me and Ruth
me and Ruth
the crew
the crew
working on my film at O'Hare
working on my film at O'Hare
watching RUTH in the GST
watching RUTH in the GST
A post-mortem 
VOL 31
Well, my heart is so full but all the rest of me is so tired. 
Fuse, our department's annual showcase was packed full of people and so many creative projects. My film was even more awesome to see in the Giant Screen Theater at the Peoria Riverfront Museum and I can honestly say that I am so satisfied with it. I got done most of what I had hoped and dreamed to finish, and was even able to add the finishing touches that I hoped for. I've begun uploading it to various sites and soon I will be submitting it to some film festivals.  
THANK YOU SO MUCH to the friends and family who were able to come out and support & love me well through this tedious and fruitful project! God created us as a community-oriented species, so I know there is no way I would have been able to do it on my own. You guys mean the world to me, so thank you. 
My film will live here on this site until something changes. In the meantime, here are some places you can find (and share) my film:
Due Date!! 
VOL 30
People, this is happening. Final render of my senior capstone film is due today!! 
Well, technically it's due tomorrow at 1pm, but for my own sanity and peace of mind, I will be finishing it in class and turning it in sometime before noon today :) I have rendered out a sample piece that is good enough to be finished, but there are still a few more bits I would like to change (said every animator ever) and I think I will have some time for that in class. Last night, rendering my film as an .mov at 50 VBR took only about 10 minutes, so I think I should be good. 
A truth in brief;
VOL 29
People keep asking me all the time how my capstone is going, and I just never really know how to respond. I mean, I could tell them that I'm loving every second of it and it's going really well, or I could say that I'm high-key tired of this project and just want it to be over. They're usually uncomfortable with that truth, though, so I end up saying that it's just good. I understand why they ask; it's like when you are graduating high school or are planning a wedding or having a's the only thing people really want to hear about. So, I give them grace and say the normal same things I tell everyone.
It's going okay. It's a very tedious process and I am ready for the film to be finished to have that weight off my shoulders, but I think that it's been going well for the most part. I have about a week left before it's due, so please don't ask me to hangout for the next 8 days. 
April 2
VOL 28
April 2nd, the day I've been dreading. Today is the day we travel down to the viewing screen to preview our films in their current state. It's not even the final due date, but I just don't like the idea of seeing my film unfinished on a giant screen. The crunch is so real right now, and I have honestly felt a lot of stress when I'm working on my film and a lot of guilt when I'm not. This project is revealing a lot of how I work in a crunch and my work speed and just general ways I work best. 
One Sheets
VOL 27
One of the few remaining assignments, besides turning in the actual finished film, is creating a One Sheet for my animation. A One Sheet is basically like a resume for your movie. To be honest, I'm not sure how it's any different from a movie poster, because that's what they all end up looking like, but it was still super fun to make! I added a few easter egg-type surprises in there, to make you work for the secrets. Everyone get out your Google Translate! 
Work continues on animating shots to finish up my film in the next couple of weeks!
Spring break
VOL 26
Okay, I have a new intimidating scene to add to the list. The shot of the first death took me SO LONG to do! I'm not sure how many hours I spent on it, but it has probably taken me the longest of all the shots I've done, potentially second ONLY to the title sequence, with all its many fluid and complex layers. Why has it been so hard, you ask? It looks just like another regular shot of the crew in the desert, you say? Well, let me explain. 
The reason this takes so long is threefold: One, the tools I have at my disposal aren't the easiest tools to use for a scene like this. The tablet I'm using is challenging and slows down my process a bit, which I knew getting into this project. Second, Photoshop's animation power is pretty basic, and that makes it hard to hand-animate six different characters at once! Number three, there are a LOT of layers that go into this 7-second shot! I counted up all the layers that I used that are visible in this scene, just because I care about you realizing how complex hand-animation is. I drew out approximately 175 frames for this shot, NOT including the blocked out animation sketches. That's why this took so long. Please appreciate it! 
