FMP: Dance Notation Further Research

Before moving forward to develop the animation further I wanted to explore dance notation further. I listen to Anna Trevien talk about Benish notation which is the form of notation I have been looking at throughout this project. I learnt that to learn notation doesn’t mean you have to have a background in dance, notation has actually been used to record movement in different industries like aeroplane engineering and architecture. Notation has become about movement in general rather than just about dance.

Within banish notation movements are record on a score which has 5 different lines. Each of the lines represent a proportion of the body. This allows the reader to understand which part of the body is moving. Relating this back to the symbols of rhythmic gymnastics I don’t think using a score would work as well in this sense as the signs are more symbolic rather than index signs if we are applying semiotic knowledge to them. (Index – show evidence of the object they represent.) (Symbols – Show no representation of the object it’s referring to) Based on this I feel that it wouldn’t suit the notation format to use a score for this project.

While listening I also learn that when reading notation you are reading as though you are the dancer not the audience. This means that a turn left means turn to your left not the dancers left. This was interesting as in rhythmic gymnastics there is no specific directional symbols to accompany the signs. The signs just tell you the element to perform and the handling that goes with in. However, in the animation I could show the direction but the way in which I animate the handling symbol to show the plane that the hoop might rotate on or the angle which the hoop should be thrown at.

Furthermore, Anna showed how floor plan often accompany notation scores to allow a choreographer to get a better sense of space on the stage, not just from score but also visually from this small diagrams. When I used to compete as a gymnast and choreograph routines, I would often draw the routine floor path to ensure that I was using all areas of the floor and that I wasn’t just going up and down continuously. I thought that this might be a nice way in the animation to show this layer of relationship between movement and space.

Overall by having more understanding of the dance notation will help me to develop both the animation and supporting content that I am producing for this project. I think with more development and information like this I will be able to develop a strong outcome and final project.


FMP: Visual Research Type Specimen Book

As part of my final outcome for this project I want to make a supporting booklet that explains the meaning behind the symbols to the viewer. This point has been brought up a few times to within tutorials about how we will know what the symbols mean and I feel like a supporting booklet is the best way to do this. In the sport there is a manual called the code of points where coaches and gymnasts can find rules about the sport everything from leotards to body movements and how much they are worth in routines. Although this booklet will only contain the symbols around body movements and handling I thought that it could also be a reimagined code of points.

In order to get some visual inspiration for this I thought that it would be interesting to look at some type specimen books as they symbols could be a typeface made out of glyphs. When researching I looked at various work found on Behance. All of these books have provided me with inspiration in terms of layout. Although I will be using symbols rather than letterforms I found that some of the layouts within the project DIN type specimen book could also work with the symbols that I am looking at. The spread with the large type creates an interesting pace for the book and is something that I am going to think about when designing the book. Furthermore, it was interesting to see that this was design in B4 format as I was thinking about designing a slightly smaller publication as part of my other projects this year I have been working on larger formats.

From looking at these booklets I have thought about how I can maybe bring the idea of movement into the book as well as that is the premise of the project showing the unique sport and the movements within it. I have thought about how the symbols could move through some spread almost as though they are referring to the animated routine version which accompanies the booklet.

As well as looking on Behance for inspiration I came across some other books on websites such as design blog. This project Felice The Book by Nootype I thought again had really interesting pace throughout the spreads that was shown. I think this is going to be important as my symbols do look similar however, with the change of layout this might help to keep the reader engaged. I also felt that the pages were there is just one stand alone letterform on the page could be really nice for my project as I can see the symbols being grouped and having one symbol stand alone might be interesting again to change up this idea of pace.

While thinking about pace of the book – the book will contain some photography which shows part of the body movement and apparatus movement and what symbol relates to it. This will also help to ensure that the pace changes throughout and I’m not just keeping the same layouts throughout. I also want to think about this idea of layers and the 4 layers which I have identified within a routine – which has stemmed from my research into dance notation.

