Alison Lucy's Blog

December 18, 2009, 21:24
Filed under: Location

The last post filed under Location was a bit of a depressing one. Despite not updating the blog on our progress Tor and I managed to show the completed paper cut out ‘Garden Scene’ in time for the Research Project Exhibition on Wednesday 18th November. Luckily we also had our rather elaborate paper set to display too.

The problem was that we now had other work to be getting on with. We needed to get the balance right between working on our other briefs and completing what we had put so much time, effort and thought into. Somehow, in the time between the last wash and closing time at the Spruce Goose launderette each night, we managed to re-shoot the deleted scenes and complete filming in the next couple of weeks. It was rewarding to begin editing and start seeing it all come together with music and credits before Christmas. Our newly titled ‘Cycle’ animation is something I’m really proud of. I’ll hopefully manage upload this rather huge file onto youtube soon. Below is the scene we showed at the exhibition.


Friday 13th…
November 18, 2009, 12:50
Filed under: Location

Friday 13th November and my external hard-drive decides it is time to move on, to cease working. Panic. Exhibition looming before us and Tor and I had lost the majority of our stop-motion animation, we were almost half way there. Over the weekend university technicians  attempted to retrieve some data but no luck there either. And before someone else tells me yes we should have backed up our work, I assure you I have definitely learnt that lesson. In a cutting frenzy Tor and I focused solely on the creation of the Escapist Garden scene where our character is transported to a different world. On Sunday we photographed our character in the garden scene leaving Monday and Tuesday to create the detailed paper set, re-size and print nearly 100 photographs of our character, cut each silhouette out and then re-shoot her in the paper garden set. We’re both pretty exhausted but we’re not defeated yet. We’ve achieved a lot in a few days and we will continue to shoot and re-shoot the remaining scenes because although we may have lost work and time but we haven’t lost confidence in our narrative yet.

Escapism- Into the Garden
November 12, 2009, 22:31
Filed under: Location

If you look closely at our animatic or storyboard you will see the rather amusing shot of Amber being ‘sucked’ into the washing machine. During this part of the narrative we want our character to enter an entirely new world and momentarily escape the endless drag of the launderette. If you visit Tor’s blog you’ll be able to watch an animation by Michael Aubtin Madadi who did an inspiring paper animation which both Tor and I both enjoyed due to the simplicity of his story-telling and paper cut-out technique.

We have already created hundreds of colourful paper leaves to path our character’s way into this ‘other’ place so it seemed fitting that we explored paper animation further for the entire garden scene. Below are a few examples I found particularly interesting with the use of paper cut-outs.

This is quite a light-hearted example, but the technique remains effective within the child-like environment and is in-keeping with the somewhat questionable song! There are other children’s animations which explore a similar technique, I particularly like Frederic Back’s ‘The Creation of Birds’ with such beautiful movement between the characters and their jungle environment. An old favourite of mine, Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear, uses a 3d character amongst paper human characters, this contrast is highly engaging.

Below is a scan of my drawing for a possible layout for the ‘garden’ scene. Our character won’t be in this ‘world’ for long but the contrast of her within this paper environment should be quite interesting visually. She can crawl out of the bushes on the left hand side of the scene and we can follow her making her way through the paper garden until she peers into the door’s window on the other side.

Garden Sketch

Animation Progress Update
November 10, 2009, 22:36
Filed under: Location

Slowly but surely we have begun our animation. As ever with a new project we have encountered a few problems one couldn’t have predicted but overall we have started so I’m pretty happy. Animating in a place that’s open to the public means that we’ve been restricted to an hour in the evening as this seems to be the least busy time at The Spruce Goose and also the best light for animating. You get the best contrast of colours which is important for the surreal quality we require. We’ve animated the beginning of the narrative sequence following our rough story-boards as a guideline, adjusting camera angles as we go, trying to keep in mind the symmetrical, almost uncomfortable feel we want to create.

Uncomfortable animations with a slight dark side have always interested me. Often because animation tends to be thought of as quite an ‘innocent’ medium so when they deal with a more loaded subject matter they can be quite shocking. Our animation doesn’t need to be remotely as dark as the ones below, ‘Dog’ by Suzie Templeton and ‘Madame Tutli-Putli’ by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, but I think they are excellent examples of how boundaries in animation can be pushed.

Here are some still frames of  what we’ve taken so far, hopefully you can see how we’ve focussed on shots that are symmetrical and I suppose quite simple but with a strong narrative I’m hoping it will be engaging.

Animation Stills

Animation Stills

Story boarding and Animatics
November 5, 2009, 19:16
Filed under: Location

After an initial run-through chat with Tor where we discussed our thoughts about the basic narrative structure of our location we met up again to create rough storyboards. Scans of my storyboard are shown below. It was a quick process to get an idea of how each image would sit within the frame and how each next narrative shot would vary from the next to keep it interesting.