Insert Title Here
VOL 25
The title sequence has by far been the most intimidating scene to actually create. I had really cool idea of how I wanted it to look at the beginning, but I never really stopped to think about what execution of this idea would look like realistically. Turns out, realistically, my title sequence is decently tricky. I knew I wanted the scene to just be a whole dust storm that kinda melted away and transformed to the next scene, with lots of particles and atmospheric breeziness. I also know I wanted the title RUTH to blow in and out of the frame, but I got the idea from a friend for it to transform from Hebrew into the English letters. It seems more authentic and just a bit more interesting (sorry Scott, I think the all-caps title is going to stay...), and the title is not totally complete yet, but until more of my project is complete, this shot will have be to marked as "intermediate" and CBB. 
Thus Far
VOL 24
The realization that we have only 6 milestones left until our film is ultimately due is very shocking. I mean, I knew that would be coming soon, but to see it and count out the weeks is alarming for sure. Today, our milestone is to have an animatic showing all that we have actually gotten done up to this point, including blocked out scenes and possible backgrounds. While it is good for me to see how much progress I have made, getting those last few shots sketched out is drudgery. 
VOL 23
I'm continuing to work on blocking out my scenes for my short film. The more people I tell about my project, the more pressure I feel to make it perfect and impressive! At every critique, I just see more of what I can do to improve my shots or angles or movements or coloring or lighting...and I've noticed more and more through this project how much of a perfectionist I am. It's getting to a point where I just have to make a note of that possible improvement, and move on to continue animating. In my shotlist, these scenes are marked as CBB: Could Be Better. While they still feel unfinished in my head, I have to draw a line somewhere and be able to continue moving forward to get the project to where I want it to be by the due date.

Flying by the seat of my pants
VOL 22
I had the opportunity to fly down to Florida last weekend for a potential internship preview weekend. During my flight, I did some rudimentary animation on my iPad, and during a 4-hour layover at O'Hare, I worked and re-worked a couple scenes (are you proud of me Scott). I'm getting to the point where any free time needs to be allocated to working on this project, but it is all slowly coming together! Slowly, verrrry slooooowwwly. I go in phases of enjoying it and then hating it, but right now it is fun to work on. It helps me to set small, attainable goals and it helps me to plug in my progress to the final composition so that I can see that I am still making moves forward, even if they are small!
Blocking Sketches
VOL 21
My project continues with doing initial blocking and sketching of the scenes. I've continued to work through blocking shots as well as adding in some finished color here and there. I get excited to see what the shots will look like finished, so sometimes I fill in some color before the rest of the blocking is done. I know. Not the best. But, it is so fun to see them finished! Here are some sketched-out scenes that show what the blackness will do, as well as a half-finished scene of the Elimilech's death. 
short milestones
VOL 20
Now that the second semester of senior year has started, Milestones in my capstone class will happen every week instead of every other week. This is an opportunity to really stay on track and make sure that I am actually making more progress every week. Honestly, I wish it would have been like that this whole time. I find that it keeps my capstone closer to the front of my mind, rather than just an item of homework I need to get done. 
In the next few weeks, I will aim to have all my initial blocking done on all my scenes and shots, and I have certainly started finishing some shots with colorizing as well. It helps me to work on both stages in tandem, because that allows me to have a break from one process to work on another. Below is an example of one shot going through all its different stages!
New Year
VOL 19
My very last Christmas break has flown by! It was very refreshing and fun, and I spent a lot of time in community with people I love and working on my capstone project...which I don't love a ton right now. It's hard work and tedious, and it's getting to a point where I am having a hard time feeling like I've made good progress. 
During the break, though, I worked to get most of the blocking done for the first two scenes. I've got some initial sketches done, as well as some new backgrounds created. The perspective of the desert shots is tricky enough on its own, but adding the expressive motion of the characters adds to the length of time it demands. Below are some examples of these difficult shots. 