When doing research I came across this piece by Muskat Design who used ballet dance notation as a visual language for an exhibition design. This is similar in the sense that it’s taking a language from using the sport an reimagining in and repurposing it in order to tell a story of the sport. Although it is slightly different project I thought how the symbols were all shown together was visually interesting. Having them shown all together and on photographs showed me that this style of layout could also work.


AfterLife #7 – Gareth Dunn

For the final part of the Afterlife sessions we were lucky enough to have a talk from a graduate of the course Gareth Dunn who graduated the course in 2010. I found his talk really interesting as it showed where it can take you – it’s not just always about working for the big agencies is about the creating work that you want and for the clients that you want to work with. One of the most important things that I think I’m taking away from this is that it’s not just about working long hours and grafting it’s also about taking time to have fun and also take care of yourself. This is something that I know I struggle with getting the balance right and especially in the current climate taking time to switch off and recharge is has been hard. However, knowing this moving forward into the working world should help me to try and find the balance. 

I found Gareth’s work interesting seeing how his projects have been so collaborative with other creatives in other fields. This made me think of how we have worked with other creatives in the past, but this is something that I would like to do in the future working with animators, illustrators, makers have been something that I have been thinking about. Also hearing about how Gareth has done some work which is self-initiated made me think about the opportunities that I have wanted to do in the past but found myself with no confidence to ask. This is another thing that I’m hoping to work on now after hearing Gareth speak. 

Hearing about his passion project Open Studio showed me the passion that he has for portfolios and his tips for making a good portfolio are things that I am 100% going to be taking away from this talk today. I am going to take the opportunity to get someone to review portfolio through this scheme. 

  • Good ideas with good execution
  • Start with your CV when sending to clients in case ends up on Admin desk of company 
  • Practice what you preach – spend time designing your portfolio not just want goes in it
  • Less is really more. A smaller number of projects is better than a lot of alright ones.
  • Build a narrative through your portfolio. If able to create a link between projects will help when explaining and viewing the portfolio. 
  • Be honest with what you did – don’t be worried about including group projects as long as you state what you did. 
  • Include self-initiated projects 
  • Show your workings and ideation process – gives them an idea of how you work. 
  • Proofread, spellcheck and proofread again. 
  • Get feedback from people in industry and out. 
  • Keep on top of your portfolio – check every 3 months is a good idea just keeping things up to date

I have enjoyed these afterlife sessions and I think they have helped to prepared me for getting into industry and learn from what other have learnt. I think that I have gained some confidence in the fact that there are still jobs out there in the current climate as this was something I was worried about. I feel that I have learnt a lot about working in industry, what people look for in portfolio and how this style of degree can lead you down a variety of different paths. I am excited to see where my journey takes me for the rest of university and after graduation.

FMP: Development and Group Tutorial Feedback

I have experimented with frame by frame animation as a way of animated the symbols to move in a more human way. I found the best way to explore this idea was using procreate and the animation feature that has the ability to draw the frames by frame. I decided to animate only one balance at this point as I wanted to get feedback on which animation style is working better and which people thought worked well with my idea. I found that the frame by frame animation worked well in showing each element of the music and worked with the harsh beats of the music however it wasn’t showing the fluid motion that I wanted it to. Also, as I was hand drawing the frames I found that each frame was slightly different and although the style was beautiful and could work at this point I thought that it was very different from my other work where I have developed a visual language which is more graphic rendered rather than hand drawn.


At the tutorial I thought that the feedback was really helpful as I was able to find new pathways to develop my project. The general feedback was to maybe incorporate the two style of animation into one, as the use of layers that I was talking about (from my research into dance notation) would allow for this to be explained and work well. Also, the other feedback on the animation was to try animating the icons to maybe follow curved lines to mimic the movement depicted within the icons. I feel that the animation requires some more thinking as after my research into dance notation I feel that each layer could highlight one of these elements.

  • Movement of the Body 
  • Relationship between body and apparatus movements 
  • Movements and music 
  • Movement and Space. 

Furthermore, I also got feedback on my choice of colour and at the moments the pink and silver/grey aren’t working together with the other colours within the projects. I thought that this might be the case and I think that maybe a neon green with the bright pink might work better with the current palette. Overall the feedback was positive, and carol thought that I was heading in the right direction and that I just need to keep developing the visual language ready for the formative assessment next week. 

