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The Silly Seahorse

By James Campbell.

James writes:

The Silly Seahorse is a short animated film/skit about a seahorse with an inquisitive nature. It is aimed at 2-7year old's and is all 3D, rendered in a Cel-shading style.

Technical

Created in Blender using the Freestyle branch. The only 3d element not done in Blender are the Jellyfish which were done in Lightwave. This was due to technical issues with Freestyle at the time which are probably fixed now. In order to match the Blender camera and Lightwave camera I created a script to export camera lens information.

33 Comments

  1. Very well done James!
    Very entertaining.
    The only down is the lack of shine/specularity in the air bubbles.

    Congratulations for your short. Very pleasing to watch.

    Cheers!

    • Yes, I agree. The bubbles are a bit too simple. There should be some 3D in them. But all the rest is funny and perfect ! This is not for 2-7year old's, everybody can enjoy it ! It's for all ages :-) and very well done.

  2. Kirill Poltavets on

    I love it :)) The script is fine, camera is awesome and models are very good!
    Just two things that I see it can be improved:
    - specs on bubbles (you need it, right!)
    - better sounds for voices. Try to find some volunteers to record something thin (like a young boy or a girl). These (of seahorse) sounds obviously "fast-speeded". And the shark... Maybe it sounds too much like tiger?

  3. Wow. It is refreshing to see some npr work every now and then. Freestyle is pretty cool. I know lightwave has a robust cel renderer...i`m glad you showed what Blender/ Freestyle is capable of.

  4. Very Very well done ! Love the whole thing ! May be the bubble where the seahorse was in needs a different design? It looks like a plain circle. May be a sphere with very low alpha without even ray just transparency? Probably it does not work with your toon style rendering? The whole animation looks very very professional tv style man ! Great Job

  5. Super expressions and animation of emotions and actions! This applies to not only the seahorse, but all parts. This seems Disney quality. I would love to see a tutorial showing how you animate -- not only the technical side of it, but also how you think about and plan out expressions.

    Unlike other comments, I do not have a problem with the specularity of the bubbles. There is a lot of suspended disbelief in cartoons, at least when it comes to imagery. You establish the limits between realism and cartoonishness early on, even in the intro; so the viewer already has accepted that these bubbles can be outlines. Having a highlight line -- simulated specularity -- would be ok, but making them more than that might go against the direction of the graphics.

    I do have a problem with the physics of the bubbles, which may destroy the entire plot of this particular animation: bubbles underwater are air in water. You cannot "float" inside one, as the seahorse is doing, and they do not pop, especially not with a sound. It's noticeable because the animation establishes a certain (fictional, yet consistent, and hovers around real) underwater physics: from the jellyfish, movement of the seahorse, and movement of the other animals and plants. The bubble breaks these rules, and I would not recommend this video to 2-7 year olds for that reason.

    However, I do look forward to seeing your future work.

    • 2-7 year olds know everything about bubble physics. Trust me...
      Great Job btw! Loved the surprized expression on the seahorse's face!

      • DimitrisC, it is not actually a counter argument to claim that children from 2 years old (!) to 7 years old "know everything about it". Talk about children's entertainment is a complex, lengthy, and probably boring discussion. I will mention that the comment I made is more about self-consistency of the video, and less about "knowing" physics (though it would be good to fix both). It's about discerning what a system is, and deduction within a set of rules.

        • When I was 2-7 cartoon characters would stand in mid-air, until they noticed, there was no ground below them. Playing with alternative physics is a good way to achieve funny situations in a fictional environment, and throughout this movie the alternative physics look quite consistent to me. So where exactly does the system not work here?

          • Clemens, while everything else references underwater physics, the bubbles never do. But they do consistently reference bubbles that float in air.

          • Ben_Lind, sure I can. But I suppose that means that you disagree. Would you mind talking a bit more about why you disagree?

          • @Ben_Lind:disqus, sure I can. But I suppose that means that you disagree. Would you mind talking a bit more about why?

          • Well as all the other movements are clearly cartoony and the character lacks a realistic sense of gravity anyway I can't see why you're so fixed on the bubbles. The whole idea of the animation wouldn't work if it was entirely realistic so I think it's redundant to quarrel about.

          • @Ben_Lind:disqus there is a leap from "clearly cartoony" to "entirely realistic" with no middle ground. One of the 'tenets' of cartooning is that the universe is dependent on the mood or idea, so the physics needs to be malleable; physics obeys a different set of rules, but it is not 'anything goes'. So a critique based on mistakes in physics may very well be allowed, and not automatically moot.

            The 'mood universe' of cartoons reference what really can exist, and then stretch the truth, or break it for a specific, knowable reason. For example, Wile E. Coyote falls down, and not up; if he does fall up, it's because he tried to use an Acme Anti-Gravity Gun, and messed up. Likewise, the seahorse movements are clearly tied to a certain set of rules, so describing it as not "realistic" gravity is not exactly clear . . . it is realistic within the rules of the cartoon universe. There is no point where you would not be _able_ to believe it, if you accepted the hypothesis.

            The plot in this cartoon hinges on the bubbles being in air, and not underwater, and all stretching of reality stems from this assumption. This is not changing the universe to match the content: the physical reality creates the plot events, and not the other way around.

            Unless I am wrong about the way I approached the video.

            Through another conversation I have had about this, I may not be in agreement with the director about the goal of video. If making a video where a cute critter does cute things is the only goal, then my comment is misguided. It doesn't have to make any sense at all, just as long as cute things are continuing to happen. I have usually appreciated mid- to late-century Bugs Bunny from the social commentary masked in humor; likewise, I never bothered with more than a few minutes of the Tom and Jerry Show, which has nothing to offer besides 'things on screen'.

            Looking at the video again, it is possible that the director could care less about being accurate, poignant, thoughtful, or so on . . . it could have been created so that for 5 minutes, kids just stare at a screen, and occasionally say, "Bumped his head!" or "Seahorse sleeping." (Which would be another reason I would not recommend it for kids, but that's not a technical failure.)

            I guess my critique stands or falls on what the artist was aiming for. I either concede the point, or else recommend the corrections mentioned.

          • I don't see how floating in mid air is any less contradicting to the rules of physics than an unrealistic way of how gases react in fluids. The creator of the animation is allowed to bend the rules of physics in whatever way he chooses and just you stating when it's ok or not doesn't mean anything.
            It's just your opinion which you apparently have mistakenly believed to be a fact.

          • @Ben_Lind:disqus I am not arguing for a real-world physics -- I am arguing for a self-consistent cartoon. Now, though, I realize that the internal consistency may be dependent on a different goal than I was led to believe. My opinion was not held as fact, but a reasonable hypothesis. Everyone views through their own lens, however, and I am not immune to mistakes. You can also see that I corrected this particular error in my last comment.

  6. Very, very nice. My 5 and 7 year old kids loved it. Favourite moments were the seahorse trying to escape from the bubble and when it burst to surprise the shark.

  7. Nice work! I agree on the bubbles comment and I think the movement sound effect repeated a bit too much but other than that it's great. Good job!

  8. The sea horse looks hand drawn, no matter how hard you look for signs that it is 3d. And yes, the seahorse looks like it came from Don Bloth.

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