Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Introduction

So, I find myself aged 26 as an unemployed art graduate with Asperger's Syndrome.
What's a girl to do?

Lock myself in a dark room with a camera, a computer and a selection of puppets with the aim of teaching myself stop-motion animation up to a professional standard within a year - nothing like setting myself a challenge!

The plan is to get myself a showreel together by this time next year (this is very optimistic, but I need a target to aim for) with a view to getting onto a postgraduate professional development course in stop-motion animation, followed by a career in prop and puppet making (fingers crossed) and freelance stop-motion animation. That's the plan anyway - not that any of my previous plans have ever worked out.

Why stop-motion animation? Well my wide range of skills and talents include 2D and 3D art and design, puppet making, basic metalwork, creative writing, digital graphics editing, basic engineering and problem solving. Add to that my abnormally long attention span, general perfectionism and obsessive attention to detail, and in theory you have a natural stop-motion animator.

I've been designing and making creatures for a long time, usually hand-crocheted stuffed monsters, but also in modelling clay and other materials, so it seemed a logical next step to give my creations life and personality through stop-motion animation.

I loved watching stop-motion animations as a child, from Bagpuss and Postman Pat on TV to films like The Fool Of The World And The Flying Ship and Harryhausen's great creations (although I had no idea that any of these were filmed in stop-motion at the time). My passion for stop-motion continued with the work of Aardman Animations and films like Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride, along with the occassional animated shorts that would be shown on TV. Recently the fire has been fuelled by my re-discovery of 1970s British kids show The Clangers.

I finished post-production on my first animated short yesterday. I enjoyed making it so much and got so involved in the process that I shot the entire thing in one night, and didn't get to sleep til 8am. It was the first time in my life that I had the feeling that this is what I'm supposed to do.

This blog (along with my youtube channel www.youtube.com/woollymonster) will be my way of recording how the plan is going. Wish me luck.

Here is my first ever piece of stop-motion animation, 'What I Did At The Weekend', made from scratch in the spare bedroom. It was inspired by my Mum who teaches six and seven year olds, and the anecdotes she comes home with.

video

The monster is made of green Newplast and very cheap Tallon Fun Plastic, and was about 5" tall. The mouths (there were 11 of them) are made of black and white card and Fun Plastic. The eyes are plastic beads with painted pupils. The set was knocked together out of coloured paper, foam letters, a sheet of cork, a carpet tile, some g-clamps and lots and lots of White Tack (like blu-tack but white, obviously).

From the initial idea and puppet making through to post-production, the short took less than 3 days to make. Shooting itself took about 8 hours straight.

It was shot at 24 frames per second (with the mouth moving on 2s) with a very cheap generic 2 megapixel webcam and all FREE software. I used Monkey Jam frame-grabber software. The sound was edited in Wave Pad. The lip-syncing was worked out with JLipSync then put onto a more detailed dope sheet. Everything was edited together in Movie Maker.

My next short 'The Invasion Is Coming' is currently in pre-production.

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