Father Gabriel Animated Series

Hello all,

I have been working on a Youtube animated series for almost a year now and I am ready to share it on this forum :slight_smile:

My animated series is based on a character that I created called Father Gabriel, an Orthodox Christian monk. My animated series is mostly religious based, but my intention is for everyone to enjoy it. Each episode will be under four minutes long, and so far I have recently completed the second episode and have just begun working on the third.

Software used:

Blender - Modeling, animating and video editing
Gimp/Photoshop - Textures, titles and other art
Audacity - Sound/music editing

You can also visit my website at www.ikonimation.com for more information on my animated series.

I am learning Blender more and more as I create more episodes. My intention for the third episode is to learn more about Cycles lighting and shading/texturing so that I can render the entire third episode using the Cycles Render engine.

So here are my episodes of Father Gabriel animated series. Enjoy! :slight_smile:

Episode 2: Father Gabriel’s Prayer

Episode 1: Father Gabriel Goes to Church

I know that you are just getting started, but, the animations are a bit too slow. For the first episode, you basically can waste the viewer’s time by showing him walk to the building for 2 minutes. Keep in mind that the average human attention span is 2 minutes. So you got to get them hooked and make them want to keep watching before that happens. In both episodes, it would be nice to actually have people to actually listen to what they have to say. Their is no point in spreading or speaking the gospel if there is no one around to listen.

To review, in order to improve on the animation, use yourself as a reference of movement or use the tutorials online to improve on the walk cycle. That alone should be the very first thing you work on. Outside of that, it isn’t bad but you have to work on the movement and story pacing.

Hi XeroShadow,

Thanks for the feedback. You’re right about the walk scene, while animating the character’s walk cycle I had difficulties trying to prevent him from sliding so much as he walks so I just had to slow down his walk cycle, that’s why it takes so long for him to reach the church. But like you said, I should’ve make the walk scene a lot shorter. In the third episode, I also am planning to have a few other characters with Father Gabriel, listening and interacting with him. I am hoping to model a few children and an elderly man. Just takes so much time to model and rig other characters lol.

In the meantime, I will continue with learning more about pacing and storytelling. And that’s a great idea about shooting video references of myself. I will have my wife do that as I act out the scenes for the third episode.

Thanks again for the feedback! :slight_smile:

Here’s a tip on the walk cycle that I learned a some time ago. Depending on your rig, if you have a “Master” Bone that can move the entire rig at once, move it separately as a different action in the NLA editor. Once you get the walk cycle down and you can make him walk in one spot, move the master in a separate action for each step the character takes. That way you can have a constant speed next time.

If you are short on time, you could use open source programs to help you build them up, but you will have to perform a remastering of the first two episodes to match the new design.

I actually do have a master bone on my rig. I created the walk cycle in the NLA editor, but I never thought about moving the bone as a separate action. That’s a great idea! Thanks for the tip, I will try that! :slight_smile:

Why have you disabled comments on youtube??? The animation requires some pace. If you keep going you can only get better!!

Hi Koumis,

Yes I need a lot of practice. What I’m doing is learning as I go while creating future episodes. One mistake I made on my first episode was in the walk cycle. I had created a walk cycle for my character, and had him follow a path across the hills as he walked to the church. I had an issue with the character sliding as he walked, so I had to slow his walk down to avoid too much sliding, that’s why his walk seemed to go on and on forever lol. XeroShadow suggested I use the master bone to advance the character forward during his walk cycle. I will do this in my third episode instead of walking along the path.

Storytelling and pacing is something that I need to work on. I guess that will come in time as I do more and more episodes. Also, for my third episode I am planning on rendering the whole thing in cycles instead of the Blender Render. I am now learning about the lighting techniques using cycles. Wish me luck ad feel free to share any tips! :slight_smile:

The reason why I disabled the comments on my Youtube videos was simply because I was trying to play it safe. Since my animated series is religious based, I was a little worried that people may not respond too well to it and leave harsh comments. I hope that makes sense :slight_smile:

Hi ikonimation,

One thing that could help going forward with the others is to look closely into pacing and story beats. I can see from the video that you are working towards a contemplative and meditative story form for this project. I don’t think it is supposed to be fast or rushing around. But good spacing and timing is still very important. But I also think it can be especially challenging with slower paced animated story telling.