FMP: Tutorial Feedback and Development

My feedback for my individual tutorial with Carol was useful in terms of moving forward with the project. I was able to gain reassurance that the project was heading in a positive area and that it was working well. The main points from the feedback were:

  • Plain leggings would be better for the photography and videos as the letters are distracting and the ticks on the leggings draw attention away.
  • Trying to get a plain background as possible – iron the sheet best as possible.
  • bringing softer elements into the animation – think about more experimental ways inbetween the bold letters.
  • think about the qualities of the sport and try animating them to work better.
  • The lighting of the videos and photos is working well.
  • Experiment with animating the symbols more. – be more playful and expressive.
  • Could the symbols try and have more qualities of the gymnast?
  • Dance notation and research

After my research into dance notation and thinking about the similarities to rhythmic gymnastics as a sport I started to try and develop a story board for the animation. Using the music and placement of the main elements I was able to try and experiment with what could be shown in between the elements. This below was the original plan for the first 30 seconds of the animation however, this has developed further and now contains a small line that maps out the path of the gymnast doing the routine. I want to experiment further with the frame by frame animation technique as I think I might be able to add more of the fluid qualities that a gymnast often has when performing the routines.

I have also reshot all the imagery and some of the videos in order to have plain leggings and a crisper background. The imagery will be used within the supporting booklet that I plan to produce alongside this. I have edited the photos to being to show the different elements – they each have a different set of colours that I have used to define the type of movement. Now that I have done this I think that I will be able to adapt the animation to also have these colours included. For example when I have a pivot in the routine it will be in the colours of pink and blue where as a leap will be pink and silver.

I have also thought about the name for the project which has changed from movement of the body to Rhythmic Notation. I feel that it is a more appropriate name as I am no longer just focusing on body movement but movement throughout a rhythmic gymnastics routine. I have spent time researching and applying dance notation theories and ideas to my outcome therefore I thought the use of the word notation would be appropriate.

My next stage now is to start experimenting more with the frame by frame animation using the symbols which I can hopefully develop further and use in other aspects of the final outcome.

FMP: Research into Dance Notation

Speaking to Carol about my project and her suggestion at looking at dance notation I thought that it would be useful to do some research into this and how it could relate to my project. I have previously done a small amount of reading into dance notation however, I wanted to expand on this knowledge further.

From my research I found that dance notation is the translation of four dimensional movement into written form – similar to the music notes on a sheet, it tells the individual how to play a pice of music. This relates to what I am doing within my project as these symbols used to be used to write the routines for competition and I’m restyling them and using them to show a routine expressed through design using them.

I watch a video about Amanda Eyles who is a Benesh Choreologist and Stager – who says that notation has a very important role to play even in this day and age of video and photography. Amanda also said that a video gives you a version of the dance whereas notion in dance gives you more detail about what you’re aspiring to do and what the choreographer wanted you to do. There could be a number of different interpretations of a dance if you follow a video that’s one interpretation of the dance. This links to the idea of rhythmic gymnastics as when I was younger counties were passed on from gymnast to gymnast – no two performance were ever the same, but they might have been more alike if there had been something like scoring.

She explained that Notation has three layers to it – the first being the movement of the body – the second being the relationship between movement and music – the third being the relationship between you and space and other people of the stage. This idea of layers relates to rhythmic gymnastics further because I would say a routine in rhythmic gymnastics has 4 layers to it. The movement of body, relationship between body and apparatus, the relationship between movements and music and the relationship between performance and space. This idea of layers could also feed into my design practice and aesthetic of the animation, but also the supporting booklet could have tipping that layer over imagery to showcase these different aspects of a performance.

I think that this smaller bit of research can help me when thinking about my project what I am aiming to showcase with the project.

FMP: Development #3

In the last tutorial I was asked about the context that the final piece would take. In the creative brief I wrote the deliverables were focused on type design and celebrating the movements of the sport, however, the project has developed slightly and is now looking at the notation already in the sport creating a stylised version of the symbols and celebrating the movement from the sport using these. From my research I have started to explore this idea of motion and kinetic typography and I think that this would work nice with the symbols that I have already created.