Semester Final
VOL 18
As my computer chugs out my latest png-sequenced shot, I have to think about what my break will look like. Each scene has been taking much longer than I think it will. Turns out, I'm spending more like 4 hours to color every shot, which is theoretically supposed to be the faster part. At this point, I think it is because I am still getting into my rhythm and process, but I hope that the technique I use will be perfected over Christmas Break. 
I have planned out when I will work on my capstone project, and I've got it scheduled for about 4 hours every weekday. That plan is up for interpretation and likely subject to change, but it feels comfortable to have a schedule that I can stick to as much as possible and crank out the most animation as I can during the break!
Turkey Day
VOL 17
Happy late Turkey Day! Did I get much done over Thanksgiving break? No. But that's okay. Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and a time to overstuff yourself with good food, so I am not upset to have not made a ton of progress on my capstone project. I'll tell you what, though, I am thankful to have the freedom of centering my senior project on a Biblical story. It is a huge blessing to create an animation based on a story I love and respect so much, so I want to give it the honor it deserves and glorify God as much as possible. That certainly means I should have some beautiful backgrounds in my piece. Here are some of those backgrounds. 
8 months or 4 months?
VOL 16
I struggle a lot with knowing how to create a realistic and accurate schedule to stick to within my process, and I know for a fact this is something that a lot of young animators struggle with as well. I made some educated guesses with my professor about how much a shot would take from start to finish, and it turns out if I work on my capstone for one hour a day, 5 days a week, it would take me 8 months to do all my shots. :/ Well, I don't have that much time; I need to do more like 2 hours a day 5 days a week. The hard part about this is that every day of my life is different, so that makes it hard to actually plan out times to work. What is more realistic, I believe, is breaking up each shot into how much time it will take, and setting aside those little pockets of time to really crank out some good progress. 
Below is a finished shot from the middle of my film, about the time when Ruth and Naomi are noticed in the town of Bethlehem by some onlookers, and the burden blackness grows a little more. This shot took me about 5 hours to create, mostly because I went back and forth so much on what style to do, what brushes to use, and how I could best utilize my tools to get me the result I want. I imagine that the next shot process will go a little smoother and a little faster! 
Wannabe Illustrator
VOL 15
Aaaannd I continue to work on background art. I haven't had a ton of hours put in this week, but I'm just continuing to crank out those backgrounds. So far I have work from the first two scenes done. They took longer because of two things: 1) the style I started with for the city view was too strict and harsh, so I re-drew it with a softer and gentler approach, and 2) after a quick review, we decided the angles in the original sketches were a little wonky, so I made them a little shallower and got to re-drawing (again). 
I will add the backgrounds below and you can compare the difference of angles and vanishing points. 
What is my style?
VOL 14
Working on background art is fun. It's way more tedious than I thought, to be sure, but it is a relief from normal work. As I begin to make progress on backgrounds (I have 35 individual backgrounds!) I am working on defining what my style will be. Starting with the desert shots allows me to be free and looser with my brush strokes and even out my style more easily. This has been a lot of work in the last few days, but lets me see my progress more tangibly! 
Additionally, I am continuing work on initial animation for scene 2. 
Slow progress
VOL 13
Happy Halloween! I've been doing a lot of background work lately, so I wanted to take a bit of a break on that crank out some preliminary animation work. I started initially with the beginning shots, but upon recommendation from a friend, I switched to the middle section. This way, I am able to better define my style and it will blend in with the rest of my film well. Thanks, Eden!
Can you tell what scenes these shots are from?
Production (+ re-animatic)
VOL 12
I've come to a point in this project that I have to move away from pre-production and begin actual real-life asset production. This means wrapping up my animatic for good and finishing background sketches. I've finished on those sketches for my whole project, and I've been able to get started on starting those up. Some of my backgrounds will be 1920x1080, others will be 1.5x or even 2x bigger than that, just in case I need to move around in my scene.
I've included some sketches for you to view, a little bit of a finished background to see an idea of what it might look like, and also my finished animatic below (for real this time). 