Rather than focusing on the rendering next time. Perhaps try to think more about storyboards. Then edit the storyboard’s into an animatic with sound and music. Then do the animation as a simple block out first. This way you can see how it works with the pacing. And also get feedback at this early stage. You won’t need an animation expert either. Almost anyone will be able to help you with this.
I would look closely at more contemplative spiritual film and animation projects as well and study how they are paced. The best ones always hold a spell that draws people in. And as you already said. Also be universal and speak to everyone.

Try and make the animation fit the story rather than try to fit the story around the animation as in the walk cycle sequence. Possibly the walk could have been the same length. But what about if we cut away to something in the landscape or the door or the dome of the church. Then a closer shot of his face so we feel how he might be thinking. Or a shot of his feet if he is looking down. So we are more drawn into feeling as he does during the walk. Subtle editing like this can be another way to communicate what you are trying to say and speaks much more to the subconscious.

Animated films are normally made in a process of layers.

First the story… Then the storyboard… Then the storyboard is edited together into an animatic. Which is a movie of the storyboard with hopefully most of the final timing’s and beats fully worked out. If there is any dialogue then that is also added at this point. Only after this has been finished and approved is it time to block out animation sequences and then make the final animations.

The main reasons for this are obviously because animation is complex and time consuming and also expensive with both time and money. If it is a studio production the work needs to be coordinated and divided among a team and budgeted as accurately as possible. Drawings are relatively cheap and fast and so ideally you want to catch any story or pacing issues right at the start when things are more fluid and it is easy and fast to change things around.

What is most important is to have a another fresh pair of eyes at an early stage. When working on anything complex with so much detail to think about it is very easy to loose sight of the whole. This is especially true with animation and it always effects absolutely everyone who does animation, no matter how experienced they might be.

All the Best…

Hello ikonimation. There’s some good advice in the posts above. So I won’t repeat it. With the music it’s got a very contemplative, meditative tone to it as Toka mentioned. Which I find appealing. Even though I’m not someone with religious affiliations.

I think disabling the comments on youtube can sometimes be the best approach. The comment sections are awash with morons unfortunately. It can be hard to find constructive, let alone positive responses.

That comes with the territory of anything created and can be viewed by the public. 9 times out of ten, they will say something negative on one video and that’s it. That is the effect of one of the 12 principals of animation, appeal. If it does not appeal to them, let them say what they have to say and move on. There’s an audience for everybody.

Toka, thanks for your feedback. Yes that’s one of my goals for my series, to be for the most part, contemplative and meditative. I want my series to have a sense of peace and stillness, which is the practice of Orthodox Christian Monks. Regarding storyboarding, that’s an excellent idea. It’s funny because with my first episode, I really didn’t plan anything, I just came up with the scenes as I went along and as I was learning. With the second episode I actually did very rough and loose storyboards on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3, not much else. But for my third episode I am definitely going to be doing a lot more planning and storyboarding, and also definitely the animatic. I have the basic idea for my third episode right now in my head: My character is going on a short journey to a monastery, and along the way he meets a number of people that he affects in a positive way by preaching, showing generosity, compassion and humility.

Another thing I want to do is bring an element of fantasy into my series. For example, the monastery that the character is journeying to is located on top of a giant ancient tree stump. Here is a quick sketch I did of the monastery on the tree stump:


I thought it would be fun to bring my sketch to life in the third episode!

I also really like what you said, “Try and make the animation fit the story rather than try to fit the story around the animation”. I agree completely. I think that’s what I was doing before, as I was learning I tried to fit a story around it rather than the other way around. This is very helpful! I also like what you said with the long walk scene. Yes I definitely should’ve been more creative with the shots rather than just following him from the back. I’m thinking maybe I could’ve also had a low angle shot with a cricket hopping in the foreground as the character was walking in the background :slight_smile:

I agree that the storyboarding and animatic will be a lot of help for me. I’m getting so much great feedback here that I will post the storyboards/animatics here for everyone’s feedback.

And lastly regarding the comments, my wife is also telling me that I should leave the comments on for my third episode. I think I will try doing that and see how it goes.

Thanks all for your feedback!