In terms of what the context of the final piece will be at this stage I am hoping to produce a animation of a routine using the symbols to do so. This is will be accompanied by footage of the apparatus and photography of the movements with the symbols animated or still over the top of them. In order to ensure people understand the meaning of the symbols I am going to produce a type specimen book that will go through and explain the meaning behind each symbol. I’m thinking of this as a reimagined code of points that could be more interesting for gymnasts to learn these symbols and languages. I have started to sketch out some of these in my sketchbook to start providing me some initial visuals to work with.

I then went on to shoot some content and footage that I could use within some of the project. Using my photography skills and self timers I was able to shoot the photography and complete the movements within the imagery. I used the apparatus I had availability to at the time, there is still three apparatus I haven’t been able to get hold off. The aim of the shoot was to capture the unique movements of the body and apparatus, which I feel I have started to capture within these images. I edited these using duotone like I had on the previous photos as this was a style that David and my peers thought worked really well.

I then experimented with having the single symbols over the top of these imagery and on reflection they are more impactful than the smaller symbols across one image. I thought each of the elements could have a different set of colour schemes which is something that I want to develop further for the supporting editorial booklet.

Animation Development

As I wanted to showcase what a routine might look like if it was typographical set and kinetic I needed to find some rhythmic gymnastics music that I could use. Unfortunately after researching the copyright and asking I wasn’t able to get hold of the piece that I wanted specifically. Instead I went through public domain and royalty free libraries and found a piece of music that I could choreography a routine too. I started the process with the music and choreographing the placement of the elements in my head, as I would have done with an actually routine back when I was coaching. I started to animated the pivots to spins on the y-axis as the gymnast would, I thought that was a really nice addition to the piece. There is still a lot of development to do on this piece however, I feel that it is a strong start.

I also have started to develop a range of smaller animations using the video content I’ve been shoot of the apparatus and body movement of the gymnast. In particular I have developed the gymnast doing a spin for the symbols to again spin on the y axis and in the same time as the body is moving the video. I think these will create really interesting additions to the project showcasing how it could be used in a similar way to dance notation . I also did similar outcomes with other footage of the ball and apparatus handling.

FMP: Tutorial Feedback and Development

Feedback from Tutorial 16/03/21

I found the tutorial was useful again to get not only David’s feedback but also the feedback of my peers. The feedback was useful as I’d started to stray away from my initial idea of movement and this is something that they thought I should focus on more rather than the reflection on the routine before the gymnast enters the floor. I knew that this might be the case and I think that if I can direct some better imagery using the apparatus of the sport this will help think about movement again. Also the symbols would work better if they were one per image the rather than several smaller ones on a page they don’t work as well. And the vibrant colours are working maybe consider placement of the symbols in black and white first before adding colour.

It was also mentioned that it’s important for me to clarify what the symbols mean, I understand what they mean as I have a background in the sport but someone who might be interested in starting wouldn’t understand. This is something that I need to think about more as it could be that I create a type specimen style booklet to work along side this. Furthermore, using video in the background could help give the context of the meaning behind the symbol. There was also discussions about what the final outcome of this might be – I originally was thinking an animation of the symbols but it could also be a range of images that display a routine or series of videos that help create a sense of the sport.


After the tutorial I started to go back into my sketchbook and think about how I can bring this project to life more, using the feedback as audience on where to take it. I started to think about movement and drawing up some visuals that I’m hoping to take in the next few days using the equipment I have and am hoping to get hold off.

As some initial experimentation I took some quick photos using my phone of one of the balances focusing on the distinct shape of the leg. I then edited this in the same way using duotones then added the symbols in yellow over the top. I think that this route in terms of art direction will work as it’s allows the viewer to get a sense of the movement without actually seeing the entire movement.

Afterlife #6 – Paul Felton

We were lucky enough to have a talk from Paul Felton today from Common Curiosity. I found the talk was really useful in how to tell a story visually and how it’s important that there is meaning behind it. As a studio they have been working remotely for year with Paul being based in Birmingham and his colleague Alex in London, this was interesting to learn because it shows that there is opportunities to make working in a separate city to the main studio work.

