong bond of the two characters so the audience will think it’s believable and enjoy the animation more.
I got the inspiration for this sort of plot device in Bambi again. We see thumper (a guide for the protagonist) lead Bambi (the protagonist) on a journey of discovery and eventually on the path to finding love again. The audience forgets about all the characters sorrows and feels closer to the protagonist when there story turns happy again. Hence, my animation will have a similar structure and three characters which fit into similar roles.
For the next few scenes I want to present the journey as if Harvey and the bumblebee had been walking for a long time which will emphasise the amount of time these two characters have had to bond, increasing their relationship, and also make the discovery of love all the more sweeter.
This film technique can be seen in lots of popular films but it’s demonstrated really well in Notting hill. You can see how successful it is at making the audience know a long time has passed in a much more interesting way. The director could simply have a title slide that states a year has passed but instead makes it an engaging enjoyable scene which got great responses from film audiences.
The next few scenes will be crucial for the success of the whole animation. Now we have established a narrative and grabbed the audiences attention, I now need to reveal the love of the story. The whole point of the journey now becomes clear and the two characters will fall instantly in love. To do this I will have Harvey walk into the centre of the stage and stop to clarify the end of the long journey. Then he will unearth a female hedgehog and they’ll both gaze into each others eyes and hearts will start to fall.
It’s important that I get the eyes right and really exaggerate the expression on both of their faces to make the scene funny. I’ve studied Anime’s as they seem to achieve the exact look I’m going for. It looks like I just have to greatly enlarge the eyes and place white water marks across the pupils. This will make the characters look as cute as possible which is perfect for making the audience feel happy for Harvey.
The next few scenes will be a cute, extra cheesy love montage to really make the audience feel happy and relaxed at this point in the animation. This is another crucial step in leading up to the final shocking climax. I haven’t decided how I will present the montage yet. depending on how much time I have when I am animating the film I could either animate each scene will movement or the quicker option would be to present it as a photo compilation; which would take a quarter of the time to do and maybe better anyway.
I’ve spoken to a few people and asked them which love films contained the most memorable scenes and ended up with a small collection of film screenshots; which I think most people would recognise. All I have to do now is redraw the entire scene in Photoshop and place the hedgehogs in the positions which the actors are in. Hopefully, even if people don’t immediately notice the references I can still get some laughs at how silly the hedgehogs look in various scenes.
For the last few scenes leading up to the big, dramatic twist I was thinking of having a long, slow motion shot of the two hedgehogs skipping towards each other in a fantasy field. Then when some thing eats them the meadow will disappear and the hedgehogs will be back in the woods; returning to reality.
If I was going to do this scene properly then I would most likely like to reference another film like the meadow scenes in Shrek 2. This would perfect for this part in my animation and it probably won’t take too long either. However, instead of holding hands and skipping happily off like Shrek and Fiona do in the scene I will have a large shock just before they reach and then end my animation.
I haven’t thought that much about what could shock the audience and change the destiny for Harvey but it will most likely be something like a bear or an eagle just like in the ‘Bunnies can fly…proof’ video I referenced from YouTube.