Cut-out Animation and Setup Test

So I’m an artist again. A full time artist who teaches what she loves to do. That feels much better. School’s out since I had my last day on Tuesday, and I feel so unbelievably relieved that I’m not a school teacher anymore… (It was an important experience though.)

The whole week was a burst of creativity: I was working on so many things… Over the weekend I had my good friend Leo visiting, and I talked him into trying some animation, because I really wanted to try a haven’t-tried-it-so-far technical setup, and because I haven’t animated for years (or at least it felt like this). Inspired by animations I did with a group of kids last week, we set up a little scene on top of my Tricktisch:

We created simple cut-out puppets by using food packaging boxes, color pencils and those cramps for the joints. I simply like the aesthetics of this kind of puppet, and I already applied it a few times (as in my first animated short Ein anderer Traum and in an installation I did in 2009).

Oh, and thanks to the scrapbooking people there are now so many colored cramps available… Horay! See my new box of brass cramps of all sizes:

Colored Cramps.
Things That Make Me Happy – today: sorting boxes…

For the setup I had the animation stand lit by four 75W lights. I used my DSLR, a Pentax ist DL2 (that doesn’t have a video feed) with Dragon Stopmotion for framegrabbing. I also had an Eye-Fi SD card which is a SD card (obviously) with an WiFi-Connection to my Mac. Every time I take a picture, the card sends it to a folder from where the animation software generates a video (they call it folder watch mode).

This works nicely despite the fact that I don’t have a live preview. So the animation is pretty much intuitive then. I could use rigs and other tools for more control over the movement, but this particular one was just a test shoot, so I don’t care too much.

We didn’t plan anything. No dope sheets, no acting-out, nothing. We just played. Even the story evolved while we were animating. But – and this is far more important I think – we animated. Roughly, but playful and enjoyable – and I remembered how much I missed it.

That’s the one thing this was is good for. The other thing is that I have some more projects in a folder labeled Thing I really want to make, and this animation test is for one of these projects. I suppose I’d like to buy another camera first because I really enjoy working with a live feed and preview feature… (I’m not sure yet.)

Before I do so, I want to share the inspiring animation I did with the kids as well:

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

15. February 2011 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , , , , | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. Colorful and playful clips both! Hooray for you and Leo and the kids!


  2. Oh such sweet colors (especially in the second clip) – and they bring out their magic so well inside the ‘dimmed’ frame of the picture. Really sweet.

    I think it was Picasso who said that he aimed to draw like a child again and that this was his highest goal. I really like that picture: all his craftsmanship and his abilities, everything he learned and knows – and the cup of magic added. Letting it all go, drift away. Very Zen like. I guess.

    Anyhow: an enormous smile for ‘kicking your blues away’

  3. Shelley, Michael, thank you both!