Friday, August 14, 2015

Sabbatical Project Update 2: Cut-out Animation in Progress

In class session #3, I began shooting the animation.  Over the week, as I worked with the digital images I had of my bots and the Dover clip art flappers that intrigued me, a crazy plot emerged that combined them both.  I spent way too much time looking for, then trying to make, then finding a photo, then trying to draw, then printing at the correct size . . . an art deco background for the animation.  This project blends traditional and digital techniques (rather than using found images and collaging them as is), because it relies on scaling and modifying the images digitally (although it could have been done with a photocopier).   

As I made decisions about the story the animation would tell, it became clear to me that if I had a specific story in mind, I had to make the assets or spend way more time hunting for images in more specific magazines or books than I had, and so I made them.  Fiddling with them in Photoshop led to other ideas, like making scaling integral to the story.   If I were to do another cut-out animation, I would scour used book sales for material, or let the story emerge from the assets I found.  Another thing I'd like to try is to use hand-drawn elements in the background (which I did for a virtual art installation to good effect).   

My awesome teacher Tim McCool set up the camera and my background and cut-outs on the copy stand and helped me see how much to move the objects for each frame.  It's challenging to imagine what the animation will look like as I slowly move the cut-outs according to my storyboard sketches.   No automatic tweening here!

Check out, which may be the most clever webpage I've ever seen.

We'll finish shooting the animation next week.  I've been listening to 20s music for just the right choice, but the traditional animation process is so different from how I would do this digitally, which is to animate to sound.  Moving the legs of  the robot dancing the Charleston was guesswork, and I know from doing digital animation of dance, how precise it can be.  So I am very curious how it will turn out!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sabbatical Project Update 1: Animation Studio Art Course at MFA

My sabbatical doesn't officially start until September, but I'm getting a jump start on it this summer.  Last night was the second week of the Animation course I'm taking at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  The first week, we did some hand-drawn animation, and last night started cut-out animation.

Terry Gilliam of course is the master of that form, and because his failed attempt to make a film of Don Quixote features so prominently in my What Is Being? course, that is my primary association with his work, in addition to the animations in Monty Python.   Since 2010, every time I google Gilliam and Don Quixote, I find a relatively new mention of the film project.  Today's is

Gilliam's choice to make a live action film of Quixote instead of an animation is interesting.  All of the problems that plagued his film production, from uncooperative weather to injured actors, don't exist in animation.   But the challenge for him is to make the live action film.

For me, animation is plenty quixotic.  As I embark on taking what has become easy for me to do digitally into puppetry, actual world installation, and now traditional animation, I am continually confronted by pesky physics, the lack of the undo function, and my limited abilities to manipulate physical materials.  But I'm curious to see what my bots from HouseSmarts will do as cut-outs and claymation figures.
Two of my bots, and an art deco person 

Cut-out animation character and background possibilities