Second session of stop-motion class last night. Still trying to figure out what I want to do for this class this quarter. We're supposed to produce between 15 seconds and 1 minute of animation which conveys some kind of mood or scene. No problem, I can do that standing on my head. In fact, I can knock out a 2 or 3 minute movie in a weekend in stop motion. But... (We knew there had to be a but)
What do I want to do? My 2D animation instructor kept asking this question in class last quarter, "Can this be done in live action?" as a question to students on their projects. IE: Is there a good reason to animate it. This has stuck in my head and been expanded a bit. I keep asking myself, "What can I do in stop motion that I couldn't do easier in live action, drawn, or computer animation?" Of course, there are lots of reasons someone might want to do something in a particular medium or style just to get a certain feel, but I think I'd like to play with this idea. What kind of concepts are strongest in stop-motion? I've narrowed this down to two answers: 'Detailed models and lighting' and 'Found Objects'. Detailed models and lighting:
Things like the Death Star just look better as a model than they do computer generated. Maybe some day computers will catch up, but it's still a ways off, and you can still create a more believable scene in stop motion than you can with computer animation. Compare Jarjar Binks to the Rancor or the big imperial walkers if you don't believe me. ... While appealing, I'm not a great model maker and this venue of stop motion is probably beyond my skill level.Found Objects:
This would be like Gumby jumping in and out of picture books or dolls coming to life. Scenes that have interest in part because a mundane object becomes something extrodinary. This is a MUCH more likely media for me and one that holds the most appeal.
So.. I've selected a .. genre? But I'm still stuck with that question of what I want to do. I've been leaning towards something a bit more dark and depressing.
For my stop motion camera operation class, I think I am going to replicate a move I saw in 'The Joy Luck Club'. The actress is talking to her husband who is sitting at the table, seemingly angry with her, then it cuts to a camera move from table level, standing up suddenly to above her head, looking down at her and moving suddenly towards her. VERY powerful and dramatic use of camera movement. It gave me a very real sense of being afraid and in a dangerous situation. Anyhow, if I spend all the time to program the camera for this move, I really would like to use the move in an animation.
I've had some other vague impressions about doing something related to gender, though much of this seems to involve a circular theme and I'm not sure how I could break from one circle to the next without seeming redundant or disruptive. Things like a circle of post-op stents arranged like a stonehenge with the character in the middle. High angle, low lighting, the shadows cast down on her. I also have a recurring iconic drawing of a circle of women holding hands (paper dolls would be very effective here), all facing outwards with their backs turned on the character in the middle, and above the scene is a reddish purple face-like iconification of a uterus with ovaries on falopian tubes somewhat like eystalks and the whisper in the wind, "You are the alien, not I." But there are SEVERAL problems with this.
- There's no connectivity between the scenes. It's just disjointed snippets.
- I have a weird duality about being out On the one hand, it makes me feel akward and alien. On another, I remember the sense of being alone when I was younger and wishing there were more role models for me. On yet another, it feels like a crutch. A film like that would almost necissarily get awards just due to subject and the way judgings tend to work. On another another... Heck ya! How much do I care its a crutch if it nets me some big bucks? That's just making my handicap less of one, and deeper still... I'm bothered with myself for considering the money angles because the idea was spawned of something important to me.
- Another problem is that my spouse has a hard time dealing with my blacker artwork. I turn into something of an emotional black hole and suck in all energy around me. I need to do this sometimes but I try to do it when I'm alone. I'm not sure I could find enough private time to do this kind of project though. Unless maybe I worked in the garage.
- And finally... Skill level and nerve. I'm not sure I could present this project to the class in its concept or in-process forms, and what if my work was ham-handed and ended up making people laugh? That's always a serious risk with dramatic work. Even moreso when you have personal emotions invested in it.
Of course, I could do something lighter. Last night we did a demo on making hands in clay and I had an idea for a funny short piece that, while not exactly found objects, would be poking at the medium a bit. A young child playing with a doll, her mom calls to her that it's time to leave for school, so she puts the doll down and runs to the door, turning and waving to the doll, then closing the door. The doll waves back as the door closes and we do an over-the-shoulder of his hand as he waves, then he stops suddenly and looks at his hand and we dream-bubble back to the kid waving, extreme closeup on the hand. ... He counts his down fingers. He counts the fingers in his memory of the child, then begins looking for his missing fingers. A few silly things ensue where he repeatedly needs 10 fingers for various tasks. (counting stuff, maybe hanging on a ledge, each finger slipping off one by one as something that might save him moves towards him, but he runs out of fingers and falls, etc) Maybe he also finds something he thinks is a finger. An inchworm or something, or he tries on different prosethetic fingers, a toothpick, a foam novelty sports finger, etc.
This story has good potential and requires a lot of godo characterization in the media. However, it isn't quite my thing. The role needs a male character and I'm finding I mostly animate male characters 'n' I'd rather do a female character this time around. Also, it requires a child actor, which I haven't got access to. I think it also works out to a longer story than I really want to do. So... Possible, but still needs work.
Last, there's WireHead. Wirehead is an action character. I don't know when I made her exactly. She's drifted around in my head for a long time, and I've sketched her once or twice. She's a derranged gadget-girl. Basically a mini-me wearing coveralls and army boots, except instead of hair, she has a bunch of brightly-coloured bits of wire... That writhe, and spark with electricity when she gets ideas, and occassionally plug into things. Sort of a TehcnoMedusa. She'd be neat to animate and pretty easy to build. She'd also be a gadget-making weirdo so it fits the found-objects thing pretty well. The problem is: What's the story? Okay, I've got a psychotic punk-thrashing cool-haired gadget-obsessed weirdo! Great character, but what does she do in Episode 1? I thought about a 'creation story' for wirehead. A beat up one-eyed barbie with all her hair cut off is thrown into a junk bin, then there's a rag fire n the garage and it melts the barbie into the pile of junk and they merge and WireHead emerges. Very cool so far, but what does she DO after that? I know she A) Builds things and B) is totally insane, but where to go from there? ... The other problem, of course is that this creation scene involves destroying a toy, which is something I have real trouble with doing. I guess I personify things a whole lot and disassembling a toy would make me feel like a murderer probably. I guess I could search for a pre-mangled barbie at a thrift store, maybe but I'd still feel weird. 'n' also, I'd want a real Barbie, not one with the panties printed on.
Oooh... WireHead having difficulty walking on the junk heap at first and then finds a wrecked GI Joe, admires his army boots then looks disdainfully at her own diminuative Barbie-feet and then RIPS HIS LEGS OFF and attaches them to herself.
Strangely, I feel no remorse at dismanteling Joes. I should investigate that dichotemy further, but now I'm rambling. So... That's all for now.