Sunday, February 16, 2014

Use of Time in Environment Design

As the title of the fairytale suggests, time plays a big part in Day Boy & The Night Girl. The main characters themselves seem to be living representations of the tropes associated with their respective times, with Photogen being full of energy and laughter, and Nycteris being melancholic and mysterious, and frightening to those who don't know better.

I did a little bit of research into the symbolism of different points in the day. I found some interesting information --here--. I've copied what they wrote about the symbolic meanings below:

"For purposes place symbolism, the major components of day and night can be broken into smaller divisions which have their own symbolic significance. These elements which form a daily chronological symbolism are sunrise or dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, sunset, evening and midnight. Within these divisions there are two twilight states: a morning twilight state before sunrise and an evening twilight state after sunset.

The day begins with the gray twilight state between darkness and light, between black and white. It is a boundary time which contains elements of both night and day within it and is not dominated by either one. Sunrise comes from the east and symbolizes a new beginning, the birth of a new day. It can also symbolize a quick revelation such as the "dawning" of a particular revelation. The morning is full of daily rituals in preparation for the growing day. Noon, as Jung notes, represents the zenith of the day. Interestingly enough, it is also the time when no shadows are possible because the sun is directly overhead. The afternoon is the waning of the day and a slowing of daily rhythms.

Sunset ushers in the world and place of night. The sun sets in the west and the setting sun represents the death of the day. Certainly a setting sun serves as a setting in numerous forms of romantic stories. The image of lovers parked by the ocean and watching the sun set into the ocean is a common image. It is romantic because they are watching more than the death of the day. They are really watching the birth of the night and its dark potentialities and secrets.

Another twilight time follows sunset which again marks a hazy, water-colorish time between day and night. Twilight means "half-light" and the half light of morning or evening is a symbol of dichotomy, representing the dividing-line which at once joins and separates a pair of opposites. Twilight, notes Cirlot, is characterized by lack of definition and ambivalence, and is therefore closely related to the space-symbolism of the Hanged Man or of any object suspended between heaven and earth. Evening-light is associated with the West, symbolizing the location of death." 

I find these really interesting as, if I were to be adapting the entire fairytale, it would definitely be effective to use different times to signify the relationship between Photogen and Nycteris, particularly the use of twilight to show how they are bonding in spite of their extremely opposite natures.

Many of the key emotional milestones of the characters in DB&NG occur at sunrise, sunset or are characterised by the presence of the sun or moon. In order to effectively convey the atmosphere of a certain time of day so that it can enhance the narrative, it is crucial to understand how it appears visually; what colours are used, how light and shadow appears, etc.

I was shown this short animation, Adam and Dog, and was struck by the effectiveness of the naturalistic lighting in the illustrative environments. The film takes place in Eden, and follows a dog as he befriends Adam, who goes on to find more interesting companionship in Eve, so Dog is left wandering alone.

The film uses a number of strong colour schemes that work really well at depicting the times of day. The dog meets Adam during sunrise, showing the oncoming of the warmth of a new friendship, and they spend many happy moments together in the sunshine. When the dog is left on his own, he is shown in less vibrantly coloured environments to reflect his loneliness, and then sunset, the 'death of day' or the seeming end of Dog's new friendship. Towards the end of the film, Adam and Eve are shown more dejected and distorted, causing animals to run away in fear. This seems to be a depiction of them after they have been exiled from Eden. Everything in this sequence is more twi-lit and grey. The film ends with an ashamed Adam and Eve leaving Eden, and Dog wondering whether to stay there in the lush environment, or follow them out into a vast bleak desert. He decides that their companionship is more worthwhile, and so joins them, much to their surprise.

I took some screenshots below. The film uses a wide range of colour schemes to show the passing of time, and I thought that the composition of them was really well-done.


I'm planning to do some studies myself as my animation will take place mostly during night-time, so I'll need to understand how light and shadow act and effect colour, and how to make elements stand out.

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