VOL 11
My professors helped me to realize that some of the poses in my characters have become a little dry. If you know the story, it is not impossible to follow the characters' expressionless faces in what they are feeling or thinking. However, if you are new to the story, as most of my audience will be, there are few resources to identify this information, and the poses certainly did not help convey that information. Below, I have shared a few of my created character pose sheets, which take the present ones and stretch them to a more direct, more explicit point. 
Also below are a few sketches of backgrounds that I will need for shots, just for the first scene. 
VOL 10
One of the coolest parts about working on this project is that I get to face the dilemma of true expression within deep and complex emotions. Humans are so complicated! And we have so many different feelings and ideas, and it is my job to display those feelings in a way that is digestible and relatable to the audience. 
Ruth and Naomi experienced deep and real emotions of grief and shame in their hearts. They carried the burden of unfufilled family legacy and tradition. That burden was deep after the deaths of Naomi's husband, Elimelech, and his two songs, Mahlon and Chilion, and then only exemplified by their desperate and generally sad return to Bethlehem. It's my job to visualize this. Without facial expressions, dialogue, or much artistic detail. THAT is what I am currently trying to figure out. 
Turns out I'm not quite done with my animatic. I've done and re-done this part many times, and there are still things I need to re-work and clarify, which is completely normal in the animation process. There is a certain sequence in the middle of my film that does not hold the weight it should.
After Ruth and Naomi make their way to the town of Bethlehem, Ruth begins this process of going to the field to glean after the other reapers. It is there that she meets Boaz, and the connection forms. This scene is the entire buildup to her and Boaz coming together to break the burden of family legacy, so it is very important that the message and the passage of time is conveyed. I want to convey more fluidly that the blackness, which symbolizes said burden, only grows as time goes on. Right now, that scene does not hold that weight. 
There are many ways to convey a passage of time, whether that is through a Timelapse, cross dissolving shots in and out, or a match cut sequence. Below, you can see a few attempts at some of these. The best way for me to visualize them and decide what is best is to literally try them out. Without facial expressions and lots of emotional detail, this specific sequence is very difficult. 
Stone by stone
Something my professor has implemented in our capstone class is to do regular check-ins every other week called milestones. These markers help us to keep track of what it is we are working on, what we should be working on, and where our project is going. It also helps with just like general organization. 
Part of this for me has been the creation of my shot and asset lists, as well as mood boarding, and even the process of working and re-working my animatic. For the latest milestone, part of my goal was to have a finished and more organized shot list spreadsheet, which will be a living document as my project progresses. You can see below, as compared to my initial shot list/extremely casual script, that some shots are new and some are gone altogether. 
My other goal is to update my animatic (hopefully for the last time), with important changes like adding the shots mentioned above and editing a few shots that I don't like the look of. 
Finalizing Characters
Hello! It's been a hot sec since my last post. Over the summer, I was able to get some good work done. The most important of this work was an updated and finalized Animatic (posted above), which now includes minimal color and some better looking shots, finished my main characters' designs, and started on their walk cycles to bring them to life.
Below are the three half rotations of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. These will be their looks for most of the film, not including Ruth and Boaz's wedding attire in the final scene. 

May the fourth be with you!
It's time for the next fun step: the animatic! I LOVE this next phase because it is when I begin to have a tangible feel of what my animation might be like in its finished stage! It is when I begin to work out the exact timing of my project and think about how shots will look and be transmitted.
To be honest, my animatic is proving that my animation will be much shorter than I originally thought. Right now it is sitting at around 1.30, which isn't horrible, but just much quicker of a story than I had thought it out to be when I was storyboarding. This timing is also not a very rigid outline either, because I know that some shots will look differently and take longer in the end than they do now.
