Animation is Hard

The key takeaway from this week’s assignment: stop-motion animation is hard. This wasn’t a new discovery for me, but it was a healthy reminder.

Roland works with Dragon Frame to fine-tune exposure settings.

Aside from the obvious fact that it was time-consuming, there were a great variety of challenges that we had to simply power through to reach our final goal, a thirty-second short. The result, however, was a very rewarding little piece of content, that I’m proud to share here.


PAPER JAM from Lucas on Vimeo.

Teaming up with the Roland and Maria, we all aligned behind the concept of paper as our primary subject. Initially, our idea had involved the idea of creating shadows out of paper and animating those, but in the end, we scaled it down to one simple plot point: an epic showdown between oppressed paper and a domineering hand. After a quick survey, it was decided that my hand would star as the villain with one lucky index card being made the protagonist. I didn’t quite realize how uncomfortable this entire experience would be. I found myself regretting how much coffee I had drunk that day, as it made it challenging to keep my hand perfectly still for hours at a time!

Roland checks the framing during one of our screen tests.

We did a few lighting and screen tests and decided on a setup that mostly relied on the two fluorescent banks in the micro-studio for lighting. We shot the piece over an afternoon/evening and made many decisions on the fly. With animation, this can be a dangerous tactic as it can lead to ending up far from one’s intended goal. However, with our short assignment, giving ourselves that freedom allowed us to be efficient with our resources.

My hand stars as the villainous “Hand.” I now have a great deal of respect for hand models.

After finishing the shoot, all that was left was the audio. The only space that afforded any silence at ITP was the electrical closet. With a USB mic and a laptop, we recorded all of the audio needed for our simple short.

We recorded our audio in this closet.

In closing, if you like time-consuming projects that produce minimal output, working under hot lights in contorted positions, and recording sounds in cramped spaces… stop-motion animation is for you!

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