Friday, June 27, 2008

Sound Recording

Today the children did all the sound recording for the animation. They recorded their voices, music (piano and guitar) and special sound effects (using pots, straws and plastic bags). First I had them create their snoring sounds and other sounds such as growling for the nightmare creatures. We used a cheap $15 mike from Frys and the freeware, Audacity, for the sound editor. I set up the "sound stage" in the kitchen. It was a good spot as all the props we needed were handy.
The children referred to their storyboard to figure out what sounds they needed.
Below, Brittany created a belching sound using a straw. This was a hit. Needless to say, many of the other children asked for straws later. Brittany also recorded her voice for her characters and a few piano pieces.

Using this pot (I am embarrassed to say it was an unclean pot), Edward created the sound of his window popping into view in his dream sequence. He also recorded his voice for his clay character and played a few pieces on the piano to include.

Mitchell's clay character does a lot of running in his nightmare (in fact, he runs away from the monster through sets of all four seasons!) . So we recorded quick steps and slow steps. Mitchell also recorded a few pieces on the piano to include as background music.

Always knowing exactly what she wants, Cassie needed the sound of an alarm clock so she decided to record both the microwave timer and the stove beeper. She will blend them together for her animation for the just right sound she is imagining. She also recorded the most convincing snore and created her own music by playing only one note on the keyboard and spinning the sound dial.

Cole, the ham, recorded no voice for his character other than snoring. His monster creature does not talk, but he recorded himself on guitar playing the melody of Clock by Coldplay for the background music.

Little Emily recorded herself telling the whole story of her dream sequence. She has such a small cartoon voice and I can't wait for her to add it to her animation. She also recorded herself playing something on the piano.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stop Motion Photography

Today and yesterday the children took hundreds of images for their stop motion animation. We set the camera up outside and used natural lighting (a no no, I know). Yesterday we started by brainstorming on the end credits. We created a rough storyboard in six frames on a large sheet of paper. The children decided to have the house image appear small and grow big and then small again. The words "The End" would appear and then all the dream creatures would one at a time flit in and out of the scene. Brittany created the letters. We used a brown patterned paper I got at FLAX in San Francisco for the background. Our photography started with this closing scene.

Edward already knows the ropes as he created two animation with me last year.

My son, Cole, has also done two animations with me.

My niece enjoyed the photography. She had a steady hand. This is her first animation project.

Mitchell looking through the camera as he starts on his first set of images. He also was a steady hand and volunteered to do a lot of the photography later on, too.

We used lots of painters blue tape, from the sets to the camera. I found some stuck to seat of my pants when I went grocery shopping later in the day.

One of the house images that the kids switched out. There were seven or so sizes so the house appears to grow closer and then shrink away in the closing credits.

Yesterday Cole, Kadin, Edward, Brittany and Mitchell photographed the scenes of their figures falling asleep in their rooms and the dream creatures coming to life. Three children were involved in the shooting of each scene: camera person, director (read the storyboard to animator) and animator. I emphasized that it was important to not move the camera or bump the stand. We used a lot of tape to keep everything in place. I created little wire loop stands to elevate the figures off the back of the set. While three children did photography, four played in the house. It was a bit of a rough day: two emotional meltdowns, a lost puppet down a crack in the deck and my three year old peed in the closet playing hide and seek. Today went much more smoothly. It was interesting to see that each child took about 30 frames of their room scene. I did not specify the number of frames for them to take.

Cassie with her set.

During this week of classes I have had the help of one of the mothers, Alicia, and it has been great to have her assist me. When Mitchell decided to create sets of seasons for his monster to chase his character through, Alicia cut dozens of snowflakes and leaves. This was great as it occupied two other children who became the animators of these small parts. They had a great time pushing these bits across the sets. It added a lot of life to the scene. We also decided to have the other dream creatures pop in and out of these season sets to further occupy the other children and to create some interaction among the dream creatures. Lesson learned: create small parts to be moved around the sets to add texture and, more importantly, to keep more children engaged in the shooting of every scene.

One of Mitchell's four seasons set. Brittany's ballet fairy is peaking in from the side.

