Personal Obsessions

Definition: 

  • the state of being obsessed with someone or something.
  • an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.

My obsession is the joy of competitive fighting games and the tournaments that host such events. To me there is nothing more fun than spending a day with like minded individuals, seeing how well you can do in the tournament and cheering on in the finals. My first thought was to simply illustrate something out of one of the games such as Street Fighter or King of Fighters, however I want to step out of this area and start producing more original and different work.

My first thought was to continue the project that I started over the summer where I mad designs and animations for fighting game characters. Over the summer I adapted a character from Starcraft into a fighting game character, however if i were to do it now for this project I would instead either adapt an existing character who is in the street fighter lore who has never been a playable character like Balrog or Rashid’s sidekick. However a better idea is to design a character entirely myself, this would give me a lot of free reign however it will be more difficult to begin with, as I need to come up with my own designs and create the fight style myself without having the way he plays or looks be too close to an existing character. The best way to start this project would be to look at an obscure fighting style or concept and build on that, as they did in Street Fighter 4 when they designed Hakan, a turkish oil wrestler. Similarly for reference Capcom keeps releasing concept designs for new characters that they came up with for Street Fighter 5 however didn’t make the final cut, these could give me inspiration for how to keep being unique with my designs as they are a very creative team. However a disadvantage with choosing this as a project is that it is a very long process the design and animate a character, especially if I would want to programme it into a fighting game engine such as Mugen. However this is an idea I can consider for another project.

My next idea was to depict the excitement of being at a tournament and trying to capture the essence of the event itself, possibly over the period of the whole day. For instance I could show the ravel down to the tournament, queuing up and seeing our friends and people we’ve played before, the stress and joy of playing your matches and when you win or lose, when you get knocked out of the bracket and start drinking and finally when everyone gets hype watching the finals before going home. Additionally if this turns out well I could send the images or animations to tournament organisers to get some recognition and advertise myself, this is an idea that really interests me.

Another thought I’ve had about this project is that it would work really well as an animation and could be very interesting if I did it as pixel art as it would be similar to how old fighting games look and thus give a sense of nostalgia but also that i have been really enjoying making pixel art animations as they are very fun and not as time consuming as other forms of animation. Regardless I will experiment with different styles to see what works best, as a more graphical approach may be interesting. Similarly if i do choose to go down the route of pixel art it will be an interesting new challenge as they will be much bigger images that I have been working with before which were all 100×100 pixel square canvases.

These are two his that I made over the summer, which will form a good starting point for practicing for this project. However for some reason they sen to be glitching out somewhat  after being uploaded to WordPress so I wonder if they are too large as files, in which case i would need to make them smaller. One reason for the bigger size of these gifs is that I had to repeat the gifs a few times so that when i converted them into mp4s they were long enough to be uploaded to Instagram which has a three second minimum for videos.

Edit: After reducing the size of the gif on Wordpress all the issues that were coming up previously went so this is an easy solution to the problem. 

I have started to draw out sketches for this project now, looking at all the different memorable stages of a day at a tournament. As such I have visuals in my head but I’m just now trying to find the best composition that will tell the best story. I want it to be humorous in parts but also give a sense of the hype and wonder that everyone experiences. The issue I’m currently struggling with is the point where you first walk through the doors of the venue and are absolutely overwhelmed with the size of it and how to visualise this feeling. As such I’m going to look into how this effect is reproduced in photography and other artwork.

Creating Scale in Paintings

I think that utilising perspective is vital is making the venue look huge, similarly including recognisable figures in the foreground and/or background helps establish scale. I want the viewpoint to be low to the ground to represent your view as you walk through the door. As such I won’t be able to make use of using a high angle to make it easier to show how large the room is. I really want to include all the things that you would see when you enter a tournament venue, especially the long bank of consoles and the big main screen/stage with a seating area.

This video is of a youtuber who filmed EVO, the biggest fighting game tournament of the year, in 360 degrees. As such I can use this to capture a sense of the event from lots of angles. I could use this as helpful reference when creating my own images.

 

I have started producing some sketches for each major part of the day that I think would be fun to animate, whilst also being entertaining for the viewer, as it would be nice if any tournament organisers used it in advertising.

My idea for the first part of the animation is to depict the train journey down, as such my current thought is to firstly show the outside of the train and then show the protagonist on the inside of the train. I feel like showing the build up creates a sense of anticipation to simulate the real experience. For the internal view of the train I considered having the characters be playing ages on the journey like me and Max often do, though I found this visual hard to show in my initial sketches.