Initial StoryboardInitial Storyboard2

With this storyboard Tor and I went to the Spruce Goose and took photos of Amber, our volunteer ‘animated person’ and then in turn turned this into a simple animatic. This has helped us to visualise the animation more and think about the importance of composition and symmetry.

After my first visit to the Spruce Goose I immediately thought of Stanley Kubrick to turn to for inspiration with the shots.  The washing machine geometry very much lended itself to the same surreal feel of Kubrick’s carefully thought over compositions.

The Shining screen (shot)

This opening scene to A Clockwork Orange is just brilliant. I love how much detail you can absorb from the close up of main character Alex DeLarge’s face as the shot slowly reveals more and more in a complex and perfectly symmetrical zooming out process during which the intensity of Alex DeLarge’s stare doesn’t diminish in the slightest.

Location 2 – Spruce Goose
November 2, 2009, 15:08
Filed under: Location

Bath’s ‘Spruce Goose’ launderette is quite a change from my first location, Jacob’s Ladder. This interior scene boasts a host of washing machines and large tumble dryers that create an unusual interior environment. I was introduced to this environment through Tor, a fellow student who I have worked with in the first year on animation/film projects. We were both keen to create an animation again this year so after discussion of both of our locations we landed on the possibility that we should team up for the ‘Spruce Goose’ location to tackle an animation together.

A visit to the ‘Spruce Goose’ was all we needed to get going. The whirling sounds of the washing machines and the endless flow of different people arriving, emptying their dirty washing into a machine, waiting, collecting their washing from a machine, transferring their washing into a tumble dryer, and waiting a further period of time gave us a simple but effective narrative to start with. Each new visitor to the ‘Spruce Goose’ launderette was forced into this pre-conceived pattern. Signs are everywhere giving you exact instructions.

I am pleased to tackle this environment as it was only a couple of weeks ago that I had my first ‘launderette’ experience. In my house this year we are lucky enough to have our own washing machine but our house is so cold that there’s no way you can get them dry in time. This called to a trip to my local ‘Dolly Tub’ launderette which is slightly closer than the ‘Spruce Goose’ which is very important when you are carrying two to three loads of wet heavy clothes. As silly as it sounds I was rather nervous at the thought of the launderette, I brought a book along knowing that once my clothes were safely in the tumble dryer that I would have half an hour to kill. KILL. Couldn’t describe it any other way. Because that’s exactly what it is you are doing, KILLING time. You are forced to stay there for the alloted period of time awkwardly perching next to a stranger who seems to find it perfectly acceptable to comment on your dirty clothes items and sound ever so pleased with themselves when they notice before you that you’ve dropped your rather old Spice Girl hanky on the dusty grey floor.

It’s the endless waiting in this somewhat surreal location that Tor and I want to explore through stop-motion animation. There’s a real sense of achievement when the last cycle finally finishes and you can escape to the outside world once more. You make a mental note to yourself to wear your jeans just a few more times to prolong the need to return to the horrors of the ‘Spruce Goose’.

Here are some examples of stop-motion animation with people which has that surreal quality one experiences in the launderette environment.

The way the people in Jan Svankmajer’s animations interact with each other and the environment around them fits perfectly with the strange and wonderful interpretation of ‘Food’ Svankmajer creates in his ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’ and ‘Dinner’ series. I particularly like the way his characters sometimes slide across the floor, simple changes in movement like this keep the audience interested because he’s heightening the relationship between his characters and their environment by surprising us with the way that they interact.

Location 1- Jacob’s Ladder
October 29, 2009, 19:59
Filed under: Location

Thinking of suitable locations for this part of the project was pretty tricky. Inspiring locations that spark narratives? I wanted to go somewhere unconventional and wanted an exterior location initially. Jacob’s Ladder, situated to aid the climb of one of many of Bath’s steep inclines seemed like a good place for the first ‘go.’ Steps have always had an unexplainable ‘pull’ for me so I want to try and capture that ‘pull’ somehow.

Jacob's Ladder's Steep Incline

However, as you can see from the above image Jacob’s Ladder is pretty steep. The steps beg to be explored but you know it isn’t going to be easy. There’s a definite sense of achievement when you get to the top though, I witnessed this on the expressions of many passers by (including a man carrying two baguettes and a large frame containing an interesting picture.)

While I was at the location I recorded a series of sounds and took photographs which I change into little animatics. I think these work quite well on their own. I have however had a few difficulties in converting these files so that Youtube can play them successfully. Unfortunately the one below therefore isn’t quite as smooth as it could be. Different angles of Jacob’s ladder I took are therefore shown in screen shots instead.