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.

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