4: The Airplane:, Pakistan

For my analysis of community drawings and context from Pakistan see:
Voices 4: Pakistan

What happened to my airplane?’ story line ideas

In terms of storyline, the most poignant central image is the image of the woman lying dead in a cemetery with her children crying around her – so many women identified with that. Compared to the vision of flying in an aeroplane and the happy couple.

The animation could actually be quite simple. It could focus only on women, or more interestingly/accurately/less stereotypically include the visions and situation of men also expressed in Taraqee Foundation:

  • Scene 1 Visions: A foreground drawing of a woman with (probably unkempt hair) with a series of flashed up dream bubbles of aeroplanes and happy family etc. This could also include men’s visions.
  • Scene 2 Reality: A sequence of what actually occurred : violence, too many children etc. These could just be sequential still images. Or a series of very short 3-5 frame looped animations. This could also include men’s frustrations and the reasons for their descent into violence.
  • Scene 3 Tragic Result: The final shot of the cemetery with the children animated then replicated to show the numbers of women in that situation. There could also be an image of a man distraught at what he had done.
Some questions
  • should I use the existing community drawings, or do my own versions? for example a simple black on white animation in Islamic calligraphy line, something like the black square animation above?
  • should the drawings all be in similar style? or use different line thickness and style to eg represent different degree of power?
  • should the story be sequential or eg try reversing the order to start with the cemetery as a shock and possibly repeated at the end, with the middle part explanatory?
  • is it possible to incorporate some black humour? eg in the way I portray the hectoring man, and maybe mother-in-law? if so does the whole animation need to be humorous, or just part of it? do I create humour through the images, or contrast image and sound?
  • what sounds to use?
2.2.4: What Happened to my Airplane? Pakistan

The narrative here is about the contrast between the dreams the women and men have – particularly when they are married – compared with the reality of what happens statistically to very many women. And also to men’s dreams.

The series were selected because of the powerful single image narratives from the participatory workshops. And the relevance to the subject matter of dramatic use of black and white effects, inspired by Shirin Neshat and charcoal/paint animators.

Sound effects are a challenge and will need to be imported together with appropriate ambient sound from on-line video and library.

Dx0FX for photos – TVPaint – Premiere or After Effects?

Box 5d: Reality vs Illusion? Key Questions

Narrative structure

  • start with cemetery or with marriage?
  • how to structure and composite the sequential narrative? overlaid on photograph ‘fate on the forehead’? ‘writing on the wall’?

General style

  • How to incorporate video? as sound only? black and white? video effects?
  • Line style – incised and scratched? Weak and vulnerable?

Sketchbook and animation experiments

Sketchbook drawing experiments

I started by printing out large A4 versions of the main diagrams and pasting in my A3 sketchbook. Then annotating them referring to the documentation on meaning. Then I started to look at and replicate some of the different line styles.

!! To photograph and upload. Need to do more when I start to work with different physical media: charcoal, scratchboard, monoprint etc. Mostly my experimentation so far has been digital for this series.

Digital Portraits

I also experimented with digital manipulation of my photographs of Pakistani women. To be used as the basis for drawing, and also integrated as photographs to make the animations grounded in reality.

I had initially had the idea of using a portrait as background for ‘drawings of fate’ like the inscriptions of poems on the portraits by Shirin Neshat.

Gouache accidents procreated

For the Pakistan series, I wanted a more textural, dark treatment. In Sketchlog 3 I had gouached over writing on some of the pages, but these had stuck together or left traces of separating sellotape rolls etc. I found these quite atmospheric, and I could see faces and landscapes in the splodges.

So I worked into these in Procreate, cutting and collaging and using curves, colour masks and blend modes. Some of these became very scary faces as backdrops. Others ghostly figures. Some were women airplane pilots in a burqa.

iPad animation experiments

The wide variety of very expressive drawing styles provide a rich set of possibilities for line animation, with different types of abstraction of the figure, clothing, expression etc. I used these drawing as the basis for some of my very first very short animations in Motion Book. .

I also did sketches in my sketchbooks of South Asian women based on photos in a book of Faces as the basis for a series of animations in Rough Animator.

TVPaint walk cycle effects

I replicated some of these effects on walk cycles as part of my learning process in TVPaint. It is possible to get a high degree of control over blurring, ghosting and masking that I intend to apply selectively as backdrops for the drawings in my animation series.

Creative animations so far

Experiment 1: Colour/black and white fairtyale

Using layering and lighting effects. Possibly some linocut for background with animated elements in flat style, or oil brush/gouache style? Composited in TVPaint.

Clive Walley Painting build up and framing
Rein Ramat Estonia. Integration of linocut and line.
Jiri Trnka very dramatic lighting.
I don’t think much of the subject matter here. But this fairy-tale style might be good for the beginning. To then become much more scary.
Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis. Uses dramatic black shapes and line.
Ian Gouldstone’s Dog Piano uses a simple mask blended over the image to focus the area of interest on the action and give colour.
Myfirst colour experiment on my iPad.

Experiment 2: Violence Scene: Video integration

I found some mobile phone footage of an actual domestic violence incident in Pakistan that I downloaded and started to use as rotoscope. But I actually find the footage itself with some colour manipulation far more effective, with overlaid drawings as an idea to develop further.

The idea of adding more and more drawings is to indicate the scale of the issue in Pakistan, but I need to think how to do this more effectively.

Hitchcock: Psycho Shower Scene
This brief rotoscoped animation is extremely atmospheric with its suggested shapes.
Brothers Quay use of light and music in Absentia
Experiment 3: Cemetery Photographic erasure
Jittery, flashes of line.
creeping snakes of multiplying shapes
Experiment 4: Understated black/grey on white line

A final very simple possibility using just line. Possibly charcoal erasure of the different drawings.

Integrating sound effects from video – eg mobile phone footage of violence. Or maybe a marriage song.

Peter Millard This animation starts with a blank screen that shimmers with slight variations in white/cream while a shrill cild/female/robot/alien? distorted voice sings a vaguely familiar melody. This creates tension and anticipation waiting for something to happen. Then the voice suddenly changes to the more familiar deep male opera voice as the childlike simple pencil drawing of a man’s face moves slowly at the same speed and horizontal position across the screen. This drawing ‘boils’ with slight apparently random changes in the drawing as a whole – size and shape of the face circle, eyes and pupils and length of the line of the mouth. This creates a real poignancy of sameness, thinness of the line and blank expression in contrast to the heavy emotion of the ‘we will overcome’ vincera aria that also references the masculinity and tribalism of football matches as well as the operatic strength itself.
The title ‘since the better’ then adds a layer of loss and past ‘glory’.
Jane Cheadle. I like the white on black textures. Could be used to effect in a simple line animation.

Visual inspiration
to explore further

I like this storytelljng style.


sand art and william kentridge, erasure and transformation

Vicky Smith scraperboard, black monoprint, charcoal stop motion

Priit Parn First part stylisation

William Kentridge

Catherine Anyango-Grünewald uses a similar technique to Kentridge. She draws repeatedly on the same sheet of paper, but instead of using the residue of a material, she focuses on the durability of the surface that she is drawing on. The disintegration of paper beneath her aggressive drawings expresses her personal frustration and anger at police brutality and echoes the imbalance of power of her subject.

interesting overlays that could be used.