Another reason I like the animatic (and dislike it a little bit too) is because it is time to seriously think about what my audio situation will be. This is something I have gone back and fourth on, but the audio I decided to reference for my animatic (Thank vou ANNA RF on YouTube) is more similar to the feel I want it to have, which is authentic to the setting but also cinematic and emotional. I am toying with the idea of having no music at all and rather just doing sound effects. We'll have to see about that. So far, so good.

It's been a hot sec!
Progress on my capstone at this point is slow but steady. My most recent work has been focused on developing the specifics of the story's premise as well as creating a basic shot list outline. This story outline and sort of mock script will set me up for the next phase of the project (storyboards!), so, stay tuned for that!
Ruth is a story of redemption to two women which reflects the providence and redemption of God to his people.
This logline for the project provides a brief picture of what the more developed story summary and mock script go further into detail about. The screenshots below offer a little window into that thought process for me as far as what it means to set up shots for my future storyboards.
Additionally, I worked on creating a possible asset list for the project as a whole. This process is overwhelming by nature but very necessary, because it gives me an accurate scope of what all will need to be accomplished at the beginning of the project. Hopefully, I will be able to keep track of this as I go along :)
Concept Art
I have been working on art style concept ideas for my capstone project. This includes finalizing character designs and working on color palettes and background art.
The biggest struggle with character design is having it be historically and Biblically accurate. I do not want to be accidentally heretical or unrealistic, but I also want my character design to be interesting and eye-catching. For example, I've defined a specific art style in terms of what Naomi will look like, but the color purple that she is wearing in these concept designs will not last in a final design. Purple cloth was a symbol of nobility and wealth, so it is not fitting or accurate for Naomi to wear it as a widowed and homeless refugee. This is an example of a design that I like, but that I know cannot be final.
Doing background art is so much fun, because it makes the experience more immersive and realist. I'm finally starting to see what my animation might look like!
Moodboarding is the idea of gathering different style ideas, inspiration, and references to base my actual assets off of. I first created a moodboard of the art style I am looking into for the characters and general backgrounds, which turns out to be a sort of clean, modern look. Many of these art style references come from Bible-based animations from Bible Project, so I must give them due credit for their artistic beauty and genius!
The second sort of moodboard I created is for the historical environmental aspects of my animation. The book of Ruth takes place around 600 BC in what is now modern-day Jordan, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. This gives the story a very specific time period and location, which means historical accuracy is a must. I have to be intentional about the people group that is present in the story and take into consideration what cultural influences would have been in effect at this time. I have to admit, it's a bit tricky to evaluate what exactly is present and not in the story, when it comes to the cultural background, so I have done a good bit of research during this mood boarding process.
Part of this step in the process is also deciphering the general tone of the colors, meaning creating a solid color palette and tying that into the backgrounds and character design as well.
Credit to Ordinary Folk and BibleProject
Credit to Ordinary Folk and BibleProject
Current Ideas
My new task for this week encompasses several things:
1. Decide on a theme: I have chosen to go with the story of Ruth as my theme! However, I am not totally in love with this idea yet, so I am keeping my options open as far as a different Biblical story or concept.
2. Moodboarding : I have started work on a moodboard for solidifying the art style I will pursue. This is something that will be consistent with any main theme idea. I also need to create a Moodboard of reference photos as well.
3. Concept art: along with moodboarding is concept art, which will allow me to finalize that art style, as well as really visualize the story I will be telling. Concepting may lead me one way or another as far as the theme goes, and I need all the help I can get!
Hello! This blog will be a place for me to document my journey with my senior capstone project.
I will be sharing with you the inspirations and research, the step-by-step processes that I am undergoing, the successes and failures, and more, to be sure!
My first step (and possibly the most daunting) is deciding on an actual theme idea and sticking with it. For now, I know that I want my project to be theologically grounded in Biblical scripture. My identity in Jesus Christ is the most important thing about me, so I know I will not tire of a faith-based project!
As far as identifying an actual story or concept to pinpoint, that is still something I am figuring out. There is so much to choose from! In the mean time, thanks for coming alongside me in this project!
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