Also I really enjoyed seeing both the refined final work but also the development boards of the studio because this showed me again how much work goes into branding and development projects. Below are a few of the main points that I will take away from this talk;

  • Give it meaning. No matter what project your working on try and give meaning behind it, being able to tell a story particular with branding projects makes them more authentic.
  • Substance over style.
  • Always come back to the why in the project – why and what is the idea at the heart of the project.
  • Looking for a unique point about the company is key not just the USP of the product that the company sell.
  • Explain yourself – having the ability to clearly explain ideas and reasoning behind the design decisions is important. Whether that explain to tutor or client or creative director being able to explain is key.
  • Be Curious – the name of the studio common curiosity fuels this idea about design but being able to be curious about things will help with design and inspiration.
  • Absorb everything – not being just curious about design but other aspects of life nature, sport etc.
  • Curiosity can help when looking for work opportunities – for example knowing about a studio or particular designer can aid you when applying for a job.
  • Brain is mighty than the Apple – don’t always jump straight onto the computer using paper pens and sketchbooks to get ideas out on paper.
  • Be careful with certain places where you might find inspiration – you want to be setting trends rather than following them
  • Question everything – think about if what a client has asked for is what they actually need.
  • Challenge conventions
  • Working with words is important it’s not only about visuals.

Another part of this talk that I found interesting was that they have worked on stamp design for Royal Mail. Before hearing Paul speak I didn’t realise how much work went into design stamps to be printed the process of the development and refinement is massive it can take months to just perfect one stamp and the concept of the stamp.

I found that this talk has inspired me to think about my FMP further particular since I’m telling the story of rhythmic gymnastics and what that is and what it means to people. I think that the points covered in the talk can relate well to my project and help me to develop the why and meaning behind what I am trying to say.

FMP: Visual Language Development #2

I have started to develop the icons based on the feedback I was given from David at the last tutorial. I took the previous icons and developed them to incorporate a range of thin and think strokes, I looked at the typeface Didot for inspiration for this as this is also something that myself and David discussed. I found that the icons are more refined and work better as a set with the apparatus handling symbols. The fact that they remind me of calligraphy is interesting as mentioned before rhythmic gymnastics is like a craft as much as it is a sport. Calligraphy and Type design are also crafts so this subtle link between the two works in conveying the message of the project.

As I’d spoken to David about imagery within this project I have been able to find some of my old equipment to use and have been in contact with some individuals to try and borrow a few pieces in order to video the apparatus moving with the body of the gymnast. However, I was able to start taking photographs of myself using self timers to showcase pointed toes and the competition bun. As a visual the bun reminds me of the pressure of competitions days and how important it is to have neat hair when doing to sport. Furthermore I have also concentrated on the feet and the positions of the feet as this is something that I can explore further.

I have also experimented with add duotone colour as I want this piece to be bright, bold and almost reimagine the sport. The sport has a reputation for being very girly and balletic which it is however, the amount of training that has to go into the sport is hard and tiring. Through the use of bold colours it aims to showcase the hard work that goes into the sport and it’s not all about dancing around the floor – this for me would be showcased through pastel colours. Also, every gymnast within the sport will have a different style and prefer different music – the variety of colours shows this nature within the sport.

Using the imagery of the bun I thought about overlaying the symbols set like they would be a routine in order to showcase the gymnast thinking about the routine before going onto the floor. This is one thing as a gymnast I did before going to compete of competition floor and is a technique I passed down to the gymnasts that I coached. I thought that this worked well as it shows what’s going through a gymnasts head at the time. I want to develop this into an animated piece as well so that the symbols move but I’m still in the process of developing this stage. I have used contrasting colours for the symbols to again create an impact and surprise the audience as they wouldn’t be expecting it.

I am happy at this stage where the project is heading – I am hoping to get some rights to use a piece of rhythmic gymnastics music in order to animate some of the symbols as if they were a routine. I am also working towards creating some video footage of the apparatus which I can then animate the symbols over.

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