Animation Production Diary – What’s the collective noun for a group of ghosts?

The ghosts, as I call them, first appear in scene seven to correspond with the line; ‘…when she thought about the teenager she had been’. They represent an attempt to express a younger possible self, the adult looking back at herself with compassion, and as such a gateway to possible contentment. One of the ghosts will join the Melancholic Wife in the darkness in scene eleven as a symbol of the connection to this gateway out of the blackness so it felt important to keep them feeling light and unburdened by the weight of gravity. They needed to be instilled with a sense of carefree joy to contest the heavy, laden aspect of the dark thoughts.

My first ghost pencil test with subsequent digital inks.

A second spinning ghost, the pencil test for this was drawn as thumbnails in an A5 notebook as seen below with the next ghost.
An example of the pencil thumbnails for the ghosts along with an inked test of a ghost rising with a slight turn then settling.
All of these ghosts were combined for scene seven with the timings shifted slightly on the same actions to differentiate, the ghost rising animation was re-used the most because of it’s various, differing actions and longer length.
The finished scene with layers of ghosts added in. I changed the opacity on a downward scale from the front to the back of the scene.

Compositing the disparate elements

I took on the job of overall compositing of the different elements of the film. The challenge here lies in merging the live action material with the digital assets to create the impression that they both exist in the same space.

As well as the practical integration I also wanted to create a nostalgic feeling through the lighting and tone. I imagined Dwayne would be looking through this book in the corner of his room under soft lamplight. It is a treasured book, an heirloom.

I attempted to achieve this look through a combination of blending modes and shadow maps on the digital pages. On moving into after effects I experimented with the match grain effect, the tint and the fast blur effect. Through a combination of these effects the digital assets began to feel grounded with the live action.

Book footage background

It was important to choose a neutral background which wouldn’t distract from the action taking place in the book. So white was the natural choice but it was also important to retain a sense of connection stylistically with the rest of the look of the elements. So I chose one of the patterned papers we had found. I feel that this supports the action while also bearing a good relationship with an underlying nature theme that has emerged due to the elegant fibres in the paper.

In order to maintain the lighting from the book footage I used a difference blending option on a light blue layer over the background. I then placed an image of the scanned textured paper over that in a dependent layer.