For my final project for visual storytelling, my initial concept was an animatic story based on the popular horror game, Five Nights at Freddy’s. An animatic is a series of images, usually a storyboard, set with music, sound effects and voice acting, meant to give a visual concept of what the production team hopes the final product will look like. This is commonly done with scenes in movies and music videos. It is a popular format with fans who voice act to comics, both web and fan made.
My story “Last Night at Freddy’s”, is set between the closure of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, the setting for Five Nights 1, in 1992, and the preparation of Fazbear’s Frights in 2022, the location of Five Nights 3. The souls of the children who were stuffed into the animatronic mascots gather together in the Dining hall and reflect on how quiet the last five years have been after the shutdown of the pizzeria. A former employee, who was responsible for their deaths in 1987, returns to dismantle them one by one. The souls of two other children, one from the first establishment, “Fredbear’s Family Diner”, and another from the ’87 incident, emerge from a back room and confront him. The children from the show floor animatronics join them and they peruse the man, who escapes to a hidden room that had been sealed off away from public and company view. There, he finds an old mascot costume witch works on a spring coil mechanism that can switch the character from animatronic to wearable costume, and proceeds to hastily put it on. This, along with his breath, from the jeering towards the children’s souls, lubricating the springs, causes the coils to snap back, sending the endoskeleton frame back into place, thus impaling and trapping the ex-worker inside the costume and killing him. Having sought revenge, the children are finally able to move onto the afterlife and rest in peace after 35 years.
The initial concept was to create a series of comic panel images and then put it together with voice acting, sound effects from the first game and music from the third, as well as stock audio. I looked up other fan created content to get an idea for speech patterns and voice styles for the characters, writing out the script to refer to when drawing the scenes. However, with such a diversity of voice styles, speech patterns and even personalities that the fan base of Five Nights at Freddy’s has given the characters, I decided to switch over to a comic format so that fans can read the lines of the animatronics and other characters in their headcanon voices, what they think they would sound like.
Throughout the mini-briefs, I performed in-depth research for character design. This has been a transferable skill that I have used when completing my final project I used the camera images from the first game for model and location references and colours. I went into depth with each animatronics’ movement and even looked up some other fan art of them as humans to obtain dress concepts. The three designs used are: animatronics, souls and, what is referred to as, Gijinka or Humanisation: drawing a non-human character or object as a person. With concept initialisation, I blended together the human appearance with the mechanical nature; holes, tears and even missing limbs, exposing the wires, crossbeams and internal workings of the robot mascots.
With the process of drawing the panels and laying down the story, my ability for drawing posture improved with working on the frames of panels often, mimicking what I wanted whilst I drew them down. This can be a common habit amongst some digital and even traditional artists. When displaying my plans for critique, I included character designs, people found they looked well done for my skills and were then surprised and further impressed when I was revealed that I had used a very basic programme, Microsoft Paint, and had drawn not with a stylus and tablet but a computer mouse. This format I have been using for years alongside an art style that is memorable yet always evolving. Perspective and proportion are elements in drawing I am still trying to work on as I go on outside of this projects and in future works. The way I found the shaded tones for the dark, indoor settings was to bring the original coloured drawings and applied a marker-fill shape over the top, using 21 in the RGB filters for the best darkened shades.
I’m rather pleased with the end result, even with the sudden format change. Although some panels may seem rushed or squashed in small frames, my skill with conveying character fits well too. In the future, it is best that I allocate time to complete all mini-briefs when they are assigned, but by doing that, I used the available time to get all the panels done. In the future, I may lower the amount of research I did, as I feel now I may have over researched what there was already from the base source, becoming enthralled with the lore and theories many fans have, since much of the backstory for Five Nights at Freddy’s is hidden within the game, through newspaper clippings and the calls left on the answering machine.
“Good continuation of the already established lore within original setting, personal embellishments are minor and do not hurt the overall story. The dialogue is a bit anachronistic in places. The ghosts of the children don’t appear to use children’s speech patterns and using words I find it hard to believe they'd know, e.g. an under 10 year old who died in the 80's knowing the word karma? I don't see it myself. I think an across the board problem in your writing is that everyone speaks monotone, you don't vary their speech patterns or mannerisms. But, despite stilted dialogue, a fair and well thought out dramatization of established events in an existing franchise’s canon.”
From this critique, I would aim to vary the characters speech patterns and vocabulary, so they will fit better age, gender, period and personality when writing for future projects.
In conclusion, the story was well received. I may push myself to try working with other drawing formats, such as Photoshop. I will also try to aim to get the mini-briefs completed on the day they are assigned so I can still have the time to complete the main project.