Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lights! Camera! Action! Stop!

John asked me the other day whether I'd ever considered that we would make stop-motion animation flicks. I replied that I never thought it was outside of the realm of possibility. After all, John has been enthusiastic about 3D animation since the early days of Pixar's animated desk lamp, and around the same time, I was crafting page-flip animations in Hypercard. A little over a year ago, John decided to pursue his dream of becoming an animator and went back to college. This semester, he's taking a class in stop-motion animation, which we have both found very challenging -- and a lot of fun.

So...that's where we've been. And if nothing else, it's given us a vast appreciation for animators. I can safely say that I will never look at another animated film without reverent appreciation for the amount of painstaking, and in some cases back-breaking, work that went into creating it.

Along with a deep appreciation, our journey into stop-motion animation has opened our eyes to some exciting new ideas we'd like to create -- new ways to make our stories come to life for our audience. The actual execution of those ideas will need to wait until after the semester ends. But for now, we'd like to share a few of our animations.

The first one is called The Rescue Fairy. This animation was created with paper puppets. The pieces of each puppet were cut out of poster board and the joints were stitched together. We are both passionate about animals and animal rescue, so John's idea was to create an animation about a rescued dog.

The next animation is called A flower blooms -- in chalk. It is a chalk animation that we filmed in a breezeway at a nearby restaurant called Famiglia's (thank you, Joe and April). On a normal day, a breezeway would be a nice place to film such an animation. Unfortunately, we chose a day in early March when we had strong gusty winds. At one point, the camera got blown across the breezeway and we had to reposition it. We lost a few shots that way because we could never get it back to exactly the right position.

But we got it done and we'd like to thank Steve for an excellent meal after filming (the best Italian steak in town, bar none) and Zoe for her support and being such a fantastic server.

The final animation we'd like to share (for now) is the one we filmed last week, entitled Clockwork. We set it to the opening part of Tiny Dancer, by Sir Elton John.  It think it's my favorite. I actually make an appearance in this one -- I'm the last dancer. We'd like to give many thanks to all the dancers, especially Stephanie Jenkins, who was game to relevé en pointe over and over until we got all the shots we needed. Clockwork was also filmed at a nearby restaurant, Casa Sol. We'd like to thank Adam for his hospitality and excellent food and drink to celebrate when we were done.

So what's next?  And what do we have in store for our readers?  Well, today we'll be concentrating on learning how to animate faces. This summer, we're planning some short Dime Store Novel animations to whet your appetite. And someday? A full-length feature starring Hanover Fist, Toledo Cats, Regan Worth, and Mary O'Malley.

Do you have any preferences for which one you'd like to see first?  Let us know. We're also open to the idea of animating any of the short stories in our collections.