Secondly I want to build the suspense further by acing the character queue up outside the venue and meet up with some friends. I feel like it is important to show this as the social aspect i something at the core of a tournament day. I struggled in finding a composition that I liked for the queue however I might just need to depict it more simply than trying to go for a complex camera angle.

After this is the big reveal of the tournament venue. My idea is to show the character walking through a door, in first person view, and trying to get a sense of the enormity of the room and all the action and commotion that is already going on. As most big ensues happen in hotel ballrooms this is where I have been looking for much of my research. However I have been really struggling in trying to create both a sense of scale whilst also filling it with all the parts that make it a tournament venue. To solve this I just need to create more sketches and work out what I’m doing wrong. Alternatively I could play around with the idea of him entering and looking from left to right, showing the sense of scale this way, however it may be more time consuming to animate.

From here I want to begin showing the tournament take place. Firstly I wanted to create the sense of anticipation and dread before your fist ever tournament match as you slowly walk up and sit down. After this I want to get less literally and depict everyone getting knocked out of the tournament, as it functions in a bracket system. The idea that I had that I really like was to create an image of 2 players playing and duplicate it hundreds of times into a grid. From there I want to keep halving the number of players until only 2 are left, implying the winners of each pool. From this final game I want to split the page in two and show how each player reacts, with the winning player popping off and being celebrated by his friends whilst the loses puts his head in his hands and goes for a drink. My effort here is to try and make it entertaining.

From here I want to show the grand finals with a heavy emphasis on the crowd and the fun it is to be getting hype in the crowd. The idea that I have been working on is to have a big screen on the stage behind the finalists so that I could show the actual match in progress, during which the crowd is excited but relatively calm. After which one player scores the KO and the crowd goes crazy which should be fun and challenging to animate. As there are a number of games that happen at tournaments I feel it would be limiting to making it obvious that it is obviously street fighter or whatever. So as such an idea that I have is to design my own UI and characters that resembles all the games whilst nothing in particular. As it will still be pixel art I don’t need to go into too much detail in my designs which should make me be able to do this in a realistic timeframe.

After this step the official tournament is over so things begin to start quieting down as people start to leave or playing casuals. Additionally there may be other games whose grand finals aren’t yet finished. As such my idea at this time is to slowly have the camera move back out of the venue so that you can see the wind down of the tournament, with people hanging out having fun, playing casuals finishing up other grand finals and so on until it leaves through the doors. I will either end it here or I will have another animation of a train leaving in the other direction to visualise the journey home, however I’m not sure about this as if it were to be used in advertising it would not work as well. As such I will wait and see how the ending looks an take appropriate steps as they come up.

After drawing out the storyboard in the way that I see it in my head I decided it makes more sense to end at the rising of the grand finals trophy as this way it ends on a high point rather than having to wind down by showing the journey home, as such I feel it would work better as an advertisement. Since it ends on a high note.

From here I began to research references for all the scenes in my storyboard, since even though they will be simplified due to the nature of being pixel art, I still need a good basis to start from as otherwise it may not read as the object or scene that I intend. I struggled to visualize some of the scenes in my head as such the next time I went to a tournament and convention I took photographs that I could use as reference for this project which helped immensely.The main areas where these references helped was showing the two players competing, the queue outside the venue and capturing the scale of the venue itself.

This is how my animation process went.

As this is my first attempt at creating a longer animation than usual I have decided that I would go light on the details and focus on making interesting colour decisions so to speed up my production speed as well as give me more practice into the field of colour theory. Not  being able to finish on time was a concern that I had throughout the animation process, however I managed to finish it on time. I am pleased with the end result considering that it is my first time trying it in this style. However there are quite a few problems that I need to improve upon. Firstly in my initial version it ran far too quickly and was hard to follow. I tried to slow it down by adding black frames in between each section however this just made it disorientating.

After creating my animation on Photoshop I converted it into an MP4. However I forgot to change the image size to being bigger, as such the video was very pixelated as it had to be scaled up. After realising what the problem was it was a simple fix to just make the image larger.

Later I came back to it to try and amend my prior mistakes. Firstly I removed all of the black frames and slowed down some of the sections to help them be more readable and impactful. However as a result now some of the frames stutter as I didn’t create enough frames for that section. However this is knowledge that will help me in the future. I definitely enjoy animation and it is something I want to continue to improve at.

As you cannot upload mp4s to wordpress I attempted to get around this by putting them both onto youtube. However this made the video very blurry so you will need to look at the copy on my hard drive.