I scanned the puppets and printed out their parts. Alicia and I then assembled secondary small puppets of the dream puppets to fit into the room scenes. It turned out the children used these more. I still think I would have the children create their dream puppets first in the large size as it was easier for them to handle the parts. I also printed out very small dream puppets for some of the scene so that it could appear that the puppets grew by switching out one size puppet for another. Another important reminder for the children while they were shooting was to keep hands off the faces of the clay figures. When moving the arms and legs of the clay figures, it is easy to grip the head, but this damages it so it is good to often remind them to be careful of the faces. Today we also watched the Sony Bravia advertisements of the clay bunnies in N.Y., the Bouncing balls in San Francisco and the paint explosions in Scotland. We also watched Yannick Puig's "Krapooyo" Tomorrow we will be creating sound for the animation: voice recording and selecting copyright free music. Below are some of the scenes from the animation.

Another season (Fall) from Mitchell's sequences. Cole's creature is peaking in from the corner.

Edward's set. His dream creature brings in the groceries. That is what is sitting on the table. His creature also turns the room upside down and right side up again. I just love that it brings in a bag of groceries. We filmed more to this sequence the following day so that we had some close ups of the shopping bag.

Cole's set. His monster jumps out of a vase on the TV. It jumps around and flies back into the vase. He also created a volcano scene that we will film later.

Emily's set and doll. She knew exactly what she wanted. She created a split screen effect by butting up her painting against her room set and had her clay figure and fairy figure flit between the two scenes.

Cassie's hospital set. Her fairy gets ill from a bad fairy and her clay figure has to carry her to the hospital. I love the soft dreamy effect of her painting.

Brittany's ballet school scene. This set was really fun as it had a cut away section in the middle and the fairy floated up in the hole of the tree.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Small Clay Self Portraits

Today the children created their little clay selves for the sets. They started with these wireforms made of twisted floral wire and coated them with a thin layer of clay. We used small beads for eyes and used permanent marker for the pupils.

A tip for working with clay, use only one color at a time and wash your hands in between switching to other colors. Also, avoid touching the face of the figure once you complete it as warm hands can quickly transform a nice face into a blurry blob.

(Here are
their final creations)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lesson 1 of Stop Motion Animation Class

Today the children did a lot. They created their dream puppets, started their storyboards and they started the sets for their rooms.

  • First we watched some animations on YouTube to get an understanding of camera techniques.We watched Yannik Puig's "I lived on the Moon" : and Charlie and Lola's "The Bestest in the Barn":
  • Children were shown samples of art made of leaves and then were given prints of their leaves to cut out to create their creatures.

Below are their dream puppets created of leaves, flowers and other found objects.

Next the children created the rough storyboard for their animations.

Finally, the children started their room sets based upon their

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Prepping for stop motion animation class

Stop Motion Cut Paper Animation Class: (Working Title:“In My Dreams”)
Summer Art
Camp 2008
I am starting an animation workshop with children and will be keeping track of it here on this blog.

(Sample puppet)

Project Description:

In this week long class children will explore stop motion animation by creating cut paper puppets that move about in forced perspective sets. The children will collaboratively create a storyline and storyboards for every segment of the animation. The project will engage them in a multimedia many stepped creative process. Some steps are free form (brainstorming) and some are very structured (moving paper parts incrementally according to storyboard). Not only will the children create the story, but they will expand their art critiquing abilities and will learn to work cooperatively in a joint artistic creation. They will all be relying on each other to create the project. They will take all the images, direct and animate the parts. They will also import all the still images into Premiere Elements and add transition effects and sounds there.

(forced perspective room boxes that each child will decorate. Together these will form a house.)

Rough concept for animation:

Magical creatures of leaves, flowers and shells come alive in a house of sleeping children. Each creature leaps from a child’s imagination. The magical fairies and animals all come together to play while the children sleep.

Springboard for animation concept:

There are several artists who have inspired the initial concept for this project. The collage childhood dream sequence in the video, The House of Magical Sounds, animated by the famous Italian artist, Emanuele Luzzati, inspired the concept that the animation start in the rooms of a house where children are sleeping.
Sampling of Luzzati's work:

The dream sequence puppets will be created of leaves, plants and shells that the children have found. I have photographed and printed out these parts for the children to cut and assemble with miniature brads.

Some of the children's plant stuff scanned:

The artists inspiring these puppets will be the Portuguese artist, Ana Ventura:

and the British artists, Ellwand and David Downton:

I will be showing the children these artists’ works before they create their creatures. Classes start tomorrow. I'll be posting what they create.