So, having blasted out a rough storyboard of the film (after churning through several variations of the same script, taking out material and rephrasing things to make it shorter but hopefully no less understandable), and timed it out on Premiere Pro the length of the animation looks to be approximately three and a half minutes at the moment.
Now, I'm sure if I push myself I can cut it to be shorter (the 'stated' maximum time is three minutes, although several previous students have gone over that time by considerably more than thirty seconds- the best one I've seen from our university over three minutes was about five minutes long and is called 'Sh*t Happens' by Andrew Grindle).
However, removing too much might infringe on the pacing of the story, which would stop the film from working, and several of the shots are simply held frames which will require minimal animation, so it won't be vastly more difficult to animate in time than if it were just three minutes. Persuading my tutors, on the other hand, that the length of time it is at the moment would be better for the film than if it was shorter, is a feat comparable to that of Sisyphus's punishment (although the image of having to push a bolder up a hill every day does seem to fit animation rather nicely... if grimly).
Once I've really finalised the designs for the flying machine, train, and the look of the village I can start really working on the animatic, which is probably going to be my only real hope of convincing them that I can manage the extra seconds. Fortunatly I also have the argument that about twenty/thirty seconds of the opening is being animated in a more simple, abstract fashion (which will make it much easier and therefore faster to do), on top of the held frames argument.
I am also desperately hoping that they won't slay me for the credits being semi-incorperated into the story; there are three illustrative images that will run with the credits (almost like a comic without words) that sumarise the little bit of 'what happened afterwards', they are very simple but will be done in a more illustrative way, so that they are obviously meant to be static and not part of the animation. If I include the length of time of the credits that pushes the film up to 3 minutes 50 seconds. Which... doesn't sound good. It's actually not that huge, but if I say that length of time I am likely to be shot down in two seconds, and then crash and burn like the Hindenburg zepplin. This is a major problem, I am sure, for any film maker; you say the wrong three words and the rest of your defense doesn't matter a jot because the board simply won't listen to you. Worse still, I am a student, and tutors generally genuinely do know better than students, however much some of them might protest. This will not help me if I try to say that I really do think that this is the better approach, because they will likely tell me that I am dumb and inexperienced, which I really do not have a means to deny because it's true.
Needless to say I am rather overcome by trepidity at the prospect of the next pitch, but at the very least I can try to produce a few animation tests of the train and the two characters (I've already made a very rough walk cycle for Warren, but it had several things wrong with it which I can vastly improve, though it may actually be better to just have a short test of Valerian and Warren interacting, as there are actually no shots of them walking in the film). If I can show that I have a relatively fast rate of productivity it might help me claw my way out of the Styx and back onto dry land.
What happened to the weekend being a period of relaxation?